This guest post is from Mark Quinn at Leggett & Platt – hybrid mattress experts.
Once mortal enemies, springs and foam are hanging out together in more mattresses today than ever before. While these two materials work great as a hybrid mattress, it’s still important to understand the characteristics of each and how they contribute to giving you a better night’s sleep.
Innerspring mattresses are available in a variety of styles and range in price from low to high-end. Several primary factors influence the construction of a quality innerspring mattress, the first of which is raw materials.
We know from rigorous testing that all steel is not made equally. As a matter of fact, my company rejects poor performing steel products every day because it does not meet our own high standards. Coils that go into an innerspring mattress must meet certain standards; two coils that look exactly alike can have drastic differences in quality. When considering coil gauge, know that a higher gauge indicates a thinner spring. Look for a mattress with a coil gauge between 14-15.5 for a springier mattress, or closer to 12.5 for a firmer feel.
In addition to the properties of high-quality steel, the number of times a coil is turned affects its strength. A straight piece of wire is stronger than a coiled one. Each time a coil is turned, it loses strength. A coil with three turns is stronger (or firmer) than a coil with ten because every turn creates a compression point. When buying a mattress, understand that fewer turns offers a firmer sleep surface.
Speaking of sleep surface, it’s important that innerspring mattresses contain a sufficient number of coils for coverage. A quality mattress will have a minimum coil count: A full size should have 300 coils, a queen needs to contain about 400, and a king size about 480 coils. There are many types of coils that can meet those minimum requirements, one of which is the latest innerspring innovation – fabric encased coils.
Individually wrapped fabric encased coils limit motion disturbance and reduce noise, while providing the active support of a spring. Fabric encased coils are independent of each other, which means movement does not spread across the entire sleep surface. This type of coil limits partner disturbance and sleeps cooler than foam.
Research conducted by Kansas State University and the Institute of Environmental Research shows that innerspring mattresses sleep up to 28% cooler than visco foam. This is due to increased air flow between the coils. While innersprings offer a range of benefits, a comfort layer can compliment the support and durability that innersprings offer.
Comfort Layers: Foam & Rubber (aka Latex)
Memory foam is made with visco-elastic over a firmer polyurethane base. Latex is derived from the tropical rubber tree. Both memory foam and latex are known for pressure relief and comfort, but most latex is more durable and made from natural materials. Foam has the ability to conform to the shape of a person’s body and is better for reliving pressure points during sleep. Latex foam is naturally hypoallergenic, naturally resistant to mold, mildew, bacteria, and dust mites. Latex mattresses are also available in models made from 100 percent organic, renewable materials.
A drawback of all foam mattresses can be the odor they emit when their new. The smell generally disappears after some use. Foam is also temperature sensitive, so a mattress may feel stiff when you first lay down or when it’s too cool in your bedroom. One common complaint with foam is that the mattress “sleeps hot” by retaining body heat. When considering a foam mattress, keep in mind foam density. Lower density foam has more give, while higher density feels firmer and is more durable.
Sleep is a personal experience and finding the right mattress is critical. As you shop, note the differences between mattress materials and find a formula of support and comfort that works for you. If you crave the comfort of foam or latex and the support of springs, consider a hybrid mattress. Every person is different and understanding the materials that comprise the majority of mattresses will arm you with valuable information you can use to make the most informed decision.