Memory Foam vs Innerspring vs Hybrid Mattress: What's the Difference?
If you are in the market for a new mattress, then, you've likely encountered any of these three mattresses: memory foam, innerspring or hybrid mattress. Each of these mattress types is designed to provide specific benefits, and knowing the differences and benefits each mattress type offers helps you choose the ideal mattress for your comfort and support.
Memory foam mattresses are known for their contour adaptability, while innerspring mattresses are known for their durability and great support, and finally, hybrid mattresses are known for combining the benefits of the two above-mentioned mattresses for the ultimate sleeping experience. So, in this post, we will take a deeper dive into each of these mattresses to help you make an informed choice.
1. Innerspring Mattresses:
An innerspring mattress is a type of mattress where the support system comprises coiled springs. The inner structure of an innerspring mattress has four main parts:
- The Foundation
- The core
- The buffer
- The Comfort layer
Let's take a look at each:
- The foundation layer: serves as the base of the innerspring mattress. The foundation is made of either wood, foam, or a grid, and it serves as the layer where the springs are fastened.
- The Core Layer: The core layer makes up about 80% of mattresses. It comprises a pack of coils carefully put together using different methods. This layer is responsible for giving the mattress its structure and providing the necessary support the sleeper needs--Usually, the more springs an innerspring mattress has, the more support it offers. Also, due to the core being made of coils or springs, an innerspring mattress tends to be bouncy besides being supportive.
- The buffer layer: Also, referred to as "the transition layer" comprises a layer or two of foam that serves as a barrier between the spring and the comforting layer. Essentially, without the buffer the body of the sleeper will come in direct contact with the spring or the comforting layer will settle into the coils, which would damage the comfort layer faster and lead to discomfort when sleeping.
- The comfort layer is placed on top of the buffer and it is often made of wool, cotton, woven fiber, or a breathable foam. The main purpose of the comforting layer is to provide the necessary support needed to cushion the provide and alleviate pressure points.
When done, the whole mattress is encased in a ticking, which is quilted into various patterns.
Pros Of Innerspring Mattresses:
Innerspring mattresses have been in existence since 1871, and due to the good support structure and benefits they provide, they are still a preferred choice by most sleepers today. Therefore, in this section, we will explore a couple of benefits of this type of mattress.
The core system of the innerspring mattress gives the mattress a responsive support system. The coils help absorb and distribute body weight which provides a comforting sleeping surface. Not only that, but the edge support of this type of mattress is great such that you do not completely sink into the mattress when sitting on the edges. Due to the spring core system, sleepers do not completely sink into the mattress since the springs bounce back after you fall on it.
- Cooling Effect
Due to the spaces in the coils of the core structure, the air can circulate freely, which in turn provides a cool sleeping surface.
Innerspring mattresses tend to be more durable; this is because the coils are less prone to sagging.
Cons Innerspring Mattresses:
As great as the pros might sound, it is a good idea to consider the cons as well. So, in this section, we will take a look at some of the pros and cons of this type of mattress.
- Poor Motion Isolation
Most innerspring mattresses do not handle motion transfer properly. This is because all the coils are connected; therefore, they distribute the motion evenly. This can make it a bad choice for couples if one or both partners move a lot since the motion of one person will be felt throughout the mattress.
- Pressure Point Alleviation
Even though innerspring provides great support, it tends to lack when it comes to alleviating pressure points. With an innerspring, you do not sink into the mattress, as such it doesn't contour well to the shape of your body.
With time, the mattress tends to be noisy as the springs weaken.
Types of innerspring mattresses:
All innerspring mattresses aren't made equal innerspring mattresses can be grouped into 4 different types, and each comes with its advantages as well. Below is a list of the common types of innerspring mattresses.
① Bonnell Spring
This is the first type of innerspring mattress which features a pack of hourglass springs that are connected by vertical helical wires at the top and the bottom. This mattress supports weight; however, the downside is that there may be some motion transfer.
② Offset Coil
This type of innerspring mattress is just like the Bonnell spring model; however, the difference with this is that each coil is connected to the next by a separate helical wire as opposed to one wire to connect each row and column of coils. Offset coils provide better support and contour conformity than Bonnell Spring.
③ Continous Coil
This comprises a large wire that is coiled into multiple coils without any separation. This is the most basic and affordable option out there.
④ Pocket Spring
This is the latest development in the innerspring space, and with this type of pocket spring, each spring is wrapped in a fabric case. The wrapping of each coil gives this type of innerspring mattress the added advantage of reduced motion transfer since each coil moves independently.
2. Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam was developed in the late 1960s by NASA as a way to provide their astronauts with some cushioning against the vigor as they went into space. Over the years, these mattresses have become popular and this is because it is ergonomically designed to provide customized support by contouring to the shape of the sleeper's body. This type of mattress is flexible, as such most manufacturers put them in a box when shipping them out to customers, which is why they are sometimes referred to as a mattress in a box.
Pros of A Memory Foam Mattress:
Memory Foam mattresses have become popular due to their great benefits, some of which include:
- Customized Support
Memory foam mattresses absorb heat from the body and then conform to the contours of the body, ensuring that you properly align the body for maximum comfort. This allows for a memory foam mattress to provide great pressure relief since it absorbs your body's pressure points, as opposed to pushing back against those pressure points.
- Motion Isolation
One reason why memory foam makes a great mattress for people, especially couples is because of its motion isolation. This is because memory foam can absorb motion, and movement on one side of the mattress doesn't affect the other side of the mattress. As such, these memory foam mattresses can be a great option for couples.
Memory foam mattresses as hypoallergic, making them naturally resistant to dust mites and other forms of allergens that may be an irritant to you. This makes it a great option for people who have asthma or suffer from allergies.
Cons of A Memory Foam Mattress
- Slow Reaction
Even though memory foam is great at conforming to the sleeper's body, it takes a while for this conformity to take effect. Therefore, if you move a lot in your sleep, then memory foam will probably work against you.
Memory foam is that they have an offensive smell when unboxed. This smell is because the chemical used in manufacturing the foam (Violent Organic Compounds) are still present. If you have a hard time dealing with the smell, then it is recommended that you place the mattress in a well-ventilated room for at least three days to allow the smell to dissipate. That being said, the smell may still linger and can take up to 4 weeks to completely go away.
- Heat Generation
As stated earlier, memory foams absorb the body's heat and then conforms to the shape of the body. As such, it retains heat, which can make the mattress hot overnight. Also, because memory foams are synthetic non-breathable materials, they tend to have no room for air circulation. That being said, there have been various developments in memory foam to tackle this issue, and this is what we will be looking at in the next section.
Types of Memory Foam
① Traditional Memory Foam
This is the typical memory foam most people know about. Traditional memory foam is made from viscoelastic polyurethane foam. This type of memory foam absorbs body heat to conform to the shape of the sleeper's body. These memory foams tend to be non-breathable, as such they generate heat throughout the night. These types of memory foam tend to be affordable and provide the benefit of alleviating pressure points.
② Open-Cell Memory Foam
This type of memory foam mattress has the same structure as traditional memory foam; however, where it differs is the fact that the cells of the mattress are opened, allowing for aeration and reducing the amount of heat generated throughout the night. This opened-cell structure comes with its disadvantage because even though an open cell will conform to the contours of your body, the traditional closed-cell conforms to the body's shape better.
③ Gel Memory Foam
This was created as an alternative to traditional memory foam by providing a temperature-regulated surface for sleepers. Gel memory foam mattresses also have the same structure as traditional memory foam; however, the difference is that a gel memory foam mattress has gel beads infused into the viscoelastic polyurethane foam to dissipate heat.
④ Plant Based Memory Foam
In the disadvantage of memory foam, we did mention that it emits some strong odor when unpacked. Well, plant-based memory foam is made from plant-based materials such as soy or castor to solve the issue of off-gassing. These types of memory foam mattresses also feature open cells to deal with the issue of heat generation.
Memory Foam vs Innerspring:
We've looked at innerspring, and we've looked at memory foam; however, these two differ in support, pressure relief, and motion isolation. So, in this section, we will compare and contrast these two.
Both mattresses offer great support; however, an innerspring provides better support due to its fast response time. Due to the bounciness of the springs of an innerspring mattress, these mattresses tend to readjust swiftly as you move across the mattress. Also, the springs tend to push up a bit as you lay on them, providing you with the support you need to properly align your spine. Memory foam, on the other hand, takes time to provide the necessary support you need.
- Pressure Relief
Memory foam tends to provide better pressure relief than innerspring. This is because memory foam mattresses tend to adjust to the contours of your body and alleviate pressure points. Innerspring, on the other hand, doesn't conform to the shape of your body; your body maintains a uniform structure as you lay on an innerspring mattress. That being said, some innerspring mattresses have pre-designed contours, which require that you lie in the direction of these contours before the mattress adjusts to your body shape. Therefore, if you do not lie according to the predefined contours, then you don't get the benefit.
- Motion Isolation
Memory foam provides better motion isolation than innerspring. Due to the viscoelastic properties of the foam used in memory foam, it can absorb movement.
3. Hybrid Mattresses
Introduced in the early 2000s, hybrid mattresses were designed to provide the benefit of both an innerspring mattress and a memory foam mattress by combining the materials used in each of these items.
Hybrid mattresses have the same structure as innerspring mattresses; however, their construction differs a bit. The first layer of the hybrid mattress is the springs, which comprise 60% of the mattress, with the remaining 40% comprising foam. The next layer is known as the hi-core or the buffer, and this layer is made of typical high-density polyfoam; finally, the mattress is topped with a gel foam to provide pressure relief and temperature regulation.
Pros Of Hybrid Mattresses:
- Pressure Relief
Hybrid mattresses provide sleepers with the level of pressure relief offered by memory form by conforming to the shape of your body.
- Great Response Time
Due to the presence of an innerspring, a hybrid mattress can respond to pressure changes much more quickly.
Due to the presence of coils, a hybrid mattress tends to have better aeration providing you with a cool sleeping surface.
Cons of Hybrid Mattresses:
Hybrid mattresses are expensive. This is because they combine the best worlds of an innerspring and memory foam.
These mattresses tend to be heavier; therefore if you have to get them up a story building or probably move them around your home from time to time, this is something you might want to consider.
How Does Hybrid Mattress Combine Features of Innerspring and Memory Foam:
Due to the design of a hybrid mattress, it can provide sleepers with the level of comfort and conformity to the body shape that a memory foam offers, whiles providing you with the rapid response and support that an innerspring offers.
So, essentially, a hybrid mattress is a memory foam mattress with better response time and aeration.
Types Of Hybrid Mattress:
- Foam and Coil Hybrid Mattress: This type of hybrid mattress comprises a mixture of foams such as latex and memory foams on top of the coil layer.
- Latex and Coil: This type of hybrid uses latex foam for its comforting layer.
- Memory Foam and Coil: This type of hybrid places a memory foam on top of the innerspring layer.
- Pillow Top Hybrid: This type of hybrid mattress has an extra layer of cushioning on top of the comforting layer for a more plush sleeping experience.
- Made of 80% spring and 20% buffer and a comforting layer.
- These mattresses provide great support, great response time, and a cool sleeping surface
- Ideal for back and stomach sleepers
Memory Foam Mattress:
- This mattress is made of a viscoelastic foam that conforms to the shape of your body.
- Memory foam mattresses alleviate pressure points and provide motion isolation.
- Memory foam is great for side sleepers
- Combines the design ideal of innerspring and memory foam: it is made of 60% inner spring and 40% comforting and the buffer layer.
- Provides better motion isolation than innerspring, alleviates pressure points, and offers faster response time.
- Great for all types of sleeping positions.
How To Choose A Mattresses That Best Fits You:
1. Sleeping Position
Depending on your sleeping position, one type of mattress might be ideal for you. Since back sleepers and stomach sleepers require more support to keep their spine in alignment, a hybrid mattress or an innerspring mattress might be ideal. Alternatively, since side sleepers require absorption of pressure points in their should and hip area, a memory foam mattress will be ideal.
2. Body Type
Your body type will also greatly influence the type of mattress you go in for. Generally, memory foam mattresses are great for individuals under 130 or between 130 to 230. Memory foam doesn't work well for heavy sleepers as it might sink too much, which can destroy the mattress quicker, provide less support, and make the mattress uncomfortable.
The innerspring mattress works well for heavy individuals and individuals between 130 lbs to 230 lbs since it tends to provide more support. Finally, hybrid works well for all body weight types.
If you want some bounce in your mattress coupled with some great support, then an innerspring mattress will help. Likewise, if you want to feel hugged whiles sleeping, then memory foam will be a great choice; finally, if you want a bit of bounce (support) with pressure relief, then a hybrid mattress will do the trick.
With all the information given above, we hope that you know the right type of mattress for you. Well, if you are looking to purchase any of the abovementioned mattress types, then do not worry, because we have carefully selected the best mattress from each type for you.
Just Before You Make A Purchase:
Remember to consider your body type and sleeping position before making a purchase. Below is a brief summary of who we recommend each type of mattress for:
- Innerspring mattress: We recommend this for stomach and back sleepers, as well as, individuals with heavy body weight and normal body weight.
- Memory Foam Mattress: We recommend this mattress for side sleepers and individuals who are less than 130 lbs or between 130 lbs to 230 lbs.
- Hybrid Mattress: This mattress is ideal for all types of sleepers, and body weight; however, remember it will cost you some cash.