You don’t realize how many different types of mattresses there are until you walk through a mattress store. You’ll find row after row with several different types and various levels of firmness. Some are made from memory foam, others innerspring, and some with a little bit of both.
If you're looking for a new mattress, you need to know what’s out there and the pros and cons of each. Consider this blog your mattress guide. We’ll cover all the must-know details on the 8 most common mattress types so that you can pick the perfect mattress for you!
This is often what most people think of when they think of a mattress. Innerspring mattresses have been a popular choice for decades and remain the most popular choice today. Though the coils were invented in 1857, they weren’t used in a mattress until an inventor named Heinrich Westphal created the innerspring mattress in 1871. As the name suggests, they contain a spring system made up of steel coils.
Your traditional innerspring mattress will have a foundation that provides support for these coils. The springs are housed in the middle of the mattress and determine how comfortable and supportive the mattress will be. When buying an inner spring mattress, you want more coils, and you want them to be thicker. When you lay down on an innerspring mattress, the coils compress so sparse and weak coils will cause the mattress to sink which may cause back pain.
On top of these coils, you have a comfort layer. This may be made of fiber, foam, or even feature a feather top to provide extra comfort on top of the coils. Over time these coils can weaken, and they won’t have the same bounce they used to. This is one of the biggest cons to an innerspring mattress. When they no longer provide enough support, they will create pressure points, make creaking sounds, and feel uncomfortable. So, although this is one of the cheapest options to buy new, it won’t last forever, and you may need to replace it sooner than other mattress types.
- Memory Foam
Memory foam mattresses, like their pillow counterparts, are another popular choice. Memory foam is a unique material that forms to your body. As it contours to your body, it can feel cozy, relieving pressure. One of the best features of these types of mattresses is the low motion transfer. This means that if you have a partner that tosses and turns all night, you are much less likely to feel them moving on a memory foam mattress.
If you have a buckwheat pillow and prefer firmer support from both your pillow and your mattress, you may not like these mattresses. Memory foam doesn’t provide the same level of firmness you can get from other types. Instead, it has a softer, more cushy feeling. Further, they can provide off-gas. This means the material can emit chemicals with a particular odor which could trigger headaches in those sensitive.
Some love the feeling of being enveloped into their mattress, where others hate it. If you roll around a lot and move when you sleep, you may find it difficult to get comfy in this type of mattress.
Latex mattresses are a natural fiber (which I’ll touch on next) that deserves special mention. These mattresses have many benefits – they are affordable, made using natural resources, and are very durable. This is also why shredded latex pillows are so popular!
To make latex, a thick sap is extracted from trees and then whipped. It is then baked to create its form. With Talalay latex, it is formed into columns, so air can travel easily through it, increasing breathability. This makes latex mattresses one of the coolest options – perfect for hot sleepers! Latex mattresses don’t require flipping or rotation and are long-lasting. This does come at a cost, however, as they are often more expensive.
- Natural Fiber
Natural fiber mattresses have increased in popularity over recent years, with new brands establishing glowing reputations on social media. This is because more people are prioritizing natural materials in their household goods, including bedding.
If you use a pillow with natural filling, like a buckwheat pillow, you likely want your mattress filling to be natural as well. There are plenty of benefits to natural filling, like being hypoallergenic, more breathable, and free of toxins or chemicals. These mattresses can be made of organic wool, cotton, hemp, latex, bamboo, or coconut coir.
When buying a natural fiber mattress, you need to do your research. Many mattresses marketed as such only contain between 1 – 3% natural fibers that are blended with cheaper materials. The feel of these mattresses isn’t for everyone either. If you are used to an innerspring mattress, transitioning to a natural fiber mattress can be difficult. Due to the cost of the materials, these mattresses often cost more. So, if a natural, more organic option is important to you, you’ll have to pay for it!
With a hybrid mattress, you are getting the best of both. Though you can find different combinations, most hybrids combine innerspring with another material like an innerspring x latex hybrid. With these mattresses, you’ll have an innerspring core that is topped with latex. As a result, you can receive the support and firmness of a spring with the comfort and breathability of a latex mattress.
Another popular hybrid option is foam and latex. With these mattresses, the core is foam with latex on top. These are designed more for people who stay in one sleeping position all night.
Alternatively, you can find innerspring mattresses with a few inches of memory foam on top. These mattresses feel different and will also range in firmness, so it is best to try one out in a showroom before buying.
- Adjustable Beds
We did a deep dive into adjustable beds on our blog a while back (check out Adjustable Beds: Are They Worth It), but we’ll do a quick run-through here as well. These beds can be relatively simple or super high-tech. Technically, they are more of a bedframe than a mattress, but an adjustable bed can’t use any mattress and must use one that can bend (e.g. not innerspring).
With a remote, you can adjust the position of your back and feet, the level of firmness, and add a massage feature! As you can expect, these are very expensive, and the more features you have, the more pricey they get!
Though they had a huge moment in the 90s, they’ve been around since the early 1800s! A Scottish physician designed the mattress to help his patients overcome bedsores. Some still believe these beds ease back pain and prevent aches and pains. They are also adjustable, and in some cases, you can adjust the firmness and temperature.
Waterbeds aren’t for everyone and can make sleep impossible for some. They are also more high maintenance and can be expensive. If your waterbed is temperature-controlled, you may use a lot of hydro, causing your electricity bill to increase, and you’re always at risk for puncture and flooding!
These have a reputation for being plush and luxurious. A pillow top is a layer of soft material designed to add comfort. It is often applied on top of an innerspring mattress and filled with cotton, fiber, latex, wool, memory foam, or foam. A quality pillowtop mattress will keep its shape, bounce back quickly and last some time. However, depending on the firmness of the innerspring, they could feel too soft for some and because of their luxurious rep, they have a higher price tag.
Which mattress is best for sleep?
There is no easy answer to which mattress is best. Just think of your pillow - you may like a buckwheat pillow and your partner may like a latex pillow. The same applies to your mattress and you may both prefer different types. Having different preferences for pillows is quickly resolved, but what do you do when you and your partner prefer different mattresses?
Unfortunately, half and half mattresses aren’t as common as they should be. Though they are seen in many showrooms, they are considered “custom items” and can sometimes be made on request but cost as much as two mattresses. For a cheaper solution, you can meet in the middle or try a firmer mattress with a softer, thicker pillow top.
Regardless of the mattress you choose, pay attention to the maintenance instructions provided by the manufacture. For example, some mattresses need to be flipped while others shouldn’t.