Why I Made the Switch Back to a Traditional Coil Spring Mattress

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Diana Paulson)

There’s no knocking the convenience and cost effectiveness of the bed-in-a-box phenomenon—no days off from work for fussy white glove delivery (or tipping!), an Instagrammable unboxing experience and a price point that’s generally under a thousand dollars for a queen. They’re a great solution for tons of folks and probably have made the entire mattress market better by introducing more competition. And yet, when I decided to make the switch to a king sized bed, I found myself wanting something more than just memory foam.

You see, my twenties are over, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have occasional lower back discomfort. I don’t know if it’s all the walking, exercising, or just plain getting older. I used to love the soft, sink-in feeling of my foam mattress. But it definitely slept hot, and when you can’t control your heat (hello, old New York City apartment!), that’s a problem for roughly half the year. Countless studies have shown temperature to be a factor in sleep quality, and I would consistently wake up in the middle of the night to throw off my covers. And I don’t even use a top sheet! I tried adding a fan and moisture-wicking bedding to the equation, and those helped a bit. But I’d still wake up from time to time due to overheating and then have trouble getting back to sleep. And there’d often be a tinge of pain at small of my back in the morning when I woke up regardless of how well I had slept. I have to guess this was due, at least in part, to my foam mattress causing improper alignment on some level.

So what’s a sleep lover to do? It might not be for everybody, but I made the decision to go back to a firm, coil spring-style mattress. And I had some research to do. There are basically a handful of smaller higher-end vendors and two big players in this game, Tempur Sealy International and Serta Simmons Bedding. I went with the former’s Stearns & Foster Lux Estate collection. Real talk—the Lux Estate models aren’t cheap (though if you buy one at a place like Macy’s, you can cop a major discount depending on the promos available). But I’ve been pretty pleased with my new bed. Mattresses in this collection are made in the USA by master craftsman, which isn’t to say machinery isn’t involved, but a pro bed builder is guiding the process behind each piece from start to finish. Hand-tufting with a large needle keeps the layers of the mattress secure and cuts down on the need for excess glues to bind it together. The encased inner and outer steel coil construction, which is at the base of the mattress, is said to adapt to your weight and shape better than other single coil systems. I don’t know about all that, but I’ve been sleeping on it for about two months, and my back doesn’t hurt much in the mornings anymore.

And maybe the biggest plus is I didn’t have to lose all the cozy feels that make bed-in-a-boxes so comfortable to lay on but problematic for me, at least, once I’m about to hit a REM cycle—foam! Lux Estate models’ pillowtops have a couple types of foam in them, but I don’t feel like I’m sinking like quicksand into my bed. It’s cushy but still supportive, and body heat hasn’t been a problem either.

If you’re all good with your foam mattress and have no complaints, then by all means keep going with a bed-in-a-box. They’re great for guest rooms and first apartments for sure. But if you’ve tried one and are wondering what all the hype is about, maybe it’s time for you to go back to coils. You’ll have to take a day off work for delivery, but at least the delivery people will haul your old mattress away.