"The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to." ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

A bed that does not give enough comfort can ruin your sleep, and make you feel tired and fatigued. A good sleep is essential to maintain sound physical and emotional health, so the best type of mattress is one that gives you maximum comfort. The word mattress is derived from the Arabic word matrah, meaning "to throw". Let us now have a look at different types of mattresses that are available.

Innerspring Mattresses

These are the most common and popular type of mattresses. Their support structure is made up of coils, and their shape is retained with the help of a border wire. The perimeter of each coil is connected to a wire that borders the mattress, and special springs are used at the edges to give a firm support. The upper layer is separated by a tough padding or insulator, or a layer of wire netted together that prevents it from settling into the springs. The number of coils that may be present in these mattresses varies from 300-800, and largely depends on their size. The thickness of the coil wire and the number of coils used are inversely proportional. However, more the number of coils, more comfortable will the mattress be. There are different types of coils that can be used, and the technique used to connect the coils greatly affects the shape, comfort, and durability of the mattress.

The list below gives a brief idea about these coils.
  • Pocket Coil:
    These are cylindrical in shape and each spring is independently wrapped in a fabric. Each spring works independently, and the weight is not distributed. This type of coil is the best choice for people who turn too much while sleeping, as it will not disturb their partners.
  • Open/Bonnell Coil:
    These coils have an hourglass shape, and each coil is joined to the adjacent one by a helical wire. Initially, these coils provide good support, but they gradually fatigue with time.
  • Offset Coil:
    These are similar to open coil, but they are square shaped at the top and are more expensive.
  • Continuous Coil:
    A row of coils is made up of a single wire and this row is connected to the adjacent row using a helical wire. The innerspring mattresses made up of such coils can maintain their shape for a longer period.
Foam Mattresses

These were initially manufactured for NASA in 1970s, to help the astronauts get relief from the gravitational force they experienced during the takeoff of a spaceship. A typical characteristic of these mattresses is that they take a shape in the way the pressure is applied, and come back to their original form after removal of the pressure. In 1980s, these mattresses were introduced in the market for consumers. These are made from either of the three types of materials, viz., viscoelastic material, latex, or polyurethane.

The viscoelastic foam mattresses are expensive, but durable, and are more popularly known as memory foam. Latex mattresses are comparatively more popular as they make the sleeper feel warm in winters and cool in the summers, while the viscoelastic mattresses are sensitive to changes in the temperature. Latex mattresses are recommended for asthma and allergy patients, as they resist dust and are hypoallergenic. Foam mattresses are difficult to adjust to in the initial period of use and are not a good choice for heavy people. Consumers always get confused while choosing between latex or memory foam mattress.

Air Mattresses

The air in these mattresses can be adjusted to change the firmness, thereby making it as comfortable as you want. Dividers are also available in these mattresses, wherein the firmness can be adjusted to different levels on the two sides of the dividers. These are portable, and are chiefly used for camping or outdoor trips. They look similar to innerspring mattresses, but the coil is replaced by air in them. They are also used to a great extent in hospitals, as they can be used for pain relief. Initially, these mattresses were very costly, but the prices have gone down now.

Water Beds

Water beds are not very popular as compared to other types of mattresses. A unique feature of water beds is that their temperature can be controlled, and people living in cold regions generally prefer them. Soft-sided and hard-sided are two types of these beds. The hard-sided beds have a wooden frame that provides rigidity, while the soft-sided beds are hybrids that combine other conventional techniques with the water bed. These beds are recommended for allergic people, as they can be cleaned very easily with just a wipe. However, there is always a fear of leakage with water beds.

Previously, a consumer had very few choices while buying a mattress. However, these days a wide variety of is available, and a choice can be made depending on one's liking and comfort.