Hard or soft, cold foam or latex – many factors have to be considered when choosing a mattress. Some people sleep on practically any surface without problems.

Others are less tolerant in this respect: lying on the wrong mattress impairs their sleep quality or even causes them back pain.

Mattress types

The best known types of mattresses are spring core, latex and foam mattresses. There are also mixed forms of these three types as well as some other mattress types (e.g. natural mattresses, air mattresses, water beds).

Spring mattresses

In the classic mattress, a coarse padding (e.g. made of cotton, horsehair) encloses the hard core inside – a system of steel springs that move individually and independently of each other.

When you lie down on the mattress, the springs distribute the pressure. In good quality spring mattresses, the springs support all parts of the body with increasing counter-pressure.

The air can circulate well through the airy interior of the innerspring mattresses (hollow spaces between the steel springs); the mattresses are therefore usually very breathable, which counteracts the formation of mold.

Further advantages: Innerspring mattresses are robust and durable and usually inexpensive. However, they are quite heavy.

Latex mattresses

They are either made of natural rubber (latex of the rubber tree), synthetic rubber (produced on the basis of crude oil) or a mixture of both.

They are very point-elastic, which means that only those areas that are subjected to stress (e.g. the hips in side sleepers) give way. Other areas that are less under pressure (e.g. in the lumbar region), on the other hand, support the body.

When the pressure is relieved – for example when standing up – the loaded areas immediately “spring” back into their original position.

Most latex mattresses have lying zones of varying degrees of hardness – matching the body anatomy. In the shoulder area, for example, a mattress should be slightly softer than in the abdominal area, where the body needs more support from a firm base.

During the production of the mattresses, the liquid (natural) rubber is foamed, creating countless tiny air chambers. They provide good thermal insulation, ventilation and evaporation of sweat.

In order for the mattress to release the absorbed moisture into the air, you should air the room regularly. This also prevents the formation of mould. The higher the density (weight per unit volume) of a latex mattress, the heavier and more unwieldy it is.

Foam mattresses

This term covers various types of mattresses. In most cases, the mattress core is made of either polyurethane (PU or PUR) or viscoelastic foams.

Mattresses with PU core include the well-known cold foam mattresses. They are very elastic and retain their shape – when relieved, “dented” areas quickly return to their original shape.

Cold foam mattresses have an irregular, coarse pore structure, which makes them both light and very breathable.

Viscoelastic foam is also called memory foam. The reason: stressed areas do not immediately spring back to their original position when relieved, but remember the stress for a short time.

After getting up, the body imprint is therefore still visible for a few seconds. This is because the material reacts to body heat and body pressure and only returns to its original shape after a time delay when these are no longer present.

Viscoelastic mattresses were originally developed for the medical sector (e.g. hospital beds) because the even distribution of body weight prevents pressure sores in bedridden patients. The pressure-reduced lying position can also be an advantage for back problems.

However, the memory effect of the mattress restricts the freedom of movement in bed – browse around this site to know that some people find turning over on such mattresses tiresome.

In addition, visco-foam mattresses tend to be “warm”, which is why people who sweat easily but decide to have such a mattress for orthopaedic reasons must make sure that the cover of the mattress releases the absorbed moisture well back into the room air.

Hybrid forms

The various mattress technologies can be combined in many ways to combine the lying properties of the individual materials in one mattress.

For example, there are cold foam mattresses that are combined with an upper layer of memory foam to make them less temperature-sensitive.

This also reduces the manufacturing costs and thus the price. Combinations of spring core and foam core or latex and natural materials (such as coconut fibres) are also possible.

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