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Hard or Soft? Issues in Buying a Mattress

Hard and soft have long been an issue in the bedroom, but anyone who’s shopped for a mattress in recent years knows things are now more complicated. Foam, inflatable, super-firm, and pillow-top have been added to the mix, making mattress shopping as difficult as looking for a co-op.

You’re advised to lie down to test the feel of each mattress, and you can’t avoid conversations about whether or not the Tempur-Pedic sleeps “hot,” the durability of coils, and memory foam top pads. After twenty-six years of marriage that included a son and three previous mattresses, we discovered my husband and I are incompatible: he prefers firm while I like cushy.

Many stores offer a free trial period, which is lucky because the first mattress we bought was impossibly hard and was replaced almost immediately by a Shiffman pillow-top, a concession so ideal for those who want to be self-righteous. Despite the new addition, homeless people on the street continue to sleep more soundly than my husband, who may be restless because we have to rotate this super-heavy mattress every six months to prevent it from conforming to the shape of our bodies, not a concern for the guy on our corner who has only a blanket and cardboard box.

Any pleasure I might have gotten from the new Shiffman was undermined by Lindsay Wagner’s commercials touting the Sleep Number bed as the only way a person could get a good night’s sleep, as you’re able to adjust the firmness on your side to your own taste. Why didn’t we see her commercial during our thirty-day trial period? This option did cause me to wonder, however, how often cheating has been uncovered by someone finding the setting on their side of a Sleep Number bed had been changed.