GIMME SHELTER-Lumpy mattress? Test drive new foam models

Anne Weaver, Mattress King

Q: Okay, our old mattress is killing us! My wife and I need a real bed and a decent night's sleep for once. What are our options?

A: Given the fact that people spend nearly a third of their life sleeping, it's amazing how little thought most people put into buying a bed. In fact, people spend far more money on comforts for their cars than their beds. But try sleeping in your car!

Believe it or not, a normal person will change position during the night an average of 75 times! If you have a bad bed, your movements are more likely to wake you up during the night. Hence you'll sleep poorly. If you have a good bed, you're still going to move around, but you won't wake up.

First, you should go to a mattress store and do a comfort test. The best way to begin choosing a bed is simply to find out what feels good. Hard, soft, somewhere in the middle? You decide. Lie down on all the beds you can, and get a feel for what you want.

Of course, for good back support, you'll want a firm bed. Fortunately, beds are made with all kinds of high-quality foam that combines firmness with comfort. For example, Swedish foam– or "memory foam" as it's sometimes called– is a putty-like foam that shapes to your body contours. Latex rubber foam also offers that firm-but-soft feel.

One problem with Swedish and latex foams is that they heat up as your body heats up during the night. Fortunately, one company has come out with a new kind of foam, called "convoluted foam," that allows air to circulate within, making it both comfortable and cool to the touch.

A common problem for couples is that they have different comfort needs. In fact, I can always tell when couples have that problem because they come in and ask for two twin extra longs!

Fortunately, that company now makes a bed with an "air rest" system that allows couples to adjust the comfort levels on their side of the bed. Using a small hand-held pump, you can slowly adjust the left or right "cells" of the bed until you feel the right level of comfort. In addition, there's very little movement from one side of the bed to the other. These beds also feature the new "cool comfort" convoluted foam.

In the end, it's all about how a bed makes you feel when you lie down on it. If you're tired of sleeping poorly or waking up with a stiff back, maybe it's time to test-drive some new options.

Anne Weaver