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Cotton or Foam Mattress or Modern Mattresses; Which Bed Mattress is the Best for Health?

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2021-03-12 11:18:42

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cotton mattress vs foam mattress

Lifestyles change, and mattresses and personal care evolve through the years. Are old mattress technology and materials like cotton mattresses still right for your health and practical in your lifestyle? The answer depends on the material properties and long-term use of cotton mattresses. When we discuss old fiber mattresses like the cotton one, it is essential to compare them with the most widely used options. Settling with sleep means settling for your health standards, and the best approach to quality sleep may lie in long-term health care.

But before we get into the how and why of our comparison, let's dive into some history:

The inception of cotton mattresses:
Cotton mattresses have been around for a long time, and mankind has been using hay, fur, coir, and other natural materials to sleep. Despite these being excellent natural sources to sleep, they're not viable in the long-term. Understanding health-risks and overall immunity maintenance is an essential part of our modern-day lifestyle.

If we talk about India, the land produces a vast amount of cotton, and textiles and cotton price is lower and more affordable. This makes a cotton mattress more affordable and available for the masses of a country as huge as India. But, are cotton mattresses that much value for money and viable for long-term use? The answer is no. Cotton is comfortable for a short time, after which the sleeping experience dips, and it becomes unfeasible to use a cotton mattress.

Because of the wide availability and the conception of comfort in a soft mattress, cotton mattresses are widely available in hot countries like India. However, this same heat is the reason it is also not comfortable in the long run and can be a hindrance to your health and sanitation.

Why should you not use a cotton mattress?
Cotton mattresses were the only affordable and healthy option when modern mattresses didn't start rolling out. However, if you've ever seen the state of cotton mattresses at your grandparents' home, you'd agree with these reasons for not using one:

  1. Nesting for dust mites: Cotton, as a natural fiber, is a comfortable and widely available material. However, its natural texture consists of fibers tied together, which are efficient in collecting dust. This also attracts dust mites and other allergens, which can accumulate and nest in your mattress along with other pests. It feels like a natural breeding ground to them, and extermination is unfeasible once infected. Although most cotton mattresses come in covers that protect the cotton layers, the slightest slip-up could impact your finances and health. Moreover, cotton fiber itself may turn loose, attract excessive dust and other allergens leading to bad respiratory disease risks. While most modern mattresses use dense foam for comfort and support, cotton mattresses use stacked and compressed cotton layers. This turns saggy and loses form, further acting as an attractive place for diseases and pests to show up.
     
  2. Fire hazard: Natural cotton or pure cotton catches fire quickly. If you're in the hospitality industry or want to stay safe in general, it is always best to choose prevention. Fire safety is an essential factor to consider when buying your mattress. The slightest spark, electrical failure, or ignition could lead to a massive fire starting with a cotton mattress.
     
  3. Pain and pressure points: One of the worst things about cotton mattresses is their sagging and inability to provide adequate relief in the long-term. The term cotton makes it seem like the material would be soft and a pleasure to lay on. However, for its softness factor, cotton compresses quite well under pressure, especially in cotton mattresses. Cotton mattresses have layers of cotton either separated or as one, and sagging comes by easily. Because of this, any softness or firmness you experience in the short-term goes away quickly, and you're left prone to body pains. The issue of sagging and compression of cotton layers in the mattress is terrible for your back and physiological health.
    Mattresses need to support and comfort your body and allow rest in a neutral position. However, after a certain period (varies on density, construction, and other features), a cotton mattress doesn't allow your body to rest easily. You end up resting on an unevenly compressed mattress (because of different weight distribution in the body). While most modern mattresses address this issue, cotton mattresses can lead to more pain than gain.
     
  4. Longevity issues: When you buy a mattress, you always choose it for the long-term because of the investment value. However, if a mattress fizzles out within a year or two, it isn't viable in the short or long-term, and cotton mattresses have that issue. If you're looking for a long-term luxury mattress, it is best to choose one that suits your body and lifestyle.
    Cotton mattresses have all these issues mentioned above, which, when put together, result in a bad overall lifetime. Your mattress can sag earlier (as per body weight, use, and other factors), collect dust like there's no tomorrow, and be a wrong choice for your overall health. Your sleep deserves more than settling for a mattress that has these many issues, and if you're looking for health-centric mattresses, there are other options.
     
  5. Chemical toxicity: For most cases, cotton mattresses use a natural composition of cotton in the different layers (or in one layer itself). However, to enhance longevity by keeping dust, mites, and other allergens away, chemicals are added to the mix. This might extend the lifespan by adding hypoallergenic properties, but it means chemicals stay in your mattress for that long. And having chemicals in your mattress (natural or synthetic) isn't suitable for your respiratory or sleep health. These chemicals also result in off-gassing, giving your room and surroundings a chemical spell that lasts for days, if not a week.

Types of foam mattresses:
There is plenty of variety in the mattress options you can choose for your health. If you want to go for a more natural approach or nature-centric mattress, a cotton mattress isn't your only choice. Read on to find out more:

  1. Polyurethane foam (Polyfoam): Polyurethane foam or (PU Foam) is a polymer-based material that can be processed into a foam mattress. Similar to a memory foam mattress, but with bigger cells/pores, PU Foam is usually inexpensive and soft. While PU Foam is affordable, it is not a durable or long-term comfortable material. Depending upon mattress density, it may last longer and offer more benefits, but the mattress is always durable in the short term. Polyurethane foam or PU Foam is mostly used as a comfort layer or as a thin cooling layer in most mattresses. Its short-term comfort doesn't make it viable to be used in a mattress that's good for your health. Because of large pores in the mattress structure, it regulates air and temperature and traps dust and other allergens. PU foam is an excellent way to add some plushness level and increase the comfort level in the quilting or pillow and Euro-top mattresses with some support.
     
  2. Memory foam: Made the same way as a PU Foam, memory foam is a polymer foam mattress too. The addition of chemicals and density variation makes it soft and decreases the pore size, responsible for its sinking properties. Memory foam is one of the best foam materials that offer comfort and plushness, taking all pressure and pain away from your body. Like PU foam, memory foam is also used in comfort layers of hybrid innerspring mattresses or other foam mattresses to relieve pain and pressure. Moreover, memory foam's density and closed-cell structure make it an excellent insulator, and it traps heat from your body. If you're a hot sleeper, it is best to stay away from a pure memory foam mattress as you might wake up in sweats. However, this is also an advantage for people that prefer a slightly warmer mattress or live in colder climates. Memory foam mattresses aren't usually good with support, but high-density memory foam can offer some support. Memory foam is also hypoallergenic.

    Memory foam is also a good option for unique construction and is usually quilted into pillow-top mattresses. Memory foam is further available in three variants, and the usage differs widely:
    Traditional memory foam: The memory foam variant in use since the ending of the last century. It retains all properties and cell structure of memory foam as a material (as mentioned above) and has a slow response rate.
    Open-cell memory foam: Open-cell memory foam has larger pores and addresses traditional memory foam's heat retention problem. It regulates air and temperature well and is a good option for the comfort layer in mattresses.
    Gel memory foam: Gel memory foam is another variant but has much more efficient heat retention than other forms. This is because gel beads or coolant is added to this mattress's cells, keeping it cool at all times.

    Because of this addition, it also gains some points towards its density and firmness making enhancing its support factor. As a result, gel memory foam is used in pillows and mattresses for chronic pain and keeping you cool in summers.
     
  3. HR Foam (High-Resiliency Foam): HR foam is closely related to memory foam but works entirely opposite in function. While memory foam sinks and rises up slowly when we exert pressure, HR Foam retains its shape under pressure. It is quick to rise and retain its original shape. The high-resiliency factor indicates how much of its original foam it can retain under pressure. This form retention factor makes HR foam suitable for orthopedic support or excellent as a support layer in most mattresses. HR foam or reflex foams, in general, also regulate air and temperature efficiently. HR foam is also a good option for ortho foam mattress cores and overall support enhancement.
     
  4. Latex foam mattress: Latex foam is an excellent option for health-conscious people and an alternative to a cotton mattress. Although not similar to cotton mattresses, latex foam mattresses use a layer of latex foam made from rubber tree sap. Latex foam is medium-firm by default, but density is configurable to higher or lower levels.
    If you're looking for a mattress that is as good for the mattress as it is for your health, latex foam is the best. Moreover, latex foam is highly durable and hypoallergenic, making it one of the best materials to use in foam or innerspring mattresses. Its variable density also makes it a good option in ortho foam mattresses or ultra-luxury mattresses.
    Latex foam also has ridges or pores in its construction design to minimize moisture or dust accumulation. Latex foam is also temperature neutral in nature, making it a good option for all seasons. Additionally, latex foam is bouncier in nature than memory foam, and you get an uplifting than sinking sleeping experience. It also has excellent edge support and motion restriction making it perfect for safe and sound sleep free from partner movement disturbances. Latex foam is medium-firm, and this makes it perfect for spinal alignment and orthopedic use.
     
  5. Bonded foam: Rebonded foam or bonded foam is a material made by combining different (or of the same foam type) together. This gives a firm end product that is good for people that want a supportive and firm sleeping experience. Rebonded foam is also one of the best orthopedic materials one can look forward to in foam or dual-comfort mattresses. Because of the high-density and overall high firmness levels, the rebonded foam doesn't trap heat and is mostly used in support or core layers of your mattress. Some manufacturers may use recycled mattresses to make rebonded foam, but it could lead to health issues. However, it is best for use when the mattress pieces are made anew and in-house for the best quality and sanitation standards.

Advantages of foam mattress:
Foam mattresses are excellent when we talk about the plushness or comfort one can give. At the end of the day, you do need support for long-term posture and health enhancement. But foam mattresses relieve pressure from your joints and offer much-needed relief from pain and the day's exhaustion. But again, these issues can change depending upon the kind of foam mattress you choose. Here are the advantages that all foam mattresses offer in general:

  1. Pressure relief: Not talking about ortho foam materials like high-density HR or rebonded foam; other foam mattresses are excellent at making your body comfortable. They sink or react to pressure enough to neutralize your body's weight making a comfortable experience. At the end of the day, your joints, muscles, and general systems need relief and have to recover in high-quality sleep. Foam mattresses offer this experience by offering comfort to your paining muscles and joints. While the support helps muscles relax in a proper posture, the foam helps relieve pressure when they're in a correct posture.
     
  2. Temperature regulation: Unlike cotton mattresses, foam mattresses offer a better temperature regulation. In memory foam and other high-density foam, they can retain temperature, but open-cell memory foam, latex foam, and PU foam are good at temperature regulation. This property makes foam mattresses even better at making your sleep environment comfortable and relaxing.
     
  3. Body contouring: Foam mattresses help contour and contour uneven parts of your body. We need a mattress that can hug and comfort different parts of our body irrespective of weight distribution. So, a foam mattress would be able to comfort and uplift uneven parts like the pelvic area or abdomen in different sleeping positions. In short, you have the freedom to sleep in different positions because of the freedom that foam mattresses allow.
     
  4. Sleeping position freedom: Firm mattresses are essential in maintaining a good sleeping posture. But without a foam mattress, sleeping in different positions wouldn't be possible. Irrespective of your preference of sleeping on your back or sides, you need a foam layer even in innerspring ortho mattresses. This is because your shoulders and body contours need comfort, and some level of leeway is quintessential in making sure you sleep with ease.
     
  5. Support: Foam mattresses like orthopedic and HR foam are also good for support. You can use rebonded foam for support because it doesn’t compress or lose its shape under pressure. This makes it an excellent option for the core in orthopedic mattresses. Whereas, HR foam is also a good option, but offers a slightly less firm (medium-firm) support. Depending upon the resiliency, the firmness factor changes and it offers support accordingly. Additionally, latex foam is also a medium-firm mattress and can be used for support in innerspring hybrid mattresses as a supportive layer.

FAQs:

  1. Is a cotton mattress right for orthopedic use? No, a cotton mattress isn't comfortable when you're looking for orthopedic use. Moreover, cotton mattresses are comfortable and plush in the short-term, after which they sag entirely and unevenly. So, even though cotton mattresses might sag and take a hard compressed and firm sagged shape, they're not suitable for orthopedic use. 
    For orthopedic use, you need a mattress that helps you sleep in the correct sleeping position and posture for long-term health benefits. Orthopedic mattresses are medium-firm, and the density can go up, and it is achievable with high-density foams. You can look into rebonded or high-density ortho foam mattresses.
     
  2. Is a memory foam mattress better than a cotton mattress? It depends on certain factors but talking of value and function comparison of memory foam with cotton mattresses. Memory foam is always a better choice, and it applies to other foam mattresses also. Cotton mattresses are prone to pest infection, sagging, respiratory disease affliction, and other potential problems. Memory foam is hypoallergenic, reacts well to pressure, and high-density memory foam doesn't sag easily. In a good mattress construction, memory foam doesn't sag or sink over time, whereas cotton would always sag. Another reason why memory foam is better is because of its usability and configuration in different mattresses, whereas cotton isn't usable in hybrid mattresses.
     
  3. Is latex foam mattress more natural or cotton mattress? Latex foam is sourced from the sap of rubber trees, then bubbled and solidified as foam into a mattress. Some chemicals may be added in the manufacturing process, but usually, it's 100% naturally cooled rubber tree sap. Cotton mattresses may need different chemical additives for durability and pest protection. Cotton mattresses would also use synthetic cotton in some durability cases, making latex mattresses more natural and eco-friendly. Moreover, latex mattresses are better for your health, and cotton mattresses aren't viable in the long-term.
     
  4. Is rebonded foam recycled foam? It depends on the manufacturer, and usually, manufacturers recycle old mattresses into a new rebonded mattress. This practice isn't necessarily harmless because some foam mattresses may rely on rebonded foam for support or core support. And a recycled material wouldn't be as sanitation-friendly, making recycled rebonded foam a health risk (both posture and respiratory). However, at KingKoil, we use 100% in-house new foam in rebonded foam for use in mattresses. Instead of sourcing from third-party options, this helps guarantee quality, comfort, and overall better support.
     
  5. Is HR foam better for support or rebonded foam? If we talk about support, HR foam is always softer and more like memory foam (in terms of touch). But it retains its original form making it an excellent orthopedic foam material. In contrast, rebonded foam mattress is a good option for general uniform support and upholding heavier bodyweights. Rebonded foam is firm because of its manufacturing and efficiency for use in orthopedic mattresses. Usually, HR foam is used in the support layer with rebonded foam at the core in most ortho foam mattresses. HR foam is also a good option when we need a softer yet supportive experience in innerspring hybrid mattresses. In comparison, rebonded foam is suitable for absolute uniform support best used as it is in the core instead of in a support layer.
     
  6. Should I choose a foam or innerspring ortho mattress? A foam ortho mattress would be lighter and offer more full-body support. An innerspring ortho mattress would offer delicate, focused support with varying spring types. As a result, it depends on requirements and preference. Foam mattresses would be more comfortable to maintain and move, whereas innerspring ortho mattresses could be bulky. You can use our SleepID algorithm for the best judgment decision and experience it in-store for the best resolution.

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