What’s in a Mattress?
Do you actually know what you mattress is made out of? Does it really matter? While you might think that all mattresses are essentially created equally, this is far for the actual truth. What the mattress you buy is made out of is going to significantly affect how long it lasts, how it feels, and what you can actually do with it. Here are the most common mattress compositions and fillings to help answer that burning question, “What’s in a mattress?”
Did you know that some mattress manufacturers will actually put cashmere in their mattresses? This is not an extremely common filling and is usually only going to be found in very high end mattresses. It is a completely natural fiber that is used to increase the density and comfort a mattress. Look for this material in your mattresses, only if you want the very best, most expensive mattress on the market.
Cotton is probably the favorite filling and padding material for most mattresses. It is cheap, easy to obtain, and can actually be very comfortable, depending on how the rest of the mattress is made. Cotton will most often be used to provide a little bit of padding on to of spring mattresses. While not as cushy as something made out of foam, it is definitely still going to provide some bounce. The only real drawback of cotton is that it quickly loses its volume and can become mashed into a very flat and uncomfortable state after only a few years of use, even if you do regularly rotate your mattress. Cheap mattresses will usually be made with cotton fillings. It is unlikely that you will find a mattress that is stuffed entirely with cotton and made from nothing else, simply because of how easily it clumps together and is flattened. It will, however, help to wick moisture away from the body and promote breathability in a mattress.
If you are looking for a natural fiber for your mattress filling, wool is a good option, especially because, unlike untreated cotton, it is natural fire resistant. It can add quite a bit of volume to a mattress, giving it both softness and density. Like cotton, however, over time, it will begin to compact and clump together. This can leave you with a very lumpy mattress, again, even if you regularly rotate it. The breathable nature of this fiber, however, usually make it a good, inexpensive choice.
Memory foam is a relatively new product to hit the mattress market. There are a wide variety of brands who now offer this type of filling, which is essentially supposed to remember your body, so that every time you lay down in that bed, it is as comfortable as it can possibly be. It molds to the body, which can be a huge plus for many sleeper, but which may leave some sleepers feeling like they are being cradled or swaddled by their bed, which can be uncomfortable. There are different types of memory foam, some of which are designed to help regulate the temperature of sleepers and some designed to be more or less dense to provide more or less firmness.
This type of filling is known for being inexpensive, but also both firm and comfortable. It is one of many different types of foams that are used to make mattresses these days. Unlike memory foam, however, that is designed to mold to and remember the shape of your body, this foam is designed to quickly bounce back from any pressure that is placed on it. It has a very long life as a mattress and is known for being antimicrobial and extremely comfortable
Anyone who has seen a commercial for a mattress in the last ten years has probably heard about how supposedly uncomfortable springs are supposed to be. What many people do not realize, however, is that springs are still used in most mattresses, even those that are comprised of latex, polyurethane, and latex foam. Many mattresses have a substrate of springs, upon which a barrier, and then a layer of foam or cotton or wool is placed. The springs are designed to give the mattress structure, while the topping is designed to make the mattress soft enough to sleep on. Very rarely will you find mattresses that are comprised solely of springs anymore.
Not every mattress that you find is going to have springs or one of these other fillings. For example, if you buy a futon mattress, you are likely going to find that it contains absolutely no springs, as springs do not lend themselves to the repeated bending and flattening that goes along with being a futon mattress. It is also possible to find mattresses that are one large, solid, piece of foam. The density of that foam is what will dictate whether your mattress is firm and supportive or very soft and warm.
What Type of Mattress Should You Buy?
A mattress is a highly personal piece of furniture. Some people will only be able to get a good night’s sleep when they have a firm mattress. Other can only sleep on a very soft mattress. Before making a purchase, you need to take into consideration any allergies you might have (for example, if you are allergic to latex, you should not buy a mattress that is made out of latex foam) and your sleeping preferences, which include position and the overall softness or supportiveness of your mattress.