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Let’s go to the mattresses (again)

Back in March, I wrote about how brand-name mattresses are a scam and how you can buy foam mattresses online for much cheaper with little decrease in comfort and quality. I’ve gotten a few inquiries about how the mattresses are doing after three months of use. I have no complaints. Both the DreamFoam and Tuft & Needle beds are holding up well. Only one word of caution: these beds won’t work that well if you like a firmer mattress. They can be a bit mushy, especially when warm, but I don’t notice/mind it.

I know other people purchased these mattresses after I posted about them. How are they working for you? Let me know and I’ll add your review to this post.

Update: Several people have written in with reviews of their mattresses. Here’s a sampling of some of the feedback. Gwendolyn is a fan:

I’ve been reading your site for years. I bought a Tuft and Needle mattress because of your post. It’s been about a month and great so far. It’s the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on and about a million times better than the horrible futon I bought in college (for about the same price).

John writes:

I replaced my ratty old futon with a Tuft and Needle queen-size, and I’m very pleased with it. Note that it was $50 cheaper from the company than from Amazon, free shipping from either one.

Dan echoes what many people wrote about the T&N mattress; it’s too hard not too soft:

We bought a Tuft and Needle mattress, and we were so excited about it. But it is really firm. Probably the firmest mattress we have ever slept on. It is VERY firm. It’s not going to work for us and we have started the refund process. It is high quality and if you don’t mind adding a mattress topper it could work well for you. I’m happy with the company and customer service, if they offered a softer model. I’d buy it.

Rian also thought it was too firm:

I bought the Tuft & Needle after reading your post (we moved countries recently so the timing was right to buy new bedding). We liked it for a while, but since my wife and I are both side sleepers, it turned very uncomfortable very quickly. We solved it by buying the 3” Lucid by LinenSpa Memory Foam Mattress Topper. Wouldn’t recommend Tuft & Needle to any side sleepers, though…

Rob cautions against the non-standard thickness of the mattress:

My only complaint is that the mattress is only 10” thick, which is apparently not standard for the king size sheets I’ve purchased, so I have a lot of extra material that I need to tuck under when making the bed. Small sacrifice.

Bob writes:

We went with the 10” DreamFoam Queen Size bed and after a couple of months of use still love it. My wife was very skeptical but our old mattress was terrible and it seemed like these were worth a shot. It’s possible that just about any bed would seem better by comparison, but there’s little else I can do!

This one is from Kevin:

I purchased a Tuft & Needle 10” after reading about them on back in March. The infographic on the T&N web site sealed the deal. No complaints at all. The experience of buying the mattress was insanely simple and actually enjoyable. About 5 minutes after hitting the “purchase” button a Sleepy’s commercial came on offering a free 50” LCD TV with the purchase of a mattress. I think that was a sign that we made a good decision on the purchase.

Peter shares another option:

I’m sure you’ve heard about Casper, but I’ve read that they’re a bit firmer than T&N. I haven’t slept in either, but my friends have a Casper in Minneapolis and love it. Just wanted to make sure you were aware.

Barry writes about his T&N bed:

We’re sleeping great. Sleeping through alarms great. And that the amount of time I spent talking with mattress salesmen, waiting for sales, or becoming a faux-expert in new trends in bed design equals exactly zero is awesome.

Plus I spent a third, or less, than I would have. Totally recommend.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in with comments. I am pleased most were happy with their mattresses. I get nervous recommending things to people, which is odd because that’s pretty much all I do here all day, is recommend people read or watch things. I guess when there’s 100s of dollars involved, that’s different? Anyway.

Busting the mattress racket

Maybe it doesn’t belong in the annals of great literature, but Seth Stevenson’s Slate piece on mattresses from November 2000 has been stuck in my brain for more than a decade. Mattresses are a scam, says Stevenson:

Is there a more maddening industry? They confuse us with silly product names (the Sealy Posturepedic Crown Jewel Fletcher Ultra Plush Pillowtop or the Sealy Posturepedic Crown Jewel Brookmere Plush?). They flummox us with bogus science (“pocketed coils”? “Microtek foundations”? “Fiberlux”?). And they weigh us down with useless features (silk damask ticking?). It’s like buying a used car, and almost as expensive โ€” I’ve seen mattresses going for $7,000. What’s a consumer to do?

The secret to mattress shopping is that the product is basically a commodity. The mattress biz is 99-percent marketing. So just buy the cheapest thing you can stand and be done with it, because they’re pretty much all the same. And that’s all you need to know. But do read on โ€” the world of sleep products is quite fascinating, and I’d like to share it with you.

So when I had to do some mattress shopping recently, I remembered reading a thread on Hacker News about Tuft & Needle. T&N is a start-up that, in the parlance of Silicon Valley VCs, is disrupting the mattress industry by offering products of similar quality at dramatically lower prices with an emphasis on customer service. Recode recently ran a piece on the company and their founders.

Park and Marino, who previously worked together at Los Angeles tech startup Mulu, turned to mattress-making in 2012 after Marino was disappointed by a $3,000-plus mattress. So the two posed as the owners of a small mattress store and called around to vendors to uncover the real cost of making Marino’s expensive purchase. The final calculation โ€” a total of about $300 โ€” confirmed their suspicions: There was significant opportunity to improve.

When I looked on Amazon, Tuft & Needle’s mattresses were, as billed, the top-rated mattresses on the site. So I bought one. (I also bought a DreamFoam bed, which is even cheaper than Tuft & Needle and also highly rated.) The beds from both companies come rolled up and vacuum packed. Once you puncture the thick plastic packaging, air comes whooshing back into the mattress, inflating to its proper size over a matter of hours. This process sounds exactly like the repressurization of an airlock from any number of sci-fi movies. As far as comfort goes, I can’t tell the difference between these beds and the $1700 memory foam mattress from Design Within Reach.

So yeah, if you’re in the market for a mattress, do some poking around…you might just save a few hundred dollars. (Note: these beds are memory foam beds, which are not everyone’s cup of tea. I switched to one several years ago and love it. YMMV.)

Update: Tuft & Needle is opening a retail location in SF. Not everyone is comfortable buying beds over the Internet I guess? (via @micahgoulart)

Update: Two months after I wrote this post, I asked people who had purchased memory-foam mattresses for their thoughts on them. The other day, Matt sent me a link to an online message board dedicated to mattresses called The Mattress Underground. One of the board’s admins did a long post comparing the choices in this category of mattress, which they referred to as “Simplified Choice Mattresses aka Disruptors, Bed In A Box, One Choice Fits All, Universal Comfort, Millennial Mattresses”. (via @mathowie)