If you’re an average American, chances are good that you’re sleeping on an innerspring mattress. Innerspring mattresses remain the most popular type of mattress in America, and while there’s nothing wrong with this mattress type, consumers today have more choices than ever before. It may be that another type of mattress may be best suited to your needs.
What other kinds of mattresses are out there? What are their pros and cons? These days, you can choose from memory foam, latex foam, gel, innerspring, inflatable air, or even adjustable mattresses that move to elevate one part of your body. Each of these mattress types has its unique benefits and drawbacks. Your sleep, or that of your sleep partner, could benefit from choosing the best kind of mattress for your needs.
Is Your Mattress Supporting You?
The right mattress for you will be one that gives your body proper sleep support. Your mattress should support the natural curvature of your spine so that your hips, shoulders, head, and feet are all in alignment — as if you were standing upright with perfect posture. A mattress that’s too firm will put too much pressure on your hips, head, shoulders, or feet, disrupting your alignment. A mattress that’s too soft won’t give your pressure points enough support, which can be just as bad.
No brand or type of mattress is inherently better than another. Each person needs something different from his or her mattress. Research suggests, however, that you should use a medium-firm mattress if you suffer from chronic pain.
Types of Mattresses
You’re probably already familiar with the most common type of mattress, the innerspring mattress. As the name suggests, this type of mattress uses a series of internal wire coils to offer support, covered with layers of foam or other padding for comfort.
A key benefit of innerspring mattresses is the sheer variety of options available. No matter what your preference or budget, you can probably find an innerspring mattress that suits your needs. However, those on the lower end of the price scale simply don’t offer enough support and aren’t worth the money. Most people can sleep well on an innerspring mattress, provided it’s a quality model that offers adequate support.
Foam mattresses, like those produced by TempurPedic, are another common and popular mattress type. They’re made with either visco-elastic memory foam, which was developed by NASA scientists, or latex foam, which has been around since the early 20th century. Memory foam is known for conforming to your body’s shape, to offer optimum support throughout the night. Such a mattress is recommended for folks who suffer from back pain or other chronic pain conditions. While about 80 percent of people who buy such a mattress are satisfied with it, some aren’t because this type of mattress can make you feel overheated during the night.
Latex foam mattresses, on the other hand, don’t sleep as hot, and offer very firm support for people with back pain or those who simply like a firm mattress. Latex foam is said to be just as comfortable as memory foam, but more supportive.
If you and your sleep partner have very different preferences for a mattress’s firmness, an inflatable air mattress might be for you. These mattresses look just like regular mattresses — they’re topped with foam or other conventional padding — but they contain inner columns that can be filled with air to adjust the firmness of the mattress on each side of the bed. Some people have problems finding the right firmness with these beds, but once you’ve found your firmness, they’re very comfortable. The Sleep Number bed from Select Comfort is the most well-known, but not the only, inflatable air bed. You can also buy inflatable air beds from other manufacturers, often for a much better price.
If you have sleep apnea or a condition that makes it difficult to get in and out of a traditional bed, you might benefit from an adjustable bed. Adjustable beds have a motorized foundation that allows you to move the head or foot of the bed up or down so that you can read or watch TV in bed more comfortably, get in and out of bed more easily, or sleep in an upright position that allows you to breathe easier. You have some leeway in what kind of mattress to use with these beds — foam and inflatable air mattresses work with adjustable bed foundations, but innerspring mattresses don’t, since they don’t bend as easily.
When it comes to choosing a mattress, don’t feel like you have to stick with an innerspring mattress just because it’s what you’ve always had. Another type of mattress may be best for you. Explore the different mattress types — you might be surprised at how much you like a different type of mattress.