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A healthy night's sleep starts with a healthy mattress

Flashy Soup Can

Doctors do not prescribe mattresses, yet they can be the cause of countless aches and pains. Mattresses are important but what goes into choosing the right one?

This week on “Take Care,” Ed Perratore, senior editor for Consumer Reports, looks at how the right mattress can make all the difference.

Perratore has written thousands of product reviews for mattresses, interviewed manufacturers, shopped mattress stores and polled customers for their experience in order to provide critical advice on what to consider when mattress shopping

For the most part, consumers are on their own when choosing a mattress, but they don’t have to be. There are many ways to research which mattresses are the right ones. In fact, doing some research before heading into any store can make a difference.

“There is a lot of homework that you should do. One of the things that we see most in stores is a great variety in prices which often have no bearing on what kind of night’s sleep you will have from a mattress,” Perratore says.

Choosing a mattress comes down to one thing: preference.

“You have to go to a mattress store and tryout a mattress. That’s what really tells you that ‘yes this is right for me’ or ‘no this is really lumpy,’” Perratore says. “Lay about 10 minutes on each side that you sleep on. That should give you a good determination of what is comfortable for you.”

Reducing discomfort all starts with support. A mattress may feel comfortable for a few minutes but support is what truly helps the aches and pains.

“Along with the mattress, the box spring is necessary for providing more support, otherwise the bed itself can give a little too much for your body,” Perratore says.

Mattress buying and a mattress’ life span all rely on support for the body. Perratore says the average mattress lasts about eight years before it starts to show signs of deterioration.

“If you are seeing any kind of sagging, lumps, indentations or if you are waking up extra achy then it’s time [for a new mattress],” Perratore says.

No matter what the kind or style of mattress (memory foam, adjustable air like Sleep Number or spring) Perratore says it is still all about the consumer’s preference.

“We have found good back and side support in all [mattress types],” Perratore says. “It’s all about comfort.”