Mattress Buying Guide
Your Basic Choices for Mattresses
You have decided that you are in the market for a new mattress set. And kudos to you for doing research before you head out to make that purchase. There are quite a few things to learn about to prepare for this purchase. Knowing your basic choices for mattresses will be a benefit as you begin to shop.
The support the mattress provides your sleeping body is of utmost importance. The construction of the mattress is essential to this support.
Support for your body depends on three components:
- Coil type - Coils are made of steel. They vary from mattress to mattress by their gauge. The heavier the gauge the more support the mattress will give you.
- Coil count - There can be from 300 to 700 coils in a mattress. In general, more coils equals more support.
- Connections between coils - Interconnecting wires keep the coils in their proper place in the mattress. To few interconnecting wires can allow coils to become mis-aligned.
The comfort for your body depends on two components used in the construction of the mattress.
- Upholstery - The upholstery is what you feel next to your body. It is the layers of foam and fabric that separate you from the coils. You may choose to feel like you are sleeping on a feather bed in which case you should look for the mattress you like in a "pillow top" or "plush" design. If you like a less plush feel simply choose the top with the least amount of upholstery.
- Edge materials - Sturdy edge materials are a must. A mattress should give full support even on the edge. You should never roll off a bed because the edge is weak.
Do you prefer a mattress with soft support or firm support?
A soft, fluffy mattress can feel so comforting when you first lie down. You sink right into it and it seems to cuddle your body in loving arms. Ah, soothing comfort. Buyer beware. . . you may not feel quite so coddled when morning comes. Often too soft a bed doesn't provide your body the support it needs. Shoulders and hips are out of alignment which can result in you waking up feeling stiff, achy and unrested. Some people advocate sleeping with a sheet of plywood under the mattress. This may be necessary for some severe back problems or injuries but it is not necessary for the average person with a decent mattress. True, a firm mattress is best for support, but it should have enough softness to conform to the contours of your body. It should support, not confine.
Steel spans in foundation - Steel spans in the box spring help give the mattress its full useful life. The steel spans make the primarily wood box spring more sturdy. Remember that the box spring is very important as it can dramatically increase the life expectancy of your mattress. Of course, you want your mattress to last as long as possible. When shopping, look for mattresses with steel reinforced box springs, which will add to the longevity.
Typical length and type of warranty - Most warranties for brand name mattresses are 10 or more years. The more expensive the mattress the longer the warranty tends to be. Warranties are pro-rated, meaning that if a 10 year warranty mattress fails in the 8th year you will get 20% of the purchase price applied to your next mattress.
Price versus features/benefits - As an educated consumer who is doing some research prefer shopping, you want to get the best value for your dollar. With an informed mattress purchase, you get what you pay for. Know what your mattress needs are before you spend the money. If you are looking for a mattress for a guest room that is only used 3 times a year, there is no reason to buy a premium mattress. If you are looking for a mattress that you will sleep on every night for the next ten years, there is reason to buy a premium mattress. This is not the time to be stingy. So much of your quality of life depends on the quality of your sleep. And your sleep quality is often dependent on the mattress you choose. The sweet spot in purchase price of a mattress tends to be in the $500 - $700 range for a queen set. Since this is the price range at which most mattresses are sold, manufacturers ensure that units in this range are of excellent quality. If you are looking to ensure that you will have luxurious sleep for the next decade or more, you should purchase a top of the line mattress.
Types of Mattresses
Air bed technology has made its mark in the mattress industry. Air mattresses, although often thought of as temporary bed options for camping or guests' overnights, are also options for full time use in the bedroom. Air bed mattresses have air chambers that are adjustable to your personal preference and choice. Typically, both sides are controlled separately so you and your partner can have the comfort and support you chooses. The mattress will have a base support and then air chambers to provide this comfort.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam was developed in 1966 by NASA researchers and was released to the public domain in the early 1980s. The manufacturing process was difficult and expensive so it was not widely used. Memory foam was initially most commonly used in medical settings for cushions, pillows and mattresses. Since the manufacturing process has become less expensive, more mattresses have found their way into market What is memory foam? It is polyurethane with added chemicals to increase its density and viscosity. It is sometimes referred to as low-resilience polyurethane foam. Memory foam softens as it reacts to body heat, allowing it to mold to the body's shape. The mattress will return to its original shape slowly. Because of its ability to mold to the body, the memory foam mattress lacks pressure points and helps alleviate back and neck pain for many users. Another advantage over traditional mattresses is that memory foam mattresses are anti-microbial and resist dust mites.
Latex mattresses are becoming more and more common. Often used in mattress toppers, latex is now used as the mattress itself. For one thing, latex mattresses are a natural, "green" option. Latex mattresses are also hypo-allergenic, and like memory foam, anti-microbial and resistant to dust mites. But ultimately when it comes to mattresses, comfort is usually the top reason. Latex mattresses are very dense, but also very comforting to the body providing a comfortable sleep for the user. Latex mattresses are made from, you guessed it, latex. Not all latex is the same. Latex can be natural made from the sap of the rubber tree or synthetic made from petrochemicals and to be even more confusing it is more commonly a mix of synthetic and natural latex, a blend.
Water beds were made popular in the United States in the 1970s. Water mattresses are mattresses filled with water -- simply that. Some water beds are singles chambers and rest in a wood frame. This allows for the water to flow freely throughout the mattress, which can be very comfortable until your partner rolls over or gets up to get out of bed sending you on a wave ride. More expensive water beds have separate chambers and use foam, batting or even air to create a more comfortable and supportive mattress.