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Eight Common Types of Mattresses Explained: A Shopping Guide

Time for a New Mattress

You didn’t sleep well last night and you’ve finally decided that the problem may be your mattress. Maybe your mattress is more than five years old or maybe you’ve noticed that it sags a little in the middle. The key to a better night’s sleep is the right mattress! Which one is right for you? We’ve put together a list of eight of the most common mattress types to help you decide.
Memory Foam

1. Memory Foam


If you are looking for a great support and comfort, especially as a side sleeper, memory foam is a wonderful choice. Memory foam is popular because of the way it gradually conforms to your body as you sleep. If you sleep on your side, it offers the shoulder and hip support you need. The memory foam contours to your body and allows you to feel partially surrounded by the mattress while being supported.

Other benefits of memory foam mattresses are that they contain several layers of foam that resist the tendency to sag in the middle and eliminate the need to flip the mattress routinely.

2. Gel

In smart gel mattresses, gel is usually added to a foam mattress in the support system or upholstery layer. It has a slightly different feel than memory foam, so you may need to test it out to decide which feel you prefer. Gel mattresses also dissipate your body heat more effectively, so if you dislike the way some foam mattresses absorb your body heat, smart gel may help.

3. Pillow Tops

Side sleepers who choose not to go with memory foam or gel may also love pillow top mattresses, or mattresses with a "pillow topper." Pillow tops are basically an additional layer of upholstery that you add to the top of your mattress. They are very soft and cushiony, allowing a similar "sinking" feeling as memory foam, which allows your hip and shoulder to "sink" into the pillow top and keep your back in comfortable alignment. You can choose the level of softness for your pillow top, and they are generally used with an innerspring or coil mattress. 

Inner Spring

4. Innerspring

Innerspring (also, coil) mattresses use an internal support of metal springs. You can generally measure the quality of support from an innerspring mattress by how many coils are in the design. The number and distribution of coils determines how well the mattress will conform to your body. Innerspring beds can also have varying spring shapes and coil gauges that can affect the quality of back support. Back, side, and tummy sleepers can be comfortable on the right type of innerspring mattress.

5. Water Bed

Water bed mattresses use water as the primary support system and are best for back sleepers. A waterbed consists of a rectangular chamber of water that is padded with upholstery material, such as foam or fibers. The water can be in free-flow chamber or a limited-flow "waveless" chamber. In free-flow, nothing obstructs the water from moving from one end of the mattress to another. In a waveless waterbed, fibers limit the water's movement. Your choice depends on the amount of support and flexibility you prefer and whether or not you find the movement of the water distracting.

6. Air Bed

Like waterbeds, an air bed uses a chamber filled with air as the primary support. The air chamber is padded with foam or fiber upholstery. The air chamber is also adjustable, allowing you to adjust the firmness of the mattress. Some brands allow you to adjust each side of the mattress separately. Air beds are great for back sleepers and couples with different firmness needs.

7. Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses use latex foam instead of memory foam. Our Talalay latex mattresses are made with natural materials, where most memory foam mattresses use synthetic materials. Latex also offers varying levels of firmness and plushness to accommodate side, back, or tummy sleepers. Latex is also less dense and less heating than memory foam. See more different between the two on our FAQ page.

8. Adjustable Bases

Adjustable base mattresses are one of the most flexible type of mattresses, offering relief and support wherever you need it. You can adjust the base to elevate your head, raise your feet, or provide more back support. They are perfect for targeting sleep-related problems such as muscle aches, back pain, acid reflux, heartburn, sleep apnea, and more.