Mattress Guides

What are Hybrid Mattresses?

Is the word “hybrid” just a mattress marketing term, or does it actually mean something for your sleep? We’ll pull back the curtain on hybrid mattresses and tell you everything you need to know.

By Jack Mitcham

Hybrid mattresses are a relatively new trend in the mattress world. In fact, it seems like most manufacturers are coming out with a hybrid model or two. But what is a hybrid mattress and what are some of the pros and cons? Is this the next best thing in sleep health, or just marketing hype? Let’s take a closer look. If you like what you see, check out our list of the best hybrid mattresses.

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What’s the “Hybrid” in Hybrid Mattresses?

Hybrid mattresses combine the classic construction of old-school innerspring mattresses with the comforting top layers of all-foam mattresses. A hybrid mattress will typically have coils (usually individually pocketed coils) and memory foam or latex on top. 

If you’re well-versed in mattresses, you may have a question at this point.

“Don’t most regular coil mattresses use memory foam or latex on top?”

Well, yes. In some respects, the “hybrid” name is just a marketing term; an evolutionary step rather than a revolutionary one. Hybrid mattresses tend to have a little more foam and a little less of the other comfort materials than is used in traditional innerspring mattresses. Also, the top of the hybrid mattress is typically flatter like a foam mattress, rather than tufted like a traditional innerspring mattress.

The Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid in Ability firm setting has a flat top in comparison to the more traditional Posturepedic mattress below.

This is a more traditional innerspring mattress. The little indents on top are tufting, more indicative of a traditional innerspring mattress. Most hybrid mattresses use a smooth surface instead.

A word of caution: not everything labeled a “hybrid” mattress is really a hybrid. It’s in fashion now for some manufacturers to call every mattress with both springs and foam “hybrid.” The real hybrid mattresses are those that use larger layers of foam on the top and use less fiber. Hybrid mattresses have a very particular feel to them that’s hard to describe, but if you spend some time on a hybrid mattress you’ll notice the difference. The feel is somewhere between the slow-response of a foam mattress and the bounciness of the older traditional mattresses. If you try a mattress that feels just like every other innerspring mattress, and it uses a tufted top (the little indents sewn down), it’s probably not what most people would consider a real hybrid. 

But in the end, what ultimately matters is your comfort. No all-foam bed or even hybrid bed is made for every sleep position. To find optimal spinal support, it’s best to look for a firmness level that matches sleeping position and provides enough pressure relief and cushioning to leave you well-rested.

For instance, if you’re a side sleeper, you’ll probably need a mattress that’s on the softer side to keep your spine aligned and any back pain in check. The best mattress for a back sleeper would be something a little firmer, to provide a support system that keeps the hips from sinking into the bed too much and causing spinal misalignment. 

Check for support and spinal alignment with any bed you try, hybrid or not. If you need help in this area, check out our mattress buying guide.

This is a Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid (the Ability firm). Note the flat top in comparison to the more traditional Posturepedic below. Images courtesy of Overstock.com

This is a more traditional innerspring mattress. Note the tufting on the top (the little indents). Most (but not all) hybrid mattresses use a smooth surface instead.

What’s the Difference Between Hybrid Mattresses and All-Foam Mattresses?

If you’re relatively new to the mattress industry––no judgement!––the difference between a memory foam mattress and a hybrid mattress might not be readily evident. All-foam mattresses are made of several foam layers that contour to your body. These mattresses usually have at least three layers:  

  • A top comfort layer that offers plush protection for delicate pressure points like the shoulders and hips
  • A transition layer that’s a bit firmer than the comfort layer and supports larger bodies; this layer keeps 
  • A support layer, or base layer, is made of the highest density foam in the mattress enhances durability and keeps the bed from sagging over time

In a hybrid bed, usually a foam hybrid, the support layer of an all-foam bed is essentially replaced by a layer of coils, also known as innersprings. Though there are several different types of innerspring designs on the market today, they all have a few things in common: innerspring beds are easier to move around in than all-foam mattresses because they create a more responsive feel. Still, they’re not quite as good as all-foam mattresses at motion isolation. A must for couples, mattresses that reduce motion transfer allow a sleeper to remain undisturbed while a partner tosses and turns at night. 

But there’s a major upside to the coils in a hybrid bed: they enhance breathability and all-night coolness. If you tend to sleep hot, you may gravitate toward breathable coils rather than the heat retention of foam comfort layers found in all-foam beds. The layers of memory foam in all-foam construction are designed to wrap around the body and often trap body heat, though some brands include gel memory foam or cooling polyfoam in an attempt to keep hot sleepers comfortable. Though a latex mattress might be a bit better at reducing heat retention, innerspring coils offer the ultimate breathability and airflow. 

For a more in-depth look, check out Memory Foam vs Hybrid. 

Pros and Cons of Hybrid Mattresses

Since hybrid mattresses are just a variation of innerspring mattresses, the pros and cons of innersprings apply to hybrids as well. Here are a couple pros and cons specific to hybrid beds:

Pros:

  1. Hybrid mattresses are better at contouring to your body than simpler innerspring mattresses
  2. Hybrids have a fairly unique feel that some people really like
  3. Because of the metal coil system in a hybrid mattress, the edge support of the bed is better than an all-foam bed

Cons:

  1. Hybrids are a little more expensive than other mattresses of a similar overall quality. The higher price tag is, in part, because hybrids are the latest trend in mattresses.
  2. Everybody seems to be calling their mattress a hybrid these days, so you might have to sift through a few mattresses that aren’t really hybrids to find one that truly is.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, now you have a better sense of what a hybrid mattress is and why mattress type is so important when it comes to choosing the right mattress. The basics of finding a new mattress remain the same: try out the mattresses and check for support and comfort. Look at mattress reviews and do some online research, but don’t pay too much attention to the word “hybrid,” as it is mostly a marketing term.

Still, at least be aware that the mattress will have a slightly different feel, somewhere in between an all-foam mattress and the more traditional innersprings. It’s not necessarily better or worse than any other type of mattress, just slightly different.

Do you own a hybrid bed? If so, leave a comment below and let the world know what you think of it.


Comments (8)

  1. I wanted to thank you for helping me learn more about hybrid mattresses. You mentioned that these mattresses can have a unique feel to them. Perhaps it could be good to try out different hybrid mattresses, in case each one could feel a different way based on their design.

  2. Just a few observations/questions:
    Wouldn’t the point at which an innerspring mattress with foam comfort layer(s) becomes a hybrid depend in part on the ratio of coil height to foam thickness?
    I’ve seen mattresses described as Latex-Memory Foam Hybrids. In other words, two kinds of foam support.

  3. I didn’t know that a hybrid mattress had a unique feel. Recently, my mattress has been bothering me when I sleep. I think that I might want to try a hybrid mattress to see if it will solve my problem.

  4. I purchased a Berkeley (hybrid) mattress and wish I had not. It seems so fragile to me. I feel like I have to baby it. I could never let a child jump up and down on it, like we used to do when we were kids. The quilted cover matted down very fast, its very hot even though I was told it would not be hot, when you sit down on the edge you sink, its just not comfortable nor durable in my opinion. It is not a snuggly mattress either, it seems more like something that would come from Ikea, very simple and minimal. I also don’t think 2″ of latex laying loosely over a bed of coils is enough latex [for me]. The mattress also contains a bunch of POLYPROPYLENE, even though the beds are marketed as “Natural”, containing “Natural and Organic components”, or “organic components” and more. Its odd to me that none of the Berkeley Ergo dealers mention the Polypropylene on their web sites (except the Canada dealer after days of discussion about it). The dealers give great detail about all the OTHER components, but the Polypropylene is never mentioned. I wonder why this is so? I also wonder why their dealer in Ohio, SleepDesign.com refers to the Berkeley Ergonomic mattresses as “organic mattresses” on his site because I’m not sure that is accurate especially seeing they contains so much Polypropylene.

    Lately Berkeley has begun to use the term “MOSTLY natural and organic components” instead of “Natural and Organic components”, but I think they need to ask their dealers to do the same as the dealers are the contact for the customer. Surely they would not want their dealers to represent the mattress inaccurately.

  5. This was an interesting read! My husband and I have a mattress, and while it’s a decent one, we need something more firm for our backs. I’ll have to show this to him, since I didn’t know about hybrids until today. Thanks!

  6. Hybrids : Chiro in NYC 30 yes. Never been completely satisfied with a mattress. I need a new one now.
    After a long search, I have it down to 2. Before i reveal those, I want to say that if $$$$ was no object,
    I would get one of the higher end Keetsa mattresses. I went to the Showroom in SOHO. Very comfortable, but I thought overpriced. The cheaper ones that come in a vacuumed seal bag felt cheap to me.The other one I would buy if $$$$ were on trees is the Berkeley Ergo beds, made in California. They are made of a top layer of pure Talalay latex and a special hand wrapped German coil in a coil system. Cotton or wool all natural zip cover to change out worn latex or clean the cover. Exquisite..really. Only sold in NY at Scott Jordon downtown NYC.
    So with those being out of my range, I have it down to the Sealy encourage plush hybrid as one choice.
    That is the name at Sleepy’s and Us Mattress and the same price. I like the memory foam feel but I like that it pushes back from the coils. Other all foam mattresses seem to kind of surround me…I don’t like that feeling. It is 50% foam, 50% coil. It has excellent ratings and can be used on a motion remote frame
    so you don’t need to by the box spring. It has a flat top as you mentioned above in your article.
    The other one I liked somewhat that has padding of foam and coils is the Simmons recharge Shakespeare plush at Sleepy’s, but has a different name everywhere else to compare prices. Can you find me that comparison?
    Also, saw complaints on the Recharge online of denting after 2 yrs or less and Simmons refusing to make good on the warranty as the dents are not to the specs of their warranty which is pretty picky. The Simmons is way less $$$ than the Sealy, and has a tufted top, not flat, which I like but if longevity is a problem with those recharge models, i will go with the Sealy hybrid. I don’t need aggravation fighting with a mattress company. Surprising, they wont make good, as these reviews /complaints can really scare potential buyers away. I am tall, thin, side sleeper, get pressure points on hips on my side now. I tried out the Serta vantage plush aka applause, great ratings, but it felt too firm for a PLUSH mattress ?????
    Thank you for your assistance in advance. ( also, if you live in NY, us mattress does not charge you sales tax !)

    • I recently purchased a Serta I Comfort Hybrid mattress and box springs and LOVE it!! It is very plush feeling at first but after a few minutes you don’t notice. You just sleep like a log. After years of tossing and turning I can finally sleep all night long.

    • As far as the warranty goes, “dents” in the mattress of less than 1.5 inches is considered normal for almost every manufacturer, including the Sealy Hybrids. I haven’t heard any problem with the Beautyrests being any worse than Sealy as far as the warranty goes. They have the exact same warranty, and they send out the same companies to inspect the mattresses.

      As far as the comparison models for the Beautyrest, that’s tough, because some places are selling the 2014 models but most are selling the 2015 models now. Sleepy’s still has the 2014 models at the time of writing this.

      It makes sense that the Vantage Plush was too firm for you. It is about the firmest mattress I’ve tried that’s called “plush.” They make a pillowtop version, called the Merit, which might work better for you.


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