That's exactly what Leggett & Platt has done with its new study, appropriately titled SexySleep, which asked consumers to keep both sleep and intimacy in mind when evaluating the performance of two identically priced and unidentified popular styles of mattress. This new approach to research looked at memory foam vs. the Ultimate Hybrid, which are mattresses made with Leggett & Platt's Comfort Core™ fabric-encased innerspring technology paired with elements of foam, gel, or latex.
The research findings show consumers preferred the Ultimate Hybrid Mattress™ for both sleep and intimacy.
The research also revealed issues that some people have with intimacy on memory foam mattresses. Many consumers in the study described intimacy on memory foam as being "stuck in quicksand," "uncomfortable," "difficult," and even "horrible." The study also indicates that some memory foam owners are intimate less often, and even resort to having sex on different surfaces within their homes.
A May 2012 Barron's article titled "Sex or Sleep?" was the catalyst for the research. The article cited confessions and complaints from memory foam owners about intimacy on their mattresses. New York sex therapist Sari Eckler Cooper was quoted in the piece: "There's a lack of resistance for the knees and feet. And whoever is on the bottom is sinking into the bed."
The Barron's article identified the problem, but didn't have a solution. It said that memory foam was good for sleep and "traditional" innersprings were good for sex. But Leggett & Platt believes consumers will no longer have to choose and that the SexySleep data shows the Ultimate Hybrid Mattress offers comfort and support for both sleep and intimacy.
The study shows 85% of consumers had never thought to considered intimacy when buying a mattress. This included people who had already experienced intimacy issues on memory foam, but thought their difficulties were their own fault.
Leggett & Platt believes the findings perfectly mirror a lack of awareness about the mattress physics necessary for comfort, support, and the energy giveback needed for both intimate experiences and total restful sleep. Understandably, performance for intimacy isn't a topic mattress retailers have been comfortable introducing to their customers. And currently, there isn't any advertising to educate consumers on the merits of the latest innerspring technology. Leggett & Platt believes these are all contributing factors that keep people from being fully aware of all the things they should consider when mattress shopping. Often, they become educated once it's already too late, and they regret their mattress purchase.
Michael Magnuson, founder and CEO of GoodBed.com, an independent mattress guide for consumers, says, "The bottom line is, mattress shoppers are very confused about choosing the right mattress for their needs. There are certainly a large percentage of people for whom a hybrid mattress would be a great match, but currently very few of these people know they should be looking for one."
A Consumer Reports study from May 2013 indicates, "about 40% of buyers had regrets about their purchases...Things they would do differently include buying another mattress type, spending more time trying models, and doing more research." Consumer Reports also recommended, "You can do better than foam," and ranked the top three innerspring mattresses higher than the best memory foam mattress, finding "three memory foam models could make changing positions a challenge." An Ultimate Hybrid Mattress, made by Serta, was given a "Best Buy" rating in the report.
Yet another consumer study, by Furniture/Today and Apartment Therapy, also illustrated the growing popularity of hybrids. "Consumers are thrilled with their hybrid beds," said David Perry, Executive Editor and mattress expert, Furniture/Today. "Hybrids had a higher satisfaction score than any other type of sleep set."
"Comfort Core fabric-encased innersprings are our latest advancement in coil technology and can be found within every Ultimate Hybrid Mattress," says Dr. Caleb Browning, a physicist at Leggett & Platt's research and development facility, the IDEA Center. "Comfort Core innersprings are individually wrapped and guard against motion disturbance from your partner during sleep, but still provide a critical return of bounce during intimacy. Whereas memory foam really sinks the body and absorbs energy, which makes any movement like changing positions difficult. Memory foam consumes you, rather than working and moving with you like innersprings."
The SexySleep research was commissioned by Leggett & Platt and conducted in Las Vegas by independent research group POCO Labs (random sample, n=255 U.S. men and woman 21+). Consumers were asked to evaluate the performance of the two unidentified mattresses after sitting, bouncing, laying, crawling, rolling and even jumping on them. A qualitative component of the research included more than 130 brief discussions upon completion of the quantitative survey in addition to more than 50 in-depth interviews with owners of – or those who had experienced intimacy on – memory foam mattresses.