Solved! What Is a Hybrid Mattress?

Getting a good night’s sleep is vitally important to overall health and well-being, but far too many Americans can’t seem to get enough shut-eye. A hybrid mattress, with its combination of comfort and support, might provide the solution.

what is a hybrid mattress

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q: I want to purchase a new mattress, but there are so many choices, including these new “hybrid” mattresses. But what is a hybrid mattress, and how do I decide if it is the right choice for me?

A: Shopping for a mattress can be a confusing and time-consuming process because there are so many different types. Along with traditional innerspring mattresses and a variety of foam mattresses, including memory foam and natural latex, there are also hybrid mattresses, a relatively new category that is growing in popularity.

But what is a hybrid mattress? As the name suggests, hybrid mattresses are a combination of materials and technologies. By uniting the comfort and pressure relief of foam with the support and firmness of innerspring models, they offer benefits beyond those of traditional innerspring or all-foam mattresses.

The Main Components of a Hybrid Mattress

what is a hybrid mattress, cross section

Photo: istockphoto.com

Hybrid mattresses might be described as offering sleepers the best of both worlds because they combine the cushy, soft comfort of foam with the firm support, responsiveness, durability, and breathability of innerspring coils. Thanks to their multiple layers, hybrid mattresses are softer than traditional innerspring models but firmer and more responsive to movement than all-foam mattresses.

Typically, anywhere from one-half to one-third of a hybrid mattress consists of one or more layers of memory foam or latex foam, with a bottom layer constructed of traditional innerspring, continuous coil, or individually pocketed coil springs. Some hybrid mattresses also have a layer of gel foam, which can contribute a cooling effect. There is, however, no objective standard for what constitutes a hybrid mattress. In fact, as these mattresses grow in popularity, many manufacturers are offering “hybrid” mattresses that are simply traditional innerspring mattresses with an extra layer or two of foam added on top. It pays to do a little research before you buy.

RELATED: 9 Ways You’re Ruining Your Mattress

The Difference Between a Hybrid and a Foam Mattress

The main difference between a hybrid mattress and a foam mattress is the firmness level. All-foam mattresses are typically constructed of multiple layers of different types of foam, including memory foam and latex foam. These mattresses are usually soft and conform to the contours of the body, with a cushier feel that cradles the sleeper. Innerspring mattresses, on the other hand, are firmer and provide more support; they also are bouncier. Because hybrid mattresses combine both a foam layer and an innerspring layer, they usually fall into the “medium-firm” category, whereas all-foam mattresses skew “soft” to “medium.” This combination of cushioning and support makes hybrid mattresses a popular choice for couples.

Another selling point for hybrid mattresses is the way they can improve the quality of sleep. For starters, they can help solve the problem of a partner who tosses and turns at night. Innerspring mattresses have the property of “motion transfer,” which means that the mattress moves whenever someone gets in or out of bed or turns over during sleep. The foam layers in hybrid mattresses mitigate some of this motion transfer, making the active sleeper’s movements less disruptive. And for those who tend to “sleep hot,” a hybrid mattress may offer more relief than an all-foam mattress, which tends to hold in warmth. The innerspring layer enhances breathability, allowing air to circulate more freely and contributing to a cooling effect.

A Hybrid Mattress Does Not Require a Box Spring

Traditional bedding sets consist of three parts: the mattress, a box spring or foundation, and a metal bed frame. Hybrid mattresses, in contrast, don’t require a box spring. Instead, the innerspring layer of a hybrid functions much like a box spring, providing support and distributing the weight of the foam layers evenly. To get the maximum benefit from a hybrid, however, you should consider a hard surface foundation or platform bed to support the mattress. Using an appropriate foundation for your hybrid mattress will also increase its lifespan. You can even add a little luxe to your life by opting for an adjustable base foundation. Or, if a minimalist look is more your thing, you can place a hybrid mattress directly on the floor.

placing hybrid mattress on bed

Photo: istockphoto.com

RELATED: 10 Things to Know Before You Set Foot in a Mattress Store

A Hybrid Mattress Can Alleviate Back Pressure

Pressure and pain can get in the way of a good night’s sleep. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep in America poll, Americans feel sleepy on average three times a week, and 55 percent say it’s generally because they’re not sleeping well enough.

The combination construction of hybrid mattresses can help alleviate the pain and pressure that keep many of us awake. The layers of foam provide comfort and pressure relief by cradling and conforming to the body shape of the sleeper, while the innerspring layer offers firmer support and breathability. The innerspring also provides greater responsiveness, a crucial quality for those who find that all-foam mattresses make them feel “stuck in place.” As well, the innerspring allows for easier movement and allows the sleeper to shift and turn without awakening.

Another benefit of hybrid mattresses is that they are suitable for many sleeping positions: People who sleep on their sides find that the foam layer relieves pressure on the shoulders and hips, while back-sleepers benefit from the firmer support of the innerspring coils. Those who sleep on their stomachs may want to look for a hybrid with a thinner foam layer and a more robust innerspring support layer to alleviate pressure on the hips and lower back.

RELATED: How to Clean a Mattress

Hybrid Mattresses Are Durable

In yet another benefit, the combination of foam and innerspring layers gives hybrid mattresses greater durability and longevity than mattresses constructed of either material alone. Typically, innerspring mattresses last around five to seven years, memory-foam mattresses last six to eight years, and natural latex mattresses last up to 10 years. Because hybrid mattresses are constructed of both innerspring and foam, they generally will last six to eight years, depending on the quality of materials used in the construction.