There’s really only one criterion for finding the best mattress—it has to feel comfortable to you and your partner, if you share a bed.
It really is that easy. But when you shop for a mattress, it may feel a lot harder.
There are many different mattress types available—should you go for a foam or an innerspring mattress? What about pillow-tops or deep mattresses? What are coils and what kind and how many should there be?
Yes, all the available options can make it seem a daunting prospect when you are looking for a new mattress in San Rafael, Novato, Mill Valley, San Anselmo, or other Marin County cities such as Tiburon, Sausalito, or Fairfax. Keep in mind that you will be spending hours on whatever mattress you choose – some say we spend up to a third of our lives sleeping. So your new mattress must be comfortable for those sleeping on it.
Use the information below to give you a little information, a little window into the world of mattresses. With a little background preparation, you’ll be able to evaluate what you’re hearing from the mattress vendor’s representative.
You’ll know what you want to follow up and what is not important to you. By all means, if you are a detail-oriented person, record all the details and follow them up. If you’re not, don’t be afraid to just choose the mattress you find comfortable.
What You Are Actually Seeking In a Marin County Mattress Vendor
When you go mattress shopping, the issue of the “firm” mattress almost always comes up. It’s reported as both a commonplace and a myth that experts recommend selecting the “firmest” mattress possible for the best back health and sleep. It all comes down to understanding what that actually means.
In general, experts do seem to agree that the best mattresses are the firmest – for you. That does not mean you should not rush out to buy the hardest mattress you can find in Marin County, whether you are in San Rafael, Novato, Mill Valley, San Anselmo, or Larkspur. Bodies differ by age, weight, medical conditions, etc.
What is firm for one person may not be firm for another person. You should always find a mattress that feels comfortable to you. The “firm” part comes in because the mattress should provide support for your spine as you rest. In an innerspring mattress, for example, the support comes from the springs, or coils, so you will want coils that support you properly. So, if we rephrase the old saying, it may be better to say that you want to buy the mattress that provides the firmest support for your spine while providing comfort.
When you lie down on your side on the mattress, your spine should align as if you were standing. When the mattress is too soft, your spine will curve as your body sinks into it. When the mattress is too hard, you will begin to feel soreness in the body parts that touch the bed. To see if the mattress is too soft, try to turn over or shift position. If you find it hard to make a move, the mattress is probably too soft.
This is important because as you sleep, you make many small adjustments that are good for your spine’s health. To see if the mattress is too hard, lie on your back and try to slip your hand under the arch in your back. If your hand goes in easily, the bed is too hard. It’s important that the bed not be too hard because then the pressure points – where your body actually rests on the bed – will start to have the blood flow constricted, causing you to toss and turn. These tossing and turning movements are much bigger than the small adjustments that benefit you and can disturb your sleep.
People typically fall into being side sleepers, back sleepers, or stomach sleepers, but we all can take on any position during the night. So be sure to test not only your habitual sleeping position, but also all possible positions. Make sure you get enough support so that in any position you can move easily while also ensuring that you won’t get aches from a too-hard mattress.
When you look for a mattress, support is one of the critical factors, with comfort being another. The support question can be framed as: does the internal part of the mattress allow your spine to rest in a natural position, can you move easily, and are you free from body aches where you come into contact with the mattress.
A mattress’s comfort comes from the padding and other layers of the mattress. In an innerspring mattress, for example, layers of padding cover the internal springs. These layers provide the comfort. Here the question is whether the padding and the other layers let you feel comfortable as you rest. Some people prefer very soft and luxurious padding, while others prefer less. This is probably the area that is the most difficult to judge – making sure that you have enough comfort but also enough support.
Shoppers can find several different mattress types in Marin County stores whether they live in San Rafael, Novato, Mill Valley, San Anselmo, or Larkspur. No matter what type of mattress you want, you’ll find a range of prices. One suggestion when you are looking for a mattress is to start with inexpensive mattresses. Keep trying increasingly expensive mattresses until you find one that is comfortable. When you find one that you like, look at other mattresses in the same price range to determine which one you like the best.
Another suggested approach is to choose what you are willing to spend and then have the mattress stores show you options in that range. If you take this approach, you might want to research a little to see what you can expect in your price range – mattresses may be more expensive than you remember.
As you look around at different vendors, be aware that many mattress manufacturers and vendors like to offer “exclusive” mattresses. This means that a mattress that has one name at one store may have a different name at a different store – even if the mattresses share the same specifications. This makes it hard to compare mattress prices across different stores by name. You can usually compare by brand and approximate price point, and you can definitely compare by writing down specifications.
Now let’s take a look at some mattress types.
Locating An Innerspring Mattress in Marin County
Innersprings are the most popular type of mattress. They are built around a core of springs, or coils. These springs provide the support for the mattress. The springs are covered by several layers of filler, then a top layer, called padding. The whole is encased in an outer covering, called ticking. Here’s where a lot of the complexity and details come in to try to distract you.
Again, remember that you are looking for what is comfortable for you. No single factor is going to decide whether the bed is comfortable or not – it’s going to be the combination of all the factors together. So, if you want to compare options, by all means jot down specifications, as that is sometimes truly the only way to compare mattresses across vendors, since the names can differ. But don’t necessarily commit to a certain wire gauge or spring type as your only decision maker.
Springs give innerspring mattresses the support and durability that the mattress provides over its lifespan. There are five characteristics to look for in springs when you are looking for a mattress in Marin County, whether you are in Novato, Mill Valley, San Rafael, San Anselmo, or Larkspur, or in the smaller cities of Strawberry Point, Tomales, Ross, or Belvedere. The type, number, number of turns, wire gauge, and spring distribution can all play a role.
The four types of innerspring coils are as follows:
A continuous coil system occurs when one piece of wire is used to create all the coils. Continuous coils are also joined at the top and bottom into a single unit. With a continuous coil system, manufacturers say that they can put even more coils into the mattress, which they say will increase support and decrease mattress motion. If you are looking for a continuous coil system, the number of coils is not relevant.
Open-ended coils differ from hourglass or continuous coils in that the top and bottom of each coil is free to move on their own. Because of this, the body of the coil offers support, while the top or bottom can move to offer better comfort. The coils in an open-ended coil system tend to have more turns than continuous coil or hourglass springs; this means they need more wire and hence tend to cost more.
A pocket-spring mattress takes the independent spring function to its ultimate – each spring is set into its own fabric pocket, and since the springs are not connected – except by the mattress covering, the springs are free to react independently.
The hourglass spring was the first used in innerspring beds. They consist of springs that are joined together at the top and bottom. An hourglass spring will get more firm as it is compressed over time. The hourglass spring often appears in less expensive mattresses.
One consumer agency recommends that there be at least 450 coils in a king size mattress, 375 in a queen-size mattress, and 300 in a double mattress. Having more coils does not automatically make a mattress more comfortable. You should also note that in a continuous coil innerspring, the number of coils is not relevant.
The bends in the spring or coil are called “turns” or “active turns.” Each turn supports the weight on the mattress. When there are more turns, users find the bed softer. Durability improves because there are more turns sharing the load.
The wire quality in the springs varies based on its gauge or thickness. When using gauge to measure wire quality, you should know that more durable wire comes in lower gauges. For example, a 16-gauge wire is less strong and thick than a 13-gauge wire. When you are measuring in units such as millimeters, the opposite applies and a 16mm wire is stronger and thicker than a 13mm wire.
Spring distribution is sometimes touted as an important design factor. Some manufacturers put more springs in the middle of the bed for supporting the heaviest parts of the body. Some manufactures place extra support structures on the edge of the mattress. If you sit on the edge of the bed often, do make sure that the bed has good side support – you don’t want your support system failing from the edge. There’s no real way of proving whether or not distribution makes a difference – except in how you perceive the comfort.
In an innerspring mattress, both sides of the spring structure are covered with layers of filling. In less expensive mattresses, the filling could be coconut fibers, reclaimed cotton, or cheap foam. These fillings tend not to last over time too well, not being able to spring back, in addition to breaking into pockets and lumps. In more expensive mattresses, fillings tend to be premium foams and can range up to silk, cashmere, latex, and goosedown. While the higher-end fillings last somewhat better than the lower end ones, you are really paying for the comfort they supply rather than their durability.
All the layers in the mattress should not shift or bunch. In the most expensive mattresses, each layer is stitched into place by hand to prevent shifting. The outer-most layer of the mattress will probably differ in fabric, based on the price point. One consumer publication says that if the outer-most layer of the mattress has a larger pattern it makes the mattress feel softer, while a smaller quilt pattern makes the mattress feel firmer.
Some innerspring mattresses offer a “pillow-top” option. Carefully consider whether you want to buy one. Consumers tend to complain that pillow-tops can wear out well before the mattress does, leaving you with a lumpy top and perfectly decent mattress. An alternative is to use a mattress pad on top of a regular mattress.
As you look for your innerspring mattress in Marin County, whether you are looking in San Rafael, Novato, Mill Valley, San Anselmo, Larkspur, or in Ross or Corte Madera, keep in mind that your innerspring mattress rests on a foundation. A box spring is a wooden frame that sometimes has springs of its own to help support the mattress’s load. The frame is often covered in fabric to match the mattress.
When buying a new mattress, check the warranty to see if you must buy a new box spring at the same time. Some manufacturers require buying the box spring at the same time to maintain the warranty. If it’s not required, some people choose to continue using the same box spring if it is in good condition. It can be difficult to tell sometimes, so you might want to purchase a new box spring at the same time to improve the lifespan of your mattress.
Instead of a box spring, some choose a slatted bed base. These slats can flexible – meaning they move a bit, or fixed, meaning that they are fixed to the sides of the bed frames and don’t move at all. Slats allow air circulation, which can help with mildew problems. If you do have fixed slats, make sure they are close enough to support the mattress without allowing sagging. Innerspring mattresses can sit on a slatted base, if the warranty does not require the box spring. Slats are most often used for foam beds.
Dreaming of a Memory Foam Mattress in Marin County
Foam mattresses include latex and memory foam. Memory foam mattresses are made from polyurethane, but a polyurethane with its own distinct structure. Memory foam is also known as viscoelastic. Memory foam is said to remember the shape of the body.
Some memory foam users embrace it immediately, while some never get accustomed to it. It may take some time to adjust to a memory foam mattress, if you are moving from an innerspring. It’s also worth noting that you make small body adjustments during sleep, so you may want to consider how much you want the memory foam to “remember” your shape.
One factor to consider when you are considering looking for a memory foam mattress in Marin County, whether in San Rafael, Novato, Mill Valley, Larkspur or San Anselmo, is that viscoelastic responds to temperature. This means that it may be harder in cold weather and softer in warm weather. When you lie on it, it may take as long as 15 minutes to warm up and conform to your shape. Memory foam forms a close contour to the body, which means it may retain heat, which may be nice when it’s cooler but too hot when the weather heats up.
You should also consider whether the mattress allows you to move easily or conforms too tightly. Some users do not like the memory foam feel and compare it to wet sand. On the other hand, bed ridden patients may benefit from the way memory foam mattresses spread pressure across the mattress.
Memory foam mattresses are usually composed of the same substance throughout. Manufacturers offer statistics including how dense the mattress is in pounds per square foot. They offer statistics on resilience and tensile strength. They provide measures of compressibility, known as the indentation load deflection. These measurements really mean little to the buyer – you want to look for a mattress that is comfortable.
Be aware that some users complain about a smell that can take time to dissipate. You should also be aware that not all memory foam mattresses provide the same experience, and if you are interested, you should try mattresses from different manufacturers.
When You Want a Latex Foam Mattress in Marin County
Latex mattresses can be a good choice for those looking for a natural mattress, but be aware that there is also synthetic latex in some mattresses. The most commonly used latex right now is Dunlop, but manufacturers also use Talalay latex. The Talalay latex process creates a substance that is lighter and softer than the common latex. Though latex mattresses made from Talalay tend to cost more, there is no proof that they last longer or provide more comfort.
When looking for a latex mattress in San Rafael, Novato, Larkspur, San Anselmo, or Mill Valley, or in smaller cities like Sausalito, or Fairfax, consider looking for a mattress with a firm core and a softer outer layer – providing comfort and support at the same time. Some suffer from latex allergies, but for those who don’t but who have other allergies or who are asthmatic, latex can be a good option, since it resists mold and dust mites. Latex mattresses also tend to be good for sleeping with a partner since they don’t spread motion as much as an innerspring.
Latex mattresses are not heat and cold sensitive the way memory foam mattresses are, so you won’t notice a firmer mattress in cold weather, and the bed won’t need time to heat up. The latex also breathes better, so you don’t get the hot, enveloped feeling you sometimes get with memory foam.
A latex mattress should have perforations that measure at least one centimeter in diameter – larger holes provide better airflow so that your mattress feels cool. You can find latex mattresses that are completely biodegradable.
Air Mattress Comfort in Marin County
Your search for an air mattress in Marin County may take you to San Rafael, Larkspur, Novato, Mill Valley, San Anselmo, or Corte Madera. As you search, be aware of the difference between an air bed and an air mattress. An air bed is an inflatable that takes the place of an entire bed including the frame and mattress and support system. You typically inflate an air bed for visiting guests or camping. Note that health professionals warn that an air bed does not provide enough support for long-term use.
An air mattress rests in a bed frame like other mattresses. It has air pockets that can be blown up to different firmnesses. The air mattress is often sold as the solution to couples who have a difficult time agreeing on mattress firmness, but some users find that if you inflate the air mattresses to different levels, the beds can be uncomfortable, especially if there is a foam divider between the two air pockets.
Maintaining Your Mattress in Marin County
Whether you live in Novato, San Rafael, Mill Valley, Larkspur, San Anselmo, Corte Madera, or Ross, once you find your mattress, you’ll want to keep it in good shape over the long haul. Manufacturers often recommend that you change a mattress every 10 to 13 years, with some recommending 7 to 8 years. The mattress industry in fact has been leading campaigns to advocate for more frequent mattress changing. You’re sleeping on it – you know if there are craters or valleys or sagging.
Don’t ignore these as they can lead to back pain, poor sleep through tossing or turning, and undue pressure on certain parts of the body, which forces other parts to compensate. In general, you’ll be aware of when you need a new mattress.
Mattress care includes rotating and flipping. All mattresses need rotation. One manufacturer recommends that for the first three months you rotate the mattress every two weeks, then rotate it every two or three months. Some mattresses are designed to be single-sided.
For example, a pillow-top mattress has only one sleeping surface. These single-sided mattresses cannot be flipped. Dual-sided or double-sided mattresses should be flipped regularly to ensure even wear. The mattress handles are provided for shifting the mattress on its frame. They are not strong enough for carrying the mattress. When you are moving the mattress, try to keep it as straight as possible as you go through doors and hallways – avoid bending or folding it.
Do not use a worn out or sagging base – whether box spring or slats – with a new mattress, as it will affect the life of the mattress. Keep the mattress clean with a mattress protector. You can find special allergy-resistant protectors for allergy sufferers. Try to keep the mattress dry and without stains. If you sit on the edge of the bed often, for example, to put on your shoes, try to sit in different places.
Remember that it is legal in California to re-sell a used mattress. However, there are standards set by the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation (BHFTI) for how mattresses must be cleaned prior to re-sale. A re-sold mattress in California must carry a sanitization label, and you should not buy it if it does not have one.
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