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Spring or Foam Mattress? It Depends on You

Updated on April 30, 2015

Good Morning. Oh, my Back!

Morning breaks, and people stretch and rise from their beds, sometimes more tired, sore, and achy than when they first laid down the night before. Society's hectic pace and intense pressures cause most people to suffer from sleeplessness, and their uncomfortable mattresses do not help. The majority of people need better mattresses because having supportive, comfortable bedding is a necessity for better health and productivity.

Most manufacturers recommend that mattresses be replaced every ten years in order to provide adequate support. Consumers today are faced with multiple bedding options, offered both online and in stores. When they are shopping for a mattress, doing some research will ensure that the consumers will be better prepared to determine the best choice for themselves and their sleep partners. Mattresses are a major investment, so buyer's remorse is a risky possibility that should be avoided. Shoppers need to gather information and devote time to finding the best deal for their unique needs. This article will look at the structures of traditional spring mattresses and memory foam mattresses and examine the pros and cons of these two types of mattresses.

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Spring mattresses


Spring Mattresses

Inner spring mattresses have been on the market since the late 1800's, and some consumers may consider them old-fashioned, stiff, and uncomfortable. Spring mattresses hold metal springs or coils and padding inside which are covered with cloth. The cloth cover materials range from synthetic fibers to soft cashmere. Cold metal does not connote softness, which is why most people associate the spring mattresses with discomfort. However, manufacturers are experimenting with constructing the springs of different types of materials and shapes, making them more comfortable. Since the objective of mattress manufacturers is to sell mattresses and plenty of them, they spend time and money researching the best way to construct ergonomic bedding. Inner spring mattresses do not conform closely to the body, thus providing more resistant support than foam. However, this puts pressure on the body parts that touch the mattress, which could lead to discomfort. Inner spring mattresses provide the same amount of firmness over the entire surface of the mattress. They also bounce, springing back into position as the sleeper moves, which can be a problem if one sleeping partner is more restless than the other. The springs make noise as well, another factor to be considered. The human body needs support during sleep, and spring mattresses can provide this support because the springs resist pressure. Spring mattresses in general are less expensive than memory foam.

Memory Foam


Foam Mattresses

Originally created for astronauts, memory foam mattresses have enjoyed the reputation of being cutting-edge, modern mattresses that offer more soft comfort than spring mattresses. They are constructed of synthetic textiles (and sometimes gels) which "remember" the contours of the sleeper's body. The sleeper's body settles down into soft, pliable foam. Of course, the entire mattress is not made of foam, just the top layer. The memory foam top layer's thickness varies by the product and manufacturer. Some memory foam mattresses may even have coils inside, but the customers do not come in contact with or feel them. Memory foam mattresses have different densities, which affect how they feel and their life span. They do not spring back as spring mattresses do, which make these types of mattresses ideal for restless sleepers. Their partners will not be disturbed as the restless sleeper tosses and turns. Memory foam also retains body heat more than traditional spring mattresses, a plus in winter, but perhaps not in warmer months. Consumers who stay cold or who get hot during the night need to consider this feature.


Shopping Strategy

Salespersons have a significant stake in which mattresses their customers choose, so sales pitches will be difficult to resist. Choosing the best mattress is a time-consuming and daunting task. Shoppers considering either memory foam mattresses or spring mattresses need to visit many stores to test for their preferred firmness. As the body ages, joints become more sensitive and do not respond well to rock-hard mattresses. Mattresses are good for at least a decade, so consumers need to consider the changes their bodies will go through during this time. Mattresses are available in various degrees of firmness and support, and the best way to determine which is the best buy is to lie on the mattress, testing out the sleep positions that you use the most and spending at least ten to fifteen minutes on each mattress. Good mattress stores expect their customers to do so. This process will take time and involve trying more than one store's products. Online shopping is not a wise choice unless the shopper has already tried the mattress in person in a store.

Furniture stores are more likely to be flexible with the final price than chain retailers like Sam's, Walmart, and others. Markup on mattresses is a high percentage, so it is in the consumer's best interest to try to negotiate a better deal, regardless of the type of mattress that is being purchased. Also, services such as delivery, disposal of the older mattress, and warranties need to be carefully considered.

Summing Up

Inner spring mattresses and memory foam mattresses offer different qualities for mattress shoppers. Here is a brief summary of the pros and cons of each type:

Spring Mattresses--Pros

  • Offer support with various degrees of firmness
  • Resist sagging
  • Retain less allergens
  • Do not retain body heat
  • Last longer for sleepers who are heavier
  • Less expensive


  • More resistant to body pressure points
  • Bounce and jostle as sleeper moves
  • Springs make noise with movement

Memory Foam Mattresses--Pros

  • Conform to the sleeper's body
  • Easier on joints
  • Durable
  • Quiet
  • Less movement with restless sleepers
  • Retains body heat


  • Does not spring back
  • Eventually sags
  • Retains more allergens
  • More expensive

Both spring mattresses and memory foam mattresses have positive advantages and negative drawbacks. Neither type of mattress is the perfect choice for everyone. Consumers need to carefully examine the features of each and determine which one will fit their respective individual needs and the needs of their sleep partners. As the manufacturing, textile, technology, and health care fields research and develop advances in bedding and sleep science, both types of mattresses will continue to improve, and people may begin to rest easy.


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