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Consumer Reports, May 2010

Tempur-Pedic 83

Original Mattress Factory 81

Select Comfort 80

Denver Mattress 78

Simmons 76

Kingsdown 74

Serta 74

Sealy 73

Stearns & Foster 69

Spring Air 66

What's the difference between the warranty and comfort guarantee?

A warranty covers manufacturing defects, while a comfort guarantee allows dissatisfied consumers the opportunity to exchange a mattress if it doesn't live up to expectations, typically within 21 to 100 days. But note that most comfort guarantees carry a penalty of as much as $400 or 15 percent of the purchase price, and there could also be a redelivery charge. So be sure to ask. The models we tested from Sealy, Serta, and Simmons offered a non-prorated 10-year warranty; the Select Comfort and Tempur-Pedic warranties were for 20 years. The Select Comfort warranty was prorated after a few years, and the Tempur-Pedic was prorated after 10. Prorating refers to a warranty that covers less and less of the original purchase price the longer you've owned the mattress. If your mattress is stained, that could also void the warranty.

Our panelists were especially divided on the memory-foam mattresses, which use your body's heat to help conform the foam to your contours. Forty-eight percent of panelists who tried the Tempur-Pedic liked that feeling, but 36 percent didn't. Don't automatically dismiss memory foam based on your assessment of one bed. Some panelists who were critical of the Tempur-Pedic didn't find the Sealy Comfort Series Blue Lake Firm (Sears, $2,120), another memory-foam mattress, as objectionable.

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You may also want to consider a natural latex mattress; that will be the next type I will buy and hopefully that will be in the near future. There is a store in Royal Oak that sells them if you're interested in checking them out.

Reason - similar to memory foam as far as contouring to your body and no springs to jab at your pressure points; but with the latex you don't have to worry about chemicals going into producing it or any potential off-gassing.

I only briefly tested a couple but they were darned comfy. :happy:

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mattress ? Or ever sleep on one ?

Never tried one. Highly recommend the Beauty Rest though (the one with independent coils). It really is head and shoulders better than any conventional mattress, but can't say how it compares to the TP or the adjustable inflatable. Small caveat - I would not buy one for a kid that's going play trampoline on it since that kind of abuse will tear the coil pockets, but in 'normal use' ours has lasted 20 yrs and is still fantastic.

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We have used a memory foam mattress for 10 years that we bought from a "Relax the Back" store. I don't remember the brand name. We use it without a box spring, so the mattress sits directly on the wooden slats of a bed frame. I sleep lousy, but I have sleep problems with any mattress. It does not give me back problems. On a king size, there is a slight ridge in the middle, because the mattress is actually made up of two foam pads.

One if its virtues is that there is no bounce, so when I lie down it has a minimal effect on my wife's side of the bad.

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We own a memory foam mattress. I love it. Very comfortable. We were this close (*holds two fingers really close together*) to getting an air bed and then the guy talked us out of it. His reasoning was that with the air bed, more weight in one area (your mid sections) will push the air to your head or feet, making them "rise up." In car terms think beam axle.

With the foam beds each area compresses according to the weight applied. More weight in the middle does not prevent the area by your head from compressing according to the weight there. Again in car terms, think independent suspension.

As I said, very comfortable. There is also ZERO transfer of movement, which is nice because I tend to toss and turn a bit more than my wife and she always hated when I would roll over and wake her up.

That said, there is one draw back to the memory foam: It captures your body heat very well. Especially in the summers it can be hot. Now, I've never been unable to sleep but I have noticed at times it's been a touch warming than I'd prefer. However we have a ceiling fan in our bedroom and I've always been able to stay comfortable with that one if it was a hot night. The newer foam beds are coming with a bit of latex foam at the top (1/2 to an inch or so). The latex dissipates heat better than the memory foam so it helps to keep it cooler.

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You may also want to consider a natural latex mattress; that will be the next type I will buy and hopefully that will be in the near future. There is a store in Royal Oak that sells them if you're interested in checking them out.

Reason - similar to memory foam as far as contouring to your body and no springs to jab at your pressure points; but with the latex you don't have to worry about chemicals going into producing it or any potential off-gassing.

I only briefly tested a couple but they were darned comfy. :happy:

What chemicals are used to foam memory foam that you are worried about that aren't used to foam latex? As a chemist, this seems a little strange to me.

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Never tried one. Highly recommend the Beauty Rest though (the one with independent coils). It really is head and shoulders better than any conventional mattress, but can't say how it compares to the TP or the adjustable inflatable. Small caveat - I would not buy one for a kid that's going play trampoline on it since that kind of abuse will tear the coil pockets, but in 'normal use' ours has lasted 20 yrs and is still fantastic.

That's what I have.....prefer the Simmons to all the other conventional mattresses. Pillow top foam has a tendency to cave a bit though. Didn't care for the Tempur Pedic feel and since I have a tendency to sweat in bed occasionally(don't know why) this would only make it worse. Also didn't care for the smell but I suppose that goes away.

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We have a tempur-pedic and I STRONGLY recommend it to those with back problems. It is the most comfortable mattress I have ever owned or slept on. Slightly expensive, but I think it was well worth it. I am not in pain getting out of bed in the morning now and my guy that doesn't have back problems agrees that it's the best sleep he's ever had since we bought the mattress.

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What chemicals are used to foam memory foam that you are worried about that aren't used to foam latex? As a chemist, this seems a little strange to me.

Well, clearly I am not a chemist so I will just give you some links and you can make of them what you will. I'm sure if you do some Google searching you can find more info regarding the exact chemicals used to produce memory foam mattresses and the potential health hazards attributed to them.

As far as foam latex, I am not suggesting using synthetic latex (petrochemicals), I am suggesting mattresses made from 100% natural latex from sap of rubber trees.

Memory foam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tempur-pedic | New Living Blog

Toxic Mattress Chemicals and Memory Foam Mattress Toxicity Cancer and VOC

Latex Mattress Buyers' Guide

I guess I'd just rather sleep on something with as few chemicals in it as possible because, speaking from personal experience, my respiratory system can be easily irritated when I'm exposed to some chemical laden products (I've cut out a lot products I used to use because of this). It's one of a few reasons I have for sleeping on a natural latex pillow for the past 10 years. But, some of us are more sensitive to these things than others.

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Yes, we have two of them. I couldn't ever sleep on anything else. It's a good investment because you spend roughly 1/3 of your life on it.

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Nuthin finer than 3 croaker sacks full of Spanish Moss. Of course I was much younger and my memory may have faded. Luckily we didn't have chiggers in our woods. Spent a lot of nights out there.

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Well, clearly I am not a chemist so I will just give you some links and you can make of them what you will. I'm sure if you do some Google searching you can find more info regarding the exact chemicals used to produce memory foam mattresses and the potential health hazards attributed to them.

As far as foam latex, I am not suggesting using synthetic latex (petrochemicals), I am suggesting mattresses made from 100% natural latex from sap of rubber trees.

Memory foam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tempur-pedic | New Living Blog

Toxic Mattress Chemicals and Memory Foam Mattress Toxicity Cancer and VOC

Latex Mattress Buyers' Guide

I guess I'd just rather sleep on something with as few chemicals in it as possible because, speaking from personal experience, my respiratory system can be easily irritated when I'm exposed to some chemical laden products (I've cut out a lot products I used to use because of this). It's one of a few reasons I have for sleeping on a natural latex pillow for the past 10 years. But, some of us are more sensitive to these things than others.

I am not trying to pick at you, but I get a kick out of how people think that being natural doesn't make something a chemical and therefore safe. I was only asking you because you were speaking The only difference between natural latex and synthetic (polyisoprene) is the leftover proteins that some people are allergic to. When I read this, I thought the things I would be concerned about would be the adhesives used, and the use of a volatile organic foaming agent.

I took a look at the tempur-pedic patent literature and confirmed that it is a polyurethane foam as I suspected. Polyurethanes are great to foam, because they react with water to produce carbon dioxide which foams the material. They do this because it is cheaper than volatile organics, and there are no safety concerns with the foaming agent off-gassing, as you put it. Looking through the links you provided, it appears that isocyanates (a component of polyurethanes) are added to the "natural" latex for this reason as well. The material itself is not volatile, so it will not evaporate. So gassing off of the material itself shouldn't be a concern.

I did not get in to specifics of the adhesive used in the process to manufacture these materials. It does seem reasonable to me that each of these materials would be made in the same fashion, and from reading the brochures, I did not get the impression that the natural foams use a different adhesive that has less chemicals. Chemicals generally are not volatile either due to the fact that they are so damned sticky.

The impression I got from reading the literature that you have linked states that the natural foam is better because it does not contain a whole laundry list of chemicals. Some of the chemicals on the list are not even used in the civilized world anymore. It appears that they are comparing natural latex to the aggregate memory foam product. I find this dishonest, because to make the natural foam material, chemical components need to be added to make the material have the desired properties. I feel that in reality, the latex needs to be processed in almost the same way as the polyurethane to make a salable product. The biggest difference between these two from my point of view is likely to be the leftover plant proteins that give people allergic reactions, and possibly the price.

I am not trying to knock the product, I just don't think that the difference of the two products is as large as it is made out to be. That and the "chemicals are bad" ideology annoys me.

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Nuthin finer than 3 croaker sacks full of Spanish Moss. Of course I was much younger and my memory may have faded. Luckily we didn't have chiggers in our woods. Spent a lot of nights out there.

Spanish Moss. Always a great memory that. Must have been 1976, we had been in FL for the holiday and the Orange Bowl, and when we started back north it was gridlock as far as the eye could see on the turnpike. So my not yet wife and I decided to wing it and heading out at dawn, drove up every back road in FL and South GA to pick I75 on the far side of the still unfinished gap at Macon(or was it Marietta?). A bit of 'Old Florida' still existed in those days and we saw it all. The moss everywhere heavy in the trees, the rocking chairs on tumbledown front porches. An experience to trump any claim that the personal automobile was not a great invention.

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Spanish Moss. Always a great memory that. Must have been 1976, we had been in FL for the holiday and the Orange Bowl, and when we started back north it was gridlock as far as the eye could see on the turnpike. So my not yet wife and I decided to wing it and heading out at dawn, drove up every back road in FL and South GA to pick I75 on the far side of the still unfinished gap at Macon(or was it Marietta?). A bit of 'Old Florida' still existed in those days and we saw it all. The moss everywhere heavy in the trees, the rocking chairs on tumbledown front porches. An experience to trump any claim that the personal automobile was not a great invention.
When I travel to North Florida I never travel the Interstate. I travel through the Ocala National Forest on US 19. All two lane and lightly used. A beautiful and restful drive. 301 is another that winds it's way down to Southwest Florida.

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I am not trying to pick at you, but I get a kick out of how people think that being natural doesn't make something a chemical and therefore safe. I was only asking you because you were speaking The only difference between natural latex and synthetic (polyisoprene) is the leftover proteins that some people are allergic to. When I read this, I thought the things I would be concerned about would be the adhesives used, and the use of a volatile organic foaming agent.

I took a look at the tempur-pedic patent literature and confirmed that it is a polyurethane foam as I suspected. Polyurethanes are great to foam, because they react with water to produce carbon dioxide which foams the material. They do this because it is cheaper than volatile organics, and there are no safety concerns with the foaming agent off-gassing, as you put it. Looking through the links you provided, it appears that isocyanates (a component of polyurethanes) are added to the "natural" latex for this reason as well. The material itself is not volatile, so it will not evaporate. So gassing off of the material itself shouldn't be a concern.

I did not get in to specifics of the adhesive used in the process to manufacture these materials. It does seem reasonable to me that each of these materials would be made in the same fashion, and from reading the brochures, I did not get the impression that the natural foams use a different adhesive that has less chemicals. Chemicals generally are not volatile either due to the fact that they are so damned sticky.

The impression I got from reading the literature that you have linked states that the natural foam is better because it does not contain a whole laundry list of chemicals. Some of the chemicals on the list are not even used in the civilized world anymore. It appears that they are comparing natural latex to the aggregate memory foam product. I find this dishonest, because to make the natural foam material, chemical components need to be added to make the material have the desired properties. I feel that in reality, the latex needs to be processed in almost the same way as the polyurethane to make a salable product. The biggest difference between these two from my point of view is likely to be the leftover plant proteins that give people allergic reactions, and possibly the price.

I am not trying to knock the product, I just don't think that the difference of the two products is as large as it is made out to be. That and the "chemicals are bad" ideology annoys me.

Good points Walt. Allergies to natural latex are indeed probably far more common than reactions to most synthetic elastomers. However, I would not be so sanguine about the use of Iso-cyanates. Toluene-DiIsocyanate is used in the production of many foams and it is a nasty actor. After years of not reacting, a body can develop a sudden and severe sensitivity to it. Exposure is now very tightly controlled in the industrial setting. Dealing with TDI is by now pretty well established engineering, but it's a risk I'd be concerned about unless I could verify the origin and quality of foamed material going into my living environment, which a quality manufacturer should be able to do for you.

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Good points Walt. Allergies to natural latex are indeed probably far more common than reactions to most synthetic elastomers. However, I would not be so sanguine about the use of Iso-cyanates. Toluene-DiIsocyanate is used in the production of many foams and it is a nasty actor. After years of not reacting, a body can develop a sudden and severe sensitivity to it. Exposure is now very tightly controlled in the industrial setting. Dealing with TDI is by now pretty well established engineering, but it's a risk I'd be concerned about unless I could verify the origin and quality of foamed material going into my living environment, which a quality manufacturer should be able to do for you.

The point is that isocyanates are being used in both materials. While it is a risk, its reactivity with water makes it pretty easy to neutralize. I was referring to a tempur pedic foam, which is likely higher quality than a low end Chinese generic brand. I wasn't trying to say there are no concerns, but that they are generally overblown. These small concerns are likely identical with both materials.

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That and the "chemicals are bad" ideology annoys me.

You're a chemist so of course it annoys you. :cheeky:

I can only speak from personal experience with certain products and how they effect me. Expose me to some of these memory foam products, like when testing out beds and both the beds and pillows used for testing contain the product, and I can smell them when others say they don't notice. Not long after being around those products I will start to get congested and my breathing becomes more restricted (like when I've been stuck in an area with smokers). So while you think that "these small concerns are likely identical with both materials", how my system reacts to the 2 products says there is a difference; and I don't have those same reactions when exposed to the latex materials in mattresses and pillows.

I'm the same way when I get around carpet samples and rugs on display in stores that aren't made from natural fibers. The smell can be overwhelming and it gets harder to breathe so I get the hell out of that area; however, I don't seem to have that problem when I'm around the wool, cotton, jute, etc. rugs. Another example for me are shower curtain liners. I used to hate to have to replace the old PVC liners, the smell would be so heavy for the first week or two that I felt like I was suffocating in the shower. Then the EVA liners came out. While I don't understand what the chemical components and differences are for these 2 products all I can say is that I don't have those same issues with the EVA that I did with the PVC.

So I'm not trying to pick at you either, but you need to understand that some of us cannot tolerate whatever it is that some of these products are giving off. You may think they're harmless but when your body reacts in a negative way from exposure to those products then you're not going to convince me that this product isn't potentially capable of posing some health risk to me. And even if it appeared to be a low risk what are the chances of it becoming more than that when there is long term exposure?

Who knows, maybe I'm like the canary in a coal mine when it comes to some products.

Forgot to mention, all chemical talk aside, I also find the feel of the latex mattress to be a heckuva a lot more comfortable then the Tempur-pedic. On the latex I felt lighter, almost buoyant, whereas with the memory foam it felt like a foam brick once my body settled into place. But mattress comfort is very personal, everybody is different in what works best for them.

Edited by Velma Dinkley

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You're a chemist so of course it annoys you. :cheeky:

I am usually annoyed because the opinions are usually either very misinformed, or downright ignorant, not that I am suggest you fit either of these categories. Like I said before, from my point of view, from the outside, the main difference in would be in in the foaming agent in my mind, and the same one is used in both. As an example, when told water is a chemical, many people will deny it. They say it cannot be a chemical because the drink it everyday and are healthy. Everything is a chemical, except perhaps a vacuum, and those don't really exist.

I can only speak from personal experience with certain products and how they effect me. Expose me to some of these memory foam products, like when testing out beds and both the beds and pillows used for testing contain the product, and I can smell them when others say they don't notice. Not long after being around those products I will start to get congested and my breathing becomes more restricted (like when I've been stuck in an area with smokers). So while you think that "these small concerns are likely identical with both materials", how my system reacts to the 2 products says there is a difference; and I don't have those same reactions when exposed to the latex materials in mattresses and pillows.

I'm the same way when I get around carpet samples and rugs on display in stores that aren't made from natural fibers. The smell can be overwhelming and it gets harder to breathe so I get the hell out of that area; however, I don't seem to have that problem when I'm around the wool, cotton, jute, etc. rugs. Another example for me are shower curtain liners. I used to hate to have to replace the old PVC liners, the smell would be so heavy for the first week or two that I felt like I was suffocating in the shower. Then the EVA liners came out. While I don't understand what the chemical components and differences are for these 2 products all I can say is that I don't have those same issues with the EVA that I did with the PVC.

PVC vs EVA is another case where it is not the material that is questionable, but the compounds present due to the processing. Polymers (plastics/rubbers) are for the most part chemically inert.

So I'm not trying to pick at you either, but you need to understand that some of us cannot tolerate whatever it is that some of these products are giving off. You may think they're harmless but when your body reacts in a negative way from exposure to those products then you're not going to convince me that this product isn't potentially capable of posing some health risk to me. And even if it appeared to be a low risk what are the chances of it becoming more than that when there is long term exposure?

The reason that I said that the laundry list of chemicals are low risk is because some are not used in manufacturing in modern chemistry, and because they were things that wouldn't be present in any significant quantities. The only way that many, if not all, of those things are present in more than trace quantities is if they were used as a volatile foaming agent, and that is not how PU foams are made. Due to the low amounts, they either would not come out of the material, or if they did gas off, this would prevent long term exposure simply because they already gassed off.

Who knows, maybe I'm like the canary in a coal mine when it comes to some products.

Forgot to mention, all chemical talk aside, I also find the feel of the latex mattress to be a heckuva a lot more comfortable then the Tempur-pedic. On the latex I felt lighter, almost buoyant, whereas with the memory foam it felt like a foam brick once my body settled into place. But mattress comfort is very personal, everybody is different in what works best for them.

That is great. I am glad that you like it for this reason. This is a different material with different physical properties, so it should feel different. I only wish that there was a fully synthetic version of this mattress instead of your partially synthetic "natural" mattress, so that you could compare those as well.

It definitely sounds like a good product. I came into this thread because I have been curious about non-traditional mattresses, but had concerns about the heat trapping of them. Are the latex mattresses different in this respect? Are they priced significantly different?

Edit: Rereading the last passage, I think it sounds a little snarky. That is unintentional throughout my pasts in this thread. I was genuinely curious of your opinion on this. It also gives me something to talk about on this board that I feel like I can give an informed opinion on, without having to continuously talk to other chemistry geeks.

Edited by Walt

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Good info though.

Very true... I agree that the "all natural" kick can be silly. Usually the "manufactured" is virtually identical (though not always).

On a semi-similar note, my wife loves jewelry and we often visit shops to look at stuff, though she rarely buys. One time we were in a fancy place that does all their own custom work. We were looking at a piece and the woman helping us was talking about something and my wife brought up that she owned this Ruby that was lab created. The woman was just horrified that my wife would even consider wearing that "fake" stuff. It was quite funny.

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I'm the same way when I get around carpet samples and rugs on display in stores that aren't made from natural fibers. The smell can be overwhelming and it gets harder to breathe so I get the hell out of that area; however, I don't seem to have that problem when I'm around the wool, cotton, jute, etc. rugs.

I wonder if there might be a psychosomatic reaction. I remember one time that I ate a pita sandwich for the first time. Somehow I cut the inside of my mouth a little bit... I think I hit a straw funny in my mouth or something... anyway, I was bleeding just a little bit when I was eating it and of course had the coppery task of blood in my mouth when I was eating it. It was a strange and not really pleasant mix of flavors. After that when I tried to eat a pita again a I got the same weird taste in my mouth, even though I wasn't bleeding. It even got to the point when I would just smell that pita bread that I'd get that coppery taste going on. It was really weird, I knew better, but I couldn't convince my mouth that there was no blood. I haven't even tried to eat pita breed in a long, long time. I dunno if I'd still get that weird taste if I did.

Of course it's entirely possible you're just really sensitive too. I'm certainly not trying to say that it's all in your head. And even if it is, that still doesn't stop the symptoms from coming on. Like I said, I tasted the blood, even though I knew it wasn't there.

Forgot to mention, all chemical talk aside, I also find the feel of the latex mattress to be a heckuva a lot more comfortable then the Tempur-pedic. On the latex I felt lighter, almost buoyant, whereas with the memory foam it felt like a foam brick once my body settled into place. But mattress comfort is very personal, everybody is different in what works best for them.

One important point for any foam bed shopper to realize is that there are different thicknesses you can get to the foam. Some are softer, some are firmer, just like regular mattresses. Don't try the first one and if you don't like it assume that all the others will feel the same. Get a sales person to show you the different weights to see if one works better than the other.

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