Sleep is an important part of our lives, occupying a significant portion of our daily routine. Our sleep quality has a profound impact on our physical and mental well-being. When it comes to enhancing the quality of sleep, there are many things that can be done, but your choice of mattress is one of the most important aspects to look into.
While there are many different types of mattresses to choose from in the market today, the debate between memory foam and innerspring mattresses has raged on for years, with passionate advocates on both sides. The question is, which mattress type is right for you?
In this article, we will discuss the two mattress types, exploring the unique characteristics and benefits of memory foam and innerspring options. By the end of this article, you will better understand what each of them offers and make an informed decision to ensure that your nights will be filled with restorative and comfortable sleep.
What are Memory Foam Mattresses?
Memory foam mattresses are made purely of foam, with at least one comfort layer of memory foam. They may feature multiple layers of foam material, but they do not use any metal springs such as those that are found in innerspring and hybrid models. The support cores of memory foam mattresses are usually made up of high-density polyfoam.
Memory foam is sometimes utilized in the comfort layers of hybrid and innerspring mattresses. However, they are not marketed as memory foam mattresses unless they are an all-foam model. The term “memory foam” pertains to viscoelastic polyurethane foam, which is denser and more viscous compared to polyfoam. It has a very unique, soft-yet-supportive feel.
The main selling point of memory foam mattresses is being adaptable. When you lie down on a memory foam mattress, and it meets with body heat and pressure, it will slowly conform to the shape of your body. That is why it has a body-hugging feel.
What are Innerspring Mattresses?
Most mattresses are divided into two sections: the support core, which serves as the bed’s foundation, and the softer comfort system, which is made up of materials that provide cushioning near the surface. Support cores can be made of high-density polyfoam, metal coils, or latex. Depending on the type of mattress, comfort systems can contain cotton, wool, polyfoam, memory foam, latex, and other materials.
Metal coils are used by innerspring beds in their support cores that provide a strong and tough base. Innerspring mattresses, on the other hand, have a relatively small comfort layer, usually approximately 2 inches or less. If the comfort layer is thicker than 2 inches, the mattress is dubbed a hybrid mattress.
For many years, innerspring mattresses have been a popular choice for a lot of people. They are relatively inexpensive to produce, making them a budget-friendly option for homeowners.
Comparing Innerspring and Memory Foam Mattresses
Take a look at the table below to see a comparison between innerspring and memory foam mattresses:
Memory Foam Mattress
Thin – made of fabric or polyfoam
Moderate / sleeps warm
Neutral / sleeps cool
Moderate to high
Low to moderate
Soft and body-hugging with enough contouring
Firm, flat surface with minimal contouring
6 to 7 years
5.5 to 6.5 years
Aside from the design and characteristics of memory foam and innerspring mattresses, they are also different in other aspects.
Both innerspring and memory foam mattresses can give good support to a person’s body. However, they achieve that in different ways. Innerspring mattresses offer more support throughout their surface. Its stiff metal coils can resist compression, creating a supportive, flat surface on which the body can rest.
Memory foam mattresses, on the other hand, allow the body to sink in more, creating a more contoured sleep surface. They are still very supportive, but foam density will influence their supportiveness. Denser foams are more durable and supportive. This will depend on your needs, but most people choose the support and cushion of a medium-density memory foam mattress.
However, for people who are over 230 lbs., innerspring mattresses can provide firmer support, beating memory foam mattresses.
A lot of people feel like they are sleeping “in” memory foam mattresses and “on” innerspring mattresses. It’s because memory foam allows the body to sink into it, providing you with a close-conforming sleep experience. On the other hand, innerspring mattresses tend to feel more even and supportive.
This measures how well a mattress surface adapts to the body of the sleeper. In this factor, memory foam wins as it offers excellent conforming. Once it is exposed to body heat and pressure, it reacts by making an impression on the sleep surface that conforms closely to the body. On the other hand, innerspring mattresses offer a flat, even sleep surface with minimal contouring.
This pertains to the ability of the mattress to maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature. When it comes to this factor, the innerspring mattress wins. It’s because memory foam mattresses allow little room for air to flow around, trapping heat against the body. Also, foam support cores and layers in memory foam mattresses are less breathable, making it difficult for heat to dissipate through the mattress.
When compared to memory foam mattresses, innerspring mattresses offer significantly better ventilation on the surface and through the bed. This means that it provides a cooler sleep experience.
Pressure relief refers to the ability of the mattress to cushion and support the pressure points of the body properly, helping relieve pain and discomfort and promoting proper spinal alignment. When it comes to this factor, memory foam is better than innerspring beds because it is superior in conforming. Innerspring mattresses have thinner comfort layers, and they are also firmer. Therefore, pressure relief is minimal unless sleepers need a firm, sturdy sleep surface.
Lifespan and Durability
Memory foam mattresses endure slightly longer than innerspring mattresses in terms of durability and longevity. There are different factors that may contribute to the lifespan of a mattress. Memory foam mattresses’ density ratings have a huge impact on their lifespan. For innerspring mattresses, their coil design and thickness have the biggest impact on durability.
Factors to Consider When Choosing
Choosing the ideal mattress is not an easy decision. You also need to consider your unique needs and preferences to know whether memory foam or innerspring mattress will give you the best sleep experience. Below are some of the key factors to consider when making a decision:
Your decision mainly depends on your personal preferences. These include your sleeping position, body weight and shape, and temperature sensitivity. For example, if you are a side sleeper, you will need more pressure relief. Back sleepers, on the other hand, need more support for spinal alignment. The weight and shape of your body also affect how a mattress responds to your pressure points. Lastly, if you are sensitive to temperature, you might need a mattress that regulates heat more effectively.
Your budget is a practical factor that can influence your decision. Memory foam and innerspring mattresses come in a wide range of price points, and it’s essential to find a mattress that offers the best balance of features within your budget.
Lifespan and Warranty
Consider the expected lifespan of the mattress and the warranty offered by the manufacturer. Different mattress types have varying durability, and it’s crucial to invest in a mattress that provides value for the long term.
Taking these factors into account will help you make an informed decision when choosing between memory foam and innerspring mattresses. Your goal is to find the mattress that aligns with your unique preferences, ensuring that you wake up each day feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. If you need more information, you may also read our Guide to Picking the Right Mattress for Your Needs.
Making the Decision
Picking the right mattress is a decision that needs careful consideration to ensure your comfort and well-being. Below are some of the steps that you can take when making a decision:
Weigh the Pros and Cons
Review the advantages and disadvantages of memory foam and innerspring mattresses carefully in light of your personal preferences and needs. Consider factors like comfort, support, motion isolation, and temperature regulation.
Consult with a Healthcare Professional
If you have existing medical conditions, such as allergies or chronic back pain, consult with a healthcare professional or specialist to seek their recommendations. They can give valuable insights into which type of mattress might help with your issues.
Try Out Mattresses In-Store
Whenever possible, visit mattress stores to physically test out memory foam and innerspring mattresses. Lie down on different models, spend a few minutes in your preferred sleep positions, and pay attention to how each mattress feels. This hands-on experience can be instrumental in making your final decision.
Read Reviews and Testimonials
Take advantage of the experiences and insights of others by reading customer reviews and testimonials online. Real-world feedback from people who have purchased and used these mattresses can provide a wealth of information about comfort, durability, and overall satisfaction.
If you still can’t decide, you may also read our Guide to Selecting the Right Mattress for more tips and recommendations.
The debate between memory foam and innerspring mattresses has been ongoing for years, and both types offer unique features that cater to different needs and preferences. Selecting the ideal mattress is a highly individualized process. It’s not about following trends or choosing what works for someone else but rather about finding the mattress that aligns with your unique sleep requirements. By carefully evaluating the pros and cons of each mattress type, consulting with healthcare professionals when necessary, trying out mattresses in-store, and seeking insights from fellow consumers, you can confidently make a choice that will contribute to your overall well-being.
Therefore, take your time, consider your needs, and select the mattress that speaks to you on a personal level. We hope this article helped you learn more about memory foam and innerspring mattresses. You may also read our Guide to the Different Types of Mattress Technologies to find out more about what options are available today.