What Are Mattresses Actually Made Of?
Mattresses come in many types of firmness and materials, each with unique comfort and body support properties. All of these attributes can impact your slumber, so figuring out your ideal sleep posture and physical needs while sleeping is an important part of making an informed decision about what mattress is right for you.
Before heading out to the store, ensure you understand the technologies surrounding modern mattresses. These are very advanced today and can be daunting to navigate if you don’t have accurate information.
The first step in understanding a mattress is knowing its firmness. This decides the comfort level and suitability to your body shape and weight. Once you understand the mattress firmness scale, you can select a soft, medium-firm, or firm option that’s best suited to your needs.
The firmness grading system runs from one to ten as follows:
- Extra soft (1-2)- This is too soft to provide adequate back, hip, neck, and spinal protection in sleep.
- Soft (3-4)- This mattress softness range is ideal for those who sleep on their sides.
- Medium-soft (5)– The versatility of a medium-soft mattress makes it suited to the comfort needs of most sleepers.
- Medium-firm (6)– Denser than the above options, a medium-firm mattress is suitable for stomach and back sleeping positions, due to its superior body support and weight distribution capabilities.
- Firm (7-8)– A mattress with this firmness level pushes back harder and provides excellent back comfort. It’s best suited to back or stomach sleepers or people weighing more than 200 pounds.
- Extra-firm (9-10)- The hardest of standard options, this firmness range is ideal for people looking to avoid pain from laying in bed for extended periods.
Once you know the firmness level you desire, it’ll be easier to narrow down your options and select a suitable mattress material.
An innerspring mattress incorporates a metal coil support structure and padding, such as foam or fiber. It might interest people who sleep on their back, side, or tummy.
While innerspring was the most popular mattress model for decades, it has become less popular as more advanced sleep technologies have become available. An innerspring mattress can still provide decent back comfort levels depending on spring/coil design and construction. Generally, the thicker the coil gauge is, the firmer the mattress experience provided.
Some available innerspring design options are:
- Continuous coil- These incorporate a single interlinked (S-shaped) wire to provide support.
- Bonnell- This is the original innerspring design. It features multiple hourglass-shaped coils assembled to provide a helix-like support system.
- Offset- There’s a slight design difference between a Bonnell and an Offset coil. The latter has squared, flat edges at the top and bottom. This structure provides excellent body and weight support.
- Marshall coil- These coils are built independently, assembled, and encased to create an innerspring.
NASA invented memory foam in 1966, and the technology has been increasingly popular ever since. When you lie on a memory foam mattress, you’ll experience a supported sinking feeling as though you’re being cradled. It contours to the body and is excellent for relieving joint pain.
Memory foam mattresses generally differ from one another in interior layer composition. Some multi-layer options may include multiple foam materials like polyfoam, latex, or cotton to achieve specific comfort levels.
Unlike most mattress types, latex products are a more natural option as they are made from the sap of a rubber tree. They offer similar contouring and joint pressure relief as memory foam but with an extra bounce.
Latex mattresses fall into two main categories based on their manufacturing process:
- Dunlop- To produce this mattress foam, liquid latex is poured into the mold all at once. The foam created tends to be softer on the top and denser on the opposite side.
- Talalay- In this process, a large mold is partially filled with latex, sealed, and vacuumed to expand the foam material. The latex is frozen to stabilize after it has filled the mold. The outcome is a consistent mattress texture/feel.
Hybrid mattresses are a combination of innerspring and either latex or memory foam on top. As each added foam material has unique attributes, it’s possible to create many variations of hybrid mattresses.
These solutions are becoming increasingly popular as they offer the best of both worlds in mattress technology. Be sure to do your research to select a multi-layered design offering your preferred firmness, contouring, and bounce support.
Mattress Materials Matter
What’s inside your mattress impacts your sleep quality. When evaluating the best options for optimal comfort and body support, prioritize mattress materials with the right firmness. If you research well, there will always be an ideal mattress design and construction for your favorite sleeping position.
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