There is often confusion about what surface is the best surface to put your new memory foam bed or organic mattress. Go to one of the big box retailers around the San Francisco Bay Area and Berkeley and they will tell you that unless you buy the box spring you will void the warranty. Federal Fire Safety Laws states that if a retailer does sell a box spring, it has to be the one that was fire tested with the mattress. Well, your uncle puts his mattress on plywood. What is the answer?
Mattresses need to breathe. That means there needs to be air flow completely around a mattress for it to be able to have access to proper air flow. This ensures the mattress can air out properly and not provide an ongoing water source for dust mites, or worse, provide an environment for mold or mildew to grew in or under your mattress or bed. Even latex mattresses and mold resistant materials are susceptible to mold if there is a continual water or moisture source.
In order to create a breathable surface, the mattress must rest either on a breathable box spring or slatted platform. If you choose a slatted platform, it is recommended that the slats are spaced no more than 3-4" apart to properly support the weight of the mattress and sleeper. Also recommended is the proper width of the slats. A 4" slat is about as wide as you want to go. Too wide and you prevent proper airflow underneath your bed. If you have an existing headboard, foot board and rails bed with three supports designed to support a box spring, you could convert that bed to a platform by adding the appropriate amount of slats. Keep in mind the bed or mattress may sit down too low, in which case you may want to consider getting a different bed. It is also wise to not store a lot of items underneath your bed. This too can prevent proper air flow in and around your mattress. Too often I have seen mold or mildew develop in situations like this.
Remember, if you live in a humid environment, like we have here in the San Francisco Bay Area or in the Berkeley Oakland Albany area, there is a lot of moisture already in the air, and that prevents the moisture in and around your mattress from evaporating quickly. You want to ensure your mattress has the best chance of drying out while you are not sleeping in it. If you have a platform bed with plywood, or the popular pedestal bed with drawers underneath the mattress, either one of those bed types can and should be converted to slats. Same goes for those who have their mattresses on the floor. Not a good idea! Again, elevate and keep the mattress off the ground, allowing air flow on all sides and beneath the mattress. Remember, moisture has weight, and gravity will pull the moisture down into the mattress, regardless of materials, whether it is a memory foam mattress or bed, or a latex organic mattress or bed.
Also, a note about bedding with concern to proper air flow. Polyester sheets and blankets, or the increasingly popular microfiber material, which is plastic, are not breathable materials and should be avoided. Plastic does not absorb moisture nor does it wick away, or draw moisture away, allowing it to evaporate. Plastic can actually worsen the situation, making a warm sleeper hotter, leading to more sweat production. Check your labels: if it doesn't say some natural material such as cotton or bamboo, consider switching your sheets, blankets and comforter to natural materials. They are affordable at Nest Bedding in the Berkeley Albany area.