If you have spent some time looking for a new one, you have probably noticed that memory foam and hybrid are two terms that often come up. But if you are not familiar with mattress lingo, these descriptors can leave you with more questions than answers. They both sound comfortable, but which one is right for you?
The answer depends on several factors, such as your sleeping style, yourand if you sleep alone or with someone or something else (big dog, anyone?). If you are overwhelmed by all the choices, I have streamlined things for you by breaking down the pros and cons of each type of mattress and how you can decide.
What is a memory foam mattress?
Mattresses with memory foam are made of polyurethane, which was originally created for NASA, but has since developed into one of the most common materials used in furniture. Traditional memory foam, which is the kind you see in advertising where someone presses their hand into a mattress and leaves a slowly disappearing imprint, has a dense structure without much space for air. There are also open-cell memory foams and gel-infused memory foams, which have more advanced cooling technology.
Mattresses with genuine memory foam contain only foam ̵1; no springs or other internal structures – although there may be several layers of different types of foam. Regardless of the type of foam used, memory foam mattresses are known for their “slow sinks” – or how they slowly compress under your weight when you lie down on them.
Benefits of memory foam mattresses
They are malleable and contour your body
Mattresses with memory foam use your body heat to shape to your actual shape and hug you in all the right places. The heat helps to soften the fibers in the memory foam so that it becomes smooth and you sink into it.
They are good for pain relief
Because memory foam contours your exact shape, it helps relieve pressure on the shoulders, back and hips and keeps the spine properly aligned. This pressure relief can help reduce the pain, especially for side sleep, who usually need to give more in their mattresses to feel comfortable.
There is almost no motion transfer
Have you ever seen the commercials where someone puts a glass of red wine on the mattress and starts jumping around it, and miraculously, nothing wastes? These commercials are intended to show how well mattresses with memory foam absorb movement and prevent movement transmission. This is perfect if you are sleeping with a partner – or a really big dog – who throws and turns a lot, because you will not feel these movements on your side of the mattress. However, I do not recommend trying the wine trick at home.
They can be allergy friendly
Memory foam has a dense structure that is difficult for allergens, such as dust, mites and mold, to penetrate. Due to this, allergens do not build up in the mattresses as they do with other materials.
They are more budget friendly
Some memory foam mattresses can be quite expensive, but as a general rule, they are usually cheaper than hybrid mattresses or advanced spring mattresses. If you are looking for comfort with a tighter budget, this may be the best choice for you.
They are practically silent
Since there are no coils or other metal structures inside a memory foam mattress, they do not make any noise at all. Other mattresses may not necessarily be high when you first get them, but the springs may break over time and start whining. This does not happen with memory foam.
Disadvantages of memory foam
They can get really hot
Because memory foam mattresses absorb your body heat, they can get really hot. This can make things really cozy if you tend to get cold while you sleep, but it can get sweaty quickly if you are a sleeper.
They do not have much sensitivity
Due to its slow sink, memory foam takes some time to adjust as you move it. It will eventually contour your body no matter what position you are in, but the answer is not automatically as with hybrid mattresses or inner spring mattresses.
They do not have much lifespan
Because memory foam mattresses do not have coils or any other structural support system, they can hang over time, especially if you always tend to lie down in the same place. After a few years, you may notice that your mattress has an indentation that does not disappear. The good news is that many mattress companies offer guarantees for this and if the saga reaches a certain depth, they will replace the mattress for you.
They are hard to get out of
Because you sink into memory foam and the material wraps around you, it can be difficult to get in and out of bed, especially if you have mobility problems. This can also complicate night activities with your partner, as there is no bounce.
They lack edge-to-edge support
Memory foam does not have the best edge-to-edge support. When you put weight on the edge of the bed, it dips and sinks quite easily. If you like sleeping on the side of your bed, you may feel it cave in and you will roll it off.
What is a hybrid mattress?
Hybrid mattresses are a combination of two different mattress structures. The main goal with hybrid mattresses is to bring some of the old school into modern times by stacking inner spring coils with a comfort layer that is made of memory foam, latex and / or polyfoam. If you are not a big fan of the sinking feeling that comes with memory foam mattresses, hybrid mattresses are a great compromise.
They still provide the softness that comes with memory foam, but the coils offer additional support and the bounce that you get with a traditional mattress.
Advantages of hybrid mattresses
The coils increase the air flow and prevent the mattress from sticking to excess heat. Many hybrid mattresses are also equipped with cooling technology that can help keep the temperature down while you sleep. If you tend to get hot and sweaty at night, hybrid mattresses can keep things cooler.
They are supportive and sustainable
Spools can handle heavier weights and provide additional support that you do not get with memory foam mattresses. This is especially useful if you sleep on your back or stomach. Because spools can handle heavier weight, hybrid mattresses can handle more wear and tear and tend to last longer than memory foam.
They have improved response
Hybrid mattresses have more support structures than memory foam mattresses, so they adapt more easily to different sleeping positions and adjust quickly when you move positions in the middle of the night. They also do not have the same “slow sinks” that memory foam mattresses have, so they adjust faster when you throw and turn at night.
They have a luxurious feel of high quality
Hybrid mattresses are designed for comfort and luxury, so many people find them more comfortable than memory foam mattresses, especially if you prefer to sleep on top of your mattress rather than sink into it.
There is a wider range of options
With memory foam mattresses, you get pretty much what you get, but when it comes to hybrid mattresses, there are many different layer combinations, so it’s easier to find something that suits you.
Disadvantages of hybrid mattresses
They are not so good with motion transmission
Inner springs are notorious for movement transfer – or movement that spreads from one part of the mattress to another. If you sleep with a partner who throws and turns a lot, you feel the bounce more with a hybrid mattress than with memory foam.
They can get noisy
Because the coils in a hybrid mattress break over time, they can become noisy and creaky, which is not a huge deal, but it can be difficult during night activities with your partner if you have a roommate or child living in the house.
They are more expensive
This is not always true, but as a rule, hybrid mattresses are more expensive than memory foam. Because they are more durable, you can actually get more out of them before it’s time for a new mattress, but you must be willing to spend a little more in advance.
Which one should you choose?
Mattresses are about compromises, and there is no definitive answer as to whether to choose a memory foam mattress or a hybrid mattress. Everyone has their own merits, but I have compiled some checklists to make the decision a little easier for you.
You may want to try a memory foam mattress if:
- You’re a side sleeper.
- You stay in one position all night.
- You like to sink into your mattress.
- You have allergies.
- You’re a cool sleeper.
- You want to save some money.
You may want to try a hybrid mattress if:
- You throw and turn at night.
- You do not want to sink into your mattress.
- You are plus size or heavier than average.
- You’re a hot sleeper.
- You are sleeping with someone else and you are looking for a compromise.
- Budget is not a problem.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health problem.