Mattress Comparisons – How to Navigate the Confusing Maze of Mattress Facts and Figures

Mattress comparisons can be the most confusing part of the process of choosing a mattress. If you already know you want an innerspring or a memory foam or sleep comfort number bed, you are a little bit ahead. But you still have to decide which model, level of firmness, and price to consider. And even that’s not all.

As with choosing many products, multiple options are great up to a point, but can also drive you nuts.

For innerspring mattresses, you are bombarded by coil count, type of coil, mattress topper and fabric options.

For foam, you must decide between memory foam, polyfoam, latex foam, all natural latex foam, talalay latex foam, in addition to firmness, density, thickness and so on.

For air mattresses, you must understand pressure levels, padding and coverings. Price vs. quality issues are also very important. Granted, the Select Comfort Sleep Number beds are the most well-known, but there are still others to make comparisons.

With water mattresses, you’ll have to figure out a host of liners, pumps, drain kits, and so on. Easier if you already have a waterbed, much harder if you’re thinking of converting.

Mattress Comparisons Across Type

If you’re comparing mattresses across type because you’re thinking of switching from what you have now to a different type — it’s easier if you compare one feature at a time. For example, comfort/support features, which are the most important. Then you can move on to durability and affordability.

Since nearly everyone is familiar with the innerspring mattress, it might make it easier to use it as the anchor point for comparing other kinds of mattresses. Let’s start with the broad category of foam and latex foam mattresses.

Comfort/Support — Foam vs. Innerspring

Foam mattresses are famous for their ability to offer a more cradling type of support compared to the innerspring mattresses. Support also tends to be very even throughout the mattress. Memory foam in particular is designed to conform to every nook and cranny of the body, but all types of foam has this quality to some extent.

The density in the structure of foam causes you to feel that every part of your body is in full contact with your bed. This reduces pressure points and may lessen tossing and turning at night. People tend to move around less on latex and memory foam mattresses.

If you were to cut through a foam mattress to the inner core, it wouldn’t be much different from the top layers. In some cases, it would be identical. You could lie just as easily on the inner part as on the outer part.

On the other hand, the basic construction of an innerspring mattress is a network of steel coils. The naturally hard, cold nature of steel is offset by the numerous layers of padding placed on top of the structure. Obviously, if you were to lie on the bare coil structure, you would be excruciatingly uncomfortable in a matter of seconds. So the padding is what really makes this thing a bed.

And interestingly enough, the vast majority of innerspring mattress padding is made from foam.

Mattress Comparisons: Firmness

The firmest foam mattress will not equal the firmest innerspring mattress. The ways they achieve this firmness is very different and you will not feel the same sleeping on one or the other. This doesn’t mean one is better than the other — it’s still a matter of individual choice.

Some people just feel better on a foam mattress than on an innerspring and vice versa. Some people would find foam too collapsible and unreliable as sleeping support And others find innerspring coil mattresses too stiff and unforgiving. With foam, you will not get the buoyancy of springs. And with coils, you will not get the solid, cradling feeling of foam.

Many spinal experts recommend innerspring for people with back pain issues, because they offer a more lifting type of support that helps counter the effects of gravity on the body. Innerspring is also recommended for overweight people because the steel structure is very strong and maintains a good level of support for heavier weights.

And some people recommend foam, especially memory foam or natural latex foam for people who experience pain from osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and general muscular pain — and anyone who is bothered by pressure points.
So who decides which mattress is the best when making mattress comparisons? Only you can be the judge of that! High-quality innerspring and latex mattresses can both be great to sleep on.

Mattress Comparisons: Comfort/Support — Adjustable Air Mattress vs. Innerspring

Adjustable air mattresses uses air as the main method of support. If you’ve ever slept on an air mattress for camping, you might be a little skeptical that air can provide any support at all. But technology has changed tremendously and you can now get a very expensive and luxurious air mattress that some people swear is more comfortable than any other sleeping surface.

Of course high-end air mattresses may also be covered with memory or latex foam padding to add comfort and cushioning.

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