Skip to main content

A Behind-the-Scenes Look Inside a Mattress Factory

stearns & foster mattress factory tour
I got the Golden Ticket!

Well … sort of. Full disclosure, Stearns & Foster approached The Manual with an invitation for a writer to visit the company’s Greensboro, North Carolina, headquarters to not only get a behind the scenes look at a mattress factory, but also to “make [our] own mattress.” My editor tossed the story my way, where he received a resounding “huh?” from me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a self-professed design geek, and an issue of Dwell is like soft porn for me, but mattresses? I mean, aside from the obvious, where’s the sex? A mattress is a mattress, right? Boy, was I wrong.

Once Upon a Mattress

At Stearns & Foster’s immaculately decorated headquarters, we were ushered into the company’s product showroom where studio lighting illuminated three beds. Five writers and editors suddenly had performance anxiety, but before long we were contorting ourselves into positions to recreate how we sleep all while the Stearns & Foster product development and marketing teams and a photographer and his assistant looked on. We were encouraged to roll around on the three beds of varying degrees of firmness to find the most comfortable according to our own preference. Oddly enough, we all ended up choosing the same model. It must say something about how writers keep themselves up at night worrying about their stories.

Then there was a quick lesson about springs and pillow tops: Stearns & Foster has a patented “IntelliCoil” inner construction that keeps things … ahem … bouncy, and a collection of other techniques that not only add comfort but also prevent parts of the mattress from sagging over time. Of course the pillow-top (that extra, padded layer on top of many modern mattresses) itself is a masterpiece of modern engineering, and as it grew thicker and softer, we found ourselves getting more comfortable, to the point that we were definitely in need of an espresso.

We Are the Robots

To wake us up, we moved from the showroom to the real guts of the facility, including a testing laboratory where the products are subject to all sorts of indignities. Mattresses are massaged more than 100,000 times by a 240 pound Rollator, punched in the gut over and over again with a 230 pound weight, and repeatedly sat upon by a robot named NOBI (short for “no body impressions”) with a big, wooden butt meant to simulate somebody getting in and out of bed for ten years (that’s 5,000 times, spread across four days, and S&F is the only company that utilizes this technology, by the way).

We were then introduced to a part of the research and development team that uses sophisticated machinery to bend and twist steel wire into convoluted shapes — think 3D printing meets (a very intelligent) pair of pliers. This machine (which we weren’t even allowed to photograph) is used to develop new coil technology and the Stearns & Foster team has even won awards for their engineering proficiency. An adjoining lab subjects fibers and fabrics through tests to assure durability, as well as temperature and humidity resistance.

Burn After Reading

A quick walk across the parking lot and things got really exciting when we went to the Fire Resistance Lab and got to watch some guys set shit on fire.

No, really. This is where mattresses are randomly tested to be sure they are up to Consumer Product Safety Commission standards for fire retardancy. Stearns & Foster’s parent company, Tempur Sealy International, is the only bedding manufacturer to have such a lab on site.

It was at just about this point in the day when I realized I was surrounded by chemical, mechanical, and various other types of engineers, and really started to geek out. As I said, we’re talking mattresses here, but there are almost as much technology and experience going into production as an automobile. We headed onto the actual factory floor where monitors tracked productivity throughout the assembly process. Sensors checked movement to keep traffic flowing smoothly and safely, and even watched trucks to make sure they were locked into place on the loading dock and that no employees accidentally get shipped off! This plant ships 8,000 mattresses a week…and it’s one of the company’s smaller facilities.

A few steps further and we headed into the Prototype Lab, where Master Craftsman, promoted from the ranks of the factory floor for their proficiency and expertise, bustle about like Santa’s elves the week before Christmas. The marketing and product development team have the very latest in technology at their disposal, which is sometimes as simple as a sewing machine but can also involve some pretty heavy duty quilting equipment. Experimenting with various hand-crafting and machined techniques, the team can crank out mattress prototypes, with the benefit of hundreds of years of combined experience to ensure maximum results. Here we each got to try our hand at stitching, tufting, gluing, etc., and really gained an appreciation for the labor and skill that go into creating a modern mattress. It was easy to understand why each one gets a hand-signed label from the craftsman who built the bed.

Sleep Writing

A few weeks later my mattress, from the Lux Estate Collection, was delivered to my home. I can only tell you that since then, I have been sleeping like a baby most nights. One Saturday morning, having gone to bed a little early and with no alarm going off, I was so deeply asleep, the only thing I could compare it to was going under anesthesia.


The lesson learned here is not only that a new mattress can be life-changing, but that with modern technology, going to bed commands a whole new level of respect. It’s recommended to change your mattress every ten years, so head in for an upgrade if it’s been a decade or so. I would definitely recommend going to a store and rolling around a bit to be sure that you find the right “fit,” but by all means, buy the best you can afford. Your “Zzzs” will thank you.

If a regular mattress and bed aren’t good enough for you though, if you really need something more, this Chinese super-bed may just be what you’re looking for.

Editors' Recommendations

John Jones
John Jones is a Jersey City, New Jersey-based writer who enjoys covering design in all its forms, from fashion to…
This is what would happen if an asteroid hit Earth
Watch this scary video simulation of an asteroid's impact on earth
Earth as seen from outer space

You've seen the scenario in movies and TV shows: There's an asteroid headed for the planet, and it's threatening to wipe out all life on the planet. Of all the mysteries of what's out there in space, there's something uniquely terrifying about the prospect of a chunk of rock heading toward us fast enough to smash into Earth. Now you can enjoy a lovingly rendered video showing the destruction that might occur if such an impact were ever to happen.
Watch what would happen if an asteroid collided with Earth
A now-removed viral post on the Absolute Units subreddit shows what would happen to the planet if the largest known asteroid were to collide with the planet. Unsurprisingly, the 338-mile/545-kilometer-wide space rock would totally annihilate every living thing on Earth, destroying vast landscapes and covering the planet in smoke and fire. You can also view the full video (set to Pink Floyd’s “The Great Gig in the Sky.”)

https://www.themanual.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2022/11/asteroid.mp4
Massive destruction
An asteroid hitting Earth is called an impact event. And while these are rare, the effects of one would be massively damaging to all life on the planet—and the asteroid wouldn’t need to be 338 miles across to do so. Even smaller asteroids can cause incredible destruction.

Read more
Do UFC fighters wear cups? A rule that changed UFC forever
Israel Adesanya fighting at UFC 234.

Before he appeared as the character Random Task in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and California inmate #AI7266, Joe Son was just an up-and-coming mixed martial arts fighter. The Ultimate Fighting Championship was only a few years old, and making it into the quarterfinals of UFC 4 was a big deal. Son was confident facing off against Keith Hackney. But a recently changed rule was about to end Son's run, contributing to the reformation of the sport and the establishment of all UFC men wearing cups. After the events of the evening, it was definitely for the better.
History of UFC's Cup Rule
When the UFC debuted in 1993, it only had a few rules, one of which was outlawing groin strikes. What would happen if a fighter struck his opponent in the Tractor Supply? It's hard to say, as it never happened. But with pre-internet viral fame of the UFC and its no-holds-barred bad boy image came an even more lax set of rules, and beginning at UFC 2, punches and kicks to the Orange Julius were fair game. It's with this switch that Son and Hackney met head on.

The fight started with the pair exchanging shots, but soon they clenched and Son, the stronger man, cinched a headlock around Hackney's neck, pushing him across the ring. As the two jockeyed for control, they fell to the mat, and Hackney, with his head still trapped in Son's armpit, ended up on top. Son did not want to open himself up to strikes, so he held on, while Hackney made it his priority to escape and take advantage. Thus, the stage was set for the most brutal ground-and-pound ever filmed.

Read more
F1 Bahrain GP live stream: How to watch Formula 1 for free
Formula 1 driver exiting turn.

Formula 1 is back with the first race of the championship underway later today. The Bahrain Grand Prix is sure to be a fantastic start to the 2024 F1 schedule. If you’re keen to check out the F1 Bahrain live stream, you’re in luck. We’ve got everything you need to know about how to watch the Bahrain Grand Prix for free today, along with some insight on what to do if you’re traveling.
How to watch Bahrain Grand Prix for free
If you’re based in Austria or Luxembourg, you can check out the Bahrain Grand Prix for free along with all of the 75th F1 World Championship. That’s thanks to there being free streams through ORF in Austria and RTL Zwee in Luxembourg. If you’re from either country and traveling abroad, you can still access these by using a VPN like NordPN (one of the best VPNs). It’s a good solution for ensuring you can catch the race in your first language rather than being stuck with it in English. It’s entirely safe and legal to do so for residents of the country in question.

If you’re in the US and want to stream it in English, you can sign up for a Fubo free trial. The streaming service is perfect for sports fans with plenty of options including ESPN which is the channel showing the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Fubo free trial lasts seven days so there’s plenty of time to see what else it has to offer with dozens of channels to choose from. Just remember to cancel it before the free trial ends so you don’t pay a cent. Fubo has sports channels like CBS Sports Network, NFL Network, NBA TV, NHL Network, Fox Sports, along with dozens of other TV channels to suit your mood.

Read more