One of the questions I get asked a lot is what are the different types of coils and what’s the difference between them and what should I be looking for.
There are several different types of coils. You’re gonna hear words like Bonnell, offset, continuous coil, pocketed coil, etc. You’re going to hear these terms and you’re gonna think there’s so many different coils to choose from.
That it is true.
There are different coils. It’s been hundred and some years that they’ve been making mattresses with coils. They’ve had a few innovations at least.
But the reality is that we tend to boil the universe down into really two camps.
There are pocketed coils and there are continuous coils or connected coils. Connected coils encompass a few different varieties: Bonnell offset, continuous.
We think the fundamental difference between coils boils down to those two camps. There are other differences within those camps, but we don’t consider them to be the fundamental difference between pocketed and connected.
The key difference between pocketed and connected has a lot to do with motion isolation.
The way pocketed coils work is that they are literally a spring sewn into a piece of fabric that wraps all around it and is sewn up. You could just take it out and it’s literally a fabric encased spring.
They take a thousand of those in some cases and they just stack them inside the mattress and when you press down on one side of the mattress, the coils underneath you are compressed in their pockets, but the coils near by are in totally different pockets and they’re not connected to these pockets, so they don’t compress at all.
In other words when you jump onto the bed, your spouse doesn’t move.
A lot of people are gonna tell you that pocketed coils, because they’re better at motion isolation, are just better at everything. It’s just better and worse.
That’s not really true.
Pocketed coils have a lot of advantages, the the most prominent being motion isolation. Another one being their ability to conform more closely to your body, especially if you’re sleeping on your side, where you have a lot of curves. A pocketed coil system can go really compressed under your hips and not compress much under your waist.
But connected coils have their own advantage. They are going to not allow your heaviest parts to sink too deeply into the mattress relative to your lightest parts.
The type of sleeper for whom that’s most important is if you’re a stomach sleeper. If you think about it, you’re a stomach sleeper, your heaviest part is gonna be your hips.
Let’s assume there’s no zoning to the mattress, meaning the coils under your hips are not firmer than the ones under other areas. Let’s assume they’re uniformly firm coils.
Your hips are going to be the part of the body that sinks the deepest into the mattress because they’re the heaviest. That’s not good if you’re a stomach sleeper. That’s really not good because what happens is your back will over arch as your hips sink deeply into the mattress.
So what’s better for you is if you’re on a connected coil unit, meaning that those coils underneath your hips are connected to the ones underneath your waist and underneath your knees and your feet, which prevents them from sagging too much underneath your heaviest parts.
I would generally say that a connected coil mattress would be better for some sleepers, in particular stomach sleepers than pocketed coils, depending of course on a variety of other factors. For example, how firm the coils are or plush, how conforming they are.
If they’re very firm pocketed coils, that’s not going to be as big of consideration for you. But if they’re plush coils, meant to conform a lot, and then to provide softness to the mattress, then that’s going to be bad for you as a stomach sleeper.
There are advantages to both sides and you should just understand the differences and not worry a whole lot about any other types of coils or the distinctions between them.
Let’s sum up the differences between coil spring and pocket spring mattresses.
At the center of your mattress you’ll find either a coil spring or a pocket spring unit.
The pocket spring units offer more support than the older coil spring units. The individual springs that make up the mattress are housed in their own little pockets and work independently of each other. Unlike the coil springs, which are all linked together and tend to move as one. So if your partner moves at night, you’re going to move too.
With the pocket springs, because the springs are individually housed, when you compress them, the movement is isolated to that specific area of the mattress.
This makes a pocket spring mattress and ideal choice for people with two different body weights, because they reduce movement between you and your partner.
How many pockets springs do you need in a mattress?
The perception that most people have is at the higher the spring count the better the mattress. On the surface this would seem to make sense, but does it?
In the world of mattresses the spring count is usually the only figure that you are given to make a decision. All manufacturers are
aware that consumers are hung up on spring count and use it to their advantage.
The minimum number of pockets springs in a king-sized mattress is 600 with the upper limit being around 10,000! Which is a massive difference! So what’s going on there.
Well mattresses with spring counts over 2000 usually use a dual-layer of springs. Spring counts over 3500 will be using some form of micro springs.
Sometimes mattress springs are even coiled inside each other with each configuration given scientific sounding names! All of which are made up!
There is a well known saying in the mattress industry which is ‘Over engineered for the sake of the label’.
This is where a mattress is crammed with layer on layer of tiny intertwined springs, all bouncing around on each other, so it can proudly declare itself as having highest spring count in the shop with little or no benefit to you, the user, but a great story for the salesmen.
What’s the ideal number of springs?
Between 1000-2000 is a sweet spot.
Next time a salesman is trying to sell you a 4000 or 6000 springs mattress, ask yourself what am I actually going to be sleeping on?
The most important questions you should be asking are what are the comfort layers, what are the grams per square meter, is this mattress turnable?
That’s where the comfort value of your mattress is held. Not in some arbitrary number or latest breakthrough in pocket spring technology.
The Differences Between Memory Foam & Pocket Spring Mattresses
In the majority of today’s mattresses you’ll find the main support is delivered from one of two options. These are either memory foam or pocket springs.
Which one is right for you? Does it even matter?
Memory foam is everywhere right now. It’s cheap, it’s comfortable and it has some clever properties, but it might not be the right choice for you.
Just how this memory foam works?
When you lie in bed, the heat from your body causes a chemical reaction within the memory foam and this makes the foam shaped into an imprint of your body.
The problem is temperature and ventilation play a vital role in sleep and foam mattresses don’t allow for the circulation of air.
Thick layers of form act as an impassable barrier next to your body. It causes the heat and moisture from your body to build up and just remains there right next to your skin.
Because the memory foam reacts to the heat, it can feel too hard when it’s cold and not supportive enough when it’s warm.
On the other hand, pocket springs offer more support and ventilation than foams do. They have a more open structure than their foam counterparts, which allows air to circulate more freely.
Also the individual springs that make up the mattress are housed in their own little pockets and work independently of each other. So when you compress them, the movement is isolated to that specific area of the mattress.
Overall a pocket spring mattress will allow you to have a cooler, more comfortable and undisturbed sleep.
Preferably look for one that has natural layers above and below the pocket springs.
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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.