To know what makes the most comfortable mattress, you need to know how it is constructed and why. No matter which brand or type of bed you choose, the basic function is the same. Understanding just what it is you want out of a mattress will help you choose the best one for you.
Let’s start from the ground and work our way up.
Bed Frame Types
A vital part of any sleep system is the frame. If a frame is on casters, those should be about two inches wide and have a high weight bearing rating. A good quality frame will be made of strong metal, wood, or a combination of the two.
Some frames are adjustable and can grow from a twin to a full, or a queen to a king.
Most twin and full frames have four rails to support the bedding. Sometimes wooden slats run between the rails for added strength.
Queen and king size frames should have a center support to hold the larger mattress set without it sagging in the middle.
Some bed frames have decorative wooden rails along the sides. However, these are for appearances only and do not have an effect on the strength of the frame, no matter what the salesman says.
Next on the way up is the box spring.
Most bedding manufacturers recommend buying a new box spring that coordinates with the mattress you choose. Since they are designed together, the pair works best when purchased together, they say.
An old set of springs is likely to have sagged some over the years. It makes sense that a new layer over a saggy old one will break down sooner. A good box spring has a coil system surrounded by a frame of wood. It is usually stiffer at the edges with more give in the middle for comfort.
Now we come to the mattress itself.
Whether it is filled with steel coils, tempur memory foam, air or water, the support system is the means by which the spine is held in the correct position.
Inner Spring Mattress
The most conventional means of support is the inner spring, a series of coils or springs that gives slightly under weight. They are designed to only give a little so that you do not sink too much.
Memory foam or tempur foam mattresses use a man-made foam that responds to weight and temperature for support. It is designed to be harder in the places that the body touches the least and softer under heavy pressure points.
Aerobed and waterbed mattresses use the same idea by filling a balloon-like sack with air or water to counter the pressure from above.
The uppermost layer is the padding placed on top of the support system. Whether it is wool, cotton or foam, the amount of padding determines the comfort level. A firm mattress has the least padding. A plush mattress has a thicker layer. And a pillow top mattress has the thickest layer of all.
Knowing what makes up a comfortable mattress helps you make the best decision. Keep in mind that there are several choices for support system and choose the one that offers you the best support for your money.