What’s inside your mattress?

Sleep is vitally important to human health. In addition to helping you to repair your body, sleep is good for your mental health and helps to regulate your weight. If you’re doing it right, you’ll spend up to a third of your life asleep. If you’re doing it really right, you’ll do most of your sleeping in a bed and on a natural mattress.

It’s really important, then, that you think carefully about the type of mattress you buy and what is in it. A badly chosen mattress can impact your sleep by causing discomfort or leave you with aches and pains. Mattresses made from shoddy material might not last as long as you need them to. In extreme cases, they might be damaging to your health.

In order to avoid any of this, it is really important that you know what is in your mattress. Here, we’ll outline the most common materials and their pros and cons.


Mattresses that use springs are called ‘box spring’ mattresses. These types of mattresses use dozens of springs to support your body across the full width of your mattress. Box springs are made from multiple materials, including wood and steel. If you recycle your mattress, the steel can be taken from the springs and used again.


  • Give extra height
  • Absorbs body weight
  • Traditional
  • Less likely to sag


  • More expensive than counterpart foam


A few years ago, memory foam became a thing. Marketed as a luxury item, many people turned to memory foam because they believed it would give them a better night of sleep, but this is not true for everyone. Foam is manufactured; society is turning away from products that are so incredibly man-made. Foam mattresses come with a pretty important set of cons and you should think carefully before you by one.


  • If you don’t struggle with limited mobility, memory foam mattresses can be comfortable.
  • They respond to heat and pressure to reduce pressure point problems.
  • Long term use can reduce persistent pain.
  • If you sleep beside a restless partner, there is no transfer of movement when they wriggle.
  • There’s no need to flip them.


  • They’re very heavy.
  • Because they cradle your body, they’re hotter than most mattresses. This means excess sweating, which can lead to the growth of mould.
  • In hot temperatures, your mattress might become unbearably soft. In cold temperatures, it might be uncomfortably hard.
  • They can sometimes smell. This is especially true when foam mattresses are first opened. Due to a process called off-gassing, memory foam mattresses need a few days of freedom before their smell dies down. This is because they’re made from manmade materials.
  • In order for them to be fire-resistant, artificial chemicals need to be added.
  • They’re no good for people with mobility issues. Because your body heat will cause you to sink into the mattress, turning over or getting up might be difficult, especially if you lack the strength to do it.
  • There are lots of knock-offs of memory foam that mean you might end up with a shoddy, short-life version.

Mattress quilt materials

Your mattress has its own quilt. This is the very top layer of your mattress and the part that makes you comfortable. Usually, the quilted part of your mattress offers cooling properties and adds comfort. They’re made from a variety of fabrics, including natural cotton, bamboo, and Tencel, which are soft, natural and renewable fibres.

What should I be looking for?

If you’re looking for a new mattress, there are some materials you should be looking out for. We’d recommend you search for mattresses made from natural and recyclable materials, with natural fire-resistant qualities and as few chemicals as possible. At Ely Mattresses, we use the following products.


We use horsehair for its ventilation properties. There aren’t many materials out there that can match it. Horsehair is hollow, which means it is exceptional at getting rid of moisture. If you soaked it and then gave it a shake, horsehair would dry immediately. That makes it perfect for mattresses because lots of people sweat in bed. Dry sweat on a mattress is a breeding ground for germs and bacteria.

Sleeping on horsehair is like sleeping on millions of tiny individual springs. Because they have a tendency to bounce back and never flatten out, this helps with the durability of our mattresses.


Have you ever seen a flat sheep? No? That’s because wool is similar to a compact coiled spring. Wool fibres can repel pressure and maintain their shape, even under intense weight. That’s why we use wool as the closest layer to the body in our mattresses, where it can provide constant support and comfort. Wool is also naturally hypoallergenic and fire-resistant.

Natural cotton

Cotton is resilient, natural, and has the capability to breathe. It regulates body temperature and is durable, which means it will last you longer. Cotton used to be the main filling for mattresses, but many manufacturers switched to foam to increase their profit margins. Here at Ely Mattresses, we’re all about comfort over cash.

For more information about what is in our mattresses and the benefits of our products, please read about our 13 layers.

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