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January 15, 2017 | Comments (0)

Consumer Reports Mattress Reviews

Consumer Reports built its reputation by being a “consumer watchdog,” and through this approach, they have amassed loads of credibility and influence with consumers over the years.  While some of this credibility is surely deserved, when it comes to mattresses, it poses a problem for both consumers and the industry — because much of the information they provide is wrong or misleading.
Here at GoodBed, we neither make nor sell mattresses, and we cover both online and offline products of all brands, so I have no stake in who comes out on top per se.  My commitment is simply to providing good information — so that the consumer gets the truth and good companies are rewarded for the good things they do.  In my mind, a ranking that shows Tempur-Pedic as the worst memory foam mattress brand (and by a large margin) is wildly misleading and the result of an inherently flawed methodology.
For my part, I don’t question Consumer Reports’ integrity.  As other people have pointed out, Consumer Reports does earn some of its money through affiliate links (  However, I think it’s entirely possible for a company to maintain its objectivity even when it earns revenue through advertising — we do it, and so does the New York Times and every other reputable media company.  I believe that where Consumer Reports’ problem lies is that they are presenting themselves as mattress experts, but aren’t.
I have heard the CR mattress “expert” go on TV morning shows and say things like “This mattress here is made of 100% memory foam” (anyone with knowledge of mattresses knows that would be like baking cookies with only sugar and no flour).  This same ignorance is reflected in their rankings.  3 of the top 10 “memory foam mattresses” in their current rankings have NO memory foam (incl Tuft & Needle), and another 3 have less than 2 inches of it (incl Casper).  Their top “memory foam mattress” is a 100% latex mattress (with no memory foam) that is also listed as “Certified Organic” (it isn’t).  This kind of misinformation isn’t just ignorant, it’s irresponsible.
So what about the rankings themselves?  Aren’t they based on scientific tests?  Well, what do you get when you try to apply scientific method without having the proper context or expertise to do so?  You get ‘pseudoscience.’  An example of where pseudoscience leads you on the motion isolation front is this utterly confounding statement from Consumer Reports:
“None of the memory foam mattresses earned excellent scores for stabilization, so steer clear of that type if this is a big concern for you and your partner.”  
So, according to Consumer Reports, memory foam — the material that was literally developed by NASA for its shock absorption qualities, and whose motion isolation properties can be easily observed in Tempur-Pedic’s famous wine glass test that has been replicated by countless numbers of people — should be avoided if motion isolation is important to you… huh?
Looking at the rankings reminds me of a time a while back when one of the big financial publications was trying to break into the school rankings game that has long been dominated by US News & World Report.  To kick off this effort, they produced a ranking of the top business schools in which Harvard Business School was ranked….#21.  Now, I did not go to HBS, so I enjoyed the schadenfreude in this as much as the next guy.  But it’s utterly ridiculous.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a single person among the top business school applicants and professors that wouldn’t place HBS among the top 3 schools where they’d want to be.  So when your ‘pseudoscientific’ methodology has it come out as #21…you need to recognize that your methodology is just….wrong.
A deeper look at how Tempur-Pedic (or more specifically, the Tempur-Cloud Supreme) ended up where it did reveals some more specific flaws in Consumer Reports’ methodology:
  • Their durability tests don’t accurately measure durability, especially for all-foam mattresses.
  • Durability differences are not weighted sufficiently in their overall ranking algorithm. For example, the Tempur-Pedic reported “no changes in performance” while brands like T&N reported “minor changes in performance” — yet both received the highest score for durability.
  • The Cloud Supreme scored low for back support, esp for back sleepers.  This actually passes the smell test IMO.  This particular model has not only a lot of memory foam, but it also has a medium-soft feel — a combination that isn’t ideal for support, esp for back sleepers.  Of course, in real life a back sleeper could just choose a different Tempur-Pedic model.
  • Pressure relief (which, along with back support, is the other critical thing that everyone needs from their mattress) is not weighted sufficiently in their ranking algorithm.  If it were, then a model like the Cloud Supreme that got a relative ding in the support ratings would get a similarly-sized boost from the pressure relief ratings. This was not the case.  As a result, brands with less memory foam (or none at all) got way better overall scores.
Net, the people at Consumer Reports aren’t bad people, but they are irresponsible.  They are serving up wildly inaccurate and misleading information about mattresses, and selling it to people under the guise of scientific accuracy.  
I hope others will join us in standing up to this two-ton gorilla and calling them on their faulty methodology and conclusions, so that consumers aren’t led astray any further by the misinformation Consumer Reports is providing in this category.  
Sometimes even the “watchdog” needs a watchdog…
January 9, 2016 | Comments (0)

Our First Video Review — Spindle Abscond Mattress

One of the things mattress shoppers appreciate most about GoodBed is getting trusted, unbiased information. Recently, many people have begun asking us to do video “reviews” of mattresses, as a complement to the information already presented on our site.  While we have mixed emotions about this, which will be the subject of another post, we thought we would try one to see if we do it in a way that people found useful and that remained true to our values of providing objective and personalized guidance for mattress shoppers.

To that end, we have just posted our first video review — of the Spindle Abscond latex mattress, which is a unique product made with all natural latex and sold directly to consumers by the manufacturer.  Our thanks to Spindle for providing us with the mattress used for this review.

As we got into it, we found ourselves talking not only about this particular bed, but also about important general tips and things to consider when deciding which mattress is best for your unique personal preferences. The resulting video is long, but we didn’t want to cut out all of the general advice, so we left it in and provided links for you to easily jump to the different sections of the video.  In the future we may try doing more of these, and perhaps even do a few short videos addressing certain questions, topics, or tips.

Please take a look at it, and let us know what you think. We hope you find it helpful!

Time   Chapter
0:00    Introduction
0:45    Materials & Construction
4:43    Comfort Levels
5:14    Back Support & Pressure Relief
8:00   Temperature
9:14    Responsiveness
10:02  Cushioning Depth
10:46  Motion Isolation
12:02  Repositioning
12:40  Edge Support
13:54  Natural Materials
15:44  Adjustable Comfort
17:38  Price & Affordability
18:16  Return Policy
18:48  Final Thoughts

September 3, 2015 | Comments (0)

On Your Mark, Get Sleep – Go!

Who hasn’t heard about the health benefits of exercise? You’ve heard it a million times: Walk, jog, get to the gym, do yoga — whatever it is, just do it.

But you’ve probably also faced obstacles to getting regular exercise, whether it’s being overworked, under-motivated, over-scheduled, or simply exhausted by the myriad demands on your time.


Sleep Power, Not Willpower

What if there was something besides willpower — or in addition to willpower — that could help you exercise? When it comes to exercise and a healthy lifestyle, perhaps it’s not so much about willpower as it is sleep power.

Sleep begets exercise, exercise begets sleep. Research clearly demonstrates that people who get regular, sufficient sleep are more likely to engage in physical activity, and physical activity leads to quality sleep. With both sufficient sleep and physical activity contributing to healthy weight management, the combination adds up to a win-win situation and a formula for a healthier, happier life.


The Foundation of Health

Researchers and health-care providers unanimously endorse sleep, diet, and exercise as the very foundations of good health. And the beauty of the sleep component is that it seamlessly complements diet and exercise — meaning that all efforts to comply with dietary and exercise guidelines are significantly easier with sufficient sleep.


Exercise to Sleep

A 2013 poll from the National Sleep Foundation found that people who exercised regularly were significantly more likely to report sleeping well than those who were not physically active. According to David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, “Exercise is great for sleep. For the millions of people who want better sleep, exercise may help.” NSF poll task force chairman Dr. Max Hirshkowitz adds, “If you are inactive, adding a 10-minute walk every day could improve your likelihood of a good night’s sleep. Making this small change and gradually working your way up to more intense activities like running or swimming could help you sleep better.”


Get Up and Go

Research has demonstrated the complementary relationship between exercise and sleep:

  • One study published in 2014 demonstrated that a single, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise session improved sleep quality in older women.
  • In a study of chronic insomniacs, acute, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise appeared to reduce pre-sleep anxiety and improve sleep.
  • In one study of 43 adults published in 2012, exercise training improved several aspects of daytime functioning in adults with obstructive sleep apnea, including sleepiness, depressive symptoms, and mood.
  • The results of a 2011 study showed long-term, moderate aerobic exercise resulted in significant improvements in sleep, quality of life, and mood in individuals with chronic primary insomnia.
  • Research published in 2014 found that yoga Improved sleep and quality of life in a group of older adults with insomnia.
  • In a study of 118 men and women between the ages of 60 and 92, participation in a six-month, low-to-moderate-intensity tai chi exercise program improved self-rated sleep quality.


Flipping the Script: Sleep to Exercise

Not only does exercise have beneficial effects on sleep, but research indicates sleep has beneficial effects on exercise. A 2013 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine suggests improving sleep may actually encourage exercise participation. Sufficient sleep makes us more likely to exercise the next day, while poor sleep can lead us to exercise less.

In a study of 119 chronic-pain patients, study subjects participated in more physical activity following a better night of sleep. Improvement in nighttime sleep may serve to promote daytime physical activity in this population and others. In a related study, Stone et al. found maintaining recommended sleep throughout the week is associated with increased physical activity in children.

Since sufficient sleep has been known to improve mood, outlook, motivation, and energy, why not let sleep prime you for that much-needed exercise?


Timing Isn’t Everything

The link between the timing of exercise and sleep varies from person to person. While some people prefer early morning workouts, others prefer evening or nighttime workouts. According to one analysis of the 2013 National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America Poll results, evening exercise is not always associated with worse sleep. So don’t give up on the benefits of exercise if you prefer a 6:00 p.m. trip to the gym instead of a 6:00 a.m. trip. Experiment with different timings to see what works best for you.


Just Do It

So if your willpower is in need of a boost, see if some sleep power doesn’t do the trick.  On your mark, get sleep, and exercise — and watch your quality of life improve.

Talk with your healthcare provider about the best exercise program for you, and see a sleep specialist for sleep problems. A comprehensive listing of sleep specialists can be found at



National Sleep Foundation Poll Finds Exercise Key to Good Sleep.

Posted in: Consumer FeaturesHealthSleep Tags:   
April 3, 2015 | Comments (0)

How to Overcome Aches and Pains to Improve Your Sleep

We all know that for optimum health, well-being, safety, and quality of life, sufficient sleep is mandatory. However, for someone faced with painful or aching joints, a good night’s sleep is easier said than done. Because of this close relationship between pain and sleep, the prioritization and management of sleep may actually prove to be a very effective strategy in managing pain as well.

Below is an explanation of how pain and sleep are related, in addition to tips for how you can overcome your pain in order to improve your sleep — and vice versa.


Pain and Sleep

Unfortunately, pain issues are prevalent — and pain (both acute and chronic) can reduce sleep time and negatively impact sleep quality. In the 2015 Sleep in America Poll, 57% of Americans polled had experienced chronic or acute pain in the previous week. Overall, it is estimated that 50% and 90% of people with chronic joint pain don’t sleep well.


Lack of Sleep Contributes to Pain

For people with painful joints, it’s a vicious circle: aches and pains make sleep more difficult, and a lack of sleep worsens the pain. Aches and pains in the back, hips, knees, and shoulders can lead to fragmented, restless sleep — and a lack of sleep can lead to increased joint inflammation as well as a reduced pain threshold. Joint pain, especially in the hips, knees, and shoulders, is frequently worse while trying to sleep because joints swell at night.

Compounding that problem, sleep deprivation then leads to more health problems, including obesity, diabetes, mood disorders, osteoporosis, and low energy. For example, a Norwegian study found that compared to women who are well-rested, women with sleep problems may have a higher risk of developing fibromyalgia.


Sleep to the Rescue

On the flip side, once sufficient sleep can be obtained, this “vicious circle” can actually be reversed — becoming a “virtuous circle.”  Better sleep reduces pain, making it easier to achieve good sleep, thereby further reducing pain.   As this positive and self-reinforcing dynamic is established, the contribution that better sleep makes to your health, positive well-being, and quality of life cannot be overstated:

  • Sufficient sleep enables the body to repair itself. As you sleep, the body releases growth hormones that are essential for muscle and joint repair.
  • Getting a good night’s sleep also helps restore energy levels so you can better manage pain.
  • Sufficient sleep also boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation.
  • Motor skills, coordination, and safety are all positively impacted.
  • Stress levels are reduced, and mood and outlook are improved.
  • Motivation, productivity, judgment, reasoning, decision-making, and job satisfaction are all improved.
  • Relationships benefit from sufficient sleep.


How to Improve Your Sleep in the Face of Pain

So, how do you break out of the vicious circle of pain and sleep?  Most people tend to focus on pain management first, but breaking out of this cycle can also start with better sleep.

Choosing a Sleep Position

Side sleeping is often the most recommended sleeping position. A pillow between the knees in a side-sleeping position helps keep the spine and pelvis in good alignment and can also be more comfortable for the knees. The majority of people are side sleepers, but consistently sleeping on one side or placing your arm underneath your head while sleeping may cause or aggravate existing joint pain. For someone with shoulder pain, immobilizing the arm in a bandage or sling while sleeping can help minimize that pain and sleep disruption.

Stiff and painful joints can also make getting in and out of bed a challenge. Adjustable bases can go a long way in making this easier; avoid beds that are high off the ground. Mattresses with extra edge support can also be helpful.


Falling and Staying Asleep

A soothing bedtime routine is essential for transitioning from wake to sleep. There are numerous things to incorporate into your routine that will help with relaxation and falling sleep, especially if you suffer from pain. A warm bath before bed can help soothe aching joints as well as cause you to fall asleep quickly. Gentle stretching, deep breathing, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, massage, lavender or vanilla bean fragrance, a cup of tea, and soft music can also help induce sleep. Try to maintain consistent bed and wake times, and keep the lights low in the evening. Think dark, cool, and quiet for the sleeping environment. Avoid electronics at bedtime, and use earplugs, white-noise machines, and eye masks if needed.


Heeding the Need to Sleep

Both the quantity and quality of sleep are important for managing joint pain and maintaining optimal physical and psychological health. So when it comes to dealing with painful joints, obtaining sufficient sleep is key.

Prioritize sleep in your daily life. Forego the late night TV talk shows and Internet surfing — the decreased pain levels will be worth it. Most adults need eight hours of sleep per day; very few of us can get by on less. Naps are helpful if you are having problems meeting your sleep requirement. Tracking your sleep can provide valuable insight about your sleep patterns and problems. Numerous sleep diary and sleep tracking apps are available.

Invest in the right mattress for you. People confronted with painful joints are easily distracted by a less-than-comfortable sleep surface. Sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress can result in considerable sleep loss.

There is no one “best” mattress; the right mattress depends on the individual; height, weight, medical conditions, sleep positions, temperature preference, and comfort preference should be considered. Forget the “firmer is better” mindset, and opt for comfort. As you age, you tend to need a softer sleep surface. A mattress with more cushion or extra plushness (softness) at the surface can help increase comfort and reduce pain. However, the mattress must be firm enough to allow you to change positions easily.

Don’t forget pillows, toppers, and comfortable sheets. Try using extra pillows or a whole-body pillow for additional support to help maintain a comfortable position throughout the night. Self-adjusting mattresses can be helpful, as pain levels can fluctuate throughout the night.

Follow the exercise routine prescribed by your physician: Exercise can relieve stress, reduce pain, and improve sleep. Talk to your doctor about how exercise can fit into your treatment plan. Recent American College of Rheumatology (ACR) guidelines suggest that exercise should be one of the mainstays of treatment for osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. The Arthritis Foundation conducts exercise programs for people with arthritis in many parts of the United States.

Talk to your physician about sleep. Treatment modifications, such as medication dosing schedule changes, may be made by your physician to improve sleep. Keep in mind that an underlying sleep disorder may be present that is interfering with your sleep. Consult a sleep specialist for ongoing sleep problems.


Remember: It is important to prioritize sleep, have a comfortable sleep surface, practice good sleep habits, and see a sleep specialist for sleep issues. A good night’s sleep will go a long way toward easing painful joints and improving functioning while enhancing well-being and quality of life.


For More Information:

American College of Rheumatology. Exercise and Arthritis.

Arthritis Foundation. Day and Night: 24 Hours with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Better Sleep Council. Sleep Smarter with Sleep Apps & Health Tools.

National Sleep Foundation. Fibromyalgia and Sleep.

National Sleep Foundation. Pain and Sleep.



Irwin MR1, Olmstead R, Carrillo C, Sadeghi N, Fitzgerald JD, Ranganath VK, Nicassio PM. Sleep loss exacerbates fatigue, depression, and pain in rheumatoid arthritis. Sleep. 2012 Apr 1;35(4):537-43. doi: 10.5665/sleep.1742.

Minns Lowe CJ1, Moser J, Barker K. Living with a symptomatic rotator cuff tear ‘bad days, bad nights’: a qualitative study.

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2014 Jul 9;15:228. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-15-228.

Jacobson BH1, Boolani A, Dunklee G, Shepardson A, Acharya H. Effect of prescribed sleep surfaces on back pain and sleep quality in patients diagnosed with low back and shoulder pain. Appl Ergon. 2010 Dec;42(1):91-7. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2010.05.004. Epub 2010 Jun 26.

Mundt AK1, Helkimo M, Magnusson T. Sleeping position and reported quality of sleep. A comparison between subjects demanding treatment for temporomandibular disorders and controls. Swed Dent J. 2011;35(4):187-93.

Posted in: Consumer FeaturesHealthSleep Tags:   
November 8, 2013 | Comments (1)

Why don’t mattress shoppers place more value on product innovation?

This post is a follow-up to a recent survey of over 1,000 active mattress shoppers, in which we learned that nearly half of consumers don’t really value mattress innovation.  To understand why this may be, we are going to look at how consumers approach purchases in other familiar categories, starting with…underwear (bear with me for a moment…)!

For most guys, underwear  is about as routine a purchase as it gets.  Whether it’s boxers or briefs, as long as it’s working, we tend to stick with what we know.  Rarely, an innovation might come along that causes us to try something new (boxer briefs, anyone?).  Otherwise, most people just look for the same thing they’ve had before.  This is why companies like Hanes and Jockey are still making underwear that looks identical to how it looked 30 years ago.


What factors make you choose the ‘latest and greatest’ over the ‘tried and true’?

Ask yourself how many other products are like this…  In other words, for what types of products — after they’ve lived a full and useful life — would you want to replace them with an exact replica of what you had before?  How about your TV?  Your golf clubs?  Your couch?

It’s not likely you’d answer ‘yes’ to any of the examples above.  That’s because for the following types of products, people tend to want the ‘latest and greatest‘:

  • Products with actively used features.  No matter how much you liked your old TV, new TV’s at the same price point have obvious functionality benefits over your old one, like a bigger screen, clearer picture, etc.  This goes for everything from computers to mountain bikes.
  • Products with actively discernible performance.  Today’s golf clubs will do a lot more for your game than your old clubs (who wouldn’t want 20 yards more distance off the tee?).  This applies to products from musical instruments to power tools.
  • Products with fashion aspects.  With your couch, your sense of style will most likely have changed by the time you’re ready to replace it.  This can be said for anything from clothing to carpeting.


With mattresses, do people want the ‘latest and greatest’ or the ‘tried and true’?

Right about now you might be wondering: what on earth does this have to do with mattresses?  Well, we were curious where mattresses fall in this paradigm.  So, we asked over 1,100 mattress shoppers this question: Would you buy a new mattress that’s an exact replica of your current one? (click the link to see the full results of the survey).  To those who answered no, we also asked a follow-up question: Why not?  This helped us identify the respondents that were dissatisfied in some way with their current mattress (either because it didn’t last long enough or it wasn’t right for them).  For purposes of this post, we are focusing on the people that were satisfied with their previous mattress.

What we found is that for people that were satisfied with their current mattress (which in most cases was purchased over 8 years ago), between 40% and 50% would want to buy an exact replica of it.  This means that nearly half of these mattress shoppers would happily forego the ‘latest and greatest’ mattress innovations in order to have something ‘tried and true.’  While this number is probably not as high as with underwear shoppers, it’s likely much larger than most product categories, including other home furnishing categories.


Why don’t more consumers value mattress innovation?

For the mattress industry, this begs an obvious question: why are there so many consumers that don’t value innovation when it comes to mattresses?  After all, mattress companies work hard on continuously improving their products — to the point where the mattress you had before probably isn’t even made anymore (unlike your favorite pair of Hanes…).

Unfortunately, this isn’t the kind of question that’s easy to ask people in a survey.  However, we can get some pretty big clues by looking at why mattresses (at least historically speaking) aren’t like some of the other product categories mentioned above:

  • Mattresses don’t tend to have actively used features (unlike TV’s, computers, and mountain bikes).  There’s an obvious reason for this: it’s a product we use primarily when we’re sleeping.
  • Mattress performance tends to be difficult to assess (unlike golf clubs, musical instruments, and power tools).  Historically, it’s been very hard for most people to gauge and appreciate how a mattress is really ‘performing’ in terms of the quality of their sleep.
  • Mattresses don’t tend to make a style statement (unlike couches, clothing, and carpeting).  The plain fact here is that mattresses are covered up most of the time.  Depending on your social habits, more people may actually see your underwear than your mattress…


What can the mattress industry do to place a higher value on innovation?

These same examples provide a road map for what the mattress industry can do to encourage consumers to place a higher value on mattress innovation in the future:

  • Give mattress products more actively used features.  The rising popularity of adjustable bases, as well as beds that have adjustable comfort or temperature settings, offers new potential for the mattress industry.  These are actively used features that people can evaluate and compare (and crave) when shopping for a mattress.
  • Encourage consumers to measure the performance of their mattress.  Numerous consumer technology companies are working on new ways to measure sleep.  By encouraging consumers to use this technology to actively discern how their new mattress is improving their sleep, the mattress industry may be able to give consumers more tangible reasons to upgrade their sleep surface.
  • Give mattresses more fashion aspects.  This path probably offers the least hope for mattresses.  Unless the industry starts coming up with unique mattress shapes that makes them recognizable when covered (or somehow does away with the convention of sheets and mattress protectors altogether), mattresses are never going to be a fashion piece.


What do you think about why consumers do or don’t value mattress innovation?  Did we miss anything?  Please share your thoughts with us.


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