Although mattresses have changed very little over the past century, the way they are perceived and undoubtedly marketed, has changed.
As the importance of sleep to our overall health has become more obvious, the view of what mattresses are for has changed, from a functional item and in many ways the least important piece of furniture we own (no one ever sees your mattress, so it is a commodity, it does not matter) but now, with more and more recognition of sleep been an important factor in our health they have seen an opportunity; to sell you that same functional product but wrap it up in the sizzle of sleep, that your mattress is the magic elixir when it comes to sleeping well. They might be using endorsements from sports people, Gareth Bale, Michael Phelps, Kell Brook and numerous Olympian all endorse a mattress as the one for you, the might get a celebrity to give it a seal of approval, such as Russell Kane with Simba Sleep or, they might, like the tens of "bed in a box" brands out there, tell you that the mattress is just right for everybody (it isn’t, there is no such thing as one mattress for everyone) but actually, despite all this brand innovation there has been very little product innovation.
In fact, I would bet most of us don’t know what is in our mattresses. Not helped by many manufacturers doing their best to muddy the waters when you try and get to the bottom of what is in the product. For example, they come up with their own trademarked names for common components, or don’t tell you in the product description how much of each component material is in the mattress.
Many manufacturers don’t want you to compare their product to the competition on a like for like basis; they want you to listen to their sizzle, to the well-crafted and honed marketing message that will ensnare you into buying their product. If for example I told you that the wool filled mattress you are thinking about buying can, only have 10% wool in the fillings to be classed as a wool mattress. You could be comparing two mattress both claiming to be wool filled and one could have an 80% wool filling and the other could only have 10%? If you are buying it because you get too hot in bed then the difference between the two mattresses could impact on whether the mattress will help solve your problem or not.
How do I know all this? Well I have worked with mattress manufacturers. I have supplied retailers and, 10 years ago attempted to establish a sleep retailer that would have a more truthful relationship with mattress consumers. It did not work but I still stand by the idea that we need to ensure every single one of us gets the bet mattress for US! Not a celebrity, not a sports person, the best one for us!
I believe mattresses are integral to us sleeping well, and picking the right one will impact on the quality and quantity of our sleep. To do this we need to be better informed about the quality of construction of the mattresses that we are considering; we need to know the density, of the foam, the depth of the fillings, what those fillings are, what material the mattress is covered with, is the latex man made or from a natural source, how many springs are in the mattress, the type of spring used and the quality of the metal used in the spring. This means, that as consumers we can then purchase with confidence and buy a mattress that is right for us.
Therefore, I am calling for a list of ingredients for the mattress you buy. A list that includes the quantity and quality of the fillings, the type of core in the mattress and the quality of that core. I would also like consumers to know what the mattress is covered with and most importantly this information will mean consumers can ask direct and searching questions about the product and how it will impact on their sleep and overall health.
Although many manufacturers worry about revealing what is in their mattresses I think a list of ingredients would help those who make great quality products. Those who put the best raw materials into their products, who care about what customers buy from them and who ensure that their products do what they claim. It will create a real change in the market and allow customers to see the value in the products they are buying.
At the moment, there is no easy way of comparing products. My advice would be to ask as many questions as possible about the mattress you are looking at buying, ask about the fillings, ask how they help the mattress do what it says it does and if the sales person you are talking to cannot tell you then do not buy from them!
As always, I would love to hear people’s views on this!
The Sleep Geek