Readers shopping for a new bed may wonder how memory foam mattresses are different from other types of beds, and this a useful and important question to understand when trying to select the best bed. Learning differences between available alternatives can help to understand which may be best suited to personal needs and preferences. In this article, we will contrast memory foam with innerspring, water, and latex beds and then compare different types of mattresses with the whatsthebestbed mattress database.

Mattress Type Comparisons

Each type of mattress uses different technology and construction to achieve different results that may be favorable or not, depending on your personal needs. Comparisons between different types of beds should involve the overall support system, materials used, purported pros and cons, pricing, longevity as well as owner satisfaction rates

Waterbed Mattresses vs Memory Foam

Waterbed mattresses can come in two forms, hardside and softside. Hardside waterbeds are the standard vinyl bladder types that go with wood frames. Softside waterbeds are designed with a water chamber inside an enclosure and can be used on standard frames.

Both types of beds can come with free-flow and waveless designs. Free flow types offer very little support and increase back pain due to a ‘hammocking’ effect. Waveless models offer more firmness and support. Overall, water conforms to sleepers well, but is the worst type for motion transfer.

Waterbeds tend to be fairly durable barring leaks, and can be rather cheap for hardside models. Though they are increasingly hard to find in local shops, they are popular with owners as 79% are satisfied.

Innerspring Mattresses vs Memory Foam

Innerspring are the most common and widely available mattresses in America, consisting of different varieties of springs and coils covered with padding. There are four primary types of coil support systems: Bonnell coils, continuous coils, offset coils, and pocketed coils. Pocketed coils tend to be the best bet overall, providing better support, motion isolation, and durability than the other types, but also prove more expensive. Metal coils have low conform-ability (meaning they do not easily contour to the sleeper), and also tend to transfer motion between partners more than other types of beds.

In addition to the springs, the other primary component of a spring mattress is the comfort layer which insulates the sleeper from the metal coils. Materials such as low-density polyurethane, polypropylene, and fibre batting tend to be cheapest and lack durability. Some spring beds can be combined with memory foam and latex as well which can improve pain relief, but may raise the price considerably and introduce higher odor and heat complaints. Very few innerspring beds are available with natural materials.

Innerspring mattresses are typically comfortable initially, but about 20-30% of owners experience a loss of support and sagging within a couple of years. This is due to both the nature of metal coils and fibre/padding material compression, and can lead to increased back pain and pressure points. Overall, the average lifespan range of innerspring bed is 4-8 years, with most lasting about 6 years.

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