If you’ve been poking around the market looking for a new mattress, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the term “hybrid” thrown around every here and there to describe certain products.
Unfortunately, though, mattress companies can often be a little vague when it comes to describing their products in a way you can actually make sense of.
They offer all these promises about better sleep and more advanced technology, but it’s sometimes kind of unclear whether or not they actually have any evidence to back them up!
That’s why in this article, we’re going to be taking a hard look at the so-called “hybrid mattresses” so many companies have started talking about lately.
Is this more marketing nonsense, or do these products really live up to their claims?
What Is a Hybrid Mattress?
Although hybrid mattresses are making some pretty big waves in the mattress market right now, there’s actually a fair amount of confusion when it comes to defining just what, exactly, these things actually are.
If you glance through this website’s comprehensive mattress reviews, you’ll notice a few mattresses labeled “hybrids” under “main materials”—but if you have a look at our guide best mattresses of 2018, you’ll notice we don’t even include hybrid mattresses under our five main mattress categories!
What’s going on?
The truth is, hybrid mattresses are actually a pretty slippery concept.
They’re usually made with pocket coils—that is, vertical coils housed in individual sleeves—and they’re meant to combine the advantages of innerspring mattresses with those of memory foam.
Why There’s Some Confusion
Unfortunately, though, it’s not quite so simple as that description might make it sound.
The problem is, all innerspring mattresses actually come with a thick padding of comfort layers on top.
If you didn’t have any kind of polyfoam, latex, natural fibers, etc. on top of the springs that make up your mattress, you’d be in for a pretty terrible night’s sleep!
This is why cynics are sometimes tempted to write off hybrid mattresses as little more than a big marketing ploy.
And it’s true—some mattress manufacturers do sometimes just try to jump on the bandwagon, talking about products as if they’re “hybrids” when they’re really nothing more than glorified innersprings.
Although there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules for deciding what qualifies as a hybrid mattress and what doesn’t, there do tend to be some general differences between these products and traditional innersprings.
For one thing, the memory foam/latex layer tends to be a bit thicker than you’d typically expect.
It doesn’t go all the way through, but it’s definitely different from a regular comfort layer.
Hybrid mattresses also tend to have lower profiles than innersprings do, and their topmost layer is flat, with no indentations.
Benefits of Hybrid Mattresses
By combining innerspring and memory foam technologies, hybrid mattresses stand to reap a lot of the benefits of both main mattress types.
Although they’re by no means perfect, there’s a lot to like.
Good Motion Isolation
Enhanced motion isolation is one of the biggest plusses to these products.
Like memory foam mattresses, they tend to absorb your movements, trapping them on your side of the bed.
This is really helpful if you sleep with a partner, since this means your restless night doesn’t have to mean bad sleep for them (and vice versa).
Hybrid mattress’s motion isolation gives them a serious leg up over most innerspring mattresses, which tend to have annoyingly high motion transfer.
Another advantage to hybrid mattresses is their ability to provide comfortable, lasting support, regardless of your sleep position.
The latex or memory foam in the comfort layers compresses perfectly in response to the shape of your body, distributing pressure evenly across everything in contact with the mattress.
This is especially good for people who sleep on their side, since this position tends to leave you prone to pressure points and pain.
It’s also helpful for individuals suffering from back pain, although if you’re really looking to fight back against those kinds of issues, you’d probably be better off with a true memory foam mattress (you can read more about all that in our full article here).
Better For Sex Than Memory Foam
Hybrid mattresses also tend to be better for sex than most of their pure memory foam counterparts.
This is actually one of the most common complaints about memory foam, since the material is designed to contour perfectly to your body.
There’s no bounce-back to memory foam, and if you’re working with an entire mattress made of the stuff, you and your partner might end up a little disappointed.
By include that layer of pocket coils beneath the thick comfort layers, though, hybrid mattresses can maintain a fair amount of that bounciness.
Drawbacks of Hybrid Mattresses
Despite all these advantages, though, no mattress is 100% perfect.
While marketers like to say hybrids can give you the best of both worlds, this isn’t necessarily true.
Some of the issues of both innerspring and memory foam mattresses carry over into their hybrid counterparts.
For a lot of shoppers, one of the biggest concerns here is likely price.
On margin, hybrid mattresses cost more than innerspring, memory foam, or even latex mattresses!
Also, according to SleepLikeTheDead.com, the average consumer tends to think pretty poorly of their hybrid mattress’s value—worse than memory foam, worse than latex, worse than innersprings or even futons.
They Sleep Hot
Hybrid mattresses also tend to have a lot of problems when it comes to heat retention.
This is especially true of hybrids made with memory foam, since this material tends to trap in heat in its many air pockets.
The air doesn’t have anywhere to go, so it just sits there, getting warmer and warmer in response to your body heat.
Some memory foam mattress producers have come up with workarounds for this kind of heatiness, but many hybrid mattresses still struggle with this issue.
Of all the mattress types, these products have the greatest percentage of complaints about customers’ products sleeping hot.
They Take a While to Break In
Hybrid mattresses also often have long break-in periods—the highest, in fact, of any mattress type.
This means that for the first few days or weeks you have this product, it’s likely to feel uncomfortably firm when you lie down.
While this isn’t a permanent problem, it’s still pretty non-ideal!
Should You Buy a Hybrid Mattress?
So with all that said, what’s the answer?
Should you get a hybrid mattress, or shouldn’t you?
The answer, of course, is that it’s complicated.
The truth is, you can’t really evaluate any given mattress on the basis of generalizations alone.
Every product is unique, and you’ll definitely want to look more carefully at some quality, unbiased reviews before you make any serious decisions.
That said, here’s a quick wrap-up of what you should know:
What Hybrids Are Good At
- Motion Isolation
What Hybrids Are Bad At
- Break-in period
What’s the Best Hybrid Mattress?
Although it’s always difficult to settle on any single mattress as the absolute “best” in any given category, there are a couple hybrid mattresses that stand out from the pack.
One mattress like the is the Bear Hybrid, which is both fairly affordable and comes with extraordinarily good reviews.
It’s also made by the same people who produce one of our favorite memory foam mattresses!
If you’re looking to go for a real luxury experience, on the other hand, you might want to consider the New Purple mattress (made by another highly-trusted manufacturer).
This is built with a unique “comfort grid” technology that provides powerful support and comfort for just about any kind of sleeper.
All in all, hybrid mattresses are sort of complicated products.
They seem like they should work super well—innerspring and memory foam mattresses seem to have complementary strengths, so it just makes sense to combine the two of them.
This gives you better support, better motion isolation, and better sex.
What’s not to love?
On the other hand, though, hybrid mattresses also tend to come with more than their share of complaints.
They’re expensive, hot, and take forever to break in.
Not only that, but they’re a lot worse at all these things than either of the two main mattress types alone!
It’s easy to get pretty disheartened when you look at hybrid mattresses as a whole.
The word “hybrid” alone can sometimes seem like little more than some marketing buzzword, and sketchy products can cast a shadow over a whole category of mattresses.
Still, it’s important to keep in mind that, just because some mattresses come with some issues, that doesn’t mean all mattresses of that type will necessarily share those problems.
A lot of mattress manufacturers have invested a huge amount of time and money into fixing some of the biggest problems hybrids face today, and there are a couple truly stand-out products out there.
So don’t give up hope!
That beautiful sleep you’ve been dreaming of could be just around the corner.