New mattress high on boomers’ ‘want’ list

By Nancy Butler

Given a choice of new household items, baby boomers put a new mattress in a close second place to a new television, according to a recent Better Sleep Council poll.

The national telephone survey of 500 consumers who were born between 1946 and 1964 was conducted by the polling company inc./WomanTrend. The poll is part of the BSC’s fall campaign to focus media and consumer attention on the importance of sleeping on a new, quality mattress.

Although boomers value a good mattress, the poll shows that this powerful population segment—82 million strong and spending an estimated $2 trillion each year—is in need of a wake–up call when it comes to mattress replacement. The BSC’s guidelines recommend that mattresses be evaluated for replacement after five to seven years of nightly use, but the majority of boomers would wait until their mattress is at least 8 years old before shopping for a new one.

Restless nights

Half of surveyed boomers say they get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. But a significant 43% admit to clocking six hours or less a night—and the majority (55%) have trouble falling and staying asleep at least one night a week, a condition that appears acute among women in this age group.

Married boomers are more likely than their single counterparts to get less than six hours per night (46% vs. 39%). Single boomers are far more likely to recharge for seven to eight hours each night (63% vs. 48%). Nearly half (49%) of those with children younger than 18 at home reported getting less than six hours, compared with 43% of empty–nesters.

Fifty–five percent of boomers don’t always sleep peacefully. Nearly a quarter (24%) have trouble falling or staying asleep one or two nights a week. Some 15% say they always toss and turn.

Only a third of female boomers have no problems sleeping at night, compared to nearly half of the men (47%). And 18% of women say their restlessness is chronic—occurring every night of the week—compared to 12% of men.

Sleep stealers abound

A variety of things keep boomers awake, including stress over money (21%), family (20%) and work (13%). Other common sleep thieves are disturbances, including noise or movement by their sleeping partner (18%) and environmental lights or noise (11%).

Physical ailments are a problem—18% experience aches and pains, 9% battle chronic illnesses and 7% suffer night sweats.

An uncomfortable mattress, cited by 8%, may be low on boomers’ lists of sleep disruptors, but what they may not know is that sleep thieves such as aches and pains may be related to their bed. Interestingly, the boomers reporting chronic trouble getting a good night’s rest five or more nights a week are more likely to be awake suffering from aches and pains (26% vs. 18% overall).

New mattress beats computer

In a hypothetical question, boomers were presented six household items and asked which they would most like to have if price were no object. Some 30% would upgrade their televisions, and 18% would replace their mattress, making it a solid second–place finisher.

Married boomers were more eager for a new television (32%), while unmarried boomers were more excited about a new mattress (24% vs. 17%). Gender made a difference in the third–place finisher—male boomers liked the idea of a new computer (16%), while women were more interested in a new refrigerator (15%).

Time for mattress shopping

Based on the BSC’s recommendation that consumers consider replacing their mattress after five to seven years, 31% of the boomers surveyed—those with mattresses more than 8 years old—should be thinking about shopping for a new mattress. About 42% are probably OK with mattresses 4 years old or younger.

Most boomers (59%) aren’t yet onboard with the BSC’s recommendation, planning to let their mattresses age more than five to seven years before buying. Eighteen percent plan to shop for a new bed within the five– to seven–year time frame and only 5% expect to buy a new mattress before the BSC’s recommended deadline. Younger boomers (those born from 1958 to 1964) are more likely to replace their mattresses within the recommended time frame than older boomers (23% vs. 16%).

Information that older mattresses become collectors of dust mites and other unpleasant debris was enough to persuade a third of boomers that adhering to the five– to seven–year replacement recommendation probably was a good idea. Still, 42% of boomers say the information wouldn’t change their mattress–buying plans.

Knowledge of the accumulating filth had a greater impact on younger boomers than older ones. More than a third (36%) of those born from 1958 to 1964 say they might be more likely to shorten their mattress replacement timetable.