Mattress Guides

Memory Foam Vs. Hybrid

Are memory foam or hybrid mattresses better? In this guide, we review both mattress types and explain the materials, how they feel, and the pros and cons of each.

By Katie Terrell Hanna

Mattress shopping can be overwhelming with all the various options available online and in-store. It seems every option has attractive features that promise to provide a better night’s sleep. If you need a bed that will support your back, there are plenty of options. If you want a mattress that keeps you cool, there is a mattress out there for you. Regardless of your physical needs, sleep position, and comfort preferences, there a mattress for everybody. So how do you choose? 

At Mattress Nerd, we review all mattress types so consumers can decide which one is best for them. In this guide, we will walk you through the similarities and differences of memory foam mattresses versus hybrid mattresses. We’ll explain each mattress type, how they feel, and the pros and cons for each so you can make an informed decision about which option is best suited to your needs. 

Mattress shopping can be overwhelming with all the various options available online and in-store. It seems every option has attractive features that promise to provide a better night’s sleep. If you need a bed that will support your back, there are plenty of options. If you want a mattress that keeps you cool, there is a mattress out there for you. Regardless of your physical needs, sleep position, and comfort preferences, there a mattress for everybody. So how do you choose? 

At Mattress Nerd, we review all mattress types so consumers can decide which one is best for them. In this guide, we will walk you through the similarities and differences of memory foam mattresses versus hybrid mattresses. We’ll explain each mattress type, how they feel, and the pros and cons for each so you can make an informed decision about which option is best suited to your needs. 

What is Memory foam?

Memory foam beds are composed of a polyurethane foam material, also referred to as synthetic viscoelastic memory foam. It cushions and absorbs body weight and is temperature sensitive. Top layers, often referred to as comfort layers, conform to an individual’s body, relieving pressure points, while lower high-density layers offer support to keep your spine aligned.

The method of creating memory foam varies by manufacturer, and many create proprietary formulas to enhance the quality and density of the foam. Scientifically, it is made by reacting different substances with additional agents that create its viscous construction. The product can then be further infused with blowing agents or vacuum-sealed to create an open cell structure.

PROS 

  1. Conforms to and absorbs the body
  2. Comfortable material, great choice for pressure point relief
  3. Motion isolation/low motion transfer
  4. Offers hip and shoulder support for side sleepers

CONS 

  • May sleep hot, but advancements in foam technology, like gel foam, have helped solve this
  • Slow response time
  • Some people experience a slight odor from the mattress
  • Can be costly depending on the brand

What is a hybrid?

Hybrid mattresses are a modern combination of traditional innersprings on the bottom layer with the popular memory foam layers at the top of the mattress. In this way, you get the comfort and absorption of memory foam, with the edge support and buoyancy of an innerspring mattress.

The original continuous coil construction found in traditional innerspring mattresses has been modified to be more comfortable, durable, and effective. They still work by contracting as weight is applied but instead of binding together, we now often see the individually wrapped pocket coil, or pocketed springs, which react independently increases motion isolation. In addition, because many feel that memory foam can tend to trap heat, choosing a hybrid mattress eliminates that risk due to their open-cell design.

PROS

  • Popular choice as it combines innerspring mattresses with memory foam, offering the best of both worlds
  • Hybrid mattresses offer many customizing options available
  • Balances comfort and support
  • Easier to move around than a foam mattress
  • Contours to the body better than an innerspring mattress

CONS

  • Can be structurally weak due to the combination of materials used
  • The number of options can be overwhelming

How They Measure Up

Overall Feel

Memory foam is soft, and it is often characterized as feeling like sleeping on a cloud. Some would say that is far more desirable and more comfortable than an innerspring mattress. However, there are others who prefer the firm feeling and added support of coils and would therefore be more inclined to choose a hybrid. So, it’s really up to your personal preference to decide which feels better to you. Many manufacturers offer both types with an added pillow top cover for extra softness and cushion. This is great for those leaning toward the benefits of a hybrid but are concerned it won’t be as soft as a memory foam.

Cooling Properties

Hybrid mattresses are better at cooling sleepers because the space between coils naturally promote air flow. Foam, by contrast, has a more constricted design and as such they can oftentimes trap heat. However, new technologies and advancements have come along in recent years that are making foam much cooler. For instance, many manufacturers now incorporate cooling gel foam into the construction of their mattresses. So, depending on which mattress you choose, you can sleep cooly regardless.

Motion Transfer

Because foam absorbs pressure, it is much less likely to transfer your movements across the bed, potentially disrupting your partner. Of course, if you’re a lone sleeper, this is mute. But the drawback with low motion transfer is a less responsive mattress that can make changing positions, getting in and out of bed, and even amorous activities more challenging. Hybrid wins in this category because you will have reduced motion transfer compared to traditional innerspring but also better responsiveness because of the combination.

Support

In this area, we’ll call it a tie. While hybrids combine both comfort and support, modern foam mattresses are attempting to do the same. These days, foam mattresses are built with a high-density foam base layer, which provides comparable support and spinal alignment to innersprings. In addition, memory foam mattresses can often be ordered at various firmness levels, so if you need more support, both options are viable.

Hybrid vs Memory Foam, Which One is Best? 

Foam is an excellent option if you’re looking for both comfort and support. The lower layers of high-density foam offer a comparable alternative to springs for good spinal alignment. You’ll also experience good pressure relief, which is particularly important for side sleepers and low motion transfer, which is great for couples. However, if you suffer from temperature sensitivity and tend to heat up when you sleep, it may not be the best option for you.

Hybrid mattresses are the best of both worlds. The dual benefits are hard to ignore. In addition, the open cell coils allow for the promotion of airflow better than a memory foam mattress. However, metal springs are obviously less comfy than foam and don’t absorb the body as well as foam and for that reason, some still prefer an all-foam mattress.

It will be up to you to decide which type of mattress is best for you. Memory foam and hybrid mattresses are both very popular options among sleepers. Ultimately, it will come down to whether you believe you need the added benefit of springs or would rather have the total cloud-like comfort of a memory foam mattress.


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