Find the best bed at the best price

LOS ANGELES "A mattress is one of the most difficult consumer products to buy, for a couple of reasons," said Tod Marks from /*Consumer Reports*/. "One, mattress names differ from store to store. Second, mattress prices are really all over the place."

A survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center asked more than 17,000 subscribers if they would buy the mattress again.

The answer could help you narrow down your choices.

"Two of the biggest names that came out low in our ratings were Stearns and Foster and Spring Air," said Marks.

But more than 60 percent of those who had trouble sleeping said a Tempur-Pedic or Select Comfort mattress improved their sleep, and they'd buy one again.

The key to getting a mattress that's right for you is an in-store tryout. Seventy-two percent of those polled who spent at least 10 minutes trying out a mattress were very happy with their choice.

"Lie down on it. Don't be embarrassed. The retailers expect people to do this," said Marks. "You lie on your stomach, lie on your side, lie on your back for around five minutes each."

Get ready to negotiate on the cost of a mattress.

"Haggling is a great thing to do when you're buying a mattress, just as it is when buying a car," said Marks. "Some 72 percent of those who tried to get a better deal secured a lower price."

In case you don't like the mattress once you get it home, always check the return policy, including shipping fees, before you buy.

Consumer Reports says some people think older people need a firmer mattress, but that's just one of many mattress myths. The fact is the best bed is one that feels comfortable to you.

And if you don't need to buy a mattress in a hurry, shop for one you like, then watch for a sale. Mattress sales are frequent and can be big money savers.

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