After every day’s hard work, your body requires plenty of repair and rejuvenation, which mainly comes from a good night’s sleep. While lying on the bed, you need basic comfort and support from your mattress, to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. If your mattress falls short on its comfort and support functions, your sleep quality may end up being deteriorated significantly.
Before you understand how to choose the best comfortable mattress for optimal comfort and support, you need to understand how these functions are helpful in you getting a good night’s sleep.
Why do You Need Comfort and Support while Sleeping?
Comfort is the state of physical ease provided by the mattress while sleeping, which mainly comes from the kind of material used in the upper part of the mattress. For example, if the material used on the surface of the mattress is itchy or too warm, you would not be able to lie down for an extended period of time.
Apart from the basic experience and feel, comfort also includes how the mattress contours your body. If you lie down on a hard floor on your back, all your body weight is borne by your upper back and hips, and when you lie down on your stomach, all the weight is borne by your stomach or pelvic area and chest.
Lying down on the hard floor for a few minutes or hours will result in soreness in these primary weight-bearing areas of your body. However, if you lie down on a thick plank of wood, perfectly contoured to your body shape, you will feel much more comfortable because your body weight is now spread over a much larger area.
To add such comfort to the mattresses, different materials are used in the upper layers of mattresses for weight redistribution, which ensures optimum body comfort while sleeping.
Support is required while sleeping to keep the spine aligned by maintaining the right balance between heavier and lighter parts of your body. While humans stand straight in a good posture, their spines are straight when looked at from the front and are “natural S” shaped when looked at from the side.
While you sleep, your spine alignment has to be maintained exactly how it would be when you stand straight. If one part of the spine sinks too deep in the mattress and one is held too high, it will cause multiple orthopedic issues in the spine, which can become a lifelong worry is not addressed timely.
Support is also required to the lighter parts of the body, which do not come in contact with the mattress, like the lumbar part of your back. Because these parts are held high, there is only air between the mattress and the body part. Good mattresses brands prevent such body parts from collapsing, by using better materials in the support layer of the mattress.
Comfort Layer in a Mattress:
The comfort layer consists of the top 2-4 layers of the mattress that determine the feel of the mattress and also the level of comfort the mattress provides. The comfort layer helps in pressure relief and redistribution of body weight.
The Outer Fabric of a Mattress:
The outermost covering of any mattress is a fabric. Generally, the higher the density of the fabric, the more durable it is. Density is commonly measured using gram per square meter (GSM) metric which can be readily checked for mattresses. Higher GSMs are preferable in mattress fabric and foams.
After the durability, the next most important check the outer fabric is its softness. If the outer fabric is itchy and ends up irritating your skin, you would not be able to sleep on the mattress.
Lastly, the fabric should be temperature neutral, not making you feel too hot or too cold while sleeping. Quality of sleep is directly related to temperatures in most cases and if your mattress alters the temperature equation too much, it’s not a good fit for you.
Quilting Layer in a Mattress
Beneath the outer fabric, there is a quilting layer, which is the top cushioning layer of the mattress. The quilting layer is a thin layer of foam, fiber, or cotton, which is stitched with the outer fabric to make the mattress softer to touch.
Generally, one inch thick, the quilting layer adds breathability to the mattress and improves the sleep comfort. Some natural quilting fibers like silk, linen, wool, and horsehair have insulating properties that help regulate the mattress’ temperature and moisture, resulting in a much better sleep quality.
Below the quilting layer is the comfort layer, that does the core job of pressure relief and weight redistribution. The first comfort layer, which is 1-2 inches thick, is based on the configuration of the mattress - soft, firm, or any other. Therefore, the thickness and density of the foam used in the first comfort layer will vary based on the desired firmness, softness, or any other specific orthopedic need of the mattress.
After the first comfort layer is the main comfort layer that provides body contouring, sinking, cradle forming, and an overall good feel while lying down. This layer is usually 2 inches or thicker and serves its purpose well when it is made of high-density foams.
Mattress Materials, Sleep Quality and Durability
While choosing the right mattress for yourself, you need to check the kind of material used in the construction of the comfort layer. Several materials of different quality combinations can go into the comfort layer, which can lead to differing levels of comfort and pressure relief.
The most common materials used in the comfort layers of mattresses in India are Polyurethane (PU) Foam, Memory Foam, and knitted fabric. Based on the design and budget, the uses of PU and Memory Foam would vary.
Even within the same category of foam, there are high-density and low-density foams that go into the mattress. The comfort layer in poor quality mattresses may be built up of low grade, low-density PU foam, which is the primary reason these mattresses soften after some time of use and start impacting your sleep quality. Even in good quality foams, the use of PU foams should not be more than a couple of inches and that too should be high-density, high-grade foam, that provides better durability.
Memory foam is the most popular foam used in the comfort layers of reliable mattresses. The foam is developed using PU foam with some added chemicals that give some unique properties to a memory foam mattress. The foam is soft and does a great job at cradle-forming and pressure-relief. However, memory foam also has some limitations like low resilience and progressive resistance, which lets the heavier parts of the body sink deeper into the comfort layer.
To overcome the weaknesses in memory foam and PU foam, manufacturers use an optimum mix of high-density PU Foam and Memory Foam in the comfort layer and supplement it by using even better materials in the support layer beneath.
Support Layer in a Mattress
Under the comfort layer is the mattresses’ core or the support layer that serves the most important support function - spinal alignment. In some mattresses, that have a thinner comfort layer, the support layer has an added function of pressure-relief, holding up lighter parts of the body like the lumbar and neck.
The support layer is carefully engineered for most of the back support mattresses. The layer can consist of two layers made of several combinations of materials based on the specific requirements of the mattress. These materials could be Latex Foam, High Resilience (HR) Foam, Rebonded Foam and Innerspring.
Latex foam is one of the oldest used material in the support layer because of its useful qualities. There is a wide range of choices in the latex foam, based on firmness, feel, and quality. Generally, good quality latex foam is more expensive but adds significantly to the support and comfort functions of the mattress. Qualities like resilience, ability to reshape as per the body profile, durability, and progressive firmness make Latex Foam the best choice for the mattress support layer. Due to its solid technical qualities, the foam can individually be used as a support core or can be used as a layer in the support core along with other materials of the comfort layer. Mattresses built predominantly using Latex foam in the core are referred to as Latex Foam Mattresses.
HR Foam is desired for a bouncy feel in the mattress. It is the highest grade PU foam that is much more responsive than memory foam. HR foam in the core layer of the mattress helps eliminate the sinking feeling in the mattress, which results when memory foam alone is used in the support core. The foam helps in relieving pressure joints by redistributing pressure across the entire surface than on just heavier parts of your body. If you have a night light sleep and even the slightest motion on the bed wakes you up, HR foam can be helpful, as it reduces motion transfer from the sleeping partners. HR foam mattresses can maintain showroom-level comfort for an extended period, which is why they come with strong warranties.
Rebonded Foams is a mix of multiple densities of foam, broken down, and re-bonded applying mechanical pressure. The resultant foam is a high-density foam, with high shock-absorbing properties. Some of the best qualities of the rebonded foam are its tear resistance and high tensile strength, making the mattress sagging-proof. However, its firmness leads to improper air circulation, making beds a little warmer.
Innersprings are one of the most commonly used materials in the core that go with any kind of material in the comfort layer including latex foam, PU foam, memory foam, and even natural fibers. Innersprings in the support layer provides improved air circulation, more bounce, and good edge support. There are four types of innersprings, namely, Offset Springs, Pocket Springs, Continuous Springs, and Bonnell Springs. Pocket and Offset springs are best in terms of pressure-relieving and reshaping based on body profile, while Bonnel and Continuos lag in these properties.
The King Koil Advantage
King Koil is one of the leading global mattress brand, has spent more than a century dealing in and learning about mattresses. To give the best experience to the mattress buyers, King Koil weeds out most of the sub-optimal and incompatible material in mattress construction and build its mattresses using top quality material, keeping the sleep comfort and body support of the sleepers as the highest precedence.
The carefully engineered King Koil mattresses are built to suit wide requirements of sleepers including the specific orthopedic support requirements. The foams used in the King Koil mattresses are all manufactured in-house and are 100% sleep grade foams, unlike other variety of foams that have other applications like furniture construction.
A pure sleep grade foam is critical because sleep is a vital function of the body and your connection with your mattress is very intimate, which can’t be left to just another foam. Apart from using top-notch material and delivering comfortable and supportive mattress designs, King Koil also has built a powerful technology tool that analyzes the way you sleep and helps select the right mattress for you. Known as the SleepID, the tool uses your inputs about your body type and sleeping patterns to help select the mattress best suited for you.
When you buy from King Koil, you can be assured that you are buying from a sleep expert and not just another mattress manufacturer. King Koil also prices its mattresses reasonably, providing the best sleep experience without drilling a hole in your pocket.
The Final Word
A mattress is a long-term commitment for most people and therefore it is important to understand how different layers of a mattress help you get a good night’s sleep every day. By understanding the mattress’ comfort and support functions in detail, you can equip yourself with crucial knowledge that will be immensely helpful while picking the mattress that is most suited to your body requirements.
The combination of materials can be different for different mattresses, but when you know what materials suit you the best for body comfort and support, you can ask the right question to your nearest mattress dealer, make an informed mattress buying decision and save yourself a number of sleepless nights.