12 Things to Know About Foam Vs. Spring Before Purchasing a Mattress

by SleePare

By Sofia Axelrod | 5 Minute Read

It is easy to understand why you may be achy or sore after a long day. But have you ever noticed your pain starting the second you wake up in the morning? If so, you are not alone. Many people have that same problem. It can easily happen when your mattress is not providing you with enough support. In fact, poor mattress quality can cause existing joint pain to worsen or initiate joint pain in the first place.

One of the biggest problems you may encounter when selecting a mattress is not knowing what to look for. Another is not seeing the long-term picture. For example, your body type can affect the speed at which certain mattresses develop lumps or caved in areas. Common positions in which you sleep and the firmness you need to support certain body parts when laying in those positions can also affect which mattress is ideal for you.

Shortly, we will explore 12 key differences between memory foam and spring mattresses. You need to understand those differences to figure out which mattress type you want and, more importantly, need. However, it is important to understand the relationship between sleep quality and mattress selection, first.

Mattresses Quality of Sleep

Conventional wisdom says we need eight hours of sleep per night. That translates to spending one third of your life asleep. If you are like most people, you probably will not manage to get quite that much sleep all the time. That is all the more reason to make sure the sleep you do get is high-quality and restful. Having a great mattress can help you stay a sleep longer, sleep soundly and wake up feeling more refreshed.

In 2011, the National Sleep Foundation released a poll. That poll indicated approximately 92 percent of Americans believed bedroom environment directly affected their sleep quality.

During a study conducted in 2002, other research was conducted on how sleep quality and mattress selection are inter-linked. The researchers conducting that study noted that a mattress designed to provide proper support for your body type is definitely linked to the ability to feel relaxed and rejuvenated after sleep. Conversely, serious sleep difficulties can develop when you continue to sleep on an uncomfortable mattress.

As those studies indicate, it might be time for a change, especially if your quality of sleep is clearly lacking. A simple thing like buying a new mattress can mean the difference between feeling half asleep all day or ready to take on anything your day has in store for you.

The tricky part is choosing the best mattress for you. There is certainly no shortage of options. In fact, the sheer variety can quickly overwhelm you, if you let it. When choosing between all of those mattress options, it helps to start by narrowing down large categories of options. For example, you can opt for a spring mattress or a foam mattress. Let’s explore the types of mattresses available within those categories.

Spring Mattress:

In the early days of human history, mattresses as we know them today did not exist. Many beds were stuffed with materials like hay. The spring mattress was the first modern mattress.

The spring mattress has been around for many years and, as technologies have advanced, new designs have hit the market. The basic premise of a spring mattress is coils or springs are placed inside the cushion material. The springs provide the support you need, while the soft material around them keeps you comfortable. That way you can wake up refreshed and free of cramping muscles. Spring mattresses also tend to be cool, durable and budget-friendly. There are three types of spring mattress to choose from, as follows:

Innerspring Mattress

An innerspring mattress consists of a mesh containing a box of springs. Each coil is held to the other coils around it via a system of strands of metal. That construction makes the mattress durable and strong. The design of an innerspring mattress often reduces motion transference. The springs are also encased in cushioning material for comfort.

Pocketed Coil Spring Mattress

A pocketed coil spring mattress consists of separate coil springs. They are not attached to each other in any way. However, they are contained inside a cloth cover. That allows the springs to move more and creates better contouring to your body.

Coil-on-Coil Spring Mattress

A coil-on-coil mattress consists of at least two stacked layers of springs. Stacking the coils reduces bounce. It also increases the supportive qualities of the mattress.

Online Mattress Reviews, BedTimes Magazine, Sleep Delivered

Foam Mattress:

Typically, foam mattresses foam mattresses contain synthetic materials. Their manufacturers also often incorporate certain additional products into their construction. For example, a foam mattress might contain latex or gel. Such mattresses are often preferred because they provide comfort and durability. There are four primary types of foam mattresses.

Latex Foam Mattress

A latex foam mattress latex foam mattress is constructed using some type of rubber. That rubber can be synthetic, natural or a blend of both. The appeal of a latex foam mattress is its extra bounciness. The latex also provides back support and air circulation that can help you stay cool when you sleep. A latex mattress is also appealing because it is non-toxic and hypoallergenic.

Memory Foam Mattress

A memory foam mattress memory foam mattress conforms perfectly to your body. That is due to a phenomenon called visco-elasticity. A memory foam mattress is quite durable and can also help you stay warm while you sleep due to its heat retention capabilities. Additionally, it provides joint pain-relieving support.

Gel Foam Mattress

Gel foam is a unique material with a high degree of flexibility. A molded gel foam mattress also has cooling properties because its construction aids air circulation. At the same time, it can provide plenty of support while you sleep.

High Density Foam Mattress

A high-density foam mattress consists of open cells within compact foam. It is one of the most durable forms of foam mattress. Therefore, it is a source of long-lasting comfort and quality sleep.

According to Mr. Kim, co-founder of Casper, people tend to care most about getting a good night’s sleep. They do not focus on specifics like cooling or spinal alignment when mattress shopping. However, knowledge of those specifics can make all the difference when you purchase a new mattress. It is only by understanding those individual qualities that you can find the mattress that offers you the best night’s sleep. Those important features are outlined below.

Foam Vs. Spring Mattress

Let’s delve deeper into the ways these two mattress types compare and contrast.

1. Sleep Position Preferences

Not everyone sleeps in the same positions. Back, front and side are the main categories of sleep positions. Foam and spring mattresses function in different ways. The materials used to make them impact their functionality. Therefore, they are not all perfect for all sleep positions.

Spring Mattress:

A spring mattress is a popular option for back sleepers due to its ability to provide spinal alignment during sleep. It also relieves back pain by reducing pressure in key areas. The spring mattress also stops additional spinal extension for stomach sleepers to keep sleep comfortable and pain-free.

Foam Mattress:

Side sleepers are more apt to enjoy foam mattresses. Such mattresses conform well to bodies and provide spinal support for those sleeping on their sides. Back sleepers can also enjoy a good night’s rest on a foam mattress. However, foam sinks with body weight. Therefore, stomach sleepers risk breathing difficulties when sleeping on foam mattresses.

2. Body Type Preferences

Another factor that affects your mattress choice is your weight or general body type. Certain mattresses work well if you are heavier. Others are designed only to provide sufficient support for you if you are average or lightweight.

Spring Mattress:

A spring mattress is ideal, if you are on the heavy set side. That is because the springs allow the mattress to maintain its shape and reduce the chance of sagging. If you have a medium build, you can also benefit from a spring mattress.

Foam Mattress:

As a lightweight person, you are more likely to prefer and benefit from a foam mattress. A foam mattress provides less support than a spring mattress. However, you do not need as much firmness or support when you are lighter. A foam mattress is also acceptable if you have an average body weight.

3. Comfort Levels/Firmness Considerations

The firmness levels of spring and foam mattresses are quite different. That is due to their completely different designs and the materials used to create them. Medium firm is the best firmness or comfort level to choose when you are on the fence about what is best for you.

Spring Mattress:

Spring mattresses are more by nature than their foam counterparts. That is partially due to the ability of the springs to absorb movement. Spring mattresses also tend to provide support but comparatively little contouring. Springs also provide different levels of surface firmness. Medium-firm tends to be the most popular.

Foam Mattress:

A softer surface is provided by a foam mattress. It is able to contour to your body. However, it typically does not supply as much support as a spring mattress. A foam mattress is often considered more comfortable than a spring mattress.

4. Pressure Relief

To sleep in a way that does not place undue pressure on certain parts of your body, your mattress needs to provide a certain degree of weight distribution, even if it is not particularly firm. That is why you need to assess the pressure-relieving qualities of each mattress you are considering buying.

Spring Mattress:

The coils of a spring mattress are not known for pressure relieve. In fact, they provide push back and uneven weight distribution qualities. When combined, those features can actually stress certain areas. Therefore, you may wish to avoid spring mattresses when you struggle with joint pain.

Foam Mattress:

A foam mattress provides even body weight distribution. Since it also has contouring effects that cradle your body, it takes pressure off your joints. Therefore, if you suffer from back pain or joint pain, it is a good choice.

5. Temperature Sensitivity

There is a big difference in the temperature sensitivities of foam and spring mattresses. For that reason, you must take care during mattress selection. You need a mattress that will keep you at your ideal sleeping temperature.

Spring Mattress:

The springs in a spring mattress maintain a neutral temperature. Therefore, you neither become cooler nor warmer directly due to them. However, the other properties of a spring mattress, such as how much air circulation it allows for and whether it has a foam layer, can influence its temperature.

Foam Mattress:

In general, a foam mattress retains heat. That is especially true of memory foam. Certain types of foam also tend to soften when hot and harden when cool. However, those properties do not apply to all types of foam mattresses. In fact, many mattress manufacturers now use latex, gel or other construction materials and designs to help foam mattresses maintain more neutral or cooling properties.

6. Ventilation

When a mattress retains heat, it increases your body temperature while you sleep. That can cause sleep sweating. If you want to avoid waking up due to night sweats, you need to maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature. To do that, you need a mattress that has excellent ventilation. It also helps if the mattress is designed to wick moisture away from your body.

Spring Mattress:

A spring mattress provides plenty of ventilation because there is room for air to move freely between the coils. As the air moves, it cools the top of the mattress. However, if you select a spring mattress with a thick top layer of foam you may find its ventilation negated by the heat retention of the foam layer.

Foam Mattress:

Foam mattresses do not allow the passage of air as well as spring mattresses. They also tend to absorb heat. Therefore, you may sleep hot on a standard foam mattress. You can avoid that issue by purchasing certain special foam mattresses, such as those that are gel-infused. Therefore, you need to select a specific type of foam mattress based on your sleep temperature preferences.

7. Odour

If you are concerned about your mattress having an odor, you need to know there are differences between spring and foam mattresses in terms of how they smell. Foam mattresses tend to have stronger odors.

Spring Mattress:

Spring mattresses do not contain any elements that emit potent chemical odors. Since they are made using natural materials, you do not have to worry about any strong smells coming from them.

Foam Mattress:

Synthetic materials are routinely used to make foam mattresses. Many of those materials release chemicals and gases. Those chemicals and gases have strong odors. However, the strong odors associated with new foam mattresses generally fade a couple days after arrival. You can speed up the process when a new foam mattress arrives at your home by placing it in an open area to air out.

8. Back Pain Relief/Spinal Alignment

There are many potential sources of back pain in your life. Perhaps you suffered an injury at home or at work. You might also have an old sports injury to contend with. But you might not realize that sleeping on a poor mattress is a leading cause of back pain. Additionally, one of the best methods for relieving back pain, regardless of the source, is purchasing an appropriate mattress.

Spring Mattress:

Popular theory indicates back pain is best relieved by a spring mattress. However, there is some evidence that suggests that is not the case. Uneven support of your body and springs pressing into it may actually increase pain instead of alleviating it. Such a mattress can easily stress your pressure points. The only exception is if you choose a spring mattress with a sufficient top layer of foam to provide a cushion for your body.

Foam Mattress:

To alleviate back pain, a foam mattress is a great solution. The design of a foam mattress provides excellent pressure relief, even body support and great shop absorption. A foam mattress also provides a cushion for your joints and conforms to your body. At the same time, it can help you keep your back aligned.

9. Motion Isolation

Motion isolation is simply the process of keeping any movements you make in bed isolated to your portion of the bed. It is an essential part of mattress selection when you plan to share your bed with a partner, pets or kids. It helps to keep anyone else from being disturbed when you move in your sleep.

Spring Mattress:

If your sleep position tends to change as the night wears on, you may benefit from a spring mattress. However, certain spring mattress types do not provide motion isolation properties. If motion isolation is also important to you, look for a mattress with individual or pocketed coils.

Foam Mattress:

Motion does not transfer as easily on a foam mattress as it does on a spring mattress. Foam absorbs energy well. Therefore, a foam mattress is a great choice when motion isolation is your primary goal.

10. Durability & Longevity

The term “durability” refers to the general amount of pressure a mattress can take before it starts to sag or otherwise wear out. Therefore, the durability of a mattress is directly related to how long it is likely to last. Foam and spring bedding each have different properties affecting their durability and longevity levels.

Spring Mattress:

You might think a spring mattress has a long life span by default, since metal does not wear out easily. You are somewhat correct. However, the other elements of the mattress can sag as time passes. The typical life span of such a mattress can be as few as 3 years or as many as 10. To make the mattress last longer, you must use it in conjunction with a box spring foundation.

Foam Mattress:

It is common for a foam mattress to outlast a spring mattress in terms of durability and general longevity. Foam mattresses are not as likely to sag. Mattress protectors can also help them last longer. Therefore, it is not uncommon for such mattresses to last nearly 10 years. In some cases they may last even longer.

11. Maintenance

Maintenance may not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about mattresses, but it is important. If you maintain your mattress well, you can extend its life. For example, if you are a side-sleeper, there are tips available specifically to help you clean and maintain your mattress.

Spring Mattress:

Spring mattresses wear out quickly without proper care. To begin, you need to know what not to do. For example, never attempt to bend or fold a spring mattress. What you must do is rotate the mattress at six-week intervals. Also, flip it at three-month intervals. Doing so will reduce the chances of sagging areas developing.

Foam Mattress:

Foam mattresses vary greatly in terms of their maintenance needs. Therefore, you need to check the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your mattress to determine how often to flip or rotate it. In general, you must also treat foam mattresses in a more gentle way than spring mattresses. For example, children jumping on a foam mattress can wear it out quickly. Liquids or chemicals that come in contact with the mattress can also negatively impact its longevity.

12. Affordability

When buying a mattress, affordability is obviously a concern. Prices vary, sometimes widely, between brands. Foam versus spring constructions also influence price points. However, it is possible to obtain a mattress for under $1,000 when you take advantage of free delivery offered by certain companies.

Spring Mattress:

If your biggest concern is your budget, a traditional innerspring mattress is often least expensive. However, you must be prepared to increase your spending if you want a step or two up. Addition of a thick synthetic foam top, for example, can add to the cost.

Foam Mattress:

Often, foam mattresses cost more than spring mattresses. That is partially due to their synthetic components and high-tech construction technologies. However, simple foam mattresses are sometimes available at lower rates. You must also factor in the many health benefits and improved sleep quality foam mattresses tend to offer when deciding if the price is right for you.

Now that you have a clear picture of 12 top factors that go into mattress selection, you can make a more informed decision. Analyzing the information provided above can help you rule various sleep bedding options in or out much faster. Just remember to take enough time to consider each factor carefully.