What Are the Different Types of Mattresses — and Which One Is Best for You?
Buying the right mattress is crucial to getting the sleep you need to live a happy, healthy life. However, they aren’t all created equal. Further, between different sizes, materials, and manufacturers, there’s an almost overwhelming number of mattresses available for purchase.
Learning more about the various types of mattresses will simplify the entire shopping process. After all, with some knowledge, it’s far easier to know which ones are worth your time — and which aren’t. By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to shop for a mattress with confidence and find the best one for your unique needs.
Types of Innerspring Mattresses
Innerspring mattresses are made of steel coils that can hold a person’s weight during sleep. These coils are covered by wool, cotton, foam, latex, or other soft materials so they provide high levels of both comfort and support.
Though mattress lifespans can vary, spring mattresses don’t usually last as long as other kinds. However, the lack of durability may be worth the shorter lifespan if you need something firm and supportive.
There are many ways to configure the coils in an innerspring mattress. Some of the most popular types include:
Bonnell coils, or open coils, are shaped like an hourglass. These coils are distributed evenly throughout the mattress and connected by wire extensions.
Bonnell coil mattresses are very affordable. They provide a feeling of level support across the entire surface of the mattress.
As a budget option, Bonnell coils usually aren’t durable. Because of the even feeling of the springs, they can hit your pressure points uncomfortably during sleep.
Bonnell coil mattresses are best when they aren’t used nightly, such as in a guest room. They’re good for instances where you’ll stop using it before its support degrades, such as for growing children, in a college dorm room, or in a short-term housing situation.
In continuous-coil mattresses, a long piece of wire is wound into loose, S-shaped coils. This single piece of wire makes up the framework of the entire bed.
Continuous-coil mattresses are among the most affordable on the market. These mattresses are also flippable, making them more durable.
Because of how the coils are laid out, they may not contour well to the shape of your body. There is little motion separation. If you have a sleeping partner, you will likely disturb them if you move around, or vice versa.
As some of the firmest mattresses available, continuous-coil mattresses are best if you require a lot of support while you sleep.
Like Bonnell coils, offset coils take the shape of an hourglass. However, the tops and bottoms of the coils are flattened. This makes them softer and allows them to conform to the shape of the body better than Bonnell coils do.
Offset coils are simultaneously supportive and soft, making them comfortable for many sleepers.
Offset-coil mattresses are more expensive than other kinds of innerspring mattresses.
Offset coils are a great option if you’re looking for a spring mattress and have a larger budget.
Sometimes called wrapped or Marshall coils, each spring of a pocket-coil mattress is wrapped in fabric. This creates a small pocket, allowing each spring to absorb pressure individually and minimize disruptions to other springs.
Pocket coil mattresses are highly supportive. Because the springs act independently, they increase motion separation.
Like offset coils, they’re among the most expensive of spring mattresses.
You should consider a pocket-coil mattress if you want an innerspring mattress and have a large budget. They’re a great choice if you have a sleeping partner, particularly if one of you tosses, turns, and moves around during the night.
Types of Foam Mattresses
Foam mattresses became popular after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) invented memory foam in the 1970s. On the whole, foam mattresses are highly durable but more costly than other kinds of mattresses.
Some of the most popular kinds of foam mattresses include:
Memory foam mattresses are made of viscoelastic. If you apply pressure to viscoelastic, it will hold its shape — or “remember” the shape — once that pressure is released. When you sleep on memory foam, it contours completely to the shape of your body, providing an abundance of cushioning and support.
Memory foam mattresses are soft but capable of holding your body weight. They absorb motion and may help reduce your movements during the night.
Memory foam can retain body heat, making it difficult to sleep when it’s hot out. Not everyone enjoys its cushioning effect; some may feel as if they’re sinking in or being swallowed by the mattress.
Due to their softness, memory foam mattresses are best for side sleepers, people with consistent aches and pains, and people who prefer a soft mattress instead of a firm one.
Polyfoam, or polyurethane foam, is similar to memory foam in that it’s light, soft, and cushiony. Most types of polyfoam aren’t very dense, so it’s usually used to add comfort to more supportive and stable materials. High-resilience polyfoam is a sturdier type that can be used on its own in mattresses.
Polyfoam is more affordable than other foam mattresses. It doesn’t have the same “sinking” feeling as memory foam.
Polyfoam mattresses aren’t the most durable. The exception is high-resilience polyfoam, which is more durable but also more expensive.
If you want a foam mattress at a good price, polyfoam is a great choice, especially if you don’t like the cushy feel of memory foam.
A gel-infused mattress is a type of memory foam mattress that contains a cooling gel. Traditional memory foam can trap body heat. The gel helps with temperature regulation to keep you cool at night.
Gel-infused mattresses boast many of the same benefits as memory foam, but with added cooling effects.
Because of the additional materials, gel-infused mattresses can be quite pricey — even more so than memory foam.
Gel-infused mattresses are best for people who live in warm climates or who run hot while they sleep.
Latex mattresses are made of either natural or synthetic latex, a material derived from the sap of the rubber tree. When aerated, it becomes foamy and can be used in mattresses. It does conform to the body when you sleep on it, though not quite as much as memory foam does.
Latex mattresses are breathable, helping you stay cool throughout the night. They’re also comfortable, but they don’t sacrifice necessary support. When made of natural latex, they are processed with minimal additives, making them environmentally friendly.
Though there are many benefits of sleeping on a firm mattress, latex mattresses may be too firm for some people. They won’t work well for anyone who has a latex allergy. They’re fairly expensive.
Latex mattresses are best for people who want a firm, breathable, and durable foam mattress — and who have a sufficient budget for it.
Hybrid mattresses are layered mattresses made of a combination of materials, including springs, foam, or latex. Typically, there is some kind of spring system on the bottom, with several layers of foam, latex, or both on top.
High-quality hybrid mattresses will be highly durable and bring you the best of both worlds. You can enjoy the firm support of an innerspring mattress, as well as the soft cushion of a foam one. Some manufacturers offer different combinations and configurations of materials, giving you more options and variety to choose from.
If you don’t buy the right kind of hybrid for your needs, your mattress could be a jack of all trades, but master of none — meaning it doesn’t offer either enough support or softness.
Hybrid mattresses are best for sleeping partners with different firmness preferences or people who are looking to invest in a mattress that will last for a long time.
Purple Offers a variety of Hybrid mattresses. The Purple Hybrid, Hybrid Premier 3 and the Hybrid Premier 4.
The Purple Hybrid
For those that want a hybrid mattress with a more firm feel. Instant response support at an optimal temperature.
The Purple Hybrid Premier 3
For a more soft feel, our best selling mattress. The Purple Hybrid Premier 3 is the perfect combination of comfort and support. Three inches of GelFlex™ Grid cradle the body and provide added airflow.
A pillow-top mattress has an additional layer sewn into the top of a mattress.
Mattress toppers are similar, but instead of being sewn into the mattress, they are simply placed on top. They can make your mattress more comfortable at a fraction of the cost. However, they cannot fix or override any serious issue. If that’s the case, a pillow-top mattress is probably a better choice than a topper.
Pillow tops add even more comfort, softness, and support to your mattress. It also improves mattress thickness, which may be beneficial depending on your sleep environment and specific needs.
Pillow-top mattresses may throw off the dimensions of your mattress, making it too large for standard sheets. In addition to the extra cost of the pillow top, you may have to spend more on bedding.
Pillow-top mattresses are a good fit for anyone who wants to ensure their sleep environment is as comfortable as possible. They’re well suited to taller individuals or people who want a taller bed.
Some mattresses don’t fall into the typical categories of spring, foam, or hybrid. Instead, they’re better classified as unconventional or alternative mattresses.
As the name suggests, you can move and reposition an adjustable bed to make it more comfortable to sleep on. Some adjustable bed frames have additional features, like preset settings and different vibrations for massages, to make your sleep experience even more comfortable.
You have to make sure to find a mattress that is compatible with your adjustable bed, as not all of them are. Softer, more flexible mattresses tend to work well, while firm and dense ones are often too hard or thick to allow for the proper movement.
It is easiest to buy a mattress and adjustable bed frame from the same company to ensure it is compatible. Purple has an adjustable bed frame that is compatible with all of the mattress models. Designed to help improve your sleep quality and daily comfort.
Adjustable beds may be more comfortable since you can work with your mattress to get into a better position for sleep. They’re great if you have a sleeping partner, as you can both adjust your respective sides to your liking.
Because they’re so sophisticated, adjustable beds typically come with a hefty price tag. Between their electricity usage and the potential to break, they may also have higher ongoing and maintenance costs.
Adjustable mattresses are best for people who need help getting into the right sleep position, such as those with back problems or sciatica pain.
Air mattresses, or airbeds, are inflatable beds that are filled with air. They’re lightweight, portable, and travel well. You can blow air in manually, but you can use an air compressor or pump to inflate them quickly. It’s easy to adjust the firmness by letting air out or putting more in.
They’re inexpensive, making them a good option if you have a small budget. They’re convenient and easy to set up if you need to find another bed on short notice or while traveling.
Air mattresses may decompress or even leak during the night. Further, some people may have trouble getting comfortable on them. They aren’t as durable and don’t last as long as other mattresses.
For most people, airbeds are best used temporarily, including travel, camping and RV trips, and short overnight trips.
A futon is a bendable mattress that sits on a moveable frame, so it can be used as either a bed or a couch. They’re often covered with duvets for additional protection. Just like a standard mattress, futons come in different sizes, levels of thickness, and materials. The same goes for the frame, though they are usually made of metal or wood.
Since they can easily switch from couch to bed, futons are great in small spaces. They are highly affordable and can help you save money, as you only have to buy one piece of furniture instead of two.
Some people may not find futons as comfortable as other mattresses. They may also wear down more quickly, especially if you frequently change it from bed to couch.
Futons are best for people who have small bedrooms, need to accommodate extra guests on occasion, or who like having minimal clutter in their space.
Organic mattresses are made of natural, non-toxic materials that are thought to be better for the environment and your health. They are typically made of latex, cotton, or wool that has been cultivated, processed, and manufactured organically.
Some brands offer completely organic mattresses. Others, including Purple, sell mattresses that are made of non-toxic, non-hazardous materials. Though they aren’t 100% organic, they may be more beneficial for your health and the environment than their conventional counterparts.
Organic mattresses are free of many potentially harmful substances, making them a safe alternative that has a small impact on the environment.
Organic mattresses are usually more expensive than conventional ones. It’s difficult to know which claims about organic mattresses are true, as some businesses put out ambiguous or outright deceitful marketing messages to make a profit.
Organic mattresses may work well for you if you’re health-conscious, passionate about the environment, and have a large budget.
A waterbed is a mattress filled with water. Some are filled entirely with water, while others are broken up into smaller tubes or bladders. Not only are these tubes easier to fill up, but they also make waterbeds more supportive.
Waterbeds reportedly reached peak popularity in the 1980s, but they are still in use to this day. Modern waterbeds have new features, including devices you can use to control the temperature of the water.
Because they’re soft and squishy, waterbeds are relaxing to sleep on. You can heat the water to make yourself even more comfortable come bedtime.
Waterbeds may be too soft for some, not offering enough support. They are also heavy and difficult to move.
Waterbeds are best for people who prefer to sleep on something soft. Because they’re primarily made of water, they fall into the category of hypoallergenic mattresses, making them a good choice for anyone who has allergies.
How To Choose the Best Mattress for Your Needs
Understanding the different types of mattresses you can buy is only the first step in the shopping process. To narrow things down even further, there are several other important factors you need to consider:
- Your preferences: First and foremost, think about your personal preferences. What have you loved and hated about previous mattresses? You’re the one who has to sleep on this mattress, so it’s worth getting one you like.
- Your bed foundation: Your bed foundation, or whatever your mattress sits on, will also influence the type of mattress you buy.
- Sleeping position: Think about what sleeping position is best for you, and find a mattress that is conducive to that position. This will help you determine how firm of a mattress you need.
- Your body: Don’t forget to take your body, weight, and health needs into account. Again, this will help you decide upon the fitness of your mattress, as well as the material it’s made of.
- Mattress size: You may already know what mattress size you want, but it doesn’t hurt to take a moment to reconsider. Make sure it’ll fit properly in your space and be roomy enough for the people who have to sleep on it. If you want to make a change, now’s the time to do it.
- Budget: Of course, your budget will play a significant role in your mattress selection. You don’t need to break the bank to find a decent bed, but you should take care to invest in a high-quality mattress from a reputable retailer. This will help ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
Ultimately, you’re the only person who can decide what type of mattress is right for you. Take your time, do your research, and shop around until you find the one.
Popular Articles: Mattress Types
- Airbeds – Glorified Air Mattresses?
- Innerspring – Mattress Tech From The 1800s
- Futons – Just For College Dorm Rooms?
- Gel-Infused Foam – Do Cooling Gel Mattresses Work?
- Wrapped Coils – What Makes Fabric Encased Coils Unique
- Latex – What Makes These Mattresses So Popular?
- Memory Foam – Get To The Bottom of The Hype
- Pillow-Top – What Are The Advantages of Pillow-Tops?
- Purple® Smart Comfort Grid™ – What Makes Purple Unique?
- Waterbeds – Do People Still Sleep On Them?