Ryan Monahan

Interview With a Mattress Geek

By Chee Gates

Every once in a while you come across a “Rain Man,” a person who knows EVERYTHING about a particular topic. Their level of mastery is at once extraordinary and peculiar, and the world is better for it. We know such a person—a mattress savant of sorts. His name is Ryan “Mattress Man” Monahan. And (you guessed it) his expertise is mattresses. Below, we pick his brain about the thing we both can’t stop talking about: Beds.

Nectar: Hope you don’t mind us calling you a mattress geek.

Ryan: I’m good with the title. I take it as a compliment, actually.

Nectar: How many mattresses have you tested?

Ryan: More than 200 brands at least—I have so many in my testing lab. They’re like my children.

Nectar: What’s the mattress question you get the most?

Ryan: The singular question I’m asked more than anything is, “What’s the best mattress?” It’s a genuine question, but providing an answer that’s legitimate for each individual is impossible. I usually respond by saying, “Well, that depends on the feel you want and what type of sleeper you are.” Then they ask if I can hook them up with a free mattress.

Ryan Monahan

Ryan’s mattress testing lab in Boca Raton, Florida, where he sleeps on the job.

Nectar: If you were shopping for a mattress, how would you whittle down the choices?

Ryan: There’s a LOT to choose from. If you can answer these three questions, you can usually narrow down the field from 200 to about three to five good options:

  • What’s my budget?
  • What position do I sleep in (as well as my partner)?
  • Are there any health-related conditions that could impact what overall feel I’m looking for?

Nectar: What’s the biggest thing people get wrong when they shop for a mattress?

Ryan: I always joke that you should never type, “mattress,” into a Google search unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. Most people go down the rabbit hole of trying to find the best mattress and end up investing a serious amount of time researching beds that don’t fit their needs. If you answer my three questions before you start looking, you’ll be able to avoid mattress information overload and identify a short list of top contenders.

Nectar: What’s the most important thing you’ve discovered through testing mattresses?

Ryan: You don’t have to spend $2,500 on a mattress to get a mattress that feels like it costs $2,500. Brands can offer consumers high-quality mattresses at lower costs because of all the tech advancements in materials and manufacturing. For example, when Simmons started making spiral coil beds in 1876, the average price per mattress dropped from $12 to $0.95. The mattress industry just went through a similar revolution, and consumers are reaping the benefits.

Nectar: How do you evaluate value in a mattress?

Ryan: To me, value isn’t just about spending as little as possible. It’s about getting as much as possible. If I can buy a Nectar at an affordable price, and it feels super-comfortable, sleeps cool, and comes with a lifetime warranty, I feel like I won because I got a lot for my money.

Nectar: What’s the one misconception people have about a new mattress?

Ryan: That it’ll feel perfect on night one, and that’s not realistic. The mattress was compressed by 17,000 pounds per square inch and vacuum sealed. There’s a break-in period. Give it 45 – 60 days. Night one is not how the mattress will feel on night 60. It takes your body time to adjust.

Nectar: Since you’re a mattress genius, how’s your sleep life going?

Ryan: After sleeping on just about every mattress from the US, Canada, UK, Germany, and Australia, it’s safe to say my sleep life is restorative. I’m a huge fan of the adjustable frame. The ability to push a button to raise or lower your torso is the best investment you can give yourself. And I never skimp on bedding—too often people buy an awesome mattress and crappy sheets. That ruins the sleep experience. I say go big on bedding. And when it comes to buying a mattress, seriously, don’t overthink it.

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