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The best mattresses for back and side sleepers

Stop tossing and turning with these top mattress picks and tips

Published: January 15, 2014 05:00 PM

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In 2012, Americans spent an astounding $32.4 billion on sleep-related aids, according to the Wall Street Journal. Searching for a better way, the reporter tried four different methods of easing into sleep, including an iPhone app and a six-CD set, with mixed results. Of course, getting a good night’s sleep could be as simple as having the right mattress. In Consumer Reports recent tests of 24 mattresses, we found huge differences in the spine support that counts most, especially if you spend at least part of the night on your back.

Almost three out of four respondents to a recent industry survey believe a new bed would help them sleep better. If yours is showing signs of age, try rotating or flipping it first. But any mattress that shows sags or lumps should be replaced. Many of the best mattresses in our tests cost within the $800 to $1,200 range that people typically spend, although you can pay a lot more.

Our top-scoring innerspring mattress, the Serta Perfect Day iSeries Applause, $1,075, is very good for both side and back sleepers and was excellent in our durability tests, which simulate eight years of use. We named the Serta a CR Best Buy. Our top-rated foam mattress is the Sleep Number Innovation Series i8 bed Pillowtop, $3,000, which was very good for side sleepers, excellent for back sleepers and has excellent durability. But for almost a quarter of that price, you can buy the Novaform Memory Foam Collection Serafina 14" for $800 at Costco, which was very good for side and back sleeping and a CR Best Buy.

Duxiana Dux 101

How to get a good night's sleep
The most expensive mattress in our tests was the Duxiana DUX 101, $4,800, but it fell short of our list of top mattress picks. While it was durable and very good for side sleepers, it was only so-so for back sleeping. If you have a difficult time turning day into night, try these sleep tips from the pros.

  • Keep a consistent bedtime, even on weekends.
  • Turn off the TV and other electronics one hour before going to bed. Those bright screens can fool your brain into thinking it’s morning. If you use a tablet or e-book reader, try using white text on a black background.
  • Avoid caffeine after 6 p.m. It could keep you up all night. If you’re still having trouble, stop earlier.
  • Have your last meal at least 3 hours before sleeping.
  • Exercise during the day (or at least 4 hours before bedtime). The same stress hormones that rev up your heart rate can keep you awake.
  • Enjoy a drink earlier in the evening. Alcohol starts out as a mild sedative, but becomes a stimulant as it’s metabolized, so avoid it 6 hours before bedtime.
  • Keep children and pets out of your bed. You’ll all sleep more soundly.

—Artemis DiBenedetto

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