An Introduction to Mattress Comfort Layers

Comfort layers consist of the upper few inches of a mattress and are a very important part of all mattress construction. They are primarily responsible for pressure relief which is one of the two main functions of all mattresses. The Comfort layers also include any quilting layers used in the very top part of a mattress since they act together to give a mattress its pressure relieving qualities. There is a wide variety of materials used in Comfort layers. Unfortunately, some that are quite commonly used are completely unsuitable for use in a mattress, and especially in the Comfort layers. Other materials have very high quality and effectiveness. Comfort layers can be made of a single layer or several layers of different ILD or materials.

Like the support layers, Comfort layers have a primary function and a secondary function. The primary function is to provide pressure relief while you sleep by forming a cradle that is shaped to your body profile. If you change positions as most of us do when we sleep, then the ability to quickly change the shape of the cradle with different sleeping profiles is also important. The secondary function of a Comfort layer is to support or help support the more recessed areas of the body (such as the lumbar) and prevent them from sagging.

There are also three main methods of mattress construction.

Progressive constructions  use a thinner Comfort layer which "borrows" from the mattress core to aid in pressure relief and in supporting the recessed areas of the body. 

Differential constructions  use thicker Comfort layers which provide most of the pressure relief by themselves and also contribute most of the support for the more recessed areas of your body profile such as the lumbar.  Zoned constructions may use either thinner or thicker Comfort layers.

For Comfort layers to be able to both relieve pressure and fill in and support the gaps in your profile, they need softness (to allow you to sink in deeply enough to form a cradle), progressive resistance (to increasingly stop the sinking so you don't go all the way through the layer), point elasticity (the ability to shape itself exactly to your profile), and resilience (the ability to push back and hold the more recessed parts of you up).

Different materials have different combinations of each quality and are suitable for different types of construction.

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