Mattresses 101 – Picking the right mattress for you
Mattresses were once comprised of roughly the same materials. Springs and padding made up the mattress, and the amount of padding and give of the springs determined the firmness of different models. However, there are so many different types today made from so many materials that it can be hard to choose just the right one. Here’s what to look for in today’s models.
If you have back problems, you may need a firm mattress. This provides the maximum support so that your back won’t be bent or curved during the night. Many firm mattresses are the spring type, but many today are made from memory foam or gel. A firm memory foam will still have some give so that you get a comfortable night’s sleep without allowing for your back to become misaligned. Some mattresses have memory foam with a layer of gel on top, others have a pillow top to create a soft surface on top of the firm mattress.
If you don’t like the feel of a firm mattress and you dislike the give of soft models, a medium mattress may be right for you. These can be the traditional spring type, a spring mattress with a layer of foam on top, or a hybrid type that contains foam, gel and other layers to create that perfect medium firmness. These mattresses are popular for couples because both can usually agree on a firmness level that’s in the middle. Medium firmness often creates the right feel by allowing for the mattress to cradle your pressure points without causing too much firmness to press on them.
A soft mattress has the maximum give and is prized by some for its softness. Because it has so much give, some sleepers don’t like the feel of bending and swaying during the night. However, many people enjoy the feel of sinking into the mattress and having it cradle them. If you have back problems, a soft mattress may not give you the support you need. If you want that kind of softness with plenty of give, there are innerspring mattresses that create this feel. There are also memory foam models that provide little firmness. Some soft mattresses use columns of air inside instead of springs. Others have a thick pillow-top on the surface of the mattress to make it extra soft.
If you have temperature problems during the night, such as getting too hot, mattresses made from memory foam or latex may not be right for you. These can hold onto your body heat and produce a warming sensation. An air spring or gel mattress may work better. Some mattresses with gel layers use a cooling gel that won’t hold onto your body heat.
Once you have decided on your ideal firmness level and the materials you may be interested in, give a few mattresses a try. It’s hard to say just what a mattress will feel like to you until you’ve actually experienced it.