Mattress Buyers Guide
A good night’s sleep is one of the most important pillars of a healthy lifestyle, equally important as balanced diet or exercise. When you are well-rested, your immune system works better, protecting you from inflammations and preventing conditions like depression and heart diseases.
That is why a mattress should be chosen carefully, taking into account all of the different options available on the market. Choosing the right mattress may sometimes seem impossible, but as soon as you figure out what you are looking for, you are sure to find it in no time.
This detailed guide presents you with all of the options on the market today and explains which qualities are essential when it comes to your search, narrowing down your choices as you read along.
Types of Mattresses
Mattresses come in two main variations: coil spring or open coil and pocket spring type. The first one is the oldest and still the most popular type on the market, as it is the most affordable one. It is composed of steel coils that vary in number, size, thickness and can be distributed in various configurations - positioned in rows and joined with a wire or a mesh, or made from a single length of wire and linked vertically, providing a better support for the whole body.
The pocket spring type is a more refined variation of innerspring mattresses. It is made of individual springs placed in fabric pockets, usually joined together. The springs move individually, following the contours of the body, distributing the weight evenly and preventing vibrations going from one side to the other.
Specialty Foam Mattresses
In search of a better support for the body, manufacturers have come up with the idea of using different types of speciality foam materials for their mattresses, such as memory foam, latex or gel.
The different firmness of the memory foam can be achieved by altering the density and thickness of a material used, mostly polyurethane. Some variations include latex foam, which comes from the rubber tree and is claimed to have hypoallergenic and antimicrobial properties, inhibiting the development of bacteria, fungi and house dust mites - perfect for people suffering from various respiratory conditions.
Specialty foam mattresses are built out of durable materials, providing support to your body without pressuring your hips, shoulders and lower back, allowing proper posture and preventing or reducing pain in sensitive areas. These mattresses are excellent at suppressing motion, so the sleeping partners won’t be affected by each other’s movement, guaranteeing better quality of sleep.
Airbeds have adjustable air chambers as the support system instead of coils or foam. They are designed to look just like traditional beds, with padding and upholstery materials surrounding the air chamber.
They allow you to inflate them to desirable firmness using an electric pump, with some models making it possible for sleeping partners to inflate their sides of the bed separately, to their own specific needs.
Waterbeds use a water chamber as the support system and they are also designed to look like a conventional bed, with sides made either out of rigid foam or wood. It rests on top of a platform and can be constructed to allow free flow of water through it, or it may be equipped with fibres or baffles to limit the water movement and create a waveless feel.
The firmness of the mattress refers to how stiff it feels when you lay down on it and is related to the “comfort layer” located just beneath the sleep surface. The right level of firmness is crucial for a good night’s sleep, but it is a highly individual category - something that feels too firm for one person may be just right for another one.
Firmness is often mixed with “support,” which is the ability of a mattress to provide ideal posture and relieve pressure on neck, shoulders, lower back and hips. However, inadequately selected firmness will certainly deny you of the adequate support, as well.
Although the category of firmness is highly individual and subjective, there is a scale that can give you a clue to levels of firmness present in the mattresses on the market today, ranging from 1 to 10:
- 1 and 2 are so soft they don’t provide you with sufficient amount of support and will let you sink in too deeply
- 3 and 4 still have a high degree of sinkage, usually in the 1.5-3” range
- 5 and 6 are medium soft, the most common firmness preferred by the majority of sleepers
- 7 is slightly firm
- 8 is firm
- 9 is very firm
- 10 is ultra firm
Quilting provides a smooth and flat surface and is most commonly used with innerspring type of mattresses. Mattress and fillings are stitched together, creating top comfort layer of smaller and larger fabric panels
Knitted covers are most commonly used with speciality foam type of models, stretching to the right size and improving the breathing qualities of the mattress as a whole.
This is a method of passing tapes all the way through a mattress at regular intervals and secured at each end, usually applied to the pocket spring type.
These mattresses have an extra layer of soft, pillow-like material on the top, making them more comfortable for people with back pains
Vents, Damask Covers and Handles
Vents and damask covers promote airflow and reduce moisture inside the mattress, while handles help to turn and rotating it, allowing fillings to settle evenly and prolonging the lifespan of the mattress. They are usually a sign of a high-quality product.
Hand Side Stitching
This stitching is most commonly used with pocket spring mattresses, providing support to its walls and extending the sleeping area to its very edge. Hand side stitching is applied only to the top-quality products.
Factors to Consider
Size and Support
When it comes to selecting the ideal size, choose one that is longer than your height and wide enough for you to lay with your arms behind your head without going over the edge.
The ideal mattress must provide adequate support and to accommodate your body curves - dripping down around your shoulders and hips, but keeping your spine in a proper alignment all the time, regardless of the position you choose to sleep in.
If you share your bed, you will want to minimize the motion transfer, especially in a situation where your preferences don’t match, or your partner is a restless sleeper. Pocket coil, speciality foam or dual-chamber air-filled mattresses are the best types for limiting the motion transfer from one side to the other.
Lifestyle and Chronic Issues
Choose wisely, depending on your weight, body type and preferred sleeping position. Also, if you suffer from allergies or respiratory conditions, it is advised to go for antimicrobial mattresses, such as foam and latex. If you opt for the innerspring mattress, be sure to encase it in an allergen-resistant cover.
It is advised to opt for the maximum of your budget range, as investing in a good mattress is investing in your good health for the next 5 to 10 years. Having said that, always try to buy from a manufacturer that offers warranty and money-back options, but be sure to check the fine print, as some of the manufacturers define very strict circumstances under which your rights may be realized.
Care and Cleaning
Caring for your mattress and keeping it clean helps you sleep better and benefits your health in more ways than one. Mattresses tend to collect a lot of nasty things on them, such as dead skin cells, sweat, stains and dust mites, which lead to the development of allergies and other skin and respiratory problems.
Cover and Protect
The first line of defence against allergens, stains and dirt are waterproof, anti-allergic covers that can be taken off and washed regularly in the washing machine, along with the rest of the linen.
Rotate and Air Out
Air your mattress every day for at least 20 minutes to allow all of the moisture to evaporate, preventing the development of bacteria and mould. Also air it out, from time to time, under the sunlight, as it is the best natural way of killing potentially harmful organisms in it.
Mattresses should also be rotated regularly, to keep their shape, firmness and structure. To maintain its perfect condition, avoid sitting on its edge and keep children and pets from jumping on it.
Keep It Clean
Even if you choose to protect the mattress with a cover, it still needs to be vacuumed from time to time, to take care of any dust, hair or tiny debris that have somehow found their way into it. Start at the top and work your way down, but don’t forget to vacuum the sides in the same manner.
For removing any stains or smells, be sure to use mild enzyme cleaners and stick with the simple, non-toxic cleaning methods like baking soda, lemon, salt and hydrogen peroxide in different combinations. Do not, under any circumstances, apply harsh chemicals such as dry cleaning products, as they can damage the fabric or filling of your mattress, doing more damage than good.
Buying a new mattress may seem like something that doesn’t require a lot of research and preparation. However, among a wide variety of options on the market today, how can you be sure you are choosing the right one?
Get familiar with their different qualities to be able to mix and match different levels of comfort and adjust your pick based on your lifestyle, budget and surrounding factors. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and keep your mattress clean - it will serve you well for years to come.