14 Types of Mattresses to Know

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Shopping online or in a mattress store can be overwhelming because there are so many types and brands of mattresses. Each one promises to give you a perfect night of restful sleep. With so many options, do you really know where to start?

Most mattresses are going to feel great when you lie down on them for a few minutes, but there is more to selecting the right mattress. Consider how you typically sleep—side, back, or stomach. What is your budget? How often do you typically replace a mattress? Will it be used sparingly in a guest room or every night in a primary bedroom?

For most people, a medium-firm or firm mattress with a pillowtop provides a good balance of support and comfort, but there's still plenty of variety. Review the characteristics of 14 common types of mattresses before you start shopping.

  • 01 of 14

    Memory Foam

    While memory foam was invented by the scientists at NASA in the mid-1960s, it took some time before the first memory foam mattress came on the market in 1991. It can now be found in shoes, furniture cushions, pillows, and blankets.

    Memory foam allows the mattress to take the shape of your body as you lie on it and then bounce back when the weight is removed. It provides low motion transfer, soft support, and proper spinal alignment for side sleepers and those who have a painful bone or muscular condition.

    However, many users find that the density of memory foam traps body heat and increases the temperature of the sleeper throughout the night. It is a good choice for anyone with allergies because the mattress is allergen- and dust mite-resistant.

  • 02 of 14

    Polyfoam

    Polyfoam is a petroleum-based product that can be produced at different levels of density. The higher the density, the more durable the mattress.

    Since petroleum contains chemicals that can be toxic, always look for the CertiPUR US certification on a polyfoam mattress. This certification brings peace of mind that the mattress is free of formaldehyde, heavy metals, and ozone depleters.

  • 03 of 14

    Latex Foam

    If the idea of synthetic foam does not appeal to you, choose a latex foam mattress. Latex is made from rubber tree sap.

    Latex is similar to memory foam but has more bounce and retains less heat. You'll find two options in latex: Talalay and Dunlop. Talalay latex is manufactured by filling the mattress mold and then sucking out any air pockets. The latex is then stabilized by freezing it for a consistent level of firmness so the mattress can be flipped. Dunlop latex is poured into the mold and allowed to harden, resulting in a mattress that is softer on top and denser on the bottom.

  • 04 of 14

    Gel

    The term gel mattress is a bit of a misnomer: Gel mattresses are made of memory foam that is infused with gel. The gel decreases the density of the memory foam and prevents the foam from trapping as much body heat, helping the mattress stay cooler throughout the night.

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  • 05 of 14

    Continuous Coil Innersprings

    Innerspring mattresses are the most popular type of mattresses sold in the United States and often more affordable than some types of foam. There are a variety of manufacturing methods, including the continuous coil.

    This mattress type is manufactured using an interlinked single wire to form the S-shaped coils. The system is affordable and durable.

  • 06 of 14

    Bonnell Coil Innersprings

    Shaped like an hourglass, these coils have been around since the 1800s and connect to form a helix-like structure. You will find Bonnell coils in many mid-range mattresses.

  • 07 of 14

    Offset Coil Innersprings

    Offset coils are very similar to Bonnell coils, but are less squeaky thanks to flattened edges at the top and bottom of the coil. This created a hinge effect that is quiet, durable, and conforms to the shape of the body.

  • 08 of 14

    Marshall or Pocketed Coil

    Unlinked and fully individually encased, Marshall or pocketed coils move independently of each other, offering more support and motion isolation. The more coils in the mattress, the higher the level of comfort and quality.

    Made with a barrel-shaped design, the coils can be made of thinner or thicker metal. The higher numbers in the coil gauge represent thinner coils and a softer mattress. Lower numbers or thicker coils mean a firmer mattress that is also more durable.

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  • 09 of 14

    Hybrid

    Hybrid mattresses combine the support of an innerspring mattress with the softness of foam. Most hybrids have a layer of one type of coils topped with one to three layers of memory, latex, or gel foam. Many companies offer custom-made hybrids to suit the customer's sleeping needs.

  • 10 of 14

    Pillowtop

    Pillowtop or Euro-top mattresses are constructed with innersprings but have a layer of padding on the top. The padding can be made of foam, wool, or cotton. The pillowtop layer adds comfort and durability to the mattress. Usually more expensive than a standard innerspring mattress, they cannot be flipped.

  • 11 of 14

    Organic

    If you are trying to limit your exposure to toxins and do as much as you can to protect the environment, choose an organic mattress. These are made using organic wool or cotton fibers, recycled steel for the coils, and/or natural latex. Choose those certified as GREENGUARD GOLD for the safest options.

  • 12 of 14

    Waterbed

    Waterbed mattresses have an outer bladder with individual chambers that can be filled to the level of support and motion that suits you. Most have thermostat controls to help regulate temperature. While they offer nearly pressure-free comfort to sleepers, they are extremely heavy and time-consuming to set up or move.

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  • 13 of 14

    Air Mattress

    An air mattress for daily use is much more than the inflatable floor variety pulled out for overnight guests. Quality air mattresses are covered with foam layers for more comfort and have adjustable chambers for co-sleeping. They are lightweight and easy to move.

  • 14 of 14

    Adjustable Bed Mattress

    The mattress on an adjustable bed is usually made from foam, so it is flexible. Air mattresses can also be used, and some manufacturers are making innerspring mattresses that flex.