There’s nothing better for your health, mental clarity, and overall well-being than getting a good night's sleep.
Although you can’t control every factor that leads to poor sleep, one thing you can control is your mattress. If your mattress is poorly made, worn out, or otherwise unsuitable, you’ll toss and turn all night trying to get comfortable and may even wake up with debilitating back pain.
Here at The Amish Craftsman, we know that finding your perfect mattress can be a surprisingly daunting task. How are you supposed to make an informed decision when so many different mattress types are on the market?
That’s why we wrote this article: to break down the mattress basics step-by-step so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Let’s get started!
Understanding Mattress Cores
A mattress is made up of a supportive, pressure-absorbing core and a soft, comfortable topper. Let’s begin by exploring the different types of mattress cores, which fit into two rough categories: innerspring mattresses and foam core mattresses.
Innerspring mattresses have steel springs or coils inside to provide support and distribute weight evenly. Here are three different types of coils that most quality mattress brands sell.
- Bonnell Coils are hourglass-shaped coils that are interconnected with wires. This is a traditional and common innerspring design. If a mattress is simply labeled “innerspring” without specifying what type of coil it contains, it probably is made up of Bonnell coils.
- Offset Coils are similar to Bonnell coils, but they’re offset from each other in a way that decreases motion transfer. They also offer better edge support, preventing sagging along the mattress's edge.
- Pocket Coils are the highest-quality innerspring coils available. Each spring is individually wrapped, which reduces motion transfer between sleepers even more than offset coils do and provides better contouring to the body.
Foam Core Mattress
Over the last thirty years, foam technology has advanced to such a degree that all high-quality mattresses now contain layers of foam. But foam core mattresses go beyond adding foam layers and make the mattress's actual core out of foam. This is particularly useful for shipping mattresses since foam can be compressed, allowing the mattress to be rolled up and shipped in a box.
The two types of foam that are typically used to make a mattress core are:
- Polyurethane Foam, which is a lighter-weight, more budget-friendly foam that comes in a wide variety of firmness levels
- Latex Foam, which is heavier but higher quality and is more breathable than polyurethane foam
When choosing the core of your mattress, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Innerspring mattresses tend to be more breathable and keep you cooler
- Innerspring mattresses vary in coil thickness. Generally, a thicker coil translates to a longer-lasting mattress
- Innerspring mattresses typically have better edge support than foam core mattresses
- Both innerspring and foam core mattresses come in a wide variety of firmness levels
- Foam core mattresses are great at conforming to your body’s shape for pressure relief
- Foam is also great at reducing motion transfer and noise
- Foam core mattresses are often easier to ship
- Since foam core mattresses are newer, we have less data about how well they hold up after 10+ years
Understanding Mattress Toppers
While the mattress core is responsible for support, durability, general firmness, and motion transfer (or lack thereof), the comfort of a mattress is primarily determined by the upper layers of a mattress, called the “topper.”
The topper is made from plush layers such as:
- Polyurethane foam, which comes in a variety of density and firmness levels
- Convoluted plush, sometimes called “egg crate foam,” which is polyurethane foam with bumps and divots that help with ventilation, softness, and pressure relief
- Memory foam, which is a type of extra-elastic polyurethane foam that conforms to the body’s shape. While memory foam is extremely comfortable, it also retains heat, so gel-infused memory foam was developed as a cooler version.
- Latex foam, which is more breathable than polyurethane foam
- Fiberfill or cotton batting, which can give your mattress a pillowy look and feel
Some mattresses are marketed as “pillow-top” mattresses. Pillow-top mattresses have a pillowy layer sewn to the top, giving your mattress a rounded, pillowy look. However, a pillow-top mattress is not necessarily softer. It all depends on what materials are used.
Just because your mattress is uncomfortable doesn’t necessarily mean you need to throw the entire thing out. If the core is supportive and in good condition, you might only need a new topper, such as a thick memory foam topper.
Note: If you’re looking for information about box springs and other mattress foundations, don’t worry; we’ve written a whole blog post about mattress foundations!
Five Mattress Features to Keep in Mind
Besides choosing a durable core and comfortable topper, here are some other mattress features to remember as you search for a new mattress.
- Size: Standard bed sizes are twin (39” x 75”), full (54” x 75”), queen (60” x 80”) and king (76”x80”). Your mattress store will also have less standard sizes, such as extra-long mattresses for taller people.
- Firmness: Mattress firmness is designated on a scale from 1-10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest option.
- Double-Sided: Some mattresses are designed with equal cushioning on the top and bottom. That way, you can flip them over periodically so they’ll wear evenly and last longer overall.
- Replaceable toppers: Some mattresses are designed with toppers that can be removed and replaced. That way, you can replace the topper if it wears out or if you pass the mattress along to a friend who has a different comfort preference.
Adjustable: Some people, such as older adults, people recovering from an injury, or anyone who likes the feel of an inclined mattress, prefer an adjustable bed. However, not all mattresses are flexible enough for adjustable bed frames. If you’re buying an adjustable bed frame, be sure to also buy an adjustable mattress!
Four Tips for Finding the Mattress that Works for You
Now that you understand the basic features of a mattress, you’re almost ready to go out and purchase the mattress of your dreams!
But before you go, here are a few tips to help you find your dream mattress that will give you a perfect night of sleep.
Understand what’s wrong with your current mattress
Is your mattress too hard? Too soft? Unsupportive? Sagging? If possible, figure out what it’s made of so you know what to avoid in your search!
Test mattresses in-store
Even if you’re buying online, go to a local mattress store and test out different mattresses. Take note of the firmness level and what materials the mattress is made of so that even if you purchase online, you’ll know what materials to look for.
Test your mattress at home
Only buy a mattress if it has a good return policy. Even if a mattress is comfortable to lie on, you may notice issues after you sleep on it for a few weeks. For example, you may feel overheated if your mattress isn’t well-ventilated, or you may wake up with a sore back if the mattress core isn’t supportive enough.
Buy from a quality, trusted brand
Many mattresses seem fantastic for the first few months or even years but then begin to sag or disintegrate. Research brands before buying from them, be wary of prices that seem too good to be true, and ask your friends what mattress brands have worked for them!
If you still have mattress questions left unanswered, be sure to read our Mattress FAQs!
Four Tips for Finding the Mattress that Works for You
Did you know that you can buy Amish-made mattresses?
The Amish are renowned for their expert craftsmanship, and Amish-made furniture is known to last for generations. Similarly, Amish-made mattresses are constructed with attention to detail and quality in mind.
Here at The Amish Craftsman, we sell an Amish-made mattress brand called Monarch Rest Mattresses, which is backed by over 30 years of experience and the best in current sleep technology. Whether you want something firm or soft, whether you prefer innersprings, pocket coils, or a foam core, and whether you prefer your topper firm or pillowy, there’s a Monarch mattress for you!
Besides mattresses, we sell a variety of Amish-made furniture pieces, such as: