Mostly, consumers need to flop on the sample beds and mock sleep for at least 20 minutes. And if that brief test run isn't enough, some retailers will allow purchasers to return mattresses after 30 to 90 days if they're not satisfied. The average mattress should last at least a decade if rotated and flipped every six months or according to manufacturers' instructions.
Behavior change. Some sleep relief is relatively low-cost. The National Sleep Foundation, the Washington D.C.-area nonprofit education and scientific organization, offers these tips:
1. Practice a regular bedtime routine with a relaxing soak, reading, or listening to soothing music. Create a sleep-conducive environment with blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, white noise, or a humidifier.
2. Exercise regularly. It aids falling asleep and contributes to sounder sleep. However, exercising sporadically or right before going to bed will make falling asleep more difficult. In addition to being more alert, your body temperature rises during exercise and takes as much as six hours to begin to drop. A cooler body temperature is associated with sleep onset.
3. Skip caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime.
But even a modest investment in a good night's sleep can pay dividends in health and productivity. Individuals and their bedrooms vary, of course, but here's a rough sketch of what a "good" night sleep might cost:
1. Serta Perfect Sleeper Monte Carlo Super Pillow Top queen mattress set at shopserta.com: $1,199
2. Charter Club 800-thread count queen sheet set at macys.com: $185
3. West Elm Lexington queen quilt at westelm.com: $149
4. Naturepedic organic pillow at bedbathandbeyond.com: $49.99
5. Marpac Sound Conditioner Sound Screen SleepMate white noise machine at Amazon.com: $54.95
6. Pottery Barn blackout drape liner at potterybarn.com: $39-$69
7. Earth Therapeutics Dream Zone sleep mask at bedbathandbeyond.com: $7.99
8. Kaz Honeywell Cool Moisture bedroom-sized humidifier at sears.com: $34.53
9. Unisom Sleep Aid Softgels 32-pack at target.com (use as directed; consider risks and side effects): $7.79 or Yogi Bedtime Tea Natural Sleep Aid, 16-bag box at target.com: $4.39
10. Prescription generic sleep aids' average annual cost: $200. Brand-name Lunesta average cost for 15 doses: $96
Data: Sleep Medicine and Research Center at St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield, Mo.
Consumer Reports Health.org, 2008 figures
Keep in mind that sleep medications, which are typically sedatives or Benzodiazepines, vary by purpose; some are for help in falling asleep and others for help in staying asleep. Top-selling brand names: Lunesta, Rozerem, Halcion, Sonata, Ambien, Restoril, Silenor. Non-prescription drugs containing antihistamines (Benadryl, Nytol, Tylenol PM, and Sominex) are also sometimes taken for their sleep effects. See more on prescription sleeping pills, including their differences and risks, such as dependency, at the Mayo Clinic website and in this article.