Foam Hybrid Mattress Review: The Bedding Industry’s Hottest Trend? How To Buy A Mattress Without Being Scammed!

The Bedding Industry’s Hottest Category Has Reinvented The Bedding Business- But Should You Buy one of the hot "bed in a box" foam mattresses without finding out how these companies might be taking advantage of you?

I’ve been writing about products in the bedding industry for years now, and thousands of readers have studied and considered our advice on the products we review and the vendors and retailers we recommend.

Our site started out reviewing just a few categories of mattresses, but the list just keeps growing. Mattress designs have evolved, giving consumers a much better and broader selection of products to choose from, for sure, but it also makes choosing the right mattress a very daunting process. The fastest growing category is the hybrid mattress business, which includes Casper, Tuft&Needle, Loom And Leaf, Lull, and other larger companies. These mattresses are typically made using less expensive ingredients such as polyurethane foam, which leaves a large margin for advertising and marketing.

The obvious concern is the quality of the foam layers that are used in these beds. The outer covering, which gives a mattress curb appeal, is a strong part of the design element of these big sellers, but offer little when it comes to durability and lifespan, as well as comfort and support.

We’re here to help make it a little easier to choose just the right mattress for you, and in our discussion about Hybrid Mattresses, we’ll provide some good ammunition whether or not you are shopping in brick and mortar retail stores, or shopping online with an e-commerce site.

 

What Is A Hybrid Mattress, Anyway?

A hybrid mattress is very simply a mattress made using two or more different kinds of unique materials so that you can capitalize on the benefits of all of the components used, even better than say, if you had purchased two separate beds with just one of the key ingredients. The basic principle is that combining the ingredients of a hybrid mattress vastly increases the performance of the mattress as a whole, amplifying its benefit, if you will.

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Example: A very common hybrid mattress sold today is a combination of latex and memory foam. Each has very unique benefits. Latex is elastic, buoyant, and spongy and cushy, while memory foam fills up around your body offering pressure point relief, but some folks complain of being “stuck” in memory foam. Adding latex to the bed reduces this problem, while preserving the sumptuous and responsiveness nature of the mattress. In other words, you get the best of both worlds.

Other hybrid mattresses combine memory foam with gel foam, or even thin layers of springs, called microcoils, or other exotic materials, like charcoal or copper infused foam layers, soy based foams, and much more. Because there are literally hundreds of options both online and in retail stores, it’s almost impossible to research each and every one.

The bedding industry has exploded in the last few years, with bed in the box mattresses dominating the industry. Along with hundreds of mattress web sites, dozens of so-called third party review sites have also flourished, though we advise to be extremely wary of these sites, since most of them cherry pick or even fabricate reviews.

Mattress retailers will ship mattresses to be “reviewed” by these sites, and then pay them to tout their product in a third party fashion, using lots of gold stars and quotes from “actual owners”. It’s actually becoming a scourge on the industry, and likely the FTC will intercede at some point since it is so completely out of control. Bottom line, just beware of these web sites.

The beauty of a Hybrid Mattress design is that the concept follows a minimalist approach, utilizing a few specific ingredients that deliver maximum comfort at a reasonable price. Generally, you can find a mattress like this for under $1,000, though if you want more bells and whistles, such as a more upgraded outer covering, or more than two unique materials inside the mattress, expect to pay $1,500-2,000 or more, especially if it is a brand name.

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For example, let’s say you want to buy a latex mattress. You can buy a 100% latex mattress which is top to bottom pure latex, if you are concerned about keeping the mattress purely green, with no synthetic or man-made materials.

But, if you want to save some money, you could purchase a hybrid mattress, which contains a layer of pure latex on top and a less expensive support material underneath which may be a synthetic material. You might also consider a memory foam mattress, or a gel foam mattress, which can be made using similar methods, primarily consisting of the premium ingredient at the top, which reduces the cost of the mattress.

The dramatic increase in popularity of hybrid mattresses is largely driven by a “layer cake” approach. This concept simply involves using one ingredient you are looking to exploit the most for comfort as the top layer, and using quality materials as the base or supportive layer to provide the best overall feel. It is important, however, to not overlook the kinds of foam materials that makeup the support layers, as they can fail and develop rutting or depressions over time.

In the case of a hybrid mattress using a premium top layer such as memory foam, gel foam, or pure latex, what you are likely to find is a 2” or maybe 3” layer of these materials, and underneath you’d likely find a combination of one or two different high density synthetic layers which provide good support and accentuate the comfort of the top layer.

The overall effect is to deliver the same or an even higher level of comfort than if the mattress were made from the same material top to bottom. The best part is, the mattress is likely to be substantially less expensive, and in many cases, much lighter in weight.

It’s What’s Underneath That Really Adds To Lifespan And Durability

One key consideration though, is the quality of the synthetic high density foams used underneath, which can broadly range in quality from outright utility grade foams which aren’t even bedding grade material, (like foam you would use to pack household goods in a move) to extremely high quality foam layers that are especially designed to be used for support layers in mattresses.

Almost all of them are made using petroleum based products, which may be a concern for some folks. There are new materials and foams out there though that are manufactured without a lot of the toxic ingredients used in the past.

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One example of this material is a specialized foam that is known as Certi-Pur® foam. This kind of foam is free of harmful ingredients typically found in petroleum based foams, like PBDE’s (poly-brominated di-ethyl ethers) which are toxic and achieved notoriety for contributing to ozone layer depletion, as well as formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and other toxins, all of which continue to off-gas over long periods of time.

It is available in many densities and degrees of firmness, so that it can be properly calibrated with the top layers of the mattress to deliver the highest level of comfort and support. Here’s a link to the consumer page for Certi-Pur®, which you can check out after reading my article.

Looking for Certi-Pur® foam is probably of paramount importance when considering a mattress, since your bed should be a safe place, free of chemicals and toxic ingredients. I always say we want our mattresses to be as close to toxin and chemical free as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask your retailer if they use safer foam layers like Certi-Pur®.

The bottom line is that you’re going to get a better deal on a Hybrid Mattress, which might be way more comfortable than a mattress made entirely of the premium ingredient on the top layer, and it may also be far more durable. Ask for warranties of at least five years, if not ten. Some companies offer trial periods too, so you can evaluate the comfort of the mattress, and if it does not work for you, you can get at least a partial refund, if not a full refund, if you send the product back.

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Some consumers have had their favorite mattress for decades, and resist going too far astray from what they are comfortable with, especially innerspring mattress owners. They find their mattresses supportive and restful, but over time, they need to replace them simply because of depressions, rutting, and failure. Here's a great three minute video that gives you a quick overview of how the most popular beds out there are made, and how you could be getting scammed if you don't do your homework.

In addition to mattresses being made with just foam,  there are a number of companies doing very innovative things with coils and other materials, combined together, to create a unique hybrid approach. For example, many companies offer a coil hybrid that uses individually suspended pocketed coils, that they describe being as sensitive to your body as is the touch of your fingers to a piano keyboard.

Since coil systems are an integral part of many mattress designs, the trick has been to reduce their footprint in the makeup of of a hybrid mattress, while still offering a benefit. An example of this is something called a "nanocoil" unit, meaning an insert that is about an inch or so thick, made up of individual, high tension coils, which is slipped into the mattress configuration like any other layer. These advanced foams offer a springy feel, provide pinpoint pressure relief, and are becoming highly noticeable in many hybrid beds. I like the idea of a nanocoil system, and I've test driven a few, and enjoy the immediate response feel it provides.

Often I get asked about unusual materials that are on the cutting edge, like gel foams, or copper infused foams, even aluminum infused foam layers that apparently deflect heat. Many of these new, state of the art ingredients have never been seen in the industry before and they are rapidly finding their way into mattresses.

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Charcoal, or carbon infused foam, apparently reduces heat, by dispersing it to the underside of the mattress, and is being used more and more in many products, including some of the big hybrid companies, like Tuft&Needle, for example. Again, the best way to see if these kinds of tech driven hybrid mattresses work for you is to look for that 100 night trial period, and give them a shot- at least a week or two before you make any firm conclusion.

My favorite ingredient by far, in any hybrid mattress, when used with a supportive cake layer build of polyurethane foam, is definitely a latex layer. Nothing will give you the feel, the buoyancy, the support, and the nestle factor, like a layer of latex. I recommend at least a 2", if not a 3" layer of latex foam.

As for the exterior fabric, there are a myriad of choices, but you can keep things simple by adhering to some basic guidelines.

1. Don't get mattress with a lot of quilt in the covering. It is counterproductive and actually mutes the feel of the layers of advanced materials beneath that you are paying for. Quilted covers generally sleep hotter, too. Look for knits, not wovens. The thinner, the better.

2. Avoid wool when used as a support or integral component of the bed. Get a mattress that offers wool woven into the fabric, but not layered underneath the outer cover. Again, wool can be hot for some, and you are dampening the liveliness of the mattress.

3. Try something unique- like a copper fiber, something with some carbon woven into it, or a forward thinking material like Tencel, which is made from at least some natural components and is a natural heat deflector.

trial periods, certifications, and warranties- what to look for, what to avoid, so you don't get taken..

The advantage of shopping online for a mattress these days is that the bedding business has become so competitive and so crowded that it gives the buyer some definite edges. Every company has there own unique product, their own recipe if you will, but what they don't necessarily have is the most important part of the equation. And, it bulletproofs you from getting stuck with a mattress that sucks. The trial period is by far the best safety net when buying online. Used to be, when you bought a mattress at a brick and mortar store, once you left, you owned it. Not anymore. 

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Most sites are offering 90-120 day trial periods and free return shipping if you simply don't like it, don't want to talk about it, just want your money back. And competition between online stores for the best trial period is fierce. We say look for at least a 90 day trial. Most new owners are going to know within a couple of nights, but we recommend giving your body at least 3-4 weeks to adapt to a new sleep surface. 

A solid warranty is now becoming pretty commonplace in most online e-tailers programs. We recommend a warranty of at least 10 years, covering any defect or damage to the bed. Actually, a 20 year warranty is pretty typical, with a 10 year free replacement component, and the backside 10 years being prorated, with a little less coverage on the bed from year 11-20. We'd say 20 year minimum, although it isn't uncommon these days to see lifetime warranties on a lot of beds out there.

Look for companies that are BBB A+ rated companies, and display the live link logo. If you can’t find these on a company’s web site, you shouldn’t really be shopping there, in our opinion. Beware of strangely unheard certifications on web sites too, like “TrustDoctor” or “Certified by The American Foam Institute”, often creative graphic design by the owner of the web site, and not a genuine third party organization. Honestly, BBB and Consumer Reports are the only two organizations that are truly vetted and believable. To learn more about hybrid mattresses and where to buy them, we recommend another web site which pulls back the curtain on the fake review epidemic when shopping online for a bed, called The Mattress Buyer Guide. 

Everything You Could Possibly Want To Know About Foam Hybrid Mattresses And More...A Lot more...

The hybrid mattress category is now known in the industry as the "mattress disruptor" segment. With some serious venture capital and a whole lot of marketing genius (using social media to drive sales, for example) and a fresh and vibrant take on advertising, a group of youngsters forged a new path for the industry that all but seemed to be on a ventilator. With over 300 hundred foam hybrid mattress retailers joining the market in the last five years, thanks to what is termed the "bed in a box" model, it's easier than ever to create a bed, find a fabricator, and launch a site with sweeping graphics of twenty somethings chilling in their lofty bedrooms with salvaged wood floors and rescued greyhounds. The image is the same from site to site, a gleeful couple falling into a cloud like mattress that dissolves all of life's problems away. 

Though the bed in a box concept is not new, because of the machines involved, it's very easy to launch a mattress business. Marc was a pioneer in the bed in a box category, but back in 2008 when he created several revolutionary web sites, but cites "consumers didn't know what to make of the process. We had to educate them about it, and sell them a mattress on top of that". Everyone knows about the machines these days. It's reinvented the landscape of the mattress business.

The machines he mentions are giant assembly line devices that suck in a foam mattress on one end, mash it from twelve inches down to an inch, roll it up like a carpet, stuff it into a box, and slap a UPS label on it. The consumer receives the box, almost like a pizza delivery, and you simply open the box, cut the plastic, and the mattress magically reinflates to its original size within minutes. Five minutes later, you're napping with your cat. You've just received a hybrid mattress. But will it last?

 A typical roll packing machine used in third party fabrication houses where "bed in a box" foam mattresses are made using polyurethane foams and other materials.

A typical roll packing machine used in third party fabrication houses where "bed in a box" foam mattresses are made using polyurethane foams and other materials.

 

Rollpack and compression machines are what has enabled the fast proliferation of hundreds of "bed in a box" mattress companies, but BEWARE, not all of these companies are owned by mattress design experts, creating a wild west industry that combines tech and graphically pleasing online stores that may or may not offer a bed that will last or be comfortable!

"The real genius behind the mattress disruption revolution is the equipment used to roll and compress the product". Anderson refers to the massive hydraulic machines, which can apply tons of pressure, and cost upwards of $400,000 each. Fabrication houses all over the U.S. have purchased these devices, and the number of clients just keeps on rising.

Younger customers today have no conception of traveling to a mattress store, listening to a pinky ring wearing middle aged guy give you his upsell close, and then wrestling a king size mattress on top of a car, and holding on for dear life all the way home as your bed tried to take flight off of the roof of your car. 

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He speaks about the three hundred or so online stores that all compete for your dollar, and how easy it is to find a fabricator who has one of these roll pack machines, as they are called, and go into business with a couple of friends and two laptops.  The end result is an industry that has made competing for your business so savage, so vicious, that many of the companies offering these beds are barely making enough money to survive, offering foam mattresses for a few hundred bucks, relying on huge volume to enable them to buy the materials in container sized loads, and more and more, many of these operations have been forced to less expensive imported foam to be able to stay afloat at all. Very few of these creative geniuses are foam experts, or bedding veterans, and guess what..? They don't have to be. The result: really awful hybrid mattresses that are timed to last just beyond the warranty limits, or at least after you are able to get a free replacement or proper warranty service without paying for it.

Because it is so easy to create a drop ship, bed in a box model business, Anderson warns that the competition is so intense that many hybrid bed retailers have been forced to import "absolute foam garbage" to fill out their product (filler layers are commonly used to increase mattress height and perceived value of the mattress in question). 

He says, "I've built mattresses myself and have had to use materials that simply add height or visual appeal to the design, but the quality of the filler foam used today is vastly inferior to what I used even six or eight years ago. Yeah, you can buy a mattress for $400, or even less, but it'll be a door mat in two years".

Let's get to it, though.  We know the brands. Their ads following us around everywhere we go, saturating our minds with an endless carousel of hyper-advanced marketing techniques on social media and YouTube, and lining the innards of every so-called third party "review site" that jockeys for position on the first page of your search results.. These companies have turned the sleepy brick and mortar mattress marketplace upside down. And they've done it with style and creativity like we've never seen. Ever.

  WHAT IS A HYBRID MATTRESS, ANYWAY?

A hybrid mattress is very simply a mattress made using two or more different kinds of unique materials so that you can capitalize on the benefits of all of the components used, even better than say, if you had purchased two separate beds with just one of the key ingredients. In almost all cases, either the base or foundation layers and in many cases the top comfort layers, are made using polyurethane foam, memory foam, or latex foam.

Generally, these three basic kinds of foam are latex rubber, memory foam, and a synthetic foam material referred to in the industry as polyurethane foam, also known as HD or HR foam (high density and high resiliency, respectively, but we’ll just call them synthetic foam for simplicity’s sake). The poly foam, as its called in the business, is usually the bottom layer, forming the foundation or base of the mattress. This layer is typically pretty thick, and its very inexpensive. It's the most profitable part of a hybrid bed, and generally where quality is sacrificed...big time.

 

Directly above the bottom poly foam layer, you'll find another area where lots of money is made, that is, if you bother to look at the cutaways and graphics describing what you are getting for your money. It's referred to as "the midsection", and provides the characteristic underlying softness or firmness of a particular model of mattress,  as you work your way to the top "finish layers". The midsection of a bed is where retailers will typically start using a whole lot of fluff and language that sounds like it was written with a quill pen.

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If a company is using esoteric names like "Dreamfoam", "Ultrafoam", or "Plushfoam", you can be sure that it's merely marketing fluff, and don't be afraid to ask whether or not the material is polyurethane foam, urethane (memory) foam, or latex rubber, or a combination. It's likely that these proprietary ingredients are acceptable, since these companies generally work tirelessly to improve the materials they are using to reduce return rates, typically the most costly component of any mattress business offering generous return policies (the industry standard for beds that are returned during a trial period, merely because a person doesn't find them comfortable, is 15%).

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When contemplating a hybrid foam mattress, get educated before you go shopping around. Ask questions like, "who makes your bed and where?", and "where do you source your foam?".  Ask if the beds they sell are appropriate for your sleep habits, whether it be back, belly, side, or flip flopper.

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To begin with,  just FYI, most foam hybrid beds are built for and designed to accommodate folks within a weight range of 100-210 lbs. If you're over that weight, you should consider a specialized foam mattress using densities that are higher. There are now several online stores that make mattresses strictly for larger people. Highly niche, but addressing a real need for bigger sleepers- a growing segment of our population. Couples who weigh in at more than 200 lbs. each and buy the typical bed in a box or even coil type bed from a local retailer, often find themselves swallowed hole in the bowl formed by the bodies in the center of their mattress, only to return it within weeks.

It's also important to understand how a mattress is made, and what the best specs are for a typical well made hybrid bed. For example, for the upper layers, or finish layers, we recommend with at least 2.2 lbs density foam (the weight of a cubic foot of the material) to deliver proper support and cushiness. This density is pretty standard, and is essential to provide uplifting and decent support without bottoming into the material beneath. The bottom layers, or support layers, should be more dense, let's say in the 4-5 lb range.

Another unit of measurement for foam mattresses is something called ILD, or Indentation Load Deflection, which is the amount of weight it takes to depress one cubic foot of foam 25% of its original height of 12", when a solid plate is applied to a one square foot area. You should look for ILD's of 30-35 for bottom, supportive layers.Another popular kind of hybrid bedding component, typically referred to as Memory Foam, also called “visco-elastic foam”, is an amazing material that I believe is the true staple ingredient of any foam or bed in a box type mattress. Technically, it is urethane foam, manufactured using a special technique that creates a vast network of permeable bubbles, that move air in and out very slowly, thus giving it a very unique feel. If you like that wonderful “melting in” feel that it is known for, and have pressure issues, definitely consider it within the recipe of the mattress. Made originally by NASA for use in fighter aircraft seats for shock absorption, it should be close to the top in the mattress you are considering, so you get the best benefit, and memory foam should be at least 4lb. density or higher, as it will last longer, will not be likely to form indentations, and will be supportive and quite yielding. Memory foam that is 3lb. density, commonly used in these kinds of mattresses, simply won't hold up. I've seen poorer grades of memory foam split and crack simply due to body movement on a bed.

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Memory foam is used in about half of the most popular mattresses sold today. Great stuff, just make sure it at least 2 inches thick, and is flat, not corrugated or “wavy”, as this weakens the supportive qualities of the material. It also works well with our next ingredient, latex rubber. Chat with or call your potential retailer and make sure you’re getting the best memory foam available. Memory foam is often given mysterious names, without any technical description, including density, which is critical. If a mysterious layer of foam used in a mattress you’re considering is called “Sparklyfoam”, don’t be nervous, but ask questions and find out what it is. The minute you do that, you’ll be respected further and whether in a store or chatting online, you’re in charge at that point.

Latex rubber foam has been around longer than almost any other foam material used in bedding. Sears sold pure latex rubber mattresses back in the late 50’s, and millions of Americans hauled them home over the next 30-40 years. Latex went through a bit of a dormant phase when synthetic foam came along, but then enjoyed a renaissance as more consumers sought out cleaner, greener, all natural ingredients for their beds.

Used in many hot hybrid mattresses today, latex is purely wonderful stuff, bordering on frigging amazing. Hand collected, and then converted from liquid to a solid sumptuous and jiggly form, it’s great for a lively, buoyant, and uplifting feel. If you are considering a latex mattress or a mattress with latex in it, make sure you are getting pure latex, and not synthetic latex, as the natural material is livelier, lasts longer, and it won’t yellow and dry out over time. If it’s in a mattress you’re looking at, make sure you get 2” at least, at or near the top (especially if its mixed with synthetic foam) and if you’re looking at a hybrid bed (any bed that has one or two different kinds of material adjacent to one another, meaning practically every mattress out there these days) make sure it’s right above or below memory foam if you want both ingredients.

Probably the most interesting qualities about all natural latex material is that is naturally anti-microbial, resists dust mites, won't collapse or indent over time due to its cellular structure, and is great for tossers and turners because it pushes up and to the side, allowing for easy turning without waking you up. It's kind of like spreading pizza dough on a pan, it distributes its load sideways instead of down, and you tend to "float" above it.

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Ask and make sure you’re getting either pure latex, either Dunlop latex, or natural Talalay, and not a blend. Often there is no distinction made between the pure, more expensive foam, and the cheaper synthetic version. Call or chat with your potential retailer. Much longer lifespan, and better bounce! 

Also, if you're looking for an all natural bed, you're probably going to want to steer clear of synthetic polyurethane foam, and go with a top to bottom latex mattress. However, most of the biggest sellers out there are made using polyurethane foam. This material is generally the most important component in any foam hybrid mattress. 

exactly WHAT IS POLYURETHANE FOAM, and how is it made?

Polyurethane is a polymer material made from reacting different monomer materials; isocyanates and polyols both derived from refined crude oil. Polyurethane foam is the most common upholstery material used today. It is found in almost all mattresses, sofas, the seats in your car, spray foam insulation and more. 

About a third of the composition of memory foam or polyurethane foam is created from Polyols. Essentially, it is a form of alcohol, which is almost always made entirely from petrochemicals. There are some polyols containing plant based alcohols (soy, castor bean, tea tree, aloe, et cetera), in very small percentages. You might see ads for "soy based foam" or "organic polyurethane foam" which can be very misleading. These foams are often labelled as natural, but the majority of the finished product is not natural and there is zero health related benefit to using plant polyols in polyurethane foam production.

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To convert the liquid material into a foam, which contains lots of minute bubbles to give it elasticity and spring back, an ingredient called a blowing agent is added to the mixture. This is a chemical in the form of a gas which is blown into the mixture to turn it into foam, essentially aerating the mix. Different types of polyurethane and memory foams simply use different blowing agents. Some foams are water expanded, which is another clever way of suggesting that somehow the foam is natural. This is simply green washing. The process of making polyurethane is typically not as sophisticated as most would think. Although there are other methods for making ‘continuous’ pieces of foam on more expensive machinery the crude single batch method in the video below can produce foam of the same quality.

A very common hybrid mattress sold today might be a combination of polyurethane, latex and specialized polyurethane foam known as memory foam. Each has very unique benefits. Natural Latex is collected from trees, is chemical free, highly elastic, buoyant, and spongy and cushy, while memory foam fills up around your body offering pressure point relief, cradling you as it fills in void areas and pockets as you melt into it. The polyurethane foam is typically used for the foundation or base piece, but can also be used for top comfort layers when it is fabricated as softer and spongier.

Other hybrid mattresses combine memory foam with gel foam, or even thin layers of springs, called microcoils, or other exotic materials like New Zealand free range wool. Some offer their own variety of proprietary foam, giving them unique names, like "Dreamfoam" or "Ultrafoam", transforming ordinary synthetic foam layers into mystical and magical sanctuaries for us to nestle into where we dream of faraway lands and princesses and we don't ever want to get out of our beds. There are hundreds of options that make it so confusing to buy a mattress, you feel as if you are buying a used car. We’ll help you narrow down the options, though, to get you a mattress that is comfortable, supportive, and not over priced.

The beauty of a contemporary Hybrid Mattress design is that the concept follows a minimalist approach, utilizing a few specific ingredients that deliver maximum comfort at a reasonable price. Generally, you can find a mattress like this for under $1,000, though if you want more bells and whistles, such as a more upgraded outer covering, or more than two unique materials inside the mattress, expect to pay $1,500-2,000 or more, especially if it is a brand name. But, as a rule, in today's shopping environment online, keep your price point at or under $1,000, and you'll likely be able to score a really great mattress.

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et's say that you wanted something all natural, for example.  You can buy a 100% latex mattress which contains zero synthetic foams, if you are concerned about keeping the mattress purely green, with no synthetic or man-made materials. You're going to pay significantly more, though than is you go with a hybridized version of some latex, and some synthetic foams. Expect to pay $1,500 or up for a decent pure latex bed. The trade off is the much less expensive synthetic foam layers, which up until recently, had not evolved much. In the last five years, the technology available with synthetic foam has exploded, and an amazing lineup of material is available. One of them is graphite infused polyurethane foam, which disperses body heat, another is gel/memory foam combination which offer a sumptuous, cloud like feel, and even firmer, yet comfortable foams if you need a resilient feel with no sinking or collapsing. It's also great at dispersing body heat and delivering a unique pressure relieving feel. I've also studied a unique foam that suspends aluminum in the mix, allowing heat to be reflected away from the body, in almost a suction like fashion, great for hot sleepers.

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Understanding the engineering and design of today's hybrid mattresses is fairly easy. It's largely driven by a “layer cake” approach which enables a manufacturer to offer their own unique "cake recipe", creating what many of these retailers will claim is a "universally comfortable bed" that appeals to anyone. 

The trick for these hybrid bed manufacturers is to create a recipe that satisfies 90% of the customers who get them into their bedrooms. The bed in a box category in bedding is driven by constant testing, and before a bed is put up on a web site, it's likely been test driven by dozens if not hundreds of users. If the return rate is less than 10%, the mattress will likely be kept in the company's lineup. You're not the guinea pig, trust me. That work has already been done for you. The big players also have a vast number of reviews on their mattresses, and we'll get to that later, but in the back of your mind, remember that while most every site offers reviews, many of them may not be truly third party, independent reviews. In fact, they may have been paid for.

To build a durable and comfortable Hybrid Mattress,  construction involves using one ingredient you are looking to exploit the most for comfort as the top layer, and using quality materials as the base or supportive layer to provide the best overall feel. It is important, however, to not overlook the kinds of foam materials that makeup the support layers, as they can fail and develop rutting or depressions over time.

In the case of a hybrid mattress using a premium top layer such as memory foam, gel foam, or pure latex, what you are likely to find is a 2” or maybe 3” layer of these materials, and underneath you’d likely find a combination of one or two different high density synthetic layers which provide good support and accentuate the comfort of the top layer.

The overall effect is to deliver the same or an even higher level of comfort than if the mattress were made from the same material top to bottom. The best part is, the mattress is likely to be substantially less expensive, and in many cases, much lighter in weight.

IT’S WHAT’S UNDERNEATH THAT REALLY ADDS TO LIFESPAN AND DURABILITY

One key consideration though, is the quality of the synthetic high density foams used underneath, which can broadly range in quality from outright utility grade foams which aren’t even designed to be used as bedding grade material, (like foam you would use to pack household goods in a move) to extremely high quality foam layers that are especially designed to be used for support layers in mattresses. Almost all of them are made using petroleum based products, which may be a concern for some folks. There are new materials and foams out there though that are manufactured without a lot of the toxic ingredients used in the past. Still, though, many people are concerned about synthetic materials being used in their beds, since they are a petroleum based material.

Another really important consideration is how the layers of your candidate mattresses are adhered, or glued, to one another. Believe it or not, this greatly affects the elasticity and comfort of a mattress. Continuous gluing, which means that the entire surface is sprayed with a sheet of adhesive, renders the materials stiffer and less responsive, and can make a mattress feel like styrofoam, rather than squishy, spongy and delightfully sumptuous. The way around that is to apply the glue only at the perimeter edge of the foam layers, thus preserving the dynamics of the individual foam layers. Basically, a "bead" of adhesive is applied at the edges of each layer.  If I were buying a hybrid mattress today, the first question I would ask in a chat or on the phone is "how are your layers glued together?"

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One more important point. The kind of adhesive used can be of paramount importance. Many companies that are producing high volumes of beds per day typically use a quick set adhesive. These glues are fast drying, and are made using VOC compounds that often contain formaldehyde, which can often off-gas or leach out of the mattress for years. The safest adhesives are water based, but they take skill and longer drying time, and likely a bed made with these more expensive but safer adhesives cost a bit more. When I order a mattress, I get even more particular, by asking for a specific brand of water based adhesive, called Simalfa. It is a completely safe glue material, even labeled for infant and crib bedding use. You can visit the Simalfa web site and learn more, if you're sensitive to smells, or VOC compounds in general. 

ARE HYBRID MATTRESSES SAFE, SINCE THEY ARE MADE WITH SYNTHETIC FOAMS?

Absolutely. Most polyurethane foams these days are generally considered inert and don't off gas fumes that last for any length of time. You may notice a slight smell at first, which is  normal, and this odor will quickly fade, especially if you let the bed "air out" for a few hours or a day, before installing sheets and bedding.

Although different brands can vary as far as ingredients that create odor, beware if a company is trying to sell you “no VOC or VOC free” memory foam, since it actually doesn't exist. A memory foam can be “low VOC” or “free of toxic VOCs”, but as we’ve mentioned before, almost every organic product has at least some minimal off gassing that is essentially harmless, but may frighten you at first.

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 Amazingly, however, there are synthetic foam materials that are made using a proprietary sequence of steps to remove many harmful materials from the process. One example of this material is a specialized foam that is known as Certi-Pur® foam. This kind of foam is free of harmful ingredients typically found in petroleum based foams, like PBDE’s (poly-brominated di-ethyl ethers) which are toxic and achieved notoriety for contributing to ozone layer depletion, as well as formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and other toxins, all of which continue to off-gas over long periods of time.

It is available in many densities and degrees of firmness, so that it can be properly calibrated with the top layers of the mattress to deliver the highest level of comfort and support. Here’s a link to the consumer page for Certi-Pur®, which you can check out after reading my article.

Buying a hybrid mattress can be challenging, considering that most of the components are synthetic, but don't let that confuse you. Technology has advanced far in just a few years, and polyurethane and other advanced polymer foams have vastly improved in comfort, and can be made in a variety of densities, support, and responsiveness. Pricepoints will vary, but in today's competitive marketplace, it's easy to find a decent mattress that can deliver comfort and support, for under $1,000.

Bottom line, it's easy to find a great hybrid mattress that will fall into the $700-900 category for a queen or a king, and if you order a bed in the box type unit that arrives at your door, typically, if sold with a decent 90-180 trial period, you can test the mattress for a good 30 days to see if it works for you. Most people determine whether a mattress works for them within three nights, though if you are going from let's say an innerspring to a foam hybrid mattress, the adjustment period may take a few weeks or so. With so many choices out there and a good no questions asked trial with the ability to get your money back, you're pretty bulletproof from being scammed or taken.

 

Additional Information About Foam, Mattress Scams And Ripoffs...Tips, Bullet Points And Secrets That Make You A Smarter Shopper!

 

UNDERSTANDING COMMONLY SOLD FOAM MATTRESSES BY TYPE BEFORE YOU BEGIN READING REVIEWS AND SHOP FOR A MATTRESS

Shopping for a bed can be a challenging experience that can quickly turn an eager buyer into a blithering jelly like mass. Jump online and start shopping and it’s information overload on a nuclear, mushroom cloud like scale. Hundreds of popular brands are jockeying for position on Google, each brand fighting for their lives  as hundreds of “bed in a box” mattress companies crowd the marketplace. In the last five years, over 185 online mattress companies have jumped into the game, most owned by non-bedding industry tech types trying to shove a mattress into a box so it can be delivered to your door, much like a pizza. But what are all of these mattresses? What are they made of? What will they feel like? Is one better for back sleepers vs. side or back sleepers?

Overwhelmed with a sea of so-called hybrid foam mattress companies and so-called “mattress review” sites trying to snare you into buying one of their recommended brands so they can pick up a tidy commission, you are dragged through a gauntlet of misinformation, lack of technical details, and plenty of graphics of couples lounging in their loft apartments with salvaged wood floors and rescued greyhounds. But what about the mattress??

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In this article, we’ll give you the basic breakdown on what the biggest selling mattresses on the web, and in retail stores, are actually made of, and what they were designed to accomplish. Because this site is operated by former bedding industry CEO’s who have already made their money and thus have no real ambitions other than to enlighten consumers, and since we aren’t a so-called “review site”, and since we believe that most sites that call themselves “review sites” are really part of a large sales funnel to get you to buy the most popular mattresses out there, we can focus on giving you honest and truthful information whose only purpose is to educate and inform. Should you be interested in our selection of recommended dealers, you can certainly check out our carefully vetted list.

Basic categories of mattresses are a bit harder to define these days, because of the advent of “hybrid” mattresses, which are beds that combine one or two components that are each unique, and when combined, deliver the amplified and enhanced benefits of a combination of ingredients designed to deliver support and comfort. Even the “mattress review” sites that pimp these brands never really evaluate the nature of the ingredients of the beds they “review”. For example, Casper, Tuft&Needle, Loom And Leaf, Purple, Leesa, and other foam bed manufacturers and retailers are essentially selling hybrid beds made with several kinds of polyurethane foam, wrapped in an outer fabric casing which is proprietary and conveys the image of the brand, the brands logo, or other identifying characteristics that clearly convey a message to consumers. 

Today’s mattress retailers are really selling a mattress experience, and don’t focus as much on identifying the ingredients used in the beds they are selling. They don’t think it’s important and leave that part out of their product descriptions, instead resorting to vague and elusive yet mind numbing names that describe how the components should feel, like “Dreamfoam” or “Ultrafoam”, or perhaps even labeling an ingredient as “Unicorn Hair Infused”. They want you to emotionally invest in the purchase experience, the delivery process, and the unfurling and installation of their product just as much as they do the comfort element.

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Virtually all of these companies are selling what we can describe as a highly similar product. They are made from a fairly spartan recipe of polyurethane foams, usually with two or three layers in each model they sell, each with unique qualities that provide a distinctive feel. 

The method of shipping and delivery of these beds is also the reason why these companies have so much competition and have to rely on “mattress review” sites to funnel traffic to them. Just keep one thing in mind. Polyurethane mattresses are extremely inexpensive to manufacture and ship. Let’s say you are paying $800 for a typical foam bed. The company you are doing business with, by the way, is farming out the manufacturing of their product to middle men known as “fabricators”. There are hundreds of them across the U.S. The raw cost for a subcontracted fabricator to build and cover the mattress, get it into a box, and get it to your door, is around $300. Of the $500 that remains, $200 is often spent on advertising and marketing alone. Many affiliate commissions are $150-200 for each sale, paid by the manufacturers to the so-called “review sites”. That’s out of your pocket!

The remaining $300 has to cover all other expenses that the manufacturer incurs, the most expensive being media advertising like TV, radio, and social media, and then there’s the staff, the payroll, and the owners and shareholders. The fact of the matter is that there’s not really a huge amount of net profit in this kind of business, and the only way you can make any serious money in the mattress biz is by doing a crushing amount of volume. We know. We’ve done this ourselves.

 

SO, WHAT IS POLYURETHANE FOAM AND HOW IS IT MADE?

First of all, no polyurethane foam is naturally derived. ALL polyurethane foam is petroleum based, though there are some foam materials that are made with small amounts of soy based polyols, and can be categorized as somewhat natural, but that’s a stretch. Chemicals are combined, and much like adding dishwashing detergent to a sink full of water and watching suds arise and expand, the polls combine with foaming agents and expand, forming a flexible grid of compressible material. Blowing agents are often used to facilitate this process.

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High-density microcellular foams can be formed without the addition of blowing agents by mechanically frothing or nucleating the polyol component prior to use. These foams are not used in bedding, but rather for extremely dense components like shoe soles or tires.

Surfactants are used in polyurethane foams to emulsify the liquid components, like soap does to grease,  and stabilizes the cell structure to prevent collapse and allow for spring back. Rigid foam surfactants are designed to produce very fine cells and a very high closed cell content, and this creates very firm foam.  Flexible foam surfactants are designed to stabilize the foam and to keep it from shrinking. Adjusting and controlling these variables permits many different kinds of foam to be made, in a variety of densities, and degrees of firmness or softness. These foams can be tinted too, and can appear in a virtual rainbow of colors, making it easy for manufacturers to create models and styles that have their own unique marketing and merchandising qualities.

Polyurethane foams can be either "closed-cell", where most of the original bubbles or cells remain intact, or "open-cell", where the bubbles have broken but the edges of the bubbles are stiff enough to retain their shape. Open-cell foams feel soft and allow air to flow through, so they are comfortable when used in seat cushions or mattresses. Closed-cell rigid foams are used as thermal insulation, for example in refrigerators.

For mattresses, polyurethane foam is delivered to fabrication houses in large blocks called “buns”, and sliced down into the desired thickness and sizes needed to build out a lineup of foam beds. They can be ordered with any desired tint, the foam can be sculpted into unique shapes, all at very minimal cost to the manufacturer. Very often, a thick piece of firmer foam about 6-8” tall is used as the foundation or base layer in a foam bed. The ideal density for this kind of foam, especially if it is to last for 10-20 years is 28-32 ILD. ILD is a unit of measurement in the bedding and foam industry which describes relative density or firmness. The acronym stands for Indentation Load Deflection, and is characterized as the amount of weight it take to compress one square foot of area one inch in depth. Thus, a 32 ILD rating would indicate that the foam sample tested required 32 lbs applied to one square foot of the sample to be compressed one inch. This measurement system is also an indicator of quality in foam materials used in these popular hybrid foam beds.

MEMORY FOAM, GEL MEMORY FOAM, VISCO-ELASTIC POLYURETHANE FOAM, and graphite or charcoal infused foams

 

Commonly found in most polyurethane mattresses, “memory foam” consists mainly of polyurethane as well as additional chemicals increasing its viscosity and density. It is often referred to as "viscoelastic" polyurethane foam, or low-resilience polyurethane foam (LRPu). Higher-density memory foam “melts” and becomes soft and body conforming when exposed to body heat, allowing it to mold around your body relatively fast. Newer foams may recover more quickly to their original shape.

“Memory foam” was developed in 1966 under a contract by NASA's Ames Research Center to improve the safety of aircraft cushions in flights where high G forces were involved. Scientists Chiharu Kubokawa and Charles Yost of the Stencel Aero Engineering Corporation were the principle chemists who developed the materials. The temperature-sensitive memory foam was initially called "slow spring back foam"; Yost called it "temper foam".Created by feeding gas into a polymer matrix, the foam has an open-cell solid structure that matches pressure against it, yet slowly springs back to its original shape. It was the most significant advance in the foam and subsequently the bedding industry in a century.

When NASA released memory foam to the public, Fagerdala World Foams was one of the few companies willing to work with the strange, alien like material, as the manufacturing process was tedious and difficult. Their 1991 product, the "Tempur-Pedic Swedish Mattress" eventually led to the mattress and cushion company, Tempur-World.

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Memory foam was also used in medical settings. For example, it was commonly used in cases where the patient was required to lie immobile in their bed on a firm mattress for an unhealthy period of time. The pressure on some of their body regions impaired the blood flow to the region, causing pressure sores or gangrene. Memory foam mattresses significantly decreased such events.

To this day it remains the one ingredient every foam mattress should include in its design, owing to its amazing pressure point relieving qualities, and its ability to cradle and support the body like no other foam.

Memory foam was initially too expensive for widespread use, but became cheaper. Its most common domestic uses are mattresses, pillows, shoes and blankets. It has medical uses, such as wheelchair seat cushions, hospital bed pillows and padding for people suffering long-term pain or postural problems. 

Unfortunately, the heat-retaining properties can also be a disadvantage when used in mattresses and pillows so scientists developed what was known as “second generation memory foam”,  and manufacturers began to use open cell structure to improve breathability. In 2006, the third generation of memory foam was developed. “Gel visco" or “gel memory foam” incorporates gel particles fused with visco foam to reduce trapped body heat, speed up spring back time and help the mattress feel softer.

Gel-infused memory foam was next developed with what were described as "beads" containing the gel which, referred to as “phase-change material”, would achieve the desired temperature stabilization or cooling effect by changing from a solid to a liquid "state" within the bead of gel.  Changing physical states can significantly alter the heat absorption properties of  foam material, which is why the technology was applied to visco-elastic memory foam.

Since the advent of gel memory foam, other substances have been added to create a variety of options that provide comfort, support, pressure point reduction, and other benefits. Aloe vera, green tea extract and activated charcoal have been combined with the foam to reduce odors and even provide aromatherapy while sleeping. Tercel and other rayon based textiles  has been used in woven mattress covers over memory foam beds to wick moisture away from the body to increase comfort. Phase-change materials (PCMs) have also been used in the fabrics that are used on memory foam pillows, beds, and mattress pads.

A memory foam or gel memory foam mattress is usually denser than conventional polyurethane, making it both more supportive but also much heavier. Memory foam mattresses are often sold for higher prices than traditional mattresses, because of the process involved and the sophisticated chemistry. 

Memory foam is extremely beneficial in many ways. Its open-cell structure reacts to body heat and weight by conforming to the body, and relieving pressure points, and preventing bed sores. Most memory foam has the same basic chemical composition, however the density and layer thickness of the foam can vary the feel of the foam greatly. A high-density mattress will have better compression ratings over the life of the bedding. A lower-density one will have slightly shorter life due to the compression that takes place after repeated use. Look for higher density memory foam whenever you can. Ask for 5lb memory foam in the support or middle layers, and 4 lb. density memory foam on the top or comfort layer. Less expensive 3 lb memory foam will ultimately most last as long, tends to split and crack due to body movements over time, and will desiccate (dry out) much more quickly.

 

NATURAL LATEX FOAM

 

Latex foam is a manufactured foam product popular in a wide range of cushions and mattress products. All-natural botanical latex is a natural, renewable product secreted in fluid form by a multitude of plant species; most latex used in foam manufacture is harvested from the prolifically productive rubber tree plant, Hevea brasiliensis. There are engineered, synthetic versions of latex foam, but none have managed to match the natural characteristic of real botanical latex.

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The rubber tree was originally discovered in the forests of Brazil. Once the value of latex was discovered for a range of manufactured products, the farming of rubber trees took off. A rubber tree blight combined with mobile business speculators in the 1800s and early 1900s led to a glut of large-scale rubber tree estates throughout Asia.

 

Dunlop Latex and Talalay Latex

Dunlop: In the Dunlop production process, first invented in the early 20th century, latex is poured into molds, vulcanized (usually with sulphur), and allowed to dry. In the early days, particulate settling would lead to a Dunlop latex foam that was firmer and denser on one side than the other. These days, with improvement in manufacturing techniques, that unevenness is minimal or even nonexistent.

Talalay: In the Talalay production process, perfected after World War II, the latex is first whipped for aeration, then poured into molds where it's flash-frozen and subjected to vacuum suction. The result is a soft, space-age material that usually contains more air than Dunlop latex and is usually more expensive, even though there's less latex and more air in the final product than in Dunlop mattresses.

Both Dunlop latex foam and Talalay latex foam are available in a range of densities and firmnesses, from soft to firm. Dunlop can be firmer than Talalay, and Talalay can be softer than Dunlop. In the mattress world, most superior mattresses are made using layered Dunlop and Talalay, with Dunlop on the bottom for support and Talalay on top as a "comfort layer". Latex FAQ: Is Talalay latex better than Dunlop (or vice versa)? The question really should be centered more around how to use Talalay and how to use Dunlop.

Synthetic Latex vs. Real Botanical Latex

Natural latex is a coveted foam bedding that offers body-contouring support and pressure-relieving comfort, all in the same space-age yet sustainable, environmentally friendly material. But not all latex foam beds are created equal. Here are the types of latex mattresses that you might find on the market:

Synthetic: Synthetic latex foam mattresses tend to be less resilient and less comfortable than real foam and may break down more quickly. Pure synthetic Dunlop is such a poor-quality bedding that you'll rarely find it on the market, but you will occasionally find all-synthetic Talalay.

Blended: Blended latex is usually 70% synthetic latex and 30% natural latex, and can be processed using either the Dunlop or Talalay methods. Blended latex still doesn't have the plush, buoyant feel of 100% natural latex beds, but it's a closer approximation than purely synthetic options.

Hybrid Latex: Hybrid mattresses are a latex "comfort layer" over some other interior support, either a polyurethane core, a traditional inner spring mattress, or even an air mattress. A latex memory foam mattress is a particularly comfortable hybrid form, made up of a memory foam interior sandwiched between a latex sleep layer and a polyurethane core.

The Holy Grail Of Foam

100% natural botanical latex mattresses are the holy grail of the premium mattress world. But as such, they're very expensive. And not all all-natural beds are ideal an all-Talalay bed may sound extremely comfortable, but be more likely to sag over time, since the Talalay process incorporates so much air. Synthetic beds can be less comfortable, less resilient, and have shorter lifespans. While synthetic latex may be more affordable, it may not be worth your money on its own. Order samples or lie on a floor model before you buy to be sure you're happy with the quality.

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Blended latex is a compromise on all fronts. It's an all-latex mattress at a lower price and a reasonable approximation of all-natural latex qualities. But it sleeps like a shadow of an all-natural latex bed almost comparable, but never quite.

Many people swear by hybrid beds, and they can be quite comfortable and often more affordable than other options. Still, inner springs can sag over time, and a firmer polyurethane core can cause your latex comfort layer to bottom out? over time, so that you're basically sleeping on the harder polyurethane layer.

And watch out! A bed labeled "100% latex" can be 100% synthetic latex. Look for a 100% natural (or at least a blended latex) bed instead. Take your time, read the fine print, and know your product. As a savvy consumer, you're sure to find an affordable latex mattress that will serve you well for years to come.

An Insider's Guide To Buying A Mattress -- How To Avoid The Common Mattress Industry Scams To Get The Best Possible Deal On A Mattress

I've been in the mattress industry since 1994. And I was sad to see, but not surprised, a recent survey that likened buying a mattress to buying a used car. People are just put off by the mattress buying experience and rightly so. The mattresses all have different names at different stores, the range of choices can be overwhelming, a money-back guarantee often isn't really a money-back guarantee, and all the jargon and hype thrown around by salesmen just really puts people off.

We hear all the time from people that one reason they shop online is to get away from this high pressure, used car type of experience.

This guide is our attempt to change things. I hope by throwing back the curtain and exposing the common scams used in the mattress industry that you can find the right kind of mattress for you -- at the best possible price.

Step 1:  Don't Get Caught Up In The Hype -- Look For Real Results, Rather Than The Latest, Greatest Innovation

Unfortunately, a lot of the mattress industry is driven by hype. The manufacturers are always coming out with new mattress featuring the latest in sleep technology. One year it is memory foam, then gel memory foam, then mattresses that somehow automatically adjust to your body's temperature, then ... well, you get the picture.

And while I've seen these new products come and go at the industry shows, I'm always skeptical until I see some real proof that these innovations really provide a more comfortable sleep.

In my own case, gel foam has been the big innovation in the memory foam market. And while I hear that these new gel mattresses are hot sellers, I'm big on staying with the original visco-elastic foam created by NASA decades ago.

With over 300+ reviews it gets a 96% customer satisfaction rating, while the gel foam mattresses just haven't gotten these sort of high reviews for comfort. So while adding gel to memory foam may be great for sales and hype, in my experience true memory foams just have a much better track record for comfort.

And this hasn't been just my experience. In an analysis of over 135,000 mattress reviews,

Based on 135,000 real people's responses, the meta site Sleep Like the Dead found that memory foam beds had the highest rate of customer satisfaction was 81%. In contrast, innersprings received only 63% of their owners said they were satisfied.

So before buying, spend some time looking over real reviews and ratings so that you will be able to clearly understand the comfort of the mattress option you are considering and not be unduly swayed by the hype.

Step 2: But Beware, Not All Mattress Reviews of Equal Credibility!

In Step 1,I urged you to read over reviews rather than buy on hype or impulse.

But now I'm telling you not to believe the reviews?

Am I trying to make you crazy?

The answer is no I'm not. But I am trying to make sure you don't get scammed by unscrupulous sellers cherry picking just the best reviews or putting up fake reviews.

Overall, I think reviews are probably the most important information you will find about any mattress. I've heard over and over again from my customers that our reviews are the most important content on our site since, after reading over a few, they are able to get a fairly accurate minds' eye of whether our mattress might have the feel and support they are looking for in a mattress.

In addition, it helps them to see whether people with similar issues liked our mattress. And, of course, to check on whether we really do back up our money-back trial and provide good customer service.

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But all online reviews aren't created equal. Unfortunately, some sites cherry pick just the best reviews and don't show the ones that didn't get such high ratings. And by doing this, they distort the overall impression people can get about a mattress

And, unfortunately, some reviews are just fake. I hate this, and hopefully it is a small % of reviews. But it does happen and you need to be wary of sites that only have good reviews for this reason as well.

So what to do -- both to get the most out of reviews, so you can make the best possible buying decision, and not get scammed by cherry picked or fake reviews?

First, read any reviews carefully -- other people may have similar sleep issues to yours, and their stories may help you understand if a particular mattress might help you as well. When I ask our customers to post a review, I ask them to share their stories of what problems they were experiencing and how our mattress helped them with these issues. These kind of reviews can really help you get a minds' eye of whether a mattress might work for you.

In general, I tell people to read over 10 - 15 reviews to get a sense of whether a mattress might work for them. But I've had people tell me that they have read over 100's of our reviews before buying, and I think that is because they just want to make sure they are covering all their bases before buying.

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How to tell if the reviews are cherry picked or faked? Take a look at the distribution of the ratings. If almost all the reviews are 4 and 5 star, or the site only shows good reviews, then you may not be getting the full picture.

While I don't get many bad reviews for our mattress, I do post them all -- just to make sure people get a full picture of how our mattress works for people. So in a strange way bad reviews actually build credibility of a product. They show the seller isn't trying to pull a fast one on you, and is one that has integrity.

In addition, look to see if the seller offers a true money-back trial. Ours is a full 1 year, and while most don't get nearly that long, look for at least a 90 day trial. Why? You'll read more about the import of a money-back trial later in Step 3 of this guide, but in the context of reviews having a money-back trial is a big incentive to keep the reviews real and inclusive of negative reviews.

That is because any seller offering a money-back trial wants people to buy with a very clear idea of what to expect from the mattress. The good and the bad. In my case, given that I offer a 1 year money-back trial, I don't want anyone to buy unless they really think our mattress suits their needs. Returns are very expensive, and my intention is to be as transparent as possible about our mattress in order to get customers who are most likely to like our mattress and less likely to need to return it.

So sellers with a great money-back return policy have very little incentive to fake returns and instead a big incentive to keep them real. And I don't mean comfort returns here -- this only holds for sellers offering real money-back returns.

Another way to get a gauge on whether a seller is on the up and up in regards to reviews is whether they participate in any independent 3rd party review sites (like Shopping.com that we participate in). This way you can see if the merchant has had any problems and what type of customer service they offer. It is really important that the online merchant be transparent -- so you know exactly who you are dealing with and what type of service and money-back trial to expect.

One last thing -- before buying make sure you understand all the specific charges you may end up paying on a return. Unfortunately, some sellers hide in their small print that you may pay a return shipping fee on a mattress return (which can be $350 and up), a restocking fee, or other return fees. We hear about this type of thing often, so don't get stuck by not knowing the return fees up front (for the record, we have just a $75 return fee on a mattress -- and no other surprise fees).

Step 3: Get A Real money-back Return -- Don't Settle For A Comfort Return, In Store Credit, Etc.

This is a huge trap. People often mistake mattress store's comfort return policies as being money-back policies. And they for the most part are not.

No matter how you chose to buy your mattress, it is essential that you have a true money-back return. Because the bottom line is that regardless of how much research you do or mattresses you lay on, you just won't know if a particular mattress works for you till you try it out in your own home.

And the longer the trial the better. I've found that many people takes weeks to months to adjust to a new mattress. So a 30 day money-back return doesn't really cut it. I think you should shoot for 90 days at least, and I'm so serious about this I offer our customers a full 1 year money-back trial.

You will need to ask very direct questions about what the retailer's return policy is and exactly what this means. Because the language can be confusing. A "comfort guarantee" is not a money-back return policy.

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And other sellers offer some sort of trial, but only offer you store credit if you want to return the mattress(and this may be reduced by a return fee). And if there is no other mattress in the store you want, or if the return fee is unreasonably high (sometimes these have very high restocking fees), you are stuck.

I hear from customers all the time that got scammed this way and ended up paying hundreds or thousands for mattresses they couldn't return.

So ask up front what the stores return policy is if you don't like the mattress. And if they do have a true money-back trial, which can be hard to find from brick and mortar retail stores (they are much more common from internet sellers, since we have to offer them in order to have any chance of making a sale), make sure you get all the costs associated with returning a mattress under the money-back period (again restocking fees, etc. can be very high, so make sure you get them on the front side). Our return fee, for example, is just $75 -- which we waive if people make a donation of the returned mattress to a charity.

And ... check out that they really do honor the money-back trial. That is one reason I've been a member of the BBB for all these years. Our A+ rating is a testament to the fact that I do honor our 1 year money-back trial. Make sure whoever you buy from also has this sort of independent, third party ratings that show they really do honor their money-back return policy.

Step 4: Make Sure A Mattress' Warranty Really Stands For Something -- And Isn't Instead Just A Worthless Piece Of Paper

Ever read a mattress warranty? They can be so dense that they are practically unreadable.

One key thing to look for is whether the warranty period is pro-rated or non-prorated. The best is non-prorated. This means that during the replacement period the mattress will be replaced without you having to pay (although the warranty may specify a shipping fee, etc.).

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In contrast, with a pro-rated warranty you will pay an ever increasing portion of the cost of the mattress to replace it if you run into a warranty issue.

Another issue is the length of the warranty. My personal opinion is that warranties that have super long lengths are suspect and just marketing tools to sell a bed.

I say this because I know that the average useful life of a mattress is 7 - 10 years. And that those manufacturers offering 20+ year warranties do so in order to get a sale, but often the fine print in the warranties make it so that no one can ever really qualify for a warranty replacement.

Here's the problem. These warranties often define a certain amount of indentation as being required before a warranty replacement. And the amount of indentation is absurd -- often 1.5" or more.

So most people get stiffed, even if their mattress forms a dip.

And here's the part you may not know -- the comfort layers of a mattress, often the foam layers, can soften and break down over time without their actually forming an indentation. And in these cases, again you usually get nothing.

So make sure, when you are looking at mattresses, to look over the actual language of the warranty to understand what exactly it covers and if you are likely to be left out in the cold if you have a problem.

What I was getting our new 10" Memory Foam Mattress put together, I worked with the manufacturer to get a real warranty. Instead of going with a 20 year warranty that would have so many restrictions it would be almost worthless, I went with a 10-yearwarranty that really would cover issues that came up.

I kept the language purposefully vague and didn't define the amount of body indentation -- so customers having a problem wouldn't get stiffed if they only had 1" of impression instead of 1.5".

By doing this, I've been able to take the few warranty issues that have come up and really try to get a sense of what the problem is and whether it was a warranty issue. And our manufacturer has been great about stepping up to cover them because they understand how important it is to take care of customers that have invested in you (and that is rare to find in a mattress manufacturer).

Step 5: Arm Yourself With Information So You Can Have The Best Chance Of Finding The Right Mattress For You.

Now that you are ready to go out and shop for your mattress, it is important to arm yourself with knowledge so you aren't overwhelmed by all the hype surrounding the vast array of mattress options.

Because while in the good old days there were just a few innerspring bed choices -- a standard model and perhaps an upgraded one with a few more springs or a bit more cushiony feel -- today there are literally dozens of choices of different innerspring configurations as well as all the new specialty bedding choices that are the fastest growing part of the mattress market - memory foam mattresses, air beds, and latex mattresses.

It is literally enough to make you crazy. A good example is the industry leader in the mattress niche we specialize in, memory foam mattresses. While Tempur-Pedic tm started with just one model years ago and offered just this one model for many years, today it offers 11 different models. I've gone into their showrooms at the industry shows and, even though I'm in the industry, it is enough to make my head swim. I really sympathize with consumers trying to wade through this sea of mattress possibilities. The whole thing is a bit overwhelming.

I have to say my bias is towards the specialty mattresses. Even before I was in the business, I had slept on foam since college. I just don't find metal coils comfortable, and no matter how you dress them up with "comfort" layers of cotton, wool and foam I still feel the coils (the "princess and the pea" have nothing on me). But comfort is a very individual thing, and you may well feel that coils are the most comfortable or yet a different type of mattress surface (latex or air, for example).

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So my general advice to people is to find a basic mattress "core" that they find comfortable -- whether that "core" (the basic support structure of a mattress, usually 6+" or so thick) is made out of springs, foam, latex or air.

All of these different "core" options have their distinctive feels and properties, so start by testing out basic models of each to see what feels comfortable. Then once you know what type of "core" you like, try out these type of mattresses with different comfort layer options.

So after the basic option, try one with high density foam or latex foam (a more expensive comfort layer option), then perhaps one with memory foam (often on top of one or more layers of a more basic foam), etc. This way, you can get an idea for what feels comfortable to you, and hopefully avoid paying for all the frills -- just for the comfort layers that really make a difference for you.

The key to making sure you get what you want at the best possible price is to come into the mattress buying experience armed with the facts. If you go in blind, chances are you will either be overwhelmed by the whole thing or end up at the mercy of the salesperson (and while many are knowledgeable, don't kid yourself -- they are interested in selling you the upgraded, more expensive mattresses with the highest profit margins, since most, if not all, work on sales commission).

So here's what I've done: in my areas of specialty I've put together buying guides to give you the essential information you need to see if these kind of mattresses might make sense for you and what to look for when buying them. And for those outside my area of expertise, I've looked across the net to find guides that really seem to know their stuff and are very informative.

Some bullet points about different kinds of mattress options:

  • INNERSPRING MATTRESSES

    Innerspring mattresses remain the biggest sellers in the mattress industry, although the specialty mattress area (memory foam, air beds, latex mattresses) is growing rapidly. In fact, if you look at the type of materials used in many innerspring mattresses these days, you will see that memory foam and latex are increasingly used in innersprings.

    Innerspring mattresses have become progressively thicker over the years, and now commonly run 11" high and many are 13 - 15" and up. I recently went on vacation and the innerspring bed was so thick that they provided a footstool to be able to climb into bed.

    What is responsible for this blowing up of the innerspring mattress? I think the basic issue is that metal isn't comfortable. And while a metal spring does compress and give, it still isn't something you would want to sleep directly on. So as consumers have looked for a more comfortable mattress, manufacturers have added increasingly thick layers of "comfort" material (as it is known in the industry). So these days it is common for innersprings to have multiple layers of foam and other cushioning materials. And in the better innersprings, these layers often include the more comfortable and dense comfort layers that have come into the industry over the last few years -- memory foam and now latex.

  • So what should you look for when shopping for an innerspring mattress? Again, this isn't my area of expertise, but I found a good, common sense article "Going to The Mattresses". I couldn't agree more with the writer's assessment that pillow tops are a waste of money and a ripoff. Honestly, if you want a pillow top feel it is better to just buy a good quality, comfortable innerspring mattress and then buy a quality topper to put on it (not like the low quality foams they use in a typical pillow top that break down after a few years). 

  • MEMORY FOAM MATTRESSES

    I've been sleeping on memory foam for 14 years now -- it was the first thing that really helped ease my severe back pain (from a snow skiing accident). This was back when memory foam first started to become available to consumers (before that it was just used in the medical industry), and it was so new and "cool" that I had all sorts of people coming over to lie on my bed. When a few got so comfy they didn't want to get off, I knew this was something big and contacted the company to see if I could be a reseller.

    The memory foam business has come a long way since then, and now every major manufacturer has their brand...even Home Depot! 

     

  • LATEX MATTRESSES

    Latex mattresses have been around since the '40s and '50s -- there was a popular Sears model that people still talk about. Latex beds have become a hot trend as of late since latex has a very firm, resilient feel that makes a terrific sleep surface.

    Latex mattresses have become very big in Europe over the last 10 -15 years, and now are the latex hot trend in the U.S. The reason is their comfort and also that they are seen as an all-natural product. So latex appeals to not only those looking for comfort, but also those concerned about getting a "green", sustainable mattress or one that is all natural for allergy or other health reasons.

    The downside of latex is that it is expensive to make and latex mattresses sell at a premium over standard innersprings or even the more moderate memory foam mattresses (such as the one we carry).

    But beware, not all latex is created equal. Strangely, while latex mattresses started off being made of natural latex, they now are often made primarily of synthetic "latex" (chemically similar to natural latex, but made from petrochemicals rather than natural latex (which is made from the sap of the rubber tree)). Synthetic latex and natural latex feel a bit different, so it is important to ask what type of latex a particular "latex mattress" is made of so that you can compare apples to apples.

    Personally, I like natural latex. All-natural latex can be difficult to find, though, and for those wanting latex for eco or allergy reasons you really need to make sure that the latex you are looking at is really all-natural.

     

Here are yet some more companies we recommend for Hybrid mattress options, based on quality, performance, customer satisfaction, return policy, and strength of warranty. Be sure to visit our Where To Buy page to see our entire list of almost 40 dealers.

Keetsa The Good Sleep Company - Shop Now!
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