Top 4 Mattress Shopping Questions
We’ve come a long way since the days of filling sacks with straw and sleeping on them. You can only imagine the aches, pains, and overall lack of restful sleep that people would get. The thought of what our grandparents’ mattresses were like growing up might be enough to make some people lose sleep.
Mattresses do wear out over time. Not only will they begin to sag and lack support (which won’t keep your spine in line as you sleep), they will also collect dust, allergens, and micro-organisms such as dust mites. It’s important for your health that you replace your mattress every 7 years or so. If you’re looking for a new mattress, here are answers to the top 4 common questions mattresses shoppers have.
Question 1: What Type of Mattress is Right for Me?
Today’s mattress industry is driven by innovation. Products are constantly being improved by using new materials and environmentally-friendly processing. Spring mattresses once dominated the mattress industry until the introduction of memory foam mattresses around 20 years ago. Memory foam has taken the world by storm and revolutionized the mattress industry. You can also choose from latex, air bed, and even water bed mattresses.
Memory Foam: You’ve probably heard that NASA developed memory foam back in the 1970’s. It’s true! They developed a pressure-absorbing material to cushion astronauts during lift-off. This material is temperature sensitive and helps to evenly distribute body weight. These characteristics make for the perfect sleeping surface since your whole body is evenly supported reducing pressure points. Heat is also drawn away from the body making for a more relaxing sleep.
Latex Foam: Often confused with memory foam, a latex foam mattress has its own set of characteristics. It is generally a blend of sap and synthetic or natural latex rubber (unlike the polyurethane memory foam is made from). Latex mattresses are a little firmer and don’t have the shape retention memory foam has which is preferred by some people. It does have a springier feel which some would describe as sleeping on Jell-O.
Traditional Innerspring: Like the name suggests, spring mattress cores are made up of steel coil springs. There are several coil types that offer different levels of firmness and support, each with their own characteristics such as motion control, conformation to the body, and level of noise. Most mattress dealers should have a diagram detailing the type and layout of the springs along with their benefits. Don’t let the number of coils sway you in your purchase. The size and shape of the coils vary between manufactures so the numbers are hard to compare.
Many manufacturers are creating hybrid mattresses that have a spring coil core with a layer of memory or latex foam over it for extra comfort giving you the best of both types of mattresses.
Air Beds: Still primarily used in hospitals to help reduce pressure points, air mattresses have individual air pockets that inflate and deflate depending on the user’s selected comfort level. The commercial sale of air mattresses is fairly recent and commonly come with frills such as digital pumps, pillow tops, and dual chambers so each side of the mattress can have individual settings.
Water Beds: Water beds became popular in the 1970s as basic vinyl chambers filled with water that caused a wave motion when moved. Modern, improved water beds have reduced the wave motion by adding fiber batting and air chambers, and have luxuries such as heating elements. Water beds shape exactly to the body and can help reduce pain and minimize pressure points. However, there are risks involved such as water damage caused by punctures.
Question 2: Should I Order a Firm or Plush Mattress?
It is a common thought that a firmer mattress is better for your back. This is not always the case. An overly firm mattress doesn’t have much give, which can force your spine to bend at the hips and shoulders. A plush mattress will give, aligning your spine at those pressure points. A mattress that’s too soft will simply cause the spine to curve. Because all bodies are different, you’ll want to try out a hard mattress and a soft mattress and find one that’s “just right” for you.
Question 3: What’s the Difference Between a Pillow Top and Euro Top Mattress?
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between pillow top and Euro top mattresses? Both tops can have just as much padding, but a Euro top is a pillow top that’s stitched into the mattress. When you get to the edge of a Euro top, you will feel more supported along the side. When you get towards the edge of the pillow top, it will compress more because of the flap, creating a little less support. The difference is small and mostly cosmetic, but you should be able to tell which one is more comfortable for you.
Question 4: What’s the Difference Between a Boxspring and Foundation?
A box-spring and a traditional foundation are commonly confused and are not the same thing. A box-spring has a wood frame containing heavy-duty springs which contributes to a softer and “bouncier” mattress. A traditional foundation is usually made from wood and has support slats covered with paperboard creating a feeling of firmness and stability. Some manufacturers will create a mattress better suited for one foundation over the other so be sure you’re selecting the right type if purchasing a mattress and foundation separately.
Platform bed frames have slats or a built-in platform that can support a mattress without a boxspring or a foundation. Beds without slats or a build-in foundation do require a boxspring or a foundation to use a mattress. If you put your mattress on a non-platform bed frame without a foundation or boxspring, you will fall through the bed frame and possibly injure yourself.
It is important that once you have selected your mattress that you know its warranty and care instructions. Improper use or cleaning can void your warranty or create unnecessary wear and tear reducing its lifespan.
Mattress shopping can be quite intimidating at first. It’s important that you educate yourself on new features offered by mattress suppliers before you shop instead of basing your knowledge on your last experience. So much can change in a little amount of time in the mattress industry. Take your time and relax. Your health depends on a great night’s sleep.
| Contributing Expert
Alaina Young is a content writer for Wholesale Furniture Brokers, an online retailer of beds, mattresses
, sofas, and dining tables. Alaina writes and edits product descriptions, blog posts, reviews, and articles.