Couples, chronic pain sufferers, and those who like the bounce of an innerspring bed can all enjoy the feel of a hybrid mattress. The best hybrid mattresses keep the sleeper cool and contour to relieve pressure and offer full-body support.
In this guide, we will evaluate a hybrid’s construction and it’s pros and cons. We also discuss other types of mattresses, different sleeping positions, and how to choose the right mattress.
What is a Hybrid Mattress?
A hybrid mattress is a combination of memory foam and innerspring bed constructions—a coil support core and a comfort layer of foam.
The coil system usually contains pocketed coils, with every coil individually wrapped in foam or fabric for better motion isolation. Manufacturers group coils more tightly together for firmer support and spread them out for a softer feel.
The foam comfort layer commonly contains memory foam, but may instead have latex or polyurethane foam. To qualify as a hybrid, the foam layer must be at least 2 to 3 inches thick.
More About Coils
To judge a hybrid’s coil quality, you need to consider its gauge and its coil count.
Gauge refers to a coil’s thickness. The lower the number, the thicker the coil is; most coils range between 12 to 15. Thicker coils often provide a firmer feel and are more durable. Many hybrid mattresses use a mix of both thin and thick coils.
A mattress’s coil count gives an idea of how long the mattress should last—a queen size mattress should contain at least 400 coils for support. Take care with extremely high coil counts, as manufacturers may compensate for less durable coils by using more.
Types of Coils
Most hybrid mattresses have a pocketed coil system, but there are three other coil setups—Bonnell, offset, and continuous.
- Bonnel coils are hourglass-shaped and wired together. While responsive, the coils offer little pressure relief.
- Offset coils are also hourglass-shaped, with their tops and bottoms flattened. Wire hinges connect the flat parts for improved conformability.
- Manufacturers form continuous coils from a single wire for better contouring.
More About Foam
The comfort layer often contains memory foam, gel memory foam, latex foam, or poly-foam.
Of the four materials, poly-foam breaks apart the quickest. For a durable bed, look for a hybrid mattress with memory foam or latex foam—memory foam lasts about 7 years, while latex foam lasts up to 15 years.
The right foam thickness depends on your preferred sleeping position. Back and stomach sleepers rest well on 2 inches of foam or less, but side sleepers need at least 3 inches of foam to mold to their hips and shoulders.
To judge a foam’s quality, look for a certification such as CertiPUR-US®, which ensures the foam contains no ozone depleters, formaldehyde, mercury, lead, heavy metals, and PBDEs, TDCPP, or TCEP flame retardants.
Pros and Cons of Hybrids
Hybrids mattresses come with a list of advantages—pressure relief, springiness, breathability— and disadvantages—motion transfer, durability, and off-gassing.
A hybrid mattress with a memory foam layer relieves pressure points by molding to a sleeper. The material gives way rather than push against the body, which helps to distribute body weight evenly.
Pocketed coils add a springiness to a mattress that an all-foam bed can’t provide, as even springy foam gives way to pressure. Side sleepers who want a bouncy mattress should consider a hybrid, as most innerspring mattresses cannot sufficiently contour to their bodies.
A hybrid makes for an excellent cooling mattress as air flows between the coils, wicking away body heat. Sleepers can keep even cooler with a gel memory foam layer or other infusions such as copper, graphite, or charcoal.
The density of a foam layer keeps dust mites, bacteria, and allergens from penetrating the surface, preventing nose and airway irritations. A sleeper can grind debris into the mattress, however, if it is not frequently vacuumed. Owners should still protect their mattresses from allergens, spills, and stains with a tightly woven cover.
Many hybrid mattresses have firmer edges to keep a sleeper from rolling off and make getting in and out of bed easier. However, the edges may wear down before the rest of the mattress does, compromising support.
Imperfect Motion Isolation
A hybrid’s bouncy nature keeps it from isolating motion as well as a memory foam bed, as the wrapped springs can still transfer limited amounts of motion. Motion transfer increases as the springs wear out. However, a hybrid with a memory foam comfort layer prevents motion transfer better than the average innerspring does.
All beds eventually sag, but some types of mattresses lose their shape more quickly than others. Mattresses with coils tend to sag within a few years as the springs wear out.
To ensure you buy a durable bed, read reviews from those who have owned a mattress three or more months to see how withstands repeated use. And look for a good warranty that covers sagging under an inch.
Hybrid mattresses with memory foam comfort layers may have an unpleasant, chemical odor the first few days. Known as off-gassing, the smell occurs when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the mattress break down at room temperature; it should disappear within three to seven days.
If you’re sensitive to smells, look for a CertiPUR-US® certification to verify the mattress contains low amounts of VOCs.
Other Mattress Types
If you’re uncertain a hybrid mattress is right for you, there are three different types of mattresses to consider.
Manufacturers take petroleum and add elastic materials to create memory foam. Many choose a memory foam mattress for its pressure relief. Memory foam cradles and conforms to the body for full support, which prevents muscle strain and the development of pressure points.
Every memory foam mattress has at least two layers of foam—a top layer of memory foam, and a base layer of stiffer foam. High-quality mattresses add a transition layer to prevent a sleeper from bottoming out on the support layer.
Traditional memory foam often retains body heat, causing some sleepers to wake up in a sweat. Many companies address the problem with added air channels, cutouts, and infusions of conductive materials.
Memory foam mattresses are available at all price points, though a lower cost likely means lower quality. Still, you can find a quality memory foam mattress for under $1000.
The average memory foam mattress lasts seven years, though a high-quality bed lasts eight or more years with care.
Many people choose a latex mattress for its conforming feel, and in the case of natural latex, its durability and eco-friendly production.
Natural latex comes from rubber tree sap. Manufacturers foam and aerate the sap to give it a cushioning yet bouncy texture.
There are two processes to create natural latex—Dunlop and Talalay. Dunlop is also the only type of latex that’s 100 percent natural as Talalay latex manufacturers add synthetic materials to create a softer feel.
Manufacturers produce synthetic latex by combining chemical compounds. The latex-like result is safe for those with a latex allergy, but it lacks the durability of natural latex.
Blended latex mixes synthetic latex and natural latex to create a resilient and affordable material.
The price tag is a big drawback to a natural latex mattress; many queen size mattresses cost more than $2000. Some sleepers may find the investment worthwhile, as a natural latex mattress might last up to 15 years.
Innerspring mattresses have a layer of support coils, with a thin layer of soft material on top. Innerspring mattresses remain popular through their familiarity, availability, and affordability. Many of us bounced on one as a kid, despite our parents telling us not to.
The bounce remains a big reason why people choose an innerspring mattress over the conforming feel of memory foam or latex. Sleepers who enjoy being on top of the bed may enjoy an innerspring.
Hot sleepers may choose an innerspring as a cooling mattress as air circulates between the coils and thin comfort layers don’t retain as much heat as a thick layer of memory foam.
You can find innerspring mattresses at most mattress and furniture stores, a convenient choice for any sleeper who needs a new bed immediately. Innerspring mattresses are relatively inexpensive, with the average queen mattress costing $950 and lasting around six years.
The three sleeping positions—side, back, and stomach—determine what mattress firmness is right for you. Each sleep position changes the placement of the spine, which must remain in neutral alignment. If the spine shifts out of alignment, a sleeper may wake up with back pain.
Pressure points may develop if the shoulders and hips cannot sink into the mattress. Not only will this pressure build-up into pain, but keeping the shoulders and hips on top of the bed may raise the spine out of alignment.
The best mattresses for side sleepers are soft to medium in firmness. Many side sleepers benefit from a bed with zoned support—concentrating the coils in the torso, feet, and head regions keep those areas lifted, while loosely grouped coils in the hips and shoulders areas provide more sinkage.
While back sleeping is the best position for spinal alignment, it does come with a couple of drawbacks. Back sleepers face increased risks of snoring and sleep apnea because gravity causes the soft tissues in the back of their throats to collapse and block their airways.
Back sleepers do best on a medium-firm to firm mattress. A too firm bed leaves the lower back unsupported, while a too soft mattress adds pressure to the lower back if the hips sink below the thighs.
Stomach sleepers risk overextending their spine, causing chronic back pain. The position also places pressure on the neck when the sleeper twists it to breathe.
We recommend stomach sleepers make the switch to side sleeping. Those who won’t give up the position should look for a medium-firm to firm mattress and avoid thick comfort layers.
Mattress brands measure a mattress’s firmness level with a 1 to 10 scale (1 is the softest, 10 is the firmest). The score determines the mattress’s label, such as “soft” or “medium-soft.”
|Firmness Scale Rating||Firmness Label|
|2 and 3||Soft|
|7 and 8||Firm|
|9 and 10||Extra-firm|
The firmness option most comfortable and supportive for a sleeper depends on their body type. A sleeper over 230 pounds needs a firmer mattress to take on their body weight, while a lightweight sleeper places less pressure on a bed and needs a softer mattress.
|Body Weight||Ideal Firmness|
|Less than 130 pounds||Medium-soft to soft|
|Between 130 to 230 pounds||Medium to medium-firm|
|Greater than 230 pounds||Medium-firm to firm|
Firmness is often subjective and depends on the material and brand; third-party mattress reviews and customer feedback describe a bed’s feel and may save you the hassle of exchanges or returns.
Setting a Budget
Hybrid mattresses cost between $1000 to $2500 for a high-quality queen-size bed. Shopping online keeps the cost you pay low, as online mattress companies have fewer business expenses to meet and can sell closer to a mattress’s cost. Many companies also offer coupon codes to buyers.
A thicker comfort layer adds to the bed’s expense, as companies use more material to construct it, so side sleepers may pay a few hundred dollars more than other sleepers.
Natural materials such as organic cotton also drive up the price. These materials require special manufacturing and harvest practices; companies must also pay various certification fees.
Services such as white glove delivery, where a delivery team hauls away your old mattress and sets up the new one, often increase the mattress’s price by $100 to $200 if you choose to add it.
Sleep Trial, Warranty, Return Policy
A sleep trial and lengthy warranty add to a mattress’s costs, but we strongly suggest always buying a mattress with both attached. The two policies are a measure of the company’s faith in its product. If your chosen mattress doesn’t include a sleep trial, a 30-day return policy can provide a fallback.
Many bed in a box mattresses include a home trial period; in-store mattresses may offer one as well. The sleep trial usually lasts between 90 to 120 days. Many sleepers need a month to adjust to the support a new mattress offers, so a sleep trial provides the time for you to determine if a mattress is right for you.
Warranties are an agreement between a company and a customer. Under the warranty, a company repairs or replaces a defective mattress and a customer takes care of their mattress.
Defects a warranty covers include sagging greater than an inch, coils poking out of the mattress, rips or cracks in the foam, and damage to the mattress’s cover. Warranties do not protect a customer against standard wear and tear or damage from mishandling.
Most mattresses come with a 10-year warranty. If the company offers more than 10 years, it’s usually at a prorated rate where a customer pays a portion of the original price. Some companies offer lifetime warranties, but as few mattresses last more than 20 years, this is mostly a marketing tactic.
If your mattress doesn’t come with a sleep trial, a return policy can still provide the time needed to try out a mattress. Some companies will only take back a mattress if it’s in good condition, others only if it’s unopened, so read carefully through the return policy.
The Right Foundation
Hybrid mattresses do well on a metal frame or platform bed. Any slats must prevent the mattress from dipping beneath the foundation—no more than 3 inches apart and at least 0.5 inches thick.
We can’t recommend the use of a box spring with a hybrid mattress, as box springs are designed for traditional innerspring mattresses. The gaps inside a box spring can’t provide consistent support, which a mattress made with foam needs. Keeping a hybrid on a box spring may change the foam’s feel and compromise its support.
Some hybrid mattresses pair well with an adjustable base, but it’s best to check the company website or warranty first. Coils are stiff and don’t bend as easily as the layers of an all-foam bed. Check the bed’s height as well, as thick beds are often too stiff to put on an adjustable base—beds between 6 to 14 inches thick work well with adjustable bases.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will a hybrid mattress last?
The average hybrid mattress lasts six to seven years because the coils wear out and start sagging after a few years.
Are hybrid mattresses good for back pain?
Yes. A hybrid mattress offers a contouring comfort layer and zoned support. If you’re looking for a good mattress for back pain, get a medium-firm feel.
Many hybrid mattresses include edge support to make it easier for a sleeper with chronic pain to get in and out of bed.
What is the best hybrid mattress for a side sleeper?
The right hybrid for a side sleeper should have a plush comfort layer at least 3 inches thick, to give the sleeper’s hips and shoulders room to sink into the mattress. A quality hybrid mattress for a side sleeper also has its coils concentrated in the torso, head, and feet for added support and coils spread out to offer soft firmness in the hips and shoulders areas.
Did We Help?
Hybrids can help sleepers of all styles achieve a better night’s rest with pressure relief, bounce, breathability, and edge support. Memory foam-innerspring hybrids are most common, though you can find latex-innerspring and polyurethane-innerspring.
The best mattress leaves you refreshed in the morning, maintains proper spinal alignment and stands up to years of use. To judge a hybrid’s quality, learn about its coil and foam components—a queen mattress should contain certified foam and at least 400 coils.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.