The Ortho Dream Team lets you in on the real meaning behind all that insider bed terminology and mumbo-jumbo.

By: JLong | February 6, 2020

As you wade through the acres of mattress information across the Internet, our team has accumulated of definitions to use as a flashlight to clear up all the confusion. Most terms are accompanied with any synonym or adjacent term that manufacturers and sellers are currently using. Keep this glossary by your side and even as mattress terms fly at you like a foreign language, you’ll have your handy pocket translator.

Adjustable Base

Similar to a hospital bed in functionality only, this foundation elevates the head and feet of the mattress to alleviate various sleep-related symptoms like snoring, sleep apnea, back pain, acid reflux, sciatica, fibromyalgia, bad circulation, and other medical issues. Lest we forget, those who benefit strictly for luxury standpoint, to prop yourself up to read, watch TV, or mess around on your laptops and tablets. The more advanced adjustable bases have zero gravity, anti-snore, flat presets, massage options, and Bluetooth connectivity. Adjustable bases have legs on the bottom ultimately eliminating the need for a traditional box spring and frame. If you have existing furniture, the adjustable, in most cases, will fit within the structure. Synonyms: Power Base, Electrical Base, Movable Base, Lifestyle Base, and even the word base itself, can sometimes be substituted for “foundation”.

Air Mattress

This type of bed uses air as its support system rather than coils or foam. However, airbeds will typically have fabric or foam comfort layers on top of the air chambers. While offering some flexibility in firmness, these beds typically do not provide the uniform level of support and may come off as a bit gimmicky, considering the major benefit involves inflating and deflating a rubber air bladder.


Not to be confused with antibiotics, antimicrobial agents act against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. The term is often coupled with hypoallergenic aspects as well.


Pulp, extracted from tropical plants are mixed into memory foam mattresses or woven into quilted fabrics to assist in neck, shoulder, and back pressure relief. Some studies have also suggested it exhibits hypoallergenic qualities on the surface layer of the mattress. However, natural ingredients like bamboo typically take a back seat to synthetic materials in terms of durability.

Bed Frame

Traditionally, a metal or wooden frame with legs used to support the mattress and elevate a foundation off the ground. While headboards can be attached, they do not always accompany the frame.  Synonyms: Hollywood frame, “bed”, platform, sleigh bed, headboard/footboard set, complete bed.


A rolled, compressed and packed foam or spring mattress that is typically shipped through a postal service to a customer’s residence. The compression process does not harm mattress integrity. When removed from the shipping box, the mattress decompresses and expands to its normal shape.

Body Impressions

The indentations that form on a mattress over time. More specifically, however, these indentations remain once the sleeper leaves the bed, i.e. the mattress does not return to original shape. These impressions should not exceed a 1.5-inch depth. If these impressions exceed 1.5 inches in depth, it’s time for a new mattress! For more info, see Warranties. Synonyms: depressions, compressions, dipping, sagging, hammocking.

Bonnell Coil

The oldest and most common coil system has knotted, helical wires that lace together to form a rectangular innerspring unit. Synonyms: tied coils, linked coils


Refers to the degree by which a mattress reciprocates force and pushes back. When a sleeper lays down, an innerspring mattress transfers more energy back than a memory foam bed. In other words, think of the amount of lift you’d feel from jumping on the bed, or more generally, a softer bed should have less bounce. Synonyms: push back, resistance, ILD (Indentation Load Deflection)

Box Spring

A foundational unit that contains wood, springs or metal rods to ensure a level surface to evenly support a mattress and prevent sagging and lumping. Box Springs, are all but are mostly a thing of the past, but the term still exists as industry lingo, because that’s what everyone is used to throwing around. Years ago, most manufacturers switched to “flat foundations” which are n’0-on yielding, non-flexing foundations, as opposed to the outdated box has shock absorbing qualities in it. The main reason was to maintain the same feel of a mattress whether it is placed directly on a platform bed frame or its own matching box.

Bunkie Board

A two-inch, low foundational unit, typically made of wood that offers the same support of a flat foundation with a much slimmer profile.

California Mattress Recycling Fee

As of January 1, 2018, California law requires a $10.50 fee be added to any mattress sale. The state initiative charges the customer at the point of purchase for the future recycling of the mattress.

Cal King vs King

The two largest, traditional, mattress sizes. The California King is longer (72″ x 84″) whereas the Eastern King—or simply King—is larger in width (76” x 80”).

cal king vs king

CertiPUR Foam

certification that ensures a non-toxic foam made without ozone depleters, formaldehyde, mercury, lead, and harmful flame retardants.

Coil Count

The number of coils in an innerspring unit. While a higher number of coils typically aids weight distribution across the mattress surface, this is not always the case. Coil construction and wire gauge are not uniform across manufacturers. A manufacturer can make a coil of lesser diameter without spinning the spring as many times as a larger diameter coil. Coil Count does not necessarily define the quality of a product. Synonyms: Springs.

Coil Gauge

The measured thickness of coils in a mattress. Contrary to expectation, a higher number gauge signifies a thinner wire, and a lower gauge indicates a thicker wire.

Comfort Test

In-store process of testing several mattress types to determine which feel best suits the customer.  With the feel and individual preference integral to a mattress choice, the comfort test serves as a crucial step in the selection process. Refer to the Feel Scale to pinpoint and define your desired comfort before going into a store. Sleep position (Side, Back, Stomach ), partner disturbance, and body heat circulation greatly affect the comfort testing process.

Continuous coil

An innerspring coil system constructed entirely of one single wire. See Bonnell Coil. Synonyms: connected coils.

Convoluted foam

Also known as the egg crate foam, this design features peaks and valleys to increase breathability and help the mattress sleep cooler. The Convoluted foam can be found in a quilt of a mattress or in the comfort layers. Also adds contouring qualities to the foam for improved conformability. Synonyms: sculpture foam.


The new-age bedding material that feels cooler to the touch, and helps prevent hot sleeping. The material is woven into the top layer of the mattress fabric, keeping it in contact with the sleeper to regulate temperature throughout the night.

Density (of Foam)

The weight of the foam over its volume. Typically, a lower density foam is softer and less durable. Most memory foam mattresses traditionally consist of high-density foam. Foams are measured in pounds per cubic foot. To further understand density determinants, see ILD.  

Dunlop Latex

One of the two predominant types of latex available in mattresses, Dunlop is sometimes considered slightly firmer and more durable than Talalay. The perceived difference stems from the manufacturing process, where Dunlop production only involves heated mixing, melting and baking into shape. Benefits: breathable, durable, natural, and antimicrobial—a doctor uses latex gloves for these exact hygienic reasons. For comparison, See Talalay.

Edge Support

The structural integrity along the sides of the mattress that provides support and prevents sinking at the edge of the bed. How much does the mattress sink when you sit along the edge? Edge support is created by using stronger coils or high-density foam surrounding the mattress.


A gentle, romantic blend of aromas and essential oils embedded into the mattress quilt to promote health, relaxation and an awakening of the senses.

Euro Top

An additional comfort layer added to the top of the mattress for increased softness. While very similar to a pillow top, the Euro Top layer is sewn along the edges of the bed, rather than recessed into the surface of the mattress like a pillow top, keeping a wider profile and volume for a more throne-like aesthetic.


Ortho’s in-house capability to handcraft all of its mattresses and offer them at the best prices with zero middleman mark-up.


A bed’s support base that provides a flat, even surface to prevent deterioration, sagging and increase mattress longevity. See Box Spring, Bunkie Board or Adjustable Base

Gel Memory Foam 

A gel infused into mattress foam to help regulate temperature, prevent hot sleeping and claims to provide added support.


The board or supportive backing that rests, or locks to the bed frame, at the head of the bed.

Hybrid Mattress

A mattress type that combines and utilizes both a foam structure and innerspring support systems. This new support type provides sleepers the pressure relief of memory foam with the bounce of a traditional innerspring mattress. A real hybrid mattress has no quilt on the top of the bed. Instead, it utilizes a tick, so the sleeper is in direct contact with the foam in the comfort layer. In practice, however, the term ‘hybrid’ was developed to compete and ensure distinction with the influx of foam beds in the marketplace, through the ‘best of both worlds’.

hybrid mattress


Designates a type of material that prevents an allergic reaction, e.g. CertiPUR foam.  

ILD (Indentation Load Deflection) 

The metric used to determine the firmness of a certain foam. A block of foam is placed within an indenter machine and constricted to reach 25% indentation. The ILD rating indicates the amount of weight required to achieve 25% indentation, e.g. a 12 ILD rating means 12 lbs. are required to reach 25% indentation. Softer foams yield lower scores, and firmer foams yield higher scores.

Innerspring (Coil)

A mattress support system that typically uses steel helical coils to support body weight. Different types of innersprings include Individually Pocketed Coils and Bonnell coils.


Ortho’s promise to deliver its high-quality mattresses fresh after construction.

King Split

A king-size bed that contains a split in the middle. Designed for sleeping partners that are looking to purchase an adjustable base and move independently from their partner.  The split bed is also available in California King.

King Split Adjustable Base

An adjustable base that contains a split in the middle. Prevents partner disturbance by allowing each partner to change functions and preferences independently. The split adjustable base is also available in California King.


An antimicrobial milky fluid—naturally produced by from the rubber tree—baked into a durable foam that typically provides more support and bounce than memory foam.

Mattress Encasement

A protective, breathable cover that zips and envelops the entire mattress, protecting against dust-mites, allergens, bed bugs, and spills.  

Mattress Protector

A protective, waterproof cover that fits onto the mattress like a fitted sheet. While waterproof, the protector does not prevent bed bugs.

Memory Foam

Traditionally constructed of visco-elastic polyurethane foam, memory foam conforms to the body’s shape to help relieve pressure. Memory foam can be found on top of a steel coil structure or foam.

Memory Foam Mattress

Uses a memory foam component in the first layer of the foam structure, which sits on top of super high-density foam. The common misconception is that a memory foam mattress is entirely made up of memory foam—it is not. If it was you would fall through the product to the floor.

Open Cell Structure

A porous-structured memory foam that allows for air to pass through, prevent heat from accumulating and promote a cooler sleep.

Ortho Sleep System 

The process of professionally trained sleep specialists assisting customers with an assessment of needs, identification of the best-suited mattress options, and full conveyance of features and benefits to ensure resolution for a healthy and reenergizing night’s sleep.

Partner Disturbance (Motion Transfer)

The sleep disruption caused by the bed’s shared person when they toss and turn or get out of bed. In other words, it’s the amount of motion a person feels when his or her partner moves around at night.

Pillow Top

A mattress feature that adds an extra comfort layer to provide a softer sleep surface. This layer of foam lies above the comfort layer of the bed serving a similar purpose as a pillow, but for your whole body. This type of bed is typically the softer version of its non-pillow top counterpart.

Individually-Wrapped Coil

A type of coil individually wrapped in fabric, which compared to the Bonnell Coil, provides a more personalized sleep and aids against partner disturbance. Synonyms: independent, wrapped, pocketed (Trademarked for Simmons).

wrapped coils


The side elevation, or height, of a mattress foundation, or frame. This is measured from the bottom of the bed to the top of the product.


The top layer of the mattress. The tick combined with different foams create the aha feeling in a mattress.


The degree to which the bed permanently sinks—typically in the center-third —of the mattress and does not return to original shape.

SolidState™ Edge Support 

Ortho’s best-in-class 4 1/2″ high-density foam encasement that provides optimal edge support.

Sleep Specialist 

Ortho’s uniquely trained, in-store experts who help guide customers to their perfect mattress.  

Talalay Latex

Compared to Dunlop, Talalay uses a different manufacturing technique that flash-freezes the latex following its heating. While many believe Talalay and Dunlop latex to be indistinguishable, some companies argue that the Talalay process yields a softer and more consistent firmness, which often gives it a higher price tag.


Refers to the outer covering that encases the quilting.


Sometimes found on traditional innerspring mattresses, a quilt style on the top layer that sews foam and fabric together to create a peak/valley look on its surface.


While warranties vary across companies, the typical mattress is replaceable under warranty guidelines if any part of the surface area compresses 1.5” or more for a spring bed and .75” or more for a foam bed. At Ortho, with unique confidence in our spring beds, we grant a full replacement with only a 1” compression. If you think you have a defect, Ortho has service forms readily available and, once submitted, we send a third-party inspector to perform an in-home inspection of the mattress. Once verified by the inspector as a warranty defect, a product (or products) of your choice will be delivered to your residence in exchange for the defective product. Proudly, at Ortho, less than 0.5% of customers ever require the warranty.