Trying to look for the perfect mattress can be a nightmare, as I have personally experienced. There are simply too many labels and technical jargons attached to the many different mattresses available, each seemingly more absurd sounding than the next.
I’m not going to attempt to explain all these terms here because most of them are unnecessarily complex. If you like things simple and easily understandable in layman terms, I’m here to help, but if you are concerned about the intricate details such as the difference between a 10-gauge and 15-gauge coil that’s either pocketed, independently-encased or whatnot, you might want to move on elsewhere.
If you’re still with me, great! Let’s move on!
Once you’ve filtered through all the marketing speak, there are mainly 7 types of mattresses that you can buy regardless of what names and labels are attached to them. The 7 mattress types are as follows:
1. Inner Spring
This is the most common and widely used mattress a couple of years ago before newer alternatives such as memory foam and air types began to surface. If you have a limited budget, this might be the perfect choice for you since most of the models are very affordable. In fact, you could probably get a decent inner spring mattress for less than $200.
The drawbacks to this particular type of mattress include the fact that it has a somewhat limited durability. After a couple of years of usage, you might notice that it’s no longer as bouncy as before and certain parts of the bed might have sunk in a little as the springs lose their elasticity. It is also a very standard type of mattress with a mediocre comfort level so don’t expect it to feel exceptionally comfortable or cure your back pain.
- Most common type of mattress
- Very affordable
- Limited durability
- Springs will lose their elasticity over time
- Mediocre comfort level
This mattress offers a good comfort level but is much heavier than the other types of mattresses due to the material used. You might not find these mattresses lying about in most stores since they do not sell as well compared to others. Additionally, because of the latex material, it tends to trap heat more often than not.
In order to remedy this, some manufacturers have resorted to adding an additional layer of foam over the latex in order to reduce the heat retention, which makes them much more viable. If you’re into green and all natural products, this is a great option for you.
- Good comfort levels
- Less popular
- May trap heat, unless coupled with air circulation features
- “Green” materials make it popular among environmentalists
3. Memory Foam
Memory foam mattresses are the biggest trend right now and for good reason. They’re excellent for people with backaches simply because they tend to be slightly firmer and offers greater support for your body. They also come with various density options, but the higher the density, the higher the heat retention factor, so you should keep that in mind while shopping for one of these. Due to its popularity, you should have no problem getting one of these anywhere at all.
The drawback? They can be expensive. The higher-end memory foam mattresses can go up to $800, but if you can afford it, I’d say go for it. After all, you’re spending about 1/3 of your life on it, so it’s a good investment.
I’m personally a fan of memory foam products. I use both a memory foam mattress and a pillow, which I believe cured my back problems, and I’ve never looked back since.
- Easily the most popular choice right now
- Excellent support for people with backaches
- Heat can sometimes be a problem if the foam is too dense
A hybrid mattress would be one that’s made out of a combination of 2 or more different mattress types. For example, Sleep Master’s Hybrid Mattress has 4 separate layers. The top layer is a gel-infused memory foam, followed by 2 different density of foam layers, and right at the bottom, they have a spring system.
While it’s certainly fancy, I can’t really tell the difference besides what’s on the top layer of the mattress. As you might have expected, hybrid mattresses tend to be pricier than others due to the additional customization the manufacturers have put into them.
- Combination of multiple mattress types
Water mattresses are a fun alternative to the conventional versions. If you fancy the feeling of floating on water while sleeping, you might want to consider this. Many people have expressed their concerns on the potential of becoming seasick from using such a mattress, but this doesn’t seem to be the case at all unless you’re extremely sensitive to the smallest initial movements.
Since you won’t be moving much at all at night while you’re sleeping, the mattress will be still. The only times in which you’ll be able to feel the buoyancy would be when you first climb onto the bed to settle in and when you or your partner roll over during the night, but those are merely fleeting moments.
A major drawback of waterbeds is that they are extremely heavy so moving them around while they’re full of water will be a feat. You also run a risk of accidentally puncturing it and causing it to leak, so try to keep sharp objects away from it!
- Fun & unconventional
- Very heavy
- Messy if it leaks
Airbeds are very similar to waterbeds with the exception that they’re filled with air instead of water (duh!). The good thing about airbed is that you can easily adjust its firmness to your liking by adding or removing air from it using an air pump that usually comes together with the bed.
The bad thing about airbeds is the fact that the surface can get rather uneven. This is because an airbed tends to contain multiple air chambers, and if they’re not filled up equally, one side of the mattress might feel firmer than the other. Also, tweaking and finding the perfect setting for it can be very time-consuming. In fact, it might take you a couple of hours to do it if you’re paranoid like me!
- Surface may be uneven if improperly set up
- Takes time to tweak to optimum settings
- Very light
Futon mattresses are basically a thinner type of mattress that are light and can be converted into say, a sofa. Futon mattresses are popular among people who live in small spaces, where they can easily store them up after use. They’re inexpensive but might not offer the best comfort levels as opposed to specialized mattresses.
- Thin and light
- Can be stored easily
- Convertible (mattress can have multiple uses)
- Not suitable for heavy people due to mattress thickness
Each mattress type has its own ups and downs as you can see. Some might fit your budget just fine, while others might be for the more adventurous. If you’re on a tight budget, consider second-hand mattresses (you can use the guidelines here). Ultimately though, I believe that comfort and support should be your priorities and if you agree with me, you might want to start switching over to a firmer mattress (I recommend trying out a memory foam mattress first) and get used to it for posture, greater body support and plenty of other health benefits.
Of course, if you find that you’re not getting any better sleep at night even after 2 weeks or so, then you could consider other softer or lower density mattresses.