ColumnistsDruger's Zoo

My Adventure Buying a Mattress

‘My reason for delaying so long to buy a new mattress was that I was terrified that I’d get it home and then find out that it was uncomfortable’

By Marvin Druger

Sleep is very important to our health. Although many aspects of sleep are still a mystery, we know that sleeping time is when there is physical, mental and emotional processing. During sleep, there is consolidation of memories and they change from short-term to long-term memory, hormones are synthesized, tissues are repaired and the body is revitalized.

The National Sleep Foundation has recommended that infants (4 to 11 months) need 12-15 hours of sleep; preschoolers (3 to 5) need 10-13 hours; school age children (6-13) need nine to 11 hours; teenagers (14-17) need eight to 10 hours; adults (26-64) need seven to nine hours; and older adults (65-plus) need about seven to eight hours of sleep.

Humans spend about one third of their lifespan sleeping. As I get older, I deliberately spend less time sleeping because I want to have more conscious time in my life. We try to have optimal conditions for healthy sleeping, such as darkness and quietness and a good mattress and pillow.

Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you go to bed? After many years of use, my mattress seemed to have developed grooves into which my body sunk at night. I already had replaced my regular pillow with a special cervical neck pillow to avoid a stiff neck syndrome. Now, it was time to replace the mattress.

After many months of complaining, I finally shopped for a new mattress.

First, I looked online to see approximate prices for different mattresses. I discovered that there were many different kinds, sizes, and prices of mattresses. I already had the sheets and pillowcases for a king size mattress, so I decided to get a king size mattress to avoid buying new sheets and pillowcases. I also had a headboard for a king size mattress, so the decision was easy to make.

I visited a local furniture store. A salesman greeted me warmly. It seemed that he had been standing near the door for a long time waiting for a potential customer. He gave me a pillow, so that I could try out different mattresses. I immediately noticed the great variety of mattresses, none of which had a sale price label. This store regularly advertised spectacular sales, but I had no idea of what a sale price might be. I lay down on several different mattresses. One was too soft. Another was too hard; and I tried to find one that was just right.

Lying down on a mattress for a few minutes didn’t help much. Since I had exercised at Metro Fitness just before going to the store, I almost fell asleep on every mattress I tried. My reason for delaying so long to buy a new mattress was that I was terrified that I’d get it home and then find out that it was uncomfortable.

I visited the store on three separate occasions to try out mattresses before I actually bought one. I was told that if I bought a mattress cover for more than $100, that I could exchange the mattress if it didn’t suit me. I bought the mattress cover. I also bought the king size mattress that seemed most comfortable. I didn’t haggle much about the price, especially since I couldn’t identify the spectacular sale price on any mattress. Of course, I asked for a senior discount, but there was none.

The mattress was delivered to my house on a specified day. My bedroom is on the second floor, and the hallway is adorned with framed photos of my family members. There are 13 steps up to a landing and then a sharp left turn and three more steps. I wondered what damage would be done to the photos or walls as the delivery men negotiated the hallway. Magically, they somehow got the mattress up the stairs and into the bedroom without damaging anything.

I was excited about finally having a new mattress, even though I had no idea about what it was really worth. I went to bed that night and covered myself with a quilt. It turned out that the mattress was extra firm, and it was like lying down on a wooden table. I didn’t get much sleep that night, and I even had a nightmare that I attribute to the wooden mattress.

The next day, I called the store to ask about exchanging the mattress for a softer one. I was told that it would take some time for the mattress to wear in and be comfortable. “How long?” I asked. “About a month,” I was told. Then, after a month, if the mattress was still uncomfortable, they would exchange it for a softer one. My guess is that many dissatisfied people get used to their mattress in a month, and don’t bother to exchange it. The store cashier also suggested that I get young children to jump on the mattress to soften it up. I don’t have any young children in my house, but I thought about hiring some young kids in my neighborhood to jump on the mattress. Then I realized that there were no young children in my neighborhood and I gave up on that idea. So, at the moment, I am reluctant to try to go to sleep. I don’t think my mattress adventure is uncommon.

Try buying a new mattress and you’ll see.