Box Spring Bed vs Mattress vs Water Bed Part III

Box Spring Bed vs Mattress vs Water Bed Part III

The optimal sleep system – a conclusion

To name a clear sleep system winner is simply not possible. Because depending on personal needs and requirements, one or the other fits better.

Waterbeds mean the highest maintenance effort among the systems presented. In addition, they cause running costs. They are also more difficult to use when moving. Waterbeds score points with a very precise adjustment and pleasant pressure relief – provided that they are set by a specialist with the correct filling quantity and the appropriate degree of calming suitable for the sleeper. They are also very hygienic because the plastic water core is closed and sweat only penetrates the washable cover.

Box spring beds have their disadvantage in handling. Due to the large box, it must be ensured before buying that it fits through hallways and stairways. In addition, classic box spring beds offer a rather medium-soft to soft, springy lying feeling (with the exception of modern bed systems with cold foam mattresses). This can be counteracted with firm toppers. Due to the three-component structure, box spring beds can be adapted very well to the respective sleeper and his needs. For regular care, it is sufficient to turn the mattress and topper. In addition, box spring beds with pocket spring cores in the box and mattress impress with excellent ventilation, breathability and good moisture balance.

The choice of mattress and slatted frame as a sleeping system requires good advice with a detailed analysis by a specialist. As a rule, both components are selected with the aim of optimally ergonomic positioning of the spine. Once bought, this sleep system can be quickly set up and dismantled anywhere and does not need to be readjusted by a consultant. In addition, there are no running costs. If the slatted frame and mattress are placed in an open bed frame, this system also offers the best ventilation, breathability and excellent moisture balance. For maintenance it is sufficient to turn the mattress and – depending on the model – turn it from time to time.

Excursus: three sleep systems and their origins

Mattress and slatted frame

The most traditional of all European sleeping pads is the mattress. The first records of the use of mattresses go back to ancient times. The Greeks, Romans and Persians already used sacks filled with natural materials for soft upholstery on which they could sleep comfortably.

The word mattress comes from early Italian usage and was given the title materazzo there. This in turn is said to go back to the Arabic word matrah, which means something like floor cushion.

An archetype of the slatted frame was already known in antiquity. Rich Greek citizens mostly used wooden bed constructions with straps stretched between the frame parts. The natural fiber or wool mattress was then placed on top. It was handled similarly by wealthy Romans, who also liked reed, hay and feathers as mattress fillings. Anyone who wanted to do something good for themselves was happy to invest in a sleeping pad. Upholstered sleeping quarters were used up to the slave and through all other social classes.

Mattresses as we know them today were reserved for the aristocratic and rich even in modern times. It was only in the course of industrialization that mattresses became affordable for everyone. Mattresses experienced the last big innovation boost in the early 20th century with the advent of artificial foams and innerspring.

What was forgotten for centuries was the original shape of the slatted frame. Up until industrialization, the mattress was laid on straw. It was only with the development of wire mesh and the realization that the human body needs better support and the spine needs relief during sleep that the spring bases for mattresses emerged. The gratings used at the beginning quickly showed a disadvantage: their support function was lost after a short time and the body sagged.

The first slatted frame with wooden strips was invented by the Lattoflex company in 1957. In contrast to the grating, the load is distributed over individual spring slats and thus individual areas of the body are better supported. In the years that followed, this type of suspension became popular in Europe. Thanks to constant further developments, slatted frames have been an indispensable part of many bedrooms to this day.

Box spring bed

The box spring system was invented towards the end of the 19th century. Like the development of the slatted frame, the basic idea behind the box spring bed was not only for hygienic reasons but also for better ergonomic positioning of the spine. While the focus in Central Europe was on wire mesh, Great Britain and Scandinavia opted for two mattresses layered on top of each other – the lower one a little firmer, the upper one softer.

The beds experienced the greatest stage of development and thus the actual beginning of the box spring bed with the invention of the innerspring. From this point on, a firmer spring core (spring from the English word spring) was used in a wooden box open at the top in the northern European countries, on which a more adaptable spring core mattress lay.

Initially, these beds were primarily used in luxury hotels and on cruise ships – the passengers on the Titanic also slept in box spring beds. With the advent of the slatted frame – a significantly lighter and easier-to-use spring base, the box spring bed could not establish itself in old Europe. In the USA, Great Britain, Scandinavia and the Benelux countries, on the other hand, box spring beds are standard. Only in the last few years has the box spring bed experienced a small triumph in Germany, which continues to this day.


The principle of the water bed was invented by the nomadic desert peoples: They lay down on their goat skin water bag, heated by the sun, so that they would not freeze on the cold desert night.

The first real hydrostatic bed was used for nursing in England in 1851 and, as a so-called floating bed, which follows the principle of displacement from Archimedes, should offer bedridden people a weightless feeling of lying down and prevent pressure points.

Until well into the 1960s, however, the medical effectiveness was still controversial and only received attention through W. Russell Grant and his historical review of the treatment of pressure ulcers. Since then, waterbeds have also been offered in stores for domestic use.