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Mattress FAQs

Mattresses come in all shapes and sizes. Well, the shapes are limited to squares and rectangles, along with the occasional circle, but they do come in a myriad sizes. Though it’s fairly simple to deduce which sized mattress fits which bed there can be some confusion (which will be elaborated further in this section).

Choosing a mattress can be tough, especially when considering how many different choices there here at Happy Beds. This biggest question about mattresses though is “what’s the difference?” and that is what this section is all about.

Your Happy Beds mattress buying guide overview:

[Video] Tips for buying the best mattress / frequently asked mattress questions with Happy Beds.

  • There are essentially three distinct focuses for mattresses; whether they’re built for orthopaedic usage, whether they’re built to be durable or whether they’re built exclusively for comfort.
  • An important aspect of choosing a mattress is determining whether it will fit into the bed’s frame, as one that’s too large will spill off the edge (creating an uneven sleeping surface and possibly interfering with furniture) and one that’s too small will leave exposed gaps (that sleepers can fall into).
  • Different mattresses suit different sleepers better. Everything from how firm the mattress is to what materials and fillings are used within the mattress can make a world of difference, depending on the sleeper.

What is memory foam?

Memory foam is low-resilience polyurethane foam created Chiharu Kubokawa and Charles A. Yost and was developed in 1966 for NASA’s aircraft cushions. Released to the public in the early 1980s, memory foam is now readily available and utilised in a variety of mattresses.

There are many advantages to having a memory foam mattress. It is temperature-sensitive foam that molds to the sleeper’s body, which helps relieve pressure points. It is usually denser than other foam mattresses and retains heat, making it almost peerless for using in mattresses.
Avoid simply buying a mattress due to it having memory foam. Although it can enrich a mattresses comfort levels it can also retain heat so it can make summer nights rather stuffy.

Tantalising Trivia:

  • Memory foam was first created as a commission for NASA.

What difference do the springs in a mattress make?

Springs in a mattress traditionally make up the structure and offer a lot of the mattresses support. They usually come in two different types; open coil springs and pocket springs, though there are also spring free mattresses available, made mostly out of reflex foam.

Mattresses with springs in their structure offer firm and balanced support, though pocket springs are better for easing pressure points. Their independent movement also means that it’s harder to disturb a second sleeper sharing the same bed, should the first sleeper frequently fidget in the night.

Spring free mattresses are mostly made of reflex foam, which are incredibly soft and provide plenty of comfort but they seldom offer much support.

If you require support while you sleep, such as for orthopaedic purposes, then avoid getting a spring free mattress.

What does ‘orthopaedic’ mean?

Orthopaedics, otherwise known as orthopedics, is a branch of surgery concerned with conditions involving the musculoskeletal system. This system is what allows us to move, using our muscles and bones in tandem, which means the orthopaedics focuses on healing muscles and joints.

Anytime orthopaedics is referenced in the context of mattresses it means that they are designed to help relieve pain, facilitate healing and generally just be good for the body.

Musculoskeletal trauma like sports injuries are best treated by a doctor, as one might deduce themselves, though mattresses listed as orthopaedic mattresses act as more comfortable means to sleep than standard mattresses. They help the body heal whilst sleeping by relieving pressure points and contours to your body, all whilst providing a great night’s sleep.

If you require a mattress for orthopadeic purposes then avoid open coil spring mattresses, as these rarely provide enough materials, like reflex foam, to accommodate to these needs. The best options to consider are pocket spring mattresses with either reflex or latex foam.

What’s the best mattress for a child?

Young children will be best suited to single mattresses, made with open coil springs and natural or synthetic fillings, whereas older children may prefer double mattresses, made with either open coil springs or reflex foam and filled with either natural, synthetic or foam fillings.

Mattresses made for firmer support, such as pocket spring or memory foam mattresses, will most likely not be required for your child at a young age. When they get older and bigger though they’ll need more room to stretch out and they might require more support.
Avoid buying a mattress too large/tall for their bed’s frame.

Tantalising Trivia:

  • One of the inventors of memory foam, Charles Yost, won many awards during his life, as well as being posthumously inducted into the Flexible Polyurethane Foam Hall of Fame (which, apparently, is a thing).

An unusual smell is coming from my new mattress. Is this normal?

An odd smell is normal with a new mattress, especially with memory foam, reflex foam and organic mattresses or those that are shipped vacuum or roll packed. The foam contains some chemical substances that ensure the ‘memory’ quality of the mattress.

The usual way to remove this smell is to leave the mattress in a well-ventilated room for a couple of days to allow the smell to disappear. If you are purchasing a mattress from Happy Beds and are allergic to certain chemicals yet are unsure whether the foam mattress contains them, be sure to contact us prior to placing your order.

What’s the best mattress for a heavy / hefty / husky / obese / large sleeper?

Mattresses, especially those with pocket springs, are built to support a sleeper’s weight in the most efficient and comfortable manner. Heavier sleepers may find they get a better night’s sleep from the mattresses designed to focus on this weight distribution, as well as durability, and it’s most often the case that mattresses listed as ‘firm’ do just this.

Mattresses listed as ‘soft’ may not feature strong enough springs or be designed with a strong structure in mind and may result in being less durable and significantly less comfortable when a heavy sleeper sleeps on them.

Avoid mattresses that are listed as being further on the soft scale, as this classification may not be taking sleeper weight into account.

What’s the best mattress for a light / thin sleeper?

Mattresses listed as soft will provide the best comfort and support.

Unless you decide you need a mattress with greater back support (in which case a firmer mattress may suit you better) mattresses listed as ‘soft’ will offer greater comfort and support. Mattresses listed as ‘firm’ may not provide much comfort and feel fairly solid.

It may be worth avoiding mattresses that have too much foam in them (i.e. memory/reflex/latex) as these can make them too soft, especially when choosing a mattress with either pocket or open coil springs.

Mattresses that are spring free are often fairly foam heavy, so the choice between these two categories comes down to whether you prefer comfort (spring free) or require a mattress for more orthopaedic purposes (with springs).

How does the firmness of a mattress make a difference?

The firmness of a mattress is for comfort mainly, though some choose firmer mattresses over softer choices for health reasons, such as a firm mattress for greater back support. A sleeper’s weight is also a determining factor, as heavier sleepers may find a better night’s sleep on a firmer mattress better whereas lighter sleepers may find a better night’s sleep on a softer mattress.

The variable of a sleeper’s weight would make these choices better because the firmness of the mattress will determine how soft and comfortable the mattress is to them. What may be considered firm to a light sleeper will most likely support a heavy sleeper better, while something that’s considered soft to a light sleeper will probably feel too thin to a heavy sleeper.
Try to avoid opting for a mattress just because it’s on the extreme end of the spectrum on either ‘soft’ or ‘firm’; your weight as a sleeper can play a large role in which kind of mattress will serve you best to it’s a good idea to do a little research before making a decision. Also, just because a mattress may appear ‘too soft’ or ‘too firm’ at a first glance you may not notice some of the extra aspects to it that could make it a perfect choice for you.

Tantalising Trivia:

  • The groove that your body leaves upon a mattress is called a ‘staddle’.

On the Happy Beds website, how is the advertised mattress tension determined?

Our advertised tension (as seen in mattress descriptions) is based on the weight of an adult weighing approximately 12 - 14 stones (75 - 90kg).

The same mattress may feel of a different tension to different people depending on their weight and other personal factors. A mattress will normally feel firmer for a person weighing less and softer for a person weighing more.

My mattress is too hard compared to the advertised tension on the Happy Beds website. Is this normal?

Here at Happy Beds, our mattresses take six to eight weeks to settle down to their stated tension ratings (as referenced in our Terms & Conditions). The reason for that is because our mattresses are all made to order, which means that they have not been stored in a warehouse with other mattresses compressed on top of them.

The mattress should settle to the advertised tension in a short period of time with the recommended aftercare. You may also feel that the fillings (especially foam) feel hard to start with but once stored and adjusted to a room temperature they will soften.

How does the structure of a mattress make a difference?

The structure of a mattress refers to whether or a not it features a layer of springs. There are traditionally three types of structures; open coil springs (or traditional springs), pocket springs and spring free.

As aforementioned, there are two spring based mattresses, open coil and pocket. The former is the standard, traditional option that creates a firmer, more balanced support for sleepers, whereas the latter eases pressure points during sleep.

All kinds of factors can come in to play when you’re choosing the mattress structure; budget, comfort and orthopaedic necessity being just three.
Try to avoid narrowing down a choice exclusively for the kind of structure. After all, there are varying degrees of the structure, such as pocket spring mattresses containing 1000 to 3000 individual springs, so it’s important to make a decision based on every aspect of the mattress.

How does the filling of a mattress make a difference?

There are five main kinds of mattress fillings; memory, reflex or latex foam, and natural or synthetic (sometimes known as classic) filling. Each offers a different level of support and comfort, the likes of which can make a world of difference between sleepers.

The simplest fillings, natural and synthetic, are known best for their durability and breathability. The former can come filled with materials such as cotton, wool and silk, which provides better air circulation; an essentially element to remember due to moisture emitted during sleep. The latter often provides exemplary durability, meaning that it’ll last much longer in its ideal state.

The ‘foam’ based mattresses often feature aspect or ratios of other foams, though they will contain the most amount of the highlighted foam. Memory foam mattresses contour to your body via body heat while you sleep and are great for spine and joint support. Reflex foam mattresses contour to your via pressure, which makes them firmer and much more effective for othropaedic purposes. Latex foam is firmer still and contained hidden air bubbles, adding extra air circulation to keep you cool while you sleep; an issue that memory foam may exacerbate by keeping you too warm.

Try to avoid simply buying a mattress if it contains a specific filling. For example, even though it may be popular, memory foam might prove to retain too much heat and create an uncomfortable sleeping environment.

Tantalising Trivia:

  • The first waterbeds originate from around 1580BC when Persians filled sewn up goatskins with water.

How do the features of a mattress make a difference?

The ‘features’ of a mattress essentially refer to the finishing touches. They serve as much more than simply the patterns you see on top of them, they also offer fantastic enrichments to the mattress.

Some of the most common features are quilted, pillow, tufted and orthopaedic. Quilted mattresses feature two or more layers of fabric on top, serving as a soft padding for extra comfort. Pillow is similar to quilted, albeit with a focus on finer materials such as soft wool or smooth silk. Tufted mattresses have the two sleeping sides fastened together for added durability. Orthopaedic features are much like the rest of the orthopaedic aspects found in a mattress, and support spine and joints.

You can also have a removable cover as a feature, which serves as a convenient way of keeping your mattress cleaner for longer.

Try to avoid choosing a specific pattern just because it may look nice; there’s plenty to consider with these finishing touches after all, and they can mean the difference between a great mattress and your perfect mattress.

Are there any additional aspects to a mattress I should consider?

There are some elements certain mattresses possess that can be the deciding factor between two almost identical choices. This can be anything from enrichments like being scent infused, such as a lavender scented mattress that can help sleepers drift off to sleep, to mere convenience with packaging, such as the mattress arriving as a vacuum sealed, rolled up mattress.

If you’re trying to decide between a few seemingly identical choices then keeping an eye out for these features could help you make a choice. As aforementioned, they can be for comfort or convenience.
As tantalising as these aspects may be, it’s always important to choose a mattress that’s the perfect fit for you. Try to avoid choosing a mattress exclusively for one of these enriching factors!

Tantalising Trivia:

  • The first modern waterbeds were used at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London as a way to treat and prevention of bed sores.
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