Memory Foam vs Spring Mattress: A Full Comparison

Written by
Purple Staff
Last Updated
September 9, 2022
min read

With a wide range of mattresses available, you may find it difficult to pick out the perfect mattress for you. Some of the most popular types are spring and memory foam. Both options have their respective pros and cons.

The main difference between memory foam and spring mattresses is largely the construction.  Memory foam mattresses consist of mostly memory foam. Whereas spring mattresses have springs combined with a top comfort layer.  

Read our comprehensive guide to find out which mattress type will give you the restful sleep you deserve.

Purple offers mattresses that feature Purple GelFlex Grid, a layer of flexible gel that supports your frame while providing the comfort you need.

What Is A Spring Mattress?

A spring mattress, also known as an innerspring coil mattress, is made of a base layer of metal spring coils, topped with comfort layers made of soft material to cushion the sleeper from feeling the coils. It's considered A traditional mattress type and is currently the most commonly used mattress type in America.

Types Of Spring Mattresses

The feel of a spring-type depends on a variety of factors, including how many layers of coils it has, the coil gauge and shape, and how the coils are arranged. Some of the most popular types of innerspring mattresses include: 

  • Bonnell coil mattress: Also known as open coils, Bonnell coils are individual hourglass-shaped coils. These are distributed evenly throughout the mattress and connected by metal wires. It’s the oldest and most traditional spring mattress, as well as the cheapest.
  • Offset coil mattress: Offset coils share the same hourglass shape and linked wires as Bonnell coils, but the convolutions of the individual coils are flattened at the top and bottom. The steel coils conform to the body and are more durable than Bonnell coils, but the links can result in more motion transfer.
  • Continuous coil mattress: Continuous coils are made of a single wire twisted into thousands of coils, using helical lacing to create a connected metal coil layer. Firm, stable, and durable, this type of innerspring mattress is relatively inexpensive, but its straightforward design makes it prone to motion transfer.
  • Pocketed coils mattress: A pocket coil spring mattress uses individual springs wrapped in fabric, making it a highly supportive mattress with good motion isolation compared to other spring types. However, pocket coil mattresses tend to be pricier.
  • Coil-on-coil mattress: This type of mattress uses layers of coils stacked together, reducing its springiness and giving more support.

What Is A Memory Foam Mattress?

Memory foam mattresses are made of polyurethane foam, with additional chemicals applied to improve the material's density and viscosity. Also known as viscoelastic foam, the material fits to and retains the user's body shape – hence the "memory" in memory foam.

Part of Purple’s mattresses use a special type of polyurethane foam that is certified by CertiPUR-US, which is made without:

  • Formaldehyde;
  • PBDEs, TDCPP, or TCEP (“Tris”) flame retardants;
  • Mercury, lead, and heavy metals; and
  • Phthalates that are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

While springs still dominate the mattress market, US demand for foam has risen steadily over the last few years and is projected to continue rising.

Types Of Memory Foam Mattresses

There are many different types of foam mattresses available on the market, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. We break down the different types of foam mattresses:

  • Standard memory foam: Also known as traditional memory foam, this type of foam has basic characteristics with no frills added, making it more affordable than other kinds.
  • Open-cell memory foam: Open-cell foam has an advanced open-cell structure that’s created by injecting air into the foam. The built-in air channels make it more breathable and flexible, as well as less dense than standard foam. This type of foam is less prone to retaining body heat.
  • Gel memory foam: Gel memory foam mattresses are embedded with cooling liquid gel or gel capsules to dissipate heat. However, it retains the same body contouring properties as standard foam. 

Differences Between Memory Foam vs Spring Mattress

Now that you have an overview of the two types, it's time to directly compare foam vs. spring mattresses.


Do you enjoy cool weather all year round, or do you live in hot climates? Hot sleepers can beat the heat with Innersprings, which have more airflow than foam. Adults of bigger body types may also prefer spring types as plus-size sleepers tend to sleep hot and sweat more at night. 

On the other hand, one of the biggest complaints about foam mattresses is that they’re more prone to heat retention than other mattress types. You can mitigate this problem by getting a foam mattress specifically designed to reduce heat-trapping, like an open-cell or gel foam mattress. However, be prepared for these options to cost a little more.


Depending on the kind of innerspring or memory foam mattress you pick, prices may vary. 


Sleep Position

Side sleepers will benefit from the pressure relief of a memory foam mattress, as this position puts extra pressure on the side pressed down on the bed.

Back sleepers don't need as much support and may get comfortable sleep with spring beds since their bodies are in a neutral position. Stomach sleepers may also prefer the higher firmness level of a spring mattress compared to the sinking feeling that comes with foam.

Body Pain

Back pain is one of the most common medical problems in America. A study showed that 25 percent of American adults reported suffering from lower back pain; older adults and women are also more susceptible to developing this condition. Back pain is connected to sleep disturbance, as it’s been found that patients with lower back pain report experiencing poor sleep.

The right type of mattress can address your back problems, ease your aches, and result in sound sleep.

If you suffer from back pain, joint pain, or hip pain (or all of the above), foam's ability to mold itself to your body profile offers pain relief and sound sleep. 

On the other hand, people may like the firmer support of spring types, but the springs inside shift along with the sleeper's movements and don't distribute pressure evenly. 

Take note of your personal preferences when it comes to mattress elasticity. Of course, what counts as “medium-firm” can be subjective – a mattress can be too soft for one person yet too hard for another. The most important thing is that it feels right to you.


The contouring of memory foam results in uniform body support and better pressure relief. The foam distributes your weight evenly along your body, joints, and bed, which can alleviate pain. 

Spring beds are firmer and bouncier than foam, but their support isn’t evenly distributed. 

The kind of support you need varies according to several factors, like your body type. Plus-size sleepers may find that the sinking feel of foam mattresses isn’t for them and may benefit from the firmness level of the spring-type. On the other hand, lightweight sleepers can enjoy a softer mattress as they don’t need as much rigidity. 

Memory Foam vs Spring Mattress: Which Should I Choose?

Now you know the kinds and characteristics of foam and spring beds, but which one is right for you?

There’s no hard and fast answer when deciding between foam and spring. All sleepers are different and have different mattress needs – many factors such as location, budget, lifestyle, and individual preferences should be considered.

If your body temperature runs hot at night, you prefer sleeping on your back and don’t need as much spinal alignment, or you want a bit of bounce to your bed, the spring-type is the perfect mattress for you.

If you’re sharing a bed with a restless sleeper, need uniform body support, suffer from joint pain, sleep on your side, or prefer a mattress with a softer feel, then you can’t go wrong with a foam mattress.

But if you still can’t make up your mind, you don’t have to choose between them – Purple has hybrid mattresses that give you the best of both worlds. They have the firmer support, bounce, and breathability of spring beds and the pressure relief, increased durability, and body contouring of a foam mattress. 


Frequently Asked Questions About Memory Foam vs Spring Mattress

Is spring or foam mattress better for back pain?

A foam mattress will give you evenly distributed body support, making it generally a better choice for sleepers with back pain. However, whether you go for spring or foam, make sure that you find a mattress with the right firmness for you. If you find foam too soft, which can cause your body to sink into a bad sleeping posture, look for a firmer type of foam or get a spring or a hybrid mattress.

What type of mattresses needs a box spring?

Innerspring mattresses, particularly older models, usually need a box spring. It improves airflow, gives extra support, and helps absorb shock.

Skip the box spring for foam and hybrid options. Not only do they not need them, but using certain box springs can also void your mattress warranty since the coils of a box spring can damage the foam’s soft surface. 

Purple offers a better option – get a Purple bed frame instead. Purple bed frames provide a well-designed surface that results in better sleep and improved mattress longevity.