Mattress Materials: Understanding What Modern Mattresses Are Made Of

The likelihood of getting a good night's sleep often depends on -- and increases with -- the right mattress composition.

Assembled from a wide range of possible materials, mattresses outwardly appear simple despite containing complex systems of components designed to help users sleep comfortably and soundly. The most popular mattresses on the market contain materials ranging from traditional innerspring coils to highly engineered foams made of polyurethane or latex and frequently infused with specialized gels.

Popular Materials Used to Make Mattresses

Memory Foampolyurethane molding
  • conforms to the back & body to alleviate pressure
  • ranges from soft to firm
  • responsive, returns to form
  • various layers of foam make up the mattress
  • density can be varied to adjust firmness; measurable: IFD - Indention Force Reflection scale
  • some hybrid options combine with springs
Gel Memory Foamgel beads & polyurethane
  • cool, redistributes heat
  • maintains steady sleep temp
  • breathable
  • upper layer rests on top of mattress
  • polyurethane-based or visco-elastic foam
  • hybrid options combine with springs
Latexdense foam rubber particles
  • firm, spine supporting surface
  • very durable, last long
  • wide range of soft to firm options
  • latex throughout mattress, often in a core and upper comfort layer
  • synthetic & organic latex options
  • natural latex is hypoallergenic and qualifies as a "green" material
InnerSpringsteel or metal coils
  • balance of comfort vs support
  • couple friendly motion isolation
  • affordable
  • inner core of coils
  • coils can vary in gauge from 12 to 18
  • most common & widely available

Despite seeming like a daunting task due to all the different options available, choosing the ideal mattress composition is an essential undertaking that has a direct impact on the comfort, health, and overall wellbeing of the person intending to sleep on the selection.