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Mattress Facts You Can Use

by: Michael O'Brien

POSTED: March 19, 2009 9:42 am America/Chicago

Whether we know or not, we spend at least a third of our lives in bed. Americans spend on average close to three thousand hours a year in bed. So over the course of a lifetime we can easily spend over twenty years in bed. Recent research seems to indicate that getting quality sleep is a very important component to our overall health, both physical and mental. Not getting enough sleep, or sleep deprivation, can adversely affect our heart health.

Poor sleep habits can also have a detrimental impact on our overall quality of life and even our work performance. The purchase of a new sleep system should be considered every bit as important as buying your next car.

New materials have been introduced in recent years, with visco elastic memory foam and greater use of other foam composites changing how mattresses are built. Thanks to the internet, consumers have access to a great deal of information about the wide variety of sleep systems on the market today. More consumers are familiar with the terminology associated the construction of modern bedding and the types of materials that are being used.

Coil Springs

The tried and true innerspring mattress is still the most popular choice for consumers. The combination of a quality innerspring mattress and box spring can offer comfort and durability for a reasonable price. Coil spring count is a basic measure of a traditional innerspring mattress. Spring count refers to the number of coil springs that make up the guts of the mattress. As a general rule the higher the spring count, the more expensive the mattress.

Equally as important is the thickness of the spring wire used to make the coils. The thickness of the spring wire is very important in determining how soft or how firm the mattress feels. The way in which wire thickness is measured might seem confusing to some folks but it really quite simple. The thicker, or heavier the spring wire, the lower the number. For example, spring wire that measures fourteen mils is thinner, or lighter, than spring wire that measures thirteen mills.

Firm or Soft

There has been an ongoing debate over what type of mattress is better for your back. Many recent studies conclude that firm mattress is better those folks with back problems. There are also studies that seem to indicate that the firmness of the mattress does not matter. As for those studies, many of the conclusions point to a subjective measure of comfort. Said another way, there does not seem to be a hard and fast rule about firmness. In fact, some studies suggest that it is up to the sleeper, or if it feels good, use it rule.

Mattress manufacturers use a combination of spring count and spring wire thickness to control the firmness of the innerspring mattress. With the introduction of memory foam, and greater use of latex foam, manufacturers have more design options when it comes to controlling firmness.

Controlling firmness has been made easier by the introduction of air beds. These beds use air filled chambers to control the firmness of the mattress by increasing or decreasing the volume of air in the chamber. Similar to a soft sided waterbed, air beds are built around the air chambers, which are encased in foam and covered with mattress fabric.

Used Mattresses

There are many sources of used box springs and mattresses. Though used bedding might look like a cheaper alternative to buying a new mattress, there could be a hidden cost later. The consumer has no way to know how long the bedding was in service and, unlike a book, you really can not tell a mattress by its cover.

Despite regulations in many states that require some level of disinfecting, the presence bed bugs and other pests like dust mites may not be immediately obvious and makes purchasing used bedding a very risky business indeed. Adding to the inherent risk in buying used bedding is the issue of fire resistance. Older pieces of bedding are far less likely to have been made using flame and fire resistant materials.

Play it Safe

It pays to do the homework when it comes to a major purchase like a new sleep system. Be sure to give that new mattress a thorough test drive before making a purchase decision. Spend as much time as it takes to make the bedding is right for you.

Mattress Shopping 101

If your mattress is lumpy, dimpled or just plain uncomfortable, then the time has come for you to do some shopping. When you wake up do you find yourself lost in a big hole? Or perhaps you keep waking up tired and not fully rested. If you answer yes to any of these scenarios then the time has come to go shopping for a new mattress.

Shopping for a new mattress needn’t be a chore. Consumers have a whole host of options when it comes to choosing the right mattress. Having access to information on a colossal scale, modern consumers can arm themselves with enough information to make better purchasing decisions.

Much of the information presented to consumers comes from the tried and true world of advertising. Advertising can be highly informative and helpful to the average consumer. But advertising can be two edged sword, especially if the ad contains more fluff and hype. Consumers are left to sort out the fact from the fluff.

Shopping for a new mattress is quite similar to shopping for a new car. Since we spend an average of three thousand hours a year in bed, choosing the right mattress can be every bit as important as that new car. Recent studies have shown that getting enough quality sleep can have significant health benefits and the mattress can have effect how we sleep.

The old adage you get what you pay for is very applicable in choosing a new sleep system. A low cost mattress may be a fine choice if it is comfortable. A low cost mattress may last for several years but do not plan on keeping it in service for more than a few years. A moderately priced mattress set will last longer and provide you with more comfort than the budget model. High priced mattress sets may or may not be superior to a less expensive set and you may find yourself paying more for a brand name than a mattress.

Warranties and Returns

There a few simple ways to make sure that you get what you pay for. Like shopping for a new car, it pays to research before you buy. Like a new car, a mattress is very hard to return after the fact. Most retailers will not accept a return unless the mattress was defective. If you simply decided that you weren’t happy with your choice, you may be out of luck.

Warranties vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. Remember that all mattress warranties are not created equal. Many mattress warranties are prorated to some degree and what may look like a defect to you may not be covered in the warranty. Be sure to read the entire warranty and ask the salesperson questions. Remember that promises made by the salesperson may not enforceable if you ever need to file a warranty claim.

About the Author

Michael O'Brien is a writer for and other popular websites.
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