If reading about mattress construction sounds like a real, ahem, snooze, know this: The way a mattress is made determines how it feels. And how a mattress feels may be the difference between a fitful night and peaceful slumber!
The Big Picture
Two basic types of mattress make up the vast majority of the market: They’re called innerspring and memory foam. Made of steel coils, innerspring is, by far, the most common type. Memory foam, on the other hand, is made from polyurethane or latex foam, and is very dense foam. Memory foam is usually more expensive than innerspring.
Inside an Innerspring Mattress
Coils determine how much support (suspension versus springiness) the mattress will give. Manufacturers may use different types of coil shapes and structures, as well as different amounts of spacing and patterns to affect comfort. The next layer, top padding, isusually made from polyurethane foam. The outer layer (or ticking) is the material bound to the top padding with stitching. The way that ticking and top padding are attached influences the mattress’s overall feel. Large, wide patterns will create a cushioned feel, which smaller patterns feel tighter and firmer. Generally, the more coils an innerspring mattress contains, the more comfortable it’s bound to be—but if the number of coils is over 390, then you’re not likely to notice the difference, so don’t bother paying extra.
Inside a Memory Foam Mattress
Especially attractive to people with chronic pain conditions, memory foam mattresses consist of, essentially, very dense foam. When you lie on a foam mattress, your body heat softens the material, allowing it to “mold” to your body. One big advantage: In bigger beds, a memory foam mattress won’t shift as much as an innerspring when one partner turns or moves. So if you’re often disturbed by your partner’s tossing and turning in the middle of the night, it might be time to invest in a memory foam mattress. But one con: Because these mattresses mold to your body, they can absorb a lot of heat and make you feel hotter while you sleep. Some people also complain that they have a chemical smell.