Sleep Well

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Each mattress maker offers its own recipe for sleep success. The Celebrity Bed by Tempur-Pedic, available at Relax the Back stores in Atlanta, features the Tempur-Pedic Classic Swedish Sleep System made with pressure-relieving material that conforms to your body, providing support and comfort.
Photo courtesy of Relax the Back

If a full night of sleep in your bed leaves you feeling like you still need more rest, youre not alone. Experts estimate that approximately 80 percent of adults experience significant problems sleeping at some point in life. Though the surface youre sleeping on isnt the beginning and end of sleep difficulties, furnishing your bedroom with high-quality bedding is one step in the right direction toward tranquil nights and brighter mornings.

Bedding basics
Todays mattress options generally fall into two categories: conventional innerspring mattresses, which account for the majority of mattresses sold on the market, and specialty mattresses.
Innerspring mattresses have dominated the mattress industry for years and still are by far the most popular. Though the basic construction is relatively consistent from brand to brand, the quality of a mattress can vary drastically between one brands individual lines. Each major brand typically offers three lines: economy-targeted promotional bedding, premium bedding and ultra-premium, or flagship, bedding, often marketed in conjunction with another name. Some of these include Sealys Posturepedic, Sertas Perfect Sleeper and Simmons Beautyrest

Select comfort’s dual-adjustable air-chamber technology lets couple independently adjust the firmness on each side of the bed. The Sleep Number 9000 bed features a two-sided seasonal duvet-style pillowtop-a silk blend for summer months and a woven knit for winter months.
Photo courtesy of Select Comfort

Promotional bedding and premium bedding are pretty generic, says David Wachendorfer, general manager of Mattress King in Norcross. Ultra-premium bedding showcases features unique to a brand and performs better over a longer period of time.
Every innerspring mattress features the same basic construction. A layer of steel coils, surrounded by a layer of insulation, is sandwiched between some form of padding and covered. The types of materials used, however, have the greatest impact on the resulting quality of the bed.

Each mattress uses steel coils as the basis of stability. The gauge of the steel and the number of coils will affect the durability of the mattress. Many manufacturers focus on using a high-coil count in their beds; others, such as Tucker Mattress Company in Tucker, favor a lower coil count using heavy-gauge steel.

Insulating the coils also makes a significant difference in the life of the mattress, says Mike Leford, assistant manager at Tucker Mattress Company Though many manufacturers use only a thin layer of upholstery to separate the coils from the cushion of the mattress, Tucker Mattress Company uses a wire-and-rope insulation system that helps prevent deterioration of the mattress.

The area most often associated with comfort, however, is the padding. Most mattresses are filled with some type of synthetic fiber. Blending in natural fibers, such as wool, cotton or silk, gives higher-quality mattresses better loft and a more comfortable feel.

Quality ticking, or the cloth covering of a mattress, also factors into its quality. A higher-quality cover, which often translates to a higher thread count, will last longer itself, but will also help the bed keep its shape longer. Covers containing cotton breathe more easily as well.

Specialty bedding is a growing trend that consists primarily of air and foam mattresses, the latter of which can be constructed from latex or polyurethane foams. One of the most popular brands constructed from air chambers is Select Comfort; Tempur-Pedic is an increasingly well-known foam model. What they all have in common is an absence of pressure, the aim of which is to reduce stress on the body and conform to the bodys position during sleep.

These beds can be ideal for partners with diverse surface preferences, but whats most important when buying these mattresses is how they feel to you. For most sleepers who change positions throughout the night, a bed that conforms to the body can cause more discomfort than it alleviates, since the foam maintains the shape of the body in each position. What is crucial is that you and your partner have enough space to sleep; inadequate room is one of the most common reasons couples dont sleep well in the same bed, says Dr. Michael Lacey, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northside Hospital.

Serta says its 2004 Perfect Sleeper mattress provides more comfort and support, as well as a new fire-safety protection feature called Fire Blocker.
Photo courtesy of Serta

Finishing touches
Do you really need that silk damask cover? Luxury features take the ultra-premium mattresses one step further, but many are admittedly for aesthetic enjoyment only. Whether they are worth your investment is subject to personal preference.

The most common addition to mattresses today is the pillow top, a layer of covered padding, usually consisting of the same materials as the mattress padding itself, on top of the primary mattress. Keeping the pillow top padding separate from the primary mattress padding allows for adding more padding to the bed without causing the mattress to crown. Pillow tops can enhance the cushiony feel of a mattress without detracting from firmness. Their added weight, however, can detract from the durability and lifespan of a mattress by packing down the mattress padding, Leford says.

Pillows constructed from the materials used in foam beds can be helpful for sleepers suffering from arthritis or chronic neck pain, but Lacey says they can be problematic for the average person.
Simple embellishments of your own, such as sleeping in a room that has good ventilation, temperature regulation and little or no light intrusion will give you a better shot at smooth slumber, Lacey says.

The bottom line
Cost, of course, can greatly affect the quality of mattress you buy. But keep in mind that the more you spend up front, the longer your mattress will last, and the more youll save in the long run. Consumer Reports reported in 2002 that if you commit to spending at least $800 on a queen-size bed ($450 for a twin-size, $600 for a full-size and $1,000 for a king-size), bets are good that youve made a good investment in a quality bed, and your mattress should last eight to 10 years (Tucker Mattress Company designs its mattresses to last 20 years). After that, expect to see a decrease in the quality of sleep youre getting.

If you have a really old mattress, you could lay on the cheapest mattress a store offered and it would still feel better than what youd been sleeping on, Wachendorfer says. The key, he adds, is to think past that first encounter to how long the mattress will feel comfortable.

What you ultimately decide on as the right choice for your bedding, however, depends heavily on personal needs and wants. There is no best mattress or a specific formula for choosing one. The most important variable to consider is how it feels to youwhether you prefer minimalist support or all the bells and whistlesso dont hesitate to take every mattress in the store for a test drive before you buy.

1. Quilted covering
2. Insulator (protects the padding from the spring)
3. Varying density foam (foam is firmest at the bottom and gets softer as it gets to the top)
4. Foam inserts (help make the edge of the mattress rigid)
5. Conventional coil spring
6. Box spring (limited deflection)

Photo courtesy of Sealy

Glossary of Bedding Terms
Box spring
The foundation for a mattress, a box spring supports and absorbs the stress of a mattress. Using a plain wooden frame or solid foundation underneath a mattress can make it feel firmer and increase its life span. Box springs generally are designed to be used with specific mattresses, so they are best bought simultaneously.

Similar in weight to a quilt, coverlets often are used in warmer months in lieu of a comforter.

Duvet cover
This serves as a case (and decorative accent) for a comforter in order to protect it and keep it clean.

Foam-core mattresses
Constructed without an innerspring, foam mattresses utilize primarily latex or visco-elastic memory foam, which are designed to conform to the body and relieve pressure.

Innerspring unit
The core of the most widely produced type of mattress, the unit is composed of rows of steel coils bound together by wire spirals and stabilized by border rods. Firmer mattresses feature either a high coil count with higher-gauge (less thick) coils, or fewer coils with lower gauge (thicker and sturdier) coils.

This protects the cushioning, or padding, of the mattress from being eaten by the innerspring coils and prevents the user from feeling them. Usually constructed from wire, netting or fiber padding.

Pillow top
This is a separate layer of foam cushioning that is attached to the primary mattress. Pillow tops provide an extra layer of cushioning and comfort while still providing the firmness of the innerspring mattress.

Padded quilting is attached to a mattress with ticking. It can, beyond aesthetics, affect the feel of the mattress surface, as well. A tightly quilted mattress will generally feel firmer; a mattress with wide, generously spaced ticking will often feel more plush and cushioned.

This is the mattress covering. Quality mattresses typically feature a cotton-blend ticking, which allows the mattress to breathe more easily. Higher-end mattresses are often finished with woven damask ticking.

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