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Tossing and Turning Over Savings

Tossing and Turning Over Savings

Hunting for a new mattress can be the sort of horror best confined to Halloween. For thrifty shoppers, this process can be extra scary, as even basic models often come with eye-popping price tags. The online memory foam mattress boom might allow the cost-conscious to dodge pushy salesman, but the popularity of this option also means a new company emerges to bid for your attention (and dollars) every day. So what should the budget-savvy memory foam shopper consider before clicking the buy button?

Price Vs. Cost

Price is usually informed by size, quality of materials, and construction. The cheapest memory foam mattresses are between $100 and $200, for the most popular size, queen. These mattresses are no frills, and arrive at your front door neatly rolled in a box, at a weight one or two people are capable of handling without injury. After unrolling the mattress it will slowly expand, reaching a maximum height of six inches or less.

Sound like a steal? Maybe, but it’s important to consider what you’re compromising. Memory foam at this price point is unlikely to boast open-cell technology or a gel foam top layer, which means it’s more likely to sleep hot. If you’re a colder person this might sound swell, but it also means it’s not possible to use a hot pad or electric blanket, as both of these options will confuse the foam’s ability to respond to natural body heat. Similarly, use of a mattress pad or dust cover will inhibit the heat response.

Cheap memory foam is also unlikely to be CentiPUR-US certified, which means the chemicals within the mattress have not been evaluated for emissions, durability, and presence of formaldehyde and heavy metals, by independent lab technicians. Fire retardants are required for all mattresses, and one of the ways companies save money is opting for the cheapest, most pungent chemical concoctions. In other words, you’ll smell your decision as the mattress expands. In some instances the smell is minimal and vanishes after a few days. But there is a risk that the smell will never fully fade, and this is a hazard to your lungs, eyes, nose, and skin, as well as your energy levels and coordination. And we haven’t even begun to talk about the possibility of only partial expansion, the frequent lack of warranty, and the short lifetime of $100 mattresses -- which begs the question: what is the price of your time?

A few more dollars = a lot more

So if that’s the least and the lowest, what’s the best and the most? Once your search expands to include models over $500, memory foam mattresses will boast alternating layers of foam, gel memory foam for cooler sleep, or mixtures of foam, latex, and copper coils. Instead of being restricted to six inches of mattress, models expand to up to 15 inches. Denser memory foam is also firmer, which means better support for problem backs. Cover choices will include premium wool, organic cotton, and cashmere. All of these elements inform a mattress with a lifespan of ten years or more. The company’s claims can be evaluated for accuracy during luxurious sleep trials of up to a year. The additional density and diversity of materials means heavier weight, but another bonus of the bigger price is additional options for delivery, often including set-up and take-away of your old mattress.

Expensive memory foam mattresses almost always offer CentiPUR-US certification, and they rarely stop there. Many seek and receive Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification, which tests materials for presence of toxic substances, heavy metals, and chemical fire retardants. According to Consumer Reports, companies that really want to woo you offer the best endorsements, which are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) for covers, and Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) for hybrid memory foam mattresses that include latex.

Opening your wallet a little wider also allows you to be picky about the kind of company you support. An excellent manufacturer cares about you, their employees, the greater world, and their reputation, and knows the difference between following a trend and mastering a craft. They understand that a larger price tag makes their pool of customers much smaller, so they are more likely to offer generous 0% financing. If you’re still uneasy, checking them out through Better Business Bureau could help solidify your decision.

All the same, you still want a cheaper mattress

Consumer Reports recommends planning to spend $1,000 on a mattress, but a recommendation is not a rule, and that simply isn’t possible for everyone.

Consumer Reports and independent evaluation site Slumber Search offer lists of recommendations under $500, so you can still sleep on something great. More general merchant rating sites, like Reseller Ratings, also present evaluation of most memory foam mattress manufacturers. 

Additionally, many companies offer exciting sales on Memorial and Labor Day weekends, and other national holidays. Signing up for the mailing list of the mattress you have your eye on can give you a head’s up on the best time to buy. So don’t be afraid! Memory foam mattresses have a place in every budget.