Pressure Relief Research
Since the primary function of a mattress is to provide proper support for your back, pressure points will build on your body where the most support is being given. To combat this pressure, comfort layers are added to mattresses. Their purpose is to relieve the pressure caused by the core support system, thus allowing you to fall asleep without any aches or pains and without tossing and turning at night.
What is the Comfort/Pressure Relief Index? This index rates the relative comfort provided by various types of materials. Comfort in its traditional sense is very personal. Some like a firm bed, while others prefer a soft bed, so it is difficult to assess or “rate” comfort.
One way to quantify comfort is to consider the ability of any material to relieve pressure. Pressure relief is important to all of us whether we like a firm or soft feel. Excessive pressure causes tossing and turning, which can lead to pain, interrupted sleep, and even pressure ulcers (bed sores). Generally speaking, the firmer a mattress is, the less pressure relieving it will be. Sophisticated computerized pressure mapping devices can measure pressure points and accurately show how effective any mattress is at relieving them. Over the years, Intellibed has mapped thousands of individuals on all of the different mattresses available, and it is that data that allows us to rate the effectiveness of these materials on this chart.
Each of these materials have a range of firmness. For example, foam is produced in different firmnesses from very soft to very firm. This chart does not take into consideration this range but seeks to only generally catagorize the materials by their overall effectiveness to relieve pressure. For example, latex foam is almost always more effective at relieving pressure than polyurethane foam, so that is why it is rated above it in the chart.
It is very important to understand that the longer a mattress is used, the less effective it will be at relieving pressure. Every mattress manufacturer, whether Select Comfort, TempurPedic, Sealy, Simmons, Serta and all others use FOAM as their primary cushioning material. Everyone knows that foam degrades, softens and develops body impressions. As foam degrades and softens, it loses its ability to cushion the body from the firm core below. That is why it is so important to consider durability when purchasing your new mattress. After all, you don’t want to buy a bed that you love, only to find that you can’t sleep on it after a year or two.