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Choosing the Right Mattress

Do you really need to pay as much as $24,000 just to get a good night's sleep? That's what some people have paid for handmade beds made from cashmere, Joma wool or damask. And if you listen to the radio, you'll hear ads for Dux beds that range from $4,000-8,000.

Precious little scientific research has been done to prove which mattresses actually work best -- no matter what the cost -- other than a study published last year that showed medium firm mattresses ease pain more than firm ones do.

Unlike kids and young adults who can doze off just about anywhere, as people slide into middle age, it's harder for them to get to sleep and stay that way. But buying the most expensive mattress won't guarantee that. In fact, one Johns Hopkins expert says the most expensive mattresses are built to be enjoyed while you're awake, not sleeping! The experts polled in the piece, which include Consumer Reports, estimate you should spend from $800-1,600 for a queen- or king-size mattress and box spring sets.

Also, when choosing a bed, a Wisconsin chiropractor keenly advised that "your spine should look the same when you're lying down as it does when you're standing up." That means the shoulders and hips should press into the mattress, and the mattress should rise up to meet the narrower waist and knees. Super-firm mattresses are rarely ideal either, according to experts, because the hips and shoulders cannot sink in enough to keep the back straight. Conversely, a too-soft mattress can act like a hammock, forcing the body into a curled position.

Spartanburg Herald-Journal November 23, 2004

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