Memory Foam vs Spring Mattress: What’s the Best?

Mattresses are like people: They come in all shapes and sizes. That means when you’re shopping for a new mattress, you’ll be faced with many choices. The type of mattress you ultimately choose depends on a variety of things. They can include how cool you like to sleep at night and the mattress that supports your body the right way.

Two of the most popular options you’ll find in your mattress search are memory foam and spring mattresses. Here’s the good, the bad, and the bounce of both and which is ultimately the best choice for you.

Memory Foam: What To Know

Memory foam has actually been around for quite some time. The viscoelastic memory foam the mattresses are designed from was created by NASA in the 1960s. The foam was engineered to react to body temperature and body pressure. It is excellent at relieving pressure points, regulating body temperature, and conforming to the shape of the body.

You can find several different types of memory foam mattresses on the market. They all contain the viscoelastic foam that gives them their signature feel. Some also contain a layer of latex or high-density polyurethane foam to add more structure and support to the mattress. You can also find gel-infused memory foam mattresses to help control the temperature of the foam a little better.

The lifespan of a memory foam depends on its density. A firm-feeling memory foam mattress will last longer. Make sure to look for the upper layer of the mattress to have a density of four pounds per cubic foot or greater. This ensures you get a supportive mattress that is also durable.

Memory foam has come a long way since it was created. You can now find a couple of alternatives to traditional memory foam such as:

  • Gel Memory Foam – This type of memory foam is manufactured with a gel that helps to absorb heat and pull it away from your body
  • Open-Cell Memory Foam – This type of memory foam has a modified structure that helps to improve its breathability and airflow

Spring Mattresses: What to Know

Memory foam mattresses may have been around a while, but innerspring mattresses have them beat! The first spring mattress was created in 1871. Since then, there have been many improvements made. But no matter what type of spring mattress you decide on, they all have a few things in common such as:

  • Coils to provide support
  • Foam layer to add structure and comfort
  • A quilted surface

These mattresses also include many configurations of comfort layers. They can range from latex to memory foam to natural fibers. Make sure to take note of the comfort layer features on any spring mattress you’re considering.

Traditional spring mattresses come in four distinct types. They are:

  • Bonnell Coil – This is the least expensive option when shopping for a spring mattress. It has a fairly short lifespan due to its construction.
  • Offset Coil – In this spring mattress, the coils are laced together to help make it stiff. This is a mattress that serves lovers of a firm sleeping surface. While durable, they also tend to be a big bouncy, which can disturb anyone who shares the bed.
  • Continuous Coil – This mattress uses a single wire that is twisted into hundreds of coils. This makes the mattress extremely durable but also bouncy, resulting in a lot of motion transfer.
  • Pocket Coil – The springs in this mattress are each individually wrapped in fabric, which helps them to conform to your body as you lay on it. The fabric wrapping also reduces motion transfer. They are durable and considered the top of the line in spring mattresses.

When shopping for a spring mattress, make sure to investigate the coil gauge. This is how thick a coil, or spring, is. The thicker the coil, the more durable and the firmer it will be. A higher number indicates a thinner gauge while a lower number indicates a thicker spring.

The Pros and the Cons

Let’s explore the pros and cons of each type of mattress to help you decide which best suits your needs.

Memory foam can make for a great sleeping service as long as you’re aware of the drawbacks as well as the benefits before committing to one. There are several pros to memory foam. These include:

  • The ability to isolate motion, making it perfect for bed sharing
  • How it hugs the curves of the body to offer support where you need it
  • The soft material that helps relieve pressure and promotes comfort
  • Great for allergies since there’s nowhere for dust mites and other allergens to accumulate

Of course, there are a few things that memory foam has going against it, such as:

  • Can be hot to sleep on since it absorbs body heat
  • A slight odor when first set up as it off-gasses
  • Can be more expensive than other types of mattresses
  • Difficult to move since it can be quite heavy
  • Vulnerable to moisture since it can cause the foam to deteriorate and mold to grow
  • Lack of springiness to the material

When it comes to spring mattresses, there are some definite pluses such as:

  • They’re affordable since they are available with as many (or as few) bells and whistles as you need
  • You know what to expect because you’ve probably slept on one before
  • Very durable if constructed properly
  • Come in many styles so you’re bound to find one that works for you
  • They’re easy to move around on due to their bounce

Now that there are other options on the market aside from spring mattresses, the cons are definitely something to consider. These include:

  • Spring mattresses tend to wear faster, reducing the amount of support offered
  • Allergens, especially for those with allergies to dust mites, can be an issue with a spring mattress
  • High motion transfer can be a problem for couples who share a bed
  • Vulnerability to sagging as the springs wear down and the supportive layers compress over time

How They Stack Up

Now that you know a little about foam and spring mattresses, let’s see how they stack up side by side so you can better get a sense of which choice is best for you.

Cost

Memory foam mattresses were once the Cadillac of the mattress world. They were quite expensive at one time when compared with a more traditional spring mattress. Now their costs have come down, making them available across a variety of price points and comparable to spring mattresses in price. In both categories, you can find low- and high-end products.

Remember that when it comes to the price of your mattress, you get what you pay for. The price is directly related to the quality of the materials used to construct the mattress. That’s why it’s crucial to do as much research as you can on a particular mattress so you can find one of the qualities you want that also works for your wallet.

Support

Both spring mattresses and memory foam can make a supportive sleep surface. But if you dig a little deeper and look at the mattress that helps to keep your body in proper alignment as you sleep, then foam mattresses are the big winner. This is due to the fact that memory foam contours to your body, which helps maintain the neutral alignment of your spine. They are great for heavier people or those that predominately sleep on their sides.

Traditional spring mattresses may not be as great for alignment, but they are great for those that prefer a firmer bed. If you’re a stomach sleeper, then a spring mattress is likely the best option for you.

Durability

A memory foam mattress is generally more durable than a spring mattress. You can easily discern this for yourself by taking a look at the warranty included with the mattress. The longer the warranty, the longer the mattress is likely to last.

Temperature and Breathability

At this point, you may be thinking that going with a memory foam mattress is a sure winner. But there’s one area where a spring mattress comes out on top: temperature.

If you don’t like to be hot when you sleep, then a spring mattress may be your best bet. Remember, a memory foam mattress is activated by body heat; it’s what allows it to contour to your body. But that also means that body heat becomes trapped, warming you up in the process.

If you are sensitive to temperature when you sleep, it’s definitely something to include in your calculations. Of course, there are some advances that have helped to make the buildup of body heat less of an issue. Gel memory foam is a terrific example, but it’s never going to have the breathability of a spring mattress.

Pressure Points

Pressure points such as your shoulders and hips can become stiff and sore as you sleep, especially for side sleepers. Memory foam comes out on top in the relief of pressure points due to the fact that they support these areas of the body but allow for flexibility. Traditional spring mattresses provide push back against the parts of the body that tend to rest directly on the mattress. That can cause some serious aches and pains when you get up in the morning.

Transfer of Motion

When we’re talking about the transfer of motion, we’re talking about how much bounce a mattress has. A mattress that helps to isolate motion can be a real advantage for anyone who shares a bed with another. A memory foam bed provides the least transfer of motion.

Spring mattresses often have a lot of bounce, transferring energy all over the mattress. That is a distinct disadvantage for some people, so it’s definitely something to consider.

Comfort

So, which mattress is more comfortable? Unfortunately, there’s no one who can answer that question but you. Your personal preferences play a huge role in how comfortable you find a mattress. If you like to sink into your mattress and feel as if you’re getting hugged all night long, then memory foam is the best choice. But if you like a bouncy, firm mattress, then a spring mattress may be the best choice.

Common Questions

Is a memory foam mattress better for your back?

Yes! A quality memory foam mattress is widely regarded as one of the most ergonomic choices out there. Many people find that it helps relieve back pain due to the unparalleled support it offers as you sleep and shift positions through the night. If you’re looking for the best mattress for back pain relief, you can’t go wrong with memory foam.

Is there such a thing as spring memory foam?

A spring mattress doesn’t adjust to your body temperature or pressure like a memory foam mattress does. But you can find innerspring mattresses with a top comfort layer made from memory foam– these are commonly referred to as hybrid mattresses. Hybrids can offer a little more support, quality, and comfort.

Are memory foam mattresses worth the cost?

Memory foam mattresses are often quite expensive when compared with traditional innerspring mattresses. In the end, the choice is up to you whether it’s an investment that’s worth it for what you’re seeking in a mattress.

Does memory foam flatten out over time?

It can.

Memory foams are designed to be compressed repeatedly by heat and pressure. Over time, you may notice that it’s not as responsive to springing back to its original shape as it once was. You cannot totally prevent this from happening. You can take steps to help it last longer by rotating your mattress regularly. You can also use a mattress topper to help reduce the wear and tear to the main memory foam layer.

Which Mattress Comes Out On Top?

Both spring mattresses and memory foam have their pros and cons. The ultimate decision about which you go for is up to you because there’s simply no definitive answer that is right for everyone. If you can nail down the type of bed you want to buy, then finding the best mattress for you becomes a whole lot easier. Hopefully, this guide has helped you get a better idea of which mattress type fits your needs!

Scroll to Top