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Mattress Showdown: Memory Foam vs. Hybrid

by Olly Mason

There once was a time when mattresses came in one selection, and in order to find the right one, users would give it a little bounce. Fast-forward to the present, and the mattress industry is so much more than just the spring. While innerspring mattresses are still the most widely available mattress type on the market, trends show more and more buyers are investing in newer mattress options.

Of those, the biggest contenders are memory foam and hybrid mattresses. But what exactly are memory foam and hybrid mattresses, and what are their benefits? We dive into the differences here in this hybrid versus memory foam mattress showdown.

young woman holding pillow in pajamas and eye mask in front of pink background

What is a memory foam mattress?

Composed of super-absorbent polyurethane foam (also called synthetic viscoelastic foam), memory foam mattresses provide soft support that feels like sleeping on a cloud. It makes sense, too, considering memory foam was first developed by NASA for space shuttles.

Since its debut on the market, sleep users have raved about the out-of-this-world comfort memory foam mattresses deliver. So what makes memory foam such a popular mattress type?

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Benefits of a Memory Foam Mattress

For one, memory foam’s open cell structure creates a truly enveloping feel that cradles the body. In other words, users don’t just sleep on the mattress, they sleep in it. And it turns out that very same support is ideal for keeping the hips, back, and neck aligned, which is great news for side sleepers. In fact, the even support is great for pressure relief throughout the whole body, especially joints and muscles.

And while studies have shown memory foam mattresses reduce tossing and turning, with an all-foam construction (that is, no coil springs), memory foam mattresses also shield against motion transfer.

Disadvantages of Memory Foam Mattresses

There is a drawback to the network of cells used in memory foam mattresses, however, and that’s its tendency to trap heat. Though this was more of a major concern with first-generation memory foam mattresses, manufacturers have since then created ways to reduce this side effect, including cooling gel and even infusing the foam with heat-absorbing metals.

And then there’s off-gassing, the distinctive smell of a new memory foam mattress. While studies are still being conducted to fully determine whether off-gassing vapors are harmful or just a nuisance, most experts confirm off-gassing from memory foam is not toxic. Still, it can be a nuisance, with some users experiencing:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Allergy irritation

Additionally, new memory foam mattresses require time to “air out,” which can take several hours. That means, even if you receive a memory foam mattress, you won’t be able to use it until the recommended off-gassing period has passed.

For those sensitive to these symptoms, sleep experts widely recommend looking into purchasing a CertiPUR-US certified memory foam mattress. While they will still be chemically made, these mattresses follow strict guidelines to be able to limit chemical exposure.

What is a hybrid mattress?

It’s hard to resists mentioning Goldilocks when speaking about hybrid mattresses. But with a top layer comprised of foam, latex, or a mixture of the two, plus a strong foundation of innerspring coils at the base, it’s easy to see why many sleepers feel hybrid mattresses are “just right.” So, how do hybrid mattresses compare with memory foam mattresses?

graphic cutaway of hybrid mattress

Benefits of Hybrid Mattress

On top of providing balance, hybrid mattresses can also support more weight than memory foam mattresses, which some users feel can sink too much beneath weight. This is particularly great for couples, or sleepers who require a mattress with extra strength and durability.

But just because hybrid mattress are sturdy, that doesn’t mean they’re not flexible. In fact, thanks to their springs, hybrid mattress provide a similar bounce as traditional innerspring mattresses. This is especially convenient for users who may struggle to hoist themselves out of bed or find the sinking feeling of a memory foam hard to get out from.

The use of innerspring also means hybrid mattresses are better for hot sleepers. Since the base of the mattress is relatively open, air can flow through more easily, meaning hot air doesn’t get trapped, and sleepers don’t get hot.

Disadvantages of Hybrid Mattresses

However, innersprings come with their own set of considerations.

For one, they tend to be noisier than memory foam, so if you or your partner toss and turn during sleep, coils may be an inconvenience.

Secondly, the same bounce they produce is more perceptible to sleep partners, though not as noticeable as an innerspring mattress.

Third, the use of coils makes a hybrid mattress heavier. This won’t be an everyday issue, but come time to move — or even when it’s time to deep-clean the mattress — lifting a hybrid mattress might require the help of another set of hands.

Memory Foam vs. Hybrid

graphic of wooden blocks with yellow check marks on a blue backgroundNow that you’ve read the facts, let’s recap with a quick rundown. 

Mattress Comfort Level

If you like to sleep on a mattress that is plush and soft, opt for a memory foam mattress. For even more comfort, look for memory foam mattress with cooling gel.

If you prefer extra support that isn’t too rigid, consider the balanced feel of a hybrid mattress.

Value

Because hybrid mattresses use more materials, they tend to be pricier than memory foam mattresses. However, the springs in a hybrid mattress also provide extra durability. Typically, a hybrid mattress will last up to six years.

Memory foam mattresses tend to be more affordable than hybrid mattresses, yet might not last as long. On average, a memory foam mattress will last four to six years.

Partner-Friendly

Both memory foam mattresses and hybrid mattresses offer incentives that are particularly great for couples.

With a balanced feel, hybrid mattresses can accommodate to a wider range of sleepers. However, the springs aren’t as effective at absorbing movement.

On the other hand, memory foam mattresses transfer virtually no movement. Still, the polyurethane material can be hot, especially when another person is sleeping in the same bed.

Experience Better Sleep

Whatever your sleep needs, you can explore your options with our wide catalog of mattresses. Whether you start your journey online or come into a location near you to give our selections a bounce, we’re ready to find you a mattress to improve the quality of your sleep. Shop today!

 woman sleeping on a bed of navy blue sheets