Mattresses explained: What’s the deal with box springs?

For the best sleep experience on top of your mattress, pay attention to what goes underneath it.

These days everyone is interested in optimizing performance. We want the best workouts, nutrition, and sleep we can get. But if you’ve been ignoring the structural foundation of your mattress — be it box spring, platform, or other — you could be sacrificing quality of sleep and ultimately causing more wear and tear on your mattress.

Modern mattress design has moved toward body conforming designs. This means the mattress is designed to conform itself to the user’s body shape. There are many benefits to this but one Achilles heel, is that both sides of the mattress conforms. Therefore; if the base is sagging because it is worn out or not designed correctly in the first place, the mattress it is supporting is going to sag as well. That will likely lead to back pain or other issues for the sleeper.

What is a box spring?

The term “box spring” came into use in the early 20th century. But the real reason we all know them is due to the industry emphasis in the 1980’s. Manufacturers required consumers to purchase a box spring, not always necessary, along with their mattress to “ensure” the warranty.

Today, the term “box spring” can be misleading. Most box springs no longer contain springs, they are simply wooden or metal mattress foundations. In fact, the most commonly used term today to describe what goes underneath your mattress is just simply…a mattress foundation.

Do I even need a foundation?

The real answer is yes. Well, maybe. It really does not matter if you have a foundation or not. What matters is that the bottom of your mattress lies on a solid, non-flexing, flat surface. This will allow the top of the mattress to conform to your body shape. As long as the design of the mattress will allow conformity.

Woman laying on wood platform

Adjustable foundations are a different conversation. We’ll address those in a future article.

Recently many furniture manufacturers are making platform beds that have a solid wood deck. Essentially, the furniture is the foundation. As long as these decks are able to take the weight of the mattress and users, this is a great solution for the modern mattress design.

If you are going to invest in a new mattress, the most important thing is to make sure you don’t forget about what goes underneath it.

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