Product Research Methodology – How We Make Our Selections

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Product Research Methodology – How We Make Our Selections

At SleepFoundation.org, your sleep is important to us. Through countless hours of testing and combing through data, we have compiled a comprehensive database of every sleep product on the market. Our publishing schedule has us starting with mattresses and we’ll make our way through the rest of bedding, sleep accessories and more throughout the year. This database fuels our recommendation engine, which is how we bring you top-of-the-line picks. Our goal is to recommend products that will give you the best night’s sleep. We recognize that preferences can be subjective, so we cover every major consideration so you can make an informed decision.

Another layer of our review and testing process is our in-depth knowledge of the sleep product industry. Members of our team have gone through the process of designing and manufacturing mattresses, pillows, and more so we know the ins and the outs of what goes into making these products and what to look for when it comes to value and quality. We’ve toured U.S. manufacturing sites where many major brands source their steel coil systems, latex foams, or have their beds assembled. We’ve spent hours at the biggest textile facilities throughout the world learning about what goes into everything that goes into a bedroom setup. While a lot of what goes into sleep products affects their quality, a lot of the features that are used tend to be just marketing jargon.

Sources/Data Sets: Our information comes from multiple sources to ensure accuracy and mitigate the risk of bias. We pull information from the following sources:

  • In-house product testing
  • Mattress manufacturers and industry experts
  • Secret shopping and validated customer experiences

For mattresses, here is a breakdown along with definitions of all the performance factors we test for and discuss.

Performance Ratings: We use a scale of 1-5 to rate mattress performance. The scale is as follows:

  • 1: Low
  • 2: Low to Medium
  • 3: Medium
  • 4: Medium to High
  • 5: High

All of the following terms are directly related to the performance of a mattress.

Firmness: Firmness is measured on a scale of 1 (softest) to 10 (firmest). We refrain from recommending beds that rank below a 2 or above an 8 on this firmness scale, as they aren’t great options for most sleepers. Firmness is provided by the mattress manufacturers and is measured scientifically by applying pressure to the surface of the mattress.

  • Soft: 2-3
  • Medium Soft: 4
  • Medium: 5
  • Medium Firm: 6-7
  • Firm: 7-8

Durability: The average lifespan of a mattress is six to eight years, so our ratings are based on that average. While we don’t hang on to our mattresses that long during testing, this rating is based on customer reviews and the quality of materials used in the construction of the bed.

Motion Isolation: Motion isolation refers to how much you can feel movement from the other side of the bed. For example, a mattress that rates high in this category will do a great job of keeping you asleep if your partner is moving around or getting up before you do.

Sex: The more bounce a mattress has, the better it is for sex. If a mattress rates low in this category, it typically means that that the bed is not very responsive, which can cause couples to sink into the bed, making sex more difficult.

Sleeps Cool: While some luxury and high-tech beds offer actual cooling features like water that heats/cools the surface of the mattress, this metric is measuring how well the materials inside the mattress stay temperature neutral throughout the night. This is especially important for sleepers who tend to wake up sweating.

Pressure Relief: When you lay down on a mattress, your body has natural pressure points like your hips and shoulders. If a mattress does well in this category, it will conform to your body and allow it to release some of that pressure, reducing pain and promoting restful sleep.

Off-Gassing: Off-gassing refers to the odor that comes off the mattress after unboxing and/or opening it. This smell is harmless and typically dissipates completely within a few days.

Ease of Movement: Getting in and out of a bed shouldn’t be difficult. If a bed rates low in this category, it generally means that it’s not a good choice for people with chronic pain or people who toss and turn a lot at night.

Edge Support: Many people use their bed as a place to sit when getting ready in the morning, or sleep close to the edge of the bed because of a sleeping partner. Because of this, it’s important that a mattress can hold your weight and won’t collapse around the edges.

Sleeping Positions: The position that you sleep in can affect the type of mattress that best fits your needs and preferences. We rate each mattress we review for all sleeping positions (back, side, and stomach) on a scale of 1-5. If you are a combination sleeper, assume that you need a mattress that scores highly in each position you sleep in.

  • 1: Poor
  • 2: Fair
  • 3: Good
  • 4: Very Good
  • 4: Excellent

Sleeper Weight: The amount of weight on top of a mattress affects the pressure put on the comfort layers, therefore affecting how the mattress feels. We have found that most individuals who weigh more than 230 pounds will have similar needs for a mattress in terms of firmness, thickness, and comfort layers. Although we use the term “heavy” across the site for brevity and convenience to describe sleepers, we do not use weight categories such as “average” or “overweight” as they can be misleading and highly dependent on the individual. We use 230 or more pounds as a practical standard of weight when discussing how mattresses interact with sleepers’ bodies.

Pricing: The prices featured on our product pages are the current manufacturer price, before any discounts. For comparison and product category pages, we list the Queen size price only with the exception of beds for kids where we list Twin size prices. Actual pricing may fluctuate based on deals and sales.

Please check back often as we’ll continue to expand this page to include all of the performance metrics we use for other sleep products including pillows, sheets, weighted blankets, white noise machines, and much more! If you have any questions about our testing process please reach out to us at [email protected]