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Specialty Sleep: What is it?

Learn about specialty sleep including memory foam, air beds, latex mattresses and more. We want to help you debunk this new industry by telling you how to get the best specialty sleep deal possible.

The sleep industry is suddenly booming with new materials, terminology and options. The new word on the street: Specialty Sleep. But what does that really mean? These specialty sleep mattresses are expensive and the people selling them are full of promises about a better night's sleep, or pain free rest, or heaven in your bedroom - the list goes on! Of course, you should at least lay down on one of these mattresses before you spend the money, but you also need to be a knowledgeable consumer. How long will your new specialty sleep mattress last? What are the real long term health benefits? How can you get the most mattress for your money?

To help you out, here is a quick specialty sleep technology guide to the top three new bed options that are on the market.

Memory Foam
At this point, most of us are aware of memory foam - having seen countless television commercials with that image of the hand pressing on the foam and the imprint remaining once the hand has been removed. Tempur-Pedic truly paved the way in the memory foam market with its high quality product and high profile branding. Memory foam has a reputation for offering numerous health benefits and is very popular, but how do you get the most for your money? Additionally, there are other memory foam players in the market and other beds of varying thickness and density; so how do you tell which are quality and which are poorly made knock-offs?

First, let's demystify the benefits of memory foam and tempur-pedic™ mattresses. In a traditional mattress (like an inner spring, for instance) because the bed is universally firm, most of the pressure from the weight of your body will rest on specific points of your body depending on how you sleep. A side sleeper, for instance, will put most of their body pressure on hips, shoulders and knees. Your spine is also sort of suspended between these pressure points, or curving to find support, which means you are not in alignment. Memory foam is a different material altogether, and allows your joints to sink in to the mattress and then offers spinal support once the mattress has molded to your form. This means that your spine is aligned and you are no longer stressing your joints with extra pressure.

Memory foam, or visco-elastic memory foam, was famously designed by NASA for potential use in the space shuttle. The technology was never used by them, but it has been used widely in hospitals and now in the residential market. The key to memory foam is in the density. For instance, Tempur Pedic™ uses foam with a minimum density of 5.3lb. When that hand presses into the foam and leaves the imprint, the imprint fades quickly as the memory foam regains its shape. This foam is long lasting and returns easily and quickly to its flat state because of its high density- if you buy a memory foam mattress with a lower Lb weight, it will not return to its flat state as effectively or as many times and is therefore less desirable because of its quick deterioration. An important note - there are plenty of memory foam manufacturers who make memory foam products with high density foam, so don't think that just because you need to buy according to density, that you have to buy according to brand. Nasa-Pedic, for instance, make a high quality product for a much lower price point, but the foam is still high density and very reliable.

When you are shopping for memory foam, you should try and find a location where you can try out this kind of bed, but DO NOT feel like you have to buy from them. Store fronts have high overhead and sometimes they therefore have higher prices. Online you can usually find better prices and they often offer free shipping and installation so you literally have nothing to lose. Look for sites that offer to price match or throw in extras like memory foam pillows or memory foam mattress covers and calculate which site has the best deal. Buy smart and you'll sleep even better.

If you can't justify this kind of investment in a specialty sleep bed, consider getting a memory foam mattress topper. Memory foam toppers give you some of the pressure relieving and therapeutic benefits of a memory foam bed at a fraction of the price. This can offer a preview of what you can get with a memory foam bed and you don't have to break the bank to try it out.

Air Beds

If you and your partner have very different sleep styles or body types, you may want to consider an air bed. If you haven't been convinced of the benefits of an air bed by those infomercials about the Sleep Number Bed, or had the pleasure of sleeping on a high quality air mattress, you should open you mind (and maybe your wallet) because air beds have come a long way.

Your initial impression of an airbed may be that it is just a giant inflatable, flat vinyl balloon. This is just not the case - most air beds are now filled with multiple chambers that keep the pressure consistent throughout the whole bed. The beauty of an air bed, especially a really good one, is that the pressure on your side can be adjusted to be firmer or softer depending on what works for your body.

The other major benefit of air beds is that they are excellent for allergy sufferers. Dust mites don't live in air beds - and even if you choose an air bed with a pillow top or memory foam topper, you can always remove that for frequent cleaning. This means your bed can be universally healthful.

High quality air beds and air bed mattresses are also made to last a long time. Most of them come with at least a limited 20 year warranty and they are priced for anyone's budget - from $700-800 all the way up to $2,000 and beyond. You should test out the feeling of an air bed to make sure that you are comfortable. But, like memory foam, you don't have to buy from a traditional storefront. Look online and you are almost sure to get a better price and free shipping, which means a MUCH better price. If you take into account your savings, you may be able to buy a better bed or even a special memory foam mattress topper so you can have the benefits of two specialty sleep technologies in one!

Latex mattresses are now gaining ground as another popular specialty sleep option and many think it will evolve into the next memory foam. Latex is actually widely used now as an additive in some memory foam to offer additional firmness, and memory foam is often used in latex mattresses to achieve increased softness. Latex mattresses are made out of the same latex rubber we all know, but it is molded into mattress form and makes a wonderful, hypoallergenic and firm sleep surface. There are natural latex mattresses and synthetic latex mattresses as well as those that use both natural and synthetic latexes. They are also made to create different levels of firmness and softness depending on your needs.

Latex mattresses have a completely latex core in which dust mites cannot live. They are also pierced by tiny holes throughout, which determine the amount of give in a specific area. As discussed earlier in the article, memory foam is good because it releases the pressure on specific joints of the body - latex can offer the same kind of universal support, in fact some latex mattresses have pin core holes in locations like the shoulder, hip and knee area to add give to those sections and therefore release that pressure.

Again, you should see if these mattresses feel good to your body before you buy, but you do NOT need to buy from a brick and mortar storefront. Go home and hop online and shop and compare. If you can get a price match and free shipping with add-ons, you know where you should be shopping. Right now there is no huge brand of Latex mattress running away with the market - but Sealy is coming out with its own whole line of specialty sleep beds, including latex mattresses, so be on the lookout!

If you suffer from chronic back pain, pressure conditions like arthritis or bursitis or if you have insomnia, a specialty sleep mattress could mean the different between good rest and a sleepless night. Don't stick with your super firm mattress - just because it's supposed to be therapeutic - if you wake up in pain the next morning. Let the new specialty sleep technologies like memory foam, latex and airbeds give you the rest you deserve.

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Blair Stephens is an accomplished freelance writer and proud member of the team. She has written articles about sleep technology, sleep disorders, memory foam, airbeds and more. is the best speciality sleep site on the web and will be offering articles and resources to everyone to help them find the sleep option that works for them. Check out our sleep resources at

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