Tired of tossing and turning? Its time for a new mattress

Tom Dolan, manager of the Beaverton Bedmart, explains what makes a good mattress good.

Mattresses come in many different styles. And there seems to be a retailer at every shopping center.

So why can purchasing a mattress be so complicated?

Salesmen/managers at four bed businesses in the vicinity of Beaverton Town Square and Washington Square would agree that when it comes to selecting a bed it should be based strictly on comfort. Nothing else. That's the bottom line. Forget about the price.

Buying the right bed is very important. BedMart Manager Tim Dolan uses a questionnaire and Kingsdown Body Diagnostics system to take some of the guesswork out of mattress shopping. The diagnostic bed measures a customer's body size and type. The system calculates how a spine is aligned and where one's body hits the mattress with the most impact.

'We've entered a new realm of mattress science,' says Dolan, who has been in the business 25 years. 'Kingsdown, the Mercedes Benz of our industry, helps define your personal body profile and determines which sleep system will provide the greatest proper night's sleep.'

Kingsdown produces BedMart's top luxury mattresses.

In the '90s Tempur-pedic revolutionized the mattress industry, says Dolan, who works at store owner Steven Stone's Canyon Road location. The shop is the biggest among the company's 18 locations in Oregon and one in Washington.

BedMart and Sleep Country USA offer mattresses made from a unique proprietary foam formula.

'The heat-sensitive mattress, which has a major list of endorsements, conforms to the body. It becomes firm where the body needs it and soft to cradle and cushion the body,' Dolan explains. 'It envelops the sleeper and takes away the pressure points and reduces the body's need to toss and turn.'

This type of foam is known as memory foam because of its body-cradling support and motion absorption. Tempur-pedic has eight different styles of beds in its collection. That number shows how choosing a style can become overwhelming.

Comfortable foam

Mattress World and Tracy Director's Mattresses and More carry some form of the memory foam mattresses that are designed to be pressureless.

Ideally, however, what the different styles amount to is the different thicknesses of the foam pads, the amount of layers and the quality or density of foam used.

Each mattress manufacturer claims that what really sets mattresses apart from their competitors is the design and technology used in the manufacturing process. Whether it's the original Swedish Tempur-pedic material or the reformulated, higher-density HD version or a competitor's version, the comfort is in the foam and its placement within the coil/spring foundation.

Mattress World carries Simmons' 'ComforPedic' a second-generation memory foam mattress that 'doesn't sleep hot,' according to Craig Vaught, who left the Tualatin store to manage the Cascade Plaza location.

He says it's easy to rule out a memory foam mattress or soft latex varieties if you don't like the feeling of being cradled - sleeping on top of a cloud.

He recommends that his customers allow about 20 minutes to lie down on four different beds for approximately five minutes each. He starts with the Simmons, his top seller with 17 or 18 models. He works the shoppers through four levels of firmness after learning how they sleep. And he asks these questions:

n Do you toss and turn?

n Do you sleep with a partner?

n Do you feel better on a soft or firm mattress?

n Does one partner have odd sleeping hours?

n What position is preferred by the sleeper - side, back or stomach?

n How old is your bed at home?

What defines a mattress

The point to all of this is that we're now venturing into the core of what defines a mattress - the foam type, coil system and the depth or thickness of the latex or memory foam layers manufactured into each collection's models.

And it can all be confusing. Perhaps the best advice came from Vaught and Robert Nysewander at Sleep Country USA: If you find a mattress that feels good, and you can't feel any improvement on a mattress that costs more, then you've found one that you will feel good about for years to come.

The more expensive beds do offer more coils, foam and layers, but if you cannot feel the difference, why spend more?

'Great quality latex is in the premium price range,' says Alan Director who operates Tracy Director's Mattress and More with his daughter Tracy. 'Some buyers could be priced out, but natural latex is by far superior over Tempur-pedic or isotonic mattresses. I'm behind latex for all the pluses. There are no minuses.'

Alan recommends the Englander mattress as the 'better premium mattress. 'It will stand up to any bed. It has a real bottom, real middle and real top,' says the furniture expert who has been in the mattress business since 1957.

'If you pay a little more, you get more without having to pay Rolls Royce prices.'

Vaught says one of the best beds is the Simmons ComforPedic, The NxG575.

Let's talk price

'The advantage of the NxG is that it has 5.75 inches of a combination of talaly latex and memory foam that is made in special chambers. It increases air flow and dissipates heat,' Vaught points out the large cell structure in a small square sample of foam. 'The foam has a quicker recovery time, so when you move it bounces back quickly.'

A queen sells for approximately $4,999.

Naturally, Simmons Beautyrest, produced in Tacoma, Wash., offers many collections constructed of many varieties and combinations of foam and coil/spring systems. The 'World Class' is Vaught's personal favorite for the money. Insisting money should be secondary to comfort, the queen starts at $1,599.

'The mattress has a great foam encasement (goes around the edge of the mattress) to maximize surface space and hold up better. It has the highest count of pocket coil/springs at 980. Memory foam rests on top of the coils.'

Sleep Country's Robert Nysewander agrees that Simmons' 'World Class' line is a favorite among his customers because of its individual coil structure and quality memory foam materials.

Nysewander sleeps on Simmons 'Black' model. The line offers five types of softness including a firm mattress with a soft top for folks who like to be cradled.

'The Black is an investment,' he says.

A queen starts at $3,000.

For the money, Dolan recommends checking out the Spring Air models.

A queen runs between $799 and $1,099 and includes a unique coil system of metal springs encased in a soft, tough durable material. The coils are 11.5 inches tall and are not tied together.

'This gives great support to the back,' says Dolan. 'From the knees to the shoulders, there is thicker gauge wire, all topped off with memory foam.'

'Portlanders are very lucky,' admits Dolan. 'This is a very competitive market. There are so many stores. Mattress costs are kept real low.'

They can be real high, too. Vaught suggests that the Stearn and Foster 'Golden Elegance' is the best bed around.

At about $8,000 for a queen, the bed has 12.75-inch gauge wire/solid coil topped with two layers of 4-inch individual coils. Latex and memory foams top off the luxury mattress.