Mattresses are designed to provide the support and comfort you need to relax and rest. If you have had your mattress for a while, you may be wondering if it is time to buy a new one. Research shows that people sleep better, suffer less back pain and experience fewer symptoms of stress when sleeping on newer beds. In general, your sleep quality improves if your sleep surface relieves pressure on joints and other areas of the body. Matching your specific comfort needs with the right product is a very subjective process. Mattresses are made with a variety of materials and technologies to deliver support systems that meet the broad array of consumers’ needs, tastes, and budgets.
Mattresses should be evaluated every seven years for quality and support. If you haven’t shopped for a new mattress recently, there are many options to choose from. The following provides basic information on the different types of mattresses available today so that you are better equipped to choose a mattress that meets your needs.
An innerspring mattress uses a steel coil support system. Manufacturers offer several different types of spring systems, including units with springs connected into a single unit and individually wrapped pocketed coils. Spring shapes, designs, coil gauge, and number of coils in a mattress can vary. The innerspring is covered by padding or upholstery materials, which can include various foams, fiber, and additional layers of smaller steel springs. Coil count can be more arbitrary, but the idea is that the greater the number of coils, the more points of support and greater distribution, thus the better the bed can contour and support the sleeper.
A hybrid mattress combines a steel coil support system with one or more types of foam, such as polyurethane foam, memory (or visco elastic) foam, or latex foam, as well as foams that contain gel or other materials.
Waterbeds use a water chamber as the support system. Manufacturers offer two types of waterbeds: hard-sided and soft-sided beds. A hard-sided waterbed consists of a water chamber inside a rectangular wood frame. A soft-sided waterbed consists of a water chamber inside a rectangular frame of rigid foam, zippered inside a fabric casing. The water chamber is covered by padding or upholstery materials, which can include with various foams and fiber. Both types of beds usually rest on top of a platform. Waterbeds are designed to look like a conventional bed and fit existing bedroom furniture. The water chamber can be “free flow” (in which nothing obstructs the flow of water within the mattress) or “waveless” (in which fiber or baffles limit the water’s motion).
Foam mattresses use one or more types of foam as the support system. The foam may be polyurethane foam, memory (or visco elastic) foam, or latex foam, and can contain gel or other materials. The foam used in such mattresses can be manufactured in a variety of shapes and densities to offer consumers a mattress that has different comfort, feel and heat dissipation features.
Pillow Top Mattress
Pillow top mattresses provide an additional upholstery layer sewn into the top of the mattress. This layer can be made from a variety of fiber and foam materials.
Gel mattresses use a type of foam that contains gel in the product’s support system, upholstery layers, or both. The gel is added to the foam using deferent types of technology. The gel foam can offer consumers different comfort, feel and heat dissipation features.
Air beds use an adjustable air chamber as the support system. Unlike the type of air mattresses used for camping, the air chamber of a residential air bed is covered by padding or upholstery materials, which can include various foams and fiber. Air beds allow you to adjust the firmness, and usually allow each side of the bed to be controlled separately in order to meet the individual and changing needs of couples. Air beds are designed to look like a conventional bed.
Memory Foam (Visco) Mattress
Memory foam (or visco elastic foam) mattresses use a high density polyurethane foam as the support system, in the upholstery layer, or both. This foam has properties that allow it to contour closely to the shape of the sleeper.
Latex mattresses use latex foam as the support system, in the upholstery layers, or both. Latex may be made from plant or petroleum-based materials.
Unlike a stationary foundation or box-spring, an adjustable foundation allows you to bend, elevate or lower various parts of the sleep surface. Many adjustable foundations have dual controls that each partner can use to adjust the sleep surface elevation to meet their individual needs. Most adjustable foundations are powered by an electric motor, but some are manually adjusted. They are designed to look like a conventional foundation when placed in the fully horizontal position. For best results, adjustable foundations should be used with a mattress designed for that purpose.
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