Innerspring or spring mattresses are the most traditional mattresses on the market. In fact, coil springs were first introduced way back in 1865! Memory foam, on the other hand, didn't make its debut until almost a century later in the 1960s when a contractor developed it for NASA. But the differences between the two mattress types don't stop there. Before deciding whether a memory foam or spring mattress is best for you and your budget, evaluate several factors including heat retention, motion transfer, comfort, and support, as well as price.
Are you temperature sensitive?
Sleeping hot is a common complaint. And if you constantly throw off the covers in the middle of the night or always adjust your thermostat before bedtime, you probably understand why. When sleeping cool and comfortable is a priority, you'll want to look for a mattress that doesn't retain heat.
Traditional memory foam has a reputation for trapping heat. To combat this issue, gel foam was created and has become increasingly more popular. Gel-infused memory foam is breathable and helps to regulate your body temperature, keeping you cool while you sleep. If you want to learn more about the difference between the two, continue reading about how memory foam compares to gel foam here.
Spring mattresses generally do not constrict airflow and therefore can be classified as temperature neutral. However, if you purchase a pillow top or hybrid mattress, it likely includes a layer of memory foam as the top comfort layer and that component can run hot.
What type of support are you looking for?
Maintaining proper spine alignment throughout the night is critical if you want to maintain good posture and wake up pain-free. To keep your spine straight while you sleep, you need a mattress that provides the proper amount of support for your body weight.
Memory foam conforms to the contours of your body, alleviating pressure points. The amount of "hug" you feel will depend on the density of the mattress and your body weight. The higher the density of the mattress, the better quality the mattress will be and the longer that it will last. In most cases, if you're a heavy person, you should choose a high-density mattress with a firm level of support.
What memory foam won't do is give you that springy feeling that you'll experience when sitting, laying or, of course, jumping on a spring mattress. However, you may not get the same level of support with springs—that all depends on the shape, curves, and height of the coils. There are four types of coils to consider: Bonnel, or helical shaped; pocketed or wrapped springs; continuous or a single twisted wire; and offset coils, individual coils conjoined by helically shaped coils. Offset coils and pocket coils will provide a more supportive feel but can be more expensive.
Do you or your partner toss and turn?
If you tend to roll over throughout the night or are an early-riser, your movement may cause your significant other to wake up. When jolted awake during REM sleep (the deepest sleep cycle), you often wake up grumpy and disoriented. And that is not how you want to start your morning!
The bouncy coils in an innerspring mattress move up and down as they respond to your body weight, so your partner will likely feel every move you do (or do not) take. Whereas, the cushy support of memory foam absorbs motion, preventing it from disturbing anyone else's sleep.
How much do you want to spend on a new mattress?
Before answering this question, consider this: you spend a third of your life sleeping and if you make a wise investment, your mattress could last at least ten years. Because getting a good night's rest plays such an important part in your quality of life, it is important to do your research. After all, you don't want to be left wondering if you can return your new mattress.
Traditionally, innerspring mattresses are less expensive than memory foam. As mentioned, coils have been around for quite some time, allowing manufacturers to find ways to cut costs to deliver a similar feeling product. If you're on a budget, an innerspring mattress made with continuous or offset coils may be your best bet.
However, if you want a mattress that offers support, isolates motion transfer and prevents heat retention, a bed made with gel memory foam should be at the top of your list. For those on the fence about whether they prefer the cushy comfort of memory foam or the bouncy feel of innerspring (and aren't concerned with motion transfer or heat retention), compare memory foam with a mattress made with helical or pocketed coils. The prices for each product should be similar, you'll just have to decide what type of support is best for your body type, weight and sleep position.