Here I’m going to be answering everyone’s most burning question in life – what is the difference between a hybrid mattress and a memory foam mattress.
I’m going to explain what a hybrid mattress is, explain what a memory foam mattress is, go over what makes them different and share some recommendations of who I think should be sleeping on each.
Check out the links below for some mattress recommendations once you decide which type you like best.
Table of Contents
I will kick things off by talking about hybrid mattresses, which are the more confusing mattress type in my opinion.
Hybrid mattresses are multi-layer beds that combine foam top layers with an inner spring coil support system. Those foam top layers can be made out of pretty much anything you want, whether that’s latex foam, poly foam, memory foam or even high tech hyper elastic grids like Purple’s.
Hybrid’s coil layers are normally made with individually wrapped pocketed coils and those pocketed coils are a little more advanced than standard inner spring coils because each one of them is wrapped in its very own cloth case.
A coil won’t be attached to any other coils in the mattress and that means that hybrid mattresses are often a little bit more cooling and a little bit less bouncy than traditional inner spring beds. That individual wrapping also helps coils cradle your body better than a traditional coil bed would.
Since hybrids can be made of so many different things, they vary really widely in feel, unlike memory foam mattresses, which can vary in firmness level but share a few key features.
Which brings me to the next part of my article describing memory foam mattresses.
Memory foam was actually developed by NASA to use in spacecrafts but in the years since then people realized what a comfortable mattress material it was, so now folks aside from astronauts get to enjoy it too.
Memory foam mattresses are made entirely of foam and they don’t include a coil layer. Instead they include a dense foam support layer to offer structure and support and are topped with softer memory foam layers for cushioning and pressure relief.
The denser the memory foam bed is, the more slowly you’ll sink into it and the more weight it can accommodate.
These beds are known for feeling super slow moving and offering plenty of body contouring and sinkage. Almost any memory foam bed is going to offer the slow sinkage that this material is known for, no matter how firm the bed is.
I want to take a minute to dig deeper into the differences between how memory foam and hybrid mattresses feel.
In general memory foam mattresses feel slow moving and pressure relieving and you’ll sink into these beds slowly throughout the night.
The result is a cradling hug-like feel. This makes these beds especially great fits for side sleepers and folks with joint pain. This cradling effect is also great for couples because it can cut down on the amount of motion transfer across your mattress.
Essentially that means that you’re not likely to feel really disturbed by a restless partner on a memory foam bed.
If you’re looking for a classic memory foam feel, I’d recommend checking out the the Layla mattress.
On the other hand hybrid mattresses are normally a bit more bouncy and responsive, making them better fits for sleepers who like to feel more on top of their beds.
The coil layers in these beds also normally offer stronger support than foam bases found in memory foam beds, which is good news for anyone on the heavier side.
And since the top foams and hybrid mattresses vary so widely they can really range in feel. In fact you can even get some sinkage and body contouring on a hybrid bed.
But in general if you’re looking for something more responsive or more supportive than memory foam, go for a hybrid bed.
If you’re looking for some hybrids to try I would personally recommend checking out Nolah mattress.
So if you want pressure and pain relief, go for a memory foam bed. If you want support and bounce, go for a hybrid.
But what about if you sleep hot?
In general hybrid mattresses are more cooling than memory foam mattresses. The coils and hybrids create some space for air to flow throughout the mattress, promoting breathability.
On the other hand memory foam warms up as you sink into it and has a bit of a reputation for trapping body heat. You can choose a memory foam bed with a cooling gel infusion or one that includes copper or graphite infusions. All of those materials open up dense memory foam and actually create some space for air to flow through your bed, which can cool things down.
You can also look for a memory foam mattress that uses an open cell design, which works the way infusions do, to create space for air to flow throughout your bed.
But all in all, the most cooling hybrid mattress is going to sleep cooler than the most cooling memory foam mattress.
Before I wrap up let’s talk about cost differences.
Hybrid mattresses are often more expensive than memory foam mattresses, because they tend to last a little bit longer, thanks to their steel coil layer. But a high quality memory foam mattress will be pricier and last longer than a budget hybrid bed.
So it really comes down to what you’re looking for.
When you’re shopping for a memory foam mattress, keep in mind that denser memory foam is often more durable and more expensive than less dense memory foam.
A high quality memory foam bed I would estimate would last you around seven to ten years.
When you’re shopping for a hybrid mattress, pay attention to the overall quality of its materials.
A good way to do this is to check out its warranty. Longer warranties are normally a sign that you’re getting a high quality bed and a high quality hybrid mattress could last you close to 12 years, maybe even longer, especially if it includes latex and some of those foam layers.
Okay so let’s recap what we learned.
Hybrid mattresses use steel coil support layers and various different foam top layers and memory foam mattresses are made completely out of foam.
If you’re looking for bounce, strong support or a cooling bed, you should opt for a hybrid mattress. But if you’re looking for pressure relief, body contouring and low motion transfer, you should opt for a memory foam mattress.
Still can’t decide what you want?
Then combine the best of both worlds by checking out a few memory foam hybrids, which combine steel coil support with, you guessed it, memory foam top layers.
You can find reviews of some great memory foam hybrids like the Layla hybrid, on this website.
I hope this article helped you decide which mattress type might work best for you.
Check out these links to see some of my favorite memory foam mattresses and some of my favorite hybrid mattresses:
Alex P. Davis has a BA in Interior Design from The New York School of Interior Design and 10 years of experience expertly designing sophisticated interiors.