Choosing a mattress can be confusing as there are several types of mattresses available.
What’s important to remember is that one type is not necessarily better than another, it’s really a matter of personal choice.
Many mattresses, particularly those at the premium end, combine different technologies such as coil springs with memory foam layers. Over the years, with continuous innovations in mattress technology and new designs, there is now numerous ways to build a modern mattress.
These are all-foam mattresses. The comfort system features at least one layer of polyfoam and/or memory foam, while the support core is almost always made from high-density polyfoam.
‘Memory’ foam mattresses conform closer than polyfoam to help align the sleeper’s spine and alleviate pressure points.
The foam density refers to how well the mattress will support your body weight and is measured in pounds per cubic foot (PCF). Low-density foam tends to degrade quickly, but medium- and high-density foams have a reasonable lifespan.
- Low average price-point and wide availability
- Close conforming and above-average pain and pressure relief
- Good motion isolation
- No noise
- High off-gassing (odour) potential
- Sleeps hot for some
- Susceptible to early sagging and indentations
- Weak edge support
Made of a NASA-developed material called ‘visco’ foam, memory-foam mattresses contour to your shape and distribute your weight evenly over the surface. The ‘memory-foam’ is used in the upper layer, which is then supported by the denser non-memory base foam. Different memory foam mattresses may have multiple layers, and some have air channels cut in to reduce heat.
The key metric to look for is foam density. Lower density foam is more prone to breakdown and may not offer the best support, while too high might be too firm.
- Long-lasting with low motion transfer
- Can be good for those with back problems
- Tend to be hotter than other mattresses
- More expensive to buy than other types
The comfort layer features at least one layer of latex, a substance extracted from the sap of rubber trees. The latex may be mostly natural or synthetic. The support core may also be made from latex or, alternatively, high-density polyfoam (similar to foam/memory foam mattresses).
- Longer-than-average lifespan
- Notable conforming with some pain and pressure relief
- Good motion isolation and no noise
- Sleeps cooler than foam
- High average price-point
- Off-gassing (odour) potential
- Weak edge support
- Quite heavy and difficult to move
Innerspring / Coil Mattresses
These are generally considered the traditional and most common kinds of mattresses. The support is simply provided by metal coils, which can be configured in a number of ways. The most basic are the continuous and open-coil types. Most innerspring mattresses have one or two layers of polyfoam in the comfort system. The support core features evenly spaced steel coils, as well as a base polyfoam layer in most cases.
Coil type. There are four coil types commonly used in innerspring mattresses.
Bonnell coils: Hourglass-shaped and normally found in cheaper innersprings.
Offset coils: Hourglass-shaped (like bonnell coils), but their bottom is straightened to create a hinging effect for more even support. They are more durable than other mattress coils, and usually found in more expensive models.
Continuous wire coils: These coils form rows of single steel wires that are joined at the sides to create a hinging motion (similar to offset coils). These coils are durable, but the mattresses do not conform as closely as other innersprings
Pocketed coils: Usually found in hybrids, but some innersprings feature them as well. Each coil is wrapped in fabric or cloth. This minimizes noise and reduces more motion transfer than other innerspring coils.
- Low average price-point
- Sleeps cooler due to better airflow in support core
- More durable than foam,
- Allow for ease of movement
- Strong edge support
- Below-average lifespan
- Cheaper options may lack support over time
- Minimal conforming and pressure relief
- High noise potential
- Little to no motion isolation