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Is your old mattress starting to hurt your back?
Are you moving to a larger home and want to treat yourself to a new bed?
Has you child grown big enough to need their first “big-kid” bed?
Do you know you need a new mattress, but aren’t sure which one to get?
With more choice now than ever, it can be difficult to know which type of mattress is right for you.
On one hand there are foam mattresses. And on the other hand are spring mattresses. These are the two main categories of mattresses on the market.
So which mattress should you buy: foam or spring? We’ll explain it all and help you make an informed decision. Let’s get started.
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Foam mattresses are made from polyurethane foam. This rigid, yet soft and spongy material has been used since the 1950s in many consumer applications, including vehicle seats, carpet padding, athletic shoes, and mattresses.
In the 1960s, NASA engineers developed memory foam, which is a type of polyurethane foam that molds and reacts to your body’s heat and weight. Memory foam also returns to its original form when the heat and pressure of your body is removed.
Another type of foam mattress is latex. These mattresses are made with either natural latex (which is sourced from rubber trees) or synthetic latex (which is made from polymers to mimic natural latex). Latex mattresses are known for being more springy than foam or memory foam mattresses.
- Can be relatively affordable
- Great option for kids and teens
- Better motion isolation than spring mattresses
- Relief for pressure points
- Even support in all sleeping positions
- Cushions and contours to the body
Are you set on buying a foam mattress? See our list of this year’s Best Foam Mattresses.
Spring mattresses are made using metal coils. The first spring mattresses (also called innerspring mattresses) were developed in the 1870s using a similar design used in horse-drawn carriage seats. Known as Bonnell coils, the steel wire coils are laced together to form a flat, hourglass-shaped structure that absorbs and supports the sleeper’s body.
In the 20th century, spring mattresses became the most popular type of mattress in North America. More sophisticated designs of spring mattresses have appeared, including offset coil, continuous coil, and pocketed coil.
A spring mattress compresses when weight is placed on the sleep surface, and provides immediate bounce-back when changing positions.
- More traditional design and feel
- Bouncy, easy to change sleep positions
- Better edge support than foam mattresses
- Sleep more “on” the mattress than sinking “in”
Hybrid mattresses are a relatively new type of mattress to the marketplace. Hybrid mattresses use a combination of foam in the top layers of the mattress and springs in the base layer of the mattress.
Hybrid mattresses are designed to offer the best of both worlds: the comfort and pressure-point relief of a foam mattress with the support and durability of an innerspring mattress. Hybrid mattresses are available for sale from traditional manufacturers such as Beautyrest, as well as bed-in-a box brands like Logan & Cove.
These days, many innerspring mattresses are actually hybrids because they contain at least one layer of foam above the coils.
- Best qualities of foam and spring mattresses
- Many styles: tight-top, Euro-top, pillow-top
- Strong support for heavier people
- Bouncy, easy to change sleep positions
- Better edge support than foam mattresses
- More cushioning than traditional spring mattresses
Are you set on buying a hybrid mattress? See our list of this year’s Best Hybrid Mattresses.
It depends on many factors, including:
- Sleep position(s)
- Comfort preferences
- Body weight
Whether it’s a foam mattress or spring mattress, there isn’t one perfect choice for all people. Instead, you can narrow down your choice based on the needs below.
Best Mattress for Back Pain
Do you wake up with a sore back in the morning? You’re not alone. This is one of the most common reasons why people start searching for a new mattress.
Back pain can be caused by a mattress that’s old, worn-out, or too soft/firm for your body type.
These factors can make your body’s posture fall out of proper alignment, which can strain the muscles. For example, an old, saggy mattress can make your hips dip too low, causing soreness in the lower back.
If your current mattress is that uncomfortable, almost any new mattress will be an improvement.
Whether it’s foam or spring, look for a mattress that:
- Keeps your back in neutral position
- Cushions your pressure points
- Feels comfortable in your preferred sleeping position(s)
Best Mattress for Couples
Do you sleep with a partner? Are you a light sleeper? Then you know what it’s like to be woken up by tossing and turning from the other side of the bed.
These night-time interruptions can make you lose precious sleep and make you feel groggy in the morning. Not fun.
The solution to this is a mattress with excellent motion isolation. This is a category tested through licensed, third-party engineers (commissioned by us).
A mattress with superior motion isolation does a good job of neutralizing vibrations that travel from one side of the bed to the other. Foam mattresses tend to have much better motion isolation than spring mattresses.
Best Mattress for Budget Shoppers
Need to stretch your dollar as far as possible? No problem. With so many value-priced mattresses on the market, competition is fierce and there are many great options available.
If you want to save money on your next mattress purchase, we recommend buying a foam mattress over a spring mattress. These mattresses tend to have a simpler, no-nonsense design, which helps keep costs low and comfort high.
Many value foam mattresses today also include features found on higher priced mattresses, like cooling gel foam, soft-knit cover, and a generous 100+ night sleep trial.
Best Mattress for Hot Sleepers
Do hot summer nights keep you from falling asleep? Does it feel like your current mattress is radiating heat back at you? Don’t worry – we can help you stay cool.
Both foam and spring mattresses of decades past were notorious for sleeping hot. But with new technology today’s mattresses are cooler than ever.
When shopping for a mattress that sleeps cool, keep an eye out for these features:
- Cooling gel foam: helps dissipate body heat
- Phase-change material: helps keep the sleep surface at more comfortable temperature
- Cooling yarn cover: feels cool and refreshing to the touch
Drum-roll, please! Here are our top-rated foam and spring mattresses.
These mattresses were selected based on more than 25 criteria that are important to mattress shoppers, as well as comfort data from licensed, third-party engineers (commissioned by us).
Not necessarily. Often the cause of a sore back is a mattress that is:
- Too soft or firm for your body weight
- Too soft or too firm for your sleeping position
Remember, if you’re a lighter person (under 125 lbs), a medium-firm mattress will fill more like a firm mattress. And if you’re a heavier person (over 200 lbs), a medium-firm mattress will feel more like a medium or medium-soft mattress.
You should also note your preferred sleeping position. If you like sleeping on your side, consider a softer mattress, which will cushion the pressure points in your shoulders and hips.If you like to sleep on your stomach or back, a firmer mattress is OK because you want to prevent your hips (your centre of gravity) from sinking too deep into the mattress layers.
A foam mattress can hurt your back if it’s too firm or soft for your body weight or comfort preferences. But foam mattresses are not inherently less comfortable than spring or hybrid mattresses.
In fact, many sleepers now prefer foam mattresses for their gentle cushioning, even support, and slow-release feel.
No. A quality mattress, whether it’s made with foam or springs (or both), will last about the same amount of time.
Be sure to choose a mattress with a generous sleep trial (over 100 nights) so you can try your mattress from the comfort of home.
Also be sure that your mattress has a warranty that covers manufacturer defects for 10 years or more. That will ensure that if any issues surface over the course of ownership, you can get your mattress replaced, if needed.
Most hotels, particularly luxury hotels, use innerspring or hybrid mattresses in their rooms. These mattresses are typically sourced from traditional mattress manufacturers like Sealy, Serta, and Simmons. Hotel mattresses are usually of medium or medium-firm feel to suit most sleep preferences and body types.