Memory foam vs Hybrid mattress

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 7 minLast updated June 1, 2021

If you’ve tried to purchase a high-quality mattress recently, then you’d agree that the market is basically a memory foam vs hybrid mattress battle. Despite the popularity of these two product types, the fact is that many people don’t know enough about them to make an informed decision.

What makes these mattress types unique? And what benefits do they offer buyers? Providing answers to these basic questions would help put proper perspective to the hybrid mattress vs memory foam comparison. We will also provide expert opinions on which mattress type is best for who in this guide.

What is Memory foam?

Memory foam is a type of mattress made of polyurethane foam densely packed together. It was invented by NASA(1) but has since been commonized for use in upholstery and even helmets.

The memory foam is so-named because it slowly sinks when pressured, compressing the foam, and keeps a “memory” of the object’s shape for a while after it’s removed before it stretches.

What is a Hybrid mattress?

A hybrid mattress is a combination of different mattress structures, usually innerspring coils combined with foam. It combines the soft feel of memory foam, latex, or polyfoam with the bounciness of pocketed or tempered coils.

Hybrid mattresses combine the comfort that a quality foam provides with the structural support of a good old spring bed. This makes it a significant improvement on regular mattresses.

“Also read: Top 6 Best Hybrid Mattresses for Side Sleepers in 2021.”

Memory foam vs Hybrid mattress: The differences

Both memory foam and hybrid mattresses are excellent choices for making a bed. And undoubtedly, they both have their strengths and downsides. So, depending on individual preferences, any one of the two can be a preferred choice.

Let’s take a deep dive into the memory foam vs hybrid mattress comparison;

We’ll make a comprehensive list of each of their pros and cons. As follows:

Pros of Memory foam

  1. Contours to body shape. When you sleep on a memory foam mattress, the foam would slowly compress and adjust to your exact body shape. Memory foam fibers absorb body heat which makes them pliable and hugs each body part tightly.
  2. Great for pain relief. If you experience lower back pain, hip pain, or shoulder pain due to side sleeping, then a memory foam that contours to the body and joints are your best option for pain relief. 
  3. Low motion transfer. Memory foam fibers react separately to pressure and movement. Generally, mattresses without springs have lower motion transfer; and memory foam is chief here. This is great for you if you have a partner that moves around a lot during sleep; you’ll not be disturbed.
  4. Hypoallergenic. Most memory foam mattresses are hypoallergenic because of the densely packed mattress fibers, making it hard for allergens like mites, mold, and dust to penetrate. People with a strong reaction to chemicals should go for a memory foam mattress without fiberglass.
  5. Budget-friendly. Comparing memory foam vs hybrid mattresses, memory foam mattresses are cheaper and can be more budget-friendly.
  6. Silent/low noise. Since memory foam mattresses don’t contain any other components other than the foam fibers, it doesn’t make any noise when you roll around on them.

Cons of Memory foam

  1. Retains body heat. Memory foam fibers readily trap body heat and aren’t breathable, making them adapt to body shapes. Unfortunately, this can easily result in sleeping hot, which is discomforting.
  2. Not responsive. For people that toss and turn when sleeping, they would find memory foam trapping. It takes a while for the old spot to fully expand while the new area also slowly sinks you in. This also makes it more challenging to get out of bed.
  3. Less longevity. All the structural support a memory foam mattress provides comes from the foam itself. This makes it inevitable for even the best memory foam mattress to sag over time. And if you sleep on the same spot, that means it would take less time for that to happen.
  4. Lacks edge-to-edge support. Each part of the memory foam mattress reacts separately to pressure. This means if you’re sleeping at one edge, it will compress without balancing from the other edge, which might result in you rolling off.

Pros of Hybrid mattress

  1. Breathable. The coils present in hybrid mattresses allow for excellent airflow and breathability. If you sleep hot, hybrid mattresses without memory foam are your best shot at sleeping cool.
  2. Good structural support. The innerspring in hybrid mattresses provide the best structural support for a bed. They also offer excellent bounce and can carry more weight. This is a plus for back and stomach sleepers
  3. Durability. Several layers combined in a hybrid mattress means it takes longer for all of them to wear. In addition, the coils inside hybrid mattresses make them the most durable mattress type available.
  4. Improved responsiveness. For people who roll around when sleeping, hybrid mattresses have better responsiveness than memory foam mattresses. So you’ll immediately get the same feel in a new spot as an old spot.
  5. Numerous possible varieties. The foam-spring combination of hybrid mattresses come in different varieties. There are differences in the number of layers, number of spring layers, type of spring used, type of foam used, and arrangement of the layers.

Cons of Hybrid mattress

  1. Poor motion transfer. The bounce provided by the spring in hybrid mattresses makes motion transfer very pronounced. 
  2. Gets noisy. As the coils in a hybrid bed get old, they become squeaky, and movement on the bed gets noisy.
  3. Heavy. Due to the many compartments present in these mattresses, they can be pretty heavy. Not to mention the weight contribution of steel coils used in innerspring.
  4. Expensive. Hybrid mattresses are the most expensive bed types present in the market.

Quote Box

Choosing the mattress type to buy should not only be about the money first but comfortability. A mattress can be high-quality and expensive and not be the best fit for your sleeping position.

Which one should you choose?

To finalize things for our hybrid mattress vs memory foam mattress comparison, let’s identify the best scenarios to choose either of the two mattress types;

When to choose memory foam

  • If you like to sleep (sink) “in” your bed;
  • If you’re a side sleeper;
  • If you stay in one position when sleeping;
  • If you have allergies;
  • If you’re on a budget.

When to choose memory foam

  • If you prefer to sleep (stay) “on” your bed;
  • If you toss and turn when sleeping;
  • If you sleep hot;
  • If you weigh higher than average;
  • If cost isn’t a concern.

FAQ

Is memory foam or hybrid mattress better for back pain?

Memory foam is best for back pain because it contours to the body shape. However, a hybrid mattress with a memory foam top would also do fine.

What is a memory foam hybrid mattress?

A memory foam hybrid mattress is a hybrid mattress that has a memory foam top layer.

Conclusion

Both memory foam and hybrid mattresses are great options for a good night’s rest. Based on individual sleeping patterns, the best fit for each person would be based on their preferences. 

For people who share beds looking for a compromise, a hybrid mattress with a memory foam top layer would be a great choice.

What are your reservations on the memory foam or hybrid mattress debate? Which do you prefer and why? Share with us in the comments below. We’d love to interact more with you.

References:

  1. Consumer Goods, NASA Spinoff. (2005). Forty-Year-Old Foam Springs Back With New Benefits. NASA Technology Transfer Program. Retrieved from https://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2005/ch_6.html.

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