What Are The Best Mattress Types in 2022? The Different Kinds Explained

When you walk into a mattress showroom, you’re likely going to be greeted by an overzealous salesperson looking to sell you the most expensive bed on the floor.

They’ll tell you to lie down and feel all the life-changing benefits.

However, lying on a mattress for a few seconds under fluorescent light and the watchful eye of a sales rep is not going to give you a true impression of what the bed will feel like at home.

And if you’re anything like the majority of people out there, when it’s time to buy a new bed, you tend to seek out what you bought last time. Instead, it might be time to consider all of your options. With hundreds of manufacturers and countless material combinations, it can be overwhelming to know where to start looking.

This guide will outline all of the different types of mattresses you’ll find in stores or online, and it should help you begin to narrow down your choices to find the best type of bed for you.

What Type of Mattress Material is the Best?

Infographic Whats The Best Type of Mattress in 2022

Innerspring

innerspring bed illustration

These mattresses are the most common type sold, but the trend is moving toward other types of beds like memory foam, adjustable, and air.

Innerspring mattresses have been around since the early 1900s. Unlike memory foam beds, these mattresses contain steel coils that compress when you put weight on them. The shape, size, and number of coils in an innerspring bed can vary. As a general rule, more coils mean higher quality and more support.

Read More: Innerspring vs Memory Foam Beds

One of the top reasons why this kind of bed is popular is its affordability. However, innerspring beds tend to wear out faster, and you may need to replace the item sooner than you would another type of bed. You may also experience audible squeaking when you move around on the bed, which could distract you if you’re a combination sleeper. There are four types of coils found in these beds: continuous, Bonnell, offset, and encased.

Continuous Coils

Continuous coils use a single wire to form the entire support system of the bed. They’re made into an S-shape rather than a traditional coil. Because the system is made up of a single, interlinked wire, you’ll get more durability at an affordable price.

Bonnell

These coils were the first invented, and they’re still commonly used. There were originally made for buggy seat cushions in the 1800s. They look like an hourglass and form a structure similar to a helix when they’re all put together. Bonnell coils are a mid-priced option.

four different types of coils in a mattress

Offset

If you’re worried about squeaky springs, you’ll probably want to take a closer look at offset coils. Like Bonnell coils, they form an hourglass shape, but the tops and bottoms have flattened edges. These edges create a hinging effect that conforms more to the shape of your body. They’re known for being sturdy, durable, supportive, and quiet.

Encased Coils

Encased coils are also referred to as individually wrapped coils or pocketed coils. Unlike the other kinds described, they’re not wired together, and they work independently of each other. The effect is more support plus motion isolation. Encased coils are typically found in hybrid mattresses, a variation on the innerspring design. These coils are made of a thin-gauge barrel-shaped design. When you’re evaluating innerspring mattresses, you’ll often come across the term coil gauge. Higher numbers represent a thinner gauge, and lower numbers refer to a thicker gauge. When making a decision, keep in mind that the thinner the coil, the softer the mattress. Thicker gauge coils provide a firmer experience and tend to be more durable.

Pros

  • Affordable Price – Innerspring mattresses have fewer layers than most other mattresses out there. This makes them cheaper to produce, which means a lower retail price for shoppers. 
  • Breathability – The coil unit in an innerspring bed delivers plenty of airflow, preventing the comfort layer from overheating. Innerspring mattresses are breathable and thin, making them a good option for hot sleepers. 
  • Traditional Feel – Innerspring mattresses are bouncy and give a classic feel many people are used to experiencing.

Cons

  • The Weight – The steel coils in the construction add significant weight to these beds. This may make them difficult to carry from your doorstep without help.
  • Motion Transfer – Innerspring beds aren’t the best for isolating motion. Unless you go for individually-wrapped coils, you may notice significant motion transfer from one side of the bed to the other, which could be a drawback for couples.

Who We Recommend These Types of Mattresses for

Innerspring mattresses are versatile and should fit many people with different sleeping habits. However, combination sleepers often benefit from innerspring beds the most because the bouncy, responsive construction makes it easier to change positions. In addition, the construction allows you to sleep “on” the bed instead of “in” it, which is especially convenient for people with mobility issues. We also recommend innerspring mattresses to hot sleepers seeking firmer support.

Read Our In-depth Guide: Best Innerspring Mattress

Memory Foam

memory foam mattress illustration

A memory foam mattress is a bed that contains memory foam, a special type of polyurethane foam. The difference between memory and polyfoam is that the memory version is made with specific chemicals designed to enhance the material’s performance, providing a slow-moving feel that contours the sleeper’s shape. Memory foam beds contain all-foam layers, though the material is found in certain hybrid models. Usually, these beds feature memory foam toward the top and a dense polyfoam base.

Learn More: Polyfoam vs Memory Foam

Memory foam is widely used because it creates a feeling of being cradled. When you press your body weight onto this kind of cushion, you’ll find that it takes on your shape and slowly bounces back once you remove the weight. It’s this extra cushioning and support that makes memory foam ideal for side sleepers and people who have painful conditions that want extra softness.

Pros

  • Pressure Relief – Memory foam is one of the best materials to fight pain in sensitive pressure points. These beds reduce impact and pressure build-up on the shoulders, hips, and knees by cushioning the body and contouring its shape.
  • Hypoallergenic – Memory foam mattresses are often made of hypoallergenic and dust mite-resistant materials. This is always a good option, especially if you struggle with allergies and other respiratory problems. 
  • Motion Isolation – Memory foam is an excellent choice for couples because it isolates motion well. This means you may not notice your partner tossing and turning on the other side of the bed.

Cons

  • Overheating – Memory foam beds have a bad reputation for overheating because the foam materials retain heat. Although gel and other cooling measures help avoid this issue, not all memory foam beds have these added features. 
  • The Price – Name-brand memory foam beds are more expensive, which may put people off from buying one altogether. However, these mattresses are high-quality and durable, which means they should last a long time and deliver great performance.

Who We Recommend These Types of Mattresses for

Memory foam mattresses are great for people who struggle with pressure build-up. The materials cradle the body, preventing the pressure from building up, especially if you prefer sleeping on your side. We also recommend memory foam beds to customers seeking a long-lasting mattress that doesn’t need flipping or much maintenance. Couples who want maximum motion isolation should consider using a memory foam mattress as the dense materials help isolate movement.

Read Our In-depth Guide: Best Memory Foam Mattress

Gel

illustration of couple sleeping on cooling bed topper

One of the biggest complaints about memory foam is that it traps heat. This is because the foam needs to be dense enough to support your body. However, that added foam density limits airflow, which will make your temperature rise. Throughout the night, the heat will stay trapped in the mattress, and you’ll tend to get hotter. The gel works to offset the heating effects of memory foam, and manufacturers typically infuse it into the foam of the mattress. Throughout the night, the gel will take on the temperature of the material around it, but it tends to take a long time to do that. The result is that you are more likely to stay cool while you sleep.

Pros

  • Cooling – Gel mattresses are designed to cool the sleeper by pulling the heat away from the body. Infusing gel keeps the memory foam from overheating, helping hot sleepers stay cool and sleep more comfortably. 
  • Responsive Feel – Gel beds are similar to memory foam but are slightly more responsive and adaptive, which could be helpful if you change positions during the night. 
  • Good Value for Money – Although gel mattresses can be pricey, they deliver many perks such as cooler sleep, longevity, responsiveness, and motion isolation.

Cons

  • Synthetic Materials – Gels are made by heating and blending certain plastics before cooling and molding them. Although they have many benefits, some people may be put off by the thought of having blended chemicals in their beds. 

Who We Recommend These Types of Mattresses for

We recommend gel mattresses to hot sleepers who want a memory foam mattress. The gel allows people to reap the benefits of memory foam without the added heat, making it more comfortable to sleep on if you usually sleep hot. Many of these beds are made entirely of foam, so they offer good motion isolation for partners with different sleeping habits. 

Get More Info: Top Rated Cooling Beds

Latex

Animated Gif of Latex Mattress Breathability

Latex beds contain either natural or synthetic latex. Natural latex is considered a more eco-friendly bedding option because it’s a byproduct of sap from a rubber tree. If you’re looking for a natural bedding solution, look for natural latex, as opposed to synthetic latex.

Latex is similar to memory foam in that it offers pressure relief and contouring, but not to the extent that memory foam does. Latex does provide more bounce, so whether you choose memory foam or latex is purely a matter of preference. If you’re someone who likes to sink deeply into a mattress, you’ll like memory foam better. However, if you want something that is bouncy and retains less heat, you’re better off with a latex mattress.

There are two ways to manufacture a latex bed, resulting in two different kinds: Dunlop and Talalay.

Dunlop

Dunlop latex refers to a manufacturing process that pours the latex into the mold in one single pour. The result is a bed that is denser on the bottom and softer on the top.

Talalay

Talalay latex is made when the mold is filled, and then a vacuum sucks out all the air. Then the material is frozen to stabilize the overall structure. The resulting latex foam tends to have a more consistent feel than Dunlop.

Pros

  • Natural Materials – If you select a bed made with natural latex, you don’t have to worry about any metals or chemicals in the material. Most organic mattresses have a latex construction.
  • Pain Relief – Latex mattresses are a good choice for people struggling with joint and back pain. The materials cushion and comfort the body, promoting natural spine alignment to help ease the pain.
  • Breathability – The natural open-cell structure of latex provides good airflow, making the construction cooler and more breathable. 
  • Bounce – Latex is a buoyant material that can help make it easier for combination sleepers and those with mobility issues to move around on the bed. 

Cons

  • Cost – Latex mattresses are on the costlier end of the spectrum because the materials are more natural and difficult to produce. However, the extra cost means added value since these beds are unique in their comfort and durability. 
  • Weight – Latex mattresses are heavier than most other types out there. It would require more effort to carry a latex bed to the bedroom once it arrives at your doorstep.

Who We Recommend These Types of Mattresses for

We recommend latex mattresses to allergy-prone people because latex is naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to dust mites. Hot sleepers could also benefit from a latex mattress because of its natural breathability and cooling effect. We would also recommend these beds to combination sleepers and those with mobility issues because the buoyancy of latex can help them move around easier. Lastly, latex beds are a great selection for eco-conscious shoppers who want a more natural mattress. 

Check Out Our Full Guide: Highest Rated Latex Mattresses

Hybrid

illustration of hybrid mattress

Hybrid beds are becoming increasingly popular because they combine foam and coils. You get the support and bounce of an innerspring mattress with the comfort and softness of either latex or memory foam.

Typically, there will be a layer of coiled springs on the bottom and one to three layers of latex or memory foam on the top. The advantage of a hybrid mattress is that you can get a more custom experience. You’ll want to research individual companies and their offerings before making a decision, but there’s something for everyone with a hybrid mattress.

For example, if you want bounce, advanced pressure point relief, and you want to stay cool all night, you’ll look for a bed that has coils on the bottom, memory foam on top and some type of gel or copper infusion, or an open cell foam structure to enhance breathability.

Learn More: Hybrid vs Innerspring Mattress and Hybrid vs Memory Foam Mattress

Pros

  • Versatility – Hybrid mattresses feature foam layers and steel coils. This brings the best of both styles, making hybrids an excellent choice for a range of different sleepers. 
  • Variety – There are many hybrid variations available among mattress brands. You can choose from different materials in the comfort layers, the number of layers, and special features like zoned support and added cooling. 
  • Advanced Support – Hybrid mattresses are known for providing excellent support, thanks to the combination of coils and foam layers. The coils serve as the main support system, while the foam layers provide added support, ensuring the sleeper’s spine remains in good alignment. 

Cons

  • Weight – The combination of coils and multiple foam layers means that hybrids are one of the heaviest mattress types out there. More than likely, you’ll need extra hands to help you move on. 
  • Price Tag – Hybrid mattresses can be expensive because of the materials used and the advanced design, especially if you choose latex instead of memory foam. The combination of foam and coils is more expensive to manufacture, resulting in a higher retail price. 

Who We Recommend These Types of Mattresses for

Hybrid mattresses are versatile and good for many people regardless of their preferred sleeping habits. Hybrids provide a great solution for those who want the best of both innerspring and foam beds. We often recommend hybrid mattresses to back and stomach sleepers seeking extra support and pain relief. Hot sleepers should also benefit from hybrids. Like innerspring beds, the coils in these mattresses provide added cooling, and many manufacturers implement extra cooling features to provide even more comfort to hot sleepers. Lastly, hybrids will provide some bounce, which could be advantageous for combination sleepers and people with limited mobility. 

Want to know more? Check out our list of the best hybrid mattresses.

Waterbeds

Illustration of a Waterbed Construction

Waterbeds have been around even longer than innerspring mattresses! They were invented by a Scottish physician, Dr. Neill Arnott, to help patients with bedsores.

As a kid growing up in the 80s, it seemed like waterbeds were everywhere. They make you feel like you’re floating on a body of water (because you are), and it’s very soothing.

You can adjust a waterbed to customize how you want the water to react to your body weight. Depending on how you set up the chambers, you can get either free-flowing or restricted water flow. Some waterbeds also allow you to adjust the settings on each side, so if your partner has different preferences, you’ll both be happy.

Pros

  • Comfort – Waterbeds are comfortable because they’re filled with water that adapts to your body. They offer no resistance, which means excellent pressure relief in all sleeping positions. 
  • Heating – With a waterbed, you never have to worry about getting into a cold bed in winter. Many models have adjustable heating systems, making it easy to find the perfect temperature for deeper sleep, muscle relaxation, and pain relief. 
  • Adjustable Firmness – Since the bed filling contains liquid, you can adjust how firm you want it to be by adding or removing water.
  • Price – Most waterbeds will cost less than standard mattresses, which could appeal to someone shopping on a budget.

Cons

  • Potential Leaks – Waterbeds aren’t the most resilient, and the possibility of a leak could make some people nervous. Their exterior is made of durable vinyl, but the chance of having all that water spill in your bedroom is always there. 
  • Lack of Support – These beds are comfortable and bouncy, but they don’t do much to support your body. After a while, you may wake up feeling pain and numbness in certain areas.

Who We Recommend These Types of Mattresses for

Sleeping on a waterbed is a unique experience many sleepers like. However, people struggling with pressure build-up are usually the ones who benefit the most because a waterbed adapts to your body, preventing the pressure from building up on the shoulders, hips, and knees. In addition, we recommend waterbeds to allergy-prone people and those with a history of staining their mattresses because vinyl is resistant to stains, dust, and dirt. 

Find Out More: Best Waterbed Mattress

Pillowtop

pillowtop mattress illustration

Also called a Euro-top mattress, pillow top mattresses have a layer of padding that can be up to several inches thick on top of the bed. Depending on the type of material in the pillowtop, it can offer benefits like cooling, durability, bounce, and enhanced comfort. A pillowtop layer may be constructed of one or more of the following materials: cotton, foam, latex, or wool. They tend to be pricier, so if budget is a consideration, you may not find this feature worth the money.

Pros

  • Added Comfort – A pillowtop enhances the comfort of a mattress. The pillowtop provides extra cushioning that can help with pressure relief regardless of your sleeping position.
  • The Price – Pillowtops can be found in all types of mattresses, including budget-friendly options. While this is an upgraded feature, it’s not necessarily exclusive to luxury models. 
  • Motion Isolation – A foam pillow top helps isolate motion, so that movement on one side of the bed isn't transmitted to the other. This is an important factor for couples, especially if the bed contains coils.

Cons

  • Maintenance – Pillowtop mattresses require regular rotating due to their tendency to sag. This can be difficult to do if the mattress is heavy, so you may often need another person to help you.
  • Heat Retention – Some pillow tops may trap heat if they’re made of foam and don’t have built-in cooling measures, which could be uncomfortable for hot sleepers. 

Who We Recommend These Types of Mattresses for

People interested in a bed with extra cushioning on top should consider a pillowtop mattress. Pillowtop beds fit a range of sleepers as they’re designed to enhance the comfort of a regular mattress. This makes them a good option if you need more pressure relief. 

Polyfoam

Illustration of a Lady Looking at Mattresses in a Mattress Store

There are a lot of different types of foam on the market, and one of them is called polyfoam. Several online bedding companies develop their own proprietary blends of foam, which allows you to find a custom solution that works for you at a reasonable price.

Polyfoam is synthetic and petroleum-based. Although this foam contains chemicals with scary-sounding names, most of the time they’re processed in a way that neutralizes their effects and renders them harmless. If you’re looking to buy a foam bed, always look for mattresses that come with a CertiPUR-US certification.

This certification ensures that your bed is free of ozone depleters, chemical flame retardants, mercury, lead, heavy metals, and formaldehyde.

Also, check the density level before you buy. The higher the density, the more durable the mattress.

Pros

  • Inexpensive – Polyfoam mattresses are affordable because the materials used are relatively cheap to produce. This makes polyfoam beds a good choice if you’re a budget-conscious shopper.
  • Lightweight – Polyfoam mattresses are lightweight, making them easy to carry from the doorstep to the bedroom. This is great for people who live alone as they probably won’t have issues carrying the mattress themselves. 

Cons

  • Durability – Polyfoam mattresses aren’t as durable as other types. Therefore, they may not last as long as standard innerspring, hybrid, latex, or memory foam beds, which is expected given their price. 
  • Lack of Support – Polyfoam mattresses don’t respond to compression very well. This means they’re not the best for heavier individuals or couples because the bed will probably sag after a short while.

Who We Recommend These Types of Mattresses for

We recommend polyfoam mattresses to people looking for a short-term solution. As said, these aren’t the most durable beds, so don’t expect them to last long. Polyfoam mattresses are good for budget-conscious shoppers who don’t like classic innerspring beds. 

Adjustable Beds

Illustration of a Man Adjusting his Adjustable Bed

Adjustable beds have come a long way since those commercials of senior citizens using giant remote controls on a bed that looked like it belonged in a hospital. Now most adjustable beds look exactly like a regular bed, they just come with the feature of being able to recline, adjust, and even massage your aching back and legs.

This type of bed is ideal for people who like to read, work or watch TV in bed, as well as those who experience sinus pressure, back pain, and snoring. 

Read More: How Can Adjustable Bed Help with Back Pain

The price of these beds is higher than average, so you’ll want to weigh the benefits against the larger investment. Expect maintenance fees, too, because there are moving electrical parts like motors.

Pros

  • Comfort – Adjustable beds are designed to enhance comfort by allowing you to customize your sleeping position, which you can’t do as much while lying flat. Plus, you can adjust the bed in only a few seconds.
  • Pain Relief – Adjustable mattresses have excellent pain-relieving abilities. Switching up the angle allows you to target different pressure points and achy body parts, giving them a chance to recover. It’s no surprise most hospitals have adjustable beds for this exact reason.
  • Improved Sleep Quality – People who struggle to fall asleep may find it easier to doze off if they elevate their head or feet. For instance, you can combat snoring by raising the top half of the bed and improve your circulation by raising the bottom half. 

Cons

  • The Overall Cost – Adjustable beds are expensive to buy, and there are also high maintenance costs. These beds deliver many benefits and have electrical parts, all of which increase the price. Plus, the electrical parts will need maintenance which is an additional expense. 
  • Incompatibility with Mattresses – Buying an adjustable base will require you to have a mattress that’s compatible with it. While most mattresses work with adjustable bases, it could limit some of your options. 

Who We Recommend These Types of Mattresses for

We usually recommend adjustable beds to people struggling with chronic conditions such as sciatica and arthritis. An electric adjustable bed is also a good choice for elderly people and those with mobility issues as it helps increase mobility and reduce pain. Many people who like reading, eating, and watching TV in bed can also benefit from an adjustable model.

Want to learn more? Read our full guide to top adjustable beds.

Airbeds

An airbed is much different than an air mattress you put on the floor in college. There are now high-quality airbeds available that can be a refreshing change from a bulky mattress. Plus, many of them are adjustable on each side, so if you and your partner have different preferences, you can create a custom sleep experience. Airbeds look like your typical bed, and they’re often made with foam layers.  Air mattresses are a highly affordable option, with some as low as 50 dollars. Most people use airbeds for camping or when they have guests over, but if you use them constantly, they may only last a few years compared to more traditional options. They also won’t provide the same amount of comfort or support for long-term use, which is why most are only used as needed. 

Read More: Long-Term Air Mattress Use

Pros

  • Adjustable Firmness – You can easily adjust the firmness of an airbed because it’s filled with air. This versatility allows sleepers to find the most comfortable firmness without having to change mattresses as often. 
  • No Sagging – The air filling the mattress helps it adapt to your body, respond to movement, and bounce back when you get up. 
  • Portability – An airbed is lightweight and easy to carry around. This makes them an excellent option for travel and when guests stay over. 
  • Price – Air mattresses are very affordable, so if you need something that won’t break the bank, these are a great choice.

Cons

  • Potential Leaks Punctures – Airbeds are made of durable vinyl to ensure resilience and durability. However, sharp objects can easily puncture the bed beyond repair. Leaks are also a potential problem, although they usually happen at the seams.
  • Noisy – Sometimes the vinyl used for air mattresses can make them noisier if you move around. If you or your partner is sensitive to noises or has trouble sleeping in general, this could be an issue.

Who We Recommend These Types of Mattresses for

An airbed is recommended for people who need a lightweight mattress with adjustable firmness. It's a good choice for students and other people who move often because you can always deflate it when it's time to change locations. We also recommend these mattresses for people who like to go camping and who frequently have friends or family stay overnight. 

Need more info? Read our in-depth guide to best rated airbed mattresses.

Organic

illustration of organic mattress

Organic mattresses are ideal for people who are environmentally conscious and want to limit their exposure to chemicals and toxins. These kinds of beds use materials like natural latex, organic wool, recycled steel support coils, and organic cotton. The manufacturers of these mattresses tend to boast that most or all their materials are eco-friendly, sustainable, and non-toxic. Look for mattresses that are GREENGUARD GOLD certified, as these will be the safest. Additionally, many eco-friendly brands have more environmental certifications for these mattresses, providing an extra sense of security with your purchase. While organic means fewer toxins, it also means higher prices. Most eco-friendly mattresses will cost more, but for many shoppers, this may be an investment worth making. 

Pros

  • Healthier – Organic mattresses will contain more natural and organic materials rather than synthetics, making them a healthier option for people. 
  • Temperature Regulation – Organic beds have materials that act as natural isolators, making them warm in winter and cool in summer.
  • Eco-Friendly – Because they’re free of chemicals and harmful components, these beds are not as damaging to the environment.

Cons

  • The Price – Organic mattresses are expensive due to the high-quality materials used. Organic materials have many benefits, which is often the reason behind the high price. 
  • Fewer Options – Organic mattresses aren’t as common as traditional models made of non-organic materials, meaning that there are fewer options to pick from.

Who We Recommend These Types of Mattresses for

We recommend organic mattresses to eco-conscious shoppers. Wool, cotton, and latex used for these beds usually come from sustainable sources, which is another plus for eco-friendly shoppers. Also, organic mattresses are good for people living in climates with different seasons because the beds can keep you both warm and cool depending on the weather.

Learn more with our guide to the best organic mattresses.

Conclusion

There’s no shortage of mattress choices available, which means there’s something for everyone. Therefore, you need to consider the pros and cons of each type and determine which style best fits your lifestyle and needs.  Once you decide on a mattress type, we encourage you to check out our best mattress lists, as we provide our favorite picks of top-rated beds in each category. 

Sources and References:

Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.

Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.

Sleep Advisor