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Sleep-Deprived Homeowners Spend More on Mattresses

Let's say Americans were given three extra hours every day. If you had the choice, what would you do with the time? The answer, according to recent surveys, is sleep. In today's overworked society, sleep is a valuable commodity, and apparently more Americans are choosing to do it on a better mattress, spending up to several thousand dollars to maximize their comfort.

Some say it's money well spent. Getting enough rest is hard enough these days, so why shortchange yourself? Consider also that you probably buy a mattress about every ten years or so. Spread out over ten years, the cash outlay doesn't seem so exorbitant. So which way is the mattress market moving these days? For one thing, the firmer is better tradition is being challenged by a plusher feel or adjustable support. The American Chiropractic Association likes the trend toward "selective support." Some mattresses even offer variable firmness on each side to make both partners happy. The aging of America is also driving the trend--seniors want a more pliable mattress to match their less pliable bodies.

What's the key to selecting the best mattress? Just about all experts suggest the obvious--lying down on it for a few minutes. Start with the most expensive mattress you can afford, then work your way down to the less expensive models. Obviously, there's no need to spend more if you can't tell the difference between the $1,500 mattress and the $800 model.

Consumers can choose from customized mattresses that keep sleepers in high-tech heaven. Kingsdown makes a mattress that allows each side of the bed to incline at a separate angle, so one partner can read or watch TV while the other sleeps. But the real coup for the comfort-conscious buyer, says Kingsdown, is called Dormo-Diagnostics. It's a physical breakdown of the customer's spinal curve, weight distribution, and body pressure to create the ultimate customized mattress. The price tag? $3,500. That's roughly in the middle of the $1,000 to $8,000 price range for luxury mattresses.

Modern advances in materials are working in favor of the consumer. Foam beds now offer latex that actually adjusts to body weight to reduce pressure points. Viscoelastic mattresses conform to body temperature to provide a custom fit. Waterbeds are no longer the moving experience they once were in the 70s. Recent models are built like conventional mattresses. You don't feel like your floating on the high seas anymore.

Sources used to create this article include Diane Goldsmith and Knight Ridder News Service.

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