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Product review: The Migraine Girl’s experience with the Leesa Mattress

Once, many years ago, I decided that I was an adult and deserved a really nice, comfortable, and supportive bed.  I did research before heading to the mattress store, determined to buy myself a queen bed (an upgrade from my full-sized one) that was well-reviewed by not only average consumers but those with chronic pain conditions. I knew very well all the reasons why a nice bed is worth the price: you spend about a third of your life in bed (maybe more if you’re sick a lot); more comfortable sleep is more restorative, which can help your energy and attention during the day; it will help your posture; and on and on.

When I got to the mattress store, though, I lost my resolve.  I sat and even lay down on the models of the beds I’d researched, suddenly balking at the price tags even though I knew full well how much these beds would cost.  I found that I gravitated toward the less expensive beds—the ones that fit my budget but not my health needs.

I ended up not only getting a far-from-ideal bed, I even haggled with the salesman and got him to lower the price.  It was still a big upgrade from my previous bed, of course, but within a couple of years or so it started squeaking obnoxiously, waking me up whenever I rolled over. Shortly after the squeaks began, my now-husband (whom I met two years before buying the el cheapo bed) and I noticed there were depressions in the bed where we each slept.

Still I waited. I waited and waited, and after a 2015 full of ups (a wedding! excellent grades for Jim! continued success at Avid Bookshop for me!) and downs (persistent health problems for both of us among them), Jim and I decided we would buy a nice bed.  I did a ton of research comparing the different bed options out there, knowing I wanted to get one of the bed-in-a-box direct-to-consumer models available. We looked at mattresses offered by Tuft & Needle, Leesa, YogaBed, and Casper, ultimately deciding to pay a premium price for the very highly-rated and luxury Leesa California King.

I’ll fast forward now and tell you that the mattress is exquisitely comfortable.  The bed we bought (the actual wooden bed with slats and headboard that we put the mattress on) is a little problematic, but the mattress is divine.

Getting to the point of using it took awhile, though.  I’d seen some reviews for direct-to-consumer mattress companies and had read people’s comments about the strong smells the mattress has when you first unbox it. (These mattresses come in boxes three to four feet tall and, once you tear open the box, the mattress expands over a few hours until it reaches its full and permanent size.)  As you know, I have the nose of a longtime migraineur and was worried about the smell.  I learned in one scientist’s YouTube review of such a mattress that I should open the bed for the first time in a well-ventilated room and not sleep on it for a few hours—in my case, I chose a few days.

Jim and I both thought the initial smell was very, very strong. I actually grossed Jim out by putting soft foam earplugs into my nostrils when we unboxed it, and we both put tiger balm on our upper lips to help counteract the VOCs (volatile organic chemicals) that smell so strong.  We waited a few days to sleep on it, and the first night we slept on it I awoke with a migraine, finding that the bed still smelled too strong for me.  It was fine when I did a sniff test the night before, but curling up under blankets with my nose right to the mattress for 8 hours wasn’t good for my migraine brain.

We waited some more, sleeping on our old squeaky mattress until we felt it was time to move to the new bed.

And it has been really comfortable for us both.  I’ll keep you posted if I change my mind, but for now I am really thankful to have spent the money (about $915) on the Leesa California King. We both sleep more soundly and more comfortably, which is of inarguable importance for people who share diagnoses of chronic muscle and joint pain and migraine.

Have any of you upgraded to a nicer mattress? What were your results? Do you think a more supportive mattress is worth the money for you? I’d love to hear from you so that the community has some ideas in case anyone’s in the market for a new mattress.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • H
    3 years ago

    I love our mattress! It was expensive several years ago, but worth every penny! I paid regular price and do not work for this company or anything, so you can trust that I just love our Sealy Posturepedic bed with Boxspring! I see the commercials saying you need to replace your mattress every eight years or so and I don’t even want to replace it! I also think that pillows are even a more important choice for those suffering from headaches. My bedroom used to look like a graveyard for tried-and-discarded pillows. I have been using the My Pillow brand for a couple of years now and I think they are great! I have gotten several different types of the pillows that they offer. When I have a migraine, sometimes I want to rest, propped up on pillows or hug a pillow to me. What I love the most about My Pillows is that when they start to lose their shape, you can wash and dry them and they plump right up again. This is so important when your head, neck and shoulders are sore! If you are unsure about trying the My Pillow, buy it from QVC, and you can try it out for a month and send it back if it is not for you! I do not work for My Pillow or QVC, either! It is just an easy way to try out a great product! I hope it helps!

  • Kate
    3 years ago

    Yes! I think high quality mattresses are a good splurge. Plus, it really can pay for itself as they last longer, you sleep better (which can increase your productivity, mood, etc), and it can help health problems. I find my pillow much more important than my mattress to my neck issues, but the mattress is definitely nice.

    They are something to never pay full price for, as like most products, they predictably go on sale. We spent an entire day going from store to store doing long laying down tests on beds (you can’t really get a good idea in 30 seconds…15 minutes + is a much better test). We actually ended up under budget as it was under $1,000, but the next price range was closer to $2,000+, and we couldn’t notice much difference.

    A good mattress cover is also important, as is rotating it (although pillowtops aren’t flipped) and airing it out every so often. Next up we need to upgrade our bed frame, at it makes a lot of noise when my husband moves. Often we have lots of mini awakenings in the night which disturb our sleep but we don’t remember. Best wishes.

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