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BED REVIEWS

What to Look for When Shopping for Your Mattress:


What size do you need? Standard mattress dimensions in the U.S. are: twin (39 inches by 75 inches), double or full (54 inches by 75 inches), queen (60 inches by 80 inches), standard king (76 inches by 80 inches), and California king (72 inches by 84 inches). Some high-end mattresses don't come in sizes smaller than a queen, so make sure the mattress you try in the store is available in the size you want.


How do you sleep?  People who normally sleep on their sides may need a softer mattress than back or stomach sleepers. However, a mattress of medium firmness is usually comfortable for everyone.


Do you get hot in the middle of the night? Foam mattresses retain more body heat than innersprings and air mattresses. A latex foam mattress may provide better ventilation than memory foam, but only if the perforations in the latex are big enough to provide sufficient airflow, at least 1 centimeter across.


Mattress for 2? If your partner is a restless sleeper, you may prefer a foam mattress that transfers less motion than an innerspring. If you strongly prefer a firm mattress while your partner prefers a soft one or vice versa, your best option may be a dual-chambered air mattress, which can be adjusted to a different level of firmness on each side.


Rest on the mattress for at least 15 minutes. When trying out mattresses in the store, spend five minutes each on your back and both sides as well as your stomach, if that's one of your normal sleeping positions. If you sleep with a partner, try out mattresses together.


Check the firmness. If you have difficulty rolling over, the bed is probably too soft. On the other hand, if you can easily slide your hand under the small of your back while lying on your back -- or if you feel pressure on your hips and shoulders -- it's probably too firm.


For an innerspring mattress, consider a new box spring. Some sources say an old box spring can be kept if it is in good condition, but others say a new one will prolong the life of the mattress. Also, using an old foundation could void the warranty of the mattress.