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What is a pocket sprung mattress?

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Sprung mattresses remain popular. Pocket springs work independently, offering superior support without disturbing your partner.

Pocket springs are smaller, softer springs that are wrapped in fabric and sewn or hand-tied together. Each spring works independently, allowing the mattress to conform to the shape of the body and distribute weight evenly across the sleeping surface.

pocket springs

What are the benefits of a pocket spring mattress?

Pocket springs were first introduced in 1899, shaking up the entire mattress industry and changing the way we sleep. Each individual spring contours to the sleeper’s body shape, providing even weight distribution and exceptional comfort and support.

  • Pocket springs conform and adapt to the shape of the body, ensuring the spine is aligned and correctly supported.
  • As each spring works independently, sleeping partners are less likely to disturb one another when turning in bed.
  • Pocket spring mattresses are usually available in different tensions, so you can tailor the mattress to suit your support needs.
  • The mattress edges are often hand-sewn in higher-quality models, providing edge-to-edge support and durability.
  • Some pocket spring mattresses contain natural materials which are soft, luxurious, durable, and fully breathable.
  • Pocket spring mattresses typically last longer than other types of mattresses.

Are pocket spring mattresses firm?

Most pocket spring mattresses are available in soft, medium, firm, and sometimes extra firm spring tensions. The spring tension is achieved by changing the thickness (gauge) of the wire.

The spring tension you choose should correspond to your body weight rather than your firmness preference. A mattress that is too soft will cause misalignment, putting the body in an uncomfortable sleeping position. It may also be harder to turn over in bed.

incorrect body support when sleeping on a soft mattress
Too soft: The body slouches, causing pressure around the hips.

On the other hand, a mattress that is too firm can contribute to painful pressure points, particularly in the areas where most of the body weight is concentrated, such as the shoulders and hips. 

incorrect body support when sleeping on a firm mattress
Too firm: Spine is misaligned, causing pressure around the shoulders and hips.

The mattress should adapt to your body shape, keeping the spine aligned and correctly supported.

correct support when sleeping on a mattress
Correct support: The shoulders and hips sink into the mattress, and the body is correctly supported.

The table below provides guidance about which spring tensions suit different body weights.

Up to 11 stoneSoft
11 to 16 stoneMedium
16 to 20 stoneFirm
Above 20 stoneExtra firm

Some pocket spring mattresses are available with different spring tensions on each side to cater for sleeping partners of different weights.

How many springs should a pocket spring mattress have?

A pocket spring mattress can be constructed with one or more layers of pocket springs. In general, the more pocket springs there are in the mattress, the more supportive it will be. Most manufacturers specify the number of springs within each mattress, allowing for easy comparison between mattresses.

The number of pocket springs in a king size mattress starts from around 600 in basic models. Ideally, you should be looking for a mattress that contains at least 1,000 springs, as anything less is unlikely to provide adequate support. Mattresses with more than 2,000 pocket springs will consist of several layers of pocket springs stacked on top of each other. The base layer absorbs movement, while the top layers contour to the shape of the body.

Some pocket spring mattresses contain mini or micro springs to improve overall comfort. As shoppers often compare mattresses by spring counts, some manufacturers often include mini or micro springs in the name or specification of the mattress to exaggerate the overall spring count. As a result, it’s not uncommon to find mattresses with 10,000, 20,000, or even 30,000 pocket springs.

This can be misleading as you won’t know whether you’re comparing mini springs with full-height springs. Full-height springs have several turns in the wire that allow them to be responsive to the sleeper’s weight. In contrast, mini or micro springs compress much quicker and are not as supportive.

Spring counts are always based on the king size version. This means there will be fewer pocket springs in the smaller sizes, such as singles and doubles and more pocket springs in the larger sizes, like super king or emperor.

What other factors should be considered when choosing a pocket spring mattress?

Besides spring count, there are several other factors to consider when choosing a pocket spring mattress, such as the quality of construction, filling quantity, and quality.

Many higher-quality pocket spring mattresses are made using traditional handmade techniques. These techniques can take many years to perfect and help to ensure that each mattress is built to the highest standards of workmanship. In higher-quality models, pocket springs are typically hand-nested into a honeycomb pattern for greater support and durability.

Another technique is hand-side stitching. This labour-intensive task involves stitching the side panels of the mattress to the outer rows of springs. This prevents the edge of the mattress from sagging, extending the sleeping area.

What’s inside a pocket spring mattress?

Pocket spring mattresses can contain natural and synthetic materials for comfort and cushioning.

Cheaper models often contain synthetic materials like polyester and fibre pads. Higher-quality pocket spring models often contain luxurious natural materials like wool, silk, and horsehair. The springs are typically made with vanadium steel for strength and durability against corrosion. They are then wrapped into hardwearing calico pockets. Natural materials are more durable than synthetic materials and are fully breathable.

As many pocket spring mattresses are made to order, manufacturers can often provide a bespoke service to tailor any mattress to the customer’s needs. This can include non-standard sizes or shapes, such as cut-out corners for four-poster beds or extra-long mattresses that cater for a taller person.

Should you turn a pocket spring mattress?

Most pocket spring mattresses require regular turning to help even out the wear. Some mattresses are single-sided, where you can only sleep on the top side of the mattress. A single-sided mattress can be rotated but not flipped over, as the underside is not designed for sleeping on. Double-sided mattresses can be rotated and flipped over.

Each mattress should come with specific turning instructions. However, as a general guide, you should turn your mattress once a week for the first three months of use and then once a month after that.

Mattress turning is essential as indentations and body impressions may start to form on the surface of the mattress after use. This is often referred to as mattress settlement and tends to be more common in higher-quality models that contain generous amounts of upholstery.

Some pocket mattresses may be labelled as non-turn or no need to turn. However, it may be necessary to turn these mattresses occasionally to ensure an even sleeping surface and help extend the life of the mattress.

What is the best base for a pocket spring mattress?

Buying the mattress and base together is generally best to ensure both are compatible. Most pocket spring mattresses can be purchased with a matching divan base. Some divans contain pocket springs which can significantly improve the comfort and support of the bed.

If you prefer a slatted bed frame, it’s important to check the gap between the slats to ensure it does exceed the mattress manufacturer’s recommendations. In general, slat spacing should not exceed 7.5 cm. Otherwise, the mattress may migrate between the slats, damaging its components. It also helps to place a breathable blanket or mattress pad between the mattress and the slats to protect the mattress from splinters.

Which is best, pocket sprung or coil sprung?

An open coil mattress is made from a continuous wire wrapped around to create the spring unit. Coil springs are commonly used in mattresses as they are inexpensive to produce.

Movement is transferred across the entire mattress surface, resulting in uneven weight distribution, which can lead to pressure points. Sleeping partners are also more likely to disturb one another in bed. 

Pocket springs offer superior support and durability. As each spring works independently, there is little movement or roll together. Because of this, pocket springs are ideal for couples that sleep together.

How long does a pocket spring mattress last?

The lifespan of a pocket spring mattress depends on several factors, such as the build quality, usage, the quality of the materials, and how well it has been looked after.

Cheaper pocket spring mattresses can last up to ten years with correct care, whereas higher-quality mattresses may last up to twenty years.

Final thoughts

Whether you suffer from back pain or simply want to upgrade your mattress, pocket springs are a good option. Remember, choosing a mattress is an important investment, so it helps to take your time and consider the options carefully.

About the author

About the author

Tony Brown is the founder and creator of The Bed Consultant. His career in the bed industry began in 2002. After graduating from university with a degree in Business Administration, Tony joined one of the largest independent furniture retailers in the UK as a bed consultant. Tony has helped thousands of customers find the perfect mattress.

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