If you’re looking for a coil mattress, you might be interested to know there are two different types: hybrid and innerspring. Both hybrid and innerspring mattresses have a spring support system, so a lot of people think there isn’t much difference between them. However, these mattresses have very different feels and support abilities, and depending on your sleep style, one might be better suited to you than the other. Let’s take a look at the differences between hybrids and innersprings and who should be sleeping on each.
What is a Hybrid Mattress?
Hybrid mattresses have a pocketed coil support layer, but they have at least two inches of foam for their comfort layer. Many hybrids have more than two inches and/or more than a single layer of foam. In fact, lots of hybrids come with multiple types of foam laid out in several layers.
Parts of a Hybrid
Starting from the bottom, a hybrid has a core support structure of pocket coils. Some hybrids place these coils on a base of durable foam to further reduce motion transfer, but this is not universal. The coil support layer helps increase air circulation and responsiveness, making the foams above cooler and bouncier.
Many hybrid mattresses have a transition layer made of firm polyurethane foam to cut down on pressure from the coil support layer and help isolate motion.
The comfort layer of a hybrid is always made of foam. Some hybrids have a memory foam layer, while others come with latex foam. Memory foam hybrids are more contouring, while latex foam hybrids are bouncier. If you want the coolest hybrid, go for a gel memory foam or latex foam hybrid.
Best Sleepers for Hybrids
Hybrids come in a wide range of feels and firmness levels, so just about everyone can sleep on this mattress type as long as they get the right hybrid.
Back sleepers need contoured support in their lumbar regions, so mattresses for back sleepers should be medium or medium-firm hybrids.
Stomach sleepers need lift in the hips to keep the back from over-arching and causing pain. Mattresses for stomach sleepers should be medium-firm or firm hybrids to ensure support and over sinking.
Side sleepers need pressure relief for their shoulder and hip joints, so the best mattresses for side sleepers are soft to medium. These beds offer more cushioning power then a medium-frim mattress or innerspring bed.
Combo sleepers should consider a hybrid of medium firmness because they change positions throughout the night, and thus need versatile support.
Heavier Sleepers (more than 230 pounds)
In most cases, mattresses for plus-size sleepers should be medium-firm hybrids. The firmer foam and extra support from the coils will keep the body lifted on top of the mattress and prevent sinkage.
Lighter Sleepers (less than 130 pounds)
If you’re more petite, you may like the feel of a medium-soft hybrid. You’ll get more compression from the softer foam while still retaining the bounce of the coils.
Pros and Cons of Hybrids
As far as comfort level and support, hybrids have few parallels, but they do have some issues in other areas:
- Comfortable for all sleep styles and body types
- Supportive yet bouncy
- Reduced motion transfer
- Promotes more airflow than all-foam beds
- Offers great pressure point relief
- Heavy and hard to move
- Expensive to manufacture and purchase
- Coils lose tension and sag after awhile
What is an Innerspring Mattress?
Just like hybrids, innersprings have a coil support layer. Unlike hybrids, these mattresses don’t have a foam comfort layer on top. They usually just have a thin layer of cushioning, making them a cooler and more responsive, but less pressure-relieving and supportive, alternative to hybrids.
Parts of an Innerspring
The support layer of a traditional innerspring mattress is made of a network of coils. Innersprings can have pocketed coils or interconnected coils like Bonnell coils, offset coils, and continuous coils. The main difference between innersprings and hybrids is that these coils make up the bulk of the mattress.
There’s normally no transition layer in an innerspring. Rather, the comfort layer just sits right on top of the springs. This plush layer is often made of natural fibers like cotton or wool or synthetic materials like fiberfill or gel.
Many innersprings come with a pillow top—an extra layer of fabric-wrapped padding sewn on top of the comfort layer. This padding can be made of just about any plush material and adds another layer of cushioning to the innerspring mattress.
Best Sleepers for Innersprings
Innersprings aren’t as versatile as hybrids, but there are a few types of sleepers who might find them comfortable:
If you find yourself waking up in a sweat, an innerspring could be a lifesaver for you. Innerspring beds are often considered cooling mattress because they provide more airflow than other mattress types.
Innerspring beds offer firm support, which can be great for plus-size sleepers because it helps them avoid sinking into the mattress.
Like plus-size sleepers, stomach sleepers need extra lift and firmness to avoid sinkage, and an innerspring can provide this lift.
Pros and Cons of Innersprings
While innersprings aren’t as cushioning or supportive as hybrids, but they do have their advantages:
- High air circulation promotes cooling
- Bounce may be appealing to some sleepers
- Less expensive than many other mattresses
- Lighter and easier to move
- Thin comfort layer doesn’t offer much cushioning
- Coil network offers no motion isolation
- Springs also don’t offer much support
- Coil tension decreases over time, causing sagging
- Innerspring cannot conform to the body like a hybrid or foam mattress
Do pillow tops come on innerspring beds or hybrids?
Pillow tops can come on any kind of mattress, but they’re most commonly found on innersprings. Innersprings need the extra plushness offered by a pillowtop. However, since hybrids already have a foam comfort layer that’s often several inches thick, a pillow top could be redundant.
Which mattress is better for back pain: innersprings or hybrids?
Since they come in a wide range of materials and firmnesses, hybrids—specifically memory foam hybrids—are ideal mattresses for back pain. Their coil base layer will offer lift and support, while their memory foam comfort layer will follow the curve of your body, filling in the gap in your lumbar region to keep it supported. This helps relieve pressure on the spine by promoting ideal spinal alignment.
What bed base is best for a hybrid?
Hybrids are heavy, meaning traditional box springs won’t be strong enough to support them. A mattress foundation or platform bed will be a better option. A mattress foundation is a wooden or metal frame with metal or wood slats stretched across it, and a platform bed is similar to this design except it’s intended to stand on its own. Foundations traditionally go on top of a bed frame, but some come with legs so they can double as a platform bed. These bed bases offer more rigid support than box springs, helping to keep your hybrid mattress from sagging and extending its life expectancy.
Are there ways to reduce motion transfer in innersprings?
Normally, you put an innerspring mattress on a set of box springs. However, one of the best ways to cut down on motion transfer in a coil mattress is to lose the box springs in favor of the more stable support of a foundation or platform. Since box springs have their own coil network, any motion transferred by the innerspring mattress is augmented by the box springs. However, slats won’t amplify motion, so they’ll keep all the bounce of your innerspring support inside the mattress itself.
What’s the difference between a hybrid and memory foam mattress?
Latex and memory foam mattresses don’t have a coil support layer like a hybrid. Rather, these mattresses’ supports are made of sturdy foam topped with a transition layer of supportive foam and a comfort layer of cushioning foam.
Memory foam and latex mattresses have their advantages: they’re more durable because they don’t have coils that break down, they’re resistant to dust mites and allergens, and they’re cheaper than hybrids but more supportive and comfortable than innersprings. On the flip side, latex and memory foam beds are still heavy, and they also have less airflow and bounce because they have no coil support.
Hybrids and innerspring mattresses both have their pros and cons, but if you’re looking for the most cushioning and supportive solution, hybrids really can’t be beaten. They have enough variation that there’s probably a hybrid out there for you no matter your sleep style or personal preferences. And as their name suggests, they combine the pressure relief and contouring power of foam with the responsiveness and coolness of coils, giving them the best of both worlds.
Chris was a psychiatrist and neurologist with board certification in sleep medicine Clinical Associate Professor at the University of California. For over 10 years, he served and helped patients at Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital with their sleeping disorders.
After suffered from sleep disorders for years, Chris has been passionate about sleep health ever since. He wants to help others sleep better and wanted to make the world of sleep easy to understand for everyday people.