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What’s in a Mattress Anyway? Peeling Back the Layers of Quality Sleep

Have you ever wondered what a mattress is made of? Or how memory foam is made? Or the difference between a quilted mattress vs. spring mattress? As your mom always said, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

When considering your mattress options, you may wonder what’s going on beneath the fabric that makes it feel like you’re sleeping on clouds. Below is a thorough overview of the various materials that go into making a mattress so the next time you walk into a mattress store you can tell the salesperson exactly what you’re looking for, down to the foam type! The following materials found in many different types of mattresses are some of the key ingredients to a good night’s sleep.

The Most Common Materials In All Mattresses

Foam

A soft, movement-absorbing material that helps with temperature regulation and pressure point relief. Some common types of foam include memory foam, gel memory foam, polyurethane foam, and viscoelastic foam (also known as “rebounded foam”).

Polyester Batting

Used as a filling in pillowtop mattresses and mattress covers.

Wool

Can be found in some mattresses for extra padding and temperature regulation.

Cotton

A breathable material used both inside and outside of the mattress.

Adhesives

Used in mattresses to bond layers, materials and seams together for the perfect fit. Quilting is often used in combination with adhesives to further strengthen the bond between layers.

Flame Retardants

Found in all mattresses sold in the United States due to flammability laws for fire resistance.

Steel Coils

Either formed as open coils or individually wrapped coils (also called pocketed coils), these are a key structural component that establish firm support at the base of the mattress.

Now that you know the most common mattress materials, let’s get more specific about what goes into the three most popular mattress types: innerspring, memory foam, and hybrid mattresses.

What is a Memory Foam Mattress made of?

These mattresses are known for lush layers of memory foam and polyurethane material which conform to your body. A newer addition to the memory foam family is gel memory foam which acts as a phase changing material (PCM).

On a spectrum from hard to soft, specialty foam layers work together to relieve pressure points from your joints and balance your body temperature. These layers conform to your body shape and absorb movement so you sleep undisturbed.

Memory Foam Mattress Cover Materials

Covers used on memory foam mattresses are typically stretch knit covers that allow you to settle comfortably into the foam. With the cover working its magic on top, higher density foams are used as the core layer of the bed to provide support. These beds do not have coils in them! This benefit is great for those who prefer to settle into the mattress with less of a bounce factor because the firmer core layer of foam helps provide a balanced support system.

What is this high-density foam core made of exactly? They are usually made of polyurethane, but can sometimes be made of more natural materials like soy-based foams or latex.

Since they don’t have coils, memory foam mattresses don’t need a foam encasement for edge support to hold the bed together. Some foam mattresses have firmer foam near the edge of the bed, but this is not necessary for support since the high-density foam offers even support throughout.

What is an Innerspring Mattress made of?

Innerspring mattresses come in two different systems: open coil or individually pocketed springs. The outer quilting is typically made of traditional cotton fabric blends that give each mattress a unique look, fitted with steel coil springs for a firm base support.

It’s important to remember that the number of coils doesn’t always amount to the same level of comfort from one mattress to the next, but plays a role in reducing motion transfer and offering support.

Each manufacturer uses different designs and support techniques to achieve this result, often including layers of polyurethane foam and filling inside the mattress. However, more luxurious innerspring mattresses will use other kinds of foam, including memory foam, gel memory foam and latex materials.

Innerspring Mattress Cover Materials

Cover materials can range from polyester to cotton or stretch knit, each one specifically designed to be soft and breathable. Fun fact: the tighter the cover, the firmer the bed will feel.

When you wake up and get ready for the day, edge support materials are important — especially if you prefer to put your shoes on while sitting at the edge of the bed! These materials range from thick metal rods to foam inserts and encasements. The more edge support you have, the more sleep (and sitting!) surface available.

What is a Hybrid Mattress made of?

Hybrid beds are among the latest and greatest options on the market for better sleep thanks to the many unique benefits hybrid mattresses offer. Specifically, they combine a 50/50 ratio of individually wrapped coils with memory foam to offer the best of both.

The coils offer support, while memory foam and gel memory foam layers conform to posture and regulate body temperature. Cotton fabric blends are added to protect the bed. You get the best of both mattress types above in the hybrid, plus personalized materials that are going to work together to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Hybrid Mattress Cover Materials

Hybrids tend to have a more elastic mattress cover so as not to interfere with the conforming benefits of the memory foam layers. Further enhancements to hybrid collections showcase foam encasements, made from high-density foam, which supports the edges of the mattress.

Knowing the basic building blocks of your mattress can help you ensure that your next bed has all your favorite ingredients for good night’s sleep.

About The Author

The Daily Dozers The Daily Dozers are the mattress experts behind The Daily Doze, pooling their knowledge to bring you all that you need to know about what’s right under your head (literally). The Daily Dozers are team members who have been embedded in the mattress industry for years, whether that’s at one of our more than 3,000 neighborhood stores, or in our hometown of Houston at BedQuarters. These product experts can answer any question you might have about your bed. From ‘what size mattress do I need for my room?’ to ‘how do I know if I need an adjustable base?’ – there’s no topic too tired for The Daily Dozers. Even better? The Daily Dozers work together with The Savvy Savers to make sure you’re getting the bed you want, at a price you can’t find anywhere else.

2 thoughts on “What’s in a Mattress Anyway? Peeling Back the Layers of Quality Sleep

  1. Hi, Ken. I was recently in a bedding store looking at new mattresses and found something that puzzeled me and I wondered if you can help. I read a blurb on one of mattresses and it mentioned it had Hdydrophilic foams in it. I had no idea what this was and went home and googled it, and now I have even less of a clue as I can’t find any reference as to why it would be in a mattress and what it does. Any clues? Regards, Stuart

  2. Ken, appreciate your advice. I bought a memory foam mattress for my 85 year old mom, thinking relieving pressure points from joints. Problem is the edge of foam mattress is too soft, she has a hard time getting up from sitting on the edge. Now my mother-in-law asking for my advice of getting a new mattress, I wonder what to suggest to avoid the pitfall of soft edge without support for older people. What’s your advice? Is only spring mattress fit can fit the bill? Any maker produce mattresses with edge support when sitting and getting up? Many thanks!

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