Hybrid vs. Innerspring Mattresses: What’s the Difference?
Shoppers seeking a bouncy mattress may find themselves debating whether a hybrid or innerspring mattress is the better bed for them. Hybrid mattresses were designed to improve the original innerspring mattress design. However, they come with a few drawbacks of their own. For example, an innerspring mattress is lighter and less expensive than a hybrid.
We discuss the construction of each mattress type and list its pros and cons. Our guide also dives into the range of sleepers a hybrid or innerspring mattress suits.
What Is a Hybrid Mattress?
As the name suggests, a hybrid mattress combines elements from two other mattress types — foam and innerspring. A true hybrid has a coil base topped with a foam layer at least 2 inches thick.
Manufacturers can technically call any mattress a hybrid. This is why it’s important to double-check if what you are considering is a genuine hybrid mattress.
What Makes Up a Hybrid Mattress?
A hybrid mattress must have at least three layers. There must be:
- A foam layer on top to cushion the body
- A layer of coils for support
- A base layer to promote structural stability
The best hybrid mattresses often include a fourth layer between the top foam layer and the coil layer. This transition layer increases the bed’s responsiveness.
Comfort Foam Layer
The purpose of a comfort layer is to cushion and cradle the body, relieving pressure points before they can turn into pain. Most hybrid mattresses have a comfort foam of memory foam or latex foam. However, budget hybrid mattresses might contain simpler polyurethane foam.
The comfort layer should always be at least 2 inches thick. Some hybrid mattresses contain multiple comfort layers for deeper compression.
Transition foams are present in hybrid mattresses for a smoother feel. A transition foam’s purpose is to limit sinkage that can cause spinal misalignment or an uncomfortable sensation of bottoming out. A middle layer of transitional foam helps the mattress rapidly adjust to changes in position.
Pocket Coil Layer
The support core of a hybrid mattress is a tall layer of pocketed coils. Manufacturers “pocket” the coils by encasing them in foam or fabric packets. Encasing the coils allows each one to adapt to a sleeper’s body, retracting as needed without unnecessary jarring.
Typically, a pocket coil base has a perimeter of thicker coils or high-density foam to establish edge support. Not only does edge support firm up the sides to promote a stable structure, but the feature also makes it easier to move in and out of bed. Edge support also prevents you from just rolling over the side.
Base Foam Layer
The last layer in a hybrid mattress is dense base foam. A foam base provides a surface for the coils to push off, enabling them to stand straight and better withstand shock.
The Pros of a Hybrid Mattress
Part of the reason hybrid mattresses are designed is to maximize the benefits of foam and innerspring mattresses. Like an innerspring mattress, hybrid mattresses offer a bouncy design that promotes airflow. The sides of a hybrid are usually bolstered with edge support.
Thanks to their foam tops, a hybrid mattress provides more pressure relief than the average innerspring mattress. The feel of a hybrid’s comfort layer is comparable to an all-foam mattress. The pressure-relieving cushion of a hybrid mattress lets the bed serve a wider range of sleep styles.
Hybrid mattresses experience minimal motion transfer thanks to their pocketed coils. The coils’ coverings ensure they react individually to motion, keeping your movements from bouncing across the mattress. The top layer of memory foam or latex also absorbs movement well.
A Hybrid Mattress’s Pros
- Pressure-relieving foam top
- Edge support along the sides
- Responsive coils
- Promotes air circulation for a cool sleeping surface
- Little to no motion transfer
- Suits most sleeping styles
The Cons of a Hybrid Mattress
One of the more significant drawbacks of a hybrid mattress is the attached price tag. A queen size hybrid mattress often costs between $1500 to $2500. This cost goes up if you’re interested in a hybrid with natural latex foam, which is often more expensive to produce than a quality memory foam.
Hybrid mattresses are also one of the heavier types of mattresses; latex mattresses are the only type that tends to weigh more. For many people, it’s difficult to shift a hybrid mattress to change the sheets or rotate it. Seniors and people with arthritis or a chronic pain condition may want a more lightweight mattress.
This also means that a hybrid may not be the best choice for an RV mattress. The best RV mattresses are lightweight to reduce drag on the vehicle, so you might want to consider a pure foam or innerspring mattress instead.
Lastly, it’s not impossible for the pocketed coils that support a hybrid mattress to sag with use. While a well-made hybrid mattress may last 7 or more years, a hybrid mattress can sag sooner if made with lower-quality materials or if it’s kept on an improper mattress foundation.
A Hybrid Mattress’s Cons
- Costly due to mix of materials
- Heavy and difficult to move
- May sag sooner than expected
Hybrid Mattresses Are Recommended for…
Some people may benefit from sleeping on a hybrid mattress more than others. However, we should also note that there should be something suitable for almost everyone due to the range of hybrid mattresses available.
All Sleeping Positions
Side, back, stomach, and combination sleepers can all enjoy a hybrid mattress since they come in various firmness levels. Similarly, all body types, from petite to heavyset people, can comfortably sleep on a hybrid.
The range of suitable firmnesses depends on the sleeper’s preferred position:
- A hybrid mattress for side sleeping should offer a soft to medium feel.
- A mattress for back sleeping should feature a medium, medium-firm, or firm feel.
- A stomach sleeper’s mattress should provide a firm feel for spine support.
- A mattress for combination sleeping should promote a responsive surface with an even medium feel.
If you’re a petite sleeper under 130 pounds, you should consider a mattress near the softer end of your position’s range. Conversely, it’s often recommended to seek a firmer feel in a mattress for a heavy sleeper.
Hybrid mattresses are often an excellent cooling mattress for hot sleepers. The bottom layer of coils lets air slip through and remove heat. A sleeper’s body heat can still accumulate in the foam top, but many hybrid mattress manufacturers use cooling gel infusions to boost heat dispersion.
People with Movement Difficulties
Hybrid mattresses tend to have firmer sides for easier movements. People who have difficulty moving in the morning, such as arthritis sufferers, may have an easier time getting up if they have a hybrid with edge support.
People Sharing a Bed
Partners seeking a mattress for a couple or parents planning on letting a child occasionally co-sleep with them can appreciate how well a hybrid mattress isolates motion.
As previously mentioned, hybrid mattresses are excellent at preventing motion transfer. The top layer of foam swallows motion at the point of impact, while the coils are wrapped in foam or fabric so that one coil’s movements won’t jostle the surrounding coils.
If motion isolation is one of your top buying concerns, you may also want to consider a memory foam mattress. Some shoppers find that a memory foam bed isolates motion better than a hybrid. Read our memory foam vs hybrid mattress guide for an in-depth comparison.
About the Zoma Hybrid
If you’re shopping for a bouncy bed, we would recommend our Zoma Hybrid. We designed our hybrid model as an alternative to our original memory foam mattress, using many of the same materials.
The Zoma Hybrid’s feel falls into the medium-soft to medium range, making it a good mattress for side sleepers and combination sleepers (people who shift positions as they sleep). There are four layers inside the 12-inch Zoma Hybrid, wrapped inside a breathable AirCloth fabric cover.
First is 2 inches of cooling gel memory foam, engineered to conform to the body while releasing absorbed body heat. Combining the gel memory foam with an airy coil layer promotes an excellent cooling mattress for hot sleepers.
Next is 2 inches of Reactiv™ foam, created to increase the hybrid’s naturally buoyant feel. Reactiv™ mimics latex’s responsiveness, decreasing uncomfortable sinkage and preventing you from ever feeling trapped in your mattress.
What supports the top two layers is a 7-inch layer of pocketed coils on an inch-thick base. The coils are wrapped to increase motion isolation and adapt to changes in position, making the mattress more suitable for couples and combination sleepers. The sides include edge support, letting you sit on the side of the bed.
Our Zoma Hybrid mattress is $999 for a queen and is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty. The warranty includes coverage for sagging that exceeds 0.75 inches.
What Is an Innerspring Mattress?
An innerspring mattress is an older type of mattress, having been around for more than a century. Once, they were the most common choice of mattress and found in most homes. Nowadays, other mattress types such as memory foam and latex beds have risen in prominence.
What Makes Up an Innerspring Mattress?
A traditional innerspring mattress has a basic design. Most of the bed’s structure is tempered coils sandwiched between thin comfort layers. Modern innerspring mattresses may also have a pillow top.
The comfort layer of an innerspring mattress often consists of natural fibers such as cotton or wool, with a fabric cover completing the mattress’s look. Usually, an innerspring mattress has this on both sides, promoting a flippable design.
Many innerspring mattresses improve upon the original basic design by adding on a pillow top. Pillow tops are different from memory foam layers, but they’re meant to offer similar benefits. To establish a pillow top, manufacturers sew on plush padding.
A modern innerspring mattress may have pocketed coils acting as its core. However, many traditional and lower-cost innerspring mattresses contain a Bonnell, offset, or continuous coil system.
Bonnell and offset coils are both hourglass-shaped. Offset coils have a hinged design to provide more body contouring. Continuous coils are made from one long wire, making them more likely to carry movement across the surface.
The Pros of an Innerspring Mattress
Affordability is one of the big draws of a traditional innerspring mattress. If you’re seeking a budget mattress for yourself or a guest room, an innerspring bed is a good choice.
Airflow is another significant plus of an innerspring mattress. Since the mattress is mostly coils, air can easily move through the bed and prevent heat and moisture from accumulating.
Not only are innerspring mattresses relatively low-cost, but it’s also easy to find one. Many mattress stores carry innerspring mattresses, but you’ll also find them sold at furniture stores and a few big box stores too. If you need a new mattress immediately, you should be able to find an innerspring mattress quickly.
An Innerspring Mattress’s Pros
- Naturally cooling thanks to airy coils and thin, breathable comfort layer
- Available at most price points, with many budget options
- Easy to acquire, sold at plenty of different stores
The Cons of an Innerspring Mattress
There’s no such thing as a perfect mattress, and innerspring beds are no exception. Because many innerspring mattresses rely on a connected coil system, they’re prone to motion transfer. One person’s movements can easily ripple across the mattress and disturb their partner’s rest. Innerspring mattresses with pocketed coils.
Another disadvantage to an innerspring mattress is its inherently firm feel. Many innerspring mattresses have a thin comfort layer over the coil system, leaving the bed unable to fully contour to the body. Side sleepers, in particular, are likely to find a traditional innerspring mattress uncomfortable.
An innerspring’s airy interior can leave plenty of room for allergens to accumulate. It’s also easy for allergens to penetrate a traditional innerspring mattress because of their thin comfort layers, where they can settle inside the airy interior. People with allergies may wake up feeling sick on an older innerspring mattress.
Lastly, an innerspring mattress carries the risk of sagging, thanks to its coil setup. Coils may also become noisier as they age, creaking and squeaking as you move.
An Innerspring Mattress’s Cons
- Coils likely to promote motion transfer and disturb a partner’s rest
- Comfort layer may be too thin to relieve pressure points
- May become an allergen trap
- Coils can lose support prematurely
- Coils may squeak with age.
Innerspring Mattresses Are Recommended for…
Innerspring mattresses promote a firm, bouncy, and a cooling surface. Many sleepers will find an innerspring mattress perfectly suits their needs.
However, innerspring mattresses are usually more limited than hybrids when it comes to the range of sleepers they can support. For example, innerspring beds often aren’t recommended as a mattress for side sleeping because they don’t fully conform to a side sleeper’s body.
Back and Stomach Sleepers
Back and stomach sleepers can both benefit from sleeping on a firmer mattress, which an innerspring mattress usually provides. Stomach sleepers especially benefit from the lack of give on an innerspring mattress. When a stomach sleeper lies on a softer mattress, their belly may sink too far and draw their spine out of its neutral alignment.
Back sleepers don’t need quite as much firmness. However, a back sleeper’s mattress should still promote a healthy spinal alignment.
People who weigh over 230 pounds place more pressure on their mattresses. Similar to a stomach sleeper, they may bow too far into a softer mattress and misalign their spines. An innerspring mattress’s responsive surface limits that uncomfortable sinkage.
An innerspring mattress can be even better at keeping cool than a hybrid mattress, thanks to its thin top layers. The open coil design also ensures airflow through the mattress, preventing the bed from becoming a heat trap.
Understanding Coil Count and Coil Gauge
Whether you’re looking at a hybrid or innerspring mattress, you’re likely to come across mentions of coil count and coil gauge. Both of these traits can affect how a mattress feels to you. They can also determine a spring mattress’s durability.
Coil gauge expresses how thick a coil’s wire is. Generally, the higher a gauge number is, the thinner the coil. Pocketed coils tend to have a higher gauge between 14 to 18.
Many manufacturers don’t just rely on one coil gauge and instead use a mixture of thick and thin coils to create target support. Thinner coils often contour better to the body and are placed in the shoulder and hips area. Thicker coils promote support and mattress longevity.
Coil count is fairly self-explanatory; it refers to the number of coils inside a mattress. You obviously need enough coils to create a supportive surface, but some manufacturers may inflate a mattress’s coil count by using thinner coils. This allows them to charge a higher price.
A queen size hybrid mattress should have between 800 to 1000 coils.
Other Mattress Types to Consider
While innerspring and hybrid mattresses are the bounciest types of mattresses, they’re not the only beds worth considering. Two other common mattress types are memory foam mattresses and latex mattresses.
Memory foam mattresses have drawn many consumers in because they mold quickly to the body, relieving pressure and preventing aches and pains from developing.
A memory foam mattress must contain at least two layers. The top layer contains the actual memory foam, while the bottom layer is a stiff and supportive poly-foam. High-quality memory foam mattresses may include a transition layer to increase the surface’s comfort and responsiveness.
As a side note, many manufacturers choose to use memory foam in their hybrid’s top layer. A memory foam layer can bolster the motion isolation provided by a hybrid’s pocketed coils.
Latex mattresses are a natural alternative to memory foam mattresses. Unlike memory foam, which is made from synthetic materials, genuine latex foam is whipped from harvested rubber tree sap. For an in-depth look at the differences between memory foam and latex, read our memory foam vs latex mattresses guide.
Latex mattresses are a popular choice for allergy-sensitive sleepers, except for those with a latex allergy. A latex bed also stays cool at night, promoting undisturbed sleep.
Like memory foam, latex can be used as the comfort layer of a hybrid mattress. Latex possesses a natural bounce that can establish more of an “on top of the mattress” feel than memory foam could. Our memory foam vs latex hybrid guide covers the differences between a memory foam hybrid and a latex hybrid.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, you cannot flip a standard hybrid mattress because of its construction. Hybrid mattresses typically have a designated top and bottom, with the top containing a thick layer of conforming foam and the base containing a stiff foam to support the coils.
Flipping a hybrid mattress means sleeping on a layer that is not designed to conform to your body. It may feel uncomfortably firm and let pressure points build up, turning into morning aches and pains. Flipping the hybrid can also prematurely flatten your comfort layer, decreasing its ability to cushion the body.
No, a hybrid mattress doesn’t require a box spring because of its coil setup. Unlike a traditional innerspring mattress, a hybrid has pocketed coils grouped closely together.
The wrappings around each coil ensure that the coils don’t carry movement despite their proximity to each other. However, the closeness does mean that a hybrid mattress needs a more consistently even surface than what a box spring can provide. We recommend slatted or solid foundations for a hybrid. If you use slats, make sure they are no more than 3 inches apart.
The two biggest differences between a hybrid mattress and an innerspring bed are the coil systems and the comfort layers. A hybrid mattress contains a pocketed coil system, with every coil adapting individually to movements thanks to their wrappings. An innerspring mattress’s coil system is usually open-coil, with the coils connected by wire and likely to transfer motion.
Innerspring mattresses usually have a thin layer of foam covered by fabric as their top layer. However, some have thicker pillow tops. A hybrid mattress must have at least 2 to 3 inches of foam to qualify as a true hybrid. A thick layer ensures the bed can contour to the body and relieve pressure points.
Hybrid mattresses often cost around $1500 to $1700 for a queen size bed, although some price tags may hew closer to $2500. A hybrid mattress is usually expensive due to its mix of high-quality materials, relying on both comfortable, well-made foams and sturdy, supportive springs.
A latex hybrid usually costs more than a memory foam hybrid. The higher price is due to the manufacturing process and certifications associated with natural latex.
The typical innerspring mattress usually lasts about 5 to 6 years. Innerspring mattresses have a shorter lifespan than other mattress types because of their coil support. Eventually, an innerspring’s coils will start to sag from wear and tear. This sagging causes discomfort and potential backaches.
Memory foam and latex mattresses can often maintain a supportive structure for more than a decade. Their durability can provide years of comfortable sleep. Hybrid mattresses can still sag after extended use. However, they’re less likely to do so than a traditional innerspring mattress.
What Is the Right Mattress for Me?
Innerspring and hybrid mattresses both have their pros and cons. The best mattresses relieve pressure and support the spine’s neutral alignment. For many sleepers, especially side sleepers, a hybrid mattress is the better option.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.