By Gordon Hecht, Serta Simmons Bedding

In the four-and-a-half decades that I’ve been driving, I’ve owned 22 vehicles.

Some were so fly that I wish I could own them again, and others were just plain awful. I loved dropping the top on my convertible, but I also owned a Nissan that was so old it was a Datsun, and I had to downshift if I ran over a piece of Double Bubble.

I purchased each of those vehicles because they fit my needs at the time. My first car was a bucket of bolts that needed spit and bailing wire to hold it together. Then I celebrated college graduation and bought a cool sports car.

Along the way I owned a family grocery-getter van; a comfy four-door; a gas-sipping hybrid; a classic coupe from 1956; and a couple of 4-wheel SUVs. All of them served a purpose at that point in my life. And, when I sold or traded them off, all were still operating and roadworthy. (OK, not the old bucket of bolts that was sold for scrap.) I never waited until those vehicles were dead to make the change.

As my vehicle history and car leasing deals would suggest, we the people seem comfortable with changing out our rides every two to four years. Yet we endure being uncomfortable by waiting a decade or longer before changing our sleep system.

It’s a natural fact. Changing a mattress as your life cycle changes will ensure a complete restorative sleep and a restful recovery through varying combinations of comfort and support layers.

Experts and some retailers recommend changing a mattress every eight years. As we often need to paint the picture for our retail customers, here’s a 60-year timeline with eight mattress changes that, according to my slide rule, average about one change every eight years.

Life Cycle

Ages 6-18, Youth: Superior support for good spinal development. Size appropriate for the individual child. Twin or Full.

Ages 19-25, Young Adult: Move up to a larger-size bed. Requires active support for an active lifestyle. Full or Queen.

Ages 26-34, Newlywed Bed: Isolate motion through enhanced foams, wrapped coils or both. Provide comfort and security with durability and value. Queen or King.

Ages 35-42, Family and Career Time: Pressure relief, comfort to promote deeper sleep, isolate motion. Queen or King.

Ages 43-49, Young Mature: Restorative sleep, increase circulation, reduce tossing and turning, greater need for temperature regulation. Queen or King.

Ages 50-56, Empty Nester: Pain relief, healthful benefits, soft and deep comfort, TV viewing and reading in the bedroom. Requires a motion base.

Ages 57-65, Retirement: Downsizing homes, downsizing beds. Queen or Dual King motion base for individual comfort.

Ages 66+, Early to Bed, Early to Rise: Multiple uses for beds — reading, TV, resting, healthful comfort and gentle support. Full, Queen or Dual King.

The first step in helping your shoppers understand the need to enhance their quality of sleep through upgraded bedding is to teach your sales team the value in explaining it to those shoppers.

Sometimes it means making an investment in youth bedding beyond the $99 Twin. You may need to show the value of moving from a Queen to a King size if the kids and dogs like to curl up with mom and dad. And at some point, adding a motion base with massage, low-level lighting, and lumbar support to the new bed for the Century Village condo may be the right buy for your shopper.

The right car at the right time makes driving and even sitting in traffic a pleasure. When that car spends more time at Mr. Goodwrench than in the garage, it’s simple to figure out it’s time to change. When you explain to your shopper the value of changing mattress, bases and accessories as they move through life’s path, you’ll help keep them running on the road in comfort for a long time.

Gordon Hecht is Senior Regional Manager/Strategic Retail Group at Serta Simmons Bedding and a regular contributor to YSN. You can reach him at ghecht@sertasimmons.com.