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Buying a mattress is no small task. We spend a third of our lives in bed, so it’s important to choose the right mattress. Online resources like SleepZoo have certainly made the task easier, but it can still be confusing at times. Just the new mattress terminology alone can be confusing! To help our readers out, we’ve put together this mattress glossary which explains many common terms, descriptions, products, brands, etc. related to the mattress industry.


Mattress Glossary A to Z:

Adjustable bed frame – a bed frame or mattress base that is adjustable, allowing for some flexibility in choosing your favorite sleep position.

Airbeds – a broad category of mattress that uses air filled chambers to support the sleeper. Quality airbeds tend to have adjustable firmness settings.

Antimicrobial – bedding material that has been treated with a antimicrobial agent. Helps to prevent bacteria and dust mites.

Avena foam – a patented type of foam used in certain mattress brands. Has similar properties to latex, but with increased durability.

Box springs – a framed box that sits under your mattress to support it. Made with vertical steel springs. Most beds require a box spring.

Coil – metal wire springs within the mattress that provide support and adjust to your movements. These provide the resistance and bounce of a bed.

Coil-on-coil – a system using two layers of coils for increased comfort. Found mostly in high end mattresses.

Contoured mattress – refers to mattresses that conform to your body, providing varied levels of support and softness.

Hybrid mattress – a mattress made using a blend of materials such as memory foam, latex foam, pillow tops, etc.

Indentation Load Deflection (ILD) – a measurement of foam firmness. Measured using a machine that compresses foam to 25% of the original size, and records the amount of pressure (weight) required to reach 25%. Measurements range from 10 lb (very soft) to 80 lb (very firm).

Mattress topper – a sold-separately foam topper that is placed on top of your existing mattress. Useful for enhancing comfort on older mattresses.

Memory foam – a type of foam that conforms to the shape of your body. Tempurepedic beds made memory foam popular, but now the material is used in many types of mattresses.

Memory foam gel – a specialized type of memory foam that uses a cooling gel to regulate the temperature of your mattress.

Motion transfer – refers to the amount of energy that is transferred from one side of the bed to the other. Most useful for couples who share a bed.

Natural latex – a material commonly used in mattress manufacturing. Latex is derived from from the rubber tree and processed into a foam.

Pillow top – a soft and comfortable layer of material that is placed on top of the more supportive aspects of the mattress. Designed to enhance comfort.

Plush top – a softer, more squishy blend of materials designed to enhance comfort.

Synthetic latex – a popular form of latex used in mattress foams. More affordable and more widely available than natural latex.


This mattress glossary will be continually expanded on over time. If you have questions about any mattress terms, feel free to leave a comment or contact us today!

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