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Mattress 101

gardner-photo-addition-3You spend on average a third of your life on a mattress, and yet people know surprisingly little about their mattress. Mattresses are much more complex items than you might expect, with a rich history worth exploring. Here’s some interesting information about that piece of furniture at the heart of your relaxation.

History of Mattresses

The word “mattress” is actually rooted in the Arabic word for “something thrown down.” It was picked up by Europeans during the Crusades.

People have been sleeping on mattresses since prehistoric times, although it was not until the ancient Egyptians that the idea of sleeping on a platform above the ground developed. Early mattresses were made with reeds, hay, feathers, or even the perpetually popular wool. Sometimes straw or pea shucks were used.

These early mattresses often invited rodents, insects, and other pests—so much so they were considered a part of daily life. It was not until the late 18th century that vermin-resistant cotton mattresses and cast iron beds became popular. Coil spring mattresses would be first patented in 1865.

In the United States, upholstered mattresses began to gain market dominance in the 1930’s—just when Gardner, with its pre-compressed upholstery techniques, first opened its doors.

Foam rubber mattresses and pillows would first appear in the 1950’s.

Mattress Types

Mattresses come in all different forms and constructions, with different styles and materials for diverse preferences. Knowing which mattresses are which can help you determine your sleep needs and get you investing in your rest.

Innerspring Mattresses—Contains steel coils. There are many ways of organizing the steel coils internally, and covering them with foams, paddings, and upholstery which differ by manufacturer.

Hybrid Mattresses—Contains a combination of steel coils and foam.

Waterbeds—First developed by the ancient Romans, the waterbed mattress uses a chamber filled with water as the interior. There are actual two kinds of waterbeds: the hard-sided mattress, in which the water chamber is in a wooden frame, and a soft-sided which is framed by foam. They can also be free flow—in which the water moves naturally within the mattress—and waveless, where the water is constricted.

Foam Mattresses—Uses foam as the interior support. It can be made of various materials and of different levels of softness to match a customers’ needs.

Pillow Top Mattresses—These mattresses have an additional layer of upholstery sewn into the mattress for an even softer sleep experience.

Gel Mattresses—The “gel” in mattresses is actually another type of foam composed of cooling chemicals in beads.

Air Beds—Contains an air chamber for support, in much the same way waterbeds use water. Air mattresses are covered by padding and upholstery to look like a conventional mattress and are often adjustable.

Memory Foam Mattresses—Memory foam is a high-density polyurethane foam that is used as the interior of the mattress to contour to the sleeper’s body completely.

Latex Mattresses—Contains latex as the support system or as part of the upholstery.

Gardner Mattress makes its innerspring, latex and hybrid mattresses entirely by hand in American factories. We’ve been specializing in them since 1933 and we’ve perfected our techniques over decades of experience.

Choosing the Right Mattress—Soft or Firm?

There isn’t a hard and fast rule about choosing the right level of softness or firmness for your mattress, but choosing the right level of firmness is crucial for preventing grogginess, back and neck pain, and general stiffness.

Experts recommend that you personally try out mattresses ahead of time and get a feel for any mattress you are considering purchasing. If the mattress feels too soft or too hard, it means the mattress isn’t giving you the right level of support you need to rest. You want to find a mattress that encourages proper body alignment and sleep posture—you can get comfortable in an improper sleep posture, but it takes a while to adjust to.  Some people recommend “medium-firm” as the ideal mattress, but again it depends entirely on your needs.

If you’re wondering what you might be looking for in a mattress, either firm or soft, here are some points to consider:

A firm mattress gives some resistance, allowing your muscles and veins an opportunity to relax. Circulation improves of firmer mattresses, and breathing improves. People with arthritis or back pain should look for a softer mattress.

A soft mattress can help people with back problems, but can sink in too easily, forcing you to breathe more shallowly.

Mattress Lifespan

Unfortunately, no mattress is immortal. Mattresses have a very real lifespan, which can be cut short or extended based on its original quality and how it’s maintained. Moisture and poor quality materials can degrade your mattress quickly—sometimes within a year of purchase. The average mattress usually lasts between 7 and 10 years. Flipping and rotating the mattress can keep your mattress alive for longer, but generally mattresses still will not last past a decade even if you are vigilant about maintaining your mattress. Signs that your mattress is too old is if it is sagging, lumpy, stained, excessively squeaky, or any other source of discomfort for you that cannot be easily repaired.

Conclusion

If you are considering purchasing a mattress, it’s important to have a good grasp of what to look for and why. It’s your rest and relaxation on the line. That’s why we at Gardner Mattress put so much effort into helping you find precisely the right mattress for you. We make our mattresses by hand to ensure their quality and use the finest traditional and organic materials. Call us today to learn more and start investing in your rest.

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