Inside a Mattress
How Valuable Is Your Sleep?
There are three major components in a mattress:
- Comfort Layers
- Support System
The quilt of a mattress may seem like an insignificant part of the whole, but certain quilts can eliminate some of the common obstacles people face when trying to obtain quality sleep. For example, quilts containing Tencel material or other cooling technologies can help combat heat retention issues. You may also want to consider what the quilt is made out of for the sake of the feel. Tufted natural cotton quilts will feel different than bamboo fiber quilts, as an example. Although you will have a sheet on top of the quilt, you may still be able to feel the difference. Some brands also offer unique quilt designs, such as Vispring's premium Belgian damask cover which is woven so tightly that skin cells, dust mites, and other potential filth has a hard time penetrating the mattress. So while the quilt might not be as important or crucial as other components of the mattress, it is worth knowing what type of quilt the mattress you are considering buying has.
The comfort layers of a mattress are most important for determining its overall comfort and cost. Research has shown that a greater quantity of high-quality comfort materials provides a more comfortable sleeping surface and allows for a longer comfort life. But quantity isn't better than quality! A mattress with 6 inches of cheap foam won't be more comfortable than a mattress with 4 inches of high-quality memory foam. So make sure you consider both the type and amount of comfort materials.
There are too many types of comfort layers to cover them all here, but it is important to consider the properties of each comfort layer in a mattress. For example, mundane foam will relieve pressure. Memory foam will relieve a lot of pressure and reduce motion transfer. Gel memory foam will relieve a lot of pressure, reduce motion transfer, and may also help regulate temperature. If you don't need that much pressure relief or temperature control, you might do just fine with a cheaper foam mattress. But if you are looking for a mattress that relieves more pressure, and you have had issues with waking up hot during the night, then you should invest in a mattress with higher-quality comfort materials.
Support systems are a little easier to talk about. Basically, you have innerspring, memory foam, latex, and hybrid support systems. While each of these categories can be broken down into subcategories (tied and individually wrapped innerspring systems, for example), the larger category can tell you a lot about the mattress. Below are some general guidelines that are not true in all cases, but general patterns for each type of mattress support system:
- Innerspring units are least expensive
- Memory foam mattresses offer better pressure relief and a longer comfort life
- Latex mattresses are similar to memory foam, but retain less heat
- Hybrid mattresses provide a traditional innerspring feel, with better contouring provided by layers of memory foam or latex.
Depending on your sleep habits and comfort preferences, one of these support systems may work better for you. While comfort layers can play a large role in the comfort of the mattress, it is hard to overcome the properties of the support system, even after adding multiple layers on top.
Other components of a mattress you may want to consider are edge support and the box spring. While the box spring isn't actually part of the mattress itself, it can be important for the comfort and lifespan of your mattress.
Edge support comes in a few different forms. Border rods are the cheaper version that simply uses metal supports to prevent the mattress edges from collapsing. These aren't very comfortable to sleep on, but reinforce the mattress well if you sleep away from the edge. Foam encasement reinforces the perimeter of the mattress with extra-sturdy foam that helps hold the shape of the mattress. This type of edge support is preferable because it isn't as uncomfortable to sleep on if you end up on the edge of the mattress.
Today, a box spring and a foundation are essentially the same. Some manufacturers still use a true box spring that has a coil or modular coil spring system within it. The coils act as little shock absorbers, so when force and weight are applied to the top of the mattress, the box spring will give slightly underneath.
Recent advances in technology have eliminated the need for a true box spring, however, and most mattresses are designed to work with a foundation instead. Framed in either wood or steel, foundations look like true box springs but have no actual springs. These foundations simply guarantee your mattress has a hard flat surface to sit on so it can perform its best. While a floor may provide the same hard flat surface, some still prefer the traditional look and height of a mattress and box spring. Many warranties also require a mattress to be used with a box spring, as this guarantees that you weren't using your mattress on a soft or uneven surface that can have a negative impact on the comfort and lifespan of your mattress.
Try not to get overwhelmed by technical jargon when you're shopping for your new mattress. Keep this overview in mind when doing research, and it will help you understand what's what so you can make the right choice. If you'd like more help finding the right mattress for you, you can speak with one of our friendly mattress experts by calling 1-800-455-1052.