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Understanding the Different Mattress Types

Close up photo of man lifting mattress off of bed
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Is your current mattress keeping you up at night? If so, it may be time to invest in a new mattress. With so many options on the market, choosing the best type of bed can be daunting. To help you understand the different types of mattresses along with their individual pros and cons, we’ve researched eight of the most common mattress types.

Comparing 8 common mattress types

Innerspring mattresses

These traditional types of beds have been in the mattress market for over 150 years. In their current incarnation, crafted with metal coils, innerspring mattresses can vary based on metal gauge and coil count.

Best for: Innerspring mattresses are best for combination sleepers who change positions during the night. The innerspring construction provides even support throughout, no matter the sleep style.

Popular innerspring mattresses: Sealy’s innerspring Response line and Original Mattress Factory’s classic innerspring deliver a traditional mattress with coiled support.

Pros and cons

  • Economical price point
  • Long history in the mattress market
  • Good edge support for getting out of bed
  • Noise
  • High motion transfer
  • Discomfort due to feeling the spring unit

Pillow-top mattresses

Shopping for a new mattress should include exploring types of beds with pillow tops. Pillow tops provide an added layer of comfort and softness to your mattress.

Best for: The plush, pressure-point relief of pillow-top mattresses are ideal for side sleepers.

Popular pillow-top mattresses: Both the Serta iComfort pillow top and the Simmons Beautyrest plush pillow tops provide additional padding and comfort.

Pros and cons

  • Pressure-point relief
  • High level of comfort due to added layer
  • Plush feel
  • Shorter lifespan due to pillow top sagging
  • Addition of pillow top may increase mattress price
  • Standard sheets may not fit due to increased depth

Memory foam mattresses

Memory foam mattresses deliver customized support by molding and conforming to your body. The name “memory foam” refers to the foam’s elasticity, which enables the mattress to quickly return to its original shape.

Best for: Sleeping on your side creates pressure points in your shoulders and hips. Memory foam molds and contours to your body to customize the support needed.

Popular memory foam mattresses: Novosbed and Puffy both offer superior motion isolation, cradling comfort, and joint and pressure-point relief. For more options, view our picks for the best memory foam mattresses.

Pros and cons

  • Excellent pressure-point relief and body contouring support
  • Isolates motion transfer
  • Works with adjustable bases
  • May sleep hot
  • Shorter than average life span due to sagging
  • Off-gassing odors

Hybrid mattresses

When searching for types of beds, customers often consider hybrid mattresses. Crafted with two or more types of materials, hybrid mattresses can offer the softness of memory foam with the support of a traditional innerspring.

Best for: The combination of memory foam and traditional coils provide superior back pain relief.

Popular hybrid mattresses: The TEMPUR-ProAdapt Hybrid and Helix Dusk deliver body contouring and support with pressure relief. For more options, view our picks for the best hybrid mattresses.

Pros and cons

  • Cooler sleep
  • Addition of coils creates greater durability
  • Hybrid provides both comfort and support
  • Mattress weight
  • Noise due to innerspring base
  • Higher price point

Gel mattresses

Gel mattresses incorporate a layer of gel beads to deliver greater airflow and circulation while decreasing excess body heat. While memory foam mattresses tend to retain body heat, mattresses with a gel layer provide a cooler night’s sleep.

Best for: Gel mattresses provide necessary whole-body support for side sleepers and combination sleepers.

Popular gel mattresses: Both Ghostbed and ViscoSoft’s gel memory foam layer provides relief for those who sleep hot. For more options, view our picks for the best cool gel mattresses.

Pros and cons

  • Body-heat transfer for a cooler night’s sleep
  • Gel provides increased airflow
  • Offers more support than traditional memory foam
  • Increased price due to additional materials
  • Cooling effect may lessen over time
  • Difficulty with movement (changing positions or getting out of bed)

Organic mattresses

Organic mattresses are a popular mattress type for shoppers searching for an eco-friendly, sustainable, and non-toxic place to rest their heads. Products with an organic label must follow the strict guidelines of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program.

Best for: Organic mattresses vary in type. From latex (best suited for back sleepers), memory foam (best for side sleepers), and hybrid (best for stomach sleepers), shoppers are able to find an organic mattress that best fits their sleep style.

Popular organic mattresses: There are several popular organic mattresses on the market including the Avocado Green, Saatva, and Essentia. For more options, view our picks for the best organic mattresses.

Pros and cons

  • Size and design can be customized
  • No volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Benefits both the body and the environment
  • Higher price point
  • Limited availability in retail market
  • Requires extra research, as not all advertised organic mattresses are 100% organic

Latex mattresses

The hypoallergenic properties make latex mattresses an attractive option for allergy sufferers, as latex is naturally resistant to dust mites. Of course, latex mattresses may not be suitable for those with a latex allergy, so it’s essential to research mattress components.

Best for: Latex offers a medium firmness, which is an excellent option for both back and stomach sleepers.

Popular latex mattresses: Crafted with pure tree-tapped latex, Zenhaven is a popular latex mattress choice. Also, Wink Beds with 100% natural Talalay latex delivers targeted zone and pressure point relief. For more options, view our picks for the best latex mattresses.

Pros and cons

  • Long lifespan
  • Naturally resistant to dust mites
  • No off-gassing of chemicals
  • Increased price
  • Mattress weight
  • Not suitable for people with latex allergies

Adjustable-base mattresses

For the ultimate in sleep style customization, adding an adjustable base to your mattress provides a foundation that works with your sleep needs. Many adjustable bases not only offer custom raising and lowering of both head and feet, but also options including massage and heat, zero gravity, and under-bed lighting.

Best for: The enhanced customization of adjustable base mattresses are ideal for those who suffer from back and joint pain or leg swelling.

Popular adjustable base mattresses: The TEMPUR-Ergo and Serta power base offer fully customizable comfort with high-tech features, including wireless remotes, USB ports, and smartphone integration.

Pros and cons

  • Customizable with ability to raise or lower both the head and foot of the bed
  • High-tech options
  • Helps older adults get in and out of bed safely
  • Higher price point
  • Limited availability in retail market
  • Costs extra to set up and calibrate

The bottom line

With such a wide variety of types of beds on the market, take time to choose a mattress based on your individual sleep needs. If possible, test mattress types in-store or take advantage of mattress in-home sleep trials to determine which mattress is best.

Frequently asked questions

Which is the most comfortable mattress?

The most comfortable mattress depends greatly on your personal preference and sleep style. Create a mattress wish list to map out both your sleep style and health. Assessing what your body needs will guide you towards the most comfortable mattress types and options.

What is the best mattress type for back pain?

It is essential that your spine is supported and properly aligned while sleeping. The best mattress choice will keep your body aligned and alleviate back pain upon waking. Some mattress types to explore include hybrid mattresses and adjustable-base mattresses.

What is the best mattress type for hot sleepers? 

Gel mattresses are the best choice if you sleep hot. The gel helps dissipate heat for a cooler and restful night’s sleep.

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