What’s Inside Your Mattress?

Did you ever think about what is inside your mattress? You sleep on it every night, it’s comfortable. Did you ever wonder what engineering and research went into that? Probably not, but I’ll tell you anyway in case you might be interested. Who knows when this information might come in handy? You could be in mortal danger and the only thing that will save you is solving a New York Times crossword puzzle. It could happen. Read on!

The first springs ever used for mattresses were actually not originally designed for the purpose. Oddly enough, car seats got springs before mattresses did. More specifically, the seats in a horse drawn carriage. Because air filled rubber tires had not been invented yet, and shock absorbers for the suspension were in their infancy in the 1800’s, riding around in a carriage could be a rocky proposal. Someone had the bright idea to put some springs in the seat to make things a little easier. Someone else took them out of the seat and put them into a mattress.

This first type of mattress spring became known as Bonnell Coils. They are a simple coil of wire that is narrow in the middle, wider at both ends and tied off onto itself at each end in a circle. This circle provides a flat surface for the spring to easily interact with pressure from any flat material. Bonnell coils are still used today in less expensive mattresses.

Looking for ways to innovate, mattress manufacturers largely found the Bonnell Coil tough to replace. They found other ways to innovate, though. Marshall (or Encased) Coils are essentially a Bonnell coil that has been individually wrapped. Sort of like a little pillow case designed to slip directly onto each spring. Some manufacturers made these cases deliberately a bit small, which keeps the spring in a semi-compressed state at all times and gives the mattress a firmer, more consistent feel.

Mira (or Continuous) Coils are basically a single coil that has been woven back and forth horizontally. Some find this design more comfortable because it bends to the shape of the person lying above it, but it also tends to be rather noisy. Still, this design has its merits and is even used by Serta in some of their current models. This may be used in some sleeper sofas and chair beds as well.

Mattress comfort is something our best minds have been working on for, well looks like just under two hundred years now. Two hundred years and most of us are still using what is basically the same type of spring they first pulled out of a carriage seat and with cool inventions like the chair bed. But maybe wrapped in cloth.

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