Types of Mattresses – The 8 Common Types of Mattresses In The Market

Buying a new mattress is exciting, especially if it’s been a while since you last shopped for one. Science has come a long way in just the past few years, and new innovations can allow you to find just the product that will work best for your specific sleep needs.

However, it would be pretty costly to determine which is best for you based strictly on personal experience. There are many different mattress types available on the market, and you owe it to yourself to understand the differences in order to find the one that offers what you’re looking for. Here, I will analyze 8 of the most common to help you make a more educated purchasing decision.

1. Memory Foam

If you are looking for a great support and comfort, especially as a side sleeper, memory foam is a wonderful choice. Memory foam is popular because of the way it gradually conforms to your body as you sleep. If you sleep on your side, it offers the shoulder and hip support you need. The memory foam contours to your body and allows you to feel partially surrounded by the mattress while being supported.

When it comes to comfort, memory foam mattresses have a relatively high rate of customer satisfaction. However, that’s not the only reason you may want to consider the purchase of a memory foam product.

Pros

The main reason memory foam mattresses have become so popular is because of their comfort factor. It conforms to your body and reduces pressure on your spine, which means you get the best rest possible.

Memory foam mattresses respond to heat and pressure to reduce pressure point problems. This means that your spine, neck and hips are realigned, evenly distributing body weight and effectively correcting a poor sleeping posture.

Long-term use has been shown to reduce chronic back and neck pain, besides that, it also has a positive effect on chronic respiratory problems as it eases breathing during sleep

Cons

Memory foam mattresses can be quite heavy. However, because you don’t need to turn them this should not pose a huge problem. They have been known to be hotter than normal mattresses because they cradle your body and the dense foam retains heat. But with new cooler open cell and gel technologies, people are experiencing less and less of this.

In hot climates the mattress may be softer than expected and in cold climates it may be harder than expected.

If you think that memory foam mattresses are a good fit for you, I would highly recommend that you check out this buying guide on the best memory foam mattresses. We have compared ten of the best memory foam mattresses in the market to help you decide.

2. Gel

If you’re in the market for a mattress that can quickly bounce back to its original form when you release pressure, gel foam mattresses are the right fit for you. In fact, there has even been an impressive test performed in which an elephant steps on a Gel mattress and it quickly springs back to normal once the massive foot is removed.

In smart gel mattresses, gel is usually added to a foam mattress in the support system or upholstery layer. It has a slightly different feel than memory foam, so you may need to test it out to decide which feel you prefer. Gel mattresses also dissipate your body heat more effectively, so if you dislike the way some foam mattresses absorb your body heat, smart gel may help.

Pros

Gel memory foam enables cool restful sleep. Gel-infused foam seems to be a solution to the heating trapping nature foam mattresses. The most obvious advantage is gel memory foam’s ability to sleep cool. This provides for restful sleep, especially for those with high body temperature and who sweat a lot.

Gel infused memory foam provides for support. Gel mattresses offer more support than a traditional memory foam mattress. As a material gel is more resilient is not affected by body heat. This prevents the sleeper from sinking too far into the mattress and thus maintains proper alignment.

Cons

The cooling effect may not last very long as its absorbent nature may cause cool properties to lessen during the night. Gel-infused mattresses can be more expensive than the traditional memory foam mattresses. Also, gel-infused mattresses can be uncomfortable for some as they are known to provide more support than traditional memory foam. It is for this reason that they may not be an ideal choice for people with lighter body weight or side sleepers.

3. Pillow Tops

It’s probably becoming quite clear that there are more mattress types on the market than you ever even considered, and another viable option you have on the table is the pillow-top mattress. Commonly used with innerspring or even air mattresses, pillow-top technology allows for an increased level of comfort by adding several more inches of padding on the top layer of the mattress. Commonly referred to as Euro top mattresses, these products offer the buyer a number of options as just some of the material you can choose from includes:

Cotton

Fiberfilm

Foam

Memory foam

Latex

Wool

Side sleepers who choose not to go with memory foam or gel may also love pillow top mattresses, or mattresses with a “pillow topper.” Pillow tops are basically an additional layer of upholstery that you add to the top of your mattress. They are very soft and “cushiony”, allowing a similar “sinking” feeling as memory foam, which allows your hip and shoulder to “sink” into the pillow top and keep your back in comfortable alignment. You can choose the level of softness for your pillow top, and they are generally used with an innerspring or coil mattress.

Pros

The mattresses are quite comfortable and have a soft feel. The extra padding gives more comfort to the person using the mattress. Back and side sleepers are said to benefit more from this mattress. Good support is another positive point in favor of pillow top mattresses

A number of users were satisfied with the affordability of the mattress. This is especially true since memory foam mattresses are quite expensive and many customers were able to get the same comfort with the pillow top mattress.

Cons

Heat is one of the major complaints about the pillow top mattress. This problem is especially critical when the top layer of the mattress is made of memory foam or other dense materials which radiate heat. Besides that, price-conscious customers or those with a fixed budget find the pillow top mattresses to be more expensive than innerspring mattresses.

Also, the pillow top mattresses also require deeper fitted sheets. Since the thickness of the mattress is bigger than the normal standard mattress, the fitted sheets too, need to have deeper pockets for them to fit the mattress

4. Innerspring

When you think of innerspring mattresses, you might imagine yourself as a little kid jumping on a squeaky bed that obviously had some type of metal inside. This would be the standard innerspring mattress, and it’s made using a steel coil support system. While you may very well remember sleeping on this type of mattress, you have less likely seen what they look like on the inside. These products use springs that are connected into a single unit, and, as the number of coils increases, the higher the quality of sleep.

Although the standard innerspring can seem primitive to those who have since moved on to take advantage of newer mattress technologies, the fact remains that they are still the most popular. And there are many good reasons why this is the case. Aside from the fact that they are incredibly consumer-friendly when it comes to affordability, they also:

Have a variety of firmness options

Are widely available

Are easy to transport

Innerspring (also, coil) mattresses use an internal support of metal springs. You can generally measure the quality of support from an innerspring mattress by how many coils are in the design. The number and distribution of coils determines how well the mattress will conform to your body. Innerspring beds can also have varying spring shapes and coil gauges that can affect the quality of back support. Back, side, and tummy sleepers can be comfortable on the right type of innerspring mattress.

Pros

Low Cost – Given that spring mattresses don’t cost much to manufacture; you can find spring mattresses at bottom dollar prices. The only time you’ll pay less is probably a futon or a hand-me-down.

Durability and affordability – A spring mattress can last between 7 and 10 years, given that the price you’re paying is low compared to other types of mattresses, this is great value.

Cons

Loss of Support, spring mattresses usually begin to sag after 1-2 years. In fact, they lose 16% of their support in the 1st year alone. Besides that, many come with sketchy warranties, spring mattress warranties allow up to 1.5 inches of normal body impression. However, it is normal for your mattress to get a body impression, as it can mean the “comfort layer” is conforming to your body. Be sure to find out the exact terms of your warranty before purchasing, and the steps that will need to be taken to qualify your possible issue as warrantable.

Innerspring mattress don’t have the best back support as they do not offer proper back support and do not address spinal alignment. Spring mattresses do not distribute your body weight evenly, and they might not be the most comfortable mattress around because each spring pushes back with the same force, pressure points are inevitable.

Also, innerspring mattresses are not hypoallergenic, the fluffy polyester top and the empty space in-between the springs creates a perfect nesting ground for dust mites.

5. Water Bed

While you may think that innerspring mattresses have the longest history, you may be interested to know that they are predated by waterbeds. These products have been around since the early 1800’s, and they were originally designed by a Scottish physician named Neil Arnott. It was his intention to help his patients overcome painful bedsores.

Water bed mattresses use water as the primary support system and are best for back sleepers. A waterbed consists of a rectangular chamber of water that is padded with upholstery material, such as foam or fibers. The water can be in free-flow chamber or a limited-flow “waveless” chamber. In free-flow, nothing obstructs the water from moving from one end of the mattress to another. In a waveless waterbed, fibers limit the water’s movement. Your choice depends on the amount of support and flexibility you prefer and whether or not you find the movement of the water distracting.

Pros

Contains barriers that can adjust wave action to full, partial, or no wave to help encourage individual back health. Sometimes offers two settings in order for you and your sleeping partner to maintain the ability to individually adjust settings such as water temperature and firmness. Furthermore, using waterbeds can make your back more limber.

Cons

Maintaining proper heat levels can have an adverse impact on your monthly electric bill. Also. it can be difficult to move as you must completely disassemble, reassemble, and refill every time the bed is transported even a short distance. There is a chance of puncture and leaking and the setup is tiresome.

6. Air Bed

When you think of an airbed, you may immediately imagine the blowup mattress at grandma’s house that left you feeling a little bit homesick during a summertime visit. However, don’t be too quick to dismiss this option as technology has come a long way. There are a number of quality air mattresses on the market that have implemented advanced features that can leave you feeling more well-rested than you ever imagined. Just a few of the benefits you can take advantage of include:

Depending on the product, you can often enjoy two settings to accommodate both your and your sleeping partner’s unique needs.

Ability to manipulate firmness level can help you alleviate pain more effectively.

Because of the use of PVC material, off-gassing is minimal or even non-existent.

Sagging is not an issue.

It’s clear to see that there’s more to airbeds than often meets the eye. However, as exciting as these features may be, there are a few negative aspects to investigate as you shop. Keep in mind that:

Assembly can last as long as an hour, lower-quality warranties are common and the use of loud pumps is often necessary.

Like waterbeds, an air bed uses a chamber filled with air as the primary support. The air chamber is padded with foam or fiber upholstery. The air chamber is also adjustable, allowing you to adjust the firmness of the mattress. Some brands allow you to adjust each side of the mattress separately. Air beds are great for back sleepers and couples with different firmness needs.

Pros

Custom firmness, one of the main advantages of having an air bed, especially when it’s used in-home as a permanent or main bed, is that it allows for custom firmness. You can set as firm or soft as you please. A conventional full-size memory foam mattress or some innerspring versions will sag after years of usage, but with an air bed, this isn’t the case as you simply inflate with more air, which eliminates the sag.

Besides that, air beds are great for you if you suffer from back pain.
Although an inflatable one is not necessarily considered the undisputed mattress for back issues, the fact that you can adjust the firmness is a huge benefit for people who have back problems and other types of body or joint pains. This is because some nights the bed may be too soft, so with the press of a button you can quickly add some air for a firmer surface, which will offer better pain relief and better body contouring

Cons

A larger permanent/fixed usage inflatable mattress can take anything between 30 – 60 minutes to assemble and may require two people. Besides that, noise can be an issue as some owners complain of noisy pumps, but these are usually only in budget brands. Also considering pumps are only ever used to inflate or deflate, it’s probably not very often you’ll be using it.

Because of the mechanical nature and reliance upon the built-in pump, if it becomes faulty, you’ll need it repaired either by way of cost or warranty. Warranties are generally shorter than that of latex and innerspring, so if the PVC bed structure or pump develops a fault you may need to pay towards it.

7. Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses use latex foam instead of memory foam. Most latex mattresses are made with natural materials, where most memory foam mattresses use synthetic materials. Latex also offers varying levels of firmness and plushness to accommodate side, back, or tummy sleepers. Latex is also less dense and less heating than memory foam.

Aside from the fact that they can help you reduce your carbon footprint, they also offer a number of unique qualities:

Don’t use chemicals

Don’t require flipping and rotation

Feature minimal off-gassing

However, if you do make this investment, you can expect a few negative aspects. For starters, they are typically more expensive than innerspring mattresses. However, if you are willing to invest a little more for a quality product, this is often money well spent. Latex mattresses can be heavier and more difficult to move.

Pros

A latex mattress delivers ultimate comfort. When you first lie down on a latex mattress, you’ll at first feel a soft sinking feeling, followed immediately by a buoyant supportive sensation. This is due to the natural springiness of latex, and it feels incredibly comfortable.

Besides that, latex mattresses are also an ideal choice for those with back pain or joint pain. Many health professionals such as osteopaths, physical therapists and chiropractors recommend latex mattresses for pain relief. This is because of the comfort and cushioning properties of the latex, as well as its ability to promote natural spine alignment.

Perhaps one of the great features about latex mattresses is the zero-metal content of latex mattresses make them very popular among those who want to sleep safely. In contrast, the metal springs in spring coil mattresses are believed to amplify electromagnetic radiation, acting like an antenna: this is not a good environment for our bodies to sleep on.

Cons

A latex mattress tends to be, on average, heavier than many other types of mattresses. That being said, all mattresses differ greatly in their weight, depending on the different types of materials present and their density. Overall though, a latex mattress can require a little more effort to move or lift.

Latex mattresses tend to be more expensive than a regular spring coil mattress or polyurethane (PU) foam mattress. However, this is a case where the extra cost represents extra value. A latex mattress is more durable, and part of the cost increase is offset by the reduced frequency of replacing old mattresses. Another factor is the vastly improved performance that a latex mattress offers. You’ll get a more comfortable sleep, healthier body support and a more hygienic way to sleep when you use a latex mattress.

If you are interested in sleeping on materials made from latex, you can even rest your head on a latex pillow. If that’s the case, our guide on picking the Best Latex Pillow is a must-read.

8. Adjustable Bases

Adjustable base mattresses are one of the most flexible types of mattresses, offering relief and support wherever you need it. You can adjust the base to elevate your head, raise your feet, or provide more back support. They are perfect for targeting sleep-related problems such as muscle aches, back pain, acid reflux, heartburn, sleep apnea, and more.

You will have the control to make necessary adjustments to allow for the changes you may need in order to accommodate your every need. Just a few situations in which this ability can prove beneficial include:

You need to move your bed accordingly in order to comfortably work on your laptop to turn in your term paper on time.

You or your partner suffer from sinus pressure, excessive snoring, or back pain.

You want to prop your legs up to enjoy a snack with your favorite sitcom on television.

You’ve had a long day and want to take advantage of the massage option that some products feature. With the flip of a switch, you can be enjoying your own spa-like experience in your bedroom.

Pros

Users of adjustable beds consistently report relief from pain resulting from back problems, arthritis, neck problems, frozen shoulder, and cramping. People with spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, and degenerative spondylolisthesis have found adjustable beds particularly beneficial.

Besides that, they are also more comfortable than conventional beds – inclines of no more than 30 – 45 degrees (semi-Fowler’s position) are the most popular. Also, you will find using an adjustable bed super convenient as it lets you sit-up in bed at any incline/angle you want (infinite number of ergonomic rest positions). This makes watching TV, playing video games, reading a newspaper/book, typing on a laptop, having breakfast in bed, nursing/breast feeding, and even jumping in and out of bed a whole lot more convenient compared to a conventional bed.

Cons

Your current mattresses may not work, as this type of adjustable mattress works best with adjustable beds while certain other types don’t. It is important to note that adjustable beds are more costly than your conventional beds as well if you have a tight budget.

Whenever there are motors/electronics involved, there’s always the possibility of them failing. TVs, radios, cars,  air conditioners, you name it… all of the above can have mechanical failures at some point. Adjustable beds are no exception.

Weight can be an issue especially the high-end adjustable beds can be pretty heavy (over 100 pounds). This can be a problem during setup.

About the Author Jessica Larsen

I am a big advocate that having a great sleep is something everyone deserves. With over 10 years of experience in this field, I would love to use this platform as a means to help you achieve a good night sleep.

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