The Crapification of Mattresses and Retail Therapy (and an Iran Aside)

One might wonder why I’m posting on such a trivial-seeming topic as mattresses. The troubling news of the US assassination of Iran’s top military commander Qassem Soleimani is Defcon 1 news, after all, and is understandably dominating the press and Twitterverse. And I have to confess it’s got me wound up about how reckless and wantonly destructive our foreign and Middle Eastern policy has been, and how we’ve somehow managed to turn the dial on that to 11.

However, as you’ll see in due course, l’affaire mattresses is a classic case study in crapification, and it also serves as a useful thing to think about, since all we’re likely to see with Iran for the next few days is a lot of posturing plus media hate- and fear-mongering. And readers may be able to help!

Even though it is true that this killing amounts to an act of war, many regarded the severity of economic sanctions as an act of war too. So what is the point…to show the US as powerful even though it has yet to break Iran? To provoke Iran into doing something stupid?

It certainly did serve to poke a stick in the eye of Iraq, which was already gearing up to toss US troops out. The flagrant disregard for Iraq’s sovereignity is only going to accelerate that process as well as push a lot of fence-sitters in Iraq towards Iran. How smart was that?

Much of the understandable jitteriness results from the idea that Iran will strike back and precipitate a hot war. Iran has managed to survive by being among other things exceptionally disciplined and strategic. It’s unlikely to do anything without sounding out Russia and China, who are likely to be similarly measured and not show their hands.

Lambert will have way more on this in Links shortly, but far and away the best hot take comes from Elijah Magnier. He predicts Iran will make a symmetrical response, as in assassinate a similar-level US military official. That may take time but the Iranians are fabulously patient.

I believe, and Magnier seems to hold similar views, that Iran will also scale up harassments. For instance, the contested Leviathan gas field off Israel just started producing. Might there be a way to mess with that without risking a Deepwater Horizon type disaster? They would not be the intended retaliation, but diversions which would have the additional advantage of playing to the self-flattering US view that Iran is weak.

I strongly urge you to read his entire thread, but here are two key tweets:

Update 5:40 AM EDT. Wellie, just a minute ago, Magnier qualified his view:

But is this just messing with the US, to get the troops jittery? Unless Iran has a proportional response it can execute pronto, a quick response risks both being inadequately planned and not hitting the right strategic spot either. Back to the original post.

Now to retail therapy via mattresses. Well, except mattresses are also an unpleasant topic, albeit of vastly lower stakes.

I am old enough to remember when you could go into a mattress store and without too much difficulty, find a good spring mattress. Flippable. It would easily last over 10 years and if were a not heavy person, as long as 20 before it would develop sags.

To shorten what could be a very long story, Josh Kosman, in his classic The Buyout of America, has an entire chapter devoted to the crapification of mattresses. Private equity rollups turned the industry into a duopoly. The incumbents got rid of the flippable mattress, selling consumers on the falsehood that non-flippable mattresses, which don’t last as long, were nevertheless somehow better.

Foam mattresses, which I regard as an abomination (had to throw a highly-rated one out in less than three years), have also been widely touted as a viable alternative to the solid, reliable spring mattress. To do so, they have had to sell a bug as a feature: the fact that they quickly develop depressions where you sleep as the mattress “molding” to your body. Help me.

I’ve also tried some pricey “hybrid” mattresses, which some springs and a lot of foam on top. Despite their high ratings in supposedly independent reviews I haven’t found them anywhere near as satisfactory or trough resistant as a good old fashioned high end spring mattress.1 And even though most allow for 90 or 100 day free returns, as the Winkbed I purchased did, I didn’t have the energy to send it back even though it was clearly getting dented before 90 days. This one had seemed to be the best of a not very good bunch, and if I returned it, what would I replace it with? So that one I after less than two years of use has been relegated to a guest bedroom.

Clive attests that the same crapification has take place in the UK:

Beds are simply a disaster. My mother-in-law replaced the bed in the room I use when I stay there. Despite my nagging, she insisted on buying a brand which goes back well over a century here but has merely been reduced to a shadow of its former self through joke offshore manufacturing. She paid £500+ for a single mattress (the room would take a double but she didn’t see the point in the expense of a double bed in a guest room, which I get the point of). It was awful from no more than six months’ very occasional use. Springy, lumpy with (like yours) now a pronounced dip in the centre. And yes, I weight 160lbs tops. So it’s not like it is being pummelled having to accommodate a 250lb overweight person.

Even the cat refuses to sleep on it.

I had to replace my home bed a couple of years ago. I — very reluctantly — coughed up for a Tempur. It was £1,500 (unfortunately I need a Super King size as my feet protrude at the bottom of a double standard size) and I was in luck my existing mattress frame which was compatible (slatted wood supports) otherwise it would have been higher costs still to get a new frame too. It is pretty good, but no more than acceptable. But a proper quality sprung mattress would have been £4,000+ and that wasn’t in my budget. ‎Anything less than an artisan made thing is a gamble on plummeting quality which is simply all pervasive and trying to avoid it is down to guesswork.

I am interested in Westin mattresses as another case study. Readers with experience as buyers of that mattress in particular (the Heavenly Bed brand) are encouraged to pipe up in comments. Similarly, if you are at or very soon going to be a guest at a Westin Hotel, I have a wee favor to ask. In both cases, please provide an e-mail address where I can contact you. Thanks!

Update 8:20 AM: Many helpful comments but none from Westin mattress buyers OR people who are or will be staying at a Westin soon. If you are in either or both categories, please pipe up, thanks!

1 Maine being Maine, they do have small companies that make flippable spring mattresses. One I tried seemed pretty good but was a bit bouncy (as in when you rolled over you got some reverberations) and I wasn’t sure what to make of that. Plus they don’t ship out of state, which creates a big barrier for non locals. So it isn’t as if the traditional spring mattress is completely dead, but they are unduly hard to find.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    Funnily enough I was thinking the same thing about another form of spring/foam protection – shoes. In the seasonal sales last week I just invested in a good pair of Scarpa light hiking/walking shoes. They have much firmer soles than now seems standard with nearly all branded shoes, and they are a revelation to walk on (I usually walk a couple of miles to work). So many companies now go for foamy soles (even for hiking/outdoors shoes) which presumably are cheap to mass manufacture and feel good when you try them on – but they go horrible after just a few months and don’t last long. I’m quite sure they can’t be good for your feet.

    1. c_heale

      I wear Scarpa’s (Mojitos). I bought a cheap second hand pair (new condition) and they’ve lasted me the last 8 years and are still going. So I’ve bought a couple more pairs. They cost double your average sneaker but last at least 4 times as long, and don’t get uncomfortable with time.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      A recent bad fad in the US that has helped crapify running shoes (which I need to wear as my regular non-dressy shoes, I need a very well cushioned heel strike) is for “lightweight” running shoes. Lightweight pretty much without exception means less cushioned and faster breakdown for well cushioned shoes. For instance, Asics, which was once a good brand, has been completely ruined. Tons of complaints and store salesmen tell me their sales have plunged.

      1. Winston Smith

        Running shoes!!! Endless crapification. I was a high school miler when the revolutionary Nike waffle trainer came out…and soon after that it became impossible to buy a shoe that would retain the qualities you bought it for as “improvements” were almost immediately introduced in what was supposed to be the same model…I still long for my original pair of Brooks supervillanovas.

        1. Arizona Slim

          True confession: In addition to all of my bicycling adventures, I do a lot of walking.

          Which means that I’ve had a good bit of experience with the crapification of running shoes. My current footwear is by Columbia. Specifically, the Montrail model.

          I bought these shoes in late April 2019, but I’m already looking around to see what else is out there. Because, if you do a lot of walking, shoe replacement is a way of life.

          So, thank you, PlutoniumKun, for the recommendation.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            The Scarpa are replacing a pair of Merrills light hike/walk GTX shoes, which were quite good- they lasted about 4 years of very heavy use, including a recent 6 week cycle/hike tour. They are still in useable condition, but the upper has cracked a little at the edges and so they are no longer waterproof (I assume the inner Gore-Tex liner has gone). The Scarpa were on recommendation – if they fit most people seem to consider them well worth the money as they are very well made. But on comfort alone I’m very impressed so far.

      2. Susan the other

        have you seen a podiatrist? I just went for the first time with a case of plantar fasciitis (sp?) he gave me a thorough foot exam including X-rays to eliminate hairline fractures as my heel was extremely painful, and I discovered I have arthritis in my feet. lovely. but he was certainly worth the money. he gave me some very comfy inserts and instructions for foot and calf stretches that worked wonders. it’s always a surprise for me to find a doc who can actually help.

        1. Susan the other

          also too, you can get really good fitting shoes through a podiatrist – a little expensive. and not bad looking.

        2. Jack Parsons

          Yup! When I was 50, a podiatrist informed me that my feet are slightly deformed and this is why I walk funny and shoes have never felt comfy. I live with custom $400 insoles now, and can walk for long distances again.

        3. Yves Smith Post author

          Thanks for the thought. Without belaboring details, I have tried a lot on this front and there aren’t good answers for people with feet and ankles like mine.

          1. Kengferno

            I’ve got VERY dodgy feet/ankles, extremely high arch along with extremely flat feet. I’ve tried numerous solutions including orthopedic insoles. I’ve found that insoles made by a chain foot/shoe store called Foot Solutions work best and they help mitigate sketchily made shoes.

      3. California Bob

        My experience as well. I’ve worn ‘Asics’ since they were called ‘Onitsuka Tigers’–just found out Tigers can still be found (same company though)–and the quality and durability has gone down over the years. Very sad, Asics fit my feet the best and I refuse to buy Nike as a matter of principle (I know, they all use child slave labor, but I wanted to make at least a symbolic statement).

        1. mauisurfer

          Did you know that the first Nike shoes were actually Asics?
          That’s right, Phil Knight made a deal with Asics to produce Asics shoes
          with Nike label. That is how Nike got started.
          I knew Knight back in grad school days, he was U of O graduate who ran track
          under Coach Bowerman, went to Stanford B School.

      4. Antagonist Muscles

        I too just could not find a good pair of running shoes. Out of dissatisfaction and disgust for quality running shoes, I changed my perception of what a running shoe is and constructed my own. Here are plans for DIY huarache sandals. If you have a disinclination for DIY, you may purchase a pair of pre-made sandals from xeroshoes. Or do an internet search for sandals made from used tires.

        I also wear these DIY sandals as a general purpose shoe. Nobody invites me to formal social or corporate gatherings anymore so I am unconcerned about looking foolish. And my appearance outside of shoeless feet does not invite ridicule. You too can be the envy of the party with indestructible sandals made from used tires.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Ho Chi Minh sandals, tough enough to defeet the US Empire:

          The US ‘procurement machinery” ground through all kinds of footgear (and so much other scammery) through the Vietnam War period, nominally looking for boots that would keep the tender feet of GI’s from misfortune. I wore the old “combat boots,” black leather with flat leather soles, little traction tread, no “airborne spit shine toes,” no support, for most of my time there (67-68). Looked like sh!t after a few weeks, no matter how much polish applied, mildewed and helped rot your feet. Then “jungle boots,” with “ballistic nylon” uppers and a bit of a tread sole and a steel shank that was supposed to deflect the feces-infected “pungi sticks” that asymmetrically maimed a whole lot of GIs.

          Since then, the great game of procurement fraud, with bidders using bid protests and bribery to try to “win the contract” for one new uniform after another, with serial crapification in the process.

          Here’s one little bid protest, where a company wanting to monopolize the laundering of GI uniforms was unhappy that the “bottomless account pit” of the US military imposed a “ceiling price” on the cost, to the GIs who have to maintain and now buy their own uniforms, of washing their BDUs. No such principle regarding F-35s, aircraft carriers, “littoral combat ships,” new-generation Boeing tanker jets, etc. Da noive o’ some people!

          Yves has perceptively named the process, it’s clear that like “globalization,” the crap has won where US full spectrum dominance has failed.

          Noted elsewhere, Wonder what the next few weeks will bring?

          I wonder — is there a blogger or Twitterer who tracks the activities around the Strangelove Bunkers where the Really Important People will run to hide from the hell they are loosing in their hubris and idiocy, while the rest of us choke and die?

    3. JohnnySacks

      I’m very skeptical of the shoe brands which I’ve trusted because they produce dependable, although expensive, high end models, then crapified models to sell at discount stores. My go-to is Keen, wear them down to the bone, buy the same on REI for replacement, wash, rinse, repeat. Please Keen, don’t sell out to Kohls and WalMart. What’s the use of buying something for a third the price and having it last less than a third of the lifetime of the high end?

      The foam Sketchers slip-ons at Costco were wonderful, light and comfortable, at least until the soles packed down and tilted outwards. Useless after a couple months.

      We need a new mattress, badly, but dread the bullshit of buying one so much that we’re locked in perpetual procrastination. For starters, if we can’t flip it, no sale.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    And on the direct subject of mattresses, going back decades there used to be grim jokes told in families (at least, in my family), about how the best way to dispose of an elderly bedridden relative who clung on to life a little too long was to replace their nice feather and spring mattresses with the then newfangled plastic covered ones. *allegedly* an aunt of mine used this technique successfully to hasten the heavenly departure of a particularly crotchety and bad tempered mother in law.

    Oh, and I don’t usually give consumer advice, but I have had good experiences with Ikea mattresses. Last year I go their thinnest available mattress to go on a murphy bed I have in my spare room for visitors – I’ve been surprised by the feedback I’ve had, everyone seems to find it super comfortable (which wasn’t really the intention, as I don’t want to encourage over-stays…)

    1. pat

      Also try independent company which make their own. YOU will get a proper mattress double sided which can be turned with decent box springs. You can in Pittsburgh even watch them make your mattress..

  3. jackiebass

    Todays brand name shoes are about the same quality of what you would find in Walmart for around $10. They ,even though expensive , don’t last very long. I agree with you assessment of mattresses. They all are an overpriced piece of junk. We are living in a disposable society where almost everything doesn’t last very long and needs to be replaced. Just look at appliances. Refrigerators and washers used to last almost forever. Not today. 10 years max for a fridge and 5 years or less for a washer. The washer I had before the one I now own broke in 8 months. It cost more to repair it than I paid for it. Even that being the case, the company would only repair it which took 2 weeks to complete. I replaced it with a Speed Queen because of their 7 year warranty. Other brands have a 1 year warranty. If the company will warrant its product for 7 years they are confident they build a quality product. We can buy cheap but it is junk and in the long term more expensive if you have to replace it after a short time. You get what you pay for. Most products look nice. If you closely inspect them you will see what their quality really is. Most consumers aren’t able to or don’t bother to closely inspect what they are buying before they actually purchase it.

    1. Clive

      I paid nearly £400 for a near top of the line Bosch dishwasher about four years back. It lasted 30 months before the power control board got fried. I replaced it with a cheap and cheerful Beko for £200 a couple of years ago. Just before Christmas the program selector knob literally broke off in my hand (I stuck it on with superglue). I knew it wouldn’t last long because it wasn’t expensive (relatively…) but the shoddiness is simply breathtaking.

      The near £1000 fridge freezer I got about three years ago (LG) is making a squealing noise from the compressor (when I move the unit to clean around it, I can actually hear the compressor bounce and rattle around loose in the base at the back). It works, for now, but I have to keep the kitchen door closed all the time to shut out the racket.

      It is beyond depressing. The money is annoying but what is worse is the disruption at having to buy endless replacement equipment, get rid of the old stuff, install the new ones etc.

      And then there is the sheer waste of resouces of it all…

      1. rd

        I know of enough people who have bought “top of the line” appliances, only to have them break relatively quickly but have exorbitant repair costs with difficult to get parts. So we buy about one or two models up from the bottom, so you get more features than an on/off switch and when something breaks you can make a quick decision on repair vs. replace. The repairmen that come are generally pretty disgusted with the current state of appliances – they can see the impact of mergers, private equity, and off-shoring immediately as the quality of the appliances drop.

      2. James O'Keefe

        Our 10 year old (mid line?) Bosch dishwasher is still going and hopefully will continue to for many years to come. The Kenmore stove we got at the same time is functioning ok, but it is pretty simple. The Samsung microwave is still going but the plastic bit used to rotate the platform broke in half after the first year.

        Our ~5 year old LG front loader washing machine has been slowly rusting around where we put in the detergent and the paint on the top has flaked off. One of the main two buttons stopped working just after warranty. Paid for their (contract) service tech to fix it. He made a temporary repair, and said he needed a new part from LG. Even after repeated calls, he never came out to repair it permanently. It broke again and LG just pointed at the repair service and gave me a long run around while trying to sell me on the extended warranty. Eventually, we took it apart and we built a permanent solution with superglue and cut pieces of plastic bread loaf holders. I will never buy an LG product again.

        A right to repair cannot come fast enough.

          1. xkeyscored

            Vance Packard, in The Waste Makers, gave several examples of exactly that – products deliberately engineered to break down soon after the warranty expired.

          2. notabanktoadie

            Suppose all large corporations were roughly equally owned by all citizens?

            Do you suppose then that the shareholders would tolerate crappy products? Or that they could not afford to buy quality ones?

            Then also consider that government privileges for private credit creation allow corporations to bypass the need to share wealth and power with all citizens since corporations are among the most so-called “credit worthy” of what is then, in essence, the public’s credit but for private gain.

      3. Susan the other

        I gave up on dishwashers long ago. They just smear the filth on everything and then bake it on. I prefer to just wash dishes myself. I built three slatted shelves above the sink for draining stuff in an organized manner and I’d recommend that over a dishwasher any day.

    2. vlade

      Depends. After trying out a lot of shoes, I went for some very expensive, old english brand ones. They last ages (as long as they don’t have leather sole, that wears out in a year, but that’s a problem of the material). The shoes I bought cost me about 4 times more than what I’d pay in “branded” shop, but outlasted them by a way higher margin.

      That said, it’s an exception to the rule.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I buy high end shoes for my dress shoes and still vastly prefer leather soles. They are flexible but sturdy and I have fussy feet, so these are the best for them.

        The solution for leather soles is to go to a shoemaker and have so-called dance rubber put on the sole and the entire heel. That way, you are never wearing out the sole but the thin non-skid surface. You do need to replace that when it wears.

        As a result, I never wear out shoes from the soles. They last until the top splits or starts to separate from the soles. That when I was walking regularly in Manhattan (as in a lot) would take 10+ years.

        1. vlade

          I like leather soles because they breathe more.

          Thanks for the tip – I will have a look at the dance rubber, that may work well. Because normal leather soles with my walking patterns lasted barely a year (and I don’t mean just rubbed off – I usually had them resoled when I could remember to do it, which was when my feet started to get wet on a rainy day :D ).

          1. Antagonist Muscles

            Since my animosity for shoes (and socks) is extreme, your mileage may vary with my recommendations. The root of the problem is the shoe itself, irrespective of leather, rubber, foam, expense, or craftsmanship. A lifetime of wearing socks and shoes discourages proper blood circulation, encourages structural dysfunction, and encourages poor posture and gait.

            Amazingly enough, I improved the blood circulation, thwarted the structural dysfunction, and unlearned the poor posture and gait all by abstaining from wearing socks and shoes. Several years ago, I would put on socks the moment I wake up, and my feet would still mysteriously feel cold. One notable way I fixed this was to run and exercise barefoot. After consistently exercising barefoot, the blood vessels in my foot (and calf) likely expanded, resulting in increased blood flow. Whenever I exercise now, I feel a warmth in my feet that last hours.

            Do you know what is more breathable and more durable than your fancy leather shoes? My naked feet.

            1. Duke of Prunes

              Similar experience here. I was having all kinds of problems with my feet. Repeated bouts of plantar fasciitis and achilles tendinitis. Spoke to a friend who’s wife had recently quit a job making podiatrist shoes because she felt they were doing more harm than good. The idea is that wearing shoes with “good support” weakens your foot and ankle muscles, and encourages poor walking mechanics (smashing your heels down first) which, in turn, causes foot problems.

              I started walking bare foot more, taking care not the smash my heels into the ground (which bare feet encourage) and bought some “minimalist” shoes (Olukai). According to the salesperson at REI, they were designed to feeling like walking in the sand. Also, an anti-microbial cork insole meant I could go sock-less without them stinking to high heaven after a month or two. Over time, all my foot problems disappeared. I still have a pair of Keens that I wear when my feet need protection from sharp/jagged surfaces (i.e. rocks), and a pair of exercise shoes for the gym, but it’s Olukais the rest of the time.

              1. Antagonist Muscles

                I purposely go to the gym on weekends when there is only one employee working, usually the local high school kid. Then, I exercise barefoot – free from the watchful eyes of the weekday employees who like to dictate the usage of “foot coffins”.

                The most prominent reason shoes and feet have a tendency for stinkiness is again an inherent problem of the shoe itself. Shoes are difficult to clean and are prone to staying wet after washing with soap and water. If your shoes were easily washable and dryable (as mine are) and if you frequently washed your feet with soap (as I do), bacteria and fungus will never be able to gain a sufficient foothold to harbor smelly odors.

        2. Dalepues

          Thanks, I never even heard of dance rubber….no running shoes or tennis shoes; they’re uncomfortable and I can’t run anyway. Leather soled shoes give me a steady platform to stand on, but they’re hard to find in stores now (in Mobile anyway). The two pair in my closet had to be ordered. My rubber soled Borns are comfortable in the house, but outside walking on uneven surfaces, like the broken and rippled sidewalks here, cause me to trip and fall down.

          Mattresses: I bought the best mattress ever in Nicaragua. It was an import from Costa Rica, under the Olympia label. The bed was purchased in 2009 and as of this past September it still sleeps the same. Nothing has changed except a little unraveling of the side stitching. I think I paid $250 for that bed.

        3. turtle

          Good men’s shoe brands will have the option of classic Dainite soles (ex: Allen Edmonds shoes and others of similar quality). These are a good quality low-profile rubber sole made for dress shoes and have been around for over 100 years. They’re supposedly much more durable (and of course infinitely more water resistant) than leather soles, but not nearly as flexible, from what I understand. Perhaps some women’s shoe brands offer these or something similar?

        4. RMO


          Thanks for the dance rubber tip. I told my wife about it and we found a good shoemaker to do this for the high end leather sole boots and shoes she has (just two – one pair of boots, one pair of pumps, both were birthday presents from me). The uppers and the join to the soles are very high quality and well made so this trick seems likely to make them last nearly forever.

          As for me, I switched from running shoes to Docs back in the 90s when I got tired of $100+ pairs of shoes disintegrating in less than a year. I was worried when they went offshore but the durability seemed almost the same, though the Chinese and Vietnamese made ones took some time to break in, unlike the UK ones which were comfortable right from the start. UK production is available again and while more expensive I bought a UK pair the last time I needed new shoes and it seems to be worth the extra cost.

          As to mattresses, I guess we lucked out in that there’s a nearby independent furniture store that has locally produced, spring mattresses available for a reasonable price. We bought one three years ago and it’s holding up very well.

    3. Dan

      We recently had both our 15-year old Maytag Performa washer and dryer repaired. Each needed a new belt, and the washer also needed a valve. The total cost of repair, parts and labor, was $250. We were initially just going to buy new ones but after a couple hours searching and reading all the horrible reviews on the new machines (the new space-age models, while saving water, don’t get the laundry clean), I decided to call a local repair place. The woman I spoke with – who clearly knows her stuff -said they recommend avoiding Samsung and LG entirely, as well as all the high-end machines from every manufacturer. She said GE machines were good up until a few years ago when Haier bought them. She said one company they recommend the most is Speed Queen, which still makes washers and dryers the old-fashioned way.

      1. Richard Hershberger

        I bought a new Speed Queen dryer a couple of years ago after having a long chat with the owner of the local sales and service shop. They mostly sell Maytags, but carry Speed Queen for eccentrics like me, who are willing to pay nearly twice the price to not have to replace it soon. Apparently the company is still closely held by a family that regards it as a legacy for their grandkids. This is about the only way a company can maintain quality over the long haul. Of course even that isn’t certain. The grandkids might decide what they really want is a yacht, and sell out to a private equity outfit.

    4. Daniel Webb

      I researched Speed Queen based on your comment, and at least based on one of their models on Amazon, they went downhill badly in 2018. The comments pre-2018 were nearly all 5 star, and after 2018, around half 1 star. The complaints seemed to fall into two categories: poor reliability, and poor cleaning. The poor cleaning tends to be blamed on government regulation (I don’t know enough about this to know it it’s true), but there is no excuse for poor reliability for an expensive washing machine.

      I don’t argue against the narrative seen a lot here that corporate greed often leads to crapification, I’ve certainly seen that myself, but is it allowed to admit on Naked Capitalism that government regulation could be a cause of some crapification? I know I’ve seen this in some shop tools I buy, where government mandated safety features, in some cases, make the product more crappy *and* less safe. Another example is the nozzles required on gasoline cans in the US now. I spill more gas than I transfer with these new designs, and like many other people I end up having to spend more money on Amazon to buy the old-style nozzle anyway.

  4. Noel Nospamington

    I am quite flexible in tolerating most mattresses including form, as long as they are not too hard as too make my back sore in the morning.

    What I am super picky about is my pillow, since the comfort of one’s head is critical for a good night’s sleep. I have yet to find anything better than a buckwheat husk filled pillow, which is hard, keeps it shape, and lets air pass through in order to remain relatively cool. And as a bonus having silk pillowcases makes these pillows even more comfy and my hair is less messy in the morning.

    Since buckwheat hustled filled pillows keep their shape, the smaller travel size is about as comfy as a larger size, which is why I always travel with one, even on overseas trips.

    Plus they are relatively affordable and of course fully biodegradable. I simply buy a bag of buckwheat husks and fill my pillows with it.

    1. Antagonist Muscles

      I’m already looking increasingly kooky and frugal considering my comment above about DIY shoes. I will up the ante and discuss my DIY mattress and bed frame.

      I built my mattress with plans and materials purchased from My entire mattress is filled with buckwheat hulls. I felt the buckwheat mattress was a bit hard when I first slept on it, but after some time I began to think, “Why don’t all mattresses feel like this?”

      Noel Nospamington already mentioned the advantages of buckwheat for comfort and biodegradability. Another notable advantage of buckwheat is I can pour out the buckwheat hulls on a tarp on a sunny day. This will effectively wipe out dust mites, accumulated bacteria, and other critters living inside my mattress. Ordinary mattresses are very difficult to clean – the insides especially.

      I built my bed frame with 2 inch diameter black steel pipe, Kee Klamp pipe fittings, and kiln dried douglas fir 2×10 boards. The total cost was approximately $400. Less if you opt to use generic pipe fittings. Nevertheless, take a look the simplifiedbuilding project page for construction plans. There is something very satisfying about building a bed frame with materials that will last a lifetime. And my bed can support a literal ton.

      1. Earendel

        Thank you very much for the link to!

        buckwheat fhull illed pillows are common place in Japan. I sleep on when ever I head back to Japan to visit the in laws. I personally sleep on a 15 year old Japanese futon on floor and still fits and feels comfortable and firm.

        But may look at a buckwheat hull filled mattress and cover for the next go around.

      2. HotFlash

        Um, same here. I made myself a wall-mounted sliding double bed and topped it with a futon 35 years ago. Both still going strong. The bed slides in to form a couch with the futon folded to cushion back and seat. My buckwheat hull pillows are great, too, although after 35 years I have to make new muslin covers for them. I love being able to punch a depression for my ear or pat the pillow into shape to support my neck without tilting my head forward.

  5. sd

    Memory foam mattress here. It was great for the first 3 years…sigh. It needs to be replaced and been trying to figure out what to get. Often travel for work, the most comfortable mattress I keep coming across is made specifically for the hotel industry and those come with big price tags in the $2,500 range.
    It’s become an issue and I keep kicking the mattress down the road so to speak so curious to hear what others have to say.
    PS won’t do wool. Had a really bad experience with moths and a wool futon….

    1. Robert Gray

      > Memory foam mattress here. It was great for the first 3 years…sigh. It needs to be replaced…

      I have a high-end memory foam mattress. I flip it every month — north, south, east and west, in rotation — and after four years it is still fantastic, as good as new.

      1. Harrold

        I have a memory foam mattress that is still going strong after 5 years. I have mine on top of the old box springs.

  6. He's just this guy

    Tempur mattresses were a boon for chiropractor business, they felt “different” at first but left to many sore backs.

    And the hype of “memory foam” , meh. What a joke.

    Bring back water beds, I say.

    1. Shleep

      35 years and counting on a waterbed. It’s warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and *always* fits just right. One hears they’re supposedly horrible for backs, but that’s not my experience.

      The original bladder sprung a leak about 4 years ago – it was a little shocking to wake up in a puddle – but the liner held the water, as designed. There was a cup of water on the floor before i got a pot under the drip. The bladder was easily replaced online. We’ll see soon enough if that’s been crapified.

  7. The Rev Kev

    Consider as an example. You have a country of three hundred and thirty five million people and the bulk majority of them never have a good night’s quality sleep through inferior mattresses. Now what would be the long term effect on their mental health, their productivity and their life quality for a start?

    1. California Bob

      re: “Now what would be the long term effect on their mental health …”

      They’ll vote Republican and get their pockets picked.

    1. Hank Linderman

      From the comments in the linked “Chronic Fatigue” story: I have been in the mattress business for over 25 years, and know the business inside and out. The mistake most people making when buying a mattress is that did not think it thru before the they go out shopping. First thing to realize is that a mattress gets a little softer over time. So no matter how it feels in the store it will in fact get a lot softer as time goes by. There is no mattress made that will not continually get softer and softer. That is way most people end up replacing there mattress, it has gotten soft or has started sagging in the middle. So when buying a mattress look for one that is harder then you like. Then go and buy mattress pads or toppers, to soften it up to get the feel you like. Spend less money on the mattress and more on the linens. If you do it this way your mattress will last a very long time It is much more cost effective way to do it in the long run. Also the next time you need a mattress don’t just stop at the first store with air dancer waving you in for the big sale, and think you will get a great deal. The trick to getting a good price on a mattress is to buy them in the summer when mattress stores are in there slow season. That is when they will give you the very best price.

      Posted by: puppetmaster… | March 11, 2013 at 09:18 AM

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Thanks but there is a big difference between “gets softer” and “sags”. Sagging is disruptive to sleep and can also for some people lead to sleeping in positions that are not good for their back or other joints.

        1. Alexis S.

          I am using the mattresses my parents bought from a local manufacturer 20-60 years ago!! (Gardner Mattress, Salem, Ma.) They are pretty darn firm (too much so for my lazy back) but still in great condition.

          My solution, when I started living back in the old house, was to buy a < $100 egg crate foam topper — I get the firm support underneath and very comfortable on top. I don't get the cheapest foam– maybe 3" — and I just replaced the foam after 10 years. Amortized over 10 years… (Now, you'd have to investigate as to whether Gardner is still making them the same way. Since I don't need replacements, I do not know.)

          I'm staring at the 25 year old washer and dryer thinking I'm going to have to replace them, someday, but, why, (?) when what I replace them with will be more & unnecessarily complicated, and will fail sooner.

          Of course, I live in a 250 year old house, too.

          In the historic preservation community, there's a saying: it's not good because it's old, it's old BECAUSE it's good.

          If I find some rot on the outside, I cut out that piece of rot and make a "Dutchman" out of another piece of old wood and glue it in, rather than rip off the whole piece of wood… because what wood is available now is of such inferior quality that it will rot out again in 10 or 15 years. Some of my clapboards are (probably) original, based on the way they were cut and trimmed.

          Most of my neighbors rip out everything and "Ikea-ize" these glorious old houses. I have little insulation, but these houses were not meant to be tight, and there's plenty of evidence that an overly air-tight house causes many problems, for the house materials as well as the health of the occupants.

          And, another saying: "The Greenest building is the one that's already built."

  8. Larry

    We’re fortunate to have Gardner Mattresses here in Massachusetts. I’m not sure if they ship, though I suspect you could arrange individual shipping options with them at expense. Could be worth it given your experience with other companies. I can attest that these mattresses last a very long time before developing sag and other problems. They still sell mattresses you can flip too.

  9. ilpalazzo

    I have bought a high end Italian “memory foam” mattress ten years ago and it’s been terrific, I love sleeping on it. Non – reversible, doesn’t sag at all, I’d say it is as good as when I got it. It is surprisingly firm but gives a bit of way in relevant places when warmed up. I wholeheartedly recommend it. The brand is Perdormire and I paid around $400 for a single bed. Worth every penny.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Upon hearing the recommendation of a neighbor-friend, I bought a Tempur-pedic mattress. That was back in 2005, and I still like it better than any other mattress I’ve owned.

  10. Skg

    “The Original Mattress Factory” still makes what appears to be decent spring mattresses. Most are flip able and we’ve had good luck with ours.

  11. notabanktoadie

    I’m reminded that Jacob used a rock for a pillow in Genesis 28:10-22 and my own experience is that before I had much faith in the God of the Bible wrt the health and comfort of my body, I had a bedding fetish and spent quite a lot on mattresses, pillows, sheets, comforters, etc.

    But, woe for me, all such expedient gains in comfort proved to be only temporary.

    Now, though 30 or so years older, I sleep much better regardless of my bedding.

  12. vlade

    I had a latex mattress for now about 15 years. I have only two real complainst there:
    – moving it is a pain. It’s heavy (probably close to 100kgs), and very floppy, so very hard to manipulate.
    – it’s a non-standard size, so finding fitting bedcovers is a pain. Either too large or too small… But TBH, it looks like every country has its own bed sizing, so it’s not really fault of the mattress.

    It was also costly, but given that I don’t really see a point in changing it yet (unlike the bed it’s on), I suspect it will come out ahead of other materials (my wife’s on her fourth or so mattress I think).

    1. CenterOfGravity

      Same here. Paid about 1K for latex mattress over a decade ago and still going strong without any depression spots. Keeping it covered with two waterproof liners has prevented spoilage. Heavy and difficult to manage for transport. Well-suited for firm mattress sleepers. Remember having to agree to waiver because it does not contain any fire retardants like typical manufactured mattresses.

  13. Peter

    Since my wife and I did a 5 month trip with pack horses through the BC Rocky Mountains (self organized and without any previous packing experience, learning as you go) in 1979 and a repeat in 1981 (only for three month because of forest fire hazard) I have slept on a sheet of plywood covered with a layer of loom woven blankets about 3″ thick.
    I can manage to sleep on a mattress on a trip in Hotels and B&Bs but it feels a relieve to come back home to my bed without one.
    My wife still uses a mattress – one from Ikea (not foam) that at a decent price offers enough comfort for her.
    Our main sleep disturbance is due to one of our cats who usually demands to be let back into the house at around 1am knocking at the bedroom door that leads directly to the garden and at seven am demands to be back out again for her bathroom run and at about 8am demands her food……

    1. turtle

      Interesting. This reminded me that orthopedic mattresses in Brazil were essentially a wood box with a thin layer of foam on top. I guess some of them still are. This video of someone complaining about the construction of one of these from a particular brand clearly shows its construction:

  14. Josh

    There’s a site called the Mattress Underground that also does a pretty good job of describing this crapification and recommending quality manufacturers. I purchased a double sided spring mattress with a latex topper from a company in California called Flexus Comfort about 3.5 years ago for less than a thousand (bedframe and box spring included) and have been extremely happy with it.

  15. John

    Regarding Mafia Don’s killing a rival capo…I think the Iranians will have a problem as I don’t think we have any comparable “beloved” military leaders to take out in response. Maybe someone like Lindsay Graham can fill in for that.
    Maybe this will start a war that will shut down Persian Gulf oil…what a way to stop the carbonization of the atmosphere.
    Our imperial vice regents in that part of the world better watch their backs.
    And as for mattresses? Sometime I think making my own bed of nails might be the wisest solution. At least the price would be right.

  16. JohnnyGL

    Yes! I’ve had my share of mattress battles, to the point where each of my kids have queen mattresses because my wife and i couldn’t deal with the older ones.

  17. Socal Rhino

    We bought a California King mattress from Westin 8 or 9 years ago after staying at one of their hotels. Been very happy with it and it has held up.

  18. DJG

    Mattresses: I have an extra-thick futon, which was custom made, but not all that pricey. The interior is organic cotton and silk, if I recall.

    Find your local futon shop. Have them make one for you. My futon is about six inches deep, and in a dozen years, it hasn’t changed shape much. (The other weird fashion that you did not mention is these ultra-deep mattresses–I suppose for disposing of relatives, as PlutoniumKun mentions up-thread.)

  19. Dom of Doom

    From a life long insomniac: we bought. An avocado green mattress which does not have any harmful chemicals and is made in the Us and love it. We bought another one for our guest room and all of our guest loved it. It has been only 1.5 years so let’s see how it ages but so far so good

  20. DJG

    I regularly return to the Oracle of Delphi, which was more accurate and weirder than we admit these days. With regard to adventures in Persia:

    He sent to the great Oracle at Delphi to know whether he should go to war against the Persian Empire and the oracle replied: “If Croesus goes to war he will destroy a great empire.” Pleased by this answer, Croesus made his necessary alliances and preparations and went out to meet the Persian army at the Halys River (which Thales of Miletus, an engineer in his corps, helped him to cross by diverting the waters). The battle at the Halys was a draw and Croesus marched his force back to Sardis where the army was disbanded for the winter. Croesus expected Cyrus to do the same, as this was customary, but Cyrus instead pressed the attack, massacred Croesus’ cavalry in the field by mounting his own cavalry on dromedaries (whose scent frightened the Lydian horses) and captured Croesus. After the fall of Sardis, Croesus’ wife committed suicide and Croesus was dragged before Cyrus in chains.

    Quoting Ancient History Encyclopedia (on line).

    I don’t have a special link to the god of prophecy (unlike Plutarch), but I can assure you that a land war with the Persians will be a disaster. Ask Trajan. Ask any number of Roman emperors. But history is bunk here in the U S of A, and we are about to witness more waste of money and human lives, as we pile up more factors to tip definitely the imperial decline into imperial collapse.

    And the Saudis and the Israelis, who always have U.S. interests at heart, and who aren’t the least bit corrupt, and aren’t the least bit addled by religiosity, will be delighted to fight the Iranians to the last American.

    1. JTMcPhee

      “…to the last American.”

      Hey, you can’t say that! That’s anti-Semitic (inclusively)!! /s

    2. Nonna B

      Yep. “History is bunk here in the US of A.” And as I recall, wasn’t it Hillary that was going to get us into a war? Wow. So glad we dodged that bullet, eh?

  21. Jason Boxman

    If you Google around, there’s a post where someone explains ways to try to remediate a saggy mattress. Someone called it a “canoe”, and I couldn’t agree more.

    We always used to buy our mattresses as The Original Mattress Factory in Orlando, and the last time I was there the manager at that store went on about how they’d threatened to take their business elsewhere when a supplier wanted to move production to China. Best mattresses ever. Last forever. (I think they finally sold out.)

    I wanted to buy local in Boston, so I bought a new mattress from the Boston Mattress Company. Well, their mattresses are terrible. It had a depression within a month. They declined to replace it under the warranty because the huge depression wasn’t deep enough.

    I finally took to stuffing an entire thick blanket under the mattress. It helps, enough. I don’t want to spend another $800 on a junk mattress.

    If the true environmental cost of all this garbage were due, you’d think we would want to create the highest quality products possible. But as long as someone else is going to pay, some day in the future. But that future is coming.

  22. anon y'mouse

    mattresses are like so many other things in life–recommendations are nearly worthless because each person has specific needs and preferences.

    i personally swear by a latex mattress i had made by a small, local (to Portland, OR) company 15 years ago. you can flip it as much as you like, and put any number of toppers onto it if necessary.
    when we decided that it was a bit too firm against aching bones, we put another thin mattress from ikea on top of it. we can flip that as much as we like and when it gets the inevitable permanent dent, we can get another.

    i am just going to princess-and-the-pea it with mattresses until my nose touches the ceiling at night.

    we have a thick, foam cheapie on the spare bed. each of us has slept on this thing occasionally (when sick, or when it is sweltering in Alabama), and it doesn’t seem to suffer from denting from this occasional usage but might if it were used more regularly. it is extremely firm, and the cheapest we could order online from “store that must not be named”. it is also something like 12″ thick.

    this crapification is why mattress stores are everywhere and always advertising, which is a new phenomenon over these past 20 years. i don’t remember anyone “needing” a new mattress every few years while growing up, nor there being a store in every other strip-mall for them. you just went to Sears or Macys every 20 years and were done with it. luckily, i am in the same boat with my latex and worry about replacing it, should it ever become ruined. it is the first thing i move, and my most precious cargo.

  23. GeoCrackr

    About 14 years ago my wife and I were smart/lucky enough to invest in (what we thought at the time was) a very expensive double-sided pillow-top queen mattress made and sold by the Seattle Mattress Company. They’re a 100+ year old company here that has a well-regarded specialty of making custom mattresses for high-end marine vessels (i.e. yachts and sailboats). We listened to the salesman and have been diligent about flipping it regularly, with the end result being that the mattress is still practically as good as new despite both my wife and I being big-boned people, ~250# each. Sadly I just looked and it seems they don’t make our model anymore. I dread the day when we have to replace it, especially in light of this report, but luckily that day is probably still many years in the future. The outrageous expense we laid out for this quality? — about $800, iirc.

  24. curlydan

    My strategy for buying mattresses is to find the discount mattress store in town and avoid any chain mattress store or department store. These discount stores normally have some less known brands and _much_ lower prices. I normally can find a good and firm type of mattress at a reasonable price.

  25. Cuibono

    Visiting my brother and guest bed has a Therapedic mattress from 10 years ago.
    Truly excellent. No idea if they are still good

  26. Bob Tetrault

    Yves, we are timeshare owners at a Westin resort in Palm Desert. The Heavenly beds are exactly that. At home we have Sleep-Number on adjustable frames, and I like that too, but Heavenly is a cut above. I have noted that some Heavenly’s, at high-frequency resorts, appear to have developed some sags, but obviously can’t assess usage stats. At this point, based on your well deserved rant, I’d urge you to try them.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Hate to tell you but consumer reviews of the Heavenly Bed by people who’ve slept in them at Westin have regular complaints that the consumer mattress is markedly inferior to the hotel version, even though they are marketed as the same.

  27. Off The Street

    Luxury hotels such as Westin, Four Seasons and others have really good mattresses. I loved experiencing the Westin Heavenly Bed and finally got restful sleep on that. One story some Westin people told was about a guest so enamored of the room mattress that he insisted on buying that very one take home. You can probably find a way to get a discount on any type of mattress as the markups are gigantic.

    The deeper mattresses are heavy, harder to rotate, and single-sided. One workaround is to buy an Eastern King (76″ wide x 80″ long), then rotate the entire bed 90 degrees quarterly. Having a headboard affixed to the wall helps in such cases. Those mattresses are large enough that you probably won’t notice much difference unless you are pretty tall.

  28. xkeyscored

    I find sleeping on a woven reed mat on a tiled floor by far the best way to get a good night’s kip. Mattresses cut off the air flow under and around me, making for a sweaty experience in this hot and often humid climate (often 30 degrees at dawn), and don’t support my weight (42kg, hardly enormous!), choosing instead to sag and leave me with aching hips, neck and back in the morning.
    I’ve rarely experienced these expensive mattresses of which some have written, but when I have, I’ve been singularly unimpressed. They’re even uncomfortable to sit on; I often sit cross-legged in a half lotus (comfort and habit, not yoga or meditation), and with a mattress, my bum sinks lower than my legs or knees, which I can only take for a few minutes. Give me a solid, reliable floor any day, thank you. Oh, except for one thing, and for that, tiled floors can be hard and unforgiving, and reed mats can deliver friction burns …

  29. notabanktoadie

    Crappy goods and crappy jobs are just manifestations of an inherently unjust finance system that was SUPPOSED to give us good jobs and better goods and services and did for a while until unjustly financed automation and out-sourcing started eroding BOTH.

    So much then for Progressive pragmatism* which appears in retrospect to be largely stupid short-sightedness.

    Can I resist saying that Progressives made the beds they (and everyone else except the rich) must now lie in? Apparently not. Sorry …

    *e.g. government guarantees of private, including privately created liabilities.

      1. notabanktoadie

        Government guarantees of private bank deposits/liabilities for fiat were instituted under FDR. Was FDR a neo-liberal?

        Warren Mosler, a co-founder of MMT, would make those guarantees UNLIMITED and FOR FREE*. Is Warren Mosler a neo-liberal?

        If Progressives were fooled by bankers in the 1930’s then shame on the bankers. If Progressives continue to be led by bankers such as Mosler then shame on them as either:
        1) dupes
        2) willing co-oppressors.

        *not that any payable premium can properly cover the systemic risk that a government privileged usury cartel poses.

  30. sgr2

    I’m a huge fan of leather-soled shoes as well. They can be made to last forever if you know a good shoe repair guy! I like that leather breathes, and the feeling of the earth beneath my feet when I’m walking — it makes me think my legs are getting a better workout too.

    As far as beds are concerned, we bought a “horse hair” mattress about 20 years ago from Hästens, a Swedish manufacturer. For the first year or so we just slept on the mattress on the floor until we could afford to purchase the frame containing the box springs (actually the frame consists of two twin-sized beds, each with a different amount of firmness). The bed is extremely well made, using high-quality materials and still looks brand new. Besides that, each night promises a good night’s sleep which is the most important thing. One of the reason I think the bed has held up so well and lasted so long is because the mattress can be flipped or rotated any which way.

    1. Oregoncharles

      That’s the second reference to a mattress on the floor. Caveat: that works if the floor is over heated space, but not if it’s over an unheated crawl space. There will be no air circulation, and condensation will render the underside a fungal garden. Yes, personal experience: on a cotton mattress in Portland, OR, many years ago.

      There are reasons for bed frames, besides the convenient height. However, even something like a woven mat might give enough air circulation to prevent mold.

  31. Susan the other

    Re Soleimani and mattresses: was the drone false-flagged by any chance? and when you decide on a mattress will you please pass on the info as the only thing I’ve been able to relate to lately is a well made Japanese futon but haven’t decided yet.

      1. Susan the other

        This morning I’ve decided we cannot bridge the gap without oil. The problem is that everyone knows it. We can live without food, if we rest, for 6 weeks; without water for 3 days; without oxygen for 2 minutes. Without oil? The world will come crashing end. We need oil until we can learn to walk again. We’re like toddlers starting over.

  32. Krystyn Walentka

    “Soften the body, no need for a mattress!” A monk of the highest caliber said that when someone complained about pain after sleeping on the thin mattresses at the monastery.

    I have found that chasing comfort is part of the consumerist trap. And maybe more comfort now only means more pain later.(?) Conditioning and deconditioning. That’s the majority of it.

    The pain of sleeping on a thin mat subsides after a few days, that is if you have no real health issues.A few nights of suffering is all it takes. Being poor and moving so much makes me unable to afford anything more than a sleeping pad usually and I have found, after softening my body, my mattress plays a minimal role in my sleep.

    1. notabanktoadie

      Didn’t the Roman elites sleep on marble slabs while the poor had to sleep on feather mattresses?

      Apparently our elites are made of much less sterner stuff. Poetic justice there, I suppose.

    2. Plenue

      What the hell does ‘softening the body’ even mean? The exact opposite happens and you get things like calluses.

      1. Krystyn Walentka

        Spirituality necessitates speaking in metaphors. Softening the body means making the mind less reactive to sensory input, like a soft response to a nasty comment. It is a hard thing to explain if you have not worked through the pain of sitting mediation. It might be that calluses only form for those people who still have the mental friction fighting against the pain, or the pain is too much for any one to bear..

        1. Plenue

          “Spirituality necessitates speaking in metaphors.”

          Why, it’s almost like ‘spirituality’ is really just empty gibberish that hides itself behind flowery language to obscure the fact that there’s no actual substance behind the veil.

          If you can’t make a point clearly and simply, perhaps you have no actual point to make.

          And, ah yes, the physics of skin toughening is all in the mind. Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

          1. Dan

            It’s just a matter of being tense vs being relaxed. It doesn’t take years of sitting meditation to realize, though a sitting meditation guru would obviously have a vested interest in making one think so. Most children can sleep almost anywhere.

            1. Krystyn Walentka

              It might be that some people need much more help, patience, and suffering to realize how to let go of the tension. It does not have to be seated mediation, just examining pain and the suffering it causes while you are on a park bench will work.

              One would think the examination into suffering would be useful in these times but spirituality has been so corrupted and tainted by capitalism that I think it is useless to try anymore.

          2. Krystyn Walentka

            Poets, artists, comedians…all use metaphors. If you do not like my metaphors there are plenty other genres to choose from. saying things to a large audience will always leave someone upset and confused.

            I explained what it meant so I guess you are more unhappy with the real meaning.

          3. tangfwe’

            Plenue, Your comments have been so refreshing. New Age idealism “spirituality” is terrifying and reminds me of Stockholm syndrome, for austerity. As a comment below illustrates, Austerity for us usually traces back to Extravajayjay for Private Equity. (I do prefer a hard mattress to soft, so maybe there’s something to the floor recommendation. Whatever’s best for us/ our health is what I’ll choose.)

            1. Plenue

              I have no patience left for ‘spirituality’. When it isn’t about supernatural woo (the soul/spirit doesn’t exist; grow the frig up), nine times out of ten it’s actually talking about something that more properly comes under the label of emotionality. It’s an incredibly loose and sloppy term that is nigh-useless.

              If by ‘spirituality’ one means introspection into suffering, there actually is worth there. So just freaking talk about it, in good, plain language. Stop with the poetry, or worse the mystical gibberish. I take the Orwell position of hating overencumbered language.

              1. Karla

                Fist bump Plenue. Hereabouts I see people living in their cars, with bad teeth, no hope of ever living better than a now, yet often they have a “spiritual name”, have been to India for extended periods of study, and with the money spent on that trip and some other savings, could have put a down payment on a modest house when they were affordable.
                Civic disobedience? Militant politics, getting mad and trying to do something about economics? No way, they just fall back on their self administered spiritual austerity.

                1. smoker

                  Fist bump Plenue. Hereabouts I see people living in their cars, with bad teeth, no hope of ever living better than a now, yet often they have a “spiritual name”, have been to India for extended periods of study…

                  Often? Interesting, Karla, in my neck of the woods, Silicon Valley, California – despite the fact that there’s an explosion of homeless people living out of their cars – the only faux spiritualists I’ve ever run into (for decades) who blather on about their spirituality are the doing fine, and well to do, global sojourners™. Never met one person who was homeless who even vaguely fits your description.

                  As to bad teeth, I do believe that the vast predominance of US residents with bad teeth, or no teeth, are elderly persons who’ve never even thought of visiting India, etcetera; and worked all of their lives (unpaid work, is still work) but for some obscene reason, can’t afford dental care in their latter years, let alone dignified housing. in the US. And many of them are increasingly pushed into their cars or on the streets.

                  Just be glad that you apparently drew a lucky straw in life, or something. Your comment really was insensitive, to say the least – it struck me as being cruel.

                2. smoker

                  Short version of an earlier comment in moderation:

                  Just be glad that you apparently drew a lucky straw in life, or something. Your comment about homeless people in cars really seemed way over exaggerated, if not untruthful – to say the very least. There are thousands of homeless people near, and in, my Silicon Valley neck of the woods, I’ve not met a one that fits your description. There are plenty of the doing fine, and really wealthy who meet it though; the only exception being that they can afford dental care.

              2. Dan

                the soul/spirit doesn’t exist; grow the frig up

                Actually, I think the direction to head is “back” towards “animism” which experiences soul and spirit in everything, even rocks. People who see and experience life in everything have no need for strange spiritual practices. And they talk in good, plain language.

                The beloved “rationality” of our modern world leaves us half-dead. Poetry and art fill the void. Done well, they enable many of us to see glimpses of a world that linear, rational thought never touches. I imagine religion and spirituality do much the same for many.

                The highly rational part of me loves Orwell. But he’s a bit of a bore after a while. So, of course, am I.

            2. Krystyn Walentka

              Why does it mean to you that enduring austerity means capitulating to it? If I do not need what the capitalist is selling, who has more power?

              What would you suggest I do, being poor and disabled? Give up? Let me hear your suggestion how I should endure my life. You dismiss me like you would any deplorable, before you understand what is going on.

              You have a gross new age interpretation of spirituality that I do not subscribe to. Please get to know me before you lump me into all the BS woowoo that is going around. I get the knee jerk reaction, but sheesh.

              1. tangfwe’

                I just don’t like the New Age spirituality that blames your condition on something you did in this life or a past one, or a lack of grace, when really the most likely culprit is tangible, material, and probably easily rectifiable if we weren’t in The Great Culling.

      2. show_me

        I assumed ‘softening the body’ meant fattening up. If you’re bony then no hard surface is comfortable.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I too have moved a lot and gave up on regular mattresses and box springs — too expensive and too much trouble and cost to move. I ended up getting a sponge rubber camping pad about an inch and a half thick — like you might put in the bottom of a tent. I put a roughly two inch memory foam mattress topper on that and sleep on the floor. It is as comfortable as anything else I’ve ever slept on and more comfortable than sleeping on a linoleum floor on a quilt as I did one night in a Korean home in the mid-1980s, and as seemed a common practice among the less well off there at that time. The floors in a traditional Korean house are heated which I believe is one reason for this custom — along with the limited floor space. However, my bed doesn’t roll up nicely like the thick Japanese bed roll I saw in the cartoon “From Up On Poppy Hill”, and it isn’t so pretty either. I don’t recall feeling any pain sleeping on my ‘bed’ and if it ever sags I know its time to move — before the floor gives.

  33. some_chris

    Crapification or back-door inflation?

    Yves, Clive, et al. –

    The Buyout of America (and Kosman’s intervew from 2009) lays out a compelling case why Private Equity is responsible for the state of the mattress industry — at least in terms of consolidation and profit-seeking in the 30 years from 1980-2009. Mattresses have definitely gotten worse in the past 10 years; but I wonder to what extent PE are specifically responsible for that, and to what extent it’s merely a type of inflation. Or are these two sides of the same coin?

    To expand just a little: if retail prices are “sticky” (consumers who paid $400 for a dishwasher 4 years ago still don’t want to pay $500 today, a little over 5% inflation), but production costs aren’t, then crapification is an inevitable result. Just like the store-brand cold pills, whose blister packs once contained a full 24 doses (2 packs, 3 columns, 4 rows) now contain only 12 by leaving the middle 2 rows empty.

    Razor blades might be an interesting case-study here, too.

    1. JBird4049

      ***Razor blades might be an interesting case-study here, too.***

      Which is why I use the old fashion safety razor. Yes, the initial cost of the razor plus blades, which starts at about twenty-five to so much more, and the replacement blades have to be bought online because any you can buy in a brick-and-mortar is evil, face burning, crap, the cost per blade is pennies instead of dollars per use.

      Plus I do not have to hunt down somebody to unlock the case for the disposable blades at the store.

    2. Kwark

      Your point about inflation is valid although when you consider that crapification applies to even truly high end models – presumably for folks who don’t notice silly little things like cost – you are left to wonder.

      1. JBird4049

        Yes, even rich people want their stuff to work regardless of silly things like cost. Too much stuff is just garbage that might work for just a very brief time. That is why it is not just about inflation, but really a form of grifting.

  34. Bill Carson

    Haven’t read through all the comments, but this topic is highly depressing, as I have finally resolved to purchase a new mattress to replace the 20-year-old mattress that should have been replaced 10 years ago.

    And I’m already in Dutch with the missus for insisting that our next mattress be a king-size when she wants to stay with a queen-size.

    [whiny voice]Shopping is SO hard![/whiny voice] So many options and it you can’t tell the difference. So much disinformation online.

  35. Louis Fyne

    not for everyone, but if people really hate the state of mattresses try sleeping Asian-style on the floor (well actually everywhere-style pre-industrialization)..

    perhaps a bit jarring at first but some may like it.

  36. sharonsj

    I have complained about crapification for more than a decade. I no longer buy anything new. What’s the point? It will fall apart or stop working in less than a year and I do not have the money to continually replace appliances and other items. Just about everything I own is an antique (the 100-year-old furniture is still in excellent condition) or second-hand, including clothing. The latter began when a new silk blouse I bought (made in China) lost all its buttons on the first wearing. As for mattresses, I still have the ones I bought years ago because, thanks to my back, I now sleep in a padded lounge chair.

  37. Kathleen Skeels

    Flippable, firm, delightful! As I live in Seattle WA USA, this is a local company and a good product, amazing.

    ‘Kai Wool And Cotton Innerspring Mattress
    $899.00 Price full size.

    Therapedic’s KAI mattress is the best of old-time charm & quality! This 100% all-natural cotton & wool mattress includes a firm Innerspring coil and is handtufted with cotton batting & wool layers.

    Made In Auburn, WA
    10 Year Non-Prorated Warranty’

    1. Carla

      Interested in this so I searched and found the Kai mattresses are available online. However, the photo shows the mattress a-top a box spring, but nowhere does the retailer (Bedrooms & More) list a Kai box spring or foundation for the mattress. Kathleen, do you have a Kai foundation for your mattress?

  38. rtah100

    Weirdly, we were just discussing a local British bed company with a friend this afternoon, who makes soap and is about to sell through their new shop.

    The company is the Dartmoor Bed Company (all made sustainably from local Dartmoor wool and wood etc). They have a sister company that delivers worldwide (rather less sustainably!) various British bed brands and their own Dartmoor beds.

    The Dartmoor beds are ferociously expensive. I think the founders used to work for ViSpring in Plymouth so that would explain it!

    However, they appear to ship Millbrook beds, too. Millbrook grew making custom beds for the ocean liners (Cunard etc). We have bought a lot of Millbrook beds (direct from Millbrook) for our holiday properties and for ourselves. Guests love them.

    Take note though that the pricing of domestic mattresses is a racket, and has attracted a new generation of price gougers who are using direct to consumer strategies to sell worse foam mattresses at even higher markups than the old spring mattress oligopolists….

    The trick is to buy what are called “contract beds” in the UK, I.e. beds and mattresses for the hotel trade. They are much cheaper and very hard wearing (at least Millbrook’s are) and meet higher fire safety standards. The latest Millbrook contract bed frames seem to have suffered the usual quality reduction to “just enough” but the mattresses are still great.

    The other suggestion of Ikea is a good one. We have an Ikea sofabed which is excellent for sleeping on, as good as a bed, and the children’s mattresses are all Ikea and easily give an adult a good nights sleep (I fall asleep reading to them…). Just watch out that all their sizes are non-standard, neither British nor US, and I am not sure they have any sprung mattresses, just foam.

    1. Clive

      Yes, I’m, 99% sure Dartmoor make some of John Lewis’ beds. I did seriously investigate the possibility of buying the even higher end Spinks & Edgar bespoke craft industry made range because they genuinely seemed to be made to last at least 10 years and were of super quality.

      But talk about experiencing sticker shock.

    2. Math is Your Friend

      Ikea has some quite good spring mattresses, and the one I bought was a an accurate standard size. It wasn’t expensive, either. The firm version is very comfortable, and a queen size is about $250, though they have some up to about three times that price.

      Longevity? Unknown, but in several months there is no sign of sagging or deformation. I am not a small person, at about 110 kg.

    3. stan6565

      Try Natural Bed Company, from Sheffield.

      Outstanding quality, and their mattresses are just as good too.

      They seldom have any sales, so it’s£3k for a king size bed.

      And they just wouldn’t have a showroom “down south”.

  39. Oregoncharles

    I’m still sleeping on the mattress the previous owners left in the house (because it would be really hard to get down the stairs) – 30 years ago. So I’ve no idea how old it is, but it’s still comfortable.

    Which makes me wonder: why are there so many mattress stores? I guess Yves just answered that question. There must also be quite a markup on them – how many could they sell in a day?

  40. anon in so cal

    We’re happy with an online purchase of a Saatva mattress about two years ago. We opted for the softest model. This was after a year of searching and weighing options. Prices in some local mattress stores are exorbitant. We opted against foam. If you prefer natural latex, Ikea has such, but it is very firm.

    PS: We never use box springs.

    Separately, there was an interesting article about how profitable mattress stores are. Perhaps it was posted on this site?

    1. Duke of Prunes

      I bought a Saatva mattress very early in the company’s life. We bought the mid-level softness. After ~10 years, it developed sags where we slept (we did periodically turn it, but it is one sided). Called the company, they offered to “fix it”, but I pay shipping (~150 each way, I think), or get a brand new mattress with a brand new warranty for 700 (this is a king). I opted for the new bed, but chose their firm mattress… which is very firm, but I’m getting used to it. It developed a dent in the side so I had it replaced after about 1 year (an obvious manufacturing defect). No hassle for either return. I’d do it again.

  41. anon y'mouse

    you might consider researching this company, since you are now in the state. i can’t personally vouch for it, though.

    many of the comments above (including mine) tout a local manufacturer, and you wouldn’t want to have to try to order something like that from afar because of the various options and possible customization, and returns if necessary plus paying freight.

  42. DHG

    Dont ever buy a Restonic mattress, mine is being restuffed again the second time in 4 yrs, they give a 10 yr warranty on it, I wont be shafted, would sue to enforce it if necessary.

  43. polecat

    Gotta say, we’ll all be lucky to have leaves and straw to bed on … if Mother Gaia or hominids with nukes don’t burn it all up first !

  44. KFritz

    Sample of one. I’m an overweight 250 pounder. My bedding preference is memory foam with something very firm underneath. Owned a chestbed for 33 years. For the last 10 years, i’ve had a 4 inch fiber-filled mattress under 3 inch memory foam–the combination works with form sheets designed for outlandishly thck/deep contemporary, conventional spring mattresses. This setup is a close to perfection as any aspect of my existence, and there hasn’t been any time decay–it’s as comfy today as 10 years ago.

  45. KFritz

    Trying to analyze Trumpfian actions using a rational calculus can be an exercise in futility. His impulsiveness as operator of the world’s largest arsenal is terrifying. That said, anything and everything he does for the next 10 months probably needs to be seen as part of his re-election/stay out of jail campaign. Four more years in office with Republican majorities in Congress and a Supreme Court that threatens to fall off the side of Earth to the Right, will ensure that he and his family, along with hangers on and cronies, will have lifetime stay-out-of-jail cards–and that US will be ‘governed’ by a right-wing autocracy for the foreseeable future.

  46. kate

    I do walk alot, I enjoy it, swore by josef seibel “european comfort shoes”,
    but now I prefer to use these inserts, so I can switch them from
    one pair to another. I judge my shoes by whether I can stand or walk for
    many hours and never feel like I want or need to sit down to rest.
    But I walk I dont run.

  47. GRG

    Will be staying at a westin in about a week, and have done before. Their mattresses seemed fine? (no expert here).

  48. Karla

    For younger readers who don’t know how good we once had it in this country;

    My parents bought a hand tied spring mattress and box spring base in the Nineteen-Fifties. That means each spring was hand tied with heavy twine to partially compress the springs. It has a colorful and unique pattern emblazoned on the mattress and box spring. We are still using that mattress in a guest room. It’s stained and has a few dimples, and a rust stain is peeking through from one spring, but it is otherwise quite comfortable. The only thing wrong with it is that the polyester label has disintegrated and the fabric is worn through at the corners.

  49. Punxsutawney

    We have a Reverie (sleep system), my wife loved it in the store so….

    It’s good, and you can adjust the layout of the springs to make it firmer or softer, but in my opinion, not worth the money as it was spendy (Queen size). Frankly I don’t find it all that comfortable, and it’s a very warm bed with the foam top, good for winter in Oregon and cheapskates like me who keep the heat low, but come summer it’s another matter.

    Prior to this we had a top of the line Bowling Ball Mattress, I forget the manufacturer and it was worn out in under 5 years. The prior bed was good for 15 at least. Neither my wife or I are that heavy. I agree about the crapification.

  50. psmith

    My sister and I both have natural latex rubber mattresses from the Organic Mattress Store. They are firm but comfortable. (My sister’s cat also likes to lie on it–when permitted.)

  51. Bob K

    I second the recommendation of The Mattress Underground as a great source of information on how to shop for a mattress. The amount of info can be overwhelming, but it’s helpful if you want to me an informed choice and sort fact from BS.

    One of their main recommendations: avoid national brands and most of the heavily-advertised “mattress in a box” internet retailers. Seek out small local manufacturers and/or mail-order ones with good return policies.

    I went mattress shopping this summer when my old mattress finally wore out.

    (It was a 5.5″ all-latex mattress from Ikea, long discontinued. I slept on for about 17 years. I probably should have replaced it at least five years ago, but 12 years would still have been a long life, considering I paid $150 for it in 2002!)

    I’m not a fan of shopping, and am disgusted with the crapification of just about everything. But, wanting to make a wise purchase, I resigned myself to a few weeks of research and several trips around the Bay Area.

    I ended up ordering a latex mattress online. It’s three layers, each 3″ thick, with an organic cotton casing. You assemble it yourself (ideally, with a helper). I happen to like latex, primarily because it’s less bouncy than springs and I much prefer the feel compared to polyurethane foam or memory foam.

    You can mix and match densities and latex types (Dunlop and Talalay) to your preference. Queen size was about $1,500. That seemed like a lot to me, but you can easily spend much more on spring mattresses which will almost certainly not last as long.

    (Also: latex mattresses don’t require box springs – and in fact can’t be used with them, as they aren’t sufficiently supportive. The good news is that slat bases for latex mattresses aren’t very expensive and can last a lifetime.)

    I hope that natural latex is better for the environment than synthetic latex (a petroleum product), but I couldn’t find definitive info about that. In fact, when I took my old mattress to a recycling location I found through this site, they told me it wasn’t recyclable and I’d have to pay a disposal fee, even though the web site hadn’t mentioned this exclusion. Turns out that spring mattresses and box springs might actually be more recyclable than natural latex. Ugh.

    Oddly enough, my father in St. Louis recently bought a mattress from a small local company that builds to order. I don’t know how he found the place, but was happy he did, considering that he’s a more “mainstream”, cost-conscious consumer and certainly didn’t do research at the Mattress Underground.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks and I don’t mean to sound unappreciative, but I am never buying a latex or hybrid mattress again, so a site that recommends them is not for me. They are not firm enough and even at my light weight develop troughs with appalling speed.

      1. clarky90

        Yves, I sleep on a box spring base, with no mattress. I’ve put 4 or 5 wool blankets/underlays on top of the box spring base. (add or subtract to suit). Then the sheets and bedding. It is fine. It is well aired from underneath. I periodically wash and dry the underlay blankets.

      2. vlade

        I am a bit surprised at this, as to my knowledge you can get latex matresses (not hybrid, it’s all about the density of the latex itself, after all, latex is an emulsion) from extremely soft to almost desk-hard (i.e. hard rubber hard).

        But, TBH, selecting a mattress is for some people an almost impossible task, while others can sleep on just about anything. I fall into the latter category, my wife into the former.

  52. Roland

    When I moved recently, I got rid of my old bed, and planned to get a new one. In the meantime I slept in my camp bag on the carpeted floor.

    You know what? Seven months later, my fiftysomething bones are as comfortable now as on any bed I’ve had. I’m not sure I’m going to bother buying a bed, except maybe to make it easier to reach the light switch.

    Mind you, I’m not married. It’s easy to make changes when I’m the only one to please.

    A friend of mine did buy a new mattress last year. He was dismayed by the flipping unflippability.

  53. skk

    Looking at the ratio of comments about the USA attack on Iran + Iraq to comments about mattresses, washing-machines, shoes, dishwashers is quite an indicator of where US and some UK residents thoughts are really at.

    So it goes. And since in Rome….
    Me, I grew up with 3 brothers who all fought over who got to sleep on the 1 cot ( made with wooden beams and woven with thin ropes ) for the afternoon siesta. The rest slept on the hard floor. Being the youngest guess where I usually ended up. And now ? I have no idea of the brand or any such thing or stores or such stuff. Apart from the store with the ad with the tag line ( “You’re killing me Larry”).

    We bought a pretty hard mattress hmmm.. 20 years ago. We’ll change it if we start getting bugged (:-) ) by it. Or if I spill a full glass of red wine on it. Or if one of us starts getting backaches – I had backaches when living in furnished bedsits when at Uni which stopped once I started buying my own stuff and I’ve read that soft mattresses lead to backaches.

    1. Pat

      I would say it says more about the fact that the last two decades have made it very clear to many Americans that they have little say or options regarding the big stuff in this country, and increasingly their options are limited regarding the little ones as well. Consider it levels of crapification in this country.

      Think of it this way, Bush 2 came into office determined to invade Iraq. Despite marches, phone calls, letters, demonstrations etc, Congress essentially gave that administration a blank check to do so. The current Speaker of the House from an opposing party has flat out admitted she and other Congressional leaders knew the excuse for this was a lie, but that is not important enough to oppose this and is not a high enough crime for impeachment. Most Americans probably disagree, but you see how much say we have. OTOH, there still may be an option available for Yves and others to find an acceptable mattress for them. Long shot but with better odds than forcing our political class to step up and do the right thing.

  54. John Hemington

    Having read through all of the comments, I am shocked that no one has recommended the Sleep Number mattresses. We have had one now for about 6 years and it is terrific and, as an air mattress, can be adjusted for either side of the bed as often as one likes so different sleepers can have different sleep settings. We love it and wouldn’t settle for anything else at this point.

  55. smoker

    No one has mentioned air mattresses, the more compact ones particularly useful for those in very small places, and/or worried about being able to move it during these times of forced transience.

    Apparently, there are even cat and dog proofed air mattresses.

    I slept on a far simpler, camper version than the ones at the link for a year or so. I found it extremely comfortable. It was a queen size which folded over into a twin size. It came with a small battery operated inflator/deflator. Even though it wasn’t cat proofed, it took a while till my baby had me having to reinflate it every evening, and even so, the bottom half was still inflated.

    1. smoker

      Hadn’t thought about it above, but they also could twofer as a flotation device in emergencies; near major coastlines, flooded water ways (even creeks, when government officials and agencies totally drop the ball on historically neglected neighborhoods), dams, or reservoirs. the smaller, less complicated versions may even be cleanable, whereas the regular mattresses will definitely be useless, dangerously unsterile goners.

  56. farmboy

    sleep number bed 20+ yrs.
    get a new pair of Rocky boots every 6 months because they’re worn out, but the last or pattern of the sole fits my foot. Merrill hiking shoes fit too.
    most clothes dryers easy to fix, get a cheap one, wash machines not so.
    10 yr old dodge diesel 4 valve cummins with at least 250k miles are a good deal, probably run another 200k.
    older farm equipment with a limited amount of sensors much more friendly to repair as long as parts available.
    Right to Repair will be a bigger deal all the time with Deere, Case getting more and more nasty.

  57. Gregg Painter

    My wife and I got a big piece of rather firm foam a dozen years ago. Can’t direct you to a source. Just a local guy. It fit our bed. Cheap, compared to mattresses. Neither of us have had back problems since. (Well, now and then, but nothing, really.) We are seniors. Mattresses always seemed a little overpriced and overhyped to me.

  58. Roxan

    I got wonderful hiking boots from REI. I have a narrow foot, and a bad arch from torn ligaments years back as well as a bad ankle. They are high tops, and work great for the ankle. Next, I’ll try their sneakers. Beds are really tricky. I had the same cheap foam mattress for years, which I really liked. Pretty good support, and no indentation. Then, I bought a new one. Awful! So even foam has been crapified.

  59. Daniel Webb

    I’ve had back problems for years (L1 through L5 degeneration due to an injury), and one bed design I have found that works consistently is a very firm 3″ piece of foam as the base (I’ve been using Carpenter Qualux brand “Q-41″ firmness) with a 2″ memory foam topper (currently just using the Amazon brand 2” topper). No boxsprings, just put that on the floor or on a platform bed frame. I’ve been using this for about 20 years, but the foam does wear out after 5-10 years depending on how rough you are on it and how heavy you are. I tried one of the “bed in a box” brands which was known for being firm, and it wasn’t nearly firm enough. I’m a side sleeper, so any amount of sag (what I call “hammocking”) causes problems. I use a Tempurpedic contour pillow (the original design), and a folded towel or memory foam lower back support. The combination of those things leads to nearly perfect spinal alignment for me.

    The other solution I’ve found is a high-end camp mat (Exped brand, their thickest model which I think is 3 inches thick). Many people in the reviews for that product say they use these mats as their main bed, and I can confirm that this is possible because I slept on mine for about 9 months with no problems.

  60. Gregg

    My partner and I bought a big piece of foam twenty years ago and it is as good as new. Firm, as you could guess, although my partner put some kind of softening foam sheet thing on it a while ago that helps. I don’t know why you’d need to buy a commercial mattress at all after this experience with some random dude who cut foam and sold it. It’s comfortable and good on the back.

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