Mattress Type Guide
When it comes to the many different types of mattresses out there, all the latest features and specifications can seem confusing if you don't keep up with the latest in mattress and sleep technology. There are types of mattresses for every kind of sleeper, and in a world of rapidly evolving sleep science and innovation in mattress design and materials, the landscape of mattresses today is one that could only be dreamt about until now.
We don’t have time to cover the long and interesting history of mattresses here, but we are going to look at all the different types of mattresses there are to choose from, along with the benefits of each one, and who they’re for. We also discuss the best mattresses for different types of sleepers so if you know you sleep primarily on your side, stomach, or back, we’ve narrowed down the best mattresses for you, so stay tuned.
By the time we’re finished, you’ll know everything there is to know about mattress types, like the differences between a pillow-top mattress and a Euro-top mattress, how a memory foam mattress is different than a gel memory foam mattress, and more.
What is an innerspring mattress?
Let’s spring right into our first type of mattress, the innerspring mattress. The innerspring mattress is a classic design. It’s probably what you picture in your mind when you think of what a mattress looks like. An innerspring mattress is full of coil springs that are connected. They are known for being supportive and advances in innerspring technology have made innerspring mattresses much more comfortable than they were in the past. The first innerspring mattress was invented in 1871.
Luckily for us all, innerspring mattresses have improved a great deal throughout history. One of the top benefits of an innerspring mattress is that because it is filled with coils, the mattress can breathe, which helps it say cool. The type of coils in your innerspring mattress is going to make a big difference when it comes to support, durability, and motion transfer.
What is an encased coil mattress?
Encased coil mattresses are similar to a regular innerspring mattress but with one major difference. The coils are each encased in their own wrap of fabric. This individually encased design allows each coil to work independently, whereas traditional innerspring mattresses usually have coils that are connected to each other. By not being connected, and working on their own, encased coil mattresses are known for transferring less motion. Transferring less motion means fewer disturbances from your partner if they move in bed. This makes encased coil mattresses great for couples, especially if you have a partner that tosses and turns all night.
What is a memory foam mattress?
Memory foam mattresses are known for their ability to use your body heat to mold and conform to your body, giving you support that’s customized to your unique body type and shape. Customized support and comfort are some of the biggest benefits of memory foam mattresses.
They are great for relieving pressure points no matter what kind of sleeper you are.
The only downside popularly reported by consumers about the original memory foam is that because it absorbed your body heat, mattresses would often get warm. Having a warm mattress is no good for hot sleepers, and that’s why sleep scientists upped the ante by created what they call open-cell memory foam. Open-cell memory foam is more commonly used in mattresses today than the original memory foam that started gaining popularity in the 90s.
Fun Facts: The original memory foam was invented by NASA in the 1970s. The technology wasn’t available for public use until 1990. The first memory foam mattress was introduced to the public shortly after in 1991. Here’s more if you’re interested in the history of mattresses.
Open-cell memory foam is just like the original memory foam, except they have small cells of air inside of them. These little air pockets let the memory foam mattresses retain their ability to mold and conform for customized support and comfort, while also being more breathable. Air is able to travel through the mattresses more easily, and the result is a cooler sleeping experience. That’s good news for anyone who likes memory foam but also likes to stay cool throughout the night.
What is a gel memory foam mattress?
Gel memory foam mattresses are made by adding gel beads to memory foam or adding a layer of gel on the top comfort layer. Although it’s usually made to add a luxurious layer of comfort, some gels are designed to help absorb your body heat to help you stay cooler throughout the night. This is why gel memory foam is very common on cooling mattresses. Some people also prefer gel memory foam hybrids to memory foam-only mattresses, which we’re about to discuss.
What is a hybrid mattress?
After learning everything about memory foam mattresses, what if you like memory foam now, but you still want the classic feeling of an innerspring mattress? That’s where hybrid mattresses come into play. A hybrid mattress sounds like it might be a bed that runs on electricity, but it’s not. A hybrid mattress is a cross between an innerspring mattress and a memory foam mattress. They combine the classic support of innerspring technology with the ultimate only different kinds of memory foam can provide, giving sleepers the best of both worlds so to speak.
As we touched on above, when it comes to gel memory foam hybrid mattresses compared to gel memory foam only mattresses, some prefer the hybrid because it allows for better heat distribution. Having the gel memory foam over innersprings allows for increased airflow which makes them great choices if you’re looking for a mattress that will help you stay cool.
What is a cooling mattress?
If finding the best cooling mattress is your mission, then you should consider checking out the entire selection of cooling mattresses. These are mattresses designed with cooling sleep technologies to keep you cool all throughout the night. Some of them use patented innerspring designs that maximize airflow so your mattress can breathe to stay cool naturally. Others have the temperature regulating gel memory foam that actually works to absorb your body heat and reduce your body’s core temperature to encourage deep sleep cycles.
Then there are the hybrids that combine the best cooling technology in innersprings with the gel-memory foam heat absorption to give you the absolute coolest night of sleep every time. Pun intended. For more information about cooling mattresses, check out our guide of the best cooling mattresses to find the best one for you without having to spend extra time tracking them down.
Pillow-Top vs Euro-Top Mattresses
The differences between pillow-top and euro-top mattresses are subtle because they serve the same purpose. They are the top layers put on a new mattress that give the mattress a few extra inches of soft material to give the mattress additional cushioning for comfort. Though they serve the same purpose, at the same time, they have their own design elements that make them stand apart from each other.
What is a pillow-top mattress?
Pillow-top mattresses have an extra soft layer over the top of the mattress that is often described as pillow-like, thus the name. The material of the pillow-top layer is usually made of fiber or foam. You can tell a pillow-top mattress apart from a Euro-top mattress based where the top layer is sewn to the mattress. Pillow-tops get sewn directly on top of mattresses, with a gap between them and the next layer underneath. Pillow-tops provide plush comfort from top to bottom and have a very noticeable layering pattern.
What is a Euro-top mattress?
Euro-top mattresses have their own design that makes them noticeable and stands out from pillow-tops. Just like with a pillow-top, you can spot a Euro-top mattress by how the top is sewn to the mattress. A Euro-top mattress looks neat and almost seamless because it’s sewn up the edges of the mattress. This gives it a neat and stacked look. This sewing technique creates firmer edges with an increasingly comfortable layer of cushioning in the center area of the mattress.
What is an air mattress?
Surprisingly enough, air mattresses have been around since the 1800s. Invented in 1889, in Reading, Massachusetts, the design of the air mattresses we see for sale today hasn't really changed much since it was first invented. Air mattresses are great for having a full-size mattress that you can store away in a closet when not in use. This makes air mattresses perfect for overnight guests when you don't have another bed.
Air mattresses are also very popular in the adventure and camping communities. They make for an easy and portable sleeping surface to use while out camping, or wherever your adventures might take you. I don't know about you, but I'd choose to sleep on a comfortable air mattress over the hard ground on any camping trip.
What is the best mattress for side sleepers?
The most common type of sleeper is the side sleeper. There are plenty of stomach sleepers out there, and a few back sleepers, but the majority of people tend to prefer sleeping on their side. For this reason, many mattresses are made with this in mind and can offer side sleepers a variety of features in both durable support and luxurious comfort.
Sleeping on your side is also known to improve blood flow so if you do sleep on your side, it’s kind of like you’re doing something healthy in your sleep.
We have a great list of the best mattresses for side sleepers that will make it easy for you to find the best one for you.
What is the best mattress for stomach sleepers?
Although back sleepers are the rarest type of sleeper, stomach sleepers aren’t that common either, at least when compared to how many people sleep on their sides. Although it’s not the most common sleeping position, plenty of people prefer to sleep on their stomachs. The only downside commonly associated with sleeping your stomach is back pain, due to the pressure that puts on the spine. If you sleep on your stomach, sleep experts suggest sleeping with a pillow under your pelvis to relieve the pressure in your back, or to sleep without a pillow under your head so that your spine will be more neutral. You can always use our guide for the best mattresses for stomach sleepers to pick out your next favorite.
What is the best mattress for back sleepers?
The best mattresses for back sleepers are going to be mattresses that provide firm support. Sleeping on your back is supposed to be great for the alignment of your spine, so having firm support to keep your back in a straight line without sinking out alignment is important for proper spine health. Just because firm mattresses are best for back sleepers, doesn’t mean you have to give up on comfort. There are plenty of firm mattresses out there for people who sleep on their back that are also super comfortable. Check out our top picks of best mattresses for back sleepers for the right one before your next bedtime.
What’s the most affordable mattress?
The affordability of a mattress really depends on your budget, as well as the cost and value benefits of the mattress features that are most important to you. If you’re looking specifically for a mattress with a low price point, we have a great selection of fairly priced mattresses to choose from.
Now you know everything there is to know about the different types of mattresses on the market today. You should have all the details and insider knowledge you need to choose the best mattress for you based on your sleep type, sleep preferences, and budget.