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When buying a bed, do you buy a base with your mattress?

Author imageThe Mattress Warehouse

Sleigh bed, box base, even a futon base, they all have something in common: slats.

Why are bed bases slatted rather than being a flat piece of wood? The reason might be something you’ve never really thought about: ventilation of your mattress. Those bed bases that are a solid plank of wood usually have some holes drilled into the bottom. Box bases may look solid, but that is just because of the cloth they have stretched over the top and bottom of the base. Inside the cloth, they are simply a frame with some supportive slats, the amount of slats determined by each manufacturer depending on the weight of their mattress, but still having open areas to allow the mattress to breathe. How important is the ventilation of your mattress, should you be concerned about it?

So why is ventilation important in a bed base?


When you realise that you spend up to a third of your life in bed, and that whole time your body’s systems are working, including your sweat glands, you look at your mattress a little differently. Each of us sweats up to almost a litre of moisture every night. Part of this moisture simply evaporates, and part is absorbed by the sheets and bedding you’re sleeping under and on top of, but a great deal of that sweat actually seeps into your mattress. Once a mattress gets damp on the inside, it becomes a veritable breeding ground for mould, mildew, and bacteria to grow inside. Sweat and other bodily fluids especially are a feeding substance for bacteria on the soft foams. These moulds give off small spores which infiltrate the air around the mattress and finally affect your lungs. If your breathing isn’t clean and clear, your oxygen intake is diminished and this affects the quality of your sleep, making you more restless and also preventing the body from resting as it should while you’re sleeping. Ventilation of your mattress allows this moisture to evaporate away, but a mattress protector also makes a huge difference and ensures a much more hygienic mattress overall.

Dust mites are also attracted to dead skin cells, shed hair, and a mouldy mattress. They can further impede your breathing, and irritate your breathing canals, making you sleep restlessly. For certain phases of sleep, your body needs to lie still, regenerate your muscles and store your memories. Sleeping uncomfortably keeps that from happening effectively. Again, a mattress protector that gets washed regularly keeps dust mites at bay, as does a well ventilated mattress.

Longevity of the mattress:

The longevity of the mattress is also a main factor for manufacturers. A mouldy mattress doesn’t do its job very well for very long. The foams lose their resilience after a while, and stop supporting your body weight effectively. If the damp seeps down into the springs of the mattress, they rust, also causing them to lose their bounce and resistance. The mattress starts to sag, and the manufacturers are the once who need to replace it or repair it.

Coolness of the mattress:

A can mattress build up a lot of latent heat without adequate ventilation, from your body heat not having anywhere to escape properly out of the mattress. Both the mattress and the base need to be well ventilated, but in bases such as sleigh beds that close up the sides of the mattress, the mattress can’t really perform. In such cases, it’s important for the base to have adequate ventilation, which is why you can’t really put a spring base, especially those that are heavy, like Simmons, on a sleigh bed. The springs fall through the flats. To solve the problem, many put a flat piece of wood down under the mattress, but that, of course, cuts off the ventilation. Foam mattresses are to be recommended for sleigh beds.

Your body temperature has to drop slightly before you can drop off, but if your mattress is warming your body you won’t fall asleep quickly. If the mattress is cool enough when you go to bed, but warms slowly while you sleep, your sleep will not be restful as your body will be uncomfortable. Some mattresses are cooler than others, so depending on how easily you get warm, you should choose your mattress carefully. Memory foam, for instance, stores heat more than high density foam or latex.

Why should you change your base?

Feel of the mattress:

Your base can also have an influence on how your bed feels. A firm base with holes in it rather than a flatted base will feel a lot firmer, for instance. This is true even if you have a firm mattress, so if you find your bed too firm or a firm bed too soft, you might find the feel change subtly enough to make it comfortable. Also bear in mind that many mattress manufacturers, like Simmons, Silentnight, Rest Assured and Cloud Nine void the warranty of their mattress if it has not been used on the base it should have been sold with because they know their base will offer the right ventilation and support.

The Mattress Warehouse sells bases and mattresses, just bases, just mattresses, and futons with futon bases: pretty much everything sleep related! We sell all branded mattresses, like Cloud Nine, Rest Assured, Simmons, Serta, Sealy, and Edblo, as well as a few lesser known beds. Silentnight is a number one bed in the UK, GreenCoil are natural mattresses with latex and memory foam fillings. We also stock bedroom furniture, sleigh beds, side tables, whatever you might need, we’ll have it! Call us today on 0861 007 000 for more information!

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