It is very important to know the difference between proper support for your back and a comfortable feel for your body when shopping for a new mattress. For a bed to give you a good night’s sleep, it must have both comfort and support. This is achieved by a firm core to support you and a comfortable layer between your body and the core (coil or foam).
If a bed is nice and soft, but does not have a firm core, you will not get proper spinal support and may very well end up with chronic back pain caused by a misaligned spine.
It is amazing to see how many people spend thousands of dollars on chiropractors and pain medications because they bought a cheap mattress that does not support their spine properly. You must support your back!
There are two main types of support used in modern mattresses: Innersprings (a matrix of steel coils), foam, or latex.
Eighty percent of mattresses sold in the US are innerspring beds. There are various spring systems. All are good, but each person’s body is different in size, shape, and weight. In an innerspring mattress, proper support should be provided to your back by the innerspring coils.
The coil system’s ability to resist the pressure of your weight is a factor of the gauge of steel used in the coil system itself. Thin steel will not support as much weight as thicker steel and will “take a set” quicker and easier.
When the coils in your mattress “take a set” you will feel like you are sleeping, or trying to sleep, in a ditch. This can also happen if you do not provide your mattress with an adequate foundation, usually in the form of a box spring. Many people forego the box spring in order to save money but end up ruining an expensive mattress as a result.
It is almost always wise to buy a mattress and box spring as a set. When comparing prices, it is essential to know what quality of coil you are getting for your money.
Proper support can also be provided by foam or latex inner cores in beds that have no innerspring systems. This type of support feels different and is more conforming to your body. Solid foam and latex beds usually provide better independent support and reduced motion transfer to your sleeping partner. This way, you will not wake your partner up when turning over or getting in and out of bed.
Now it is time to discuss comfort. Comfort is provided to your body by polyurethane foam, latex, and/or heat and pressure sensitive foam, such as Swedish foam, as well as Dacron, silk, wool, cashmere, and outlast fibers. The type of materials used determines the comfort and the price of the mattress.
Higher density foam is used to provide a firmer feel. Lower density, heat & pressure sensitive, the new “whisper” foams, and/or channel or “egg crate” foams provide a softer feel that reduces pressure against the body.
Many people believe that the harder the mattress is, the better it is for your back. This is not true. The human spine is naturally curved. Sleeping on a hard mattress is like sleeping on a board. Only your shoulder blades and your buttocks should be touching while lying on a board, assuming your spine is properly aligned. A softer pad will fill in the gaps and help support your entire body which reduces pressure points and the need for tossing and turning. Tossing and turning interrupts your sleep cycle and causes fatigue.
We hope you find this handy little buying guide helpful when shopping for your next mattress online.