If you are in the market for a new mattress, you may be wondering what type of bed is best for a good night’s sleep. For years, people have chosen innerspring beds because they are the most traditional mattress type. However, memory foam has become increasingly popular over the last decade, as it challenges the quality of innerspring beds.
In this article, we’ll highlight the distinct qualities of innerspring and memory foam mattresses, and we’ll discuss which type of mattress is best for your sleep needs.
What is a Memory Foam Mattress?
Another name for memory foam is viscoelastic polyurethane foam. Additional chemicals are added to this material to increase the viscosity and density of the foam layers. Memory foam is known for its ability to evenly distribute body weight, and isolate motion.
Memory foam mattresses are temperature-sensitive and contour to your body, providing pressure point relief and back support. They are a great option for individuals with joint pain since they cradle the hips and shoulders, easing muscle tension.
Additionally, these beds feature an open-cell structure, allowing air to move more freely throughout the mattress.
Types of Memory Foam
Traditional memory foam has a reputation for causing sleepers to feel hot at night. This issue has led mattress brands to offer different types of memory foam beds that retain less heat. Next, we’ll look at different types of cooling foams you’ll encounter while shopping.
Gel Memory Foam
Gel memory foam mattresses have more breathability and regulate temperature better than traditional memory foam, making them a cooling mattress. The comfort layers are infused with gel to pull heat away from the body.
Plant-Based Memory Foam
Plant-based foams contain ingredients like soy instead of petroleum-based chemicals, making them an excellent choice for green-conscious sleepers.
There are several benefits of purchasing beds with plant-based foams, one being they have a faster response time. Along with more responsiveness, plant-based foam also circulates air more easily through the mattress.
Benefits of Memory Foam Mattresses
Whether you’re a back, side, stomach, or combination sleeper, you will benefit from the cloud-like qualities of memory foam beds. They contain a highly resilient temperature-sensitive material that reacts to your body heat and weight. The foam layers conform to your body and absorb movement to minimize sleeping disruptions.
Extra-firm mattresses with limited pressure point relief can sometimes cause pain in sensitive areas of the body. The great thing about memory foam is it reduces tension on your joints and provides proper spinal alignment. This way, your knees, hips, spine, and shoulders are relaxed for a good night’s sleep.
Drawbacks of Memory Foam Mattresses
One of the downsides of purchasing memory foam mattresses is they can be expensive. Also, they are not ideal for hot sleepers as they do not provide sufficient airflow, despite some having newer cooling technologies like gel fusion.
Additionally, memory foam has a slow response time, and some sleepers compare this feeling to sinking in their mattresses. If you’re looking for a responsive bed, check out innerspring, hybrid, or latex mattresses.
What is an Innerspring Mattress?
Innerspring beds are known for their bounciness. They have a firm feel, but they cannot conform to your body like memory foam mattresses.
Some innerspring mattresses include a soft pillow top layer for enhanced comfort. Pillow top mattresses contain materials like cotton, wool, down, fiberfill, memory foam, or latex foam. Although pillow top mattresses have a plushness, the top layer is thin and may not provide enough cushioning.
Types of Innerspring Coils
There are different types of coils used in spring mattresses. The number of coils inside your mattress impacts the support and longevity of your bed. Typically, queen size innerspring beds should have around 400 coils.
A higher coil count does not necessarily mean better mattress quality. Low coil count mattresses have thicker coils that make your bed feel extra-firm. Moreover, mattresses with lower amounts of coils typically last longer because thicker springs wear out slowly over time.
Hourglass coils are the most common coils used to manufacture innerspring mattresses. There are two types of hourglass coils—Bonnell and offset coils.
Bonnell coils are associated with older innerspring mattresses, and they are inexpensive to make. Offset coils are found in more expensive high-quality mattresses. Furthermore, the shape of offset coils is different from Bonnell coils.
Though both have an hourglass shape, offset coils are flat at the bottom. This design allows the mattress to conform to the body better. Additionally, offset coils do not make as much noise as Bonnells do when you move around in bed.
Pocketed coils are more innovative than hourglass coils. Each coil is seperately enclosed or wrapped in a fabric, which allows them to move independently. Beds with pocketed coils offer superior support because the coils respond to pressure individually, minimizing motion transfer for less disruptive sleep.
Continuous coils feature an s-shaped design used to construct an entire row of springs. They provide firm support but are not ideal for shaping the curves of your body. Additionally, continuous coils do not provide adequate motion isolation for sleepers.
Benefits of Innerspring Mattresses
Innerspring mattresses are a more budget-friendly option, and for this reason, many people use them as guest bedrooms to keep visitors comfortable. Since these beds are constructed with coils, they provide good airflow to keep you cool throughout the night.
Innersprings are usually quite firm and a good choice for stomach sleepers. Also, innerspring beds are more responsive than memory foam. Purchasing a mattress with springy support could make it easier to climb in and out of bed or switch sleeping positions.
Drawbacks of Innerspring Mattresses
One of the biggest downsides of a spring bed is premature sagging. There are fewer layers between your body and the coil system, so the pressure of your body might cause your bed to sag faster than other mattress types.
A common complaint among those with innerspring beds is that they are too firm. Innerspring mattresses have a thin comfort layer, and it provides minimal contouring and cushioning for your body.
Memory Foam vs Innerspring: Which Mattress is Better?
Memory foam and innerspring mattresses both offer good support and comfort. However, these beds have distinct qualities to provide a good night of rest. Below, we outline which mattress is best for your specific sleep needs.
Best Durability: Memory Foam
Memory foam beds are more durable than innerspring beds. An innerspring mattress may sag or sink just after a couple of years of use, while memory foam mattresses can last up to ten years. Keep in mind, the lifespan of a mattress depends on the quality of materials and how well you take care of your bed.
Best Airflow: Innerspring
Since innerspring mattresses have a coiled support system, it’s easier for air to circulate through them. Some memory foam brands have models with gel or plant-based foam to keep sleepers cooler. However, these mattresses with cooling features are a bit more expensive and often do not keep you as cool as other mattress options like latex or hybrid mattresses.
Best for Pressure Relief: Memory Foam
Memory foam mattresses excel at minimizing pressure points and preventing pain. This foam conforms to the shape of your body and offers great lumbar support.
Innerspring beds do not have as much cushioning as memory foam beds. They are usually not the best choice for side sleepers since the surface is firm. More people are choosing hybrid beds over traditional innerspring mattresses for pressure relief.
Best for Motion Isolation: Memory Foam
Although pocked coil systems have improved motion transfer in innerspring beds, memory foam beds are still better at reducing movement.
Spring beds are likely to bounce when you move around at night and may cause disruptions if you’re sleeping with a partner. Couples should purchase memory foam mattresses because they absorb movement, so you probably won’t notice if your partner gets up in the middle of the night.
Best Budget-Friendly Option: Innerspring
If your budget is tight, you might want to purchase an innerspring mattress because they are more affordable than memory foam beds.
Some memory foam options are budget-friendly, but they might be made with cheaper materials. It’s best to steer clear of purchasing cheap memory foam because it may be thin, causing your bed to sag or sink.
Best for Responsiveness: Innerspring
Most people with memory foam beds enjoy the feeling of sinking into their bed, while others compare this feeling to lying in quicksand.
Memory foam beds lack responsiveness, so it might be difficult for you to get comfortable on one if you frequently switch positions while asleep. Innerspring beds are bouncy, and some sleepers prefer this traditional feel over plush memory foam beds.
Do memory foam mattresses get softer with use?
Memory foam mattresses get softer after 7-60 nights of continuous use. During the first couple of nights, the fibers adapt to your unique body shape, body weight, and dominant sleeping position. Usually, within the first 7-nights is when you’ll see the most amount of softening.
Can you use a memory foam mattress right away?
Once you receive a new memory foam mattress, it is best to open it immediately. Typically, it takes 4-6 hours for the memory foam to expand 90% and could take another 4-6 hours to get to full expansion.
We recommend you wait at least 24 hours before sleeping on a memory foam mattress. If you cannot wait this long, allot 8-12 hours for your mattress to expand for a good night’s rest.
Do innerspring beds need a box spring?
Most modern mattresses do not require a box spring. Newer innerspring models are placed on platform beds, solid or slatted foundations. Box springs are usually only used with older innerspring mattresses to maintain support.
Memory foam mattresses need a mattress foundation with a solid base or a bed frame with slats no more than 3 inches apart.
How long should an innerspring mattress last?
A quality innerspring mattress should last at least 7 to 10 years. However, the lifespan of a mattress varies from person to person. Contributing factors like body weight and how well you take care of your mattress will affect the life of your mattress.
Is an innerspring mattress good for back pain?
Innerspring mattresses can be a good choice for back pain sufferers. They are usually firmer than memory foam or hybrid mattresses and offer extra responsive support to help with spinal alignment that alleviates back pain.
It’s worth mentioning innerspring beds do not cradle or hug your body, and are not the best for maximum pressure point relief.
Both memory foam and innerspring mattresses offer different variations of support, durability, and cooling technologies.
Memory foam mattresses are an excellent option for sleepers looking for maximum pressure point relief. On the other hand, innerspring mattresses tend to be better for individuals who prefer a more responsive bed with firm support.
As you are browsing for your new mattress, look at mattress reviews. Reading reviews will give you a better idea of your mattress before you make a purchase. Also, take advantage of your company’s sleep trial, so you’re confident you purchased the right mattress.
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.