What defines a mattress comfort layer?

Mattress comfort layers are the top layers that make up the part of the mattress that is closest to the body. The comfort layers are usually a few inches thick and found above the mattress support core layer(s).

In this guide, we will explore these different varieties of comfort layers:

Memory foam: similar in makeup to poly foam, memory foam softens when pressure and heat is applied. It does an excellent job of pressure relief by conforming to the body. There are several different options available for thickness and density.

Source: Walmart

Source: Amazon.com

 

Latex: made with sap from rubber trees or synthetic materials to make a foam-like layer. Several processing methods are used for latex. It can be expensive; however, there are some less expensive alternatives. These comfort layers are durable and offer good softness and support.

Source: Keetsa

Polyurethane foam: a type of foam made chemically with polyurethane and other chemicals. Comfort layers made from polyurethane foam can be made with different density levels. The higher the density, the better the performance and durability.

Source: Foam Factory, Inc.

Natural fibers: made with materials like cotton, wool, bamboo, hemp, horsetail, horsehair, and latex. These comfort layers tend to create a more permanent cradle impression, and may be better for sleepers with one sleep position.

Source: Soaring Heart (Organic cotton and wool comfort layer)

Microcoils/nanocoils: small coils (like innerspring coils) that are usually surrounded by a thin quilted, fiber, or foam layer. These comfort layers are usually paired with more firm support layers.

Source: BedTimes

Buckling column gel: made chemically into a super soft, strong, and rubbery material. It is expensive and newer to the mattress industry, and provides excellent pressure relief and cradling when paired with a very supportive core.

Source: Leggett & Platt

Why is a comfort layer important?

Mattress comfort layers are important because they are key to performing the following functions:

  • Cradling the body and evenly distributing weight for pressure relief
  • Responding to sleep position movement to provide ongoing comfort in each position
  • Supporting areas of the body that are recessed to prevent them from sinking down or sagging too far into the mattress

All of these characteristics help with spine and body alignment to promote healthy sleep. Mattress support cores, which make up the core of the mattress below the comfort and quilting layers, are important, too. Click here for our guide to Mattress Support Cores.

Memory foam

What is memory foam?

Memory foam is similar in chemical makeup to polyfoam, and is made with polyurethane (petroleum-based chemicals) plus a few added chemicals to increase the foam’s softness and density. Unlike its cousin polyfoam, memory foam is not suitable for use as a support layer.

Memory foam layers are made to soften when heat and pressure is applied, making them excellent comfort layers for pressure relief, body cradling, and softness.

Comfort layers of memory foam do have a slower response time than other foams and materials. The material does eventually bounce back to its original shape, but it is sluggish to regain its shape, which can cause some resistance when changing sleep positions.

Mattresses with memory foam comfort layers can also be referred to as visco foam or visco-elastic memory foam.

What types of memory foam are on the market?

Memory foam is made in several different thicknesses and densities.

Most memory foam comfort layers are available in 1.5 to 6 inches. It is recommended that memory foam be a few inches thick or the thinnest possible needed for pressure relief. Thin memory foam layers can work with other comfort or support layers to prevent heavier parts of the body from sinking down too far.

Memory foam’s density is how much the foam weighs. Density is measured by pounds per cubic foot.

There are three levels of density: low, medium, and high. Pricing corresponds with the density levels with low density mattresses being the least expensive and high density mattresses being the most expensive.

High density memory foam (around 5 to 6 pounds per cubic foot or higher) is usually considered to be the highest in quality, the most durable, and the softest.

With the high density memory foam, a sleeper will be very cradled and the bed will feel very soft and slow to respond to movement, but excellent at motion isolation.

High density memory foam should be paired with a very supportive core, so the body doesn’t sink down too much into the mattress under the memory foam comfort layer.

Medium density memory foam is the most common memory foam used (4 to 5 pounds per cubic foot range) and is considered to be medium in softness and medium in durability.

It is faster to respond to movement and easier to move around on than high density foam. It also performs well with isolating movement.

Low density memory foam is usually between 2 to 4 pounds per cubic foot. A density level of 2 to 2.5 pounds per cubic foot is the lowest density made available to consumers. Low density memory foam is usually used in lower budget mattresses or for mattress toppers and is the least quality of the three options.

Low density memory foam is not as durable or conforming as medium or high density foam, but it does respond to movement faster than the other density options available.

The softness and firmness of the mattress and how it feels under pressure and weight is categorized by a number on the Indent Load Deflection (ILD) scale.

The different densities of memory foam usually come with an ILD rating between 10-20. The most common ILD ratings are from 12 to 16.

Low, medium, and high density foams can be made to feel very soft or very firm based on an ILD score.  

This ILD rating measures the surface feel of the mattress. Lower ILD ratings correspond with softer foams and higher ILD ratings indicate firmer foams.

What does memory foam do to the feel of a bed?

Memory foam is known for its ability to conform comfortably to the body, relieve pressure, and soften with heat or under pressure.

When considering a memory foam comfort layer, here’s how memory foam performs in the following areas:

Source: Amazon.com

Responsiveness/bounce

Because of its soft and conforming nature, memory foam is slow to respond and has very little to no bounce.  Its responsiveness is very slow, but it does eventually regain its shape.

Support – spinal alignment

Although memory foam is not adequate to be used for a support core, it can help add overall support when paired with other high quality and very supportive layers.

The foam material does help support spinal alignment by conforming to the body and allowing heavier parts to sink down to make natural body alignment.

Hug/contouring

Memory foam performs the best out of all the mattress materials when it comes to body contouring and pressure point relief.

The foam distributes a body’s weight equally across the mattress and molds to a sleeper’s body by filling in every curve and gap between the body and the mattress.

Higher density or grade foams may conform more than lower density or grade models.

The heavier parts of the body that press farther into the mattress are pressure points, and memory foam has the ability to soften and relieve those areas.

Feeling of sinking into the bed

The conformity of memory foam allows a sleeper to feel like they are sinking into the mattress (like sinking into mud or quicksand). Whether or not a sleeper likes this feeling is really a personal preference.

The flipside to the conformity perk of memory foam is the difficulty of moving around on memory foam. The material can be difficult to move on — making it frustrating for sleepers to change positions and get off the bed.

Firmness

Memory foam is available in soft, medium, and firm. The firmness level of the mattress can make it feel anywhere from super soft to too firm, or like Styrofoam.  

What actually matters from a consumer perspective?

Memory foam is one of the most popular comfort layers. When buying a mattress with a memory foam comfort layer or layers, there are several important factors to consider:

Density

The most important thing to consider about density is: how hard or soft is the contouring of the memory foam? The answer is really based on personal preference and how firm and padded or how deep and cozy you prefer to feel.

Cooling elements, gel, etc.

Memory foam is less breathable than other materials, and can have a tendency to raise body temperature and make a sleeper hot.

There are several kinds of cooling technologies that are available with memory foam mattresses.

Memory foam layers can be paired with a layer of gel foam that is infused with small beads of gel. Plant-based material can also be used as a filling to create layers that encourage heat to dissipate, creating a cooling function.

Because body temperature is important for healthy sleeping, it is important to understand the options available for temperature regulation with memory foam mattresses.

Height of the comfort layer

A mattress comfort layer should only be as thick as is needed to perform well in making the mattress comfortable and offering the right amount of pressure relief.

If foam is too thick, a sleeper can sink into the mattress too much, causing pain and improper spinal and body alignment. Also, if the foam is too thin, heavier sleepers can weigh the foam down so much that it prevents the comfort layer from offering cradling, support, and comfort.

Questions to ask when buying a bed with memory foam

Here are some questions to consider when buying a bed with memory foam:

  1. What is the support layer(s) made of and is the support core supportive enough to pair well with the memory foam comfort layer?
  2. What grade or density of memory foam does the mattress have?
  3. How much give or body conformity do you prefer?
  4. Do you naturally get hot when you sleep?
  5. How thick is the memory foam comfort layer?
  6. Do you prefer soft, medium, or firm – and which kind of memory foam comfort layer is best for your preference?
  7. Does the mattress come with a memory foam comfort layer that has cooling technology built in?
  8. Are you concerned with off-gassing?
  9. Do you feel like you sink too far down into the memory foam comfort layer?
  10. Will this kind of comfort layer work well for your sleep position(s) and changing position(s)?

Latex

What is a latex comfort layer?

A latex comfort layer is a layer or layers used for comfort (not support) that are made from natural, synthetic, or a blend of natural and synthetic latex.

There are several different variations of latex comfort layers, and each is known for providing a different softness or firmness.

Latex has the ability to provide both support and softness, and is much like memory foam when it comes to conforming to and cradling the body.

Mattresses with latex comfort layers can be more expensive than other mattresses because of the production methods used to make the material.

What variations of latex comfort layers exist and what are the differences?

There are several kinds of latex, that can make up a latex comfort layer:

  • Natural latex is made with the raw sap from rubber trees.

Natural latex is known for its durability and is used in several different manufacturing methods (Talalay and Dunlop) to make all-natural or blended latex (both natural and synthetic).

  • Synthetic latex is natural latex blended with synthetically-made rubber made with petro-chemicals to mirror the properties of natural latex.

Synthetic latex, which resembles a rubber-like foam, does mimic natural latex, but is not as durable as natural latex. It is also known to be less expensive than other kinds of latex.

  • Blended latex is a combination of both synthetic and natural latex made with both natural tree sap and chemicals.

Although different in makeup, blended latex has similar characteristics and performs much like natural latex.

The different kinds of latex (natural, synthetic, and blended) are then processed and manufactured in several different methods, including:

  • Talalay is a production process method that involves freezing and vulcanizing synthetic, blended, and natural latex. The material is poured into a mold and then vacuum-packed and frozen and divided into sections that are molded together to make a layer.

Talalay is the most expensive and complex latex method. The material is very consistent and can be made very soft, making it ideal for a mattress comfort layer.

  • Dunlop is a manufacturing method that involves synthetic, blended, or natural latex. The material is mixed together and poured into a mold and then baked with steam into a layer.

The Dunlop method is used more regularly and yields a denser latex layer that is effective in mattress support layers, too. It does have the ability to cradle the body, much like memory foam, which is why it is used for comfort layers.

Source: Universal Mattress

What variations of each kind of latex are there?

Latex comfort layers can be made in a variety of firmness levels. The firmness level is categorized by a scale — either Impression Force Deflection (IFD) or Impression Load Deflection (ILD).

ILD refers to the firmness levels on latex comfort layers, which range from super soft (14) to super firm (44 ILD). Most people prefer a latex comfort layer with an ILD of between 14-20.

What does a latex comfort layer do to the feel of a bed?

Latex is a popular choice for a comfort layer because of its strong performance in the following categories:

Source: STLBeds

Support – spinal alignment

Latex has the ability to support the more recessed areas of the body and helps prevent heavier parts of the body from sinking down too far into the mattress. This helps support natural spine alignment.

Latex comfort layers can feel anywhere from soft to springy (firmer) according to personal preference while still offering consistent support for all sleeping positions.

Bounce/responsiveness

Latex comfort layers don’t feel very bouncy; however, they are very quick to respond to movement and position changes. This helps the bed feel flexible and makes it easy to shift body positions. The material bounces back to its original shape and is known for its elasticity.

Hug/contouring

Latex has a natural ability to compress and conform to the body, much like memory foam. Latex comfort layers make the bed feel soft and pressure relieving.

Feeling of sinking into the bed

Latex doesn’t really allow the body to sink far into the bed — it compresses to support the body under the pressure and weight of the body. Latex comfort layers feel more like floating, instead of sinking.

Firmness

Firmness can vary for latex comfort layers depending on the type of latex and manufacturing method used.

For example, Talalay latex tends to be softer because it is lighter and less dense than Dunlop latex. Dunlop latex is usually firmer in feel and less springy.

What actually matters from a consumer perspective?

Is it a true latex mattress?

Some suppliers will call a mattress latex even it has only one layer of latex included. True latex mattresses are all-latex and include both a latex comfort layer and support core.

Hybrid mattresses that include some latex layers, like the comfort layer for example, are less expensive than all-latex mattresses. They don’t have as long of a lifespan, though, and aren’t as durable as all-latex mattresses.

Cost

Latex mattresses generally cost more than other types of mattresses. Mattresses made with natural latex with the Talalay manufacturing method are usually the most expensive. High-quality latex mattresses do have a long lifespan, however, so the investment can be spread across 8 or more years.

A latex mattress topper is an option, too, to get some of the benefits of a latex comfort layer without spending as much as a latex mattress would cost.

Temperature regulation

Natural, blended, and synthetic latex are breathable as compared to other mattress materials. For sleepers who tend to sleep hot, a latex comfort layer could be very beneficial.

There are also special versions of latex, like Celsion latex, that are made specifically to regulate temperature.

Questions to ask before buying a bed with latex

Here are some questions to consider before buying a bed with a latex comfort layer:

  1. What kind of latex does the mattress include? Synthetic, blended, natural?
  2. What process is used to manufacture the latex? Dunlop, Talalay?
  3. Is the mattress an all-latex mattress?
  4. If you’re considering a hybrid mattress with a latex comfort layer, will the support layers work well for your requirements and with the latex comfort layer?
  5. Do you have allergies to consider? Latex allergies can cause skin rash, itching, breathing issues, sneezing, and nausea.
  6. Do you sleep with a partner and need good movement absorption?
  7. How much bounce is important to you?
  8. What kind of sleeping position(s) do you use and do you change positions a lot during the night?
  9. Do you like the feeling of floating on the mattress?
  10. How many and what kind of fillers are used in the latex?
  11. Are you looking for your mattress to have a long lifespan?

Polyurethane foam

What is a polyurethane foam comfort layer?

Polyurethane foam comfort layers are made from a high-density polyurethane foam that is the most common type of foam used for mattress comfort layers. The foam is also known as PU, poly, or polyfoam.

Polyfoam has a similar chemical makeup to memory foam, except polyfoam compresses under pressure and holds the body up, while memory foam softens when pressure or heat is applied.

It is common to see polyfoam used as a layer on top of other kinds of foams. It can be made very soft, and offers good pressure relief and comfort.

Polyfoam is more resilient than memory foam, meaning it can compress and regain its shape more quickly than memory foam.

What variations of polyurethane foam comfort layers exist?

There are three different grades of polyfoam used in mattress comfort layers:

  • Regular or conventional polyfoam
  • High-density polyfoam (HD)
  • High-resiliency polyfoam (HR)

Although similar in chemical makeup, each kind of polyfoam has different properties and characteristics:

  • Regular or conventional polyfoam weighs less than 1.5 per cubic foot and is the least expensive of all polyfoam varieties.

This kind of polyfoam is used as a comfort layer and is not a high enough grade to be used as a support layer. The lower grade polyfoam is the slowest to spring back into shape as compared to the higher grades of polyfoam.

Regular or conventional polyfoam can form depressions from impressions of the body, which means the polyfoam layer is wearing out.

  • High-density polyfoam (HD) can weigh between 1.5 and 2 pounds per cubic foot and is a higher grade than regular conventional polyfoam.

The softer versions of HD polyfoam are more resilient and can be made softer or firmer for comfort layers. They perform better than the regular or conventional grade in compression, durability, and resiliency.

HD polyfoam performs best as a comfort layer when it is used in layers that are not too thick or slightly firmer.

  • High-resiliency polyfoam (HR) is very durable and made with a different formula than other polyfoams. It is available in super soft to super firm.

HR polyfoam is the highest grade of the polyfoams and weighs 2.4 or higher pounds per cubic foot. This polyfoam is the most resilient of the polyfoam grades, is more expensive to manufacture, and is probably the best choice for a polyfoam comfort layer.

What variations of each type of polyfoam are there?

Each grade of polyfoam can be made in softer and firmer levels. The firmness or softness of polyfoams is measured by a scale called indentation force deflection (IFD).

IFD is defined in pounds by the amount of force to make an indentation in a 50-square inch surface. This refers to the surface feel of the mattress — and whether it feels soft or firm, and at what level for each feeling.

Polyfoam comfort layers and mattresses can range from 24 to 45 on the IFD scale. Higher IFD ratings are given to firmer kinds of foams. Going higher or lower on the IFD scale will determine the softness or firmness of the polyfoam layer.

The IFD rating is not necessarily the best way to judge the durability or quality of the polyfoam. The polyfoam’s density is key in measuring both durability and quality.

What does a polyurethane foam comfort layer do to the feel of a bed?

Polyfoam is known for its comfort and makes the surface of the bed feel conforming, soft, and pressure relieving.  

Source: Amerisleep

When considering a polyfoam comfort layer, here’s how polyfoam performs in the following areas:

Support – spinal alignment

The denser the polyfoam used, the more support it will provide. Even soft-feeling comfort layers of polyfoam will compress under the weight of the body to help hold the body up. This can help with spinal and body alignment.

Bounce/responsiveness

Because of its movement absorption capabilities, polyfoam comfort layers are not bouncy in nature. The foam will respond quickly to movement and will spring back into its original shape faster than memory foam, but slower than latex.

Hug/contouring

HR Polyfoam does the best job of all the polyfoam varieties in offering hug and contouring. The foam does a good job of conforming to the body to offer comfort and fills in the gaps between the body and the mattress.

Firmness

A polyfoam comfort layer can be made soft to firm in the several different grades of foam. The desired firmness level is a personal choice. Polyfoam mattresses can tend to break down over time after being compacted to become softer.

What actually matters from a consumer perspective?

Polyfoam is very commonly used for mattress comfort layers. Here are some key things to know about this kind of foam:

Break down and high-resiliency polyfoam (HR)

Polyfoam comfort layers offer excellent body conformity, softness, and pressure relief, and they can break down and soften even more over time with wear and tear.

The most durable of the grades of polyfoam is the high-resiliency (HR) foam that uses a different cell structure. It is the most durable and longest lasting in all firmness levels – from super soft to super firm.

Some of the very best HR foams are high quality and similar to latex and will last for many years.

It is important to know that the lower grades of polyfoam will break down faster than the higher grades of polyfoam.

Cooling technology

Foam mattresses, including polyfoam mattresses, can trap heat, making sleeping hot an issue for sleepers.

There are polyfoam varieties that are made with cooling technology to help regulate temperature to make sleeping more comfortable.

Some of these foams are manufactured with a more open-cell structure to make the foam more breathable, with the ability to absorb heat and control temperature.

Questions to ask when buying a bed with polyfoam

Here are some questions to consider before buying a bed with polyfoam:

  1. Does the polyfoam comfort layer go well with the bed’s support core?
  2. Do you sleep with a partner and need motion isolation?
  3. What other materials are used in the bed along with the polyfoam comfort layer(s)?
  4. Do you sleep hot? Should you consider a polyfoam with cooling technology?
  5. How much durability do you want in your mattress? Consider highest grade for longer lasting mattresses.
  6. Will this kind of comfort layer work well for your sleep position(s) and changing position(s)?
  7. Do you prefer soft, medium, or firm – and which grade of polyfoam comfort layer is best for your preference?
  8. What grade or density of polyfoam does the mattress have?
  9. Does the mattress come with a polyfoam comfort layer that has cooling technology built in?
  10. How thick is the polyfoam comfort layer?
  11. Do you love the feeling of memory foam? Polyfoam offers a similar feel but faster response time.

Natural fibers

What is a natural fiber comfort layer?

A natural fiber mattress comfort layer consists of natural materials that are constructed using different techniques. Natural fibers – some of the most durable materials for mattresses — include, among others:

  • Wool
  • Silk
  • Bamboo
  • Hemp
  • Horsetail
  • Horsehair
  • Cotton

The natural fibers are used in comfort layers to create a layer that provides comfort, pressure relief, and body contouring, much like foam, microcoils, and other mattress materials.

The materials are constructed in several different ways to create the layer. They can be wrapped, batted, compressed, packed, and tufted.

Tufting is the method of attaching the materials to other layers in the mattress – and this helps prevent the natural fibers from compressing to become more firm.

These mattresses are quite expensive, and when constructed well, they can last for up to several decades and as long as latex.

Mattresses with natural fiber comfort layers are also breathable, due to the nature of the materials used.

What variations of natural fiber comfort layers exist and what are the differences?

There are many different kinds of natural fibers that make up natural fiber mattress comfort layers. They include, and are not limited to the following:

Wool: Normally grown and manufactured in the United States, wool is used in mattress comfort layers and mattresses. These are elastic, feel more springy than other natural fibers, and are able to spring back better than other natural fibers into an original shape.

These layers provide good support and temperature regulating for all seasons. They are also bed bug and flame resistant.

Silk: Silk is known for being a strong fiber and wicking moisture. It helps to regulate temperature and keep sleepers comfortable during all seasons and temperatures. It is also hypoallergenic and water resistant.

Silk layers will compress, but will shift less in shape than wool.

Bamboo: Bamboo comes from fast-growing plants all over the world and is manufactured into a gel for mattresses. Bamboo comfort layers have an open cell structure and the fibers are beneficial for ventilation. The fibers both absorb and evaporate moisture that may come into contact with the mattress layer.

Mattresses with bamboo are very durable and can last for up to 20 years.

Hemp: A fast-growing plant known for being a sustainable resource, hemp is both mold and mildew resistant. It is a lot stronger than cotton and can make really dense mattress layers.

Hemp fibers are constructed to make mattress comfort layers that are sometimes hand-tufted to the inner mattress layers.

Horsehair and horsetail: Horsehair and horsetail are two different methods. Horsehair is very short and horsetail is long – the longest natural fiber available.

Both are used for comfort layers and are expensive due to the limited supply. Horsetail comfort layers and mattresses, known for being both strong and springy, are constructed with a method of twisting the hairs into ropes.

For both horsehair and horsetail, the fibers are steamed to remove proteins or bacteria that would cause allergies. Sometimes, horsehair is blended with cotton and wool.

Cotton: A very durable material that is used for mattress comfort layers, organic cotton is hypoallergenic and good for people with allergies. Cotton can compress and pack down over time, which can make the mattress layer feel more firm.

What variations of each are there and what should you be aware of?

Each kind of natural fiber can be constructed with different techniques. It is recommended that sleepers do a lot of research to ensure they are getting a high-quality mattress comfort layer or mattress.

Special methods are used to ensure these mattress layers provide pressure relief and body alignment.

Also, natural fiber mattress layers and mattresses are very attractive to sleepers looking for natural and organic mattresses. When buying a mattress, sleepers should consider whether or not the “all-natural” or “organic” claim is accurate, too.

Natural fiber mattresses will also require regular maintenance just like other mattresses. It’s important to take good care of these mattresses to help the mattress remain durable and able to serve the main purposes for a mattress comfort layer: comfort, pressure relief, and added support.

What does a natural fiber comfort layer do to the feel of a bed?

Natural fibers can make a mattress feel firm, soft, and springy. When considering a natural fiber comfort layer, here’s how these mattresses perform in the following areas:

Source: Adweek (Mattress with horse hair natural fiber comfort layer)

Support – spinal alignment

Natural fiber mattress layers offer good support and spinal alignment, especially for sleepers who use one or more positions and the mattress offers a body impression.

The natural fibers are known for their strength and support, which can help with supporting the body and keeping the heavier parts of the body from sinking down too much into the mattress.

Bounce/responsiveness

Natural fiber comfort layers are not known to be very bouncy. Wool layers tend to be springier than the other materials. These materials have very little elasticity at all, and they don’t respond very quickly to spring back into shape with position changes.

Firmness

Natural fiber comfort layers can range from very soft to extra firm. Firmness depends on the materials used, the construction of the layers. Some natural fiber comfort layers are soft and offer excellent pressure relief.

The desired firmness level of these natural fibers comfort layers is all about personal preference.

What actually matters from a consumer perspective?

Natural fibers are used fairly regularly in mattress construction. Here are some key things to know about this kind of material for mattress comfort layers:

Conformity and body impressions

Natural fiber mattress comfort layers may be more well-suited for sleepers that don’t move around a lot during sleep and use just one or a few sleeping positions.

Natural fiber comfort layers will form impressions of the body, offering cradling and pressure relief for a sleeper in that exact position.

Over time, these natural fiber mattress layers will compress and form a more permanent body impression. The process of forming an impression on the mattress is called breaking in.

Sleepers who shift positions a lot will probably want a mattress comfort layer and mattress that allows for a faster response time and more elasticity.

Breathable and hypoallergenic

Natural fibers have a high breathability and perform well in helping maintain body temperature, which helps with overall sleep comfort.

For sleepers who tend to sleep hot, natural fiber mattress comfort layers could be a good option.

Sleepers with allergies may also consider natural fiber layers, as several of the materials are hypoallergenic.

Safe and non-toxic

Some natural fibers are fire retardant and resistant, and do not release toxic chemicals into the air.

Questions to ask when buying a bed with natural fibers

  1. What kind of natural fiber material will work best for your sleep style?
  2. Do you or your sleeping partner change sleep positions and shift a lot during the night?
  3. Do you sleep hot? A natural fiber layer might be a good option because of its breathability and temperature control.
  4. Will the natural fiber comfort layer work well with the mattress’s support core to offer the right amount of comfort and support?
  5. Do you like a bouncy or very springy mattress?
  6. Are allergies a concern for you?
  7. Are you looking for an organic and all-natural mattress?
  8. What is your preference on a firmness level and will the natural fiber materials offer you the firmness you are looking for?
  9. How soft do you want your mattress comfort layer to be?
  10. What is the biggest reason you prefer a natural fiber mattress comfort layer?
  11. Are you prepared to spend more on a high-quality mattress with natural fibers?

Microcoils/nanocoils

What are microcoils/nanocoils?  

Microcoils and nanocoils are made specifically for mattress comfort layers. They can be paired with any kind of support core (latex, innerspring, foam, natural fiber) for comfort and body conformity.

The coil layers are made from flexible, thin wires, and can have up to 800 to 1,000 or more coils per layer. The coils are wrapped in fabric and are usually about 1 to 4 inches long. Some are even smaller and could be as small as 10 millimeters long.

The microcoil or nanocoil mattress comfort layers are generally thicker than some other fiber or foam layers and can be made to be part of a boxtop- or eurotop-style mattress.

What do nanocoils feel like and how do they affect the feel of a bed?

Microcoils and nanocoils do a great job of offering comfort, body conforming, pressure relief, and support. Here’s how they perform in the following areas:

Source: Beds.org

Support – spinal alignment

Due to the nature of their construction, microcoils do a good job of supporting the body, especially the parts of the body that are recessed and don’t have contact with the mattress surface.

This support helps the heavier parts of the body not sink into the mattress too much, and holds the body up for good body and spine alignment.

Bounce/responsiveness

Microcoils respond quickly to change in movement or position and spring back to their original shape. Based on the multi-coil construction, these comfort layers make the mattress feel a little more bouncy or springy than other mattress comfort materials.

Hug/contouring

Microcoils move in a three-dimensional way to contour to the curves of the body and distribute the weight across the surface of the mattress evenly. This helps make the mattress feel soft and relieves pressure for the heavier parts of the body.

Firmness

The firmness level of microcoil layers can vary, especially if the microcoil layer is one of a few comfort layers. It can be used as a second comfort layer underneath a top comfort layer, too. In that case, the firmness level would probably be a little bit firmer than if used as the top comfort layer.

What actually matters from a consumer perspective?

Coils are not just for innerspring support cores

Although microcoils and innerspring coils are related, they serve different purposes. Yet, microcoils do maintain some of the qualities of the innerspring coils (like support).

Sleeps cool

Microcoils have a more open construction, which allows for air chambers and ventilation. The air flow helps heat and perspiration escape and helps sleepers stay cool.

There are some versions of microcoil layers that are covered in a mesh material that allows for even more airflow.

Mid-range cost

While microcoil mattresses can tend to be more expensive than polyfoam, they can be less costly than latex and high quality memory foam or polyfoam.

Terminology for innerspring vs. microcoils

Take note that the mattress industry usually uses similar terms for both microcoils and innersprings. People may get confused, so it’s important to understand the terminology as it relates to either innerspring or microcoils.

Questions to ask when buying a bed with microcoils

  1. What kind of support core is available with the microcoil comfort layer?
  2. Do you tend to sleep hot?
  3. Are you looking for a comfort layer that is both comfortable and supportive?
  4. Do you or your partner change positions a lot during the night?
  5. Is the microcoil comfort layer on the top layer or is it a part of several comfort layers used?
  6. Do you like a bouncy or very springy mattress?
  7. How firm do you prefer your mattress to be and will this comfort layer offer you the right level of firmness?
  8. How soft do you want your mattress comfort layer to be?

Buckling column gel

What is buckling column gel?

Buckling column gel is a material that is somewhat new to the mattress industry and is used in mattress comfort layers.

The comfort layers are made of square or hexagonal columns that are known to support weight up until a certain point. Once the columns sustain a certain amount of weight, they will collapse or buckle under pressure.

This technology allows the materials to be both firm and soft in different areas of the mattress, which provides good body conformity and pressure relief.

Buckling column gel layers may be even more pressure relieving than other materials like memory foam or latex. These mattresses are used in hospitals because of their ability to offer consistent pressure relief.

What does buckling column gel feel like and how does it affect the feel of the bed?

Buckling column gel is known for its support and pressure relief. When considering this material for a comfort layer, here’s how it performs in these different areas:

Source: GelBeds.com

Support – spinal alignment

Buckling column gel offers excellent support because of its design. The material can support the heavier parts of the body and offer support for the more recessed parts of the body. It also offers good lumbar support.

Bounce/responsiveness

This type of material has the ability to respond quickly and rebound back into its original state. It responds to pressure well and also absorbs movement.

Hug/contouring

Buckling column gel may be the best material for pressure relief and body contouring. Its ability to form a cradle is excellent; however, it does have a crackling feeling that some sleepers dislike.

Firmness

This material does the opposite of what most materials do: it becomes less firm under deeper compression. The firmness can vary based on the weight of the sleeper and different parts of the body.

When the layer is compressed, the firmer parts stay under the more recessed parts of the body and the heavier parts of the body and pressure points get a softer material.

What actually matters from a consumer perspective?

Here are a few to consider before buying a buckling column gel mattress:

Crackling feeling

The nature of the material used and its construction causes a crackling-like feeling when a sleeper is on the bed. This characteristic is something that may take time for some people to get used to.

High-quality support required

Just like memory foam, buckling column gel needs a very supportive and high quality support core. The extreme pressure relief function needs a solid support foundation. Read our guide on Mattress Support Cores to learn more about the different support cores available.

Questions to ask when buying a bed with buckling column gel

Here are some questions to consider when buying a bed with buckling column gel:

  1. What kind of support core is available with buckling column gel comfort layer?
  2. Will the support core offer good support to partner with the buckling column gel layer?
  3. Are you concerned with the bed having a crackling feeling?
  4. Are you looking for a mattress that provides the most pressure relief possible?
  5. Do you or your sleeping partner frequently move around and change positions during the night?
  6. Are you looking for a mattress that also helps with lumbar support?

What beds offer buckling column gel?

There are several varieties of beds that are made with buckling column gel.

This patented technology is licensed out to mattress manufacturers.

Here are a few beds that offer buckling column gel:

Purple beds have a top layer that is made with a smart grid design that provides comfort, pressure relief, and cooling. The support cores are made of polyfoam.

The comfort layers are made with buckling column gel in a honeycomb-shaped design for extreme comfort and pressure relief. The Intellibed gel layers are paired with foam or latex support cores.  

There are beds that are made with Somnigel layers, which are constructed with hollow gel columns to provide pressure relief and contouring of the body. These comfort layers can be paired with different innerspring and microcoils and latex comfort and support cores.

Here are a few examples of Somnigel beds available on the market: