Updated December 26, 2020Innerspring, hybrid, memory foam, latex— your options on the mattress market continue to grow. On the one hand, you’ve got the opportunity to find a mattress that uniquely suits your individual preferences and needs. On the other, with so many choices, it’s hard to know where to start or how to narrow down your options.To help you, we’ve put together this mattress comparison of hybrid and memory foam mattresses. We’ll go over what they are, their pros and cons, and what type of sleeper finds them the most comfortable.What is a Hybrid Mattress?Hybrids have foam comfort and transition layers with an innerspring support core. A hybrid may have memory foam, poly-foam, or a latex foam top layer combined with another foam transition layer. Foams of all kinds —memory, latex, and poly-foam— contour and conform to the sleeper’s shape. By combining the responsiveness and breathability of innersprings with the conformability and contouring of foam, hybrids can be responsive and cooling while supporting and relieving pressure throughout the body.Foams adapt to sleeper shapes based on the foam’s structure and density. Rather than flexing to relieve pressure like coils, foams stretch and conform based on their response to pressure and body heat. Mixing and matching the foam layers gives each hybrid a unique feel and response to movement.Hybrids have a metal coil support system, much like an innerspring mattress. Each of the four types of coils —Bonnell, continuous, offset, pocketed— has a slightly different structure and feel, which changes the overall feel of the mattress as well. Bonnell coils, for example, with their traditional hourglass shape are inexpensive, but their interconnected design tends to transfer motion across the surface of the mattress.Pocketed coils have a uniform width from top to bottom and, because they’re wrapped in their own “pocket” of fabric, are not interconnected. The coils flex independently of each other so less movement transfers across the mattress. Pocketed coils flex at high-pressure points, taking the pressure off of the hips, shoulders, and back. No matter the coil type, coil support systems tend to have firmer support and higher responsiveness to sleeper movement.Hybrid mattresses have the conformability and cushioning of their foam top layers and the support and responsiveness of their coil type. They can have a firmness that lands anywhere on the firmness scale from soft to firm.Combo sleepers, who may move through many sleep positions in one night, often appreciate the cushioning and support of a hybrid. The responsiveness of the mattress gives the sleeper comfortable contouring even as they change positions.However, side and back sleepers can also find comfort on a hybrid. Side sleepers will need a model with plenty of cushioning foam layers while both side and back sleepers benefit from models with zoned coil support systems. A zoned system has thicker, firmer coils in some areas like the lower back versus thinner coils at the shoulders where the body needs pressure relief rather than stiff support.What is a Memory Foam Mattress?Memory foam’s ability to adapt to the shape of each individual sleeper has made it popular in mattresses since the 90s. This unique foam has viscoelastic properties best demonstrated by pressing your hand into its surface. After removing your hand, you’ll find the impression and shape of your palm and fingers remain behind until the foam slowly moves back into its original shape. The ability to stretch and conform allows the memory foam to relieve pressure around the curves of the sleeping body.Memory foam starts as polyurethane foam. Once the poly-foam has undergone a special manufacturing process using chemicals and sometimes plant-based oils, it then stretches and conforms when under pressure and heat. Its slow response to movement makes memory foam look like it holds the “memory” of the shape of the object that was once on its surface. If heat or pressure persists or increases the memory foam stretches and deepens its contouring.Memory foam mattresses contain memory foams of several densities. The comfort and transition layers usually have softer memory foams. These foams have open-cell structures and infusions of copper, graphite, or gel to dissipate heat. The firmer memory foams make up the durable support cores.Memory foam mattresses may have one or more poly-foam transition or support layers. Layer order, thickness, and density determine the mattress’s firmness level. Memory foam mattresses can also be found in every firmness category from soft to firm.As sleepers change positions, memory foam mattresses contour to the shape of their bodies. Memory foam’s ability to relieve pressure as the sleeper stays in a single position makes them excellent mattresses for side sleepers. The shoulders and hips are common pain points, but memory foam continues to deepen its conformability the longer the sleeper stays in one position.Memory foam works for back sleepers because they get contouring and support in the lower back and shoulders. Stomach sleepers typically need a firmer memory foam mattress than back or side sleepers to prevent the hips from sinking into the bed. However, there are models specifically made for this purpose.Hybrid vs. Memory Foam: Strengths and WeaknessesYour comfort will vary based on your dominant sleep position, weight, and personal comfort preferences. However, we wanted to give a breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of these two types of mattresses to help you determine if they might be the right fit for you.Hybrid Mattress StrengthsResponsiveness Coil support systems, like those found in hybrid mattresses, improve responsiveness to sleeper movement. That reduces the time it takes for foams to bounce back into place. For that reason, hybrids are a good option for those who don’t like sink too deeply into their bed.Temperature RegulationThe comfort and transition layers of hybrid mattresses have cooling technologies like infusions or swirls of gel, copper, or graphite. Those technologies cool a typical memory foam mattress as well, but when coupled with the open spaces around the coils of a hybrid model, there’s even more opportunity for air and heat to circulate. The improved airflow around the coils generally makes a hybrid cooler than a memory foam mattress.SupportHybrids typically have a firmer sleep surface due to the coils in their support systems. That’s not always true since there are some firm memory foam mattresses and soft hybrids. However, when we’re talking in broad generalities, mattresses with coils tend to be firmer even if they fall in the same firmness category as a memory foam mattress.Hybrids are often designed with thicker, stiffer coils at the edges to increase edge support and prevent sagging. Some memory foam models may have dense poly-foam at the edges for the same reason.Hybrid Mattress WeaknessMotion IsolationContinuous, Bonnell, and offset coils transfer motion, which can be a problem for couples. Because they are not interconnected, pocketed coils transfer less motion. And, hybrids transfer less motion than an innerspring model. However, even with pocketed coils, you’re likely still feel more movement from a partner on a hybrid than you would on a memory foam mattress.Sound AbsorptionHybrids aren’t as silent as a memory foam mattress even though their foam layers will absorb some sound. Over time, as the coils weaken and break down, the potential for noise and motion transfer increases.Memory Foam Mattress StrengthsConformability and ContouringAll-night comfort depends on keeping the spine in a neutral position (a relatively straight line from the head to the tailbone). Memory foam’s ability to conform and contour helps keep the spine aligned while relieving pressure at the shoulders, hips, and back. It may have a slower response than coils, but it continues to conform and relieve pressure as a sleeper stays in a single position or moves throughout the night.Motion IsolationFoam naturally absorbs motion. Couples will find they hardly notice a restless partner because the memory foam prevents movement from transferring across the mattress.Sound AbsorptionInnerspring mattresses may squeak or make noise in response to sleeper movement. Memory foam absorbs and reduces sound just as it does motion. Not are you only looking forward to a motionless night’s rest on a memory foam mattress, you’re also looking at a silent one.HypoallergenicMattresses can be a natural collection point for dust mites, dust, and other allergens. Memory foam is naturally resistant to all of them, making memory foam a great hypoallergenic option.Memory Foam WeaknessesTemperature RegulationMemory foam mattresses were traditionally known for trapping body heat. Without some design intervention and the right formula, they can cause warm sleep. However, memory foam mattress manufacturers use a variety of cooling technologies.They may infuse the memory foam with gel, copper, or graphite to absorb and pull heat away from the sleeper. Other memory foams are made with enlarged individual cells to create more space for heat to escape. Memory foam mattresses can potentially trap heat more readily than a hybrid, but a memory foam mattress can be cool with the right combination of structure and technology.ResponsivenessMemory foam is slow to respond to sleeper movement. Your body impression stays on the surface of the mattress, which can leave some sleepers feeling trapped or stuck.Edge SupportMemory foam mattresses may lack edge support. The foam conforms to your shape when you sit on the bed, which can lead to sinkage and eventual breakdown at the edge. Denser foam around the mattress’s edge is sometimes used to counteract this problem. However, without some intervention, a memory foam mattress may be more prone to breakdown at the bed’s edge.Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat’s better, hybrids or memory foam mattresses?This ultimately comes down to personal preference. Hybrids combine the cushion of foam layers with the bounce of innersprings, where memory foam mattresses have a more cradling, “cloud-like” feel. Memory foam mattresses are also longer-lasting than hybrids, but only by a year or so. Choosing between the two comes down to how you want your bed to feel.What is a memory foam hybrid mattress?Memory foam hybrid mattresses are hybrids with memory foam in the comfort layers, and latex hybrid mattresses are hybrids with latex in the comfort layer.Are hybrid mattresses any good?Of course! Hybrids contain a blend of high-quality materials to boost your night’s rest. With anything, though, there’s cheaper models and more expensive models. We suggest avoiding hybrids less than $500 because they’re probably poor quality and not worth the money. With a little research, you can find a well-built hybrid that’s well worth the investment.Are hybrid mattresses good for back pain?Yes, hybrid mattresses can ease back pain because they have pressure-relieving foam layers. That said, we usually recommend memory foam beds for people seeking the best mattress for back pain. Memory foam offers better contouring and pressure relief to ease aches and discomfort. They’re also firm enough to nurture a healthy spine.Should side sleepers have a hybrid or memory foam mattress?Side sleepers can achieve comfortable sleep on both hybrid and memory foam beds as long as they find a mattress that’s compatible with their sleep style and body type. Both hybrids and memory foam beds come in a variety of firmness options, so you can find one to suit your unique needs rather easily.Hybrid vs. Memory Foam Mattress: The Bottom LineHybrid and memory foam mattresses can both provide a comfortable night’s rest. As you’re searching for a mattress, think about your circumstances and preferences. Do you share a bed with a partner? Do you get hot at night? Are you a back, side, stomach, or combo sleeper? As you’re comparing mattress types, remember:Memory foam mattresses relieve pressure and contour to your body’s high-pressure points. A memory foam mattress with the right support and firmness can relieve pressure to reduce aches and pains due to medical conditions or the general pain that comes with aging. If you need a mattress for back pain relief, choose memory foam.Couples may benefit from the sound and motion absorption of memory foam. Those with a restless partner may find they’re finally able to rest when their partner’s movements aren’t jarring the bed.Hybrid mattresses offer better breathability and temperature regulation.Hybrid mattresses balance conformability, support, and responsiveness. They’re good mattresses for couples with sleepers who have different comfort preferences. If one likes firmer support and another likes deep contouring, a hybrid gives them the best of both worlds.Sleep position, body weight, temperature preferences— there’s a long list of factors that determine whether or not a mattress feels comfortable to you. Usually, with a serious look at what you want out of your mattress and what feels good to you, you’ll be able to narrow down your options until you find a model that lets you get a full night’s rest.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. 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