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bedding in different cultures - any validity? 08 Sep 2014 15:45 #1

Hi All,

Wow, my eyes have been opened from this site. Thank goodness, I think you saved me from buying another piece of crap.

Some information on me:

I have never found a bed in a US hotel that I liked. However, I have found some beds abroad - in Greece, a bed in Vietnam, even in Hungary that fit the bill. I have also found some horrible beds while traveling - Paris. Sometimes I was paying the bill, sometimes the company was. But I generally like a bed that is quite firm, and my worst nightmare is sagging, of any kind. I am having trouble believing that latex could be better than innerspring, but as you all say, that will be something I will have to test for myself.

Anyway, just wondering - what did beds used to be made out of? Are there any differences between european or asian materials and US ones due to regulations, inflammability, chemical treatments, that sort of thing? Can anyone speak knowledgeably about cultural differences in bed preferences, construction, materials, etc?

Thanks for all the help here.

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bedding in different cultures - any validity? 08 Sep 2014 19:33 #2

Hi mitop,

I have never found a bed in a US hotel that I liked. However, I have found some beds abroad - in Greece, a bed in Vietnam, even in Hungary that fit the bill. I have also found some horrible beds while traveling - Paris. Sometimes I was paying the bill, sometimes the company was. But I generally like a bed that is quite firm, and my worst nightmare is sagging, of any kind. I am having trouble believing that latex could be better than innerspring, but as you all say, that will be something I will have to test for myself.


Latex is among the most durable materials in the industry but durability also depends on whether you are comparing comfort layers or support layers because the comfort layers of a mattress are usually the weakest link in a mattress not the support layers. Innersprings will also have some type of other materials and comfort layers on top of them (such as polyfoam, memory foam, latex foam, or natural or synthetic fibers) because you can't sleep directly on the springs and which materials you choose will have a significant effect on the feel, performance, and durability of the mattress. Latex is also a much more popular choice in Europe and in some parts of Asia than it is in North America.

The "bottom line" though is that all materials come in a wide range of firmness choices and in a wide range of quality/durability choices as well so a mattress that is the best match for any particular person can vary widely.

Anyway, just wondering - what did beds used to be made out of?


This depends on which area of the world you are talking about and how far back you are looking but memory foam is the newest of the major materials that are currently used in mattresses and before that there was polyfoam and before that was latex and before that was innersprings and before that there were various natural fibers (such as cotton or wool or even rags that were used as stuffing) and even before that there was almost anything that was available that could be used to make a mattress that provided reasonable levels of comfort and support. You can see an article here about the oldest mattress ever discovered (over 50,000 years old) and it had a design concept that is similar to today's mattresses with firmer support layers, softer comfort layers, and materials that could repel bugs in the top layers. It's also true that different cultures can have different physiologies, different body types, and different materials that were available to use in a mattress so the mattresses that are more popular in different areas of the world can be very different. People from an Asian culture for example have a much higher percentage of people that sleep in a supine position than any other culture (such as Caucasian, African, or Indian who tend to have a higher percentage that sleep in a lateral position) and do much better with and strongly prefer much firmer mattresses than most people in western cultures would do best with or would prefer to sleep on.

Some brief quotes from this book (there would be too much to type anything but brief excerpts) which is one of the best books on sleeping surfaces and designs that I have read ...

The logical question is why Caucasians prefer a lateral sleep position, which potentially makes more demands on a sleep system, and Asians do not. Although it is tempting to attribute the posture difference to cultural sleeping habits only, there seems to be evidence that anthropometrical properties also play a role.

First, there are indications that there are differences in lumbar curvature in different races (Saulicz 2000). Some authors (Mosner et al. 1989), however , attribute these variations to apparent differences (measured externally, including muscular structures) than to actual differences (measured from radiographs). If the lumbar curve in Asians is indeed flatter in comparison to other population groups, this would imply that Asians experience less discomfort from sleeping on a hard surface (see figure 1.23 ... which I omitted). In Caucasian people, the gap in between the lumbar curve and the bed surface will cause the pelvis to cant backward (see figure 2.34 ... omitted), which results in increased muscle tension because the legs stay in a horizontal position.


The quote goes on to describe more research and studies in some extensive detail about physiological differences in Asians that can have a significant effect on the type of sleeping surface that would generally be suitable (in cultural terms because none of this can apply to individuals who may not fit the "averages" of their culture).

Some brief quotes about local sleeping habits:

Asia:

Despite the fact that most Asian cultures are influenced a lot by industrialization and by Western culture, it is remarkable that traditional sleep cultures still persist to a large extent. One possible explanation may be might be the differences in body constitutution and sleeping posture (see Section 1.4.11), making "soft" Western sleep systems not always best suited for the Asian population. Furthermore studies have demonstrated that sleep duration is shorter in (especially East) Asia, compared with Europe, North America, and Africa.


China:

Traditionally, people in China do not use a mattress like people o in the Wester world. Instead, there is a board covered with a thin padding, covered with one olorful sheet. The top bedding is folded up during the day with the pillow on top. In the hear of the summer, a straw or bamboo mat is placed on the floor instead of a raised platform, because the coolest air is at the floor level. Many Chinese living in larger cities (such as Hong Kong or Shanghai) have Western style beds and bedding.

Western-like adjustments include laying straw, a cotton quilt, a palm fiber rug, or a sponge mattress on the board to make it softer. Spring beds did not come into Chinese life until the 3rd plenary session of the 11th Central Committee.

Furthermore, there is a noontime nap in Mainland China. Generally, businesses and schools are closed from noon to 2:00 P.M. After eating luhcn people take a nap before going back to work or school.


Japan:

"Futon" is a Japanese word that translates as "bedding" and originally referred to the pillow ("makura"), the traditional sleeping mat made of cotton (the "shike" or bottom futon, see chapter 2), and the thick cotton quilt called the "kake" (top) futon. The various coverings and sheet used with these are originally included in the name futon as well, but they fall beyond the scope of this description. The word futon as it has been imported into current Western useage, variously refers to a futon mattress, a slat bed base, and the combination of both of these. Also commonly (and incorrectly) referred to as futon are small couches that consist of a slat base and a cotton mat that can be converted to a bed.

A shike futon (shikibuton) is usually stuffed with cotton batting and wrapped in "shikifu" (sheets). The Japanese use different types of futon depending on the season, such as light ones in summer and heavy ones in winter. Cotton is able to absorb large quantities of moisture - Japan is very humid, especially in the rainy season - but it starts feeling clammy at low moisture levels. Drying the futon is extremely important. It can be done by airing it daily or by using a futon dryer (Kansouki), which is placed between the bottom futon and the top futon while they are spread on the floor. A futon is usually put away during the day in a closet called an "oshiire." Japanese houses are usually small and do not have many rooms, so rooms are used for dual purposes; during the day, a bedroom can be used as a workroom or guest room once the futon is stored.

Traditionally, a futon is placed on a tatami (see chapter 2), consisting of the heri (the cloth of the tatami), the omote (made of tightly woven rush grass), and the doko (made of compressed rice straw). In more western versions an insulation board made of other materials (such as compressed wood chips or foam) replaces the rice straw.


Korea:

Traditional Korean bedding is known as "ondol." A rigid base or floor is heated by a system of flues built under the flooring with a translucent yet durable paper on top of it (known as "changhogi"). Early ondol systems were fueled by hot smoke from a wood fire. Today the heat source is more likely to be oil or electric. This floor is considered to be the bed, on top of which a thin mattress is placed, called a "yo."

In many places such as apartments, people may stow away mattresses or sleeping materials out of the living quarters during the daytime. Children's mattresses in the parent's room.


Southeast Asia: (Laos, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia)

Most people in Southeast Asia sleep on a hard wooden platform that is raised above the ground (usually about 0.5m). This platform is made from hard wood slatted or bamboo and covered by a reed mat. Doors often are left open to let cooler in, there are no curtains on the windows, and nets are put around the bed to keep the mosquitoes away.

Furthermore, family members often share a platform - wealthy parents also share a bed with children - but the exact type of sharing depends on local sharing. Sometimes (e.g. in North Viet Nam), mother and daughters share a bed and the father shares a bed or room with their sons. In Cambodia, families often live in one or two rooms and everyone sleeps on the same wooden platform, sometimes covered by a straw mat. Sleeping places in the home are determined according to status: parents sleep on the "head" end and the youngest children sleep on the "foot." In traditional Indonesian culture (Nas 1998), grown boys, men, and strangers without a wife lodge and sleep together in the community building of the village (Sumatra). The mother sleeps together with the children and unmarried girls (Mentawai), or unmarried sons and daughters sleep together (Timor).


India:

In India, sleep habits and beds may vary widely depending on the region and the population class. Also in India, communal sleep is quite common: children may sleep in a room with the entire immediate famile, while families of relatives sleep in other rom os the shared house.

Furthermore, in India many towns and villages are characterized by masses of people living on the main street, selling their wares, eating, drinking, bathing, and sleeping. At night, wooden framed beds with rope woven mattresses line the roadsides.


New Guniea:

The traditional Gebusi are rainforest dwellers who grow fruit in small gardens and oscasionally hunt wild pigs and practice a kind of communal sleep. Women, girls, and babies crowd into a narrow section of a community longhouse to sleep on mats. Men and boys retreat to an adjacent, more spaious longhouse ares, where they sleep on wooden platforms.


Africa:

In many African cultures, bed sharing is quite common; in Northern Kenya's Gabra tribe, fathers sleep with their sons and daughters with their mothers. Furthermore, it is known that Ngando infants sleep with their mothers at night, while Aka infants sleep with (a part of) the family.

Sleeping habits vary widely depending on the region. For example, the Kung in northwest Botswana sleep on the ground, and the Efe pygmies in Zaire (who appear to be the ultimate forest people) sleep on thinly strewn leaves. However, not many researchers have conducted comparative anthropologic studies on sleeping for this continent, which is regrettable.


Latin America:

People in most countries in Latin America have sleep habits that are similar to those of the Western world. However, the native Indian population used to have different sleep habits that were passed on to some extent.

The most typical type of bedding characterizing the tropical areas is the hammock. Almost every country in Central America, including Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Mexico as well as countries in South America such as Brazil, Venezuela (e.g. the South Venezuelan Hiwi), and Ecuador have been using and enjoying hammocks for close to 1000 years. Hammocks were widely spread by sailors, who both traded and used them. If it gets colder, a sheet may be used for cover.

A hammock is a suspended bed, usually of netting, canvas, or leather. The bark of the hammock tree was the first material used to make them. As time progressed, the sisal plant was used in place of bark. People discovered the materials to be more durable, abundant, and when the material was beaten with a rock, the fibers were softened, making the hammock even more comfortable. The use of cotton in hammocks has only been around for 60 years. While the plaited hammock seems to be native to the Western Hemisphere, blankets have served the same purpose among primitive tribes in other parts of the world.

When going more south or north, out of the forested areas, overnight protection from animals such as scorpions, mites, and serpents gets less important, which is why people in these regions (such as the Paraguayan Aches) do not sleep on hammocks but on mats. Another common practice in these regions (e.g. Honduras) is to sleep on a straw mattress with tattered quilts covering most of the soiled linens.


North America:

Sleep systems here are quite comparable to those used in Europe, which are described in chapter 2. Only the dimensions are different (North American sleep systems tend to be thicker), and some types of beds are used more frequently (e.g. box springs) while others are used less often (e.g. latex mattresses). However, the native Indian population used to have different sleep habits, which can be compared to the actual Asian population (e.g. sleeping on wooden platforms, see Section 1.4.1.2.1) rather than to the Indians currently living in the forested areas of South America.


Europe:

European sleep systems are discussed in Chapter 2. Apart from local variations - people in northern Europe prefer latex mattresses (because of the better heat insulation) while people in southern European countries prefer spring mattresses - and apart from local habits - some Russians change bedsheets daily - differences are relatively small.


Arab World:

Sleep systems here are quite comparable to those used in Europe except from peoples that traditionally live in tents, such as the Bedouin. Bedu, the Arabic word from which the name bedouin is derived, means "inhabitant of the desert" and refers generally to the desert-dwelling nomads of Arabia, the Negev, and the Sinai. Traditionally nomads, in the winter Bedouins may have separate stone houses for women and for men. During the summer, they sleep on mattresses in open sided tents made from goat-hair. Such a tent is customarily divided into two sections by a woven curtain. One section, reserved for the men and for the reception of most guests, is called "Mag'ad" or sitting place. The other, in which the women cook and receive female guests, is called the "maharama," or "place of the women."


There is much more to the history of sleeping surfaces and materials and cultural differences in different areas of the world than just this of course but it would be outside of the scope of this forum (and my fingers' ability to transcribe :)) but this should give some idea of some of the diversity in sleeping habits and materials around the world.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by Phoenix.

bedding in different cultures - any validity? 15 Sep 2014 18:48 #3

what a wonderful answer Phoenix! Sorry I didn't respond before, but I do appreciate all the effort that you put into the response and directing me towards the book. It makes sense, my husband is from a European area with a very hearty cuisine and very muscular and wide, while I am a mix of many different cultures (welsh, polish, Asian). Our body types are very different, so it will be interesting to see how this turns out.

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bedding in different cultures - any validity? 15 Sep 2014 19:10 #4

Hi mitop,

what a wonderful answer Phoenix! Sorry I didn't respond before, but I do appreciate all the effort that you put into the response and directing me towards the book. It makes sense, my husband is from a European area with a very hearty cuisine and very muscular and wide, while I am a mix of many different cultures (welsh, polish, Asian).


I appreciated the question because it gave me a chance to add some information to the forum that others may find interesting as well.

Our body types are very different, so it will be interesting to see how this turns out.


The first part of post #2 here has some information about several options that can be helpful for couples with different needs and preferences because of different body types or sleeping styles.

I'm also looking forward to finding out what you end up deciding ... and of course any comments or questions you may have along the way :)

Phoenix
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bedding in different cultures - any validity? 22 Sep 2014 14:58 #5

Hi Phoenix,

Just thought I would chime in here. Just got back from Original Mattress Factory and Restwell. Was not as impressed with Original Mattress Factory nor their selection, but did rather like Restwell mattresses, which seemed to be higher quality and better selection. They are having a good sale on a mattress I liked, that is $650 for a mattress with box spring (and to be honest, $650 is about what my husband and I can afford for a mattress right now), but I am rather concerned about the quality that I am getting. One of my big issues is when I ask for densities, both OMF and Restwell told me me 1.8 lbs. I trained as an engineer, so I pressed the salesperson is that lbs per cubic foot or lbs per cubic inch?

"It's pounds per square inch," he assured me, but when I performed the calculation, 1.2 lbs per square inch that he related would be ~144 lbs per square foot...and that is also not a density, it's a unit of pressure! (Force per unit area) Sorry that I am confused about what are the "default" units for mattress measurement. If you could clarify this for me, that would help.

I think I like innerspring from restwell better than memory foam I have tried anywhere else (also did not really the OMF latex) but I am confirming the specifications of the mattress my husband and I liked and am trying to keep quality in mind. We really don't want to spend another $650-$700 two years down the line.

So far, in the mattress that we liked, I think that the polyfoam is 1.8 lb per (pending reply, square foot) on the top and bottom (again - have to confirm that this is a two-sided mattress, but I tried to make sure most of the ones I liked met this criteria) but there is a support polyfoam of 1.2 lbs per square (foot - again, pending reply) I think.

I found this that you wrote,

"Regular conventional polyfoam: This is the lowest grade of polyfoam and weighs less than 1.5 lbs per cubic foot. It is the least expensive and is not really suitable for use in a mattress at all ... either as a soft comfort layer (unless it is in the range of around an inch or so or less in a quilting layer) or as a support material ... unless the mattress is for occasional use or is meant to last a very short time. Mattresses with regular polyfoam in a support layer should be completely avoided for regular use as they will break down quickly and do not have the desireable qualities that are needed in a support layer."

from here: www.themattressunderground.com/mattresses/comfort-layers/polyurethane-foam.html

so I'm thinking that if the mattress price seemed to good to be true, it probably is.

I am confirming the heights of each layer, to make sure that everything adds up to the stated mattress height.


Anyway, I also found this other article that you wrote:

www.themattressunderground.com/mattress-forum/general-mattresses/995-enso-mattress-opinion.html


It's an article from about 3 years ago with a gentleman who has a similar budget to me, and you told him that his options for a good mattress in his price range, are sadly, not very good.

You steered him towards some mattresses from walmart, and I'm wondering if I should direct my search there?

I quite liked the Restwell mattresses, but until I can be sure the quality will hold up, I'm scared to commit.

Thanks for any input, Phoenix! (PS This is also my mom's name in her native language, but when she came to the US her paperwork got messed up and now her name means Orchid. I wonder if you have a similar story for choosing your name?)

Sincerely,
mitop

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bedding in different cultures - any validity? 22 Sep 2014 17:10 #6

Hi mitop,

Was not as impressed with Original Mattress Factory nor their selection


That's unfortunate because they certainly do have some good quality/value mattresses available.

but did rather like Restwell mattresses, which seemed to be higher quality and better selection.


I would be cautious here and make sure you find out the foam densities in their mattresses because some of them use lower quality foams than I would suggest considering (see the guidelines here ).

One of my big issues is when I ask for densities, both OMF and Restwell told me me 1.8 lbs. I trained as an engineer, so I pressed the salesperson is that lbs per cubic foot or lbs per cubic inch?

"It's pounds per square inch," he assured me, but when I performed the calculation, 1.2 lbs per square inch that he related would be ~144 lbs per square foot...and that is also not a density, it's a unit of pressure! (Force per unit area) Sorry that I am confused about what are the "default" units for mattress measurement. If you could clarify this for me, that would help.


While foam density could be expressed as any unit weight per unit volume measurement ... in North America the standard is lbs / ft3 (the weight of a cubic foot of material).

ILD (indentation load compression used most commonly with latex) or IFD (indentation force compression used most commonly with polyfoam or memory foam) are measures of firmness which are measured by the force or weight it takes for a 50 sq in round compressor head to compress a layer of material (generally a 15" x 15" or 20" x 20" four inch thick piece of polyfoam or memory foam or a 6" thick latex core) by 25% of its original thickness (although in some cases the measurement is for different percentages such as 40%).

So far, in the mattress that we liked, I think that the polyfoam is 1.8 lb per (pending reply, square foot) on the top and bottom (again - have to confirm that this is a two-sided mattress, but I tried to make sure most of the ones I liked met this criteria) but there is a support polyfoam of 1.2 lbs per square (foot - again, pending reply) I think.


I would make sure you find out all the information in this article and I think you may discover that the comfort layers are 1.2 lb density (which is lower quality than I would consider if it is more than "about an inch or so").

so I'm thinking that if the mattress price seemed to good to be true, it probably is.

I am confirming the heights of each layer, to make sure that everything adds up to the stated mattress height.


I would confirm the height and the density of each layer. While it's not always true that "you get what you pay for" because there are some particularly good value mattresses and some that are not good value at all ... I would always make sure that you know the type and quality of every layer in any mattress you are considering.

Anyway, I also found this other article that you wrote:

www.themattressunderground.com/mattress-...attress-opinion.html


It's an article from about 3 years ago with a gentleman who has a similar budget to me, and you told him that his options for a good mattress in his price range, are sadly, not very good.

You steered him towards some mattresses from walmart, and I'm wondering if I should direct my search there?


I looked through the topic you linked and couldn't see any mention of his budget or any comments about Walmart or about the options he had available. Did you link the correct thread?

There is more about buying from Walmart or other similar stores like Costco in post #4 here .

Post #3 and #4 here also includes some of the better online options I'm aware of for lower budget latex and latex hybrid mattresses and post #4 here includes some of the better online options I'm aware of for other types of mattresses in lower budget ranges.

Thanks for any input, Phoenix! (PS This is also my mom's name in her native language, but when she came to the US her paperwork got messed up and now her name means Orchid. I wonder if you have a similar story for choosing your name?)


I have used "Phoenix" as my online username in many places since I was first online (back to the days of bulletin boards and phone modem access) and for me it represents the mythological bird that "rises up out of the ashes" :)

Phoenix
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Last edit: by Phoenix.

bedding in different cultures - any validity? 24 Sep 2014 07:32 #7

Thank you Phoenix!

You're right, the Restwell mattress that I liked in the store used more than 3 3/4" of 1.2 lb per cubic foot polyfoam. Too much of a low density polyfoam, as you noted, will cause the mattress to lose the feeling it had in the store.

I will go back and perhaps give another try with the Original Mattress Factory mattresses. The mattresses were fine, but unfortunately, with time, I did not feel as if I had the correct PPP - pressure and posture relief (to my personal preference) for side sleeping. Perhaps my husband and I should have tried mattresses that were less firm.

Thank you for your input. Back to the drawing board.

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bedding in different cultures - any validity? 24 Sep 2014 10:00 #8

Hi mitop,

I will go back and perhaps give another try with the Original Mattress Factory mattresses. The mattresses were fine, but unfortunately, with time, I did not feel as if I had the correct PPP - pressure and posture relief (to my personal preference) for side sleeping. Perhaps my husband and I should have tried mattresses that were less firm.

Thank you for your input. Back to the drawing board.


I know you are probably aware of this but there are also some additional options in the Minneapolis area in post #2 here that may be worth including in your research as well.

Phoenix
Researching for a mattress?... Be sure to read The Mattress Shopping Tutorial.
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