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Memory Foam vs. Hybrid Mattress Review

Lara Vargas

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As you mattress shop, consider your needs and sleep preferences to narrow down your selection and find your best mattress. Getting a good night’s sleep is a critical component of a healthy life. Back problems, restless partners, or overheating can disrupt your sleep if you don’t choose the right mattress.

Hybrid and memory foam beds are popular mattress choices. While hybrid and memory foam mattresses have a noticeable difference in construction, each mattress provides support and confirmability.

Hybrids are typically better at cooling their sleepers. They are bouncy, responsive, and relatively soft depending on the thickness of the comfort layers. Because of their coil support cores, they tend to develop sags much quicker than memory foam beds.

Memory foam mattresses are supportive and contour to the body, relieving pressure and pain better than hybrid beds. However, memory foam can retain heat— that’s why many manufacturers have created cooling mattress foams, such as gel foam, copper-infused foam, or plant-based foam.

In this article, we’ll go into greater detail about both memory foam and hybrid mattresses, including their characteristics, general construction, and pros and cons.

What is a Memory Foam Mattress?

amerisleep memory foam mattress

Memory foam was initially created by NASA for aircraft seat cushions in 1966. Later on, it was used in hospitals to offer lumbar support and alleviate bed sores. Shortly after, memory foam entered the mattress industry and caught the public eye. Its unique structure is popular for its ability to conform closely to the body, alleviating pressure and chronic pain.

Memory foam is a type of polyurethane foam with added chemicals to give it a slow response to pressure and viscoelastic qualities. The material molds to the body when activated by heat and pressure, and bounces back to its original shape after pressure is removed from the surface.

A basic memory foam mattress is typically made of three types of layers: a comfort layer, a responsive layer, and a support layer.

  • A memory foam mattress’s cover is often made of polyester or temperature-regulating fabric.
  • The comfort layer is made of memory foam that contours to the body and alleviates pressure; this layer is sometimes made of plant-based memory foam or some type of cooling technology to decrease heat retention.
  • The responsive or transition layer is firmer than the comfort layer and buffers between the comfort and support layers. It ensures the sleeper doesn’t sink into the mattress, preventing the “stuck” feeling.
  • The support layer is usually a dense, sturdy foam. It offers support to the upper layers and extends the mattress’s overall longevity.

Memory foam mattresses can accommodate many sleeping positions and comfort preferences.

The best memory foam mattresses for side sleepers will probably be medium to soft in firmness because these beds are best at cradling the hips and shoulders and relieving pain.

Back sleepers are typically most comfortable on firm or medium-firm memory foam beds. The firmer feel prevents the hips from sinking down too far, improving lumbar support and alleviating pressure points.

Stomach sleeping causes undue stress to the sleeper’s back, which straightens the spine’s natural curvature and inflicts chronic pain. Stomach sleepers need a very firm mattress to improve spinal alignment and ensure the hips don’t sink into the mattress.

What is a Hybrid Mattress?

hybrid mattress cutout

Hybrid mattresses are made from a combination of innerspring and memory foam beds. Hybrid mattresses have memory foam comfort layers and coil support cores.

A hybrid bed has the support, firmness, and bounce of an innerspring mattress, along with the contouring properties of foam layers.

A hybrid mattress’s structure isn’t as predictable as a memory foam bed. While most hybrid mattresses will have a polyester blended or natural fiber cover and memory foam comfort layers, the supportive and transitional layers change.

Some hybrids will have a high-density transitional layer between the coil support system and the comfort layers. Others will have HD poly-foam support layers with mini-coils as transitional layers. Most coils in a hybrid mattress are wrapped individually to absorb movement and minimize motion transfer.

Due to the space between the coils, hybrid mattresses are more breathable than memory foam mattresses, which can trap heat.

Memory Foam Vs. Hybrid: Identifying the Difference

Now that you have a general understanding of the differences in memory foam and hybrid mattresses, let’s discuss the selling points and disadvantages of each material.

Memory Foam Mattress Strengths

Conformability and Contouring

Memory foam has a porous-like structure. The foam is activated through body heat, which enables it to give way to pressure and mold to the object it’s bearing. This conforming property promotes neutral spinal alignment by cradling the hips, lumbar, and shoulders and relieves pressure points and pain through correct spinal alignment.

Motion Isolation

Due to memory foam’s elastic material and conforming qualities, it naturally absorbs shock at the point of impact, making memory foam mattresses an excellent option for couples—  especially for those with restless partners.

Sound Absorption

Every time you climb onto the bed or adjust your sleep position, innerspring cores will squeak. Memory foam will absorb and reduce noise better than any other mattress material on the market.

Hypoallergenic

Due to memory foam’s density, dust, dust mites, and other allergens cannot easily penetrate its surface. As long as the mattress’s surface is cleaned regularly, memory foam will remain hypoallergenic, making it a great option for allergy sufferers.

Memory Foam Mattress Weaknesses

Temperature Regulation

While memory foam’s porous structure is responsible for its pressure-relieving qualities, it’s also responsible for retaining heat. As body weight is placed on the mattress’s surface, the air bubbles are displaced and air circulation is restricted, leading to heat retention.

Memory foam has an open-cell structure, but because it’s so dense, it can still trap heat. Look for cooling memory foam mattresses with plant-based foams or advanced open-cell foams that allow air to move through more freely.

Some mattress companies infuse their memory foam layers with copper, gel, and graphite, which pulls heat from the sleeper and regulates body temperature.

Responsiveness

Traditional memory foam offers a slow response to pressure. It takes a minute for the material to conform to the body and then bounces back to its original shape once pressure is removed. This slow response allows the body to experience deep pressure relief, which alleviates pain.

Modern memory foam only takes seconds to conform to the body and to regain its usual shape, which helps a sleeper move on the mattress’s surface.

Edge Support

Even though memory foam beds are conforming and supportive in the middle, they sink too much at the sides. Some manufacturers will reinforce a foam mattress’s edges with high-density poly-foam to provide greater edge support.

Off-gassing

Since memory foam mattresses are made with chemical compounds, they emit chemical odors— this is known as “off-gassing.” Most foam mattresses air out a few days after opening, but lower-quality foams may hold onto the smell for longer. To avoid off-gassing smells, choose mattresses made with plant-based or CertiPUR-US® certified foams.

Hybrid Mattress Strengths

Responsiveness

Unlike memory foam mattresses that need time to react to pressure and regain their shape, hybrid mattresses make up for any lack of responsiveness in their foam layers through their innerspring coil systems. The coil system pushes back against pressure, supporting the back and preventing the sleepers from feeling “stuck.”

Temperature Regulation

Hybrid mattresses typically regulate temperature better than memory foam beds because of their coil cores. The coil system creates a mostly empty pocket where air can circulate, wicking away moisture and heat in the process.

A hybrid’s foam layers can also be made with plant-based materials and infusions to improve the mattress’s temperature retention.

Hybrid Mattress Weaknesses

Motion Isolation

Hybrid mattresses made with connecting coils transfer motion, which can cause multiple sleep disruptions during the night. Pocketed coils isolate motion much better than other coils because the springs react individually; however, you will still feel movement from a restless partner.

Sound Absorption

Mattresses with spring systems may make noise. A hybrid’s foam layers will absorb some sound, although, as the mattress ages, the coil system will break down, which increases the possibility of sound when bearing weight.

Memory Foam Vs. Hybrid Mattress: The Bottom Line

Your preferences will influence your final decision. For instance, if you make pressure point relief and spinal alignment a priority, it’s most likely you’ll choose a memory foam mattress; however, if your main concern is overheating, you may consider a hybrid mattress for its additional cooling. Just remember to compare key characteristics if you ever find yourself torn between a memory foam or hybrid bed.

  • Memory foam has the best pressure relief on the mattress market. If you often wake with aches and pains, a memory foam mattress can cradle your joints, promote spinal alignment, and alleviate pain.
  • Memory foam also offers motion isolation, which is beneficial to those who sleep with a partner.
  • A hybrid coil core regulates temperature for hot sleepers, although cooling technologies can improve memory foam’s breathability, making foam a comparable option.
  • Hybrid mattresses are conforming, supportive, and responsive through the use of memory foam and coil materials. Those looking for both memory foam and innerspring qualities will appreciate the hybrid bed.

Conclusion

Memory foam and hybrid mattresses have supportive and cooling abilities to help a sleeper achieve good sleep. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of each mattress type and remember to consider your sleep preferences when choosing the right mattress.

Research Method

To write a quality and reliable article, we read several dozen reviews and articles, and spent over 10 hours researching, writing, and editing.

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