How to Choose a Mattress Type: Memory Foam, Latex, Innerspring, Hybrid

by Marc Werner, Founder - Ghostbed

How to choose a mattress is determined on individual needs and wants, along with budget. The world of mattress choices is ever changing with new materials and technology. Most people generally hold onto a mattress for a lot longer than the 7 – 10 years that experts advise for replacing beds. Once you decide to buy a new mattress you will most likely be faced with many new choices since the last time you went bed buying.

I. Determine Mattress Type Desired
II. Desired Firmness
III. Sleep Position
IV. Budget to Buy a Mattress
V. Picking the Right Mattress
I. Determine Mattress Type Desired

Where there was once a choice of the most common being innerspring, along with the rare memory foam, and the once popular water bed, there are now many more choices. Mattress companies are stepping up their game by providing new innovative choices of memory foam infused with gel for cooling, comfortable pillow tops, and hybrids using a combination of two or three types of popular mattress choice materials.


An innerspring mattress is the traditional mattress and once the most commonly chosen of mattress types. This bed uses steel coils bundled together to support the body lying on it. The springs work to offer help in the distribution of the weight of the body as it moves. Different types of innerspring coils include typical Bonnell hourglass shaped coils tied together, independent free-moving coils, and continuous coils.

The coils are surrounded by upholstered layers of fabric covering that helps with providing a soft cushion surface to sleep upon. For optimal support, it is often suggested that the innerspring mattress should be bought with its box-spring mate for its base.

Memory Foam

Memory foam have become a very popular choice for a new mattress. The unique viscoelastic polyurethane foam was invented by NASA in the 1970s as a cushion to protect astronauts from the g-force impact experienced during lift off. A Swedish foam producing company took notice and fashioned the first memory foam beds launched in the 1990s.

Quickly the new memory foam mattresses attracted fans for their wonderful ability to contour and offer support for the entire body, thus relieving pressure that cause aches and pains. The down side from the first memory foam beds were that they seemed to run hot, therefore making for hot nights and loss of sleep.

Manufacturers have improved the memory foam technology. Modern advanced memory foam mattresses, now on the market, have incorporated cooling layers that allow for a cool sleep. The cool sleep, along with the pressure relieving body support, makes the memory foam mattress the bed of choice for most of today’s mattress shoppers.


Latex mattresses are gaining in popularity for their organic appeal of being made from a natural rubber plant. They are naturally cooling and comfortable, similar to the memory foam mattress type. The latex foam contours to the body but in a more responsive way than a hug, while also offering bounce. Latex is often combined with memory foam to be used in hybrid beds.


A hybrid mattress is just what it sounds like. It is a hybrid, or combination of several types of bedding. A common hybrid choice is that of latex with memory foam. This allows for a bed that will contour the body like memory foam but give the firmer bounce of latex.

Other hybrids include combining coil and foam. Hybrids are all about taking the best qualities of each mattress type to combine them to make the ultimate comfort in a mattress choice. A pillow top can also be considered a hybrid when crafted from a different material than the mattress to provide an extra layer of cushiony support for the body.

Adjustable Bed

Although this is a base for a mattress it is an important consideration when seeking out the right type of mattress for your needs. The adjustable bed is a base that can be used with many foam mattress types. Much like a hospital bed, the adjustable bed can be powered to move the head and legs up and down.

Adjustable beds offer extra relief for those suffering from back pain, snorers and those who need to sleep in a reclining position for health reasons. Many adjustable beds offer extra options such as massage and heat.

II. Desired Firmness

Many believe that their firmness choice is unique when in actuality it has been determined that 80 percent of people are pleased with the same level of firmness. Still, one person may love the body hugging of a memory foam while another wants a bit more bounce. It is important to understand that support is totally different than firmness.

As per each-individual, the level of firmness is totally subjective. A bed can be supportive by contouring every surface of the body while also being a great firmness level. A person’s weight, size, and health needs can also have an impact on choice of firmness. With the right mattress, the firmness level should feel just right when you first lay on the mattress.

With the firmness level determined to be just about the same choice for most, mattress companies have made the choice easier for shoppers by offering just one medium universal comfort choice. These memory foam mattresses are crafted to provide the best comfort conforming to everyone that sleeps on the bed. Although the same firmness level, the mattress will feel differently to different users.

III. Sleep Position

Although side sleepers may be in the majority, back and stomach sleepers also deserve to have a mattress preference. People may think of firmness level as it pertains to comfort but leaves out what mattress will best fit their sleep position.

A side sleeper needs the just right softness of a mattress that will provide for the filling in of the body’s contours, but with the medium firmness that allows for easy movement. This will allow for one to feel as pain free and refreshed as possible upon rising from sleep.

Side Sleeper

Whatever position you prefer as a side sleeper, you will most likely find yourself moving throughout the sleep cycle. If you are moving it stands to reason that you will find comfort in a bed that is not too soft as to impede on movement. Most side sleepers find that a soft to medium mattress is their best choice.

A side sleeper needs the just right softness of a mattress that will provide for the filling in of the body’s contours, but with the medium firmness that allows for easy movement. This will allow for one to feel as pain free and refreshed as possible upon rising from sleep.

Back Sleeper

Back sleepers tend to state that they want a firm bed, but have really-been found to prefer a medium range of firmness. Most crucial for the back sleeper is that the mattress is not too soft and cushiony that it provides too much body hugging. Back sleepers like a bit more bounce to their mattress so that they can have the push back that their spines need.

The trick for the back sleeper is to find the medium mattress with proper support that will also provide just a bit of softness to alleviate pressure on key body points.

Stomach Sleeper

With only 7 percent of sleepers preferring the stomach, they are often overlooked in the decision-making process. Those who sleep on their stomach need a mattress of medium firmness that is just right. With the stomach area of the body tending to sink in, a too soft mattress will bend the back in an uncomfortable position causing pain. The hard mattress can cause pain as well by not giving the sleeper enough support.

The trick is to have a medium mattress that provides a universal flat support for the entire body.

IV. Budget to Buy a Mattress

Mattresses can get expensive so understanding your budget requirements is a must ahead of beginning the shopping process. Beds can cost in the thousands, sometimes tens-of-thousands for a luxury mattress. With more many companies working to help the consumer get the best mattress for their money, pricing for a great mattress is can work for those even on a small budget.

Bed-In-A-Box companies are offering wonderful online purchasing options to the traditional brick and mortar stores. Not only can you get a great memory foam mattress for your money, but it is delivered free, within days of ordering, to one’s doorstep. The lower cost of no overhead for stores is passed onto the consumer.

Along with the Bed-In-A-Box offerings are wonderful trial periods, generally over three months, in which to really-see if the mattress is a perfect fit. During the free trial period, if unhappy with the mattress choice these companies will come and pick up the mattress free and refund the cost of the bed.

V. Picking the Right Mattress

Today’s mattress’ specifically are geared for more than just sleep, but also providing a surface in which the body will be relieved from aches and pains. When determining how to choose a mattress, it is vital to consider the types of mattresses, along with sleep position, and budget. Remember that you will want a mattress that will be supportive and cooling to provide the best sleep possible.