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Memory foam vs Hybrid mattress

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 7 minLast updated on January 11, 2022

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 made using polyurethane foam that was chemically treated to gain visco-elastic properties. The material was invented by NASA (1), and it does an impressively great job of reducing pressure. 

Memory foam adapts to the body’s shape. It’s easily compressed when pressure is applied, allowing the material to hug the protruding body parts. At the same time, memory foam fills in the curves, as each area of the mattress responds to pressure independently. The material retains the shape of the sleeper, hence the name “memory” foam.

What Is a Hybrid Mattress?


As the name suggests, hybrid mattresses combine multiple materials. Typically, they use coils for the support core and foam or latex for comfort layers. By merging different materials, hybrid mattresses usually have a balanced feel. They deliver optimal support while aiding tension alleviation. In other words, hybrid mattresses are neither too bouncy nor too hugging.

“Also read: Top 6 Best Hybrid Mattresses for Side Sleepers in 2022.”

Memory Foam vs Hybrid Mattresses: the Main Differences

Both memory foam and hybrid mattresses can deliver high comfort levels and decent support for the back. Naturally, it can be hard to choose between such excellent options. 

To make things easier, shoppers need to consider the key differences between these mattress types and factor in their personal preferences. Some advantages and disadvantages can be real game-changers depending on the sleeper’s requirements.

So, here are the main pros and cons of each type that can set memory foam and hybrid mattresses apart.

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. This allows the foam to gently hug the protruding sections of the body while supporting everything else. As a result, the pressure is redistributed evenly, allowing for tension relief.
  2. Great for pain relief.Because memory foam does an excellent job of reducing tension, it can also help with back, hip, and shoulder pain. It’s simple: the pressure doesn’t build up, and it doesn't aggravate pain either. Additionally, memory foam aids fast relaxation, which may contribute to pain relief too.
  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. Some models have an open-cell structure or use gel particles to combat overheating, but they tend to cost more.
  2. Limits movement. People who often toss and turn in bed may find memory foam somewhat restricting due to its deep hug. This can also make it more challenging for some people to get out of bed (for instance, back pain sufferers with somewhat limited mobility).
  3. Somewhat limited lifespan. 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. Increased breathability. The support coils in hybrid mattresses promote airflow and can even balance out the warm foam layers on top. Sleepers may also consider hybrid mattresses without memory foam to prevent overheating.
  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. Hybrid models belong to the most durable mattresses thanks to their multi-layered construction. More layers simply mean the mattress will take longer to wear out.
  4. Improved responsiveness. For people who roll around when sleeping, hybrid mattresses have better responsiveness than memory foam mattresses. In other words, hybrid mattresses do not feel restricting and allow sleepers to change positions effortlessly.Numerous possible varieties
  5. Nearly endless comfort variations. 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. Some hybrid models also use latex for comfort layers or combine it with foam. And the best part is, every mattress has a unique feel. This gives sleepers more chances to find exactly what they need to enjoy comfortable slumber.

Cons of Hybrid mattress

  1. Poor motion transfer. The bounce provided by the spring in hybrid mattresses makes motion transfer very pronounced. 
  2. Noise potential. Coils in hybrid mattresses may become squeaky with time, resulting in noise every time there’s movement on top of the bed.
  3. Increased weight and thickness. Hybrid models are typically heavy and bulky due to their multi-layered construction. This makes such mattresses more challenging to transport.
  4. Higher price point. This mattress type can be pretty expensive and, thus, might not work for budget shoppers.

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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