An average American spends about 26 years of their life in bed. Even more surprising is that they spend an additional seven years trying to get sleep. Yet, most of us don't prepare adequately in the bedroom – when it comes to mattresses, that is.
Not that we don't recognize the importance of a comfortable mattress. A National Sleep Foundation poll revealed that 92% of people say a comfy mattress is crucial for a good night's sleep.
Your mattress can affect your life in many ways. Several studies show that a good quality mattress improves sleep quality, which in turn enhances your health and well-being. By quality, we mean a mattress that has the right:
All these qualities are mostly influenced by one thing: the inside of the mattress – or the materials that makeup the mattress.
What's inside a mattress?
Many mattress materials exist today. If you cut different types of mattresses in half, you'll notice several layers of high-quality fabrics, gels, and foam mattress materials. You may also notice continuous coils, offset coils, springs, and other materials.
Hybrid mattresses contain layers of foam or other materials like latex, wool, or cotton along with an innerspring coil system. Cotton mattresses are great examples of hybrid mattresses. They bring together wool, organic cotton, and pockets micro coils to deliver a blend of edge, bounce, pressure relief, temperature regulation, and edge support.
All foam mattresses, on the other hand, consist of foam layers from top to bottom – no springs. They rely on air trapped within aerated substances to provide bounce and support. Hybrids differ from all-foam mattresses since they include spring coils that help stabilize the mattresses and offer edge support.
But not all mattresses have layers inside. Some, like an air mattress for instance, will only have air. So if you split it into two, you may see nothing – other than free space.
Does the inside of your mattress matter?
The short answer is yes. The inside of your mattress matters greatly. The inside of the mattress determines a lot of things, like:
- Bounce – A bouncy mattress makes it easy to get in and out of bed. On the other end of the spectrum is shock absorbency. Innerspring mattresses are bouncy, while foam ones are more shock absorbing.
- Movement absorbency – The ability to absorb movement. This is particularly important when you share bed with a restless sleeper.
- Temperature – or how hot or cool your mattress will be.
- Support – this is especially important if you have back issues. The mattress content will determine the amount of support your spine gets.
- Anti-microbial and dust mite resistant properties.
- Chances of off-gassing - coil mattresses have a thin layer of material over the spring and this translates to lower instances of a distinct odor. Many users complain about off-gassing in latex and foam.
- How long the mattress will last.
- Whether or not it requires a box spring.
With that in mind, let’s look at what’s inside of your mattress and why it matters.
What’s inside of your mattress?
Mattresses are made up of different layers:
- Support layer
- Comfort layer
These layers can contain a range of materials designed to provide comfort and support. Let’s break them down further.
The support layer
This is the main part of your mattress. It's what gives your body the support it needs and what determines the firmness. The support system consists of springs, foam, or both.
Spring systems fall into two main categories:
- Standard sprung system (Bonnell or open coil system).
- Pocket sprung system (pocketed coil).
The foam layer may include layers of different foam densities and/or springs.
The comfort layers are the top layers and the part of the mattress that's closest to the body. They are often a few inches thick and cover the support layer on all sides. The Comfort layer may consist of a range of materials designed to provide maximum comfort. These include:
Memory foam mattresses
A memory foam layer uses body heat and pressure to deliver a high degree of contouring. This provides a targeted pressure point relief while offering remarkable comfort and support.
- Does the best body contouring and pressure point relief job.
- It lets you feel that you're sinking into the mattress.
- Comes in varying firmness – soft, medium, and firm.
- It has very slow responsiveness and little to no bounce because of its soft and conforming nature.
- While it's not enough to be used as a support core, it can enhance support when combined with other top-quality and very supportive layers.
- Offers a spinal support system.
- Less breathable and can raise body temperature and make you hot.
Latex foams have a quick response. They are suitable if you are looking for contouring pressure point relief without the sinking feeling of memory foam. Latex mattresses have better buoyancy and adjust to your body each time you change your sleep position.
- Doesn't feel very bouncy but responds quickly to position changes and movements. Good for side sleepers.
- Conforms and compresses to the body like memory form. It's soft and pressure relieving.
- Its comfort feels like floating and can come with pillow tops.
- Supports recessed areas of your body and prevents heavier parts from sinking deep into the mattress.
- Breathable and ideal if you sleep hot.
- Its firmness varies based on the type of latex and manufacturing method.
- Expensive compared to other mattress types.
Made of polyurethane and other chemicals, polyurethane foam (PU) layer compresses under pressure and holds the body up. Memory foam softens when heat or pressure is applied. PU is often used to cover other types of foams because it provides good comfort and pressure relief.
- PU compresses under body weight to hold the body up. But if you need more support, you should go for high-density.
- Conforms to the body and provides remarkable comfort. Fills spaces between the mattress and body.
- Responds quickly to movement. Springs back to shape slower than latex but quicker than memory form.
- Comes in varying firmness.
- Tends to breakdown over time, after being compacted to become softer.
This is the last layer of a mattress and covers the comfort and support layers. Covers are plain, tufted, or quilted and are usually made of organic cotton or wool. They may also be:
- Have body temperature regulating abilities
The inside of your mattress matters because it is what determines your level of comfort and quality of sleep. So, whether you go for a for a foam or coil mattress, just make sure that its inside has the right layers.