The significance of a good quality bed mattress is often overlooked.
What people don’t understand is that resting on a wrong mattress after a long day can have a highly negative impact on their sleeping patterns.
While you may search for the cheapest and the easiest option available in the market, and not put enough thought in the process, remember that this negligence can result in you suffering from sleep disruptions time after time.
The quality of your life and sleep is something that you should certainly invest your time and money in.
The right mattress doesn’t just allow you to feel well-rested and alert during the day, but it also helps reduce back pain.
Finding the best mattress among the countless options available in the market can be a difficult task.
You need to learn all about this comfortable bed accessory before you make your final informed decision.
Here is a complete guide to mattresses that will help you learn about the best mattresses-type based on its firmness, material and size and achieve that good night’s rest that you desire:
- 1 A Brief History of Mattresses
- 2 Types of Mattresses
- 2.1 Mattresses Type (Material)
- 2.2 Mattresses Type (Size)
- 2.3 Mattresses Type (Firmness)
A Brief History of Mattresses
The word mattress comes from the Arabic word ‘matrah’.
Matrah either means something thrown down or it means a place where something is thrown down that can be translated to a mat and a cushion respectively.
The Arabs used to sleep on cushions on the floor. The Europeans adopted their way of sleeping during the Crusades.
Eventually, through the Romance languages, the word matters descended into Middle English. The world’s oldest mattress known dates to approximately 77,000 years ago.
Mattresses in the earlier times contained various natural materials such as horse hair, feathers and straws.
A typical mattress sold in the first half of the twentieth century in North America had fiberfill or cotton batting and an innerspring core.
Advanced mattresses today usually contain either flexible polyurethane foams, materials such as viscoelastic and latex, or an innerspring core.
Other components used as fillers include polyester fiberfill and insulator pads. The former is filled in the top upholstery layers of the bed, and the latter is placed over the coils.
The insulator pads prevent the upholstery layers of the bed from cupping down into the innerspring.
James Marshall then introduced the first pocketed spring coil mattress that was individually wrapped. This mattress that he introduced in 1899 is commonly known as Marshall Coils.
Today, the typical mattresses that are sold in North America are innerspring. However, hybrid and all-foam beds are rapidly gaining popularity.
The hybrid mattresses usually include both high-end foams like latex or viscoelastic in the comfort layers as well as an innerspring.
Types of Mattresses
If you are planning to replace your old mattress with a new one and visit a brick-and-mortar store to make your purchase, it is likely that an overzealous salesperson will tackle you and encourage you to purchase the most costly product available.
However, by simply lying down on a bed mattress under the watchful eye of a sales representative, and bright, fluorescent light isn’t going to help you understand its true potential.
Additionally, if you are anything like most of the individuals looking for a mattress out there, you might seek out the same product that you bought the last time.
However, we recommend considering all your options this time around.
With countless brands and plenty of material configurations to choose from, searching for an ideal bed product can be an intimidating task.
Here are some common mattress-types categorized by material, size, and firmness and explained in detail that will help you narrow down your choices and find one that is most suitable for you:
Mattresses Type (Material)
Charles Yost manufactured the first gel-infused mattress in 2006. These mattresses are known as third-generation foam.
While most brands aren’t very upfront about the components they use to produce their gel, we know that gel-infused or gel mattresses are manufactured using synthetic materials that offer much more breathability as compared to standard memory foam.
These materials are commonly referred to as phase changing materials.
Gel-infused mattresses are the most popular of all mattress materials as they deliver an ideal combination of breathability and comfort. Following are some other benefits of gel-infused mattresses:
They Provide a Cooler Surface to Sleep On
Gel mattresses enhance air circulation and hence, they are cooler to sleep on. They allow your body heat to escape instead of trapping it in the mattress.
They Spring Back at a Faster Speed
Once pressure is removed from a gel-infused mattress, it returns back to its original form in no time. It shapes around your body faster and helps eliminate motion transfer.
Gel-Infused Mattress Alternatives: Gel-Infused Mattress Pads and Toppers
These pads are a thin covering that allow you to cover your entire bed. They come in different sizes including California king, king, queen, full, and even twin.
A lot of people use a gel-infused mattress pad to enjoy the comfort and cooling properties without purchasing an entirely new mattress.
Typically being thicker than pads, gel-infused mattress toppers offer increased comfort and support.
As with every other mattress material, the price of gel-infused mattresses depends greatly on the brand and size you choose.
Like toppers and pads, the mattresses come in a variety of sizes. While the cost of a gel mattress can vary from $150 to $5,000, it is highly recommended to set your budget at least around $1,000 to end up with a quality bed.
Memory foam mainly consists of polyurethane. It is soft enough to easily mold around your natural body shape.
This happens because the heat of your body and the high-density, low-resilience form of polyurethane reacts together. Memory foam easily returns to its original shape as soon as you remove pressure from it.
The polyurethane used in the manufacturing of memory foam is made by combining hydrocarbons from petroleum and water.
Further, additional chemicals are added to this mixture to produce memory foam.
Other complex procedures, surfactants, fire retardant chemicals, compounds additives and blowing agents are used by manufacturers to create an open cell structure.
Memory foam was initially utilized in aircraft seating. Today, the most common application of memory foam is in beddings. Its softness and high responsiveness makes it ideal for the sleeper to get a good night’s rest.
Here are some other benefits of memory foam mattresses:
They Conform to the Natural Shape of Your Body
In response to excessive heat and pressure, memory foam molds perfectly to the natural shape of your body when you rest on it.
These mattresses enable even distribution of your bodyweight throughout the sleeping surface.
They Prevent Allergy-Causing Dust Mites
A standard mattress is known to contain from 100,000 to 10 million dust mites. On the other hand, a memory foam mattress is created using polyurethane.
The fibers of polyurethane effectively prevent unwanted dust mites that cause allergic reactions.
They Limit Motion Transfer
Memory foam mattresses are a great choice for individuals who sleep with their partner.
This material effectively absorbs any excessive movement occurring on the sleeping surface and decreases the inconvenience caused by it.
They Help with Pain-Relief
These mattresses offer medical advantages such as relief from body pains, soreness and stiffness. Memory foam is ideal for helping your body recover at a quicker pace from wounds and injuries.
It also comes with the ability to displace uncomfortable pressure from your pressure points.
Latex foam is a well-known mattress type. It is popular for its delivery of maximum comfort and durability.
Moreover, it conforms perfectly to the natural shape of the sleeper’s body and bounces back in no time.
Natural latex is specially harvested from rubber trees. The reason that manufacturers choose this process is that there is minimal gas-offing involved and it is all-natural.
Furthermore, there aren’t any harmful chemicals used in the creation of the mattresses.
Difference between Natural Latex and Synthetic Latex
All latex foam mattresses aren’t made from 100% natural components.
Synthetic latex is typically made with a particular type of plastic known as Styrene Buradiene Rubber (SBR). SBR is a common substitute for natural rubber.
While recent studies suggest that SBR is a chemical-free element, there are some controversies related to the subject.
Make sure that the latex mattress you are about to purchase is made with natural latex.
A synthetic mattress will not only lack behind in durability but it also won’t come with the same springiness as the natural one.
Here are some benefits associated with a latex foam mattress:
Latex mattresses allow the sleeper to enjoy an extremely comfortable experience. They are springy and they quickly bounce back.
Natural latex foam is one of the most eco-friendly mattress material types. As mentioned earlier, it is harvested from rubber trees.
This feature is more attractive than ever in this modern world where individuals care about adapting sustainability and purchasing environmentally friendly products.
These mattresses don’t contain harmful chemicals and some of them are even biodegradable.
Airbeds, also known as air mattresses or blow-up beds are inflatable mattresses that are manufactured with textile-reinforced urethane rubber or plastic, or polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
As the deflated mattress is extremely compact, you can easily carry and store it. Airbeds are used for full-time or temporary home use as well as on outdoor camping trips.
These mattresses are either inflated with an electric or manual pump, or by blowing into a valve. Some advanced airbeds get inflated automatically once you open up the valve.
However, inflation occurs only up to a certain pressure and the mattress needs additional inflation by pump or manually.
Here are some benefits of air bed mattresses:
They Can Be Used for Recreational Purposes
When it comes to the recreational applications of air mattresses, they are often referred to as inflatable beach toy, floating mattress, pool lounge, air mat, pool air mat or inflatable swimming pool.
These toys have an air-sac pillow and multiple (typically 4-5) tubes running its total length.
While these toys certainly fit into the category of air mattresses, they are typically not built as strongly and they might not stay inflated all night.
They Provide Several Health Benefits
Air mattresses can potentially offer some pain-relief and also help improve the quality of life for individuals who suffer from backache.
Air bed mattresses are capable of adjusting its firmness to accommodate different body weights, shapes and sizes. This feature can greatly advance the healing process of the sleeper.
Air bed mattresses are also sometimes utilized to protect bedridden individuals from painful pressure sores that can give rise to life-threatening ulcers.
Furthermore, there are certain air mattresses available in the market which have been manufactured without the use of VOC-releasing materials and other toxic elements.
A waterbed, also commonly known as a floatation mattress or a water mattress is a mattress or bed filled with water.
These mattresses are usually constructed with soft polyvinyl chloride or similar materials. You can easily repair your bed with any vinyl repair kit.
There are primarily two kinds of waterbeds; soft-sided and hard-sided beds.
A soft-sided waterbed consists of a sturdy rectangular frame of foam with a water-containing mattress inside.
The foam is then zippered inside a fabric casing. Soft-sided waterbeds look like conventional beds and they are specially designed to fit particular furniture items.
The platform that a soft-sided waterbed is placed on usually looks like a typical box spring or foundation and sits on top of a reinforced metal frame.
A hard-sided waterbed, on the other hand, consists of a rectangular wooden frame with a water-containing mattress placed inside it.
The frame rests on a plywood deck that is then placed on a platform.
History of Waterbeds
Early waterbeds and many cost-effective modern water mattresses come with a single water chamber.
Every time the water mass is disturbed in these free flow mattresses there is noticeable wave action. Once the disturbance occurs, the water then needs some time to stabilize.
The more advanced waterbeds employed wave-reducing methods that included interconnected water chambers and fiber batting.
Modern waterbeds that are priced at a higher cost contain a mixture of water and air chambers that are usually interconnected.
Water mattresses are normally heated. The temperature is set to personal preference and is controlled using a thermostat.
Typically, a heating pad consumes an average of 150 to 400 watts of power. The usage might vary significantly depending on bedding, insulation, use, temperature and other related factors.
Following are the three different types of waterbeds:
Waveless mattresses contain multiple layers of baffles and/or fiber inserts to control the motion of the water and offer maximum support.
High-quality waveless mattresses feature additional layers located in the center third of the bed. This mechanism is known as special lumbar support.
Semi-waveless mattresses contain a few baffles and/or fiber inserts to control the motion of the water and deliver maximum support.
Free Flow Mattresses
Free flow mattresses, also referred to as full-wave mattresses contain only water. They do not come with any additional fiber inserts or baffles.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Waterbeds
Waterbeds can be comfortable and useful for some and at the same time dangerous for others.
The pressure-minimizing and form-fitting nature of the waterbed is its main feature that is found the most attractive.
This is a win-win for individuals seeking mere comfort and removal of excessive pressure from the spine.
Water mattresses are extremely easy to clean. It is practically impossible for dead skin particles and dirt to penetrate into the bed as they can be easily wiped away with a vinyl cleaner or cloth.
The fabric casing of the mattress can be easily removed and washed.
Hybrid mattresses are a combination of the best features and properties of at least two different types of sleeping surfaces.
The main objective of a hybrid mattress is to provide the sleeper with a more comfortable and personalized feel.
While the configurations and combinations of the materials utilized in these beds differ among various manufacturers and brands, most hybrid beds contain metal coils similar to those used in conventional innerspring mattresses.
Being wrapped in fabric pockets, the individual coils offer additional support.
They also help in reducing both the motion transfer caused by tossing and turning sleeping partners and noise from excessively squeaky springs.
Hybrid beds come with one or more layers of polyurethane, latex or memory foam.
These layers help relieve pressure on the hips, shoulders, neck and back to provide the user with a good night’s rest.
The coil springs in these mattresses give it a more defined shape and an overall bouncy feel.
Moreover, most hybrid mattresses come with a base layer with pocketed coils that provide a flat and even sleeping surface, ideal for side sleepers.
Following are some additional benefits of hybrid mattresses:
The topmost comfort layers in latex and gel hybrid mattresses diffuse heat away effectively from the sleeper’s body.
In result, the user gets to enjoy a more comfortable and cooler sleeping experience.
Hybrid mattresses usually come with superior edge support systems. They provide a larger useable sleeping surface than that of a conventional mattress.
Most hybrid beds include coil springs; therefore, they offer maximum body support. This results in reduced back, joint and neck pain for sleepers.
Mattresses Type (Size)
Standard mattress sizes and standard bed sizes are interconnected and they both vary from country to country.
The size of a mattress may also vary according to the degree of ornamentation and size of the bed frame.
Names and dimensions considerably vary worldwide, with most countries and continents having their own terminologies and standards.
Moreover, it is also possible that two mattresses that are of the same nominal size have slightly varying dimensions.
This can occur due to the amount of padding, support type and manufacturing tolerances. Mattresses are generally rectangular.
However, more customized shapes can be obtained by specially placing an order (for instance circular mattresses).
The choice of an appropriate mattress size can depend on:
- Body shape and size, personal preference (either small or large) and preferred sleeping position
- Whether the mattress is intended to be shared between two partners or used by a single sleeper
- The amount of space available inside the room you are planning to place your mattress in
Buying common mattress sizes might give you an increased availability for purchasing bedsheets.
Many mattress covers today have some leeway built into them and are stretchy enough to fit several mattress sizes.
While all the above factors allow you to find a suitable product that fulfills all your personal needs, larger mattresses do tend to be more expensive than smaller ones.
Some recommend that the size of a mattress should be at least 6 inches (15 cm) longer than the sleeper’s height.
Furthermore, the criteria to selecting the right size for a double bed is said to be such that the bed provides two sleeping partners enough room to easily lie on their backs with both their hands crossed behind their head without their elbows making contact.
The naming standards on various mattress sizes, as well as their corresponding actual measurements, might vary across national bed standards.
One example of such nomenclature is the names of mattress sizes like King, Queen, and Twin size.
Sometimes additional adjectives are combined with the names to divide the naming standards further. These adjectives might include long, extra long, wide, extra wide, narrow, and so on.
Let’s take a King size mattress for example. The measurements vary from country to country as follows:
- 76 in × 80 inches (193 cm × 203 cm) in the US
- 72 in × 85 inches (183 cm × 216 cm) in India
- 72 in × 80 inches (183 cm × 203 cm) in Australia
- 72 in × 75 inches (183 cm × 191 cm) in Singapore and Malaysia
- 71 in × 79 inches (180 cm × 200 cm) in Indonesia
- 71 in × 75 inches (180 cm × 190 cm) in Portugal (Also available in 195 and 200 cm – 77 and 79 inches)
- 65 in × 80 inches (165 cm × 203 cm) in New Zealand
- 60 in × 80 inches (150 cm × 200 cm) in the UK
Due to the aforementioned potential reasons of confusion and growth in international trade, mattress sizes are becoming more and more standardized with time.
Standard North American Mattress Sizes
While mattress sizes are usually described using non-numeric labels such as Queen or King, they are defined in inches.
Early mattresses were mostly described as doubles or twins but larger mattresses were introduced in the market by manufacturers in the mid 1940s.
These mattresses were later standardized as king and queen and they made a significant impact on the bed market in the 1950s and 1960s.
Following are the standard North American mattress sizes explained:
Single or Twin-Size Mattress
Single or twin-size mattresses are also referred to as bunk-size. They are measured at 38.5 X 74.5 inches (98 X 189 cm).
Twin XL-Size Mattress
Twin XL-size mattresses are commonly available in college dormitories. They are also used for King sized beds that are split adjustable where each half is twin XL-size and moves independently.
Twin XL mattresses are measured at 38.5 X 79.5 inches (98 X 202 cm).
Double or Full-Size Mattress
A double or full-size mattress in the North America is measured at 53.5 X 74.5 inches (136 X 189 cm).
A queen mattress in the North America is measured at 60 X 79.5 inches (152 X 202 cm).
King size mattresses are measured at 76 X 79.5 inches (193 X 202 cm) in North America.
California King Mattress
A California King-size mattress, also known as Western King or King Long is measured at 72 X 83.5 inches (183 X 212 cm).
Mattresses Type (Firmness)
A futon bedding set consists of a duvet and a mattress. Both elements of a complete futon set are flexible enough to be aired and folded.
Therefore, you can easily store it in a large closet when not in use. This allows you to utilize the available space for several other purposes.
Traditionally, futon beds are used on a particular type of mat known as tatami.
This mat is used as a flooring material and it offers a softer base for your bedding as compared to most hard flooring types such as stone or wood.
Users are required to fold their futon beds daily and regularly air them in the sun.
These maintenance procedures will help prevent growth of mold and mildew and also keep your mattress free of dust mites.
Western-style futons resemble wooden sofa beds. They are often too thick to be foldable as they come in the dimensions of a typical western mattress.
Following are some benefits of futon mattresses:
A Japanese futon bed can be folded and packed in your vehicle. You can easily carry it with you on outdoor trips or simply store it in a large cupboard when not in use.
Easy to Clean
Unlike conventional mattresses, futons are much easier to clean. They don’t build up large amounts of hair, dust mites, dead skin, and dirt.
In order to clean futon mattresses, all you need to do is pick them up and knock any excess dust out of them. Then, you leave them out in the sun to dry and you are done!
Japanese futon mattresses cost way less than conventional mattresses. With a decent budget, you can easily buy a 100% organic and hand-made product.
A spring mattress consists of several metal coils that are suspended in other layers of the mattress. They offer a lot of bounce and support for individuals with back ailments.
One potential drawback with the construction of spring mattresses is that it doesn’t distribute the body weight of the user evenly across the sleeping area.
This can result in nighttime discomfort for the sleeper.
Core of the Mattress
The core of a spring mattress provides support to the sleeper’s body.
The cores of modern spring mattresses are often referred to as innerspring.
They are made up of coils or steel coil springs. One other factor that determines support and firmness is the gauge of the coil springs.
There are four different types of spring mattress coils explained below:
Marshall coils are also referred to as pocket springs, or encased or wrapped coils.
They are knot-less, barrel-shaped, thin-gauge coils that are encased individually in fabric pockets. Fabric pockets are normally made from non-woven, manmade fiber.
These coils are sometimes pre-compressed which helps eliminate motion transfer in mattresses and makes them firmer.
More or less, the springs work independently as they are not wired together. The weight on one spring coil doesn’t have an impact on its neighbor coil.
Continuous coils are an innerspring configuration in which a single piece of wire is used to form rows of coils.
These coils work in a hinging effect that is quite similar to the effect of offset coils, explained next.
Offset coils are a type of hourglass coils in which the top and bottom convolution portions are flattened.
The innerspring unit is then assembled by flattening these segments of wire and hinging them together using helical wires.
The unit’s hinging effect is designed in such a manner that the mattress conforms to the natural shape of the user’s body.
Bonnell coils are a round-top, hourglass-innerspring, knotted unit. Those coils are one of the most common and oldest spring coils.
They were first adapted in the 19th century from buggy seat springs and they are still popular among mid-priced beddings.
Following are some benefits of spring mattresses:
Spring mattresses provide better ventilation due to plenty of space between each coil. Therefore, they keep the sleeping surface cool and dry at all times for the user.
Spring mattresses offer maximum bounce. Once the pressure is removed from the mattress, it almost instantly returns back to its original shape.
Improved Edge Support
The coils in a spring mattress extend all the way to its edge; therefore, the spring mattress allows you to sit easily on the edge while you are putting your shoes on or are getting dressed.
Finally wrapping up the guide to different types of quality mattresses available in the market, we hope you can make an informed decision when the time comes to replace your old sleeping surface.
Use the aforementioned information to find a mattress type based on its material, size and firmness that is right for your needs.