How Many Pocket Springs Make A Good Mattress

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How Many Springs Are in a Good Mattress? & Other Pocket Sprung FAQs

Joy Richards – March 1, 2019 Hi, I’m Joy – Happy Beds’ Sleep Specialist. Aside from Italian food and my three lovely boys, nothing makes me happier than helping our customers find what works for them, and how they can make the most of their forty winks.

Shopping for a mattress can be an incredibly daunting process, with the endless technical terms, it can sometimes feel like you need a degree in mattress-buying to make the correct decision.

What are pocket sprung mattresses? How many springs are in a pocket sprung mattress? How do you know which spring-count to go for? Who are best suited to them? Don’t worry; these questions are commonly asked and this blog is here to put your mind at rest.

In this blog, you’ll be taken through a brief course of pocket sprung expertise and by the end of it, you’ll be equipped to get mattress shopping and gain that good night’s sleep you’ve been longing for some time.

How Do Pocket Sprung Mattresses Work?

Pocket sprung mattresses work by maintaining balance irrespective of weight. Each individually nested spring is placed in a fabric pocket and moves independently when you lie on the mattress. When two people are on the mattress, neither of them will be disturbed if the other one moves. Mattresses with pocket springs offer more comfort than those with open coil springs.

How Many Springs Are There in a Good Pocket Sprung Mattress?

When shopping for a pocket sprung mattress, there is one thing that retailers will shout at you: the spring count. If you don’t know the difference between spring counts and how many springs make up a good quality mattress, this information will fall on deaf ears and mean nothing to you. People tend to see numbers in a mattress name and feel confused, but it really is much simpler than you might think.

The bottom line is that the more springs, the better the mattress. However, when you are unaware of what an average spring count may be, it is difficult to analyse the quality of a mattress.

A ‘good’ mattress will generally have above 1000 springs, with the acceptance that a higher spring count equals to better quality (and a higher price). There really is no compromising with your sleep, so we cannot recommend enough that you shop around to find the perfect mattress for you. Our mattresses range from 1000 pocket springs and beyond, varying in features and firmness to cater for all sleepers.

Although spring count is an important way to assess a mattress quality, you shouldn’t obsess over the number of springs alone. There are many factors of a mattress that you should consider to ensure it is suitable for you.

Why Buy Pocket Spring Mattresses?

With all this talk about springs, it’s completely understandable for all of this descriptive talk to go over your head. Mattresses don’t have to be complicated, once you know what you need to look for to suit your own sleeping requirements, getting a good night’s sleep has never been so easy. With plenty of pocket sprung, coil sprung and foam mattresses available on the market, it can be difficult to choose. Let me tell you a little bit about pocket sprung mattresses and what makes them so flexible to all sleepers…

Pocket sprung mattresses are considered a modern improvement on your average coil sprung mattress, offering an innovative design featuring thousands of individual springs cased in a fabric house which are stitched together to create lengths of connected springs. Each pocket spring moves individually and contours to everybody for personalised comfort, making it a favourite of many mattress-shoppers looking for the perfect place to unwind.

The individual spring design ensures there is plenty of air circulation throughout to both prolong mattress life and provide the perfect temperature control for your own comfort.

Is a Pocket Sprung Mattress For You?

Pocket sprung mattresses are so popular due to their immense flexibility to all sleeping requirements, with varying options designed to cater to a large market of people. Pocket sprung mattresses come in a range of firmness ratings, varying from soft to firm in order to provide the perfect sleeping space for all weights. The general rule when selecting firmness is the heavier the sleeper combination weight, the softer the mattress should be. Our firmness rating tool found on our mattress product pages allows you to input your weight to identify the perfect firmness for you – easy!

Due to their high quality, pocket sprung mattresses are usually deeper than most, with the ability to flip and rotate the mattress for an even longer lifespan. Pocket sprung mattresses are considered a worthy investment, granting many people around the world with perfect comfort. With additional features such as orthopaedic and natural fillings, our range of Pocket Sprung Mattresses cater for all and make this form of sleeping solution perfect for all requirements.

Why Pocket Springs Are Great for Lovebirds

If you are a loved-up couple or you share your bed with another sleeper, pocket sprung mattresses are for you! With individually nested pocket springs, the mattress is designed to isolate movement across the sleeping space to ensure you are never disturbed from your slumber, regardless of how much your partner is wriggling around. For this reason, pocket sprung mattresses are a favourite for couples and make sharing a bed much more comfortable and limit disturbances – that just leaves the snoring to deal with!

I hope I’ve cleared up some of the common concerns about pocket sprung mattresses and allowed you to fall in love with them as much as we have. Here at Happy Beds, we believe that everyone deserves a good night’s sleep and pocket sprung mattresses are a great way to do so. If you have any more questions or want to share your favouritepocket sprung mattresseswith us, then get in touch – we would love to hear from you! You can reach us via Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Happy sleeping!

6 tips for buying the best pocket spring mattress

Most people shopping for a good quality mattress buy a pocket spring one. Sure, memory foam and other types of mattress are popular, but most of us stick to what we know.

But that decision still needs narrowing down from a vast number of pocket spring mattresses on the market. You’ve got two options:

  1. Pick one from our recommended list
  2. Learn how to spot a quality mattress and then search one out for yourself.

Here are my six tips for buying the best pocket spring mattress you can afford:

1. (Some of) the best mattresses have won awards

OK, awards don’t mean everything. After all, Mrs Brown’s Boys was voted the best sitcom of the 21st century (apologies if you’re a fan. ).

However, if you’re interested then the pocket spring mattress manufacturers which have won awards from the National Bed Federation in recent years have included:

  • Hypnos(best manufacturer 2014, runner up in 2013, 2018)
  • Harrison Spinks(best manufacturer in 2015, 2018 – they make theJohn Lewis & Partners Natural Collection)
  • Millbrook(best small manufacturer 2018)
  • Steinhoff Bedding Group (runners up in 2016 – makers ofMyer’s,RelyonandSlumberland)

Other winners, such as Kaymed (2016) specialise in memory foam rather pocket spring mattresses.

Another option is to look at overall customer reviews for brands which specialise in pocket sprung mattresses. TrustPilot is the best website I’ve found for this sort of information, as most brands have hundreds of reviews. High scoring pocket sprung mattress brands include:

  • Sleepeezee- 4.5/5 (a mid-priced brand with a Royal Warrant)
  • Silentnight4.3/5 (a huge brand which sells a range of types of beds, including plenty of mid-priced pocket sprung mattresses)
  • Sealy- 3.4/5 (well-known brand which is owned by Silentnight)

(For the TrustPilot reviews, we looked at the brand’s overall ‘Trust Score’ and searched in March 2020. We didn’t include some brands which just had a tiny number of reviews and we didn’t include brands which sell dozens of other things, such as IKEA, as it wouldn’t tell us a lot about their mattresses. We couldn’t find reviews for some well known pocket spring brands, such as Vispring and Somnus).

Yet another option is to look at independent tests which are carried out on pocket spring mattresses. Award winners/those which scored very well include:

  • Silentnight 1200 Classic Pocket Deluxe(£359medium/firm pocket spring mattress from the biggest name in the UK mattress market. Also called ‘Sofia’. Strong customer reviews.)
  • Sealy Teramo 1400(£800pocket spring mattress, soft mattress so better for lighter people. Also called Nostromo) ​​

2. The best mattresses are (usually) the most expensive ones

Bear with me and let me explain what I mean.

Everyone loves to feel they are getting a bargain, but broadly speaking you get what you pay for with a mattress. Sure, there are discount codes and the like, but d on’t get sucked in by the big red sale sticker in the shop offering 70% off.

Don’t get me wrong, a retailer likeFurniture Villagewill often offer 20% – 30% off a good quality mattress and I would personally wait for a sale, but there are other bed retailers who seem to always have a massive sale on, which makes me suspicious.

In summary, a bed reduced from £2000 to £700 will most likely be a very similar quality to one which costs £700 elsewhere.

3. The best mattresses have at least 1000 springs

Very cheap pocket spring mattresses try to get away with 600 springs. From the many guides I’ve read online, the consensus seems to be that if you can afford an upgrade to at least 1000 springs then you’ll feel the benefit.

If you don’t weigh a lot then 1000 should provide plenty of support, but if your idea of a balanced diet is a pie in each hand then you will probably want something closer to 2000 springs.

You will see mattresses offering silly numbers of springs (some go over 10,000) but the advantages diminish simply because of how many springs will fit on one layer of a mattress. Thishigh specification mattress from John Lewis & Partnershas 11400 springs, but most of them are very small springs to provide a bit of extra support rather than full size pocket springs.

4. (Most of) the best mattresses are hand tufted

Take a look at the top of a mattress and it will either by quilted (completely flat) or hand tufted (bumpy with buttons holding it all in place).

The very best quality pocket spring mattresses are nearly always hand tufted.

Now, before I get angry emails from quilted mattress sellers, it’s worth saying that there are many high quality quilted mattresses and we recommended several in our guide to 10 of the best mattresses on the market.

My point though is that brands likeHypnos(the Royal Family’s mattress maker), andVispringmake mostly hand tufted mattresses and they all offer mattresses which cost more than my first car.

I’ve also read compelling arguments of why hand tufted mattresses are better and more stable, but I won’t bore you with excessive detail.

On the down side, bear in mind that hand tufted mattresses need turning regularly whilst many quilted mattresses are no turn. Not turning your mattress is convenient (I need two weeks of physio every time I turn our huge mattress) but most people say that a mattress that you flip over will flipping well last longer.

A no turn mattress may be a necessity of having a high quality comfort topper on the mattress. or it may just be a way of using cheaper materials on the bottom half of the mattress.

5. The best mattresses have hand side stitching

Honestly, my attempts to turn mattress seller jargon into something in plain English had me scratching my head many times. I won’t bore you with the details, but the summary is that something called ‘Hand Side Stitching’ is a sign of quality, whereas ‘Machine Side Stitching’ isn’t so good.

It’s to do with how much support your bed offers at the edges and there are two ways to work out what a particular mattress offers.

The first option is to visit your local bed shop and start sitting on the sides of all their pocket spring mattresses. Cheap mattresses bulge out at the side whilst the best mattresses won’t. (I can’t help feeling you might get thrown out of Dreams if you turn up with a tape measure and start measure the size of their bulges, but hey. )

The second option for spotting Hand Side Stitching is to look for it in the descriptions online, which is certainly less effort (although many websites don’t seem to declare it which doesn’t help).John Lewis & Partnersis a shining example of a retailer which clearly describes how their mattresses are made.

As a general rule, if a company doesn’t say that a mattress is Hand Side Stitched then it probably isn’t, as it is something you would shout about. In the same way that you might assume that your local greasy kebab takeaway probably isn’t selling organic, free range meat, unless it makes a point of saying it is.

6. The best mattresses have a woven cover

Here’s another question which baffled me: Which is the best material for a mattress cover? I read so many guides about Belgian damask whatevers and woven fabric thingyamajigs and I was still confused.

Here’s the summary to save you the dull journey I went on:

Don’t buy a bed with a stitch bond cover. They are rough and unpleasant and are the kind of thing you’d see on a children’s mattress at your local tip.

Beyond that, most natural woven fabrics seem to be fine – such as cotton or damask. There’s also a huge range of mattress covers with silly names which sound like they were thought up by throwing scientific names into a hat and pulling out a handful. It’s hard to sift the genuine scientific developments from the pseudo-science waffle on this one, so I would be cautious about buying a mattress just because it had a long name.

Pocket spring mattress guide

First lets clear up what isn’t a pocket spring. Common names such as Orthopaedic, Continuous Coil, Bonnel coil, Bonnel sprung, Miracoil & Opencoil are all cheap cage sprung systems. If a manufacturer is using premium pocket springs in their mattresses, trust us, they will want to tell you all about it!

  • Spring counts
  • What is a pocket spring?
  • Types of pocket spring
  • Mattress upholstery and pocket springs
  • Tailored Spring Gauges – Soft, Medium or Firm?
  • How are pocket springs made?
  • What is a Vanadium spring?
  • Other types of springs – Cortec, Revolution & Micro Springs

View our range of Pocket Spring Mattresses

Pocket Spring Counts

It has become a trend in recent years for mattress manufacturers to increase the number of springs listed in their mattresses. They are tapping into the consumer’s belief that the higher the spring count the more value they are getting for their bed purchase. Its worth understanding that there is only so much space in a mattress and to achieve these ridiculously high spring counts, ie 6,000 plus the manufacturers are simply using sheets of miniature springs layered on top of each other and reducing upholstery. They are also placing springs within springs to artificially inflate the number of springs on the label.

Thankfully this approach has not been adopted by the most respected mattress manufacturers here in the UK. We continue to see more and more mattress models adopting this farcical approach to bed making.

Pocket spring counts are always based on the number of springs in a king size mattress: 150 x 200 / 5’0 x 6’6. Even when a single mattress is described as having 1000 pocket springs, for example, it won’t. It will have proportionately less based on its size. A super king size mattress will have proportionately more.

Some retailers have started to give the exact count of a particular size which throws a fly into the ointment when you are doing like for like comparisons. Always be aware of the count in a king sized mattress and you just can’t go wrong.

The least number of pocket springs you can get in a mattress is 600.

This level of spring count will be in starter or budget ranges of pocket sprung mattresses. This is a good example of the value of a pocket sprung unit, obviously, the retail price will be low but, the quality level of mattress will be significantly better thananymattress utilising an open coil or continuous coil retailing for a similar price.

Our Origins 1500 is our best selling starter model click here to view

What is a pocket spring?

A pocket spring is a case, usually made of fabric that encases a wire spring. These cases are either stitched or in cheaper models, glued together to create a length of individual springs that are connected. This enables a sleeper to be supported independently by each pocket spring. It’s great to prevent movement between sleepers and will enable you to have far greater support than a cage sprung or open coil mattress.

The highest quality pocket springs will be calico encased and the spring wire will be vanadium plated. This enables them springs to breathe and prevents heat build-up.

Our Mattress collection only uses Premium Pocket Springs, if you want to see more please visit our shop to start browsing. We have never sold and will never sell a cage sprung contraption and would highly recommend that you do not buy one.

Types of Pocket Spring Mattress

We have always advocated for high-quality handmade pocket sprung mattresses over mass-produced bags of springs such as open coil mattresses, but there’s still a minefield of information on pocket springs which we aim to summarise for you. We like to keep things simple so we have summarised to two types of pocket springs below.

There are two main types of pocket spring

1.Synthetic spun bond springs – the entry-level spring unit. Glued together with a polyester style material. The least breathable and responsive but still a million times better than any cage sprung or open coil nightmare.

Click here to view Pocket Spring Mattresses

2.Calico encased pocket springs – Encased in a breathable natural calico cover which are then stitched together. Highly responsive and much more breathable.

Calico Pocket Springs are the highest quality view our Artisan Mattress Range Here

All the high-end manufacturers, such as Savoir beds, Vi-spring will use calico pocket springs

Pocket springs must be matched with suitable upholstery

For instance, there is no use having a super duper all singing all dancing pocket spring unit when it is not backed up by an element of substantial upholstery.

As you browse through the internet looking for your perfect mattress you will soon see that in most cases great swathes of text is focused on how good the pocket springs are in any particular model, the science behind the design and how you will sleep like a baby. All of this will be relatively pointless if equal space is not designated to the rest of the mattress, the upholstery, the detailing and so forth.

We detail the GSM alongside the Pocket Spring count in each of our Hand Made mattresses – Visit our Shop by Clicking Here.

The fact of the matter is, a standard pocket sprung unit which forms the basis of many mattresses, will be suitable for practically everyone. Especially when compared to a cage sprung or open coil mattresses which should be avoided at all costs. Standard spun-bond pocket springs are not overly expensive and will offer you all the support you will require.

The most pocket spring units you can get into a king-sized mattress on one layer is 2000. Mattresses described as having more than this are utilising double-layer construction techniques or they are utilising a suspension pocket sprung unit or they are using mini springs to increase the count. When looking at descriptions and you see a specification with more than 2000 pocket springs you really do have to examine how this was achieved.

As I have said in previous posts, the only differentiating factor between many mattress manufacturers are the springs used. Fundamentally, the springs will more often than not be similar but how they are constructed will provide enough difference to achieve the elusive brownie points that will sway you into thinking their product is somehow better than the competition.

Generally, though and this certainly does not apply in all cases manufacturers tend to go down the soft / medium/ firm route and use the firmer springs on the 1000 counts to softer springs on the 2000 counts. The theory being that 2000 pocket springs do not have to be as supportive as 1000. The support will be there but spread out over a greater number of springs.

I know you are thinking now that if a 1000 spring unit is firm why would that suit our ten stone friend? Good point. The Firm spring unit only has 1000 springs and at a gauge of say 1.5mm. The 2000 spring unit at Soft will have a gauge of 1.2. This difference in spring gauge is fractional and nominal between two individual pockets. They will both compress easily under the pressure of your hands. As the number of springs increases as in a complete unit, it takes more pressure to compress them.

Guide to pocket springs

A good thing to bear in mind that a 1000 / 1500 / 2000 pocket sprung unit will be broadly similar from about 90% of all manufacturers. It is what is placed on top of the units (upholstery) that makes the difference in Price and in quality.

Total spring counts come in usually at 600 / 800 / 1000 / 1200 / 1400 / 1500 / 2000 pockets per unit.

The lower spring counts will have a larger diameter spring – The higher spring counts will have a smaller diameter spring. One of the most prolific questions we get asked and abundant on internet forums is the “how many springs are best?”. Now although this is such a simple question the answer is not! The response to this question should always be followed up with “best for what?”

Which is best a Pocket Spring or Open Coil?

If you are torn between two similar mattresses one open coil and one pocket sprung the pocket sprung mattress will win hands down! Like I said above, the minimum 600 pocket count is far superior toanyopen coil or continuous coil mattress you can get. It is so unlikely an open coil/continuous coil mattress will have a quality level of upholstery attached and all these fall within the low-end range of mattresses.

How many mattress springs do I need?

If you look at the complete range from Rest Assured, for example, you will see that the bulk of their mattresses utilise a 1400 pocket spring unit. This count will suit the majority of users not too firm and not too soft. A bigger person (such as my 20st Rugby Player friend) will gain more benefit from a 2000 unit. His weight will be equalised over a greater number of springs, The springs will not be fully compressed but allowed to ‘move’ with him. If he was on a 1000 pocket unit, for example, the weight is distributed over a lesser number of springs. Whereas our ten stone friend will be quite happy on 1000 pockets.

You should aim for atleast 1000 pocket springsin a mattress up to 2000 in a single layer.

This is only half the story, though! The other difference between 1000 springs and 2000 springs is the tension of the spring itself. There is no hard or fast rule on what gauge wire is used on a particular spring count: A 2000 unit can utilise a firm spring say 1.5mm or it can utilise a soft spring say 1.2mm. And it is this reason alone why the question above cannot be answered with any degree of precision. It is so unlikely a retailer will know what gauge wire is used on any particular unit contained in a particular mattress.

Tailored Spring Gauges – Soft, Medium or Firm?

Once you move away from cheaper mass-produced springs you then have the option of tailored spring gauges. This means that dependant on your weight you can choose a soft, medium or firm spring. This means that you have the potential for split tension mattresses and zip and links. So if you and your partner are different weights, then you can have different tensions to suit each of you.

View our Zip & Link Mattresses

Creating the perfect sleeping experience for both of you! Our Handmade mattress range are all available in both zip and link and split tensions if required.

BodyweightSpring tension
Upto 16 Stone / 50-101kgMedium
16 Stone / 101kg UpwardsFirm
Available in Bespoke Products (Please Call)Soft

Pocket Spring wire diameter explained

Spring wire diameter is sometimes shown on product descriptions, not to be confused with spring gauges. It shows you how thick the wire is for that spring unit. The thicker the spring wire the firmer the support you will get from it as it’s harder to compress. The gauge refers to the torsion, push-pull measurement which tells you how resilient/firm a mattress spring is. An example of this is an orthopaedic mattress which has a gauge of 12 and is very firm.

We have a handy table that allows you to see the spring wire diameter we use in our range and the tension that the spring is set at. We also, unlike many competitors, allow you to see what the weight tolerance is for these springs. This is crucial when working out the support you need and we detail this more in the article on soft, medium & firm.

Spring TensionWire diameter (Gauge)Weight Range
Soft1.2mmBespoke Tension (Please Call)
Medium1.4mmUpto 16 stone
Firm1.6mm16 stone plus
Extra Firm / Orthopaedic1.9mm20 stone plus

How are pocket springs made?

In the bulk of all mattresses, you will come up against the pocket sprung unit itself, which will be relatively similar. They are produced in this country in large factories such as Leggett and Platt, Charles Blythe and such like. There are also imports with the most regarded being Agro gmbh (Germany). Currently, the most prolific imports of pocket sprung units come from Turkey and South Africa.

Some manufacturers have the equipment and facility to produce their own springs such as Vi-Spring/Harrisons and, of course, the manufacturer we use who makes our Artisan range all completely made in Britain.

Calico Pocket Springs are meticulously made by specialist equipment and craftsmen

Each one of our Artisan Calico Encased Pocket Springs is made by a specialist piece of machinery. Each individual spring is formed and then inserted into a calico sleeve which is then machine stitched shut. Once each length of pocket springs have been formed they are then hand-cut so each strip is one piece. Cheaper synthetic pocket springs may be glued together instead of stitching to reduce the time required to make them.

What’s a Vanadium pocket spring?

Vanadium is used in the steel forging process and provides strength to the metal which assists when it is then formed into a spring. It also has a low oxidisation value meaning it doesn’t corrode as quickly as other metals. So springs don’t rust.

We use Vanadium on our calico pocket springs that are found in the higher end Artisan models. Vanadium is often found in metal alloys and top-end tools to give strength and durability against corrosion. It is used within our springs to ensure they are of the highest quality giving an enhanced lifespan and longevity. Most manufacturers couldn’t tell you what is in their spring wire, you will probably just get shrugged shoulders, but here at John Ryan, we can share with you the exact composition of our calico vanadium pocket springs.

Chemical Composition of Steel WireCMnSiPSCuV (Vanadium)
Percentage Contained0.710.54180.120.0140.1900.5/0.9

Other types of springs – Cortec, Revolution & Micro Springs

Update 2020:Recently the mattress market has seen a flood of new ‘spring innovations’ which are all there to tempt you to certain brands mattresses. Spring technology has pretty much remained the same for over a hundred years. The simple spring mechanism works by compressing and extending based on a load applied to it, ie a sleeper loading the spring when they lie on a mattress. There’s only so much innovation you can do with a spring, such as changing its shape or size. It will have some influence, but is it enough to spend hundreds of pounds more on a new mattress? We take a look at a few of the newer spring types so you can make your own mind up.

Cortec Springs:Cortec springs by Harrison Spinks are an elongated pocket spring. That means they are thinner and taller than regular pocket springs. Cortec springs are not glued together but heat-sealed into rows meaning they are glue-free. So you don’t need glue to bond them together as they can concertina together by being folded in their rows. Imagine a roll of paper labels and how each one can be folded back on each other or torn off. This is the same layout as the Cortec spring. They are still synthetic coated pocket springs and unlike our Calico ones are not vanadium coated so won’t be as impervious to rusting over time.

Revolution Springs:This is again another innovation from Harrisons which involves placing a smaller spring within a regular-sized pocket spring. So you have two springs in one. We’ve trialled these and not found a huge amount of comfort difference between the two. We do have reservations about how sure they are that the smaller internal spring won’t get stuck or trapped in the larger spring.

Micro Springs:These are the latest in spring count hype. Micro springs are tiny synthetic pocket springs that come in rows of 1000. Meaning you can add a few layers to suddenly boost the overall spring count of a mattress. We really don’t rate micro springs as they compress almost instantaneously making them redundant in our tests. We can only imagine that retailers are now using HD or micro springs simply to up the spring count in the competition to have the higher figure. However, this simply means less upholstery for you as the more layers of springs you place in a mattress the less room there is for the upholstery comfort layers. So bare this in mind.

Here is an example – not from Harrisons – of multiple synthetic spring layers and micro springs. Click to view true Vanadium coated Pocket Spring models.

If you’re wanting the best of the best you need to be looking for calico pocket springs. If your budget constrains you, a spun-bond pocket spring unit with at least 1000 pocket springs per kingsize will get you a mid-range mattress. There is also a post on this site about the anomalies of soft medium or firm mattresses. Worth a read particularly if you are struggling with how on earth a mattress can be described as such. If you have different body weights we can create split tension mattress or zip and link beds which can be tailored specifically to your weight.

Lastly, if you want to get really informed on the details of pocket springs and the different tiers, gauges and latest developments read our detailed arguments here. To help start off by viewing some of the best handmade mattresses here in our shop where we only use the highest quality pocket springs and coverings. Still struggling? Then why not call our small expert team based here in Manchester on 0161 437 4419 to see if we can help?

How to choose a mattress – and 5 of the best mattresses to invest in now

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I t can be hard to find the best mattress for a good night’s sleep. Memory-foam, Egyptian cotton and pocket springs may cloud our judgement, making it difficult to choose the right mattress.

Mattresses have become so technological – some are even based on research from the US space agency NASA – that they now sometimes go by the name ‘sleep systems’.

And at up to £40,000 a go, some even cost as much as a mid-range BMW and command the same sort of social status. But is it really necessary to fork out to get a good night’s sleep?

The consensus is that a cheap mattress is indeed a false economy – spending, say, less than £200 is almost certainly not going to ensure a good night’s sleep unless you are very young, very light and frequently sleeping somewhere else.

Cheap mattresses also need replacing more often, perhaps as frequently as every two years. Spend a bit extra, say, more than £1,000, and you should not need to change the mattresses for 10 years, or, in the most luxurious pocket spring cases, up to 25.

"Spend as much as you can afford," advises Martin Gill of And So To Bed. "The minimum should be about £700 on the mattress and bed base combined. It always strikes me as absurd that people will spend £3,000 or £4,000 on a sofa which they sit on for an hour or two some evenings, and much less than £1,000 on a bed where they will spend a crucial eight hours every night."

O nce you have fixed the budget, the next priority is looking for the right kind of support.

"People often ask for orthopaedic mattresses, but all that means is a hard one," says Gill. "Very few people actually need a hard mattress unless they have crushed a disc. For most other people, they will simply be uncomfortable, particularly for lighter women, creating shoulder pain and pins and needles sensations."

I ndeed, your body weight will largely dictate the sort of tension you require – the softer ones are better for an eight-stone woman, a firmer mattress will benefit a 16-stone rugby player type. Of course, many suppliers sell combination mattresses with different tensions on either side, catering for couples with greatly varying weights.

Others sell two mattresses zipped together, a technique much improved on the old days, making it now almost impossible to tell that there is a divide. "We say if couples feel the zip, we’ll give them their money back," says Gill.

With spring mattresses, the firmness is largely dictated by the number of springs. High-quality mattresses such as Vi-Spring, such as the superb double model, will often have soft cotton and lamb’s wool to enhance the springs; the very best will have horsehair filling, which breathes well and acts like more tiny springs.

Vi-Spring offer a comfort promise – try the mattress for up to 90 days, and if need be, they will replace it with a softer or harder one. Tempur, a manufacturer of memory foam mattresses using material developed at NASA to relieve g-force pressures during space launches, offers a 60-night free trial.

T he viscoelastic foam is designed to eliminate pressure points by spreading body weight evenly. The foam cell mattresses, that start at around £1,040 for a double, reorganise themselves constantly to mould to the exact contours of a body, and because they do not harbour dust mites in the same way as more traditional mattresses, they are excellent for asthma sufferers.

Although good mattresses are expensive, they are surely worth it for health and happiness, even if it means making savings elsewhere. "People often put up with wakeful nights, constant tiredness and sore backs for a long time before connecting it to the mattress," warns Lucy Benham of John Lewis & Partners.

"A good test is sitting on the edge and seeing whether the whole side of the mattress collapses. If so, the mattress needs urgent replacement.

"Also, when looking at a new one, remember that quilted ones tend to be of lower quality. Tufted ones, which look like they have buttons going through them, are better as this means the filling is contained to avoid it moving around. Good stitching around the sides indicates that the springs are contained in pockets, which will be much more effective than open spring mattresses.

"But always remember to lie down on a mattress in the showroom and ask for professional advice. Choosing a new mattress is a very important decision indeed."

M ake sure the bed base is suitable for your mattress. A poor base will make even the most expensive mattress uncomfortable. Divan or upholstered ones are best for spring mattresses as the springs in both components complement each other. Memory foam mattresses are better if you have only a wooden slatted base.

To gauge the right tension for you, lie on the mattress in the showroom, and push your hand under the small of your back. If there is a large gap, the mattress is too soft, no gap at all, then it’s too firm. Just being able to pass your hand through suggests that the tension is spot on.

If the mattress is too hard, your body will try to compensate by frequently tossing and turning during the night, up to 60 times. This will impair your and your partner’s sleep. A good mattress will reduce turning to 17 times a night.

A too-hard mattress makes the body do the work, rather than the bed. The shoulder and hips cannot sink into the mattress, so they curve towards each other, resulting in a bent and stressed spine.

A too-soft mattress lets the body sink into a hammock position, causing hips and shoulders to pinch in, the spine to curve and putting pressure on joints and muscles. Numbness and tingling can follow.

The best spring mattresses tend to be pocket-sprung, where each individual spring is kept separate to respond to pressure from your body.

How many pocket springs should I get in my new mattress?

A common issue you may have encountered when looking to purchase a new pocket sprung mattress is with regards to how many pocket springs you should be aiming for. With all the different amounts out there it is hard to know how many pocket springs you need. Although this is something that sounds straightforward, it isn’t as obvious as “the more the better”.

It is understandable why so many get confused at the spring count in pocket springs mattresses, as this is one of the many areas some mattress manufacturers design their mattresses around and focus their marketing.

So how can a 1000 pocket spring mattress be £700 whilst a 2000 pocket spring mattress is only £400? Hopefully, this guide should help make things a little clearer.

What are pocket springs?

Pocket springs are simply individual springs that have been placed inside fabric pockets so that they can work independently of the each of the other springs in the mattress.

Rather than each spring being directly linked to the next, they are connected to each other via their pockets. This can be done with glue, stitching or by a method known as center tying. Pocket spring mattresses have many benefits over other types of sprung mattresses as their design allows them to minimise movement through the mattress when a person using it moves whilst providing a more supportive sleeping surface that contours more closely to the body of the user.

What is a mattress spring count?

A mattresses spring count is simply how many pocket springs are in the mattress. Sometimes, however, the springs in the base may also be included in this figure.

So why are spring counts confusing?

It makes sense to think that the more springs there is the better support you will receive or the more accurately the mattresses will shape to you. This may be the case much of the time but it, unfortunately, isn’t always the case.

The spring count is now used by many bed and mattress manufacturers to give the impression that their mattresses are more superior than others. By squeezing as many springs as possible into a mattress, whether that be on top each other or even inside each other. Manufacturers can be guilty of using pocket spring numbers as the be all and end all.

The fact is, that a good quality 1000 pocket sprung mattress can be far superior to one that has 2000 or more. This can be down to build quality, the materials and methods used in construction and/or the use of other technologies such as foam encapsulation. A method that uses a foam wall around the edge of a mattress takes up space normally filled with springs.

Does having more pocket springs make the mattress firmer or softer?

No, the tension of a mattress or bed isn’t always defined by the number of pocket springs. For example, there are plenty of mattresses out there which have more than 2000 springs inside them and are very soft, whilst other mattresses with the same spring count are very firm. The tension of a mattress or bed can be down to a number of things. A few examples are:

  • The fillings that have been used inside the mattress
  • Whether the base has springs, slats or is a platform top
  • What the thickness of the wire is used to make the spring
  • How many turns are in each spring

How many pocket springs should I get?

As you can see, How many pocket springs there are isn’t the only thing to take into consideration when choosing a mattress. So, how many pocket springs should I get in my new mattress? Unfortunately, this isn’t something we can advise in a one-page article. As you can see there are many other factors that come into play. What we can give you are a few pointers to help you when making your choice.

  1. Choose a pocket spring mattress that has been designed and made by a manufacturer with a good reputation.Over the years we have seen many small bed companies manufacture pocket spring mattresses that seem to have all the features but aren’t the best where quality is concerned. Therefore if it seems to good to be true, it’s probably best to avoid.
  2. Spend as much money as you can but make sure the brand is a reputable one.In most cases, the more you spend the better you get. Better pocket spring mattresses tend to be made from companies that know what they are doing. Companies that have years of experience and a reputable name. Spending more money, however, isn’t always a guaranteed way to get a better mattress.
  3. Try to stay over 1000 pocket springs –We would always recommend keeping the spring count above 1000 springs. An exception to this would be if other technologies were used in the mattress such as foams, encapsulation etc. In this situation, we would possibly choose another spring system such as a Posturepedic or Miracoil. There are however some decent, yet rare, pocket spring mattresses out there with around 800 pocket springs.


To summarise, don’t fall for the numbers game but do buy the best you can afford. Take into consideration the manufacturer of the mattress you are purchasing and research the other features the mattress carries. Try to stay above 1000 pocket springs and consider other factors such as the fillings and it’s build quality. How many pocket springs are in your mattress are important, but only to a point.

At Prestige Beds we have a full range of pocket sprung mattresses from the best manufacturers out there. See our full range here.

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