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Meet the guy with the dream job of being a professional mattress tester

Although he loves what he does, Derek maintains that the testing part of being a mattress tester is only a small portion of his job.

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Mattress tester Derek Hales. (NapLab via SWNS)

By Brelaun Douglas via SWNS

This man is a professional mattress tester, but he says his job isn’t all just sweet dreams.

While you may be conjuring up images of him getting paid to sleep, or joyously jumping on beds, Derek Hales, 33, said his occupation is far more technical.

“People think I’m sleeping all day and lounging about on the mattresses,” said the entrepreneur, of Scottsdale, Arizona.

“I wish that was the case, but no.”

Derek is the founder of NapLab.com, a test and review site that features around 12-20 top-end mattresses each month.

He and his small team collect and analyze data to help people enjoy better sleep, and have more comfortable nooky.

“When we first got started, I slept on every mattress...I think there are some benefits to that, but ultimately our reviews in the earlier days were far more subjective,” he said.

“Within the last year, I’ve moved to a system where we try to be more objective.”

The system involves multiple tests to measure the “key factors” of each mattress.

“We have 10 different factors that we test on,” he said.

“We use different kinds of equipment and measuring tools. We do high-speed camera recordings to monitor the way the mattress is adapting.

“We take all this data, analyze it, get our numbers and that goes into a really complicated excel sheet that puts everything on a scoring system, so everything’s tiered appropriately on a scale.

“All of those factors get weighted and that gives us a final score for each category and for the mattress in totality.”

Mattress tester Derek Hales. (NapLab via SWNS)
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The scoring factors include cooling, motion transfer, response time, pressure release, off-gassing, edge support and sex.

“Sex is an important part,” he said.

“Sex is one of the factors that go into our overall scoring and within sex we look at five different weighted factors: bounce, cooling, support, pressure release and edge support.

“The best mattress for sex, based on everything we’ve tested thus far, would be the WinkBed Luxury Firm. I really like the WinkBed because it has high bounce.

“When it comes to sex on a mattress, bounce is really what makes the mattress more or less enjoyable.

“If you have a mattress like a memory foam that has no bounce and it’s absorbing all of your energy. It’s a bit like having sex on a concrete floor if there’s no motion.

“[The WinkBed] has the objectively best edge support of any mattress we’ve tested to date, which in my view is a really important factor because, pardon my frankness, it expands the sexable surface of the mattress.

“A mattress that is not supportive on the edges is more limited in what you and your partner can enjoy.”

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Derek accidentally got into the mattress testing business after searching for a new one with his wife.

“In spring 2014 my wife and I got married and we were looking to upgrade our mattress,” he said.

“A friend of mine told me about a mattress he had purchased online and it had a trial period. We tried it, we didn’t like it, but it opened my eyes to these online mattresses that were starting to become more popular.

“I had the idea to throw up a blog with some reviews and some comparisons and it just took off and mattress companies started reaching out to me wanting to send me mattresses.

His original site, Sleepopolis.com, was famously sued by the mattress firm Casper, so Derek left the business and launched NapLab last summer.

“By the end of 2014, we had tested four mattresses. By the end of 2015, we had tested about 60 mattresses, and we just kept growing from there.”

In 2015, Derek left his marketing job to test mattresses full-time.

At NapLab he has tested at least 190 to date from various companies.

“Bigger companies I tend to have to reach out to, smaller companies are usually reaching out to me because they want to get the exposure,” he said.

He also accounts for varying body sizes by using weighted vests.

Mattress tester Derek Hales. (NapLab via SWNS)

“The needs of a person who weigh 120 pounds are very different from the needs of a person that weighs 300 pounds.

“I’m around 140 pounds, so to help accommodate this I throw on a 60-pound weighted vest for several of the tests to better show how deep that mattress is and is it actually supportive when there’s a heavier weight body on it.

Each section on the website tries to accommodate lightweight sleepers (under 120 lbs) moderate (121-200) and heavier people (over 200 lbs).

The number of mattresses he reviews a month varies, but he reports their average gross revenue to be "in the low five figures."

“Companies never pay us [to review the mattresses],” he said.

“Really the only way we make money is through our referral links.

“When a consumer comes to our website and they decide they want to buy something if they click our link and then go buy it, then we would earn a commission on that sale, anywhere between four and 20 percent.

“We just launched NapLab this past summer, so we’re kind of getting geared up again.”

His favorite mattress overall is the $2,099 Loom & Leaf Luxury Firm, which he and his wife sleep on.

“It’s got a lot going for it and like many of the mattresses we test it’s a fantastic value for the price,” he said.

Although he loves what he does, Derek maintains that the testing part of being a mattress tester is only a small portion of his job.

“Testing usually takes an hour or two, followed by several hours of analysis and then another hour or two of drafting a review based on the data,” he said.

“Once the testing is done that’s maybe just 10 percent of the work that goes into creating the review.

“So much of my and my team’s job is creating reviews, researching, writing comparisons, editing videos.

“I think ultimately how we communicate about the mattress is the most important part of what we do.”

When he’s done testing, Derek often donates the mattresses to two local non-profits: Thrive Arizona, which helps connect families with basic needs and Phoenix Dream Center, which fights human trafficking.

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