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Mattress shopping confusing, pricey

Memory foam, air beds mean better sleep, CR survey finds

The right mattress can help you sleep like a baby.  Shopping for one, though, can be a nightmare.

"You go into one store and the mattress has one name and one color fabric. And then you go to another store and they say this one is the same as that one. But it doesn't have the same name and it doesn't have, you know, some of the same characteristics," said Celia Kuperschmid Lehrman.

Consumer Reports surveyed more than 12,000 subscribers about their mattresses. Inner-spring mattresses did not rate as well as others.

"We found that people who bought memory-foam mattresses or air beds actually said they slept better than people who bought the traditional inner-spring mattresses," Lehrman said.

The survey also asked people about their shopping experience.

"You hear the big retailers, and they'll say, 'Best mattresses, best price.' It sounds like a slogan - you think it's true, but that's really not what our survey found. The biggest stores didn't necessarily have the best selection or the best prices," said Lehrman.

For example, Sleepy's claims to be the "mattress professionals," but it was among the lowest-rated retailers.

Macy's and Sears rated better than Sleepy's, but their ratings were still mostly so-so.

But some larger stores did very well in the Consumer Reports survey.

Select Comfort, which sells adjustable-firmness mattresses, is one. But they're pricey. The median price for a queen is almost $2,000.

But don't worry. Consumer Reports says you can get a decent mattress for much less at Costco and IKEA. While customer service was lacking at both stores, the median price for a queen mattress is well under $1,000.


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