If one-third of your life is to be spent in bed, assuming 8 hours’ sleep a day, a mattress that can assure you a deep restful slumber every night is indispensable. The Consumer Council has put to test 25 models of single mattresses, and found on the whole the mattresses were of average overall performance. Vast variations, however, were detected in individual samples when it came to crucial overall body support performance: nearly half (12 models) of the samples were rated with scores of 2.5 points or below. And the same mattress, when rated under different body weight of the testers and sleep positions, also varied significantly. As indicated in the test report, there is no standard requirements on mattress firmness, consumers should therefore base their choice on their own body shape, weight, and sleep habit, spending as much time as feasible to personally try out the mattress in different sleep positions before purchase.
The test was conducted in conjunction with the International Consumer Research and Testing on 25 models of single mattresses sold in Hong Kong, comprising 21 spring (10 Bonnell spring、4 light spring and 7 pocket spring) and 4 foam models, ranging in price from $1,490 to $8,600. The test samples were rated for their body support, comfortability and durability. In the test, the top 4 spring models with overall performance rating (4 points) were all priced in the medium range of around $3,000; and both the highest and the least priced models were rated with the same score (3.5 points), indicating that price and performance bear little or no direct correlation in mattresses.
On the basis of overall performance ratings (on a scale of 5), the spring mattresses were more superior (3 to 4 points), than the foam models (2.5 to 3.5 points). But consumers should take heed of the findings on the overall body support performance of individual samples - out of 25 samples, only 4 spring models scored 3.5 points, while all the foam models were rated 2.5 points or below with the worst performer only got 1 point.
Even for the same sample its body support performance could vary due to different sleep positions and body weight of the sleeper. For example, in the case of a sample with 3.5 points in overall rating, when lying on the mattress in the dorsal position by a taller heavier tester and a shorter lighter tester, the sample’s performance were rated 4 points and 4.5 points respectively. And when the same two testers lying in the lateral position, the rating dropped to only 2.5 and 3 points respectively.
In terms of comfort, the samples were measured for their performance in point elasticity (including lumbar support), stability, moisture permeability and heat dissipation. The results were also most variable. Rating for elasticity varied vastly from 1 to 5 points, with only 9 models scored 4 points or above, while rating for stability spanned from a low 1 point to a high 4.5 points, with 10 samples rated 4.5 points and 11 samples at the lower end of the scale of 2.5 points or below. On moisture permeability and heat dissipation, all samples performed fairly evenly, with 3.5 points or above in moisture permeability while 15 samples were rated “normal” in heat insulation.
Furthermore, the samples were measured for their firmness. The findings showed the samples tested in Hong Kong were mostly skewed towards hard level. Among the 25 samples, 60% or 15 samples were given the verdict “very hard” (3 samples) and “hard” (12 samples). The rest of the samples – 7 samples “medium”, and 3 samples “soft” or “very soft”.
According to the Hong Kong Physiotherapy Association, spring mattresses in general give better body support than the foam type does. Too hard mattress may result in some parts of the body to be under excessive pressure, such as the shoulders, the hips and the sacrum, leading to back muscle tightness and discomfort. There are studies showing that medium-firm mattresses help improve the quality of sleep and reduce pain of patients with chronic back pain.
On overall durability, 21 out of 25 samples scored 4 points or above, indicating good durability overall; the foam mattresses were judged to be more durable, among the 4 foam models, 3 were awarded the top rating of 5 points and 1 received 4.5 points. Only 1 sample of the spring type was found with wear and tear in its spring’s pocket after the durability test.
On safety, all samples compiled with the relevant standard on domestic mattresses in Hong Kong. Among the samples, 17 passed the “smoldering cigarette ignition” test and “small flame test”; while the remainder 8 samples failed the “small flame” test, indicating variances among mattresses in the level of flammability resistance.
Consumers choosing and using mattresses are advised to take heed of the following:
- The warranty period of a mattress is valid usually for a few years; in the event of quality problems, consumers should notify the manufacturer as soon as possible but pay heed of the warranty scope and terms and conditions;
- Cover the mattress with a mattress protector and have it washed regularly to maintain hygiene; also regularly shift the position of the mattress to help restore the parts under prolonged pressure to the original condition to keep the mattress more durable;
- After waking up, spread out the bed sheet, allowing the surface of mattress to air out, avoiding body sweat and temperature to stay, and keeping the mattress dry and cool;
- Placing the mattress at ventilated areas or using dehumidifier to keep the mattress moisture free;
- If diagnosed dust mites causing allergy, use a traditional, water-filter, or upright vacuum cleaner to clean the mattress, and encase in an anti-dust mite cover;
- Change bedding regularly and hot wash bedding sheets and pillow cases in 60℃ which help reduce dust mites.
The Consumer Council reserves all its right (including copyright) in respect of CHOICE magazine and Online CHOICE.