I’ve been following the whole online mattress-in-a-box thing for the past several years. The idea appeals to me. I’ve always hated mattress shopping, not just because of the annoyance of hopping between showrooms and trying to decipher the sale versus retail pricing but also because my wife and I have very different preferences. That makes mattress shopping the perfect setup for a showdown and always seems to end in compromise. When Helix Sleep offered up one of its customized mattresses, I jumped at the opportunity. It was a chance to try out the online buying experience, and also Helix Sleep offers unique customization options—with the promise of better sleep for both of us.
Looking for Improved Sleep
Sleep has increasingly been an issue for me. I’m at the age where a lot of old sports injuries and general wear and tear seem to be catching up with me. Several decades of football, hockey, lacrosse, and even baseball (that no-contact sport resulted in a torn ACL and rebuilt knee) have taken their toll. I’d started to become all too accustomed to waking up, rolling out of bed to get the momentum need to lurch to my feet, then shuffling around for an hour while various joints and muscles slowly stopped aching.
Our current mattress was getting old, but it was an expensive one and a few years ago we added a 3-inch memory foam topper. That worked well for my wife—she prefers a soft mattress and lots of heat. But for me, it didn’t do much. I prefer a firm sleep surface and cool temperatures. As a result, the usual setup from fall to spring has been me with no covers or a thin sheet, the windows sometimes open, and my wife under a comforter and an electric blanket.
The Helix Sleep Advantage: Customization
Helix Sleep offers the same online convenience as other web-based mattress retailers. You probably know the routine: order online, free delivery to your door, and no hassle returns. In this case, it’s 7-10 days for delivery, no charge shipping within the U.S., and 100 days to try the mattress or return it for a full refund.
What makes Helix Sleep so different is its customization. Most mattresses you choose the size. That’s it.
With the Helix Sleep mattress, you fill out a detailed questionnaire that results in a customized mattress. It only takes a few minutes, but it covers many factors, including weight and height, body type, preferred sleeping position, known sleep issues, and firmness preferences. If there are two people sleeping on the mattress, you fill out the information for each individual. Helix uses that information to manipulate four key variables: feel, support, temptation regulation, and point elasticity. According to Helix, this is accomplished using the ideal mix of “high-quality Dunlop latex foam (ILD range: 15-32), hundreds of steel-forged pocket micro-coils, and durable polyurethane foam (1.5pcf).”
At this point, if it’s a shared mattress you have two choices. The default is to have the system find a middle ground between the two people to generate a Blended mattress.
The option we were able to choose was the Dual Comfort solution. This adds $100 extra to the base price (and 2-3 days of manufacturing time), but when there are two people with very different sleeping preferences, it’s a big win. Put simply, Helix Sleep builds a single mattress, but each side is individually customized.
Unpacking and Installation
After placing the order, it was a matter of waiting for the new mattress to arrive. In the meantime, I made sure our bed was set up to accommodate the switch from a traditional mattress to a foam version.
When the box arrived, it had been pretty beat up during shipping. It went through customs as well (we live in Canada), so I’m not sure who did the mauling. However, the mattress inside was perfectly intact. It was a Queen size, so although the box was surprisingly compact, it still weighed over 80 pounds.
It took a few minutes to break it out of the cardboard, then it was laid on the foundation. I had to make sure to check the label sewn on the mattress to ensure it was facing the right direction—important when each side is customized for a different sleeper. At this point it was extremely thin, maybe two inches thick at most. I broke the vacuum seal on the plastic and the mattress instantly ballooned in thickness, reaching nearly 10 inches in thickness in about five minutes.
This is the big one. All the cool customization options and high-tech processes mean nothing if the mattress doesn’t actually perform.
We’ve been sleeping on the Helix Sleep mattress for three weeks and the results have been excellent—particularly for me. I’ve found myself sleeping through the night consistently, after several years of waking up several times most nights. My side of the mattress is cool and firm but comfortable. The aching back, shoulders, and leg I used to wake up with every morning have all but disappeared. Snoring has also been largely banished.
My wife notices less of a difference. That’s probably because our previous mattress and memory foam combo was pretty much optimized for her preferences. She likes the Helix and reports it’s comfortable (there is no desire to switch back), but she doesn’t find it as sleep altering as I have.
We switched sides for a night. She found my side a little firmer than she cares for, while I found hers too soft and too warm—so there is a noticeable difference between the Dual Comfort customizations. There is no ridge or noticeable joint down the middle.
A Few Other Notable Facts
- Worried about foam smell? I was and had the windows open in preparation, but there was absolutely no odor when I cut the plastic.
- Helix Sleep mattresses are made in the U.S.A.
- Mattresses pass Federal fire safety regulations.
- Warranty is 10 years for defects in materials or workmanship.
- If used with a foundation, it can have gaps no wider than 3-inches between support beams.
Should You Buy It?
If you’re looking at replacement mattresses, Helix Sleep is competitively priced. For example, a Blended Queen size is priced at $900 compared to $850 for a Casper; for the additional fifty bucks, you get a customized sleep instead of a mass-produced, one-size-fits-all solution.
Where I think it really is a game-changer, though, is a situation like ours, where two people have very different sleeping preferences. Rather than one person being forced to make the best of a poor situation or a drastic solution like pushing two Twin beds together, Helix Sleep lets you reach a middle ground or even each have a fully customized solution in the same mattress. If you and a partner find yourselves in this situation, I highly recommend you check Helix Sleep out—after all, you can always return it if it doesn’t work out, so it’s a no-risk experiment in better sleep.
Disclosure: Helix Sleep provided a mattress for review purposes.