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The Past, Present & Future of Sleep

The Past, Present & Future of Sleep

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Ever since people got the strength to stand up on two feet, mankind has been looking for a comfy place to lie down and get a good night’s rest.

Historians say the earliest bedding consisted of animal skins covering a collection of whatever was soft and handy, usually grass and leaves. The real advances in sleep technology have come in the last hundred years or so — offering consumers a wide range of options to fit their particular preferences.

“Buying a bed you’ll be happy with after the purchase is more of a challenge these days,” said Cory Walter, owner of Quality Sleep Shops of Texas. “There’s a lot of confusion about what’s best. The key is focusing on what you like, not what mattress makers want you to buy.”

One of the challenges for shoppers is that mattresses look pretty much the same — and, in fact, are similarly constructed. But inside, the quality of materials and workmanship can be vastly different.

Innerspring mattresses, for example, are typically constructed with a varying number of coils — maxing out at 886 in queen size or 1,099 in king size — and then covered with layers of fabric, foam or other materials for comfort. But that doesn’t mean all innerspring mattresses are the same. The quality and placement of coils can cause a loss of resiliency over the years, resulting in a sagging, uncomfortable night’s sleep.

“The industry standard for quality coils used to be 15-gauge wire,” said Walter. “Better bedding companies are now offering stronger, longer lasting 13-gauge coils ? providing better support and a mattress that will serve its owner well for a longer period of time. You can feel the difference.”

Some manufacturers are claiming higher coil counts based on the addition of micro-coils added to their pillow tops, but Walter is quick to point out this claim is more of an advertising gimmick than an appreciable advantage to consumers, much like the creation of thicker mattresses that shoppers might suppose offer better quality. Coils are obviously important, but not the criteria by which to make a final bedding decision and mattress thickness is not a particularly accurate barometer of quality either.

Ditto with foam mattresses. Such bedding conforms to the size, shape and weight of its occupants who sink into a conforming and comfortable depression in the mattress. Foam comes in a variety of densities offering varying levels of support, from super soft to ultra firm. But not all foam is created equally.

“Cheaper foam mattresses will eventually show signs of sagging as the foam wears out,” said Walter. “Better foam bedding will last a long time. And latex mattresses, while pricey, are considered by many to be the best possible choice. Most people who own one would never go back to a standard mattress.”

While early foam mattresses were criticized for being hot, newer models have incorporated gels, bamboo fibers and other specialized materials to stay comfortable in all seasons.

A generation ago, buying a mattress and box spring set was comparatively easy. Mattresses were sold at large department stores like Sears and Montgomery Ward based on size and three easy choices: soft, medium and firm.

Not so any more. Specialty mattress retailers have sprung up like weeds in a garden, offering what appears to be a plethora of choices. But because mattresses are sealed units, it’s impossible to look inside and see how they’re made and the quality of their components. Comparing prices is made difficult, if not impossible, because manufacturers allow retailers to customize the names, tags and characteristics of the mattresses they buy in bulk. Competing stores may carry the same mattress at vastly different prices, but the consumer will not know it because of specialized marketing efforts.

“Costco and Sam’s don’t even have a display area where customers can try the mattress out before they buy,” noted Walter. “You can pull it off the rack and lay it on the floor, but most people don’t bother to do that.”

Trial and error really is the best way to try out a mattress, according to Walter. Doing some research will help, but the final solution comes down to personal preference and what feels good to the consumer.

“It’s important to ask a lot of questions and spend several minutes on many types of beds to determine what you like,” he said. “Unfortunately, the salesmen at most mattress retailers know very little about how different types of beds are made. What training they get is on how to sell a bed quickly. We take time to educate our customers and help them make the best possible decision.”

Indeed, it’s not uncommon for prospective buyers to actually fall asleep while testing mattresses at Quality Sleep Shops of Texas.”If a customer can fall asleep in the store, there’s a good chance they will fall asleep even quicker at home,” said Walter.

One of the most popular technological advancements in sleep technology in recent years is the adjustable bed, one offering powered movement to elevate the head and/or the feet to a customizable angle. As an extra bonus, many models offer programmable heat and massage features to create an ideal sleep environment.

“Beds aren’t just for sleeping,” said Walter. “A lot of people like to watch television, work on their laptop or read a good book in bed. Adjustable beds also offer relief to people who snore, have breathing problems or just like to have options beyond the typical flat bed.”

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Walter and his team believe educating consumers is a better long-term strategy than rushing them into an unsound purchase. He recommends customers take their time and shop around.

“We encourage people to compare our prices to any retailer,” he said. “That’s one reason we have so many loyal customers in and around Montgomery County. When people need bedding, they come where they were treated fairly.”

In addition to name brand mattresses and box springs, Quality Sleep Shops of Texas sells excellent sheets, pillows and mattress covers. The store has a nice selection of solid wood bedroom furniture, recliners (including power assist models), daybeds, cast iron beds and futons. For bargain hunters, Walter offers a special discount showroom where customers can save up to 70 percent on factory closeouts, special purchases and one-of-a-kind sales.

And once a customer makes a purchase, Quality Sleep Shops of Texas stands behind their products. Customers have up to 30 nights to experience their new mattress. If they don’t love it, they can return it and find another selection more suited to their preferences.

“We were voted ‘Best Mattress & Furniture Store’ in Conroe in 2012, 2014 and 2016 and a Best of Conroe award in 2018,” added Walter. “We have worked hard to earn a reputation for quality and service. Nearly 90 percent of our business comes from referrals and repeat customers.”

At Quality Sleep Shops of Texas, Cory and his team believe that being attentive and honest will always earn the sale. They thrive on excellent customer service from the beginning of the shopping experience until the final decision to purchase.

“Since 2003, we have focused our business being trustworthy as well as making sure that our products are delivered quickly and with pride,” said Walter. “Our staff is well trained and taught to never pressure our customer. We believe that educating you will help you to make the choice that best fits you and your family. Come by to see us and experience the difference our way makes.”

Quality Sleep Shops of Texas, the local leader in high quality bedding, sleep furniture and accessories, is located at 14543 Texas 105, between Conroe and Montgomery. For information, visit www.qualitysleepshops.com, check Facebook or Twitter or call 936-447-5337.

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