What Is a Bed?

A bed is a piece of furniture that functions as a resting and sleeping surface. It is usually constructed of a frame, with legs and a headboard and foot board that may be made of wood, metal or fabric. A mattress is placed on the frame, providing a soft support for sleep. Depending on the design, the frame can be simple or elaborate, and may include features such as storage space for bedding and pillows. Beds are available in many different sizes and styles, from bunk beds to trundle beds to daybeds. A canopy can also be attached to a bed frame for an added touch of decoration or protection from the elements.

The function of a bed is to provide a comfortable place for sleep or rest. Most beds consist of a frame or slats that support the mattress or box spring, with the head and foot boards being an optional addition to create style and ambiance. Bed frames, also known as bed steads, are usually made of wood or metal and are assembled to create a box for the mattress or foundation to sit in. They may be platform, eliminating the need for a box spring; panel, with headboard and footboard for a traditional look; or captain or storage, with drawers beneath the bed for additional space.

Mattresses are sold in a variety of materials and firmness options, with foam, latex and innerspring being the most common types. Memory foam molds to the shape of the sleeper for deep cushioning and a cradling effect that some describe as cloud-like, and promotes proper spinal alignment. It also relieves pressure points and alleviates pain from conditions such as arthritis and sciatica.

Latex foam provides a more responsive, cooler option than memory foam but can be heavy and have a bouncy feel that some find uncomfortable. Innerspring mattresses feature interlocking hourglass-shaped coils for uniform support across the surface, and are often topped with batting to add comfort. They are durable, affordable and provide good edge support but can cause motion transfer for couples who share a bed.

Hybrid mattresses combine one of the above foams with individually wrapped coils for enhanced support and durability, plus cooling materials to reduce heat retention. Helix’s Elite Hybrid model is a tester favorite and includes a responsive layer of OEKO-TEX-certified sustainable latex for good bounce, followed by an adaptive layer of varying density foams to promote alignement and a base layer of firmer, zoned coils for excellent support and minimal sagging.

Many manufacturers offer sleep trials of their mattresses for customers to ensure they are comfortable and meet customer expectations. During the trial period, sleepers should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for storage, care and use to avoid voiding the warranty or damaging the mattress. Also, consumers should keep in mind that shipping and handling charges for returning a mattress can add up, especially if the item is delivered outside of the continental United States.