Mattress Guide

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A good mattress can be fairly expensive but they often prove to be a good investment.  Consider that you may spend about 3 years sleeping on your mattress (the lifetime of a good mattress is about 10 years and you will spend about a third of that time sleeping), and it becomes apparent that it should be considered a serious investment.  As such, it is key to understand at least some of the basics of mattresses before spending your hard-earned money.

Different kinds of mattresses
There are several different kinds of mattresses but the most common are Open Spring Mattresses, Pocket Spring Mattresses, Latex Mattresses and Memory Foam Mattresses.

OPEN SPRING MATTRESSES – these are the most common mattress type and the one most people think of when visualizing a mattress.  These simply have a sheet of metal springs covered by padding.  There is usually a metal rod for edge support and the mattress material (padding) is machine stitched along the sides. 

Several metrics are often used to define a spring (or coil) mattress.  These include the total coil count (which is the total number of coils in the mattress), the coil gauge (which is the thickness of the wire used in the coils), and the # of interconnections between the coils (these help the mattress keep it’s shape).  The number of coils and the coil gauge are related to the support the mattress provides (more coils and thicker gauge coils generally equals more support).
POCKET SPRING MATTRESSES – These are similar in concept to the open spring mattress except each spring is individually wrapped in material.  This approach is also typically associated to a more luxurious mattress than the open spring.  The Simmons Beautyrest is a good example and they often display the pocketed coil concept in their many ads (you can view a short video here).  The individual pocketing of springs is said to better conform to the body and to limit the transfer of motion from one body to another.

LATEX MATTRESSES - Latex is sometimes used as a topper for spring mattresses but it also sometimes replaces the springs and becomes the core of the mattress itself.   It has recently become popular for a number of reasons the least of which is it’s “green” nature (natural latex comes from the rubber tree).  However it should be pointed out that not all latex is “natural”.  Latex is sometimes made from petrochemicals (known as synthetic latex).  Latex mattresses are sometimes a combination of both synthetic and natural.  Latex is also resistant to mold, mildew and bacteria (it is hypo-allergenic).  And latex mattresses are typically very long lasting (some 30 years or so).  Latex – to some – is also very comfortable.  It conforms well to the human body.  

MEMORY FOAM MATTRESSES - These mattresses are made from polyurethane which is sometimes also called Visco-Elastic Foam.  They were originally developed by NASA to help astronauts deal with severe g-forces.  They were prohibitively expensive in the past but new technology has made these mattresses more accessible as of late.  The term “memory foam” refers to the fact that the impressions made in the foam last quite a while before the foam reverts to its original shape.  Memory foam is comprised of many tiny air-filled cells that slowly release their air when compressed and slowly refill when the pressure is removed. 

You will often see several measurements related to these mattresses: density and depth.  Density simply refers to the weight per cubic foot of the material while depth is just the thickness of memory foam.  You probably want a minimum of 2.5 lbs density in your Memory Foam Mattress with 4 lbs being the most common at this time.  If you are looking for reasonably priced memory foam mattresses that get very good consumer reviews you may wish to read our Dynasty Mattress Reviews.

Mattress Sizes
Mattresses come in many different sizes.  There is no “right size” for a mattress but you should feel it is spacious enough.  Standard sizes are as follows:

Single – 36 inches x 75 inches
Double - 54 inches x 75 inches
Queen – 60 inches x 80 inches
King – 76 inches by 80 inches


- Part2:   Mattress Buying Tips
- Part3:   Mattress Maintenance




View our Mattress Video Section!  Learn about a specific mattress before you buy or get mattress maintenance tips...

Or learn more about mattresses and kick-start your purchase by reading our helpful:

- Mattress Guide
- Mattress Buying Tips
- Mattress Maintenance

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