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Foam Mattresses: Understanding the Different Types

Author imageThe Mattress Warehouse

Your current mattress just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s sagging in the middle and no matter how much you toss and turn, you just can’t get comfortable at night. And this, of course, has adverse effects on your life. That is why you are reading this, right? You want to find a solution to your sleep problem and you heard that foam mattresses are what’s in.

Here’s the first bit of good news: you heard right! The second bit of good news? We here at The Mattress Warehouse put together a short guide on the different types of foam to help you find and buy the perfect foam mattress to solve your sleep problems. All you need to do is keep reading so that 5 minutes from now, you’ll be an expert on foam mattresses.

What is a foam mattress?

It is a mattress made from material that looks and feels a lot like the sponge you use to wash the dishes – just a whole lot firmer. Furthermore, these mattresses do not have any springs or coils inside. Contrary to popular belief, memory foam mattresses are not the only foam mattresses on the market. There are three broad types of foam used in the art of mattress making – foam latex, memory foam and polyurethane (poly) foam. Some of the more advanced foam-based mattresses contain layers of all of these kinds of foam.

Foam bubbles throughout!
The basic structure of foam

What is the best type of foam mattress to buy?

This is an ambiguous question. Thus we encourage you to rephrase it slightly so that you will get an answer tailored to your specific sleep needs. So, instead of asking…

What is the best foam mattress?

Rather ask “what is the best foam mattress for me?” Because in reality, there is no one-size-fits-all mattress out there. Sure, there are plenty of amazing mattresses that will be good for most people. But if you really want the best mattress for you, there are a couple of things you need to consider:

  • Your sleeping position
  • How much space do you have
  • How much do you weigh
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • What is your budget

What do sleeping positions have to do with foam mattresses?

Your mattress should support you in such a way that your spine stays aligned throughout the night. Moreover, how you prefer to sleep will influence how firm your mattress should be. If you wake up with a sore back every morning, your mattress is either too old and needs to be replaced, or it is too soft/firm. So, how firm or soft should your mattress be for your preferred sleeping position?

  • Back Sleeper: In general, medium to firm mattresses work best for back sleepers. The Kooi Pure Firm mattress might be exactly what you are looking for.
  • Side Sleeper: To keep your spine aligned, your hips and shoulders must be able to sink into the mattress. That is why plush (soft) to medium-firm mattresses work well for side sleepers. Something like the Kooi Pure Plush would be perfect for you.
  • Stomach Sleeper: Medium to firm mattresses are recommended for stomach sleepers. If the mattress you sleep on is too soft, you will definitely damage your spine. Check out the Forgeron Classique Foam Mattress.

How big is your bedroom?

Obviously, you have to be able to fit your new mattress into your room. So don’t go and buy a queen size mattress if you only have space for a single.

How big are your bones?

How much you weigh will influence what type of mattress you should get. In general, plus size people should sleep on fairly firm mattresses. So if you are heavy-boned, it is recommended that you get a high density foam mattress. However, if you sleep on your side, something like the Cloud Nine Comfort Plush Mattress with a plush comfort level is the way to go.

On average it is recommended that small and petit people sleep on soft mattresses because they won’t be able to make a dent in the surface of a mattress that is too firm. And this will cause aches and pains, which no one wants.

Do you have underlying medical conditions?

If you have medical conditions that influence your sleep, like sleep apnoea, consult your medical practitioner before buying a new bed. On the other hand, if you have chronic backache, use the guidelines above and make sure you shop for a mattress that has the correct comfort level and support.

What is your bed-buying-budget?

By now you should have a good idea of what kind of foam mattress will work for you. So all you need to do is find a mattress that ticks all the boxes and fits the budget.

Foam mattress buyer’s guide

You already have a good grasp of mattress comfort levels and how that will affect your sleep. And even though we mentioned three types of foam, we haven’t really explained the difference between them. Let’s do that now.

Foam mattresses made up of various foam layers.
Differently stacked layers of foam can create different mattress comfort levels

What is polyurethane foam?

Polyurethane is a broad term that is used for many kinds of foams with many uses. Its main components are polyols and di-isocyanates (fancy words for organic chemical compounds derived from crude or natural oils). When these components mix, a reaction takes place that gives off a lot of foam. To keep the foam intact, curing agents are added to the mix. The ratio of the two main components, plus various minor constituents will determine how dense and resilient the foam is.

Tip: Density determines compressibility of the mattress (denser = less compressible = firm mattress). Whereas resilience determines how fast the foam bounces back to its original shape (higher resilience = more support).

Most fully polyfoam mattresses are layered with the three main types of polyurethane foam:

  • High density polyfoam forms the base
  • Regular foam makes up a layer or two in the middle
  • The top layer is made of high resilience foam for extra support

What is memory foam?

Memory foam is an adapted version of polyfoam, developed by NASA to increase cabin safety in their spacecraft. The basics of how it is made stay the same, but some extra additives make the foam retain its compressed shape for longer. To find out more about memory foam mattresses, click here.

Check out the Tempur Micro-Tech – an excellent example of what a memory foam mattress is.

What is gel foam?

Regular memory foam not only contours perfectly to the shape of your body, but it is also an excellent heat retainer. Because a lot of people complained that memory foam made them too warm at night, gel foam was invented. A derivative of memory foam – gel foam is infused with gel microbeads that help to regulate your body temperature when you lie on the mattress.

This handy gel-infused memory foam mattress topper might be worth your while if you are looking to upgrade your current mattress.

What is latex foam?

Latex foam is different from other foam types because it is made by aerating sap from rubber plants, and not from chemical compounds. So if you want to get an environmentally friendly mattress, opt for a latex foam one!

Hybrid foam mattresses!

So what does all of this mean and how does it help you to choose a mattress? Well, you can now make an informed decision about what type of foam mattress you want to buy. Moreover, remember that there are mattresses containing layers of all of these foams. There are even hybrid mattresses that combine innerspring with foam technology to give you the best of both worlds. One such mattress is the Sealy Hybrid Sage. Another one, probably of the coolest new foam mattresses out there has to be the Forgeron All Seasons. It has different comfort ratings on the two opposite sides of the mattress. How is that for a hybrid foam mattress!?

Find the best foam mattress with The Mattress Warehouse

Now that you know exactly what kind of foam mattress you want. It is time to do some shopping!

The article is sprinkled full of foam mattresses to choose from, but those are definitely not our entire range. Visit our online store to find that one mattress that will suit your sleeping style perfectly. And remember, getting a proper bed is an investment into your own health and happiness! So if you don’t have the cash to buy that mattress that has your name written all over it right now, look out for the “Get it now, pay later!” option. There are three payment options, ranging from 6 weeks up to 18 months. Happy mattress hunting.

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