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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.

Best Memory Foam Mattress: Amerisleep AS3

BEST MEMORY FOAM MATTRESS

For a more advanced memory foam mattress, we recommend the Amerisleep AS3. This mattress has a medium firmness and a non-toxic, plant-based memory foam.

Take 30% off the AS3

Using the code AS30

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Best mattress features
  • Plant-based foam is non-toxic, eco-friendly, and safe for you and your family.
  • HIVE® technology promotes a safe, neutral spine.
  • Bio-Pur® plant-based foam retains less heat and moisture.
Recommended for
  • Couples with different body types and sleep positions.
  • Hot sleepers.
  • Combination sleepers.

Unlike traditional memory foam mattresses, the Bio-Pur® foam in the Amerisleep AS3 is made with plant-based oils, making it lighter, more breathable, and more responsive. Amerisleep’s manufacturing process is also eco-friendly and produces a clean, safe, non-toxic foam.

The AS3 has a medium comfort level that works well for most sleepers, including combination sleepers who frequently change positions throughout the night. This mattress ensures the joints are cushioned and the lumbar spine is lifted and aligned no matter what position you sleep in.

Beneath the Bio-Pur® comfort layer is Amerisleep’s Affinity foam with HIVE® technology. This layer is highly responsive and ensures the heaviest parts of the body don’t sink too far into the mattress, forcing the spine to bow. HIVE® keeps the spine in a safe, neutral position so the muscles can relax and heal during sleep.

The base of the AS3 features Amerisleep’s Bio-Core® foam, a stable support foam to prevent sagging and indentations. Their 20-year warranty protects against manufacturing and structural defects. You also have a 100-night sleep trial to test out the mattress and make sure it meets your needs.

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.

Best Hybrid Mattress: Zoma Hybrid

Zoma Mattress BEST HYBRID MATTRESS

For a durable, responsive hybrid mattress with a medium firmness, we recommend the Zoma Hybrid. This bed is perfect for side, back, and combination sleepers, and couples with different firmness needs.

Take $150 off the Zoma Hybrid
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Best mattress features
  • AirCloth cover increases air circulation.
  • Pocketed spring coil base ensures even weight distribution.
  • Gel memory foam comfort layer reduces heat retention.
Recommend for
  • Sleepers who prefer the bounce of a spring mattress.
  • Combination sleepers.
  • Couples with different firmness preferences.

The Zoma Hybrid has a gel-infused memory foam comfort layer that cradles and protects the joints without trapping heat. The ventilated AirCloth cover helps warm air escape the mattress quickly without causing it to overheat. This advanced mattress stays at a comfortable sleep temperature even as it absorbs body heat throughout the night.

The transition layer of the Zoma Hybrid is made with their Reactiv™ foam, a latex-like foam with a slight bounce to prevent over sinking so the spine remains in a neutral position. When the spine is neutral, the muscles in the back are more likely to relax, making sleep easier to come by.

The base of the Zoma Hybrid features pocketed spring coils. These coils are individually wrapped so they move separately from one another, rather than as a unit. This movement increases motion transfer, noise, and contours more accurately than traditional innerspring coils.

The Zoma Hybrid comes with a 100-night sleep and a generous 10-year warranty to ensure you are happy with the comfort and quality of the mattress.

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.

Other Mattress Types

Your mattress considerations shouldn’t be restricted to only memory foam and hybrid mattresses. Two other types worth looking at are latex and innerspring mattresses.

Latex foam has a similar feel to memory foam, though many sleepers find that it seems a touch firmer. Eco-conscious shoppers might want to search for an all-natural latex mattress with other organic materials. Latex hybrids are also available and are perfect for people who want to lie flat on top of their mattress.

Traditional innerspring mattresses are one of the precursors to hybrids. Many people have slept on one at one point or another. Pure innerspring mattresses don’t conform to the body as well as a foam or hybrid mattress, though hot sleepers may enjoy how well they stay cool.

Consider Also: Sleep Trials, Return Policies, and Warranties

Regardless of what mattress type you prefer, there’s one feature you should always look at—the attached sleep trial/return policy and the mattress’s warranty. These policies help secure your investment when you purchase a new mattress.

Sleep Trials and Return Policies

Ever tried a mattress out at a store, thought it felt fine, then reconsidered that opinion when you spent a few nights sleeping on it? Sleep trials keep you from sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress by offering a few months where you can return the bed for a refund. Online mattresses commonly feature a sleep trial, though many big name mattress stores offer them, too.

The standard return policy is a shorter variation on a sleep trial, giving a customer around 30 days to try out a mattress. Usually, they’re offered with budget mattresses. This can still be enough time to decide if a mattress is right for you. However, some companies may only accept a return if the mattress is unused, so be sure to read the details of the policy before you buy.

Warranties

An attached warranty details when you’re eligible for a free mattress replacement. Most mattress companies cover defects such as deep sagging, torn fabric and foam, and burst coils. The average mattress warranty provides 10 years of coverage, though scrupulous companies may offer 20 years or more.

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.

FAQs

Are hybrid mattresses good for back pain?

Hybrid mattresses are available in several different firmness levels. The best mattresses for back pain are those with a medium-firm feel. This firmness is soft enough to prevent pressure points near the hip and shoulder joints. However, it is also firm enough to prevent excess sinking and to support the lumbar spine.

Do hybrid mattresses need a box spring?

No. Hybrid mattresses do not need a  box spring. These mattresses are designed to sit directly on a slatted or solid mattress foundation or bed frame. However, slats should be spaced no more than 3 inches apart to prevent sagging.

Do memory foam mattresses need a box spring?

Memory foam mattresses are not compatible with box springs. In fact, placing a memory foam mattress on a box spring could cause permanent damage. The best foundations for a memory foam bed are those with a solid base or slats spaced no more than 3 inches apart.

How long do hybrid mattresses last?

Most mattresses last between 6 and 8 years. Hybrid and memory foam mattresses tend to last up to 8 years, while traditional innerspring beds only last about 6 years. Latex mattresses have the longest life span and can last up to 12 years.

Are hybrid mattresses good for side sleepers?

Since hybrid mattresses are available in several different firmness levels, it is easy to find a hybrid bed suitable for a side sleeper. In most cases, the best hybrid mattresses for side sleepers are soft to medium.

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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