If you’re looking for a new mattress, it’s likely that you’ve come across two main choices: a memory foam mattress or a spring mattress. And like many of us, you might be unfamiliar with their differences and variations, and how they impact your sleep, and even your long-term health.
It’s tempting to go for the mattress that looks the comfiest to lie on, but there’s so much more to the decision than that. Let’s take a look at the differences between memory foam and spring mattresses, so you can find the best option for you.
What Is Memory Foam?
Instead of using springs, a memory foam mattress relies on tiny pockets of air to produce support through varying layers of foam.
For the most part, mattress foams fall into two broad categories: polyfoam and memory foam. The two are close cousins, but memory foam has a higher viscosity than polyfoam.
Memory foam itself is the conforming, moldable substance that is typically used as the top layer of most foam mattresses for a customised, enveloping feel. This is why foam mattresses must be constructed with layers of varying density. Most are constructed with a high-density foam base layer that’s designed to mimic the stability provided by coils in an innerspring mattress.
Typically, a memory foam mattress consists of two to four layers, all ranging in different heights and densities.
What’s The Best Type Of Memory Foam Mattress?
The thickness and composition of mattress foam will determine how a memory foam mattress feels. For example, a taller mattress can feel more plush, as additional foam layers allow sleepers to sink further into the mattress, achieving more of that cradled, moulded effect.
Different foam densities and their structures will also change the feel of a mattress. Check out our bestselling Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress, which features pressure relieving foam infused with green tea and moisture absorbing ActivCharcoal.
Some designs also offer special features to help you sleep better, like our Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress, which is infused with a unique gel foam that resists body heat.
Memory Foam Mattress Pros and Cons
- Provides a more cushioned feel that surrounds and ‘hugs’ the body
- Offers excellent pressure relief for the back and joints
- Resists motion transfer
- Foam is sensitive to heat, and extreme temperatures can affect the firmness level
- Initial off-gassing or ‘new foam’ scent is bothersome to some people
- Due to its slow, conforming nature, the ease of movement between sleeping positions can be limited
Who Can Benefit From A Memory Foam Mattress?
Some people will benefit more from a memory foam mattress than others, such as:
- Joint pain sufferers
- Side sleepers
- Couples who have trouble getting a restful night’s sleep
- Those who prefer a cradled-like-a-baby feel
As it was initially designed as a substance that could mould itself to the changing body shapes of astronauts experiencing changes in gravitational force, it’s no surprise that memory foam is most famous for its ability to alleviate pressure points and achieve proper spinal alignment through its moldability.
For those looking for relief or who sleep in positions that require additional support, considering a memory foam mattress is a no-brainer.
The Spring Mattress: Not Just For Grandmas
A spring mattress is sometimes seen as a bit of an old-fashioned option, and it’s often referred to as ‘traditional’ in structure, but mattress coil technology has come a long way from where it once began.
Today, most spring mattresses feature a series of continuous or individually separated coils, encased in a fibrous or foam layer. This basic structure is found throughout all spring mattresses, but not all are created equal. The type of coil inside your spring mattress can determine all kinds of factors, like durability, firmness, and level of motion isolation (in other words, your chances of waking up when your partner or pet is squirming around).
There are different types of spring mattress, including:
Open Coil Structure Spring Mattresses
Mattresses with an open coil structure consist of a network of metal springs that are all connected to one another. This intertwined configuration will affect your comfort in the following ways:
- Resistance to motion transfer
- The level of contouring support
- ‘Bounce’ factor
In a domino effect, pressure applied to one continuous coil will have an influence on the springs around it.
An open coil structure mattress is an ideal choice If you sleep solo or prefer a less reactive feel. Our Mint Green Spring Mattress checks all of these boxes, and comes complete with a soft, viscolatex foam top for enhanced comfort.
Pocket Spring Mattresses
Independent coils (also known as pocket springs or encased springs) are each individually wrapped in fabric, allowing them to move independently of one another. This structure moulds to the body in a similar way to a memory foam mattress, providing excellent support and pressure relief.
Pocket springs are also known for their ability to reduce motion transfer, making a pocket spring mattress an ideal choice for couples or co-sleeping families. For a pocket spring design with substantial support and pillowy comfort, our Cooling Copper Adaptive Hybrid Mattress is a sure bet.
The coil count is another feature to consider with a spring mattress. Although the ideal number of coils a mattress should have is debatable, there are minimum coil counts that will ensure longevity and may improve overall support.
Spring Mattress Pros and Cons
- Better ventilation and air-flow, aided by the empty space between coils
- A bouncy, reactive feel
- Generally offers better edge support for sitting, and getting in and out of bed
- Spring mattresses can be susceptible to a build-up of allergens and dander
- Plush varieties are harder to come by
- Open coil structures are not ideal for couples or multiple sleepers
Who Can Benefit From A Spring Mattress?
Although the law of personal preference dictates that anyone could enjoy sleeping on a spring mattress, there are a few types of people that tend to benefit most from them, including:
- Back pain sufferers
- Back sleepers
- Big and tall sleepers
- Hot sleepers
- Those who appreciate a mattress with a bouncy feel
Generally speaking, the name of the game with this design is support. Coils tend to provide a firmer foundation, which is typically preferred by back pain sufferers and back sleepers. This is not to say that soft spring mattresses do not exist, but if you feel suffocated by a plush, cloud-like mattress that cradles your shape like a baby, you’re probably better suited to sleep on a spring mattress. And if you like to jump on the bed, a spring mattress has that bounce-back quality that is more likely to send you to the moon.
What About Hybrid Mattresses?
For those who see the benefits of both spring and memory foam, we hear you, and an in-between option does exist: the hybrid mattress.
A hybrid mattress is a magical combination of the two, featuring an innerspring base and a memory foam top. Marrying together the best of both worlds, a hybrid mattress can provide bouncy, durable support, as well as enveloping, contoured comfort.
Hybrids are an excellent choice for those transitioning from one type to another, or if you’re looking to upgrade your worn-out innerspring mattress with a more luxurious version. The Zinus Cooling Copper Adaptive Hybrid Mattress is one of our favourites.
Memory Foam Mattress vs Spring Mattress: Which Comes Out On Top?
To name a winner in the spring vs memory foam mattress debate would be unrealistic, not to mention unfair to the individual benefits of each.
Although research and analysis of the pros and cons of different mattress materials is helpful, personal preference is equally important to consider. For many people, the enveloping feel of memory foam is simply a turn off. And for others, the bouncy quality of innersprings is uncomfortable and too reactive for a peaceful sleeping experience.
Human beings are like snowflakes; each body is unique in shape, size, and condition, and one type of mattress will never be able to cater to every specific individual.
That’s why at Zinus, we offer a variety of memory foam, spring, and hybrid models designed with different needs in mind, whether you wake up sweating like you’ve just run a marathon or wince with aches and pains when the alarm goes off. Creating a mattress for everybody, and every body, will always be top of mind for us.