Pros: Attractive mattress, adjustable by each partner, 20 year warranty
Cons: Takes a while to get used to sleeping on it
After 16 years of marriage and discussing it for probably half that time, my husband and I decided it was time to upgrade to a King sized mattress. Perhaps it’s the fact that over the years, we’ve come closer and closer to being king-sized ourselves, I don’t know… Anyway, since I buy very little of anything without doing a lot of consumer research first – don’t know what I ever did without the internet, and that’s a fact – I started looking around. My best friend had just purchased a new mattress herself within the last couple of months, and was raving about her new air bed from Select Comfort. Having slept on a futon for months before, I imagine that anything would have been a vast improvement, however! When she told me her mattress set cost around $2000, I about had heart failure. I guess you could call it sticker shock. Nonetheless, we started looking around at all the options. Now, I must tell you that for the past 16 years, we’ve been sleeping on a mattress that we bought used from a consignment shop. So like my friend, any new mattress would have probably been an improvement! Over the past 5 years or so, I have become a restless sleeper, and my husband has become a champion snorer, which is what sent me after a new mattress to begin with. No back pain, hip or neck pain, that’s true, but I was on a quest for a better night’s sleep.
I don’t know why exactly, but we never really considered getting a traditional set of mattresses. However, we did walk through a couple of department stores’ mattress departments, and although traditional mattress sets aren’t quite as expensive as the Select Comfort, they’re getting up there. Then I happened on Comfortaire mattresses, which seem to be sold exclusively online. (I admit that I do not know this to be 100% true, but I could find nowhere that sold them in a physical store.) I began comparing the Select Comfort mattress reviews with those of the Comfortaire mattresses, especially since Comfortaire is significantly less expensive than Select Comfort. Unfortunately, you cannot try out the Comfortaire mattresses before buying, which made me a little nervous. So, with a plan to visit the Select Comfort store, now called the Sleep Number store, I started my comparison. First, I looked at epinions.com, as I have come to rely heavily on this site for information. Select Comfort’s reviews on this site are pretty hot and cold. Some love the product, others seem to hate it. But Comfortaire’s reviews were all positive, and there are many more Comfortaire reviews than there are Select Comfort. Thus, I was all set to call Comfortaire and buy. However, I noticed that out of 11 Comfortaire reviews, 9 of them are written by people with only 1 or 2 reviews total, and all of those were purchased as Nationwide Mattress. Without hurling false accusations, let’s just say that in my mind, this basically lowered my level of trust in these reviews. I have no idea what association if any these reviewers had with Nationwide Mattress or Comfortaire – maybe none. I guess I’m just the suspicious type. Enough said about that. I decided at that point to go shop and see for myself.
The Sleep Number Store Experience
The Sleep Number Store was having their semi-annual sale. Basically every 2 months, they put their mattresses on sale an average of $200 a set off regular price. Our sales guy, Dennis, mentioned that occasionally, the mattress sets go on sale an average of $275 off a set, but since we weren’t in the mood to wait, we went with the semi-annual sale price. Just be aware that there are sales at least twice a year, and given the large investment, it’s worth it to wait if you can. Anyway, we walked in the store and were quickly greeted by Dennis. (Note that the Select Comfort sales folks are on commission, and make 3-5% commission on everything they sell you. Dennis told us that – amazing!) With his close guidance, we began “test resting” the mattresses. At the Sleep Number store, they seem to have a specific way of taking you through the store, starting with their lowest end mattress and working up. Dennis began the process of finding our “sleep number”, which is just the number that the mattress is set on for your individual comfort. AKA, how much air is in the mattress. Plan to spend about an hour in the store if you’re really serious about this. We moved from mattress to mattress, asking questions all along the way. It’s clear that the sales folks know a lot about their product, but I didn’t consider this high pressure at all. You need to understand something about me – I really hate sales folks in general, but when I need help with a product, I want them to know their stuff. Dennis clearly did. At a point along the way, he left us alone to talk about our buying decision, which was nice. As a side note, it was kind of strange talking to a sales guy while we were laying on a bed! Anyway, we ended up buying the Classic 5000 with pillow top, which was on sale for just under $1800. The mattress fabric is rayon, which is supposed to be cooler than other polyester or poly-blend fabrics, which many other traditional mattresses have. The pillowtop contains fiber fill, and zips on and off. Theoretically if you wear out the top you can replace it by zipping it off and ordering a new one for $400. Dennis showed us a sample of this fiber fill material, which is similar to the material that's in stuffed animals. It's supposed to stay together well, and not break up. It's definitely a lot more comfortable than a feather bed topper or viscose "memory foam", both of which leave dents where your body has been, and don't snap back in shape very well when you move. To me, those are uncomfortable and the pillow top is not. There is no actual frame around the mattresses like there would be with a water bed. When it's all put together, the mattress set looks just like a traditional mattress set, and will work with any regular bed set-up. What we got for our money was a mattress with pillow top and what they call a foundation, which is the platform underneath the mattress. The foundation is basically just a hard plastic box that comes in many smaller pieces and is assembled. It comes with a fabric cover that's exactly the same as the fabric on the mattress so they match. The foundation takes the place of a box springs, which this type of air mattress does not use. The price for the mattress set does not include a bed frame to set the mattresses on, which you can purchase separately for about $100. (At the moment, since we don't yet have a King bed, our set is on the floor, which is perfectly acceptable according to Select Comfort.) If you want, you can just buy feet for the foundation, which runs about $80. Dennis told us that all the sales folks in the store own this model, which is their mid-range model. I didn’t see any significant improvement in their more expensive mattresses, and in fact the more expensive ones feel like regular mattresses to me, so what’s the point of an air mattress at that point??? Please note that the mattress set comes in many pieces, and is assembled. At any time during the life of the mattresses, you can replace any small part of the mattress without having to buy the whole thing again, which is good.
As for the mattress itself, think of it as a regular mattress hollowed out. In the hollowed out area there are several air bladders which take the place of inner springs in a regular mattress. So it's not like a water bed, because there are mattress-like sides and top, but not like a traditional mattress because there are no springs. Increasing and decreasing the air pressure makes the mattress softer or harder.
Select Comfort mattresses come in all the standard sizes, including California King and Eastern King, which is just a fancy name for the King we've all been used to for years.
At Select Comfort, you don’t walk out of the store with your mattresses. They deliver them to your home in 5-10 business days. If you want them to set it up – which I highly recommend – it’s $75 extra. Although we worked hard to get them to waive this charge, they apparently don’t ever do this. Also, we worked even harder to get them to come off the price more, or throw in something extra like pillows, etc. No deal. According to Dennis, this is corporate policy. Maybe you’ll have better luck, though.
All told, with delivery and a mattress pad, plus tax, we spent right around $2200. Gulp! Dennis told us that there is a 30 day guarantee – Comfortaire’s is 90 days. However, when pressed, he told me that this is renewable 30 days at a time up to 90 days. They don’t want you to send the bed back, so will work with you on getting accustomed to the mattress. By the way, Select Comfort says this period of getting used to it can take from a week to a month, sometimes even longer. If however, you want to send the mattresses back, they will refund your money, less $100 to ship back a King. It might be less for a smaller bed, I don’t know. So it’s best to be really serious about your purchase if you don’t want to be out the $100.
One note – several things I read on the internet talked about being able to feel the hard foam divider in the middle of the mattress. With the Classic 5000, I didn’t find this to be true. This was the one thing that was making me hesitate buying, but it turned out to be nothing. You can definitely feel it on the lower end mattress, however, so beware.
Three or 4 days after we bought our mattresses, I figured out that you have to call the delivery folks to arrange delivery – they don’t call you. This is somewhat strange to me, but none-the-less, I called them, and they were very helpful and efficient. They arranged delivery for about a week later, so all told, it was close to 2 weeks after we bought the mattresses. They gave me a 4 hour window for delivery, and promised to call at least 30 minutes prior to arriving, which they did. The 2 delivery guys showed up right when they said they would, and were very nice and friendly. They did an efficient job of setting up the mattresses, and a lot of time explaining what everything was, how to use the wireless remote, etc. We felt very educated and ready to go by they time they left. They took most of the cardboard boxes with them, but after my twins begged, they left 2 of the boxes, to be used as forts! (Don’t know why we spend good money on Christmas and birthday gifts when a cardboard box seems to be the high point of the week… Oh well – back to my story.) The entire set-up process took about an hour. We figured we could have done it ourselves, but it would have taken about 3 hours, and most likely caused a huge fight. At that point, there would be little reason to have a bed that my husband and I would share, as one of us would have no doubt been sleeping on the couch. So, all things considered, $75 for set-up is probably a bargain.
The First Night
Following all the instructions, my husband and I set our sides of the mattress to the sleep number we learned about at the store. Mine was a 35, his a 55. We went to bed, expecting to have the best sleep ever. Boy, were we disappointed. It was the worst night’s sleep we’ve had since we had babies crying every 2 hours. Right away I decided that logically, although I like a very firm mattress, a 35 on a scale that ends at 100 probably wouldn’t have been hard enough. My husband didn’t know what to think. It’s important to note here that everyone involved in Sleep Number beds tells you that it’s probably not going to be love at first sight – or first sleep, as the case may be. They tell you to do the best you can and stay at that number for 4 nights to see if you get used to it. However, after that first night, I couldn’t bare to do that. The 2nd night I moved up to a 65, and slept much better. It’s now been a week since we’ve had the mattresses, and although I’ve dinked around with the number slightly every night, I think I’m pretty happy. My husband is all over the map, and has changed his number a lot – from soft to hard and back again – every single night. He’s less happy than I am at this point, but a lot easier to please than me. Although after the first night I was ready to send the bed back, I think we’ll probably end up liking it. Loving it, maybe not, but we’ll see. Having never experienced a mattress that I had to get used to before, I’m still a little skeptical. But it’s King sized, where our other mattress set was a Queen, so just that is a big improvement, and is helping me sleep better. Also, my husband is a tosser and turner, and I haven’t noticed that movement since the first night. That’s good too. All in all, with a 20 year warranty, and the fact that we have several more weeks to evaluate this mattress, this has been a good experience.
Update one month later: Well, this bed did take some getting used to. However, we really do like it now, and I'm definitely consistently sleeping better than I was before, which was the whole objective. I don't wake up nearly as often, and have mostly trained myself to sleep on my side, which is one of the preferred positions with Select Comfort (stomach sleepers beware!). At this point, I'd definitely highly recommend this mattress.
One thing hasn't changed, though: even with a King sized mattress, it's still not big enough for the nights when our 8 year old twins decide to come into our bed in the middle of the night. The only difference is that now they can officially sleep sideways. :-)
January 2010 - Wow! It's really been 7 years since we got this mattress? At this point, I have to say that I'm still 100% a believer. I LOVE this mattress! It's just as comfortable as ever, and still holds its exact "sleep number" for months at a time. The only time it's ever a few pounds too high or low is if the temperature in the room changes dramatically. I used to check it every night. Now MAYBE every 3 or 4 months, and its usually right on. This is an incredibly expensive mattress, I know that. But you can't buy the kind of comfort this mattress gives you just any old place. Oh yes - and I'm a stomach sleeper again. No problem whatsoever.
Buy a Select Comfort! You won't be sorry!
August 2010 - Just trying to make sure things stay current. Wouldn't change a thing that I wrote earlier. Friends and relatives have since bought Select Comfort mattresses, and have all had the exact same experience. The first several nights are tough. After that, it's fabulous. We all love our Select Comforts!