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Spring Mattress vs Memory Foam Mattress: What's The Difference?

From the Puffy Editorial Team | 15 min read.
Spring Mattress vs Memory Foam Mattress: What's The Difference?

When you’re searching for a new mattress online, there are two types of mattresses that you’ll see time and time again: foam vs spring mattresses. While all mattresses tend to look very similar from the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that really counts - especially if you are trying to give your sleeping habits a makeover.

Table of Content

The best way to avoid mattress shopping fatigue is to identify your sleeping needs first, and then select the best mattress type that will tick all your sleep requirements. Your main checkboxes for the best mattress should include comfort, support, and cooling (among a few other things we’ll dive into later).

Depending on how you sleep, the aches and pains you’re dealing with, and how hot you get under the covers - you might find that there’s clearly a better choice between a spring and memory foam mattress.

We’ll take an in-depth look at spring and memory foam mattress and in just a few minutes you’ll clearly know which style of mattress your sleep will thank you for. Let’s get started.

History Of Spring and Memory Foam Mattresses

History Of Spring & Memory Foam Mattresses

Just a little background for you - spring mattresses have been around for a very long time. The first mattress with innersprings was invented by Heinrich Westphal in 1871. Heinrich took the humble wool filled mattress which was popular in those days, added springs, and sleepers quickly fell in love with the gentle bounce and increased support of this reinforced mattress design.

Fast-forward to 1966, and things start to get really comfy. NASA engineer Charles Yoast, tasked with designing a material that would allow astronauts to feel adaptive-support in changing environments, invents a revolutionary ‘viscoelastic foam’ with a soft yet firm feel.

Now more commonly referred to as memory foam, this mattress without springs took the industry by storm redefining previous conceptions of comfort and support.

Which One's Best For You?

Deciding what type of bed you need should be the first decision you make before buying a mattress - and it is also the most important one. Initially, the vast amount of mattress reviews, mattress types, and mattress brands may feel a bit overwhelming.

The good news is that there is quite a lot of information online to help you find the perfect mattress for you.

While there are many different types of mattresses, they can all be broken down into two separate categories: foam and spring (there are some types that incorporate both designs, called hybrid mattresses).

Provided below is a brief but comprehensive comparison between these two categories so that you can make the right decision when buying a bed.

Memory Foam Mattress: Types, Features, and Benefits

In recent years, memory foam mattresses have gained a lot of attention. Largely because the entire mattress industry got a shake-up once companies like Puffy innovated the bed-in-a-box. A high-quality, extremely comfortable, incredibly supportive mattress that gets delivered to your door at fraction of the price you would spend in store.

In the hay days of mattress sales, in-store mattress sales people gained quite a reputation for hiking up prices with fancy jargon and false promises. The ability for memory foam to be compressed and delivered for free really changed the game and now customers can get the best rated mattress at an affordable price.

Discover what is CertiPUR-US® foam mattress and it's benefits.

Types of Memory Foam Mattress

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What makes memory foam so unique when you compare mattresses materials is the cradling feeling it has on the body - this comfort is often compared to getting a gentle hug as you sleep.

The adaptive nature of this foam is what most mattress reviews state is what they fall in love with. Memory foam is firm yet soft and doesn’t bounce like traditional innerspring mattresses.

Traditional Memory Foam

Traditional memory foam is one of the most common materials you will find in a range of mattress types including hybrid mattresses and cloud mattresses.

Memory foam is so popular because it molds to the body and has a special way of evenly distributing weight for a seamless sleep experience. Unlike spring beds where you feel like you’re literally laying ‘on-top’ of the mattress, memory foam conforms to the body.

Gel-infused memory foam

Gel-infused memory foam is generally used on the top layer of mattresses to deliver additional cooling. Gel memory foam is layered in the construction of the best cooling mattress to promote better heat transfer and regulate body temperature - a great benefit from the best mattress for hot sleepers.

Features of Memory Foam Mattress

There’s a reason why memory foam mattresses are considered the best mattress of 2022. They are like the all-rounder; delivering on comfort, support, price, and more. Check out all the much-loved features of memory foam below:

  • Cooling: Many of the most comfortable mattresses are memory foam because they sleep cool in the summer and nice and cozy in the winter. The open cell structure in memory foam promotes better airflow that ensures heat doesn’t get trapped between the layers of the bed.
  • Support: The highly-contouring and body-adaptive properties in a memory foam mattress make it a great choice for sleepers who deal with aches and pains. The comfort layers of memory foam are designed to relieve pressure points and cradles muscles and joints for sleep that's comfy and rejuvenating.
  • Motion isolation: Memory foam has a high level of viscosity which is a fancy word that simply means it resists the flow of motion very well. This is what makes memory foam the best type of mattress for couples. Movement energy gets absorbed by the material so that partners do not get disturbed by sudden movements.

The Key Benefit of Memory Foam Mattress

The key benefit of sleeping on a memory foam mattress is the advanced level of support it provides to the body.

Before making a foam mattress purchase you should be aware of the pros and cons:

  • Transport: foam was the technology that allowed the bed in a box industry to be a top contender in the mattress industry. This is because of its capability to be compressed into a very small space and packaged in a box.
  • Variety: unlike spring mattresses, foam beds have a greater variation in price and firmness, meaning that you can find the perfect mattress no matter your sleeper type or budget. You also have a variety of foam types to select from, including latex foam, memory foam, and polyfoam.
  • Support: foam beds have superior contouring capabilities for all sleep positions, which acts as a support for the natural curvature of the spine. This makes it best for those who suffer from lower back pain and other body aches.
  • Maintenance: no flipping and turning required. Put it on the surface of your choice and never worry about moving it again - plain and simple.
  • Durability: foam beds tend to be more durable and have a longer lifespan than other types. This is reflected in their warranties that are usually at least 10 years. However, it is always preferable to find a company that offers a lifetime warranty, as it shows they are confident in their product’s quality.
  • Temperature: some foam materials have been known to absorb and hold onto body heat - memory foam being the most notorious for this. Fortunately for you, this problem can easily be solved by making sure the bed you buy is using gel-infused foam which disperses heat away from your body and out of the mattress.
  • Motion Transfer: expect minimal motion transfer when sleeping on a foam mattress - a definite bonus for couples.

Choose Your Puffy Mattress

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Spring Mattress: Types, Features, and Benefits

Spring mattresses, innerspring mattresses, and coil mattresses all tend to fall under the same umbrella because the way these beds are constructed have many similarities. In the early days of spring bed design, it was easy to tell how old a spring mattress was depending on how many squeaks you could hear.

Nowadays, it’s rare to find an award-winning mattress that is built with 100% springs. Most modern innerspring mattresses have top layers of memory foam and gel-infused memory foam - these types of beds are called hybrid mattress as they combine the best features of each mattress type.

Types of Spring Mattress

Innerspring mattress build

Mattresses with springs in the construction come in a variety of styles, but the most popular right now are innersprings, pocket coils, and hybrids. Below you will find a breakdown of each one and how they are different.

Innerspring mattress

The innerspring mattress variety is uniquely designed with springs that are interconnected - some industry experts refer to this system as "open coil." All the springs are connected so they move as one. Because all the springs are linked, they move together which is what creates that squeaky sound on many old innerspring beds.

Pocket coil mattress

Pocket coils are, also referred to as encased coils, are different because they are individually wrapped. This means they move independently when pressure is applied to the bed providing a unique comfort and support which has made them popular.

Hybrid mattress

If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, a hybrid might be just what you’re looking for. Hybrid mattresses combine layers of memory foam with coils for a sleep experience that is contouring like memory foam, with the added stability of a spring coil system in the core.

Features of spring mattresses

When it comes to spring mattresses, especially the newer varieties, it’s the slight bounce, responsiveness, and stability that sleepers tend to enjoy most. We’re laying down these key spring mattress features below:

  • Responsive with bounce: Mattress responsiveness related to how the mattress acts when pressure is applied. Compared to memory foam mattresses that conform to the body, beds with springs respond with a slight bounce offering a more traditional comfort experience some people enjoy.
  • Stability: Quality spring mattresses offer greater stability, especially foam-encased coil types, which are commonly found in the best hybrid mattresses. It is said that hybrids are a better choice for heavier sleepers who want to experience the benefits of memory foam with a little extra stability.
  • Firmness: Mattresses with springs or coils tend to be firmer than traditional memory foam beds. For sleepers who still want the medium-firm comfort of memory foam mattresses may prefer the hybrid option.

Key Benefit of a Spring Mattress

The key benefit of sleeping on a coil spring mattresses is that you will experience a greater level of stability and a slight bouncy responsiveness when you move around.

There is a combination of benefits and drawbacks that come with sleeping on a spring mattress. Here are a few to consider:

  • Transport: while beds with newer technology are able to be vacuum sealed and transported in small boxes, moving a spring bed into your home may require a pickup truck and a few capable hands. Beware apartment-dwellers!
  • Variety: generally, you can find a decent spring mattress for a reasonable price, making it a good option for those on a strict budget. Unfortunately, there is a definite lacking in firmness variation as springs and pocketed coils will always cause a medium firmness feel.
  • Support: if you aren’t fond of the contouring and cradling effect that memory foam has, spring mattresses may be the way to go as they are generally firmer and more rigid (they are also good for stomach sleepers).
  • Maintenance: most spring mattresses require you to rotate and flip them throughout their life for proper maintenance.
  • Durability: spring mattresses generally have a shorter lifespan than foam beds and it is also possible that the comfort quality will degrade as time goes by.
  • Temperature: spring mattresses generally have no issues with keeping cool.
  • Motion Transfer: spring mattresses have notoriously high motion transfer, so co-sleepers may have issues with an active sleeper in bed.

Memory Foam Vs Spring Mattress: What To Choose

Memory Foam vs Spring Mattress: What To Choose

No one can deny the importance of quality sleep. Not only does a good night's rest provide the energy we need to make the most of the day, but it’s also essential for the rest and recovery of our body and immune system. Customers are spoilt for choice - there are a lot of different mattress options to suit the different ways everyone likes to snooze.

Here are the top 10 reasons why luxury memory foam mattresses trump spring mattresses:

  • Price- You will often pay much less for a luxury memory foam mattress than a high-end spring mattress. Not because it is not as comfortable, durable, or supportive. Only because it doesn’t have the same mark-up that spring mattress makers use when selling to you.
  • Weight- Unlike memory foam mattresses, which can be compressed and delivered to your door within days, spring mattresses are bulky. They can be a nightmare when you are moving or rearranging the bedroom.
  • Durability- Spring mattresses can last up to 8 years, but by then, they are likely to be in a pretty poor state. Worn out springs can lead to pain and discomfort. Luxury memory foam will often come with a lifetime warranty, giving you better sleep with peace of mind.
  • Climate control- Spring mattresses are constructed with metal coils, the thicker the coils, the firmer the mattress. This construction makes the spring mattress significantly less breathable than luxury memory foam mattresses. Memory foam allows for enhanced air circulation when designed with advanced temperature and humidity resistant materials.
  • Freshness- Many memory foam mattresses have a removable cover that is washable for year-round freshness. Due to the spring construction within most spring mattresses, covers cannot be removed and washed. This means many spring mattresses accumulate dust and germs quite quickly.
  • Motion control- Are you a light sleeper? If so, even the smallest movement made by your sleeping buddy probably wakes you up. A luxury memory foam mattress absorbs movement and isolates motion for a restful night. Spring mattresses are not known for having the ability to isolate motion to the same degree as they are designed to create a 'bouncy' feel. 
  • Contouring- Who likes hugs? Everyone, of course. Luxury Memory Foam mattresses contour the body. Whether you sleep like a log on your back, side or stomach, or move around constantly, memory foam will help your body feel contoured and comfortable. Spring mattresses are not known to provide a soft hug as the springs are more reactive than they are proactive. 
  • Pressure point support- Do you need a mattress that will help your body feel better? Luxury memory foam is the way to go. Look out for targeted pressure relief. This means your key pressure points will feel relaxed while you sleep. Some spring mattresses may provide pressure relief, but generally, these options are layered with memory foam, too. 
  • Shipping and Warranty- You can order a luxury memory foam mattress online and have it delivered straight to your door in as little as 2 - 5 days. Plus, you will be able to set it up yourself within minutes. With Puffy, you can also get free delivery and a lifetime warranty. Yes, warranty for a lifetime. It is close to impossible to find a spring mattress with these benefits. 
  • Returns- What can you do if you are not happy with your mattress? If the mattress is a Puffy, you can return it free and get a refund for up to 101 nights after your purchase! It is not likely that you can return your spring mattress for free as they are much heavier and do not come with a lifetime warranty.

Learn more on how to choose a mattress to ensure a more restful, spacious, and comfortable sleep.

Final Verdict

After reading through the material above, it shouldn't be too difficult to figure out which type of bed will be best for you. To summarize:

Pick Spring Mattresses If:

  • You like a generally firm mattress that doesn’t contour and cradle your body
  • You sleep alone and don’t have any issues with motion transfer
  • You have a few spare hands to help you place the mattress in your bedroom

Pick Foam Mattresses If:

  • You are open to a variety of firmness levels and want to feel as though you are being cradled while you sleep
  • You co-sleep and want minimal motion transfer
  • You are looking to keep the same bed for decades
  • You prefer to have your bed conveniently delivered to your door with easy installation methods
  • You want to keep maintenance at a minimum

Check out Puffy mattress reviews from real customers and see how we compare with other brands.

If you’re weighing up between a memory foam or spring variety, think about how much support your body needs, and the type of feeling you’re looking for. Memory foam is a great all-rounder and it suits most sleepers.

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