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I split information on mattress into two pages.
See mattresses in products for specific brands, models and selection criteria.
Why a mattress is important | Considerations in selecting a mattress | Construction | Manufacturers/Prices | Types | Problems with memory foam | Mattress Firmness | Green Mattresses | Glossary of Terms
Why Mattresses are important:
Signs you need a new mattress:
Mattresses are generally composed of two main sections 1. A support section on the bottom 2. A comfort section on the Top 3. A fabric cover (ticking) The covering over comfort section may have some padding also. Foundation - A box spring or platform that the whole thing sits on. Usually 8 inches. There are several types: Support Innerspring - Wire coils or interconnected springs Foam (Polyurethane or latex) Adjustable air like the Sleep Number beds Comfort - Innerspring mattresses traditionally had a quilted batten fabric that is frequently synthetic, but almost all have foam comfort layers now. - Foam mattresses usually have one or more layers of a less dense foam. They frequently have a memory foam top layer - Hybrid mattresses are technically innersprings mattresses with a foam comfort section Air beds have a foam confort layerSee:
What are the different construction styles of mattresses?
Mattress FAQ - Sleep Train
One of the more complex mattresses is the Summerfield Geneva
Comfort Section: 1/2 Ounce Fr Barrier 1" Poly Foam x 2 1/2" Gel Foam Center Third 7/8" High Density Foam 1.25" Compressed Poly Board 1.5" Insulator Pad Support Section Edge Support System 12 3/4 Gauge Coil System
Novaform 14" Serafina - $1,575
Mattress thickness: 14" Top layer: 3" of gel memory foam for cool, cradling comfort Middle layer: 3" of air channel foam for enhanced air flow Base layer: 8" of base foam for long-lasting support Patented gel-infused memory foam technology Cover: Quilted, plush cover Mattress cover is not removable for washing; spot clean only; follow all manufacturers' care and use instructionsDuxiana Dux 515 - $8,000 is one of the most expensive mattresses.
Top Pad - Support 3,288 interconnected springs (queen)
Major manufactures (Sealy, Serta, and Simmons) make almost identical mattresses to be sold by retailers who re-name the particular models, so it is difficlut to do comparison-shopping.
W L Crib 28" x 52" Twin or single 38-39" x 74" Full or double 53-54" x 75" Queen 60" x 80" King 75-76" x 80" California king, 72" x 84"
New mattresses designs add extra padding and have greater thickness. This will require deep pocket sheets to fit correctly.
* STANDARD DEPTH: 7 to 9 inches * DEEP MATTRESS: 10 to 15 inches * EXTRA DEEP: 15 inches to as deep as 22 inches Deep Pocket Sheets are required for mattresses over 14" deep. Sheet pocket sizes 7 inches to 14 inches (standard), 15 inches (deep), and 16 inches to 22 inches (extra deep).
Mattress Firmness -
Side sleepers need a softer mattress, back sleepers need a firmer one.
See Best mattress and beds for Side/Back/Stomach Sleepers Reviews | NerdSleep.com Back Pain:
Traditional wisdom was that a firm mattress was best for your back. This was when soft mattresses allowed sag so your back was curved. What you want is a mattress which allows you back to rest in a normal position. You want it to avoid sag but to be soft enough for your shoulders and hips to sink in when on your side. New mattresses use things like independent coils, multiple density layering and memory foam to avoid sag and still have form fitting capabilities. A medium firm mattress is usually best.
If you sleep on your side you need a softer mattress to allow your shoulders and hips to sink in. If you sleep on your back (better for people with back problems) a firmer mattress will work.
There are pros and cons to waterbeds.
If you lie on your stomach, the water bed allows you to increase the sway or the sag of the back.
Indentation Load Deflection (ILD) (ILD - Pounds to compress a 4" thick sample to 3" (25%))
Foam Density, the weight of a 12" x 12" x 12" block, is related
Consumer Reports found that most mattresses advertised as firm were actually Medium or Soft.
In Consumer Report tests, a higher coil count or firmer mattress didn't necessairly reduce sagging.
High density open-cell foam is most popular for mattresses.
Some companies make what they call natural memory foam.
The Denver Mattress Company makes
Organic HeveaPUR® latex is resilient, temperature moderating, and naturally antimicrobial to reduce pressure points while you sleep, year after year. HeveaPUR® sleep system! Derived from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree.
Essetia has what they call a natural memory foam made with latex and other natural ingredients.
Keetsa replaces 12% of the petroleum in their memory foam with castor oil.
Others solve the heat dissipation problem of memory foam in various ways.
Foam - All foams are basically open-cell.
Density - Technically the weight per unit of volume (specific gravity). Density is commonly misused to mean the hardness or softness of a material, specifically in our case, sponge. Many times someone will ask "What is the density of the material?" What they really mean, in most cases, is "What is the hardness or softness?" The correct term for the hardness or softness of a piece of cellular rubber is compression deflection.
Compression Deflection - Correct Measure of hardness. The weight required to compress a 1 cu. in. cube 25%. Different companies use different kinds of Visco Elastic foam also called memory foam, slow recovery or Swiss Foam. They seem to be based on the foam developed by NASA (see below), but I haven't seen any comparisons. e.g. Isotonic uses something called Conform and ViscoLux. HealthyBack uses a foam from Obus Form
Developed for NASA to relieve extreme G-force pressures. Memory Foam molds to your body contours to help prevent tossing and turning during the night. When you lie down on this amazing material, the heat and pressure sensitive foam reacts to your body's weight and temperature, so that it molds to your exact body shape. This means that whether you sleep on your back, stomach or side, your weight is evenly distributed and your spine remains in a neutral position.
Tests have shown that these mattresses actually improve sleep and increase the level of deep sleep, so you wake up more alert, refreshed and better rested. Recommended by over 25,000 medical professionals worldwide. Naturally treated cover protects you from harmful allergens, resists dust mites, and removes easily for washing.
Problems with memory foam:
No air circulation:
From: "Roseanne McArdle, sleep consultant" <Roseanne@abed.com>See: Mattresses and Sleep, a pseudo-technical discussion of sleep by a company selling memory foam mattresses
Around 2005 there were reports of toxic chemicals in memory foam mattresses and a class action law suit was filed.
Note: The amount of formaldehyde emitted by a mattress is probably less than that in normal homes which comes from particle board, carpeting, paints, even your comuter. But it concerns many because you are spending 8 hours a day with your face right next to it.
Comforpedic by Simmons uses a new advanced level of memory foam called, NXG. In its manufacturing process, the foam is created in a VPF (variable pressure chamber) which removes the notorious, yet, unavoidable chemical irritants from the product.
Health Benefits Latex is antimicrobial and dust mite resistant, making it perfect for pulmonary allergy sufferers. It's ecologically-friendly and has no chemical properties or detrimental impacts to the environment.
Designed for breathability with an open-cell structure and special "pin core" construction, latex allows for ventilation of body heat. It also keeps moisture from building up next to your body. Aluminum core pins transfer curing heat into the foam. As a result, thousands of "pin-core" air-channels enable natural ventilation of the final product.
Types of Latex:
Some companies allow you to select the material for each layer. Some people will combine Talaly and dunlop in different layers.
Blended latex will have a percentage of natural latex mixed with a petroleum based material called SBR that will off gas.
Latex vs Polyurethane Foam:
Latex lasts longer up to 20 years. More exact pinpointed support than memory foam. Does not release the harmful chemicals Made with a much cleaner and less energy intense process Latex is more expensiveMany people don't enjoy the feeling of memory foam. Some say that memory foam mattresses give a "quicksand" feeling and they express difficulty moving on the bed. [us-mattress.com
Spring vs Foam:
In consumer reports 2015 tests innerspring mattress got marginally higher scores.
In trying mattresses recently, I found the spring mattresses with independent coils slightly better.
Spring mattresses will make it easier for heavy people to get out of bed.
At Spring Mattress vs Memory Foam Mattress -| Essentia they claim foam mattresses give you better pressure relief among other things.
At What is better, a foam mattress or a spring mattress? - Quora they have contradictory reports.
At Sleep Like The Dead they say
Most mattresses have some kind of polyurethane foam, which is a petroleum product. They are either entirely foam or innerspring with foam tops. Many have memory foam which is polyurethane with additional chemicals.
Green mattresses use natural latex harvested from rubber trees for their foam. It is more durable and the production process is much cleaner than that from polyurethane foam. It is also more breathable and less flammable.
Petroleum foam produces harmful gasses (which dissipate over time) and have a fire retardant chemical, which is toxic, added.
Beware of what some manufacturers call "organic mattresses", they may have some organic cotton, but that's all.
Sleep Like The Dead compares mattress types for sex.
Latex does best overall, but spring mattresses are close and have a bouncy rating of A- compared to a C+ for latex.
Nest advertises the Love Bed as "A bed engineered with your love life and your sleep life in mind."
How to tryout a mattress:
Go ahead and take your shoes off and lie down. Try out as many mattresses as you can stand. For each one you try, give yourself a minimum of 5 minutes on your back and 5 minutes on each side - and take 5 on your stomach too if that's how you tend to sleep.
Be thinking about how it feels on your pressure points (your head, neck and shoulders, hips and heals). Does it give good support for the curve of your spine? Is it too firm or too cushy? How does it feel when you roll over?
Tryouts aren't usually an option at places like Costco and BJs, so checking return policies before you buy is extra important.
It can take 30-45 days to adjust to a new sleeping surface. It is not unusual to take some time to get used to a new mattress and experience some soreness..
Essentia Organic Mattresses & Natural Memory Foam Mattresses
Naturepedic Natural & Organic Mattress, Luxury Organic Mattress & Organic Bedding
Organic Mattresses, Natural Latex Mattresses, and Organic Bedding | Savvy Rest
Green Mattress Stores in the SF bay area:
Essentia - 1799-D Fourth St, Berkeley
Keetsa - 68 Division Street, San Francisco
The Natural Mattress Store - 1243 Sutter St, San Francisco
Nest bedding - Nest 367 9th st, San Francisco
Organic Mattresses - Toxin Free Natural Latex | stlbeds.com My green mattress Coyuchi Organic Mattresses | Dax Stores
Big John's - Boston MA Healthy Back
Back Be Nimble Healthy Foundations