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Mattresses: What’s Your Favourite Filling?

To make sure you’re equipped with all the right knowledge when shopping for your new mattress, take a look at our guide covering what you need to know about what fillings and how much goes into a mattress.

What’s your favourite filling?

Choosing the right filling for your mattress can be as important as ensuring that it’s going to fit in your bedroom.

What your mattress is filled with can impact on the levels of support and comfort it offers, the heat it does or doesn’t retain, and how much air passes between the fibres.

However, with so many types of mattress on the market, even knowing where to start can give you sleepless nights! Instead of worrying, sidestep the stress and use our easy to use guide on how to find the mattress filling that’s best for you and the way you sleep.

What is gsm?

Before you even start to think about the difference between latex or pocket sprung mattresses, you need to know a little about GSM.

This stands for grams per square metre and is a measure of the weight of the filling inside the mattress. As a rule of thumb, the greater the GSM, the denser the material inside. In comfort terms, this means that a mattress with a high GSM will be more supportive and comfortable than one with a lower rating. Mattresses with a higher GSM are also more likely to last longer and aren’t as affected by settlement when compared to their lower-ranking counterparts.

GSM is rarely revealed by manufacturers, who would rather you weren’t able to make a mattress-to-mattress comparison. At Winston’s, we know that a new mattress is a significant and important investment, so we like to give our customers all the information they need to make the right choice. This includes being transparent about the GSM ratings of each of our mattresses.

Other Mattress Types


Natural fibres

The term ‘natural fibres’ covers a multitude of materials.

Typically, natural fibre mattress fillings can consist of bamboo, alpaca, wool, hemp, cashmere or even latex (which is made from the sap of a southeast asian rubber tree).

  • Natural fibres are ideal for those who run hot at night, as their high wicking properties transport sweat away from the body and distribute it evenly so that it can evaporate as opposed to remaining in the mattress. This action helps regulate the body temperature and prevent things from getting too warm or, conversely, too cold.
  • Natural fibres have a longer shelf-life than their synthetic cousins and are much more responsive to weight and movement. On top of that, their structure makes mattresses filled with natural fibres much more breathable and easier to maintain. For those who want to keep an eye on their carbon footprint, mattresses filled with natural fibres are the greener sleep solution.
  • All in all, when it comes to support, comfort and longevity, natural fibres are the way to go. However, their high performance also means that mattresses filled with natural materials are more expensive. A top tip to ensure you’re getting value for money is to ask what the percentage of natural fibres is. Some manufacturers can state that a mattress contains natural fibres, but the actual content can be as little as 1%, having been combined with polyester to (quite literally) pad things out.

Synthetic fibres

  • Materials that fall into the ‘synthetic fibres’ category include the likes of nylon, polyurethane and polyester. These are designed to mimic the properties of natural fibres and you’ll find them in products such as memory foam. While they’re much cheaper than mattresses filled with natural fibres, there are some things you might want to think about before you commit to buying a synthetic fibre option.
  • For some people, synthetic fibres can be better, particularly if you suffer from neck or back pain. Because the fibres are manmade, they can be modified to offer extra comfort and support, helping to keep your spine in line and cushioning pressure points such as elbows and ankles.
  • Natural fibres have the upper hand when it comes to heat dispersal, though. Synthetic fibres aren’t as adept in the transfer and evaporation of sweat, meaning that they don’t regulate temperature as well. For those who get hot in the night, synthetic fibres aren’t going to help. It’s also worth knowing that synthetic fibre mattresses have a shorter lifespan than the natural option.
  • However, synthetic fibres do have the edge when it comes to cleaning. Designed to be non-porous, they don’t absorb spills and splashes, making them easier to keep clean and fresh. They are also more customisable than their natural counterparts, allowing customers to choose a mattress based on a combination of factors such as support, comfort, and the transfer of movement.

Blended Fibres

If comfort is important to you but your budget won’t stretch to natural fibres, a blended fibre mattress might be the way forward.

  • Blended fibres are a mix of synthetic and natural so, for example, you might find a mattress that contains both polyurethane and wool fibres. The polyurethane will give the mattress its support and depth while allowing the comforting characteristic of the wool fibres to shine through.
  • While they won’t last as long as a fully natural-fibre-stuffed mattress, blended fibres are a good halfway house. They offer better thermo-regulation than fully synthetic fibres, and levels of support that’s hard to tell apart from what’s achieved with natural alternatives.
  • If you do decide to opt for a blended fibre mattress, be sure to check out the ratio of natural to synthetic. Wording such as ‘contains bamboo’ could mean that, while there might be some bamboo present in the mix, it’s a minimal amount. The best ratio you can hope for is a 50-50 blend of synthetic and natural.

Memory foam

Just to make things interesting, memory foam isn’t rated by GSM, as there are no loose fibres.

Instead, they’re measured according to how many layers of foam make up a mattress. Like GSM, the higher the rating, the greater the levels of comfort and support.

  • Memory foam is a thermo-reactive material, which means that the warmer you are, the softer it feels. This leads to the wraparound feel offered by memory foam, as the material moulds to the shape of your body as you sleep. However, its ability to disperse heats isn’t as good and so memory foam might not be recommended for warm sleepers.
  • Memory foam comes into its own in terms of support, offering spinal alignment and keeping pressure points comfortably cushioned.

The choice is yours

Ultimately, choosing a mattress comes down to personal preference.

However, knowing about factors such as GSM can help you get more bed for your buck.

At Winston’s, we like to give our customers as much information as possible to help them buy the mattress that’s best for them. However, if there are any questions you need answering then get in touch and we’ll be only too happy to help.

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Published: 4th April 2021 (Updated: 2nd September 2023) | Isaah

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