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From top to bottom: the Simmons Beautyrest Avondale Luxury Firm Mattress; the Stearns & Foster Cora Luxury Plush Eurotop Mattress; and the Tempur-Pedic Tempur Cloud Supreme

Choosing a mattress

There are few household staples you have as intimate a relationship with as your mattress. Yet you often don’t realize you need a new one until your back pain becomes chronic. Or one day, you catch an awesome night’s sleep in a hotel or someone’s guest room.

The International Sleep Products Association recommends replacing a mattress every seven years. As spokeswoman Karin Mahoney says, “The bed should be your oasis.”

What’s new?

Gel technology. A new layer in some models adds resiliency; some versions are similar to a shoe gel insert. Gel can serve as a shock absorber or have a cooling effect.

Adjustability. If you insist on using your laptop in bed, there are new versions of adjustable mattresses that are nothing like a clunky traditional hospital bed. A press of a button lifts your head or feet to an inclined position. Good for snorers or acid-reflux sufferers.

Better coil construction. Coils have been designed in stronger alloys such as titanium.

Shop smart

Test-drive your purchase. Arrive in the store dressed in casual clothes, and take off your shoes. Lie down on several models. Lie on the bed for at least 10 minutes. Try a few positions, and be aware of how the mattress supports your lower back, shoulders and hips.

Don’t think you can just replace your mattress and keep your old box spring. Unless you have a platform bed or adjustable bed, it’s essential that you buy the matching box spring to act as a foundation for a new mattress. The two are designed to work together. Many models are available with a shorter box spring that can make getting in and out of bed easier.

Experts say that if at all possible, choose a queen size over a full. Shocking truth: A full bed shared by two sleepers provides both with personal space equal to the width of a crib, according to the International Sleep Products Association.

– Jura Koncius, Washington Post