Did you know that the word mattress is actually Arabic in origin? According to Wikipedia, it is derived from the Arabic word matrah which refers to ‘something thrown down’. The European crusaders adopted the Arabic practice of sleeping on cushions, and it spread from there. In the Western world today, there are four main types of mattresses: innerspring, foam, air, and water. Let’s take a look at each one and examine some of their pros and cons.
The Innerspring Mattress
Probably the most common form of mattress available today. Support is provided via coil springs, which vary in quality according to the price of the mattress.
Pros: Widely available and thus easy to buy. If you are on the heavier side, innerspring mattresses may provide you with a larger degree of support. Also, because these mattresses are so popular consumers have many choices when it comes to selecting for quality, firmness, mattress topping etc. And lastly, if you have kids or are simply a big kid yourself, the innerspring mattress is the only kind of mattress you can jump on safely; it’s also an ideal staging ground for various pillow fights and for practicing gymnastic and parkour moves.
Cons: If you get a cheap mattress, the innersprings would wear out very fast and may even start poking out of the mattress topping, which can be quite dangerous and make you look like you live in a crack den in the middle of the ghetto. Also cheaper mattresses have a fewer number of coils, which means less back support (although WebMD notes that a coil count over 390 is quite unnecessary).
The Foam Mattress
This type of mattress is quickly rising in popularity. The foam usually consists of one of two types: latex or memory. Latex mattresses are usually made from a natural/synthetic blend and vary in density depending on a specific mattress. Memory foam is made by ‘conforming visco-elastic foam over a firmer polyurethane base foam’ according to Wikipedia. Highbrow science explanations aside, memory foam basically contour to your own unique body shape.
Pros: Because memory foam mattresses contour to a body’s shape, it provides pain relief and pressure point reduction. So if you suffer from lower back pain or specific muscular injuries or impingement, this is a good choice for you. It also absorbs movement, meaning that if your bed partner is the fidgety, tossing and turning kind, this can be an ideal mattress for such couples. We’re personally not a fan of memory foam mattresses because of the cons below, but these seem to be the top picks for memory foam mattresses. Latex mattresses are quite similar to even the best memory foam mattresses but they offer more sturdiness. The choice between the two would ultimately boil down to personal preferences.
Cons: Memory foam is known to be quite temperature sensitive, and thus has the potential to become rather uncomfortably hot. So if you live in a hot tropical climate and don’t have air conditioning, this may not be the ideal choice for you. Also, if you are really fat, the memory foam would most likely become really, really warm; you may also leave a huge crater in the foam that looks like your own mini Vredefort crater.
The Air Mattress
Are you an unemployed, broke college student? Crashing in a friend’s place cause you’re practically homeless? Then the air mattress is for you! Just kidding, but most people don’t know that there are very high-end luxury air mattresses in addition to the budget options. These high-end ones allow easy firmness adjustments, some even for individual sides of the bed.
Pros: Individually adjustable mattresses allow for variations when a couple each has different individual firmness preferences. As they say, some like it hard, some like it soft.
Cons: If you make your air mattress too soft, you’ll probably wake up with back pain due to a lack of spinal support. Also, in cheaper mattresses, weight placed down on one side causes the other side to lift up. I suppose it would be pretty funny to jump on one side of the air mattress and see if it’s enough to cause your partner on the other side to fly off the mattress.
The Water Bed
Does anyone even use this anymore? Wikipedia tells me they were extremely popular in America throughout the 80s and 90s but now account for less than 5% of bed sales.
Pros: Great spinal support due to the conforming properties of water. Bruce Lee approved. Also, easy to clean and wash as you only have to worry about cleaning the cover and wiping down the vinyl underneath. This can help eliminate house dust mites on the bed; good for people with asthma, eczema, or other allergies.
Cons: If it bursts, the water damage to your floorboards and furniture may be catastrophic. Many lease contracts and home insurance policies restrict the use of waterbeds for this very reason. If you live in very cold climates, the waterbed can become very cold, and heating it can be costly.