Most of us get confused when it comes to buying a mattress, even if it is buying offline i.e. at a retail store. You might have always wondered how to choose a mattress that is perfect for you. The sales guy at the store will pitch with typical “sales terms” which neither a customer nor he himself would understand because he most probably wouldn’t know nothing of the materials and processes used in the mattress manufacture. The world of mattresses is so complex that if you just Google the word “mattress”, a plethora of mattresses with fancy images and types will appear. I will probably need to get a degree to just understand the pros and cons of a mattress.
Source: Wikipedia, under the Creative Commons licence
Now before we begin, We should know the following facts about mattresses:
Fact: A hard mattress is not a good mattress for your body. A mattress should be medium firm or medium soft
Reason: Hard mattress doesn’t touch your body uniformly when you lie on it and hence leads to pressure point development and back ache
Fact: Spring mattress is just a perceived ‘luxury’ mattress but not comfortable in the long run. It is only good for touch and feel but is the worst for your back and spine. Specially, bonnel spring mattresses
Reason: The biggest problem area is the uneven hardness on the sleeping surface. It is harder where the spring coil is present and softer where it is not present. This issue is more dominant when the mattress is used for a few months
Fact: A mattress need not to be flipped every month or so. A good mattress is sturdy enough to take care of itself
Reason: If the density and compression set of material used is good, the mattress should be sturdy and doesn’t require flipping at all
Fact: Memory foam mattress doesn’t produce heat when you sleep on it if the cells of foam are open enough to make it breathable
Reason: Irrespective of the kind of mattress, the heat issue is taken care by the cell size of the foam used. Technically, it is dependent on the mattress manufacturer to decide upon the cell size and define breathability
Fact: Designs on mattress top – basically known as quilting (squares and triangles) are just to lure buyers with aesthetic appeal but that is not good for your back
Reason: Quilting leads to unevenness on the sleeping surface and hence the uneven support on mattress back.
Image source: Pinterest
The most basic thing that one should consider before buying a mattress is – Uniform support to the back! All other features and bells and whistles are secondary. Think of buying a good looking spring mattress at a hefty price from a reputed brand and then just suffering back pain every time you go to sleep. Nothing could be worse than that. Following are the parameters to look for when you research online for a mattress or when you talk to a salesperson when you go to a retail store:
Every body type is unique. Some might like sleeping on a harder surface and some might like softer ones. But as a thumb rule, Comfort should not be based on the immediate reaction to when you go lie down on the bed. It should be measured by when you wake up in the morning after 7-8 hours of sleep. How do you feel? If you feel uneasiness, or the need to stretch your body, or back ache then the mattress is uncomfortable in one way or the other. Hence, you need to spend some time on the mattress before you decide whether the mattress is comfortable or not.
Support is not only related to the mattress being able to touch all of your body points but also on how much it pushes you upwards when lie on it. In a nutshell, is the mattress taking the shape of your body when you lie down and not pushing you back to come back to its original shape? That is support! It helps you remove pain points on your body and maintain uniform blood flow throughout in night. The thumb rule to make the decision on – If you toss and turn too much in the night – the mattress is not supporting you well. Memory foam mattresses are the best in such cases.
This is nothing but whether the mattress produces heat while sleeping. Remember that there is a difference between a mattress producing heat and a mattress adapting to body temperature. If your mattress is breathable, it should help you achieve room temperature or maintain body temperature. This helps you in letting your skin breathe which in turn means being more comfortable. Many blogs write that memory foam mattress produce heat. However, it is actually the mattress adapting to the body temperature and not really generating heat. This could also be due to poorly made memory foam mattresses which use adulterated foam as raw material.
This is defined by the density and compression set of the material used. Pure latex, high density foam and pocket spring mattresses with good density and gaege are good for durability. Coir, bonded foam and cotton mattresses are the worst on this parameter.
Source: Google, labeled for reuse
This is one of the factors which is ignored by most of us when we purchase nice looking mattresses with quilting designs (triangular and square shaped stitched patterns) on it. Think of if in this way – if you happen to spill a cup of tea or your kid urinates on the mattress, there is no way to wash the mattress cover since it is permanently fixed to the mattress. You need a cover which is removable from the mattress and washable, which helps you maintain hygiene for longer durations. A mattress protector if you have one, takes care of the problem but it blocks the feather touch of a nice pure cotton cover that comes along with the mattress.
So which type of mattress should buy? Memory foam, of course!
- Memory foam improves sleep, according to Kathy R. Gromer, MD, sleep specialist, the Minnesota Sleep Institute in Minneapolis
- It relieves hurting pressure points
- Your body heat softens it at appropriate points
- It supports the body along its natural curves and lines