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We have been sleeping on something all the time but we haven’t always had these comfy mattresses. Let’s have a look on where these mattresses came from and how they have evolved during the time.

When our ancestors invented beds and mattresses the need arise because they have to sleep higher than the ground to avoid dirt and pests and materials available those days were grass leaves and animals skins.

In Persia (now days Iran) the first water beds were made by using goatskin filled with water. Egyptians were known to sleep on palm boughs heaped back. Romans improved a little and started using bag of cloth filled with reeds hay or wool and also feathers. In a nutshell they were using any soft material available to them to get rested.

Until 1800 AD mattress were made from wool or cotton. Then in mid 1800 they start using quality linen or cotton for mattress covers and natural fibers like coconut fiber, horsehair for fillings. These mattresses were tufted to attached fillings to the covers and edges were stitched.

The biggest change arrives with the invention of steel coil spring in 1857. First it was patented and used in chairs. But 1865 patented it for bedding use as well. A German inventor named Heinrich Westphal invented innerspring mattress in 1871.

Innerspring mattress became very popular and by 1930 they were widely used all over western world. These innerspring mattresses were much better than its thousand-year-old predecessor. These were softer, bouncier and were offering much better support. But they had the basic problem, the whole mattress go down and cannot conform to and properly support body.

To overcome this problem pocketed coils came into existence. These types of coils were sewn into separate pockets and they work independently thus minimizing partner disturbance and offered much better body support.

In 1970’s waterbeds became new shiny thing in the bedding industry, although they were heavy mattresses but this didn't stop them becoming popular. Many companies arrive in the market to cash in the trend but it starts fading by 1990’s.

The next big change was introduction of memory foam into the mattress industry. NASA invented this foam in 1966 and it only became commercially used in mattresses in 1991.

Memory foam was subsequently used in medical settings. It was commonly used in cases where the patient was required to lie immobile in their bed on a firm mattress for an unhealthy period of time. In late 2000’s gel infused memory foam was introduced to reduce the heat build up that was common problem in ordinary memory foam.

One remarkable change that has happened to mattress is the increased height during all these years. Initial foam only mattresses were 5 or 6 cms thick but these days you won't find it hard to find 33-35 cm thick mattresses. This trend is reflective of use of higher coil units and more comfort layers of specialty foams such as latex, gel memory etc.

You can now find mattress that support your body by adjusting itself, foams that conform to shape of your spine and dissipate heat while you sleeps on it.

After reading this you will agree that mattress has come a long way from grass leaves and goatskin to space age foam and steel coils.
Shopping for new mattress? Might you save some money by shopping on the web? Yes you can and you should, but is it a right way? Let test those claims.

By using Internet gives more information to a customer and helps a lot in doing research while shopping for a mattress and most online retailers are reputable.

Really though you will discover that you can save few hundred dollars by comparing two items in most the cases but this doesn’t work in mattress buying. Here is why:

The whole mattress industry has been designed to avoid giving buyers the power to compare and shop for better deal. Let me tell you more by giving an example, say you have found a mattress and retailer A form a manufacturer say “ Good Mattress Company” and the specific model is called “Karama”. Now stay with me, as a buyer you want to make sure that you are getting the best deal you want to compare it with at least one or two retailer who stock same brand .

      Now in a typical scenario you will either call or walk in to showroom of Retailer B and ask for a mattress made by “ Good Mattress Company” and model Karama… Be prepared to know that even this store sells “ Good mattress company “ products but you will not find any mattress named “ Karama” in their stock. This is being done deliberately to confuse the buyer and keep up the huge margins.

      But there is a way you can beat these retailer in this game and it is very simple. But it do require some homework on your part. We will give you 5 questions that you need to ask salesperson and this will give you enough information about the product. But let me warn you ,they will try to use different terms for similar features and you don’t have to fall prey on this.

So the first thing to know is the support system, which implies how this mattress is designed to support your body?

So the first question is “How this mattress supports your body”?

Overall there can be three system two of them are by using steel wire coils and third is using foam as core.

Let's talk about steel coil first, to keep it simple I will categorize them into

Ordinary springs (can be a bonnell,Continous coil, LFK etc) , In these system each coil is attached to the whole mesh by wires and it can not adjust itself to difference in the weight on different areas.

Pocket spring are also known as individual pocket coils.In this system each coil is sewn into a separate pocket and work like a piston or shock absorber.This allows the system to response diffrenetly than the ordinary springs. Main benefits of pocket springs are the dedicated support on heavier parts i;e Hips and shoulders and reduction in partner disturbance when one person move.
(I have wrote a separate article on comparing these two systems)

Foam Core uses high-density foam to be used as a base support. This is mainly used in memory foam or latex mattresses. High-density foam provides the firmness. It can be anywhere from 5 cm to 10 cm thick. Although foam only mattress have gained popularity in recent years especially in Europe and North America the main complaint people have against them is that some sleepers find them hot.

Second question should be focused on comfort layer. What kind of foam has been used in the mattress?

3 main types are Polyurethane, Latex and Memory Foam. Then there’s some different variation in each one of them. Again to warn you before hand every manufacturer will use their own name, which reflects one of those three types. I have written different article to explain these foams in details but in this article we Just to add that new improvement in memory foam called Gel infused memory foam has been very popular in markets where hot temperature has been a problem. So we'll discuss about this in our memory foam part. Let’s get some basic information on these three types of foam.

Memory Foam was developed by NASA (yes while sending man to moon) for supporting the back of astronauts while taking off to space. The memory foam is very high density from that conforms to the shape of your body. It helps reducing pains and pressure points. Memory foam work with two factors, heat and pressure.

Latex is a form of rubber and using sap of rubber tree creates it. Latex is known for its elasticity and is also very breathable. Because it is a natural product many people prefer latex to other man made foams.

Polyurethane foam is the most common foam used in many industries. It is the same foam that form seats of sofas, padding of steering wheels of cars, chairs seats etc. It is most inexpensive among all three and you will see it being used in mainly budget mattresses.

3 What type of fabric is used in this mattress?

Fabric Cover may not sound important but it is very essential in regulating the temperature. A cheap polyester fabric may do the job but you will find it very hot to sleep on. So main fabric used for the mattress are Polyester, Jacquard and Knitted. Among these three Knitted fabric is known for its breathability, air porosity and stretch ability is mainly used in premium mattress. Budget mattresses are normally made from polyester covers.

4 Is it safe for my home ?
Internet is full of complaints from people who have been exposed to strong chemical smells from their new mattress. This is known as off gassing and some people find it very irritable. To make sure these foams and fabric are safe if testing agencies has certified them. Oeko-Tex is world-renowned for this kind of test and many European standards are stringent enough to make sure that the product is safe.

5 How do I know if this is the right mattress for you?
The traditional way of mattress purchase is you visit the store with your partner ( if you have one) and lay down on one or many mattresses for few minutes each. While you are doing this a salesperson is roaming around you and most of the time you are talking to him or your partner.

Most of people get confused after trying 3 or 4 mattresses and cannot tell the difference in feel between them.

Although the sales consultant will try to give you the best advice for you but the real results are normally seen a morning after you have slept on a mattress. I understand you cannot sleep overnight in a mattress store.

So even if you are having a feeling that this mattress suits you, leave some room for error and if you are wrong you would love to have it exchanged for a softer/firmer/harder version. Don’t get me wrong you will know this from your own experience.

Try to purchase new mattress from a retailer (online or offline) who offers either a comfort guarantee or money back guarantee. In comfort guarantee they allows you to exchange the mattress and in money back guarantee you can simply return the mattress and have your money back.

Ask the store to provide you the copy of their terms and conditions of Comfort or Money Back Guarantee and make sure you have read it properly.

Good luck with your mattress hunting and don’t let anyone confuse with technical jargon. Thanks for taking the time to read this article and for comments and feedback please email me on mattressstudiodarwin@gmail.com.
If you are in market to get yourself a new mattress then this article can be one of your best resources in finding what is best for you.
Here’s why:
Most of the mattress brands in Australia use their own trademark names for the basic types of springs they use. So one suppliers “comfocoil” can be exactly same as others “dreamcoil” and in industry term they are bonnell coil. Sound confusing! yes it is but by the time you finish reading this article things will be much clearer for you.

So basically there are two types of coils and for simplification we will call them ordinary coils and pocket coils. The main difference is the interconnectedness of each coil in the mattress.

In ordinary spring system such as bonnell, continuous and offset coil each coil is connected to other by a spring wire. Because there is a connection between these coils when used in a mattress these type of coil moves together when pressure is applied. In simple terms when a person sleeps on this mattress the whole mattress moves with the weight of the person. This restricts the ability of the mattress to adjust to the body. Keep in mind that your back is not flat and if a mattress does not adjust to your back it is going to leave support gaps which in turns can cause back pains and also cause interruption in blood flow by causing pressure points.

Also these coils cannot adjust to different body weights of a couple and heavier person tends to win the mattress, this is also known as roll together. Due to its construction and connectedness the mattress can be very painful for fragile sleeper. In case when one partner moves the other feels tremors too. Please see the picture below to see how these coils are all connected.

Sample of bonnell coils
Pocket Coils: In pocket coil springs are not connected with each other and thus they behave independently to pressure. Each coil is sewn into fabric pocket and hundreds of them are required to form a queen size mattress. This spring system offers two main benefits.
Body contouring property of Pocket coils
Because these coils are not attached to wire this allow mattress to offer better support. It allows the heavier parts to sink down while spine stays straight. This gives you healthy blood circulation and improves the quality of sleep.
Second biggest benefit is for couples; while these coils offer a nice bounce for love life they also reduce the motion transfer. So when one partner moves the other gets less affected.
No Matter how clean you are, there are some simple things that everyone does that cannot be controlled:

Perspiration: especially in our wet season
Shedding of Skin Cells
Pet accidents and dander
Dust
Dust mites

If you have lived in Darwin for more than a year you would agree that for more than 6 months a year we do get hot nights here. This creates an issue of excessive sweating, even sometime with the air-conditioning on.

The reason is that our body loses heat and cool down during various sleep cycles and it makes you sweat even more, especially the side of body that stays in contact with mattress.

Now in a mattress without protection all your sweat goes into the mattress and creates very unhygienic environment. Also an average human shed 14 gm. of skin during sleep each night. That sweat, dead skin and warm humid tropical weather makes perfect conditions for the growth of bed bugs, dust mites etc. Dust mites feed on skin cells that we all shed, and thrive in an environment with moisture.

In a span of 10 years, a mattress may double in weight due to amount of sweat, skin cells, dust, dust mites and mold.

Bed bugs are another popular problem. But mattress protector provide ultimate defense against these bugs. They are designed to keep the bugs out and not let them penetrate the surface.

All though a waterproof mattress protector should be used no matter where you live as it protects your mattress against any accidents. But our warm tropical weather makes a stronger case to have one on your mattress all the time. It safeguards your investment and it is hygienic too.

A waterproof mattress protector that is breathable will keep all the junk on top of the mattress. You can machine wash these protectors and wash away all the junk that would have built up in your mattress.

  1. Choosing without homework: A mattress is just a mattress attitude.
    Please don’t take this lightly because you spend 1/3rd of your life in bed. If you were to live 60 years you will spend almost 20 years sleeping.
    It is proven that quality of sleep affects everything in your body. So decide to know more about the benefits, the technologies, your needs and then start your search. There is plenty of information available and No salesperson can take you for a ride if you have it.
  2. Choosing a Mattress based on brand name alone:
    Yes the brand name is important and it gives you the confidence that the product is of good quality but don’t make that the only criteria. Do some research about the features of the mattress, try it in store with your partner (if you have one)
  3. Choosing because you can get interest free:
    Interest free deals helps us to afford these high priced item butmake sure there is no difference in price for cash buyers.
    The Store won’t tell you straight away so ask them how much it will be for cash? Then wait for the answer to see weather you are really getting the interest free or simply paying more for the item.
  4. Choosing a mattress based on where it’s made:
    Although in most products you will see tags declaring that they are made from local and imported component but this has not yet happened in mattress industry.
    In some cases the components such as spring system, fabrics, insulation pads etc. are imported from overseas and assembled here. Ask the sales person is this product 100% made in Australia. Don’t just pay thousands of dollars more without asking this.
  5. Choosing based on the length of warranty:
    It is recommended that you should replace your mattress every 6-8 years. The reason is simple ….It is hygienic…specially when you love in sweaty place like Darwin…. your body changes as you age. …And also new technology and improvement can offer you better night sleep. So a mattress with 15-20 years warranty …Do you really need it?.
  6. Choosing a mattress store without checking comments from other clients:
    Any store can say anything about their past clients. And, sadly, some of what he says may not be true. Make sure you go online and read comments from current customers so you can depend on the store and their service.
  7. Choosing a mattress without Comfort Guarantee or money Back Guarantee:
    Internet is full of stories of people who spent thousands of dollars on these expensive mattresses and when they found out its no good…they couldn’t do anything. The stores were not ready to take them back…and those who do made them pay lot of money in cancellation or restocking charges.
    Mattress buying is very different from any other shopping you do. You buy clothes you try them in the try room…you buy new car you take it for a test drive but you can’t sleep on a mattress in store. You only know if a mattress is good for you and your body only when you wake up in the morning. So make sure you know what your options are if things don’t work out. Ask for the return policy and read all the fine print.