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Few furniture purchases impact your quality of your life more than mattresses. A mattress is an investment with a noticeable effect on how you feel each day. With so many choices it's hard to know where to start. This guide will explain the options so you will know what to look for when you are shopping.

You don't think twice about test driving a car, so you shouldn't think twice about "test sleeping" a mattress. Don't be embarrassed! (Okay, ladies wear comfortable pants instead of skirts while shopping.) Lie down on the mattress for several minutes to judge how comfortable it is and how well it provides support. Lie in the position you normally sleep in. If you share a bed, both of you should lie down together. This is the only way to tell if a mattress is right for you.


Is soft good for your back?

As with most things whatever is most comfortable for you is what's best, as long as the substructure provides enough support. If you like soft mattresses then get one that has good support under plush padding. Sleeping, or rather being unable to sleep, on a too-hard mattress will do more harm than good. Keep in mind that if you are moving from a firm mattress to a softer mattress, or vice versa, your body will take some time to adjust to the new surface. It helps to know that when you have a firm mattress you are sleeping "on" it; with a soft mattress you are sleeping "in" it as the padding will gently cradle your body.

Anatomy of a Mattress

Mattresses now come in several different varieties. What's underneath is relevant to the comfort of the mattress is and how long it will last.

Conventional Inner Spring: How many springs and what gauge of wire?

The number of coils in a mattress ranges from 300-800. Normally heavier gauge coils will provide firmer support with fewer coils. The thickest gauge normally available is 12.5 while the thinner gauges are in the 14-15.5 range. When you have thinner coils it is important to have more coils in the mattress since the coils give so easily. More advanced innersprings are designed for greater stability during compression with a narrower circumference in the middle and a wider circumference at the ends. Alternating the direction (clockwise / counter clockwise) of the coils further adds to the stability.

Edge Support:

The edge of the mattress can be one of the fist places where it will show wear since it receives the most concentrated compression as you get into and out of bed. Several types of edge support are used to reinforce and support mattresses. The first is a foam perimeter which encircles the mattress body with three to four inches of high density foam. Some manufacturers space their coils closer together at the edge for added support. Spacer clips are another option, and are used on the perimeter of traditional inner spring mattresses to keep the coils from collapsing over time.

Convoluted Foam:

Convoluted foam often lies over springs in an innerspring mattress. It resembles the bottom of an egg crate with peaks and valleys between two and three inches tall. This layer of foam is good for relieving muscle tension as the peaks and valleys have a gentle massaging effect.

Individually-Wrapped Coils:

Individually-wrapped coils are wire springs that are enclosed in fabric and sewn to adjoining coils. This means that each coil responds to pressure independently, so when you roll over there is very little transfer of movement or bouncing.

Memory Foam:

Originally developed by NASA to compensate for the G forces astronauts endure during takeoff, memory foam is a very popular choice for mattresses. Memory foam conforms to your body in response to body heat but returns to its original shape as you move. This property reduces pressure points on the body as you sleep, which makes it the favorite of many. Memory foam mattresses can be used with a simple mattress cover, or they may incorporate additional layers of fiber and other support materials, including individually-wrapped coils. Mattress 1st uses temperature-neutral memory foam which conforms to the body, but does not reflect body heat back to the sleeper.

Talalay Latex:

Latex mattresses resist compression, leading to longer mattress life spans. They provide strong support for your back, helping to maintain alignment and reduce pressure points. Latex mattresses can be used with a simple mattress cover, or they may incorporate additional layers with different configurations of latex foam or fiber and other support materials. When combined with a fiber-fill pillow top, latex mattresses can provide luxuriously soft comfort and firm support.

Power Base Bed:

The term power bed, or adjustable bed, refers to a mattress over a foundation that incorporates actuated motors that allow the user to raise and lower the foot and head of the bed. Adjustable beds offer benefits to people with certain medical conditions, like sleep apnea or acid reflux disease, but they are also useful for those who like to watch TV or read in bed. King size adjustable beds usually consist of two extra long twin units side-by-side and require separate fitted sheets. Adjustable beds can often be used with traditional headboards and footboards to better integrate them with traditional decors.


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