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Memory Foam vs. Spring: Everything You Need to Know to Make the Right Choice

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 7 minLast updated on June 3, 2021

When it comes to the memory foam vs. spring mattress comparison, many people find it hard to choose. And that’s natural, as each mattress type has something good to offer (and some weak sides as well).

So, if you aren’t sure whether memory foam or a spring mattress would work for you, check out our comprehensive guide. We will cover all the peculiarities of each mattress type and will look at their comparison side by side to help you make the right choice. Let’s get started!

Memory Foam Mattresses Explained

Let’s start with memory foam, as this material is among the most popular options on the modern market. 

Memory Foam Mattresses Explained

Source:
https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/mattress-market

Memory foam is an adaptive, contouring material. It reacts to temperature, so memory foam molds and compresses when there’s body heat and pressure applied (1). It has a rather unique feel. Most users describe sleeping on memory foam mattresses as being hugged by it. In other words, you will be likely to feel like you’re sleeping “in” your mattress, not “on” it.

Because this material is highly adaptive, it can support one’s body properly, filling in the curves and hugging the protruding body parts. This aids proper weight distribution. And this is why memory foam mattresses are famous for their pressure-relieving properties and can be considered one of the best mattresses for back pain

Additionally, because memory foam is so adaptive, it’s often used in top-quality mattresses for adjustable beds.  

Now, memory foam mattresses typically have a multi-layer design. Many manufacturers combine memory foam with polyfoam, which is slightly more resilient and responds a bit faster to applied pressure. As a rule, polyfoam is used for the support layer, while memory foam usually goes into comfort layers.

Also Read: Best Mattresses without Springs

Spring Mattresses Explained

If we look at memory foam vs. spring mattresses, the latter are just as popular. However, they have a noticeably different feel and, of course, construction.

Now, spring mattresses use steel coils for support. In most cases, there can be a thin layer of foam, wool, or fiber on top to add a little bit of padding. Nonetheless, innerspring mattresses always feel bouncy and resilient. They respond fast to applied pressure and don’t offer much of a hug (unlike foam). With a spring model, you will feel like sleeping “on” your mattress rather than “in” it.

By the way, you might also come across mattresses that use springs for support but combine those with thick comfort layers. Such models are called hybrid mattresses and often have a very balanced feel. If you’re interested in something like that, you can read more about the best hybrid mattresses here.

Also Read: 5 Best Mattresses for Platform Beds (and How to Pick One)

Now, let’s get back to innerspring mattresses and their types. Most commonly, you can find open-coil springs and pocketed springs. The former are cheaper, but the latter offer more targeted support. Now, the pocketed design means that each coil is wrapped in fabric individually. Because each coil is independent, the whole support system adjusts to the shape of one’s body more effectively. Plus, pocketed coils allow for less motion transfer.

Spring Mattresses Explained

Source:
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/704743041680544324

If between a spring mattress vs. a memory foam mattress you choose to buy an innerspring one, pay attention to the coil gauge number. It signifies the thickness of the coils. The lower the gauge number, the thicker the coils are. Naturally, thicker coils can provide more reliable support, plus they are usually more durable.

Memory Foam vs. Spring: Benefits and Drawbacks Side by Side

To help you choose between memory foam vs. spring mattresses, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each type. After all, by comparing the good and bad, you might understand which type would work for you the best.

Pros

Cons

Memory foam


  • highly adaptive and cradling, offers close conforming and does an excellent job of relieving pressure (which might also help with back pain alleviation);

  • because memory foam responds slowly to applied pressure, it absorbs shock from motion quite well and can create optimal conditions for disturbance-free sleep for you and your partner;

  • this material does not make noise when bearing weight, so it could be a good solution for sexually active couples who want to remain discreet;

  • memory foam is highly adaptive, which makes it suitable for adjustable bed frames and thus, much more comfortable sleep.


  • most foam mattresses have weak edges, which means less sleeping space if you share your bed with a partner. This can also make it more challenging to get out of bed, especially for people who have slight mobility issues or owners of low-profile beds;

  • many memory foam mattress manufacturers use fiberglass as the fire barrier, which might be dangerous if the fiberglass gets out. There are good memory foam mattresses without fiberglass available on the market, but the variety might be somewhat limited compared to regular foam models;

  • because memory foam is quite hugging and can trap body heat, these mattresses often sleep hot (unless the foam is infused with cooling gel);

  • foam is not a breathable material. This may lead to moisture accumulation, which, in the long run, can cause mold growth or dust mites (unless you buy a mattress that uses open-cell foam);

  • may restrict one’s movement, so it’s not the best option for combination sleepers or sexual activities;

  • many memory foam mattresses arrive with a strong off-gassing, which can be an issue for users who are sensitive to odors.

Innerspring


  • spring mattresses are quite affordable;

  • this type usually has reliable, strong edges, which can offer more sleeping space for you and your significant other;

  • innerspring mattresses are super breathable and don’t sleep hot;

  • they are also more resistant to mold and bacteria growth due to the proper air circulation they offer;

  • since spring beds are bouncy and responsive, they can work great for sex;

  • innerspring mattresses can deliver sturdy, reliable support and don’t restrict one’s movement.


  • most spring mattresses lack cradling and pressure relief, which often makes them unsuitable for side sleepers or those who have sharp pressure points;

  • because innerspring models are rather bouncy, they allow for motion transfer and can cause your partner (or you) to wake up in the middle of the night when there’s movement on the other side of the bed;

  • in most cases, spring mattresses have a below-average lifespan;

  • may become squeaky with time (or make noise during sex).

Who Would Benefit the Most Using Each Mattress Type?

So, to sum up and to help you a bit more with the spring mattress vs. memory foam mattress dilemma, let’s see which type might be the most suitable for your particular needs.

You will like a memory foam mattress if you:

  • want a deep hug and effective pressure relief;
  • are a restless sleeper who doesn’t want to disturb their partner during the night;
  • have painful pressure points or tender joints;
  • don’t have mobility issues and can get out of bed on your own;
  • don’t tend to switch sleep positions often during the night;
  • do not suffer from night sweats;
  • want to achieve proper weight distribution.

Now, you will enjoy sleeping on an innerspring mattress if you:

  • don’t want to feel stuck in your mattress;
  • appreciate bounce and responsiveness;
  • want more sleeping space or enjoy lying close to the edge of the mattress;
  • hate sleeping hot;
  • don’t have painful pressure points;
  • appreciate it when a mattress responds to your movements during sex;
  • don’t mind getting a new mattress after around 6-7 years.

Also Read: Best Memory Foam Mattresses and How to Pick One

FAQ

Are memory foam mattresses better than spring mattresses?

Memory foam mattresses are better than spring models in terms of durability. The rest would depend on your personal preferences. For instance, some users consider foam mattresses better because they do a great job of isolating motion. Others appreciate spring mattresses more because they don’t typically restrict movement. So, it’s really up to you to decide which one is better.

Which mattress is the healthiest to sleep on: foam or spring?

The healthiest mattress is the one that is suited for your sleeping style. This has to do with proper spinal alignment. For example, side sleepers usually feel the best sleeping on softer mattresses. Back sleepers require minimal sinkage and prefer medium to medium-firm mattresses. And stomach sleepers are advised to pick firmer mattresses to avoid back curvature during the night.

Summary

Needless to say, both memory foam and spring mattresses have some attractive sides and weak points. And to make the best choice, you just need to decide what you want your new bed to offer and which cons you will be able to tolerate.

So, which mattress type would you prefer? And what do you want your new mattress to feel like? Share your thoughts in the comments!

References:

  1. The Independent (March 15, 2021). Mattress buying guide: How to choose a mattress for the best night’s sleep. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/house-garden/mattresses/mattress-guide-how-to-choose-best-types-open-spring-pocket-memory-foam-hybrid-bed-in-a-box-size-firmness-care-toppers-a7584356.html

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