Spring vs. Memory Foam Mattress

Last Updated on 2 Jul. 2020

Not having a good mattress can lead to a host of health issues and discomfort when sleeping. But, there’s so much variety in mattress type, making it difficult to choose. Two main types of mattresses are memory foam and spring mattresses. But which is the better option?

Memory foam mattresses are made of polyurethane, while spring mattresses are made with steel coils. Memory foam mattresses cost more than spring mattresses but are more durable and absorbent. Spring mattresses are generally temperature neutral and don’t give off an odor as memory foam mattresses do.

Read on to find out more details about spring and foam mattresses, followed by a comparison of the two in terms of factors such as cost, durability, temperature, movement absorbency, support, and smell.


What Is a Spring Mattress?

A spring mattress is made of steel coils. There are four types of coils: continuous coils, Bonnell coils, offset coils, and marshall (or pocketed) coils.

Continuous coils are made from one long wire. They are S-shaped, rather than coiled. This type of coil is noted for being more stable and durable.

Bonnell and offset coils are both hourglass coils, which are named for their shape. The difference between the two is that the top and bottom of offset coils are flattened to create a hinging action within the mattress, while Bonnell coils have a knot at each end. Bonnell coils are the least expensive to make and, therefore, very common. Offset coils allow the mattress to conform better to your body and are less noisy than Bonnell coils.

Marshall, or pocketed, coils are individual coils wrapped in textiles. They reduce the sensation of movement on the bed and are costly to manufacture.

What Is a Memory Foam Mattress?

Memory foam is made of a synthetic compound called polyurethane. It was actually invented by NASA researchers looking for a way to keep test pilots cushioned during flights.

Memory foam has small cavities where air can be trapped. This feature allows the memory foam to deform under pressure and regain its shape when pressure is relieved. There are many reasons consumers love memory foam, but it does not come without its disadvantages.

Let us have a look at the pros and cons of both spring mattresses and memory foam in several categories.


Memory foam mattresses are generally considered to be more durable and longer-lasting than spring mattresses. The higher the density of the mattress, the more durable it is. The average lifespan of a memory foam mattress is eight to 10 years.

Some types of spring mattresses can be long-lasting, too. However, they typically become less comfortable and deteriorate as the springs become less uniform and poke through the mattress or sag. A spring mattress can last on average six to six and a half years.


Memory foam is particularly prone to trapping heat because it relies on your body heat to become more malleable. It then retains this heat, which can be very uncomfortable for those who do not like warmer temperatures or waking up sweating. The amount of heat a memory foam mattress retains varies by the brand and model.

For example, memory foam mattresses with a layer of gel memory foam keep cool longer than regular memory foam. But, one survey demonstrated that at least 10% of memory foam owners reported a significant problem with their mattress retaining heat.

Spring mattresses are generally a cooler option than memory foam since they have an open-cell design to allow airflow. The heat from your body won’t change the way coils feel either, so the mattress’ temperature will remain neutral.

Movement Absorbency and Support

Memory foam mattresses are more absorbent than spring mattresses, so they isolate motion. This means that if you move on the bed, your partner will hardly feel a thing. The downside to this is that memory foam mattresses are less responsive or bouncy, which can make getting in and out of bed a bit more challenging.

Spring mattresses are quite the opposite of memory foam mattresses, as they lack motion isolation. If spring mattresses are the only type of mattress within your budget and motion isolation is important to you, then a mattress with pocketed coils is your best option, as the pocketed coils will limit motion transfer.

Support is likely one of the most important factors if you’re looking to purchase a new mattress. Both memory foam and spring mattresses provide good support.

With spring mattresses, the springs compress as you move to provide support. The mattresses with pocketed coils generally provide the best back support. However, mattresses with Bonnell coil or continuous coils will not offer any conforming support. Overall, spring mattresses are recommended, in terms of support, for back sleepers.

Memory foam mattresses, on the other hand, have comfort layers that mimic your body’s alignment. These mattresses target the major pressure points in the body, including the spine, neck, and shoulders. This makes memory foam ideal for side sleepers. Memory foam also comes in varying degrees of firmness, if you require more support.


Some memory foam mattresses may have an unpleasant smell when new. This smell lasts up to four weeks and is caused by the breaking down of materials used to make the mattress. These materials are called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and may include toluene, formaldehyde, and benzene. They form gasses when they break apart, hence the unpleasant smell. The good thing is that the smell doesn’t mean the chemicals are toxic.

You don’t need to worry about an odor with spring mattresses, as steel makes up the bulk of the mattress and doesn’t give off a smell. The steel is usually covered by wool, cotton, or thin layers of foam, which don’t give off a significant odor.


Overall, spring mattresses and memory foam mattresses each have their advantages and disadvantages. When comparing the two, there are several factors to consider, including cost, durability, temperature, movement absorbency, support, and smell.

Memory foam mattresses tend to be more durable than spring mattresses, but more costly. The average memory foam mattress lasts eight to 10 years. Memory foam also isolates motion but tends to give off an odor when it’s new. Spring mattresses, on the other hand, are better at cooling sleepers as they allow for better airflow.

Both mattresses offer good support for sleepers. However, spring mattresses are generally recommended for back sleepers and memory foam mattresses are recommended for side sleepers.

If you don’t mind spending some extra money, a memory foam mattress is probably your best bet in terms of durability, support, and movement absorbency.

Hopefully, this article has allowed you to have an easier time choosing which type of mattress to purchase.

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