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HungryGuy's avatar

Why are mattresses made the way they are these days?

Asked by HungryGuy (16024points) December 7th, 2011

I just bought a new mattress, and am baffled by its construction.

It used to be that a mattress and “box spring” both had springs, and each shared in making a bed comfy to sleep on.

My new mattress is 12 inches thick, while the “foundation” is just a fancy wooden box (also 12 inches thick) that serves no purpose other than to make the bed an uncomfortably high altitude above the floor.

Maybe there’s some logic to putting all the springs in the mattress itself and doing away with the “box spring.” But why, if the foundation serves no real purpose any longer, does it exist?

I could have saved a ton of money by not buying a foundation and setting my mattress on a pair of plywood panels resting on the bed frame. It would have made no difference to how the mattress feels when I’m sleeping, and I’d have been lower to the floor.

Sometimes I feel like I need a ladder to climb into bed.

Anyone know the rationale for current mattress designs? Especially someone who works in the mattress industry?

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5 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

I hope someone has a good answer to this one because I bought a new mattress set a couple of years ago to replace my old mattress and had pretty much the same reaction, the same questions, particularly about the “uncomfortably high altitude.” :-) It really took some getting used to. I’m only 5’4” and I too felt like I needed a ladder just to get into bed. I also felt like I was about 5 years old when I sat on the edge of the bed and my feet were dangling 3 or 4 inches off the ground.

YARNLADY's avatar

They are made as cheaply as possible, so the company makes the most money. Comfort is not a priority.

When I bought a new mattress and box springs I did a lot of research, and saw an actual cut away demonstration that showed exactly how my mattress was made. Price really does make a difference.

dappled_leaves's avatar

My boxspring does have springs, but I’ve never understood why they bother, since they’re in a box… If you’re saying that they contribute to the overall springyness of the bed, I can live with that. Mainly, I like the boxspring because I want the bed to be high. I hate sleeping close to the ground you know, unless I’m camping.

What I can’t believe about new mattress design is that they now build in a mattress pad on one side of the mattress, saying that you “don’t have to” flip it regularly, as if this is a selling point. To me, this says that they’re tired of people making their mattresses last longer, and want them to buy new mattresses more frequently. That annoys me.

JLeslie's avatar

What I hate is how difficult it is to find a 12” mattress, most are 16”+. I have a platform bed, I hate my bed to be way high up in the air. I need a mattress that feels good on a piece of board.

My in-laws bought a new bed a few years ago and I am still pissed about. The bed is big and beautiful and grand, but it is difficult for me to get into it, I would hurt my back or twist my ankle, getting in and out. They are shorter than me, well, my FIL is probably around my height, and in their seventies. I keep telling them to let me buy a short boxspring for them, but they say no. I’m really annoyed the salesperson did not offer it. All these super thick mattresses, they were smart enough to come up with box springs that are 4 inches thinner and no one knows about them.

HungryGuy's avatar

@dappled_leaves”...I like the boxspring because I want the bed to be high. I hate sleeping close to the ground…” Maybe that’s the reason. After all, there is less dust in the air the higher off the ground you are.

And I’ve since discovered another benefit to having the top of the bed ass-high above the floor. Heh-heh-heh :-p

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