What are hybrid mattresses?

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Hybrid mattresses are the latest fad in the mattress world. It seems like most manufacturers are coming out with a 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 hygiene, or just marketing hype? Let’s take a closer look.

What is being hybridized in hybrid mattresses?

A hybrid is defined by Google as a “a thing made by combining two different elements.” In the case of hybrid mattresses, the two elements are old-school innerspring mattresses and specialty foam mattresses. A hybrid mattress will typically have coils (usually individually pocketed coils) and memory foam and/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 and/or latex on top?”

Well, yes. In some respects, the “hybrid” name is just a marketing term. It’s 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 traditional innersprings. Also, the top of the hybrid mattress is usually flatter, more like a foam mattress, rather than tufted like a traditional innerspring mattress (though there are exceptions).

Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid Ability Firm Queen-size Mattress Set

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

Sealy Posturpedic Gel Series Meadow Lea Firm Queen-size Mattress Set

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.

 

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 blocks 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 them 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, it doesn’t matter. Check for support and comfort with any bed you try, hybrid or not. If you need help in this area, check out my mattress buying guide.

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. That is to say, they’re easier to move around in than all-foam mattresses and a little cheaper, but not quite as good at separating motion or contouring to your body. Here are a couple additional pros and cons specific to hybrids:

Pros:

  1. Better at contouring to your body than more plain innerspring mattresses
  2. Has a fairly unique feel that some people really like

Cons:

  1. Hybrids are a little more expensive than other mattresses of a similar overall quality. You’re paying, in part, for the fact that hybrids are the latest fad 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 is.

Conclusion

The basics remain the same: try out the mattresses and check for support and comfort. Don’t pay too much attention to the word hybrid, as it is mostly a marketing term, but 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.

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Questions & Comments

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John Ferrell Says

January 18, 2017 at 6:24 pm

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.

Lisa Says

October 11, 2016 at 8:31 pm

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.

Sam Says

April 16, 2016 at 7:18 pm

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.

Stephie Smith Says

August 18, 2015 at 11:03 am

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!

MattressNerd Says

June 8, 2015 at 1:59 pm

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.

Pammy Says

June 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

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 !)

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