Your mattress is old, and it sags in the middle. You wake up with a backache every morning, and, even though the salesman assured you the mattress has a 10-year life span, it's only five years old. Yes -- it's time to go mattress shopping, but the dilemma begins with S-names. Simmons, Stearns & Foster, Spring Air, Serta, and Sealy are the major players in the mattress market, and comparing the products they produce is difficult. Arm yourself with information before you shop, and wear comfortable clothes when you do, because test driving the extensive mattress collection produced by Serta and Sealy takes stamina.
Comparing Apples With Apples
Both Serta and Sealy mattresses dominate the market. Serta, the largest, offers two different types of mattresses with two distinct support designs: gel-infused memory foam and inner spring. Subsets of these types are numerous. Sealy offers three types of support: inner spring, memory foam and latex foam.
When test driving mattresses, decide which type suits your body and comfort level. Then shop Sealy and Serta for that type when doing your comparison. Don't expect the name of the mattress you found at the first store to carry over to another store; it won't happen. Manufacturers change the names from store-to-store, which makes comparison shopping more difficult.
Coil count is related to comfort, not how many coils the mattress has or what the wires are made of. Lay on the mattress. Feel how the mattress covering that's installed to protect your body from the feel of the coils responds to your body weight. Larry Thomas of Furniture Today, known as the guru of the bedding industry, discounts coil count. The theory is that you should get a better coil count the more you pay, but whether it makes a difference is up to you, the user and how the mattress feels.
While Sealy's Optimum memory foam mattress has more foam or latex than most of the competition, it's also a hot mattress that can emit a gassy odor. Serta's iComfort memory foam mattress has few reports of off-gassing and doesn't retain heat. Body support diminishes quicker when using a Serta memory foam mattress, more so than with other memory foam mattresses.
Support and Comfort
When shopping both Serta and Sealy, separate how the mattress supports your body and the comfort it gives. They are two different indicators as to how well you'll sleep on the mattress. Support is the reaction the inner springs or foam give when your body is on the mattress. When weight is applied, the support system should push up to fill in the gaps from your back and spine.
Comfort is how your body feels when lying on the mattress. Feel how the many layers that are piled on top of the inner springs or foam appeal to you. If you prefer a hard mattress, you'll likely react differently on a comfort scale from those who love a soft, plush mattress.
Sealy's Comfort Scales
U.S. Mattress studied the mattress brands extensively and devised a comfort scale, which it affixed to each of the many mattress versions both Sealy and Serta manufacture. Sealy does not make a very firm mattress. The Sealy comfort scale begins with firm to medium-firm and includes 13 different models. Their mid-range mattresses are ideal for couples with different definitions of mattress comfort, and these mattresses constitute the bulk of their production. Pillow-top and plush mattresses occupy Sealy's soft classification and are limited to just six versions. There are no Sealy super-soft models.
Serta's Comfort Scales
Just as Sealy does not make an ultra-firm mattress, neither does Serta. The U.S. Mattress study indicates that the Serta comfort scale begins with firm to medium-firm mattresses, and they offer 10 models in this category. Their mid-range selection covers 13 models, and 11 styles are available in their soft category.
If you've recently stayed at a hotel and slept on an exceptionally comfortable mattress, it's likely to have been one of the Serta Hotel Series beds. The largest hotel supplier, Serta recognized that customers were applauding the comfort of their hotel mattresses and began to offer the line to consumers. Just call Serta with the name of the hotel you slept in, and they'll match you with the model of the mattress.
The best way to determine if a mattress is for you is to lie on it. Don't be embarrassed to lie on your back, your side, your tummy and your other side while shoppers all around you ogle. This is an important decision, and you must be comfortable. Try a mattress with a box spring underneath and one without to see if you feel the difference. Be cautious of pillow-top and memory foam mattresses if you live in a warm climate and want to sleep cool. Check the depth of the mattress and determine if it's just for show or if it really affects your comfort.