Hybrid vs. Innerspring: What's the Difference?
If you're in the market for a new mattress, you've likely heard that hybrid mattresses are one of the most popular options for an upgrade. But how exactly do shiny new hybrid mattresses differ from more traditional options like innerspring mattresses—and why might you choose one over the other?
What is a hybrid mattress?
A hybrid mattress is a cross between two mattress types—typically innerspring and some sort of foam—for a “best of both worlds” sleeping experience, says Bill Fish, certified sleep science coach and general manager of SleepFoundation.org. Take good care of a high-quality hybrid mattress, and it should last upwards of 10 years.
Saatva offers three hybrid mattresses to suit every sleep style and body type
What it's made of
Hybrid mattresses feature multiple layers for support and comfort. Here, what you'll find between the covers:
- Steel coil support system. A base support of steel coils creates that classic springy mattress feel. Premier hybrid mattresses include individually-wrapped coils, which move on their own to reduce motion transfer.
- Atop that, a comfort layer made of body-hugging memory foam, polyfoam, or responsive latex. Some hybrid mattresses also have cooling materials that are slow to conduct heat like gel or graphite copper to help keep your bed cool.
- A pillow top made of foam, cotton, wool, or other fill provides a final layer of cushioning.
Benefits of a hybrid mattress
Hybrid mattresses are well-known for offering the best of many other mattress types. Here's what that means for you:
- Sleeping on a hybrid mattress feels like floating on the surface. Thanks to a combination of memory foam or latex and springs, hybrid mattresses are buoyant for comfort you won't sink into.
- Hybrid mattresses reduce motion transfer. Individually-wrapped coils topped with foam lower the chances that you and your partner will wake each other up when you shift in position or get out of bed at night.
- They keep you cool. With high-tech cooling materials plus airflow between coils, hybrid mattresses make for a cool sleeping experience, unlike some other traditional memory foam mattresses.
- They're comfortable for any sleeping position. With varying options for firmness and comfort layers, hybrid mattresses can easily suit your personal preferences.
- They're soft on pressure points. The additional comfort layers of a hybrid mattress can help distribute your body weight and take the strain off of your back, shoulders, and hips.
Our Best Hybrid Mattresses
Drawbacks of a hybrid mattress
Since hybrid mattresses offer features that you love in innerspring and memory foam mattresses alike, they do tend to be more expensive than more traditional mattress options. (If you're looking for a mattress on a budget, here are a few helpful mattress shopping tips to keep in mind.)
Choosing the right hybrid mattress for your sleep position
A hybrid mattress can make a great fit for any sleeping position. Here's how to choose the right firmness level for the way you sleep:
- If you're a side sleeper, try a softer hybrid mattress to relieve pressure on your back, shoulders, and hips.
- If you're a back sleeper, go for a medium firm hybrid mattress to cushion your pressure points but maintain the natural curvature of your spine.
- If you're a stomach sleeper, consider a firm hybrid mattress to help keep your posture in check.
- If you tend to switch up sleeping positions or you and your partner have different sleeping positions, a medium firm hybrid mattress can support your back and reduce pressure on your joints at the same time.
- If you have a heavier body (think: 230 pounds and up), a firm hybrid mattress can provide the combination of support and cushioning you need.
What is an innerspring mattress?
An innerspring mattress is the most traditional mattress type, best known for that classic springy feel. It takes its name from the metal support coils that form the core of the bed. That essential quality of “springiness" is the innerspring mattress's defining characteristic. A basic innerspring mattress will last you around 7-8 years.
Here's where things can get a little complicated, though: Most high-quality innerspring mattresses today also contain layers made with other materials, such as memory foam and latex, for added comfort, performance, and durability. So technically, an innerspring mattress can also be a hybrid mattress. Sometimes, you'll see this type of mattress labeled as a hybrid innerspring.
What it's made of
Innerspring mattresses begin with a steel coil support system and are often surrounded by additional layers of fabric, foam, and padding. (The only difference in an innerspring vs. hybrid mattress, really, is that the comfort layer of a non-hybrid innerspring mattress—if there is one—will be thinner.)
Benefits of an innerspring mattress
There are plenty of reasons why the innerspring mattress remains a popular mattress choice. Here, a few pros of choosing an innerspring mattress:
- Innerspring mattresses are cost-effective. Typically, innerspring mattresses are more affordable than their memory foam and latex counterparts—a huge perk if you're living on a tight budget.
- They keep you cool. Innerspring mattresses “sleep cool" as space between coils allows for airflow throughout the night.
- They're familiar. If you've always slept well on an innerspring mattress, sticking with the classic or upgrading to a hybrid innerspring mattress might just make sense. There's real comfort in knowing what to expect from your mattress, especially considering you could be sleeping on it for over a decade.
Drawbacks of an innerspring mattress
The same features that many people love about innerspring mattresses—their springiness and simplicity—can turn into downsides depending on your personal preferences. An innerspring mattress might disrupt your sleep due to increased motion transfer from springy coils, and it may not offer enough cushioning if you have back pain or tend to sleep on your side, which can put undue pressure on your shoulders, hips, and back.
Choosing the right innerspring mattress for your sleep position
All in all, whether or not an innerspring mattress makes the most sense for you depends on your body type and sleeping position.
In general, innerspring mattresses tend to be better than other mattress types for stomach sleepers (who need the support that coils can give them) and hot sleepers (as innersprings offer a very cool sleeping experience). Couples, on the other hand, might do well to skip the innerspring mattress, simply because motion transfer could mean interrupted sleep.
When it comes to finding the best innerspring mattress for your sleep position, follow the same guidelines as you would with a hybrid mattress: Choose a softer innerspring mattress if you're a side sleeper, a medium firm innerspring mattress if you're a back sleeper, and a firm innerspring mattress if you're a stomach sleeper.
The difference between hybrid and innerspring mattresses
The main difference between innerspring vs. hybrid mattresses is the comfort layers: Hybrid mattresses will have thicker upper layers of foam for added pressure relief than a traditional innerspring.
The bottom line: While many of us likely grew up with innerspring mattresses, hybrid mattresses are generally a step above your childhood mattress when it comes to comfort and personalized features. With the technology in mattresses today, a hybrid mattress may offer a superior experience, but an innerspring mattress does have more “bounce"—a feature which many people still love, says Fish.
Still not sure which mattress type is right for you? We've rounded up our guides on the differences between popular types of mattresses to help make your decision easier: