Choosing a mattress type used to be pretty easy. Simply put, it used to be you had a choice between innerspring mattresses and innerspring mattresses. However, the last few decades have seen the development of several other mattress types. That makes it a lot tougher to pick the right type of mattress for your needs.
Two of the most popular mattress types on the current market are memory foam and hybrid mattresses. Of course, each of these mattress varieties has its strengths and weaknesses. But they both can offer an incredible night’s sleep, depending on your needs and preferences.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam was originally created by NASA to facilitate high-velocity flight. The special type of flexible polyurethane foam was light, contouring, and durable. That made it perfect to cushion pilots and astronauts through high-G maneuvers.
When NASA released the formula for memory foam, it didn’t take the bedding industry long to notice. Memory foam’s contouring ability made it perfect for pressure relief and spinal support. The earliest memory foam beds were sticky hot. They didn’t allow for any air circulation. So they tended to retain body heat like insulation.
Thankfully, modern memory foam mattresses use things like gel infusions and open-cell construction to help improve memory foam’s temperature-regulating ability. That means you don’t have to worry about waking up in a sweat with memory foam as you might have in the past.
One common seal of quality when it comes to memory foam is the CertiPUR-US® certification. This third-party organization examines the production process of memory foam and other types of polyurethane foam to ensure the material is made without potentially harmful ingredients such as formaldehyde, mercury, and certain chemical flame retardants.
Memory foam is famous for its contouring ability. It can alter its shape to fit yours in a way that no other bedding material can. This means memory foam offers superior pressure relief and excellent spinal support. Side sleepers and back sleepers will especially appreciate the way memory foam can follow the curve of their bodies.
Memory foam’s biggest drawback in the area of feel is responsiveness. It’s one of the slowest bedding materials to bounce back into shape when you move. This slow response time probably won’t bother you if you don’t toss and turn much at night. But active sleepers should take note.
As we said, older memory foams tended to be sweltering. But newer memory foams have integrated cooling technologies like infusions, perforations, and more to help diffuse heat out of the mattress. This means even some hot sleepers can get on the memory foam bandwagon. See our guide to gel memory foam vs memory foam.
Keep in mind that even memory foam with tons of cooling technologies still won’t be as cool as other mattress types like hybrids or latex. That means if you sleep really hot, memory foam may not be for you.
Memory foam is quite affordable. At $1,100 for an average queen size memory foam mattress, this material is on the lower end of the price point range. Hybrids and latex mattresses are both much more expensive than memory foam beds.
And innerspring mattresses might be slightly cheaper, but their reduced durability means you’ll be replacing them more often. That means memory foam mattresses are the most affordable mattress type overall.
Memory foam is in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to durability. All-foam mattresses don’t have any coils to lose tension and break down. That means they’ll last longer than mattresses with springs.
However, as a synthetic foam, memory foam is not as durable as natural latex. So expect it to last anywhere from 10 to 20 years, with an average of 12 to 15.
If you want a memory foam mattress that breathes like latex and is buoyant like a hybrid, give the AS5 by Amerisleep a look.
While we do discuss the features and benefits of hybrid mattresses a little further down, we feel it worth mentioning now that the AS5 also has a hybrid counterpart available. The AS5 Hybrid is a touch more responsive than the classic AS5 thanks to its pocketed coils, and the sides feature durable edge support.
All Amerisleep mattresses come with a 100-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty.
How It Feels
The soft surface feels not unlike receiving a hug from a trusted friend or family member. When you lie down on the AS5, you should feel the aches and pains that build up over the day begin to melt away. Despite the plush feel, the foam is quick to snap back into place as you move or change position, ensuring you never feel stuck in bed.
This mattress features plant-based Bio-Pur® memory foam as the top layer. This foam is more responsive and more breathable than traditional memory foam. That means this mattress is a great choice for sleepers who want contouring but not heat retention.
Another great feature of this mattress is the HIVE® transition layer. This layer offers five different zones of support for targeted pressure relief exactly where you need it.
In the shoulders and hips section, the mattress feels even softer thanks to carefully arranged cutouts. These cutouts boost the areas’ flexible feel for more pressure relief.
Meanwhile, in the head, back, and feet areas, cutouts are placed to promote support that isn’t so firm as it is consistent. These areas of the mattress feature less give in the material to prevent misalignment and other discomforts.
Both the HIVE® transition layer and Bio-Pur® comfort layer sit atop an ultra-durable support core. This high-density foam offers superior spine aligning support as well as excellent durability. That’s why Amerisleep backs the AS5 (and all the other mattresses in this lineup) with a generous 20-year warranty.
Hybrid mattresses were created to fix the issues with both all-foam and open-coil mattresses. All-foam mattresses tend to impede airflow and reduce bounce. Open-coil innerspring mattresses cannot contour and therefore tend to sag.
Hybrid mattresses solve all these issues by combining a pocketed coil support core with at least two inches of comfort foam. This creates a mattress that is highly adaptable and bouncy and can allow contouring all the way through.
Hybrids are wonderful mattresses in terms of feel and temperature control. But they do have their drawbacks as well.
Hybrid mattresses contain individually wrapped coils that can move independently of one another. That means (unlike open coil beds), hybrid mattresses can adapt all the way through. Combine that with a memory foam top layer, and you’ve got a highly contouring mattress with tons of support from the coil core.
Hybrids can also be very springy. The great thing about these beds is they can be made using any type of foam. So if you want a bouncy bed, you can spring for a latex hybrid. Even memory foam hybrids will spring back into place faster than all-foam beds, making them fantastic for active sleepers.
Hybrids are much better at temperature regulation than all-foam beds. While all-foam beds circulate air through the comfort layer, their high-density foam support cores impede airflow through the lower layers.
Meanwhile, hybrids allow air circulation throughout the whole mattress. This means hot air can travel downward into the support core and get dispersed out of the mattress. That makes hybrids a better choice for hot sleepers than memory foam alone.
Hybrids are not cheap. In fact, their cost is one of the biggest dings against them. The average queen hybrid mattress costs $1,700. This is much more than memory foam and innerspring mattresses and almost as much as even natural latex.
But hybrid mattresses don’t have the durability of latex mattresses. So in terms of long-term cost, hybrid mattresses are the most expensive bed type.
Hybrids are more durable than innerspring mattresses but less durable than all-foam mattresses, especially latex. This is because the coils in hybrid mattresses lose tension. This leads to sagging and soft-spot development.
Well-maintained hybrids will last around the same number of years as memory foam beds (10 to 15), but don’t expect them to live past 20. Even if the foam in a hybrid is still good, once the coils sag, you have to replace the mattress.
If you worry a quality hybrid is out of reach for you financially, the Zoma Hybrid is an excellent mattress to consider. This hybrid offers amazing quality and multiple cooling technologies without skimping on the quality of the materials or construction. By combining gel memory foam with responsive, motion-limiting pocketed coils, the Zoma Hybrid’s design promotes a night of undisturbed rest for a more productive day.
You can have all this for well under the average price for a hybrid mattress. But don’t let the affordability fool you into thinking the Zoma brand is holding anything back when it comes to the mattress’s quality. The Zoma Hybrid still boasts a 100-night sleep trial period and a 10-year warranty.
Zoma also offers a similar memory foam mattress with the original Zoma Mattress, perfect for sleepers who are intrigued by gel memory foam but would prefer a pure-foam design.
How It Feels
The Zoma Hybrid has a touch of more responsive firmness to it than the AS5, establishing a medium-feel surface that doesn’t give way too much when pressure is applied. Sleepers can lie down and feel the cool surface sap away any stiffness or soreness without sinking too far into the mattress.
Moving across the Zoma Hybrid is also an easy task, thanks to the buoyant transition foam and pocketed coils. The surface feels steady, while the edge support along the sides allows sleepers a chance to rest for moment by sitting, making it easier to slide in and out of bed.
The top layer of the Zoma Hybrid features cooling gel memory foam to help conduct your body heat away from you. The ventilated AirCloth fabric cover works with the perforated gel foam to keep air flowing around you all night.
Underneath, you’ll find the ReactivTM transition layer. This layer serves the dual purpose of increasing bounce in the bed and protecting you from pressure exerted by the pocketed coils.
The coil support core adds its own bounce and lift to help make this mattress ultra-responsive and supportive. The coils along the sides of the mattress are denser to establish the bed’s edge support, creating a firmer feel for more support and stability.
Other Mattress Types
In addition to hybrids and memory foam beds, there are two other common mattress types.
Innerspring mattresses are made of open-coil support layers and thinner comfort layers. The comfort layers in innerspring beds can be made of a variety of materials, including wool, fiberfill, cotton, and foam. It’s also common for innerspring mattresses to have a pillow top: an extra layer of padding sewn onto the comfort layer.
Innerspring mattresses are lightweight and very cooling. However, they cannot contour very well and tend to break down faster than any other bed type. These issues are why other kinds of mattresses are slowly edging out traditional innerspring mattresses in terms of popularity.
Natural latex foam is made from the sap of the rubber tree. You will find two basic types of latex foam in mattresses: Dunlop and Talalay. Dunlop is denser and more durable, while Talalay is lighter and more contouring. However, both of these latex types are highly responsive and ultra-breathable.
Natural latex is one of the best bedding materials. Its extreme durability makes up for its high cost in the long run. And it’s much more responsive than memory foam while retaining much of memory foam’s contouring ability.
Hybrids and memory foam mattresses both have their strengths and weaknesses. But they can both give you a wonderful night’s sleep, depending on your needs, and serve as one of the best mattresses. Active sleepers and hot sleepers should consider a hybrid mattress. Those who need the ultimate pressure relief should think about memory foam.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hybrid mattresses are generally better for active sleepers. If you like to toss and turn, you want a mattress that bounces back without taking forever. However, you also want a mattress that doesn’t have motion transfer issues.
With their pocketed coils, hybrids bounce back underneath you while still offering lots of motion isolation to prevent you from disturbing your partner. That makes this mattress type better than both memory foam and innerspring beds for active sleepers.
Typically, hybrids are not as durable as all-foam mattresses. While their foam layers might last a long time, their coils lose tension. This leads to sagging and soft spots over time. Don’t worry too much, though.
A quality hybrid will maintain proper tension in its pocketed coil support layer for more than 10 years. So while it won’t last as long as an all-foam mattress, it won’t wear out ultra-fast like an innerspring bed either.
No. You should never put a hybrid or all-foam mattress of any kind on box springs. Box springs cannot take the weight of these heavier mattress types. Putting a heavy mattress on a box spring set can break the box springs, the mattress, or even both. It may also void your mattress’s manufacturer warranty.
It’s best to lay your hybrid or foam mattress on a bed base designed for it. Platform beds and mattress foundations both fit this bill. Adjustable bases are also strong enough to support these heavy mattresses.
Hot sleepers should consider a hybrid mattress, especially if its comfort layer is made of latex or gel foam. The coils allow for breathability all the way through the mattress. Combine that with gel memory foam or natural latex foam, and you’ve got a mattress that will keep you cool and comfortable all night long.
Side sleepers need two main things: contouring to encourage optimal spinal alignment and cushioning to relieve pressure points. Both hybrid mattresses and memory foam ones can offer these to side sleepers.
If you adopt this sleeping position, the main thing you need to be concerned with is firmness level, not material. Side sleepers need tons of pressure relief for their hips and shoulders. So softer mattresses (3 to 4 on the firmness scale) are best.
All mattress varieties come in a range of firmness levels. As long as you get the firmness that fits your needs, you can have any mattress type you want.