Three Pillars Of a Quality Mattress.
What is a Quality Mattress? What components or features should you look for? The competition on the mattress market is huge. Each manufacturer offers you, a consumer, the best scientific breakthrough with exclusive materials and specifications. Are there any standards for a good mattress?
A mattress is like any other quality products – it fits the intended use, lasts long, is safe and has some outstanding features and benefits when compared to similar products.
The following features, presented in this article, are the pillars of QUALITY MATTRESS. They identify a QUALITY MATTRESS regardless of the mattress type, brand or even price. Each QUALITY MATTRESS must feature:
Quality Mattress means Great Night’s Sleep.
What do you really need from a mattress?
I doubt you would say that “I need 1000 steel coils and 2 inches of memory foam”. Instead, you would probably say “I want a mattress so I can sleep great all night” or “I want the most comfortable mattress”. It means that you want to sleep through the night without waking up several times from being uncomfortable and feeling pain in the neck or back or hips. So, your expectation from the mattress is a GREAT NIGHT’S SLEEP. Therefore, WHAT IS A QUALITY MATTRESS? – QUALITY MATTRESS means GREAT NIGHT’S SLEEP.
To provide a great night’s sleep the mattress should:
1. Be comfortable, 2. Support the body properly in any sleeping position, 3. Keep comfortable body temperature throughout the night.
Now, let’s discuss these three major elements.
COMFORT – The Emotional Element.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “comfortable” means “affording or enjoying physical comfort”.
When you sit on a chair or a sofa, you can tell if it is comfortable or not. When trying on new clothes or shoes, no matter how fabulous they are, you want them to be comfortable. It means that we don’t want to have any tension, restrictions or pain in any part of the body which makes us feel uncomfortable.
Let’s refer to definition of ” COMFORT ” in a mattress.
What Provides You with Comfort in The Mattress?
Comfort comes from the top layers of the mattress. The top part of the mattress forms the comfort layers, including the quilt/cover. But not all comfort layers are made the same. In fact, there is such a variety among not only the manufacturers, but within each manufacturer “line up”. It varies based on the materials used, the density and the height of these layers. Some of the materials used in order to create the unique comfort level of Firmness/Softness are visco foam, memory foam, latex, wool, cotton and gel infused foam.
The mattress industry gives you a huge range of Comfort levels: Extra Plush, Luxury Plush, Soft, Medium Soft, Medium Firm, Luxury Firm, Cushion Firm, Firm, Extra/Ultra Firm.
Comfort Preference and Pressure Relief.
There are two components to comfort: EMOTIONAL “IT FEELS GOOD” ASPECT and PRESSURE RELIEF, which keeps you comfortable through the night.
Comfort Preference – Emotional “It feels good” aspect.
You physically like the way it feels. Going back to our shoe shopping comparison, how many of us purchase the first pair we try on? Probably none. It takes several styles, types, designs and sizes to find the perfect fit. The same is true for mattresses. You need to try several of them before you choose. So, with COMFORT PREFERENCE, we are referring to the FIRMNESS or SOFTNESS of the mattress. It may vary from extra plush to extra firm.
Pressure Relief. Keeps you comfortable through the night.
It “affords” you not only comfortable feel, but also prevents you from constantly shifting positions during the night in an effort to stay comfortable. Pressure relief, in the mattress industry, means that the body weight is evenly distributed over the mattress surface, without it accumulating on pressure points. So, the mattress should conform to the body shape and form a cradle that is deep enough to disperse the weight over the surface of the mattress.
Weight Distribution and Pressure Points.
A simple way to illustrate this is if we compare two objects: a brick and a dumbbell. If we were to put them both on a board, we would see that the bottom of the brick comes into full contact with the board surface and the brick’s weight is evenly distributed. The dumbbell has a different shape, where only 2 sides of it come into contact with the board. Thus, the entire weight of the dumbbell rests only on these two points. These are Pressure Points.
The human body is not flat. It is curvy and some parts stick out more than others. Shoulders, ribs, hips, knees and ankles are our pressure points. The right mattress should allow these parts of the body to sink in, so the body is in full contact with the mattress surface and the weight is distributed. If the mattress doesn’t do the job and the body weight is on your pressure points, it can cause a pinched nerve or hinder blood circulation, which causes a tingling sensation. The result is a poor night’s sleep – Tossing and Turning, breaking the Sleep Cycle, and thus, waking up more tired than when you went to bed the night before.
So, Comfort in good Quality Mattress is a combination of your personal Comfort preference and the ability of a mattress to provide you with Pressure Relief. It feels good, puts you to sleep and keeps your sleeping through the night.
SUPPORT – The Mechanical Element.
Support is the ability of a mattress to keep your body in good posture with correct alignment in any sleeping position: back, side, stomach.
Your mattress should maintain the exact same posture when standing perfectly erect (assuming you have good posture). This is a crucial element for overall good health.
Where Does Support Come From? Mattress Type.
The support comes from underneath the comfort layers – the core of the mattress. I call it the “mattress engine”- it delivers you a proper support and bears body’s weight through the night. Manufacturers use different products and materials to build the “engine”, such as Foam, Memory Foam, Innersprings, Individually Wrapped or Pocketed Coils, Latex or Air Chambers. The product/material which is used in the mattress core defines Mattress Type. Sometimes it maybe a combination of two and more materials – that is why Hybrid mattresses exist.
It doesn’t matter what mattress type you prefer, but the supportive core of a mattress should control how far your body, as a whole or as different parts, sinks down into the mattress, keeping your body aligned in any position you sleep.
Good Mattress Support And Your Well-being.
Support is about your body’s physical position in bed. It is about Spine and Body Alignment which you cannot control while sleeping. Why is it so important? The human body is one big complex mechanism, where all parts are connected to each other and work together. Let’s look at the human skeleton. It consists of bones, connected with ligaments and joints, and supported by muscles. That is why it is called musculoskeletal system. Therefore, a slight misalignment of any part of the body will put strain on ligaments and muscles, resulting in a stiff neck, lower back and hip pain.
What is Good Posture?
Posture is how we hold our bodies when we walk, stand, sit or lie down. Good posture is correct body alignment. Alignment is how different parts of our body – head, neck, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles- line up with each other to place the least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments. So, it is crucial for your health to maintain Good Posture even when you are not active. Sleeping without proper support affects your posture and health accordingly: it may misalign your musculoskeletal system, put excessive strain on your muscles, cause neck, shoulder and back pain.
What is Correct Spine Alignment?
There is a principle about our body depending on how it is viewed. From the back, our spine should be perfectly straight from neck to pelvis. But a side view illustrates the natural “S” curve. This curve needs to be supported not only at the pressure points, but in the “negative” areas as well. These are behind the neck, between the shoulder blades and in the lower lumber area (where the “S” curve is dominant. Positive and negative support cannot be compromised. The goal of the perfect mattress is to maintain the curve in your back in Any Sleeping Position.
So, the goal of a quality mattress Support is to provide Good Posture and maintain the natural curve in the back while we are in bed, to prevent muscle strain, back and muscular pain.
MATTRESS EDGE SUPPORT.
Edge Support is a significant part of a QUALITY MATTRESS. It is essential to have for Heavier People.
It is an enhanced support at the perimeter of the mattress that is denser than the overall mattress.
This enables you to use the entire mattress, up to and including the edge, without the feeling that you are sliding off. Edge support can be achieved by using a foam encasement or a coil edge support. If you sit on the edge of the bed frequently, sleep close to the edge of the bed, edge support is important. A coil edge will be stronger and more durable than foam.
TEMPERATURE MANAGEMENT – Thermal Element.
Mattress Temperature Management/Regulation is the ability of a mattress to dissipate heat and keep the body at an even temperature, which contributes to a night of uninterrupted sleep.
Our internal body clock (circadian rhythm) regulates many functions of the body including heart rate, blood pressure, hormone release, and body temperature; all which act together to help you stay awake during the day, and sleep at night. So, body temperature starts to fall as bedtime approaches, paving the way for a good night’s sleep. Your body also tends to lose heat, which helps you fall and stay asleep. Your temperature starts to rise toward morning, preparing your body for wakefulness.
A good mattress should manage body temperature and keep it at a normal cycle.
Why Do We Sleep Hot In Bed During The Night?
“Sleeping hot” is one the most mentioned issues in the consumer mattress reviews. If you sleep warm occasionally or all of a sudden, first see if there are any circumstances which may cause this. If you have a clean checklist, then perhaps it is your mattress.
Reasons why people experience body heat when sleeping:
- Medical condition
- Changes in female body: pregnancy, hormones, menopause
- Cold, fever
- Consuming alcohol
- Room temperature
- Blankets and comforters
How Does a Mattress Affect Our Body Temperature?
The problem happens when your body temperature is accumulated below you and the warm air is trapped between you and the mattress itself. When this happens, your brain reacts and sends a message which wakes you and begs for relief. The relief can be as simple as sticking your foot out from under the blanket, to getting up to completely change your clothes. Because your sleep is so interrupted, you are unhappy in morning, feeling the results of inadequate sleep.
Where Is Temperature Management Found In The Mattress?
There are two major components of body temperature regulation:
- Breathable design – It increases the airflow through the mattress, so heat won’t accumulate under the body. It is incorporated throughout the mattress, working from top to bottom and out the sides.
- Phase Change Materials (PCM)– it is a pure science! – These are substances that absorbs and release thermal energy (in simple words – “heat”) during the process of melting and heating. In the mattress industry, they are mostly used in the quilt/mattress cover. When you touch the fabric, the heat from your hand activates PCM and you feel a cool sensation.
QUALITY MATTRESS – your perfect mattress choice -should have sum of all three of these elements. They do not have to be perfectly proportioned as a 3-way split, but your choice should include some smattering of each. Your unique body type and physical requirements will be your guide as to which elements takes priority.