Just by coincidence, I happen to have a foam mattress, a spring mattress and a cotton mattress and I have been using all these for years so here is my take on these mattresses
Cotton Mattress - Traditional natural mattress that was the only choice until a few years ago. Low initial cost but high maintenance cost as the mattress will lose its softness over time and the cotton needs to spun again to regain softness. There will be some loss of cotton during the spinning process so additional cotton will be added every time. A thick cotton mattress will also get compacted unevenly thinning right at the center where one would sleep on and thus over time you will feel like sleeping in a pothole.
Cotton mattress breaths and absorbs sweat and keeps the skin dry thus sleeping on a cotton mattress will more comfortable even with a cotton sleepwear and thick cotton sheets. However, If your bodily fluids gets absorbed in the mattress, it becomes unhygienic over time.
Foam mattress - Made from a mixture of petrochemical based foams and natural latex foams. Key specification is the density of the foam. Two mattresses with same thickness can have vastly different weights depending on density of the foam. Mattress foam needs to be of a certain minimum density to be comfortable with denser mattress to be more comfortable. This is a general observation and personal choice. Denser mattresses are heavy and expensive.
Dense mattresses last much longer than cotton mattresses and does not lose their softness or form. Periodically rotating and flipping helps with even wear. I have a couple that are 10 year old and still feels like new. My preference is for dense and heavy mattress. I have to vacuum these mattresses periodically to suck dust that might gets absorbed in it. Not sure if it is really needed or helps but I do it anyway.
Memory Foam - A special kind of form that softens and conforms to the sleeper in response to body temperature and body weight. This kind of foam molds to the body creating a depression the sleeper must roll out of when changing sleep positions. For some sleepers this is uncomfortable while for others this molding action relives joint pains. Memory foam prices have been dropping since then but still quite expensive compared to regular foam or spring mattress. In developed world most of the foam mattresses are being replaced by memory foam mattresses.
Spring mattress - Consists of interconnected springs between layers upholstery. Steel springs support the body weight while upholstery provide comfort. IMO, these mattresses are comfortable and durable. I have one that is 12 years old and still feels like a new. This mattress needs vacuuming and periodic rotating and flipping. This kind of mattress distributes body weight evenly and feels more comfortable than a foam or a cotton mattress where you can experience more pressure points. But it also transfers motion. If two people are sleeping together, one will feel when other is getting on or getting off the mattress. This may be disturbing for some.
Foam and spring mattress can be difficult to clean if your bodily fluids gets absorbed in them. A good layer of thick cotton sheets is needed to prevent that and also make sleeping more comfortable if you sleeping in hot and humid conditions without and AC.
both form and spring mattress need to be supported on a wooden box or a set or slats. Designed properly, you can support your mattress correctly and still use the space under the bed for storage. An incorrectly supported mattress will not last long. In west, manufacturers offer 25 year to lifelong warranty on spring mattresses because these are extremely durable when used properly.
Overall, my preference
- Spring Mattress
- Foam Mattress
- Cotton Mattress.
I prefer spring and foam over cotton mainly because of durability, comfort and maintenance costs. However, they do cost more than cotton upfront but on a total cost of ownership basis, they will cost less.
I think foam and spring mattresses are comfortable in a climate controlled room and cotton is more comfortable in natural conditions mainly because it can keep your skin dry. May be this is just my observation since I live in a hot humid city like Mumbai. For this one reason, I think foam and spring mattresses will not become mass product for few more years as cost of running AC may be too much for the masses. Affluent middle class will switch to foam.
Another reason is only dense foam mattresses are comfortable but foam is commodity so Sleepwell may have trouble selling expensive dense mattresses in a market flooded with cheap light mattresses. This is similar to Greenply selling quality plywood in a market flooded with cheap plywood.
Yet another reason is that foam and sprint mattresses need to supported properly to be durable and comfortable. With Indians using underbed area for storage, I think mattress will be supported on a hard platform. While this will help with durability, it will be less comfortable.
foam and spring mattresses are comfortable when they are thick. A comfortable foam mattress is twice as thick as cotton and a comfortable spring mattress is four times thicker than cotton. In space starved Indian rooms that’s a disadvantage as you cannot stack these mattresses on top of each other like cotton mattresses (unless you want a bed like the one in Princess and the Pea).
Overall, I think foam and spring mattresses will have slow and steady start in India.