Choosing the Right Mattress

Choosing the Right Mattress can be a bit challenging. OBS hopes to make this process easier, there are basically four different categories of mattresses available to consumers: traditional or innerspring, foam, memory foam, latex foam, air, water, and mattresses made from materials we categorize as synthetic materials.

It’s always a good idea to feel or test the different types of mattress materials to better understand the differences, for example between the feel of latex foam vs the feel of memory foam before shopping for your mattress online, this way you will have a better understanding of what type of material suits your needs.


Innerspring Mattresses
Personal comfort and performance is the best way to measure which type of innerspring mattress will meet your individual needs. The large mattress manufacturers get almost all their coils from some of the same companies and the difference in construction is determined primarily by the type and arrangement of coils used.

Innerspring mattress coils are divided into three basic categories.
the Bonnell coil, the original and most common coil, is an hourglass shaped wire with knotted ends wrapped around the top and bottom sections. The offset coil, used by Stearns and Foster in their manufacturing, is similar to the Bonnell coil, but the bottom portions of the coils have been replaced with flat sides to provide improved hinging action. Sealy and Spring Air’s open end offset coil uses an extra “turn” of working wire for greater spring action on each end.

The pocketed coil or Marshall Unit is the coil you will find in Simmons Beautyrest innerspring mattresses. These mattresses contain individual barrel-shaped coils attached to a perimeter border rod which are encased like pockets in a panel of cloth. This method reduces motion transfer and allows the mattress to conform to the contours of your body.

Serta’s Continuous Wire Unit consists of rows of single wires that twist and turn the entire length or width of the mattress. It is technically not a coil system although it is still categorized as a traditional or innerspring mattress.

The support and durability of an innerspring mattress is influenced by both coil count and wire gauge. Manufacturer test results measure the load deflection, edge and center support of innerspring mattresses, but of course the best test of comfort is the physical one that you should take yourself.

Innerspring mattresses have a reputation for being better for back pain than other types of mattresses. The truth is, the support your spine receives while you sleep is the most important factor in alleviating or accommodating a bad back. Neither a too soft or too firm mattress is recommended for ordinary back pain, though a firm mattress is recommended for acute back spasms.

The thickness of the innerspring mattress is another variable to consider, and there has been a growing trend towards thicker mattresses in recent years. The thickness of the innerspring mattress however, doesn’t necessarily determine its comfort, and it is important to consider the weight of the mattress that you may be moving or installing yourself. A thinner, lighter, less expensive innerspring mattress may feel just as comfortable and solid as a thick one. Again, test the different styles in the showroom in advance so you can feel the difference in support and design yourself.

Air Beds
Air beds not to be confused with “air mattresses”, today look like regular mattresses and can be used on a standard bed foundation or an adjustable bed foundation and have the great advantage of being adjustable. Many air beds have dual controls, allowing couples to adjust the firmness of each side of the bed to meet their personal sleeping preferences. Air beds utilize uniquely designed air chambers under layers of foam to conform to the body’s individual contours and distribute weight evenly, providing support while alleviating pressure points. One feature to look for in an air bed is dual controls so that adjustments to your side can be made without your having to disturb your partner.

Air Mattresses
Air Mattresses can be inflated and deflated at the touch of a button, making them a great choice for guests and out of town vistors. They are easily stored when deflated and provide a space- saving extra bedroom option when the need arises.

There are two basic types of water beds: hard-sided waterbeds enclose a water-containing mattress within a rectangular wooden frame on a plywood deck on top of a platform. Soft-sided waterbeds contain a water-filled mattress inside a rectangular frame of sturdy foam, within a fabric casing, that is generally supported by a strong metal frame. A soft-sided waterbed looks very much like a conventional platform bed. Both types of waterbeds are generally heated.

“Free flow” water mattresses tend to be the least expensive. These are the original rock and roll water beds that usually contain only one water chamber and are thus prone to a great deal of wave action. Newer and more expensive, water beds developed methods for reducing wave movement by utilizing fiber batting and interconnected water chambers to increase stability. Waveless models contain a mixture of interconnected air and water chambers to reduce movement. Waterbeds usually come with a water conditioning and filling kit that will contain a faucet adapter and hose so that you can fill the mattress to the level you find most comfortable.

Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam is a heat and pressure sensitive elastic material that was first developed by NASA in the 1970s. Body heat and weight causes Memory Foam Mattresses to mold to your body’s exact contours and distribute weight evenly while you sleep. This reduces pressure points on the body and supports your back while allowing the spine to remain in its normal position, offering a welcome respite from the gravitational pull that can result in muscle strain and morning fatigue. A memory foam mattress will adjust itself to your shifting sleep positions during the night, but resume its original shape when you rise in the morning.

Memory foam mattresses can alleviate fatigue, insomnia, muscle aches, headaches, numbness, fibromylagia and many ailments. They will reduce pain and irritation in the neck, back and shoulders and are also very resistant to dust-mites, mold, mildew and bacteria.

One of the benefits of memory foam mattresses is that they accommodate all styles of sleepers, whether you predominantly sleep on your back, your stomach or your side. Tall, short, slim or fat, memory foam provides customized contouring for maximum support and comfort. Whether sleeping alone or with a partner, a memory foam mattress will adapt to your specific preferences and needs.

Latex Mattresses
Latex is natural rubber tapped from the rubber tree and molded into a variety of bedding products. Latex mattresses are available in 100% organic models with no use of synthetics or chemicals using the Talalay or Dunlop process. Some Talalay latex mattresses are engineered to retain the exceptional benefits of latex augmented by 30% synthetic materials that have been added to insure consistency and extend the life of the mattress. Latex mattresses, mold to the contours of the body and provide support and cushioning while relieving pressure points. Latex mattresses are naturally anti-microbial, hypoallergenic, durable and resistant to mold, mildew and dust mites.

Organic Mattresses
In keeping with the growing trend toward global conservation and natural living, manufacturers are now offering several types of organic mattresses. Organic mattresses are manufactured without dyes, chemicals or materials treated with pesticides and they are recommended for those who are highly allergic or sensitive to pollutants and want to support a “green” lifestyle.

natural latex is derived from the milky sap of the rubber tree (hevea brasiliensis), and is usually cultivated in Africa, South Asia, South America, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. This natural, hypo-allergenic material is recommended for those who need or prefer to remove all synthetic materials from their sleeping environment. Mold and mildew cannot live in latex and organic latex mattresses are naturally anti-microbial and highly resistant to dust mites. The natural rubber in an organic latex mattress molds to your contours, provides orthopedic support and relieves pressure points on your body while you sleep. Organic latex mattresses are available under many different brand names

Organic latex mattresses are metal-free, extremely durable and resilient, and one of the few sustainable resources currently promoting the preservation of the world’s rain forests. Often surrounded by quilted layers of wool and cotton and encased in sanitized organic cotton fabric, natural latex mattresses are biodegradable and as easy on the environment as they are on your body.

An organic latex mattress is made of 99.99% pure rubber and is usually constructed with a six-inch supporting core of natural latex manufactured using the Talalay or Dunlop process. The coils in an organic innnerspring mattress are untreated by chemicals or oils and are surrounded by quilted, padded layers of sanitized organic cotton and pure wool. When purchasing an organic innerspring mattress check to make sure that the mattress was manufactured in an organic mattress factory with third-party certification.

Crib Mattresses
Since a baby cannot articulate his needs and preferences to you, it’s important to understand a few things about baby or crib mattresses from the outset. Crib mattresses need to be firmer than adult mattresses, because babies cannot lift their heads up from a soft mattress if they get turned over at night. Some studies have indicated a link between overly-soft bedding and some cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), so to evaluate the firmness, pick the crib mattress up in the middle and squeeze with each hand on opposite sides.

For the first seven months, babies spend the majority of their time asleep, so providing them with a natural environment free of synthetic chemicals is highly recommended. Pure wool (which is naturally fire retardant), and organic cotton bedding can reduce potential irritants. Watch your baby for signs of discomfort, allergic reactions or restlessness. If you suspect trouble, consider the benefits of an organic crib mattress. Most cotton crib mattresses are hypo-allergenic and some will also include an anti-microbial top layer to reduce germs from spit-ups, drooling and diaper mishaps. Look for good venting in the crib mattress to help odors dissipate. If you are considering a cotton crib mattress, make sure you get a waterproof cover for easier cleaning and maintenance. For durability, multi-layer covers comprised of triple layers of vinyl or waterproof material is ideal.

As far as comparing crib mattress types, foam crib mattresses are less heavy and expensive and just as safe as coil crib mattresses. In coil crib mattresses, the coil count and wire gauge will determine the mattress firmness, but bear in mind, coils were really designed to support heavier loads. Again, and most important, when it comes to choosing between firm and soft crib mattresses, it is always best to err on the side of firmness.