One of the most defining aspects of a mattress is what it is made of. There are many types of mattresses on the market today, ranging from traditional innerspring mattresses to hyper-elastic polymers. Although practically any material can be sold in firm or plush varieties, the price, weight, durability and heat of each type of mattress can vary greatly. That's why it is good to know the pros and cons of any mattress style before you buy.

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Types of Mattress

Innerspring Mattresses

Innersprings are the most traditional style of mattress still used today. In these mattresses, a series of tightly wound, intertwined coils make up the support system, which is then topped with some type of cushioning (most often memory foam in modern mattresses). The more coils there are in an innerspring mattress, the higher the quality and the longer it will last.

Innerspring mattresses can transfer more movement than other mattress types, do not conform to the body as well and can become noisy as they age. But they are also one of the cheapest and lightest options and can be found just about anywhere, making it much easier to test the mattress design before you buy it.

Many innerspring mattress styles offer additional upholstery cushioning on the top of the rest of the mattress. A pillow top is a separate compartment of cushioning added to the top of the mattress cover. The Euro top, on the other hand, places the upholstery cushion directly on top of the mattress but within the rest of the mattress cover, creating a flush appearance.

Simmons, Sealy and Serta are some of the most popular brands making innerspring mattresses.

Memory Foam

Most modern mattresses contain some amount of memory foam, even if they are hybrids that also contain latex or innersprings. There are also plenty of mattresses made entirely of memory foam. Memory foam is a firm foam cushion that conforms to the body and provides support for pressure points. To find a high-quality memory foam mattress, choose one that is at least 10 inches thick.

These mattresses are highly rated for comfort, affordability and longevity, although many people find pure memory foam mattresses to be too hot as the material traps body heat. This is why many mattresses that contain memory foam are topped with a cooling gel. Memory foam is also very heavy, which can make it difficult to move these mattresses.

Temperpedic is the most famous mattress brand specializing in memory foam.

Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses are similar to memory foam, only they use a layer of latex in place of foam. The latex is natural and hypoallergenic, so most people with allergies can still sleep in these beds. However, those with severe allergies may still experience problems. Like memory foam, latex is often used in combination with other materials.

Latex is comfortable and conforms to the body like memory foam, but it's also heavy, making it difficult to move. One benefit latex has over memory foam, though, is that it does not trap heat, so these mattresses tend to stay cooler.

Latex is expensive compared to both memory foam and innerspring mattresses. Since latex is still a relatively new mattress material, it can be tough to find a store carrying one of these products to test out before buying.

Although there are few brands making beds out of only latex, Ghostbed is a company well known for their latex hybrid mattresses.

Adjustable Airbeds

When most people hear "airbed," they think of air mattresses, which are just inflatable rubber shells that can be quickly inflated for use while camping or when a guest is visiting. But some daily-use airbed mattresses feature an inflatable air pocket, sandwiched between other materials, such as memory foam, to provide an adjustable level of support.

These mattresses can be difficult to assemble, hard to move, noisy, prone to motor malfunctions and expensive. But they are popular because they can be adjusted to a person's preferred comfort level as necessary. Some models even allow each side of the bed to have a different comfort setting.

The most popular airbed on the market is the Sleep Number mattress.

Hyper-Elastic Polymer

One of the newest mattress styles on the market uses a hyper-elastic polymer, meaning they are made from a soft, rubber-like material laid out in a hive shape. These mattresses typically have memory foam support, but the polymer is what makes them unique.

Because the Purple mattress and SomniGel are two of the only companies offering these types of mattresses, they can be a little expensive and you probably won't get to try them in store before buying them. That being said, these mattresses bear and distribute weight unlike any other material on the market, and they disperse heat well too. Since they are made up mostly of air, it can actually feel like you're sleeping on nothing at all. In fact, Purple advertises their products by having people sit on raw eggs that remain uncracked, while SomniGel has proven that even an elephant can lay on their product and have it return to its original shape.