Beds may have originally been elevated off the floor to protect sleepers from spiders, snakes, and other pests, as well as protecting them from cold air drafts. Some people may prefer an elevated bed instead of the modern style low-to-the-ground platform beds. Higher bed frames are available from some furniture manufacturers.
A comfortable mattress is the most important aspect of a good night’s sleep for 92 percent of Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation's 2011 Bedroom Poll. Equally critical, however, is the added support provided by the box spring. Elevated beds are purchased with higher bases and do not need a box spring for height; however, the Better Sleep Council recommends the use of a box spring at all times. A box spring set between the mattress and the bed frame will elevate your bed while still providing comfort and a good night’s sleep.
Occasionally referred to as elevated beds, loft beds are raised shoulder-height or more above the floor. These are used in small apartments and student digs, and allow for the use of space beneath for other activities. The frame of the loft bed is closer to the ceiling and may not accommodate both a box spring and a mattress, but a sleeper on such a bed risks back pain and mattress damage over time.
Commonly made from a cloth-covered wooden frame containing wire springs, the box spring is the foundation of the bed. This has replaced traditional spring beds manufactured in the 1950s and 1960s. Box spring bases may be used without bed frames and vice versa; however, a plain wooden bed base has its drawbacks. The objective of the box spring is to raise the height of the bed, to absorb shock and reduce the wear to the mattress, and to provide a firm, flat foundation for the mattress.
A box spring provides an additional level of support beneath the mattress and makes the bed softer than a plain wooden base. New technology makes the springs in the box less likely to sag than the original cone-shaped metal bedsprings, which were notorious for creaking and sagging after a short period of time. The use of a box spring helps preserve the mattress and prevent sagging, according to the Better Sleep Council, which recommends purchasing a matching foundation and mattress as a set.
Using a box spring and mattress on an elevated or platform bed frame will put the height of your bed at more than one meter. For people that are short or average height, this can make it difficult to get in and out of bed. Restless sleepers run the risk of falling off the bed and sustaining injuries because of the distance to the floor. Manufacturers of platform beds recommend that their products can be used without box springs, but this is not supported by the opinion of the experts.
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