Latex… spring.. foam… pillow-top… hybrid… If you’re losing sleep over choosing a new mattress, or simply lost in the jargon, here’s a handy guide for you.
Breaking up with a trusty bed partner is hard to do. And as if that’s not tough enough… how do you move on after you’ve made the big decision? Navigating stores, settling on a budget and debating between latex, foam, coil… all that’s likely to leave you feeling in need of a good nap. We peel back the layers of what goes into a mattress to help you find that perfect bed mate.
One of the most widely-used – and bounciest – mattress types. While the number, types and layers of coils may vary depending on the brand and your budget, they either come as open springs or individually pocketed coils. The outer quilting is typically made of traditional polyester fabric blends, with steel coil springs for firm support. They’re also commonly used as the base of other mattress types, such as the pillow-top.
Those on a budget, or want that familiar bouncy feel.
Sold almost everywhere and generally very affordable. Come with a bunch of firmness options, so there’ll be a mattress for you whether you’re a back, side or stomach sleeper.
Say goodbye to sweet dreams if you have a partner who fidgets at night. Innersprings also tend to wear out easily and can be noisy.
Pillow Top Mattresses
Think a mattress, with a cherry on top. An additional pillow-like, fluffy layer filled with anything from polyurethane foam to memory foam or even wool is stuffed or stitched atop a regular innerspring or foam mattress, creating that uber plush feel we associate with high-end hotels.
Those who prefer soft comfort.
Looks luxurious, feels like lying on a cloud.
Prices usually as towering as the mattresses themselves. Short lifespan, questionable durability and tend to be hot to sleep on. Once the top layer compresses, it can’t be fluffed up or replaced.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Originally developed by NASA to cushion their astronauts during flights. They contour and conform to your body, ensuring even weight distribution and provide pressure point relief, giving you that glorious sink feeling – with support.
Those suffering from severe back or joint pains and require movement to be restricted.
Great orthopaedic support, motion isolation and pressure relief.
Could burn a hole in your wallet. Not particularly suited to humid climates as memory foam retains heat and has poor breathability. Also comes in different grades, with inferior ones breaking apart easily into powdery blocks that release all the bad stuff into the air. A no-go for babies or people who are hypersensitive and have allergies due to its composition which include harsh chemicals like formaldehyde.
Ultimate comfort: unparalleled contour support, an excellent sink-feel and buoyant elasticity that will have you waking up refreshed and rested, no matter how often your partner tosses and turns during the night. If you’ve any allergies, make sure you’re getting certified latex (made from rubber sap) – it’s eco-friendly, naturally hypoallergenic, dust mite resistant, antimicrobial, free from formaldehyde, Radon and fillers. Give the mattress a few good whiffs – natural latex has a milky, vanilla scent. Look out too, for the international certifications on health and safety standards and where the latex in your mattress is manufactured.
Babies, the allergy-prone, anyone with back and joint pains, anyone who values sleep quality, really; those who like to be hugged (and who doesn’t?) while supported by millions of microscopic springs.
Conform beautifully to your body, giving you optimal support without sacrificing comfort. They keep your spine aligned through the night whilst dramatically reducing pressure exerting points, keeping your joints and back stress-free. Highly durable, perfect for humid climates and sleeps cool. Plus, customising a size and firmness to suit your needs is as effortless as passing us the measurements.
Many companies claim their products are made of natural or pure latex but actually include fillers that can be harmful to health, especially that of babies whose immune systems are not yet fully developed. Tend to be more expensive than spring mattresses.
Most often an innerspring mattress with a high proportion of memory foam.
Those who want to ‘mix and match’.
Can be customised to your needs and preferences. A potentially good compromise between comfort/pressure-point relief and support
Prices vary depending on the mix of materials and design. As does its durability – a hybrid lasts only as long as its top layer.
As its name suggests, the mattress is divided into zones (seven in all) and customised to conform to individual parts of the body. Firmer at the head, waist and legs, and softer at the hips and shoulders, it’s designed to keep the spine naturally aligned during the night while supporting the body comfortably.
Those who want personalised sleeping comfort.
Customised to your needs and preferences.
Can be very pricey. Needs to be purchased with the manufacturer’s bed base for optimal comfort. The zones are constructed based on a ‘standard’ height of 1.7m – which means that if you’re either taller or shorter, the zones won’t work for you.
Now that you know your way around the world of mattresses, how do you decide which is your ideal bed mate? Here’s a simple 7-step guide to help you decide.
Step 1: Know your type.
The most important consideration of all. Which mattress type suits your needs (or your child’s needs) best? How do you sleep? We’ve covered different mattress types above and it can be a lot to take in. Consider utilising a checklist. Write down what features you want in your mattress and look for the best match using a simple tick and cross system. Don’t factor in pricing just yet, focus on the qualities and features only – the rest comes later!
Step 2: Determine your budget.
Whilst we recommend setting a predetermined budget before hitting the shops, a better way to calculate whether a mattress is worth the money is the use you’ll get out of it. As a rule of thumb, a good one should last you about eight-10 years before it needs replacing. Calculate cost per annual use – a 10-year $2,000 mattress works out to $0.55/per day – much less than the cost of your Kopi in the morning… Add up hidden costs like a replaceable mattress topper. Remember, more money does not equate a good mattress – it’s about what suits you or the user best. However, if it’s ultra-cheap, it should also set the alarm bells ringing. If you’re not shelling out at least $500, you’re probably getting what you paid for: lower quality, durability, and higher toxicity.
Step 3: Identify your position.
Side, back, stomach, or all of each occasionally… you sleep in your own unique way, and your mattress should support that.
If you’re predominantly a side sleeper: you don’t remain in the same position throughout the night, so a medium-firm or firm mattress such as the Trilogy or Delight works best for you. It’s soft enough to contour to the curves of your body, but also provides support to relieve pressure points on your neck and back.
If you’re predominantly a stomach sleeper: a firm or medium-firm mattress (e.g. the Chiro or the Grand) will help maintain the natural alignment of your spine. Due to the level of support you need for your spine, you need to tread a fine balance: if your mattress is too soft, your torso will sink into the mattress, causing your spine to arch as you sleep – followed by aches and pains in the morning. Too firm, however, and your spine won’t be able to fall into its natural curve – leading to discomfort.
If you’re predominantly a back sleeper: you’ll need more support than a side-sleeper, so a firm or orthopaedic mattress (check out our Chiro mattress) would be perfect. This allows natural spinal alignment and consistent pressure distribution for a longer, uninterrupted sleep.
Step 4: Keep other factors in mind.
If your partner is fidgety: consider an innerspring mattress with pocketed coils, memory foam or latex mattress. Good “motion isolation” is key, so a medium-firm pick may be the answer.
If you and your partner have different preferences: a “his/her” mattress can help.
If you have allergies: latex is naturally antimicrobial as well as resistant to dust mites and mould. If you settle on an innerspring or memory foam, wrap it in an allergen-resistant cover. Alternatively, you could add a latex mattress topper to help keep bacteria, dust mites and odour at arm’s length.
If you have back pain: memory foam or latex are best, since they mould to your body for greater support.
If you’re concerned about chemicals: look out for certified latex or foams certified by CertiPUR-US for greater confidence in your purchase.
Step 5: Try them out yourself.
This is where you really hit the showrooms to try those mattresses! We recommend trying different brands and models multiple times so you really get a feel for what gives you the support you need. Your main goals should be comfort and proper spinal alignment, so don’t be shy about taking your time trying out the mattresses – you should at least spend 10 minutes lying on them.
Quick tip: remove the additional duvet or blanket when lying on a showroom bed, so you’re sure it’s the mattress that you’re testing.
Step 6: Read Reviews!
Be sure to read plenty of reviews online, knowledge is power and information is free! Still, remember that at the end of the day, it’s YOUR mattress, not anyone else’s. Reviews will only get you so far… the real test is how you feel on it.
Step 7: Check the fine print.
So you’ve settled on your dream bed mate. But before you sign on the dotted line, here’re a couple of last things to look out for:
- Warranty: A longer warranty may not promise a certain lifespan. Some companies invalidate the warranty if you don’t use the recommended foundation (e.g. box spring) beneath it, so be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully.
Materials used: It’s what’s on the inside that counts, so be sure you’re aware what you’re paying for!