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What Is a Hybrid Mattress?

Malena Piper

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Hybrid mattresses are rapidly growing in popularity. They are the perfect blend of two mattress types (memory foam and innerspring mattresses), which allows the mattress to support most sleeping positions and body types.

If you’re a side or back sleeper, the conforming, supportive, and motion isolating qualities of a hybrid will help you sleep better; meanwhile, the bouncy spring system will help you switch positions and get on and off the mattress surface, instead of getting stuck in the foam layers.

In this article, we will discuss how construction and materials affect the hybrid’s quality. We will also explore who benefits from hybrid mattresses and their advantages and drawbacks to help you decide if a hybrid is the best mattress for you.

What Is a Hybrid Mattress?

First off, a hybrid mattress refers to a bed made from multiple mattress materials. Some mattresses are incorrectly called “hybrids” because they contain a mixture of different foam or coil types, but true hybrids must have a thick memory foam or latex comfort layer along with an innerspring support system.

Essentially, hybrid mattresses combine innerspring’s support and memory foam’s conformability and pressure relief. Hybrid mattresses are bouncy, conforming, and temperature regulating while offering protection from motion transfer.

Components of a Hybrid Mattress

When buying a hybrid mattress, you need to look at its construction. A poorly made mattress will break down quickly and eventually become unsupportive. High-quality layers and materials can ensure your mattress will last.

Pillow Top and Euro Top

A pillow top is a comfort layer sewn under the cover. The added material forms a gap between the mattress and the cover, giving it the appearance of a large pillow sitting on the mattress top (hence the name “pillow top”). Meanwhile, a Euro top is quilted flush with the mattress’s edges to avoid the gap common in a pillow top.

Pillow and Euro tops are made with latex, memory foam, polyurethane foam, fiberfill, wool, or cotton. The type of material used will impact the mattress’s feel. For instance, latex pillow tops produce a firm feel while a cotton layer will create a plush surface.

Comfort Layer

The comfort layer is the top layer and made with memory foam or latex. The comfort layer usually makes up one to three inches of the mattress’s profile and is often comprised of multiple layers.

Generally, a memory foam comfort layer is infused with gel to promote cool sleeping and provide soft support. Comfort layers made with latex are naturally breathable and offer firm support.

Transition Layer

The transition layer buffers between the comfort and support layers to reduce pressure on the supportive core and extend the mattress’s lifespan. It’s commonly made of poly-foam and is denser and firmer than the comfort layer.

Not every hybrid will have a transition layer.

Support Layer

The supportive layer makes up six to eight inches of the mattress’s profile. It’s made of foam-wrapped pocketed coils that react individually to pressure. The coil system maintains the bounce featured in traditional innerspring mattresses while promoting the motion isolation found in memory foam beds.

Overall, the innerspring coil layer increases the bed’s performance by offering structural integrity and contributing to the bed’s comfort.

Base Layer

The transition and base layer are made of similar materials, but perform different functions. The base layer is beneath the supportive core and made of a high-density poly-foam. The base layer adds extra stability to the mattress, absorbs movement, and reduces noise from the coils.

What to Consider When Buying a Hybrid Mattress

The hybrid is a versatile mattress and it can help you sleep better depending on your sleep preferences. Before you buy one, consider your sleep style, comfort preferences, and body type.

Sleeping Position

Stomach sleepers place stress on their backs by overextending their spines, muscles, and ligaments. The stress can cause chronic pain, including lower back pain, sciatica, and herniated discs.

To reduce pain, stomach sleepers need a firm sleep surface. Soft mattresses can cause the sleeper’s hips to bow into the mattress, misaligning the spine and straining the back. We suggest stomach sleepers look for a hybrid mattress with a medium-firm to firm feel to get a good night’s sleep.

Side sleepers can develop pressure points on their shoulders and hips—which is why the best mattresses for side sleepers are typically medium in firmness, as they offer a good mix of comfort and support. A hybrid mattress with medium to soft comfort layers may alleviate pressure points; however, side sleepers may suffer from pain or pressure build-up due to the coil base layer. To avoid this, invest in a hybrid with thick comfort layers.

Back sleepers sleep with a naturally aligned spine, which means they need a mattress with a medium to medium-firm feel that will maintain this alignment. Hybrid mattresses offer a surface firm enough to support back sleepers in a horizontal position while relieving pressure.

Body Type

Your preferred sleeping position may influence whether you find hybrids comfortable, but your body type may affect your preferred firmness level, too.

If you’re lighter, you will need a softer surface. A smaller individual won’t sink into the mattress like a heavier person. Softer materials will the sleeper feel the mattress’s contouring qualities, while firm materials may cause pressure points. Hybrid mattresses that have soft comfort layers will conform to a lighter individual’s body, relieving pressure.

On the flip side, heavier individuals need a firmer mattress so their spine doesn’t misalign from too much sinkage. Because they carry extra weight, this causes them to sink further down into the mattress; therefore, they need a hybrid with extra pressure relief and support. A hybrid’s comfort layers will offer a heavier individual good conformability, while the support layer keeps their hips from bowing into the mattress and maintain spinal alignment.

Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Mattress

Every product has its advantages and disadvantages. Hybrid mattresses are no different. In this section, we discuss the pros and cons of these mattresses to help you decide if they’re right for you.

Pros

Better at contouring: Hybrid mattresses contour better than innerspring mattresses. The memory foam and latex comfort layers compress under pressure and contour to the body for comfort.

Temperature regulation: A hybrid’s memory foam comfort layers can retain heat, although not as much as an all-foam bed. The mattress’s spring system keeps the mattress moderately cool by encouraging air circulation.

Some memory foam layers are infused with heat-conductive materials (gel, copper, and graphite) to draw heat from the sleeper.

Other hybrid mattresses contain latex, which is a naturally breathable material. Latex eliminates heat retention without the use of infusions.

Bounce and resilience: Coil cores foster a bounciness comparable to spring beds while maintaining the motion isolating properties of memory foam. The bounce makes it easier to switch positions or get out of bed.

Motion isolation: The pocketed coils and memory foam layers work together to reduce motion transfer across the mattress surface, which is a great feature for couples.

Edge support: Unlike all-foam mattresses, hybrid beds have reinforced edges, which offer greater support to the mattress’s perimeter. Strong edge support ensures sleepers near the edge won’t fall onto the floor when they adjust their sleeping position.

Compatible with adjustable beds: If you’re looking for a mattress to pair with an adjustable base, hybrids are certainly an option.  The general rule of thumb when looking for a mattress for an adjustable base is that it needs to be flexible enough to bend with the base’s movement. Most modern mattress types should pair well with these bases, but if you’re concerned one might not, reach out to the retailer to ask for more information. However, if a mattress company sells an adjustable base with their beds, you can be almost certain the bed will pair fine.

Cons

More expensive: Luxury hybrid mattresses are more costly than all-foam and innerspring mattresses made with the same quality materials. The average hybrid mattress costs $1650. We suggest a budget between $1200 to $2000 for a good hybrid mattress.

Durable: A hybrid mattress’s durability depends largely on the material’s quality and the arrangement of the layers. If the hybrid doesn’t have a supportive construction or isn’t made of high-quality materials, the mattress will deteriorate quickly.

Heavy: Hybrids are heavy and rigid, which makes them hard to move— especially through narrow hallways or around tight corners.

Hybrid Materials

If you want a good hybrid mattress, it’s a good idea to look into the materials. Materials influence the product’s quality.

Memory Foam

Memory foam conforms to relieve pressure points, give support, alleviate pain, and promote spinal alignment. Memory foam also absorbs impact to isolate motion, making it perfect for couples.

Memory foam is a polymer made with additional chemicals to make it elastic and have a slow reaction to pressure, meaning when you press down on the mattress surface, your hand will slowly sink into the material. The slow pressure-response allows memory foam to conform to your body, which alleviates pain caused by pressure points. Hybrids with memory foam are some of the best mattresses for back pain relief. Traditional memory foam can take a minute to bounce back to its original shape; however, open-cell memory foam has a faster response time, so it bounces back to its original shape within seconds.

The petrochemicals used to make memory foam produce a chemical smell called off-gassing. This smell only lasts a few days after opening your new mattress.

To avoid this smell, we suggest looking for a mattress featuring plant-based memory foam. Manufacturers use fewer petrochemicals to make this type of foam by incorporating plant-based oils instead.

Plant-based memory foams will also increase breathability. Look for copper, gel, and graphite infusions to encourage temperature regulation in the mattress.

Latex

Latex is the most supportive mattress material on the market. It’s almost as conforming and pressure relieving as memory foam, but slightly more bouncy.

Latex is made in several different ways: natural, blended, synthetic.

Natural latex is the most expensive and sought after latex type. It is antimicrobial, hypoallergenic, and made from rubber tree sap. Depending on the manufacturing process, off-gassing is minimal. Dunlop-processed latex is firm and dense. The other popular manufacturing process, Talalay, produces a softer, lighter, and more consistent material; however, Talalay latex does incorporate chemicals to give it its softness. These chemicals can produce off-gassing.

Synthetic latex is made from a chemical compound that mimics latex properties. This material is hypoallergenic but not antimicrobial. It is less expensive than natural latex. For those allergic to latex who want the conforming and supportive benefits of latex, synthetic latex is a great option. Even so, we highly suggest purchasing a latex mattress with a CertiPUR-US® certification to ensure the material does not contain any harmful additives.

Blended latex is a mixture of natural and synthetic latex. It does have some antimicrobial properties, although not as many as natural latex. It isn’t as expensive as natural latex.

Springs

Some low-end hybrid mattresses have a support system with connecting coils.  Connecting coils are known to transfer motion across the bed and disrupt sleep. There are several different types of connecting coils system, while these coil types are not the best, you may consider them in a more budget-friendly mattress:

  • Bonnell coils are hourglass-shaped and compress without much pressure. This coil is the least expensive and most durable of the connecting coils. A mattress with Bonnell coils will last between three and five years, but this coil will transfer motion.
  • The continuous coil is made of a single coil with helicals lacing the wire from the bed’s foot and head. The helicals diminish motion transfer. This system is durable and supportive in the mattress’s center, which is great for back and stomach sleepers.
  • Offset coils have flattened tops and bottom and are hourglass-shaped. The flattened pieces are connected together like helical wires, which allows the coil system to conform to the body buy wil foster motion. Offset coils are found in high-end mattresses.

We suggest avoiding connecting coil systems and, instead, look for pocketed coils.

Pocketed coils are a system of fabric-wrapped coils that react individually. This type of coil reduces motion transfer by isolating motion to the area of impact. Pocketed coils are made with thin gauges, which increases the spring’s longevity and conformability. If treated well, pocketed coils will last for 7 years. The foam wrapped around the coils will also encourage airflow and keep the coil system hygienic.

The gauge is a term indicating the measurement of the coil’s thickness. The higher the gauge number, the thinner and more durable the coil. Lower gauge measurements signify a thicker coil, although the spring is less durable.

High-end hybrids will also have zoned ergonomic support systems, which offer varied support to the head, shoulders, lumbar region, hips, and feet to produce optimized spinal support and pressure relief.

FAQs

Is a hybrid or foam mattress better?

There is no such thing as the “best mattress.” There is only the right mattress for you. Your sleep preferences will influence what qualities your perfect mattress has. If you like the feel of both memory foam and innerspring beds, a hybrid is the best match; however, if you need a conforming mattress with high motion isolation properties, a memory foam mattress is the way to go.

Do you need a boxspring with a hybrid mattress?

No. Modern mattresses do not need box springs. They are properly supported on a solid, flat mattress foundation. The only time a hybrid mattress needs a box spring is when you plan on placing it on a metal bed frame with no slats.

Do hybrid mattresses last?

Hybrid mattresses last between 7 and 10 years, although longevity depends on how well the bed is maintained. If the bed is placed on the right foundation and cleaned regularly, the mattress can last for up to 10 years.

Conclusion

A hybrid mattress creates a unique sleep experience by offering the conformability and motion isolation of memory foam and support of an innerspring mattress. Those who are back, side, plus-sized sleepers will sleep great on a hybrid.

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