A comfortable mattress plays an important role in a good night's sleep. There are several different basic types of mattresses, all with their particular characteristics and advantages. The best mattress for sleeping depends on personal preference. Some mattress types, however, stand out for their comfort level, durability, and resistance to wear and sagging.
The most popular mattress in the twenty-first century remains the innerspring. These come in a wide range of firmnesses. All tend to easily transfer motion from one side of the bed to the other, which can be a problem for sleeping partners. They can begin sagging within a couple of years, faster on average than airbeds or foam mattresses. Some of these come with built-in pillow tops, which are a nice extra but which can also flatten out quickly.
Air Bed Beds
Air bed beds use air chambers, and layers of foam, rather than springs for support. The user can adjust the firmness of the bed by a pump system, controlled by a remote, that adds or removes air from the interior. "Dual-chambered" queen- and king-size air bed beds can be adjusted on two sides, allowing one person a firmer sleep, if desired, and ending the problem of motion transfer from one side to the other. The most popular air bed brands are Sleep Number, Sleep Better, and ComfortAire.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam mattresses are made from a dense lattice of spherical polyurethane cells, which conform easily to the shape and pressure of the body, reducing the "pressure points" that can cause discomfort at night. They retain body heat, which many sleepers find contributes to their comfort level. Leading brands include TempurPredic, Novaform, Spa Sensations, and Night Therapy. They are temperature-sensitive mattresses that change their firmness depending on whether the room is cool (thicker and firmer) or warm (looser and less firm). These beds may sag after a few years of use.
Waterbeds use hollow vinyl mattresses filled with water, usually set into a simple wooden frame. They have temperature controls that can warm the water when room temperature falls. Free of pressure points, waterbeds can help those experiencing back or neck pain. The vinyl mattress also resists dust mites, a common problem with fabric mattresses. Some don't appreciate the floating sensation, however, or the difficulty in climbing out of a waterbed. Waterbeds also pose the danger of a leak, which if undetected can turn into a damaging flood. Moving the bed is difficult, and the water has to be conditioned to prevent bacteria and mould.
The futon mattress arrived from Japan, where beds are traditionally thin cotton enclosures for textile batting, laid directly on the floor. Futon mattresses are usually enclosed in a wood or metal foldable frame, which can be used as a chair or couch during the day. Some futons have innersprings and foam layers, which increase their comfort level. Convenience and their space-saving quality are the most attractive features of modern futons.
Latex is a dense material made of rubber. Mattresses made of natural or synthetic latex cores are commonly surrounded by a layer of memory foam or other material. They have gained in popularity in recent years with improvements in design and construction. They are durable and, depending on surrounding material, can be more responsive and comfortable than traditional mattress materials.