First made in 1871 by German inventor Heinrich Westphal, innerspring mattresses remain the most popular mattress type worldwide. Innerspring models certainly aren't the most advanced kind of bed, but their affordability and accessibility have given them staying power.
Today, innerspring mattresses have tough competition. Thanks to e-commerce and mattress compression technology, modern mattress brands have shifted their focus toward foam, natural latex, and hybrid models.
Hybrid mattresses—the latest development in mattress technology—have much in common with traditional innerspring mattresses, but they pack in far more features. You can think of hybrid mattresses as next-generation iterations of innerspring beds. These premium mattresses haven't been around long enough to rival innerspring beds in popularity, but they exceed their predecessor in terms of comfort and support.
Hybrid vs. Innerspring Mattresses: Key Differences
So, what's the difference between hybrid and innerspring mattresses?
Both mattress models have a coil support core—the primary difference between innerspring and hybrid mattresses is the quality and number of comfort layers that rest on top of the spring system.
Innerspring mattresses have one comfort layer on top, often a stuffed pillowtop or a sheet of foam. On the other hand, hybrid mattresses have numerous comfort layers—typically foam or latex—that provide cushioning and additional support. As a result, hybrid mattresses usually have a much thicker profile than traditional innerspring mattresses and offer deeper support. They also provide more cushioning and pressure relief.
What Is a Hybrid Mattress?
Hybrid mattresses combine a coil support system with cushioning foam or latex layers on top.
While traditional innerspring mattresses tend to lack cushioning and contouring, foam and latex mattresses don’t offer as much resistance as coil mattresses. By pairing a spring support system with multiple comfort layers, hybrid beds address the shortcomings of the other mattress types. You can think of hybrid mattresses as an all-in-one solution to your sleep needs.
Hybrids are luxury mattresses and often employ the latest advancements in sleep technology. Because they pack in so many features and layers, they generally cost more than all-foam, all-latex, and innerspring models. Granted, they offer the most support.
Who Should Use a Hybrid Mattress?
Is a hybrid mattress right for you? Hybrid mattresses are made for all sleep positions and sleepers of all sizes, giving them a broad appeal. They excel in the following areas, so you should consider a hybrid if these qualities are essential for your unique sleep needs.
Hybrid Mattress Benefits
Balanced Contouring, Pressure Relief, and Support– By combining coils with foam or latex, hybrid mattresses provide cushioning comfort and deep support. They come in ranging firmness levels, so you can choose how plush or firm the surface feels and how easily it contours to your curves.
- Motion Isolation– Their upper comfort layers give hybrid mattresses better motion isolation than standard innerspring models. Motion isolation is important for anyone who shares a bed, so your movements don’t disturb your partner’s sleep or vice versa.
- Edge Support– With a structured coil layer, hybrid mattresses provide better edge support than all-foam mattresses. Many premium hybrid models also have reinforced perimeter coils for even more support around the edges.
Durability– Hybrid mattresses have a multilayer design for comfort, structure, and strength. They typically outlast all-foam and traditional innerspring mattresses thanks to their thick construction.
- Temperature– Fresh air circulates through the coil layer, helping to keep hybrid mattresses cool.
Hybrid Mattress Construction
Hybrid mattresses vary in materials, number of layers, and additional features, but all models have the same basic structure. A hybrid mattress comprises two main sections: the upper comfort layers and the coil support system.
Comfort Layers: Your Choice of Material
You can find hybrid mattresses with different comfort layer materials—typically polyfoam, memory foam, or latex foam. These materials all respond to your movements, cushion your joints, and contour to your curves, but they differ in feel and other characteristics.
At Nolah, our hybrid mattresses use natural Talalay latex or our proprietary polyfoam, Nolah AirFoam™. Both latex and AirFoam™ outperform memory foam in pressure relief, durability, and temperature regulation. Check out our article Latex vs. Memory Foam or click here to learn more about AirFoam’s™ unique benefits.
A hybrid mattress's comfort layers also provide additional support. Each layer of a hybrid serves a unique purpose, differing in density and other construction qualities. The lower comfort layers may be called transition layers because they enhance the qualities of the coils underneath.
These layers all work together to make one comfortable mattress with a uniform feel. This multilayer design allows brands to offer the same mattress model with different firmness levels. For example, the Nolah Evolution comes in Plush, Luxury Firm, and Firm.
Coil Support System
Underneath the comfort layers, hybrid mattresses use tensioned coils to provide resistance. The force from the springs stabilizes the sleeper while keeping their spine supported and aligned.
Modern hybrid mattresses typically use individually-wrapped coils, which enhances responsiveness, motion isolation, and durability. Many higher-end innerspring mattresses also employ this design, but older innerspring beds and discount models use a single continuous coil for the entire support system.
It depends on the maker and model, but many hybrid mattresses also feature targeted support zones. For example, Nolah’s hybrids all have a TriZone™ design, providing enhanced support around the heaviest regions of the body. Many hybrids also have reinforced edges, using stronger and thicker coils around the perimeter. You’ll find these features in some higher-end innerspring mattresses as well.
What Is an Innerspring Mattress?
Innerspring mattresses have the same coil support core as hybrid mattresses but don’t have numerous comfort layers on top. Most have just one or two layers for padding, typically made with foam, memory foam, cotton, wool, or a stuffed pillow top. As a result, innerspring mattresses don’t provide as much cushioning, contouring, and pressure relief as hybrid mattresses. However, they’re still a good fit for sleepers who like a firmer, bouncier feel.
As previously mentioned, innerspring mattresses may use a single continuous coil or individually-wrapped coils. We recommend the latter, as this design provides more flexibility, responsiveness, and durability. Higher-end innerspring mattresses also tend to have a higher coil count and zoned support.
Who Should Use an Innerspring Mattress?
Innerspring mattresses are suitable for sleepers who want a supportive mattress with a firmer feel. If you dislike the flexibility of foam mattresses and how they contour to your curves, a traditional innerspring mattress may be for you. Stomach sleepers tend to be the biggest fans of innerspring mattresses.
Innerspring Mattress Benefits
Price– With fewer layers and materials, traditional innerspring mattresses cost less than their hybrid counterparts.
- Deep Support and Structure– Compared to all-foam mattresses, innerspring mattresses offer more resistance and structure. Stomach sleepers and heavy sleepers often benefit from their firmness and deep support.
- Edge Support– Coils give innerspring mattresses structure and strength, providing better edge support than all-foam beds. Higher-end models may also have reinforced perimeter coils for even more support along the edges.
Durability– Though not as long-lasting as multilayer hybrids, quality innerspring mattresses are still highly durable.
- Temperature– As with hybrids, fresh air circulates through the coils and helps keep innerspring mattresses cool.
Which Model Is Right For Me?
Still can’t decide between a hybrid and innerspring mattress? That’s okay! Answering the questions below can help you make a decision and point you toward your ideal bed.
What’s your budget?
Hybrid mattresses are thicker and packed with more comfort and support features than traditional innerspring beds. As a result, they generally cost more. However, shoppers should note that hybrid mattresses last longer. You may pay more up front, but you won’t have to replace your bed until years down the road.
What’s your sleep position?
Contouring and pressure relief are important for all sleepers, but especially side and back sleepers. If you sleep in either position and struggle with joint pain or back pain, we recommend a hybrid (or an all-form or all-latex model) over an innerspring mattress. Aside from top-of-the-line models, traditional innerspring mattresses don’t offer enough cushioning to relieve stress in high-pressure areas.
That said, stomach sleepers don’t want a mattress with too much contouring and cushioning. For many stomach sleepers, both innerspring mattresses and firmer hybrids make a good fit.
Which comfort and support features matter most to you?
Everyone has unique sleep habits and physical needs. That’s why mattresses aren’t a one-size-fits-all commodity. Ask yourself, what do you need from your mattress for healthy, comfortable sleep? If cushioning, pressure relief, motion isolation, and responsiveness are critical for you, it’s likely worth it to spend more and choose a hybrid.
Nolah’s Hybrid Options
Both models offer targeted support with an 8-inch layer of HDMax™ Tri-Zone™ coils. The Nolah Evolution features a luxurious quilted Euro topper plus three foam layers, including a cooling layer of graphite-infused AirFoamICE™. Meanwhile, the Nolah Natural uses Talalay latex foam, a highly-responsive material made with sustainable latex.