Contents of Article
- Construction Comparison
- Memory Foam
- Innerspring Mattresses
- Firmness Comparison
- Price Comparison
- Which Bed Sleeps Cooler?
- Which Bed Would Be Best for a Side Sleeper?
- Should I buy a Memory Foam Or A Spring Bed?
- 3 Good Memory Foam Mattresses
- The Nectar
- The Puffy
- The Muse
- 3 Good Spring Mattresses
- Zinus 8 Inch Hybrid Green Tea Foam and Spring Mattress
- Zinus Ultima Comfort 8 Inch Spring Mattress, Queen
- Olee Sleep 13 inch Galaxy Hybrid Gel Infused Memory Foam and Pocket Spring Mattress
Today we’re going to put memory foam products against innerspring mattresses in a head to head comparison (and we’ll provide a few product reviews too). We’ll look at comfort, support, cooling, value for money, and much, much more.
Let’s get started.
In this section, we are going to take a look at the differences in construction between innerspring and memory foam products.
Memory foam is the hottest material in the mattress world right now. When it was released by NASA for use by the public a decade or so ago it changed the entire mattress industry instantly. The contouring properties it provided were far beyond anything any other foam was capable of – and it was an instant success.
However, because memory foam wasn’t intended to be used in mattresses (it was made for airplane seats) there were a couple of issues with the material.
Overheating quickly became one of the biggest things people thought about when they talked about memory foam – and it was a tough problem to solve.
Memory foam overheats because of the same reason it has the contouring properties that make it so useful. It’s made up of lots of little pockets of air on the microscopic level, when you apply pressure to them the pockets collapse and contract, when you remove the pressure they snap back to their normal size.
Body heat enters the mattress throughout the night, and in a memory foam product, it gets inside these little cells of air. Because the cells are completely sealed off from the outside world, the air cannot escape the cells and ventilate – so hot spots form underneath the sleeper.
There are two ways that engineers have come up with to solve this problem.
Cooling Gel Memory Foam
By applying a cooling gel mattress manufacturers are able to provide a cooler sleeping surface with relative ease. Cooling gels work on the principle of thermal distribution, they don’t cool anything down – they just spread the heat out.
When heat enters the mattress the cooling gel absorbs it and then shares it with all the other gel in the mattress (evenly and efficiently). This results in a much evener distribution of heat, which eliminates hot spots and makes the mattress feel cooler to the sleeper.
Open Cell Memory Foam
As you might have guessed from the name, open-cell memory foam works by opening up the little cells we just mentioned slightly on one side. This allows the air inside the cells to ventilate throughout the layer, and eventually escape the mattress out into the bedroom. This cools the product down, and it also spreads the heat out more evenly – reducing hotspots.
Innerspring mattresses are one of the oldest kinds of mattress on the planet. They used these things in the days of the wild west, and they haven’t changed much since. They are old, archaic, and quite honestly – they have no right to be sold in 2019.
Innerspring products work by having a large number of coils (or springs) in a layer that are all connected to one another by a strong wire. The layer of springs is usually connected to an outer frame to give the innerspring as a whole some rigidity.
The problem with innersprings is that because they are all connected by wire, when you push down on one spring, the springs around it will compress too – even if you’re not pushing down on them. This means that when you lie on an innerspring mattress, it’s not creating an indentation in the layer that represents your body shape – it’s more of a general dip. This is less than ideal and is almost comically bad at providing support compared to nearly every other material on the market.
Innerspring products are often confused with independently coiled products (because they are both made from metal springs) but they are entirely different things.
As the name suggests, the springs in independently coiled products are completely separate from one another, they will only compress if you apply direct pressure to them. This means that when you lie down on the bed it creates a much more accurate representation of your body shape in the mattress. It’s kind of like the contouring properties of memory foam, it’s just less accurate and uses springs instead of foam.
Independently coiled products are excellent, and they provide much better performance than an innerspring product could ever hope to give the sleeper. Independent coil products are what you should be looking for if you don’t like pure foam products and want a spring based mattress – without the terrible support of an innerspring.
You can find memory foam and innerspring products in a wide range of firmness levels. One isn’t inherently firmer or softer than the other, and the materials can be tailored by adjusting the spring thickness or foam density to provide you with your desired firmness level.
Most innerspring products are going to be cheaper than memory foam products. We have been making innerspring mattresses for hundreds of years now, so manufacturing is efficient and the raw materials are cheap. Memory foam is pretty cheap these days too, but it’s still usually more expensive than an innerspring.
It’s rare to see an innerspring in an expensive product, simply because they cannot provide the performance that a premium product with a premium price tag requires. That being said, there are some cheeky products out there that try and do this – and it’s shocking behavior in our opinion.
Which Bed Sleeps Cooler?
This is perhaps the only section where innerspring products don’t get beaten by memory foam.
Traditional memory foam is one of the warmest sleeping surfaces ever used in mattress design (as we mentioned earlier). Innerspring products, however, are mainly just free-flowing air in terms of volume, the metal in the springs themselves take up very little space compared to the size of the layer. This allows for huge amounts of ventilation.
Cooling gel and open cell memory foam products sleep much cooler than traditional memory foam. While they are on the same kind of level as an innerspring product in terms of cooling, they cannot compete with the huge amount of completely unrestricted airflow an innerspring section provides.
Which Bed Would Be Best for a Side Sleeper?
Memory foam products are far better than innerspring products for side sleepers.
There’s no comparison here really. Memory foam has become so popular because of the amazing contouring supportive properties the material has. It supports you where you need to be supported, and it provides slack where you don’t. It inherently promotes optimal spinal alignment without any other fancy tricks or materials required.
Innerspring products, on the other hand, are arguably the least supportive kind of mattress layer on the market. They create a general “dip” in the mattress that doesn’t represent your body shape and is very unsupportive. They’re terrible for side sleepers, and quite honestly they’re pretty bad for stomach and back sleepers too.
Should I buy a Memory Foam Or A Spring Bed?
We can see no reason or situation where you should buy an innerspring product.
Get a memory foam product instead…
(In fact, you should buy anything else that doesn’t use an innerspring – memory foam or not)
Innersprings are one of the oldest, most unsupportive, and archaic kinds of mattress on the market. We’re shocked some brands are still trying to market them as viable alternatives when there are independent coil based products on the market at a very similar price point.
3 Good Memory Foam Mattresses
So now we know a little bit about the difference between memory foam mattresses and innerspring products. Let’s see what some of the best memory foam mattresses on the market look like when we take them apart layer by layer.
The Nectar is one of the most well-known mattresses in the entire industry. They have been around since the start of the recent “mattress in a box” revolution, and they’re still going strong holding on to their position as one of the industry’s leaders.
Usually, we don’t mention coverings in these articles, but this one is quite special. It’s made from a reasonably unusual material called Tencel – which is made from cellulose (or wood fibers). Despite being made from wood, it’s incredibly soft, and it’s super breathable too.
Quilted Cooling Gel Memory Foam
This layer has been infused with a high-quality cooling gel that has an even distribution pattern to provide an even temperature across the entire sleeping surface. It has also been quilted slightly, which makes it a very plush luxurious layer. It provides a little bit of loft and a feeling of regal opulence to the product – and we really like it.
This layer of cooling gel is almost identical to the layer above. It’s a little bit firmer, and it doesn’t have the quilting we mentioned. It works hand in hand with the layer above to provide additional cooling power.
Hi Core Memory Foam
This is an advanced (and expensive) kind of memory foam that’s very complicated to understand and explain. We ourselves only just managed to get our heads around it – and we’re mattress nerds…
It’s a very adaptive form of memory foam that will contour and support you better than a standard memory foam. It’s very effective, and the speed at which it contours is much quicker too – as it needs less heat to soften the cell walls.
This is a high-density support foam that provides a strong and stable base for the softer layers to rest on securely. It’s not very interesting, but it does its job well.
The Puffy isn’t actually a memory foam mattress, instead Puffy have designed their own version of memory foam called Comfort Cloud. It’s only got 2 different layers in it, which is quite unusual – but it technically makes this a hybrid product.
The top layer of the Puffy is made from one of the most advanced materials we’ve ever seen used in the mattress industry – Comfort Cloud. Puffy has spent over 4 years making this material, and it’s got some pretty amazing properties.
Like memory foam, Comfort Cloud will contour to your body shape to relieve pressure and provide incredible amounts of support. We think memory foam is a little bit better at contouring than Comfort Cloud, but the difference is small – and Comfort Cloud still does a great job.
However, that’s the only thing that memory foam does better, Comfort Cloud has been designed from the ground up to be a memory foam killer.
Comfort Cloud doesn’t use a cell-based design pattern like memory foam does, so it doesn’t have the overheating issues that the trapped air inside the cells can cause. It’s an exceptionally breathable material, and it allows for much more airflow than almost any other kind of foam on the market. It’s also naturally good at thermal distribution, which means it’s going to spread the heat out naturally – reducing the occurrence of hotspots.
Puffy has also added a very special kind of cooling gel to this product that tries to get to an optimum temperature instead of getting the product as cool as possible. It’s called Cooling Cloud, and if they used a normal cooling gel, the sleeping surface may be too cold for comfort when combined with the natural properties of Comfort Cloud.
High-Density Support Foam
This is a base layer that is made from a high-density support foam – it provides a durable stable base for the Comfort Cloud layer above to rest on.
The final memory foam product we are going to talk about today is the Muse. This is one of the lesser known mattress in a box companies, but they are quickly making a reputation for themselves thanks to some pretty unique technologies that they have developed.
Diamond Breeze Cover
This is one of the most impressive coverings we have ever seen in a mattress. Muse have created a super soft fiber made from metal strands. You can’t feel it in the mattress, but the metal inside the cover distributes heat evenly across the surface of the product before it has the chance to enter the mattress and create hot spots. It works like cooling gel in a way, but as it is in direct contact with the sleeper – it’s super effective.
Cooling Gel Memory Foam
This is a layer of cooling gel memory foam that’s of a similar quality to the gel foam in the nectar. It’s medium firm and provides quite a bit of support.
This is a gradient layer that provides a little support and thickness to the product. It also softens the transition of firmness from the firm layers above to the base layer below.
This is another layer of high-density support foam that’s more or less the same as the base layers in the products above. It’s uninteresting, but it does its important job well.
3 Good Spring Mattresses
So, now we know what some of the best memory foam products on the market look like, let’s see if we can find any innerspring mattresses to recommend.
Zinus 8 Inch Hybrid Green Tea Foam and Spring Mattress
This is the only innerspring product that we could find that we would be “comfortable” recommending. It’s still a low-quality design pattern that can be improved upon by every other product on this page – but at least it’s super cheap.
Quilted Fabric Top Layer
This is a reasonably thin but surprisingly luxurious layer of quilted microfiber fabric that adds a little softness to the product.
This is a very thin layer of high-density foam that provides a nice firmness that may be agreeable to some peoples tastes.
Visco Latex Foam
Visco foam is a synthetic version of latex. It was designed to have the impressive properties of natural latex – just without the price tag. It has some limited contouring properties that activate quickly, and it’s good at distributing heat (as it’s naturally well ventilated). It’s also more durable than normal latex, and it won’t degrade over time as quickly.
This is a standard innerspring that we talked about in the construction overview above. As far as innersprings go, it’s one of the “better” ones – but it’s still laughably bad in terms of support when compared an independently coiled product.
Zinus Ultima Comfort 8 Inch Spring Mattress, Queen
We’re going to be honest, we struggled to recommend that product above….
But we couldn’t have an article about innerspring mattresses without at least reviewing one innerspring product. That being said, there’s no reason to pick the Zinus above – they also make this product (which has an independent coil system) for a very similar price.
Quilted Fabric Top Layer
This is exactly the same stuff we talked about in the first Zinus product above. It provides a little softness and plushness that’s great value for money considering the price point.
This is a 1-inch thick layer of standard comfort foam. It’s a high-quality durable foam, but it’s pretty standard stuff (which should be expected in this kind of price bracket).
iCoil Pocketed Springs
These are a set of reasonably high-quality independent coils that provide much more performance than we would usually expect to see from a product in this price bracket. They are immeasurably better than the innerspring in the product above, and this is where all the support in this mattress comes from.
Olee Sleep 13 inch Galaxy Hybrid Gel Infused Memory Foam and Pocket Spring Mattress
This final product from Olee Sleep is still a budget pick, but it’s about $100 more expensive than the two products above. However, if you can afford the extra cash, we strongly recommend you get this product instead – it’s a much better mattress.
Despite being a different brand, this is more or less the same material we have talked about in the two Zinus products above. It gives the product a soft to the touch feel and adds a little bit of luxury.
Dura HD Foam
Olee Sleep like to talk this layer up by giving it a name like “Dura HD Foam” but don’t be fooled – it’s just standard high-density foam. It’s decent quality and it’s a reasonably firm material that provides a little bit of support.
Again this is a little bit of marketing speak mixed in with a decent quality but normal material. This is a semi-firm cooling gel-infused memory foam that distributes pressure and provides a decent amount of cradling support.
Dura HD Foam
This is a thicker version of the foam that’s on the top layer of this product, it’s more or less the same density (perhaps a little firmer) and provides a bit of padding and starts a gradient down to the coiled layer below.
This is a high-quality layer of completely independent coils. It’s here that the product gets most of its support. The coils are of a high quality and will provide you with years of use before they become uncomfortable.
Dura HD Foam
Another layer of material that’s identical to the top foam layer of this product. It’s only included here to prevent the coils being in direct contact with the bed frame, it doesn’t do much else.
So there you have it, hopefully, by now you’ve learned how terrible innerspring mattresses are and why you should avoid them at all costs.
There’s no reason to have an innerspring in your mattress in 2019, we moved way past this archaic and old technology a long time ago. If you like the feeling of a spring mattress, then you should get one of the independent coil products we mentioned above instead – they’re immeasurably better.
Any of the products we have recommended here today (with the exception of the innerspring product) are going to provide you with excellent performance, and countless nights of deep and satisfying sleep. They are all worthy of being added to the very top of your shortlist.