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Memory Foam vs Hybrid Mattresses

Memory foam mattresses and hybrid mattresses are two modern mattress solutions that have become popular in the last couple decades. While there are similarities between the two mattresses, there are also some major differences that are worth noting when choosing between the two. This guide explains exactly what makes each mattress unique and the pros and cons of each mattress.

What is a memory foam mattress?

Memory foam mattresses are made from a viscoelastic material called memory foam that is designed to shape itself to the contours of the body. Invented in the 60s by a NASA aeronautical engineer, memory foam was first used in aircraft seating. It wasn’t until the 90s that its potential as a mattress material was realized. By molding itself to the body, memory foam can offer greater pressure relief than a traditional coil mattress. However, there are some downsides that could make this mattress less comfortable for some sleepers which are listed below.

What are the pros and cons of a memory foam mattress?

  • Snugness: Memory foam hugs the body helping to provide a snug feeling that many sleepers find more comforting.
  • Reduced vibrations: You’re less likely to feel movement through a memory foam mattress - if you’re easily woken up by a partner turning around in bed, a memory foam mattress could potentially help.
  • Pressure relief: By molding itself to the body, a memory foam mattress can take pressure away from the hips or elbows, which could increase comfort for some sleepers (especially those with joint pains).
  • Motion restriction: Those who like to move around a lot at night may find a memory foam mattress too restrictive - memory foam is designed to sink into and hold your body in one position.
  • Overheating: Memory foam also traps heat, which can cause some sleepers to get too hot. Fortunately memory foam can be mixed with other materials to reduce this.
  • Smell: Memory foam can give off a chemical smell that some people find unpleasant. This usually fades after time, but can be quite strong when the mattress is brand new.

What is a hybrid mattress?

Hybrid mattresses first came onto the market in 2008. As the name suggests, they are a hybrid of two types of mattress: coil-spring and foam. In most cases, the core is made up of coils which are topped with a foam layer (which can be memory foam). The purpose of a hybrid mattress is to offer both the hard support of a spring mattress and the soft cushioning of a foam mattress. Many sleepers see it as the best of both worlds. However, that doesn’t mean hybrid mattresses are completely without drawbacks as the pros and cons below showcase.

What are the pros and cons of a hybrid mattress?

  • Temperature: Hybrid mattresses are better designed to regulate temperature, preventing them from getting too hot like memory foam.
  • Sturdiness: Hybrid mattresses are also much more sturdy. They don’t sink around the edges as much as memory foam.
  • Easy movement: It’s easier to turn over and move around on a hybrid mattress because it only has a thin layer of foam opposed to completely being made of foam.
  • Cost: The luxury provided by a hybrid mattress comes at an added cost. For those shopping for a mattress on a tight budget, a hybrid mattress may not always be affordable.
  • Weight: Hybrid mattresses are much heavier than memory foam mattresses and moving them could prove challenging to some people.
  • Noise: The incorporation of springs does mean that hybrid mattresses make more noise than a memory foam mattress. It is however less than a traditional coil-spring mattress due to the foam layer on top.

Memory foam vs hybrid mattresses: which is the better option for you?

The best mattress is likely to come down to personal sleep preferences, your needs and your budget. A memory foam mattress is likely to be the best option if you are a side sleeper who doesn’t move around a lot, if you suffer from joint pain or are easily woken by mattress movement/noise. These mattresses are relatively more affordable and easier to maneuver due to being lighter. A hybrid mattress may be better suited if you move around a lot in your sleep, if you get easily hot in the night or if you enjoy having a harder surface beneath you. Those with a memory foam layer could still allow you to enjoy some of the benefits of memory foam.
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