The Search for your Perfect Mattress
A mattress on a bed frame.

The Search for your Perfect Mattress

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Mattress support refers to how well a mattress keeps the sleeper’s body on a flat and level plane. Sleeping on the wrong mattress can lead to or worsen back pain. Of course, there is no such thing as a “perfect” mattress for everyone. It’s important to choose a mattress that fits your natural sleeping posture.

Here are few different types of mattresses to try out:

Sagging and loss of support (barring mechanical breakdown) is usually less of a problem with airbeds compared to most other bed types. And the air chambers inside an airbed provide at least fair conforming ability and allow for adjustable firmness / support to suit personal preference and sleep position. Airbeds, however, with little or no comfort layer can be too firm on hips and or shoulders of small- to average-sized side sleepers.

Memory Foam
While memory foam mattresses can develop problems (sagging, excessive softness, and loss of support) these problems tend to not be as common or serious as they can be with innerspring-based mattresses (memory foam’s main competition). Memory foam also provides good conforming ability for average- to large-sized people. Firmness levels tend to be mostly medium to medium-firm. Smaller-sized people may experience excessive pressure points, as they tend to not exert adequate pressure on the mattress to benefit from the foam’s conforming ability.

Latex can develop body impressions and soften to some extent, but these problems tend to not cause widespread pain problems. Latex often conforms moderately to the body. Firmness tends to be medium to firm (but soft varieties are available).

Hybrid (Memory Foam / Spring)
Hybrid mattresses often provide above-average support, but such support breaks down for at least 18% of owners within three years due to sagging. Conforming ability tends to be good if at least two inches of memory foam is present. A variety of firmness’s are available.

While waterbeds are often highly conforming, their support is questionable. At least 15% of owners claim that their waterbed causes back pain because of poor support. Firmness can be adjusted somewhat by adding or removing water.

Innerspring mattresses often provide at least fair support, but such support breaks down for at least 20% of owners within three years due to sagging. Models with a significant comfort layer often provide fair conforming ability, while models with a minimal comfort layer often provide poor conforming ability especially for small- to average-sized people.

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