Shopping for a mattress can be an overwhelming experience. Not only are there a ton of decisions to make from the size and material of your mattress to the depth and level of firmness, the stakes are also high. The average person spends about 26 years of their life in bed, and 7 years of their life trying to get to sleep. Healthy sleep is as crucial to living a healthy life as food and water, and is necessary for everything from critical bodily functions like digestion to your brain being able to process new information. Thankfully, there’s a lot of helpful information and sleep experts out there who can help you get a better night’s rest, starting with your mattress.
The world of mattresses is vast and wide, and nowadays there are so many options to choose from. Are you an innerspring mattress guy? A hybrid bed man who likes options? Or maybe you suffer from back pain? There’s a lot to consider.
Long gone are the days when consumers are venturing into physical stores to lie down on sample beds hundreds of people have also tried that same day (ew). Many are doing their research online and getting their mattresses delivered in a box for easy setup at home. This adds convenience, but may take away some buyer’s confidence that what you’re investing hundreds, or thousands, of dollars into is worth your while. We’re here to change that.
We sat down with JD Velilla, the Head of Sleep Experience at Serta Simmons Bedding and member of the Global Wellness Institute, to discuss every type of mattress under the sun, and which ones you should buy based on your sleep style. If you’re in the market for a new bed, or want to verify the one you have is right for you, keep reading.
Types of Mattresses
According to our research, there are three major types of mattresses:
- Memory Foam
Every other type of bed falls into one of these three handy categories. They all differ in the ways they’re constructed, how they feel and the amount and type of support they provide.
“Innerspring has either an open coil core or a pocketed coil core with standard foams and fibers above them. Memory foam has an all-foam core (instead of coils) and a mix of standard and memory foams above that,” said Velilla.
“Hybrid has a coil core with a mixture of standard and memory foams above it.”
Biggest Differences Between Mattress Types
Along with being constructed differently comes differences in how the mattresses feel, and the unique pluses of sleeping on each of them.
Velilla noted that innerspring mattresses have a “more traditional feel” and “provide high airflow and responsive support due to the coil.” If you’re looking for a bed that feels bouncy, is easy to jump on and gives you that conventional support you’re used to feeling with older mattresses, an innerspring bed might be the right choice for you.
Read More: The Best Innerspring Mattresses of 2022
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam is one of the latest huge tech innovations in the sleep world, and it’s changed the game for so many sleepers. “It contours to the body for a unique feel that is great for those sleeping with a partner, as it helps prevent motion transfer,” said Velilla.
Innerspring beds are notorious for providing that signature bounce some consumers want, but with that bounce comes motion transfer that can be disruptive if you sleep with a partner who tosses and turns every night. Remember the commercials where the woman is jumping up and down on the memory foam bed and the wine glass doesn’t tip over? That’s a lack of motion transfer, and is one of the biggest pros of buying a memory foam mattress.
A hybrid is for my folks who want the best of both worlds. These beds combine the technology of innerspring and memory foam, to give you that contoured support that’s also responsive and breathable.
“A hybrid mattress is a blend of a traditional innerspring bed and a foam mattress. It utilizes both springs and foam in the design to offer the responsive support of a spring-based mattress combined with the contouring abilities of foam,” said Velilla.
Mattress Types and Sleep Styles
The mattress type that works for you is going to depend on a lot of factors, including your sleep style. What is a sleep style? It’s defined by the position you like to sleep in. Are you a back sleeper? Side sleeper? Stomach sleeper? This will help narrow down which mattress type may work best for you.
Back sleepers tend to need a firmer mattress, so memory foam might the best pick for them, while side sleepers need more cushioned support that’ll contour to hips, knees and shoulders and relieve those pressure points throughout the night. We’d recommend a hybrid mattress for them.
Stomach sleepers, on the other hand, should probably switch to another sleeping position. Michael J.A. Longo, DC, a chiropractor at Renaissance Chiropractic Center in Washington told Healthline that “stomach sleeping puts stress on your spine” and “as time goes on, this can lead to back and neck pain.”
Velilla offered a few key questions you should ask yourself before picking out your mattress, to help you narrow down your pick.
1. Do you prefer a plush, medium or firm mattress?
2. Are there areas of your body where you need extra support?
3. Do you sleep hot at night and need help with cooling?
4. Do you share your bed with a partner or do you sleep alone?
He also added that you shouldn’t “forget the pillow. It’s a key part of the sleep system and helps you achieve optimal comfort.”
Pros and Cons to Each Mattress Type
- Reactive, bouncy support
- Traditional mattress feel
- More airflow
- Not known for successfully mitigating motion transfer
- Not great for sleeping with a partner
- Older technology
- Contoured support
- Excellent motion transfer control
- Newer technology
- Firm support
- May be too firm for some sleepers
- Materials are less breathable, may be too hot for some sleepers
- Combination of best parts of two technologies
- Great for side and back sleepers
- Get the responsiveness of innerspring and the contoured support of memory foam
- Not as breathable as cooling mattresses
- More firm than innerspring mattresses
How to Find Your Perfect Mattress
We’ve gathered a few favorite mattresses of each type, so you can find your next great bed based on all of the information above. Keep in mind that the best way to know with certainty that a mattress is right for you is to try it at your local showroom. Velilla recommends lying down on a mattress for 5-10 minutes total, and trying out a few different sleep positions.
He also noted that if you’re shopping online, “be sure to look at the reviews to help you make an informed decision. Look for reviews that sound like you and, if available, use the search bar to quickly scan reviews for specific question you have. Finally, always purchase an online bed that offers a free trial period.”
BEST INNERSPRING MATTRESS
The Winkbed is one of the highest rated innerspring beds available online. It’s made with individually-wrapped pocketed coils and has a pillow top with gel-infused foam for extra support. It has foam enhancement through the lumbar region of the body for extra support and the Heat Disperse tech helps with temperature regulation.
The Purple Hybrid Mattress
BEST HYBRID MATTRESS
Purple is one of our favorite mattress brands, and they make an excellent hybrid made with cushioning foam and wrapped coils for a combination of both technologies. The coils provide airflow as well as dynamic response that increases the comfort, usability and durability of your mattress.
Nectar Memory Foam Mattress
BEST MEMORY FOAM MATTRESS
Nectar tops the list for the best memory foam mattress, with a premium construction that hugs you in support and is designed to keep you as cool as it can. It’s made with a quilted cover up top for cooling as well as three different internal layers with different types of foam so you get all the support you want and need.