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Mattress Buying FAQ

Is it true that firm mattresses are better for me? What are all these different kinds of latex? What is the difference between memory foam and latex? 

We understand that shopping for a mattress can be daunting, and we're here to help. Knowing some key details can really help you make an educated decision, so we’ve taken the questions most frequently asked by our customers and put the answers here for you. Additionally, our Comfort Consultants are ready and willing to answer any questions you may have. Call, chat, or visit one of our locations to speak to an expert.

What mattress sizes are available?

Twin: 38" x 74"
Twin Extra Long (TXL): 38" x 80"
Full: 54" x 74"
Queen: 60" x 80"
Split Queen: 30" x 80" (2)
King: 76" x 80"
Split King: 38" x 80" (2)
California King (Cal King): 72" x 84"
Split Cal King: 36" x 84" (2)

What is a "split" size?

Split size beds come as two pieces. Typically the split mattresses are purchased when buying an adjustable base that allows each individual to control the movement for their side of the bed. If you have small hallways or narrow staircases, the split version will also facilitate moving and assembly.

When should I replace my mattress?

How did you sleep last night? Answering this question honestly is the easiest way to know whether it’s time to replace your mattress. A bad mattress can cause a host of issues, including back and neck pain and unsatisfying sleep that leaves you tired all day. The Better Sleep Council recommends that mattresses be replaced every 5 to 7 years, but many people sleep on a mattress that is giving them improper support and should be replaced sooner.

Your mattress may not fit you for several reasons. The most common issue is that the mattress does not provide proper support to align your spine as you sleep, which causes you to wake up with discomfort, pain, or the need to stretch out kinks and stiffness. The mattress may also not have the right type or number of pressure relief layers, which can leave you tossing and turning all night in an effort to ease the pressure and cause you to wake unrefreshed and still tired.

Is firmer always better?

There is an old belief that firmer is better, but this is not always the case. A mattress that is too firm can cause the lower back to arch and create lower back pain.  But instead of considering firmness, it is often more important to choose a mattress based on the level of support it provides.  If a mattress is firm but lacking support, it can lead to shoulder and upper back pain or a fitful night’s sleep full of tossing and turning.  If you prefer a firmer mattress, latex foam may be a good option for you.  Latex foam is a perfect combination of firmness and support, and it doesn’t conform to the body like memory foam.  To learn more about latex, please continue reading….

How is latex different than memory foam?

Latex is a naturally based material while memory foam is a synthetic material derived from plastics. Latex is breathable and tends to sleep cooler than memory foam, which is extremely dense and typically leads to a warmer sleep. You sleep ON latex, you sleep IN memory foam. Latex is an uplifting, bottomless material while memory foam is a sinking material with a maximum compression level. Latex is a fast-response material while Memory foam is a slow-response material.

What is the difference between Talalay latex foam and Dunlop latex foam?

Talalay Latex is a rubber-based material that comes from the tropical hevea brasiliensis tree. Air is infused into the latex compound to create the open-cell structure of Talalay Latex. This method has been used for over fifty years to produce one of the finest materials ever used in a mattress.

By definition, latex is a rubber particle suspended in water. There are two types of Talalay Latex, natural and all natural.

Natural Talalay Latex is a proprietary blend of natural and man-made latex that provides the optimal balance of pressure relief, support, and durability. Wear-and-tear simulation testing shows the superiority of this blend. It can be stretched like a rubber band and is therefore naturally resistant to tearing.

All Natural Talalay Latex is referred to as 100% latex and is not a blend. Although it is more expensive and approximately 20% heavier, it is not as durable as the Natural Talalay Latex formulation.

Dunlop was the first process used to make latex. This process whips sap from the rubber tree into a frothy mixture, which is then placed in a centrifuge and poured into a mold, covered, and steam baked. As the latex is baked, natural sediments settle at the bottom, often creating a firmer feel at the bottom of the block of foam.

Why are there multiple layers of foam in memory foam and latex foam beds?

There are anywhere from one to four layers of foam in memory foam and latex foam mattresses. These layers are very important to support and comfort, and they are the reason that memory foam and latex mattresses are not meant to be flipped like innerspring mattresses are. There is typically a base layer of foam that is made with a high density so it will not break down and sag with the secondary foam layers on top of it. The other layers are variations of support and comfort foam. Support foam supports the shoulders and hips of side sleepers and prevents stiffness and tossing and turning because of pains in the hip or "dead arm." The comfort layers break down a little over time because they are the lowest is density. However, they also provide the mattress’s cushy feel and make you more comfortable than you would be if you were just laying on the support foam.

What is the difference between traditional innerspring mattresses and foam mattresses?

Traditional innerspring mattresses have several steel coils inside that provide different levels of comfort. They often come with foam pillow tops or other plush materials to add more comfort.

Healthy Back features memory foam (Healthy Back Sleep System and Tempur-Pedic) and latex foam (Healthy Back Bliss Latex and Sealy Embody) mattresses. These conform to the body to provide optimal support to side and back sleepers suffering from back pain. When sleeping on your back or your side your body is never completely flat because your spine is naturally contoured. Foam will conform to these contours and provide support to still keep your spine in proper alignment, which will prevent or alleviate lower back, upper back, shoulder and hip pain.

How long will a mattress last?

It really depends on the materials the mattress is made of. A traditional innerspring mattress will usually last from 5 to 7 years. Most memory foam mattresses can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years, depending on their construction. Warranties will typically cover any foam breakdown for the first 10 years, and for the 10 years after that any costs due to breakdown will be prorated. Just remember, you get what you pay for!

What is the difference between a foundation and a box spring?

A box spring is typically made of springs surrounded by a wooden frame then covered by a cloth material. If you purchased a traditional innerspring mattress, it would lay on top of the box spring. A foundation, however, is typically made with a nail-free design and heavy-duty boards that provide more support for a heavier memory foam or latex foam mattress.

A good bed foundation can be just as important to a good, healthy night’s sleep as the mattress that it supports. The foundation will make sure that your mattress is on a completely flat surface and elevated to a proper level. If you choose an adjustable bed foundation, you can elevate your legs for comfort or raise your head and torso to sit up and watch tv or read.

Most importantly, a good bed foundation will aid in extending the life of your mattress. Each time you get on or off your mattress, or even roll over in the night, your mattress absorbs the shock of your movement. A foundation helps absorb the pressure and shock of your body weight and keeps the mattress in top condition for years longer. When the mattress is placed directly on the floor or on wooden slats, it wears out rapidly from the intensified pressure.

What is an adjustable base? Why would I need one?

The best foundation is one that can adapt to you. An adjustable base adjusts to your needs in ways that a traditional flat foundation cannot. It allows you to elevate your head and feet when you want to sit up, and it helps you find relief in the low-pressure Zero Gravity position. After finding the right angle for your optimal sleep, you will be surprised by the instantaneous relief from common sleep-related problems such as muscle aches, sleep apnea, heartburn, acid reflux, hernia, and neck and back pain. An adjustable base also promotes better circulation throughout the body, so people who tend to sleep warm may find that their body becomes better able to regulate their temperature, resulting in a more comfortable night's sleep. Some models also offer a head and foot massage with a rolling wave feature. An adjustable base is also the perfect solution to the stiff neck and sore lower back that can result from leaning against propped-up pillows while trying to sit up in bed.

Hints and Tips for Mattress Shopping

  1. Look for a mattress with the proper level of spinal alignment support for your body. When you lie on your back, you should not feel your back arch at all. Someone looking at you from a distance should see your head, hips and toes all in line with each other, which probably means your shoulders and hips are settled into the mattress somewhat. There should not be space between your lower back and your mattress.
  2. Look for a mattress with the proper level of pressure relief for your body. When you lie on your side, you should not feel any pressure on your shoulder or hip.
  3. Look for a mattress that isolates motion from one side of the mattress to the other. Take your partner shopping with you. Lie on the mattress together and have your partner toss and turn. The more you feel the mattress jiggle, the more fragmented your sleep is likely to be.
  4. Be prepared to take your time and ask questions. Buying a mattress shouldn’t be a rush decision but something you spend time looking into. Start with a comfort test on good-quality mattresses and determine your comfort preference. Try plush and firm mattresses to see which feels more comfortable and supportive. You will need to lay on each for at least 5 minutes to really get an idea of what works for you. Next try other types of mattresses to experience different feels, including memory foam and latex foam mattresses.  Decide what you need to buy based on your preferences.
  5. A few questions you should ask once you find a mattress you like:
    • What is inside the mattress that offers proper back and body support?
    • What is inside the mattress that minimizes tossing and turning?
  6. There is no perfect mattress that will cure all of your aches and pains. Mattresses and other accessories can only help you sleep more comfortably, provide more support to alleviate hip, back and neck pain, and help you wake up feeling much more refreshed.