When it comes to buying a mattress, one might be thinking between a foam mattress or a spring mattress. There is certainly also the third kind of mattress in the market now called Hybrid mattress which is a combination of the two, and today we will mainly look at the first two types of mattresses to understand their properties to help tailor your needs and make the right mattress choice.
Foam vs spring mattress: what is a foam mattress?
The foam mattress is a recent invention by NASA back in the 1970s. The visco-elastic foam was developed to be used as cushioning for astronauts in space crafts, to offer extra support against the high pressure of the G-force as they rocketed into outer space.
Memory foam was then popularized by Tempur-Pedic. The company made the material a top pick for consumers seeking luxury and comfort since it is a motion-absorbent material that conforms to your body.
The cradling property and even pressure distribution ability are what make memory foam feels fantastic for most people.
The key takeaways are:
- Foam mattresses are made from memory foam, polyfoam, or latex
- They provide excellent pressure relief
- They can be more expensive than spring ones
Supportive – Foam contours to your body to support or ‘cradle’ it holding your posture in the best position for sleep. If you are a side-sleeper then a foam mattress can also be more comfortable.
Responsive – If you apply pressure to foam it bounces back pretty quick, this is ideal for keeping motion transfer to a minimum, important if you share a bed with a restless partner.
Cozy – Foam is excellent at cushioning pressure points and delivering coziness, without compromising on stability.
Foam vs spring mattress: what is a spring mattress?
Spring mattress is a comparatively more traditional mattress, but it does not mean technologically lagging. The feel between the two mattresses is a major difference, the foam ones are more body-conforming and pressure relieving, while spring ones are bouncier.
The basic structure of spring mattresses includes metal coils or springs for support, which are encased in foam, forming the “support layer.” This layer is topped with upholstery forming the “comfort layer.” The layered upholstery ensures that the sleeper doesn’t feel the coils and springs directly under their body, which may lead to discomfort.
The upholstered layer includes a quilted top that determines the mattresses’ plushness and feels. The traditional spring mattress includes various types of foam layers such as fiber pads, quilts, could, and springs.
While the quilted top, foams, and fiber pads contribute to comfort for sleepers, the coil system lends support and promotes airflow within the mattress, enhancing its breathability.
Coil layers of varying densities form the base structure of spring mattresses. Stomach sleepers may benefit from the coil layer because it pushes back, preventing their body from arching unnaturally.
The feel of spring mattresses differs from each other depending on factors like spring type, the thickness of the metal used to make it, spring density, and how they are connected.
The key takeaways are:
- Spring mattresses are a good choice for heavier body weights
- They provide plenty of cooling for hot sleepers
- They are often the more affordable of the two
Overall, spring mattresses are:
Breathable – Because of the open construction of springs, there is good airflow throughout the mattress, making it more breathable and ideal if you sleep hot.
Supportive – Spring mattresses can offer firmer support with less give, ideal if you need a stable surface or have a heavier bodyweight.
Affordable – Spring mattresses are generally more affordable, as the manufacturing and materials are cheaper. However, the quality and support are often reflected in the price.
Foam vs spring mattress: key differences
While the feel of a mattress is often down to personal choices, it is necessary to understand the comparison of the two types to fully tailor to your needs, as you might find it makes all the difference in your nights. Here are the main areas they differ:
Motion transfer: if you value zero to minimize motion transfer, the foam is your choice. Since spring is interconnected coils are less stable when sleepers are moving around, although individually pocketed coils are better at reducing motion transfer.
Heat distribution: Innerspring mattress has better ventilation and airflow quality than foam mattresses as the open coil construction keeps things cool.
However, many foam mattresses also come with cooling gel as well as breathable layers such as Hesperis Mattress. But do consider a spring mattress if heat is one of your major problems at night.
Pressure relief: memory foam is your choice if you rather value comfort and coziness. A spring mattress can be uncomfortable when you sleep on the side and the pressure digs in.
Toxicity: many foam mattresses are having the issue of smell, which technically is called off-gassing. This means they are releasing compounds and chemicals into the air, and normally only last for a few days, even weeks. Our Hesperis Mattress also has off gassing when you just release the mattress from the box, but it takes only 20 mins for all the chemicals to disperse, rather quick compared to all the rest options.
The key takeaways are:
- Foam mattresses are better at preventing motion transfer
- Spring mattresses are normally more cooling
- Hybrids offer the benefits of foam and spring
Foam vs spring mattress: sleeping positions
Sleeping comfortably in your preferred position is essential if you want to get quality sleep. Whichever position you sleep in, it is important that your spine is properly aligned and pressure points are cushioned. Which mattress is your best choice?
Side sleepers - if you mainly sleep on the side, a foam mattress can be a better choice, since the body can dig into an innerspring mattress and cause discomfort. Hybrid is ideal also if you need both support and comfort.
Front sleepers – People who sleep on their stomachs often find spring mattresses more supportive, as they provide a firmer surface to keep the spine aligned without sinking in and arching the back. However, if you prefer the feel of foam, then firmer mattresses are available or you can add a foam topper.
Back/combo sleepers – If you sleep on your back, take your pick of foam or springs, depending on what you find most comfortable. Either way, you need to make sure there is enough support for your back, so avoid a mattress that is too soft. Hybrid mattresses are a good choice, as you will get plenty of stability as well as pressure relief.
When it comes to foam vs spring mattresses, both have their merits. It pays to look at your budget, sleeping position, and any factors such as if you require extra cooling or minimal motion transfer.
If you sleep hot or prefer a firmer mattress then an innerspring might be the best option, or if you need extra pressure relief then a foam bed is sure to keep you cozy.
Choosing a bed with a generous sleep trial is an excellent way to see for yourself whether a new foam or a spring mattress is for you, especially if you’re thinking about making the switch from one type to the other. Or, if you really can’t decide, consider a hybrid mattress as these marry the benefits of both.
The key takeaways are:
- Side sleepers are often more suited on foam beds
- Front/stomach sleepers are better supported by spring mattresses
- Back and combination sleepers benefit from either
Foam vs spring mattress: which one should you buy?
Check out your budget, sleeping position, and heat conditions to decide which one is better suited for you.
Choosing a mattress is also a process of discovering your sleeping habits and preferences, and maybe you can even form better habits because of examining the things you normally overlook.