Some Things I've Learned So Far

A Year in Bed

Already my dream is coming true. We've slept on several mattresses so far (a DWR Sonno — our old one, the Hastens Excelsior — September's test mattress, and also recently a Sealy Posturpedic). I've begun to collect information as to how this whole mattress and bed world works. Today I wanted to share with you our new bedroom out in the country and some things I've learned so far from this project.

1. Reassembling Our Min Bed — Platforms Need Softer Mattresses

    Above you can see my reassembly this past Saturday of our Min Bed from the city. We had to move it out to make way for the Hastens, and it's going to be interesting moving beds in and out every month. At least this one will now stay here. I love the Min frame. It's a simple, well made design that's easy to assemble and creates a nice profile close to the floor. You can put stuff under it, but it's still low.

    The mattress I put on top of it was an old Sealy Posturpedic, which was always my go-to mattress since I graduated from futons in college. The Posturpedic is not expensive and has always been — for me — a good standard American mattress. That said, as I've gotten older, I find it a bit unforgiving and it really, really needs a mattress topper to soften it up.

    In addition, I'd say that putting it on a platform is not a great idea. Platforms are really solid and provide very little give to a mattress. While I'm not a big box spring fan, I think this mattress needs one, as I woke up with a sore back again after Saturday night.

2. Americans Prefer Firm Beds

    According to many of the mattress manufacturers I've spoken with, we — Americans — generally ask for firmer beds. I guess it's the deep Puritan stock in the American culture. I've always done it, so I don't doubt that it's true, but I've recently learned that Firm is not good for everyone and that there's a real case for Softer for some people.

3. Heavier People Need Firmer Mattresses/Lighter People Need Softer Mattresses

    This is what I've heard from folks in the industry. The amount that you sink into a bed — i.e. your weight — is the real determinate for whether you should sleep on a softer or a firmer mattress. Since heavier people will sink into a mattress more easily, a firmer mattress is better for their sleeping position. The opposite is true for lighter folks. When you think of the often large weight differential between your typical man and woman, there is a real case to be made — if you follow this logic — for a different firmness on either side!

4. There's A Lot of Foam in Mattresses These Days!

    After working on sourcing a dozen good mattresses for this year, it's surprising how few of them DON'T contain some type of foam, so I did a little digging to find out more about foam. Right now, the only bed that has no foam in it on my agenda is The Hastens. Everybody seems to be using foam these days.

5. There are Two Types of Foam: Latex & Memory Foam

    Natural foam is called "natural latex" and comes from rubber trees. It is expensive, challenging to work with, and firmer than the man-made version, which is called "memory foam." Memory Foam is made of "polyurethane with additional chemicals increasing its viscosity and density.... Memory foam was developed in 1966 under a contract by NASA's Ames Research Center to improve the safety of aircraft cushions." (– quote via Wikipedia.) Memory foam is the lovely soft one that you sink into and which was first branded by Tempur-Pedic.


    Latex you tend to sleep "on."
    Memory foam you tend to sleep "in."

    Due to the qualities of both, they are often mixed into a hybrid foam that combines their strengths.

    From what I understand, even though natural latex could be considered a "green" product, it is not currently recyclable in any way, so that both foams are really cradle to grave products — i.e. they create bad waste at the ends of their lives.

    >> Latex on Wikipedia
    >> Memory Foam on Wikipedia

So, there's what I've learned so far. I'll continue to update you as I try out new mattresses and learn more from industry folks and from my own experience. Stay tuned!

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