Innerspring vs. Latex Mattress
Is the traditional innerspring mattress or a bouncy latex bed better for your sleep needs?
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With tons of mattress options and materials to choose from, it can be hard to find the best mattress online or in-store for you. So, for today, let’s focus on two common mattress types you may be deciding between: innerspring and latex beds.
While there are literally thousands of variations within these two classifications of beds, we’ll be focusing on the general pros, cons, feel, and performance of each. Let’s get started with innerspring beds.
What Is an Innerspring Mattress?
You may be unfamiliar with the term “innerspring” mattress, but you’ve probably slept on one before since they’ve existed for well over one hundred years. Innerspring is the standard, traditional kind of bed with a support layer made of springs and a thin comfort layer of foam, latex, cotton, etc.
Special emphasis goes on the word “thin”, because a bed with springs, but more than two inches of material on top of it, would actually be a hybrid mattress.
The best innerspring mattresses and the best hybrid mattresses share lots of similarities and benefits, but we’ll be limiting this comparison to just latex and innerspring. However, even within the strict classification of innerspring beds, you can still choose from several different types of coils or springs:
- Pocketed coils—These coils are individually wrapped in cloth, which reduces motion transfer and noise. However, mattresses with this kind of coil tend to be more expensive.
- Open coils—This is the standard innerspring option, and it features a mesh of connected coils.
- Offset coils—These coils are made from interconnected, helix-shaped coils that can hinge and offer maximum support.
- Continuous coils—Similar to offset coils, these include several individual coils looped together. While continuous coils have the most resistance, they’re also the least contouring.
So, if the defining features of an innerspring bed are that it’s relatively thin and includes a layer of coils, then what about its feel, performance, and price? Well, innerspring mattresses are generally known for being cooling, responsive, and firm. They aren’t the softest or most durable, but innerspring beds are affordable and offer plenty of bounce.
Now that we’ve nailed down what exactly an innerspring mattress is, let’s cover the major pros and cons of this kind of bed, and what kinds of sleepers will get the best sleep on it.
- Responsiveness—Naturally, coils and springs are bouncy, so innerspring mattresses are too. For combination sleepers who need to move around on their bed to get comfortable, it’s definitely worth considering an innerspring bed because of their excellent responsiveness.
- However, it’s worth pointing out that latex beds are a very close second in terms of responsiveness, so it’s a win-win. Check out the GhostBed Flex for an innerspring bed that’s ideal for combination sleepers.
- Temperature Control—Innerspring mattresses are top choice for anyone looking for a cooling or breathable bed, due to the ventilation that coil support layers offer. Plus, with fewer comfort layers, innerspring beds hold on to less body heat than other mattress types. Check out the innerspring Saatva Classic for a top-tier cooling mattress.
- Price—There’s a huge variety of prices within the innerspring mattress market, and some luxury innerspring beds can be well into the thousands, but there’s plenty of affordable innerspring mattresses available. Check out the Brooklyn Bedding Signature for a budget-friendly innerspring bed.
- Poor pressure relief—Depending on your sleeping preferences, many innerspring beds can be firm to a fault. For sleepers that need support without feeling like they’re sleeping on a bed of bricks, innerspring isn’t ideal for pressure relief.
- Less durable—Because innerspring mattresses are generally thinner and made from less material than latex beds, they’re also less durable. And, lacking the natural elasticity of latex, innerspring beds will accumulate wear and tear much quicker, meaning you’ll likely need to make a replacement within 10 years of purchasing one.
- Poor side sleeping—This issue is partially because of the poor pressure relief of innerspring beds, but also because this kind of mattress is firmer too. For lightweight sleepers especially, many innerspring beds won’t have enough give or cushion to take pressure off of the shoulders and hips.
What Is a Latex Mattress?
Next up are latex mattresses. And, like innerspring beds, there’s plenty of variety here too. While many latex beds include materials such as latex foam, hybrid beds can also classify as latex too. Still, within the broad spectrum of latex beds, there’s a few different ways to decide between them, specifically what they’re made of and how they’re made.
Natural vs. Synthetic
First off, it’s important to consider whether your latex bed is made from synthetic or natural materials (or a blend of the two). If you go with a natural latex bed, your mattress will likely be more durable and more eco-friendly, since natural latex is made from organic rubber instead of petroleum-based plastics (like synthetic latex). However, many “natural” latex beds are, in reality, a mix of the two.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a latex bed, but with a smaller price tag, you’ll probably want to search for a synthetic latex mattress. While this material isn’t as natural, durable, or environmentally safe per se, it is a more affordable option.
Dunlop vs. Talalay
Next, in terms of how latex mattresses are made, you can choose between Dunlop or Talalay beds. Essentially, latex beds made with the Dunlop process are firmer, more filled, and have a more dense base.
On the other hand, Talalay-made mattresses are generally softer and have a more even density throughout. Lastly, but certainly not least, Talalay latex beds tend to be a little more pricey as well. Check out our Dunlop vs. Talalay Latex mattress guide to learn more.
All that said, some general characteristics of a latex mattress to keep in mind as you shop are that this kind of bed tends to be highly responsive, cooling, and supportive. Additionally, latex mattresses offer solid durability too.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of what a latex mattress is, let’s talk more about their pros and cons, and who this kind of mattress is best for.
- Good back sleeping—While stomach sleepers need maximum firmness, and side sleepers need more relief and softness, back sleepers sleep best with a balance of support and pressure relief. In this comparison, latex mattresses are the best fit for back sleepers due to the firm but supportive feel of latex. Additionally, back sleepers who experience lower back pain tend to get better pain relief on latex beds for the aforementioned reasons.
- So, if you need one of the best mattresses for back pain, it’s worth starting your search with latex beds.
- Better pressure relief—Since latex is a naturally bouncy and flexible material, its pressure-relieving benefits don’t just stop with back sleepers. In fact, side sleepers, lightweight stomach sleepers, and sleepers with aches and pains will generally get more relief on latex beds. Check out the Birch Natural latex mattress for outstanding pressure relief.
- More durable—Latex mattresses may come with a higher price tag than the standard innerspring bed, but they also come with more years of quality sleep. This is because latex (especially organic latex) is elastic and can maintain its shape and support over many years. In fact, high-quality latex beds can last well over 10 years, while typical innerspring mattresses are closer to the average mattress lifespan of seven years.
- Not only that, but when you do get rid of your natural latex bed, its organic materials are more eco-friendly and recyclable than many innerspring or foam mattresses.
- Poor motion isolation—While latex beds (and innerspring beds too) are great for combination sleepers or anyone looking for a bouncy bed, they’re one of the worst choices for couples or anyone wanting motion isolation. If you plan on sharing a latex mattress, it’s worth noting that you’ll likely be feeling your partner’s movement throughout the night.
- Price—If you’re on a tight mattress budget, you’ll probably want to stay away from latex beds. For example, while you can get budget innerspring beds for as little as $500, you’ll struggle to find many latex beds for less than $1,000.
- Temperature control—Latex beds are actually one of the better options for hot sleepers, since natural latex is breathable and cooling, but, compared to innerspring beds, they take second. The average sleeper shouldn’t have any temperature issues on either kind of bed, but innerspring beds are definitely number one for cooling.
Bed-to-Bed: Innerspring vs. Latex
We’ve hit the major pros and cons of both innerspring and latex beds, so let’s talk a little more about how they perform.
Firmness & Feel
While there’s plenty of variety within each type of bed for firmness, innerspring beds are known to feel more firm and less cushioned. This is because coils, while bouncy, don’t have as much give as latex. Simply put, a high quality latex bed will cradle your back and body, while an innerspring bed has more of a solid surface.
The best cooling mattresses work by bringing airflow in and letting body heat out. Fortunately for hot sleepers, both latex and coils are naturally breathable and airy materials. However, since there can only be one winner, we’re going to have to give this one to innerspring beds because they’re thinner and ultimately don’t have as much insulating material.
Pressure and Pain Relief
The best mattresses for pain relief are relative to your preferred sleeping position and body size. So, while stomach sleepers may prefer the firmness of innerspring beds, back sleepers and side sleepers will get better pressure and pain relief on latex mattresses.
Once again, this is a super close one. Latex is known for its bouncy and elastic qualities, ideal for combination sleepers needing a responsive bed, and so are coils. Overall, however, innerspring beds are marginally better if you’re simply looking for the mattress type with the most responsiveness.
TLDR: Which Is Best For You?
Overall, the best mattress is the one that’s best for you. So, when deciding between innerspring or latex beds, here’s a quick TLDR cheatsheet to get you started on your search:
Innerspring Mattresses Are Better For:
- Budget shoppers—Across the board, innerspring beds are some of the most affordable and will cost several hundred dollars less than an equivalent latex mattress.
- Hot sleepers—Hot sleepers really can’t go wrong with either kind of mattress, but innerspring beds have a slight edge when it comes to keeping cool.
- Stomach sleepers—Of all sleeper types, stomach sleepers (and combination sleepers) will do best on innerspring beds because of their top-notice responsiveness and firmness.
Latex Beds Are Better For:
- Side sleepers—Side sleepers often need less firmness and more pressure relief. So, side sleepers wanting to keep the pressure off their hips and shoulders will want to go with a latex mattress.
- Eco-friendly shoppers—If you choose to go with natural latex, you can score a bed that’s super durable (lasting 10+ years) and eco-friendly.
- Sleepers with aches and pains—Regardless of whether you’re a side sleeper or back sleeper, latex beds offer more support for lower back pain and side pain too.