Updated: February 21, 2018
So you're on the hunt for a new mattress. We're willing to bet that it's been at least a few years since you last shopped for a bed, and you aren't sure where to start. Let's face it - shopping for a mattress can be daunting, since the days of the standard innerspring bed are well in the past (for good reason). You have so many options these days (innerspring, hybrid, memory foam and latex just to name a few) that finding the one that fits your unique sleep needs takes some serious research.
No bed is one-size-fits-all (no matter how much some companies try to tell you). Your body type, sleep position, overall health and specific nighttime concerns play a part in which mattress is best for you. The easiest way to narrow down the hunt for the perfect mattress? Understanding each type of mattress, and the pros and cons of each.
Innerspring (or Hybrid) Mattresses
Traditionally called an innerspring mattress (but nowadays more commonly referred to as a "hybrid" bed) these types of mattresses are likely what you're used to seeing. Innerspring or hybrid mattresses are constructed using a core made up of steel spring coils. These coils can be different gauges, which effects how soft or firm they feel, and are the reason why innerspring or hybrid mattresses usually have better edge support. Most of the time, these mattresses have additional foam layers built on top of the springs, using a variety of materials from latex to memory foam.
Depending on the mattress, some are constructed using pocketed spring technology, where rather than metal links connecting each spring, flexible non-woven material encloses each spring individually. The result is better support for spinal alignment, but with a reduction in motion transfer from one side of the bed to another. This is especially true when combined with latex or memory foam layers, which isolate movement and deliver more targeted pressure point relief.
Pros of an Innerspring or Hybrid Mattress
- A good combination of durability and affordability for tighter budgets
- Superior edge support that's especially good for bed-sharing
- Greater overall support for better and more consistent spinal alignment
- Plenty of firmness options for different types of sleepers
- Modern combinations of foam and pocketed coils means the best of pressure point relief with edge support and durability
Cons of an Innerspring or Hybrid Mattress
- Center-most springs can break down quicker than outer-most springs, causing possible sinking over time
- More motion transfer than all-foam mattresses (some pair springs with memory foam to reduce the issue)
- Less targeted pressure point relief than some all-foam mattresses
- Average lifespan of 7 to 10 years - shorter than some other types of mattresses
Latex Foam Mattresses
Latex foam mattresses are growing in popularity for two reasons: they last longer than traditional innerspring mattresses, and they don't have that "sunk in" feeling of other types of all-foam mattresses. Latex foam comes in plenty of variations, and each has its own pros and cons for certain types of sleepers - but the general consensus for latex foam mattresses is that they offer the perfect blend of contouring (for pressure point relief), and support (they bounce back and support movement more effectively).
They are made with natural, synthetic, or blended latex foam (a rubber-like material) as a comfort layer and supported by either latex, polyurethane foam, or innersprings. Quality latex mattresses can to last anywhere from 10 to 20 years.
Pros of a Latex Mattress
- Hypo-allergenic and antimicrobial - great for allergy sufferers (and even safe for those with latex allergies)
- Blend of pressure-point relief and "bouncy" support great for reducing chronic lower back pain
- Breathable construction means you sleep cooler - no clammy feeling in the morning
- More durable than traditional innerspring - most well cared for latex mattresses last between 10 and 20 years
Cons of a Latex Mattress
- Tend to be more expensive than other types of mattresses
- Feel "bouncy", which isn't always ideal for shared beds that require reduced motion transfer
- Depending on your budget, can be limited in terms of firmness levels
Memory Foam Mattresses
Anyone with a TV in the late 90's or early 2000's probably remember the iconic memory foam mattress commercials that heralded their most compelling quality: motion isolation. Any bed that could balance a glass of red wine on one end while a full-grown adult jumped on the other side of the mattress seemed like a feat of engineering. The reason behind the feat was the unique qualities of memory foam, a slow-response foam that reacts to the weight and heat of the body and "cradles" it throughout the night.
Memory foam mattresses are great for relieving pressure points, since they form to the curves of the body more gently than traditional innerspring or even most latex mattresses. The drawback of that same quality is how memory foam fundamentally works. Memory foam is a viscoelastic foam that reacts to body heat, contouring around curves that apply both pressure and heat to the mattress surface. That's great for pressure points, but it also means it absorbs heat and takes a while to re-conform to curves if a sleeper changes positions.
Opinions on memory foam mattresses are generally split - either you love the gentle cradling feeling, or feel like you're sleeping in quicksand. That said, they do tend to last - quality memory foam mattresses are known to last 10-20 years.
Pros of a Memory Foam Mattress
- Ideal for relieving painful and difficult pressure points at the shoulders, hips and knees.
- Exceptional motion isolation, which is great for shared beds where both partners want to sleep undisturbed.
- Quality versions can last for a decade or more when well-cared for.
- Great for people that suffer from chronic pain or fatigue, and have a hard time getting comfortable.
- Feel cozy and soft, and tend to be ideal for anyone who sleeps primarily on their back or side.
Cons of a Memory Foam Mattress
- Are more expensive than latex or latex alternative all-foam mattresses.
- Sleeps hotter than all other types of mattresses (though higher-quality options include cooling infusions to help the problem).
- Slow-response of the foam can cause sleepers to have a difficult time changing positions.
- Can cause the feeling of being "stuck" in the bed.
Still not sure what kind of mattress will work best for you? Ask one of Brooklyn Bedding's Sleep Specialists, who can help you narrow down your choices based on your preferred sleep position, your health, your unique sleep needs and your budget.