I wanted to provide a quick public service announcement to help prevent people from looking foolish when shopping for a mattress, making sure you lie down upon the mattress to test it instead of simply sitting upon the edge to “assess” the mattress and its edge reinforcement system.

Don’t Have A Seat

Unless you are a flamingo, horse, elephant or a zebra, you probably don’t sleep sitting upright. So, when testing out a mattress, you need to lie back upon it as opposed to just sitting on the edge. However, if you plan to use your mattress as a chair, by all means test it out by sitting upon it. But this would be a bit of a misapplication.

Spoiler Alert: Sitting on the edge of a mattress will tell you only one thing – how hard the mattress feels along the edge.

Most adult support innerspring mattresses will have some sort of an edge reinforcement system built around the perimeter of the unit. While this can assist in providing a firmer seating surface and ease ingress and egress, the real reason for an edge reinforcement system is to prevent roll-off along the sides of the mattress, extend the useable sleep surface, and not leave you hanging on for dear life if you choose to be an edge hugger when you sleep. Trying to determine how a mattress feels by sitting on its edge would be as illogical as trying to tell how a chair feels by lying on it.

Mongo Say Edge Hard, Bed Good

The hardness of an edge reinforcement system can be very misleading. Just because an edge system feels hard doesn’t mean that the mattress itself will be hard feeling, neither does it mean that the edge reinforcement system is high quality or durable. Conversely, an edge reinforcement system that feels soft when sitting upon it doesn’t mean that the mattress is unsupportive or overly plush. Your specific weight concentration when sitting on a mattress (which can be considerable with some people) only tells how a mattress will perform as a chair. And this is not what a mattress was designed to do.

I Think I Pulled A Hammy!

I’ve sampled some mattresses in the past where the edge reinforcement system was so hard that it hurt my hamstrings to sit on the edge of the bed, and it made me feel like I was going uphill when sleeping close to the edge of the bed. The transition was just too dramatic from the mattress edge to the sleeping area. This was more commonly found back in the day if a manufacturer was using V-clips between the border rod of the mattress and had used too many. The mattress worked great as a chair but lousy as a sleeping surface.

Some of the newer mattress designs using fabric encased innerspring units are eschewing polyurethane foam racetrack edge systems and opting for coil edge systems, using a different design/geometry for the perimeter of the mattress. This helps prevent roll-off when sleeping close to the side of the mattress and is also a more gradual transition from the center of the mattress to the edge. This type of system won’t feel as hard when you sit directly upon it, but it performs very well for its intended use. This design also lends itself toward compression and use in boxed-bed mattresses, so I think you’ll see this style of edge reinforcement system dominate the industry in the coming years.

Don’t Be A Fool – Lie Down!

So, don’t be misled by the hardness of the edge of a mattress when you sit upon it and use that as a judge of how the mattress will feel or perform. If you do so, you’ll come off looking like a court jester, and more importantly, you’ll end up making a very poor mattress choice.