What Comfort Layer Material Is Right for You?

If you’re in the market for a new mattress, it’s all too easy to start feeling overwhelmed when you look at the sheer variety of products on the market today.

Every mattress company want you to think their product is the solution to all your biggest problems – but in this sea of fancy terms and high-tech features, how can you really know which product is right for you?

Especially with the strong growth of hybrid mattresses, which mix and match all kind of technologies, it’s hard to find a clear answer.

Today, we bring you one step closer to the answer you’ve been looking for.

This article will walk you step-by-step through everything you need to know about comfort layer materials, so you can cut through the noise and get to the product you need.

So, what are you waiting for?

Let’s get started!

What Is a Comfort Layer?

Alright, a quick refresher course before we get too far ahead of ourselves here.

A comfort layer is just that nice level of padding that sits on top of your innerspring mattresses’ coils, providing you with spinal alignment, support, pressure point relief, and basic comfort.

The purpose of a comfort layer is twofold: to create a buffer between you and the hard metal coils in mattress’s support core, and to make your mattress actually enjoyable to lie on top of.

Sounds simple… right?

Image: Woman asleep on a cloud

Choosing the Right Comfort Layer

The thing is, there are a lot of different factors you’re going to need to take into account before you can settle on your next purchase.

First and foremost, a good comfort layer provides the exact level of support and comfort you need.

With the right material (and firmness level), your mattress will place totally equal weight on every part of your body that comes in contact with it, creating that sense of floating on a cloud.

The ideal mattress comfort layer will also be durable, affordable, and cool to sleep on as well – so you can get the kind of comfort you need for as long as possible.

Pulling all that together into just one product is something of a tall order – but not to worry!

The perfect material is out there, waiting for you.

It’s just up to you to find it!

Memory Foam: Popular, Great Support

Memory foam is one of the most popular materials used in the mattress industry these days.

First developed by NASA back in the space race to keep pilots cushioned during flights, memory foam has gone on to bring us some great mattresses on the market today – including the Amerisleep AS3 and the Nectar.

Memory foam tends to offer extremely good support for most sleepers, in addition to being relatively long-lasting and featuring some truly top-notch motion isolation.

A lot of sleepers prefer high-density memory foam in particular, since this allows for that special “floating” sensation a lot of people really look for in a mattress.

That said, you really have to know what you’re doing when it comes to shopping memory foam.

For instance lot of lower-end products tend to sleep hot.

You’ll want to keep an eye out for specialized cooling technologies like gel-infused foam or open-celled construction.

Additionally, a lot of lower-grade memory foam tends to be pretty unresponsive, so if you tend to toss and turn a lot at night, it might take a little while for your mattress to finish conforming in response to your movement.

Finally, some people just can’t stand the “sinking” sensation that comes with lying on a memory foam mattress – so be sure that’s not you before you pull the trigger on a purchase!

Latex: Comfy and Ultra Eco-Friendly

Next up on the docket, we have latex.

This is actually a pretty different sort of comfort layer from the other materials we’ll be talking about.

If you purchase a mattress with materials labelled “100% natural latex,” that actually means your product’s comfort layers are made of the sap of the rubber tree, which mostly grows on plantations in Southeast Asia.

Latex is really something of a super-material when it comes to mattresses – it’s springy and well-ventilated, and you can get it in just about any firmness level you could possibly want if you know where to look.

It’s also the most durable of all comfort layer materials, lasting upwards of 15 years with proper care!

The one downside is, it does tend to be a little on the pricier side – though there are definitely some nicely affordable products out there!

The DreamCloud mattress is one of our favorite latex comfort layer mattresses (if you want a full latex mattress, check out out top picks here).

Image: flock of sheep

Natural Fibers: Mattresses the Old-Fashioned Way

If the idea of an environmentally-conscious mattress piques your interest, you might also want to consider a mattress comfort layer built with natural fibers. 

Involving materials like cotton, silk, wool or other animal hairs, natural fibers bring a bit of an old-fashioned touch to mattresses that it can be hard to come by these days.

Unfortunately, though, pure natural fiber comfort layers are often extremely costly and difficult to produce, which can drive up prices on mattresses built this way to many thousands of dollars.

The most affordable options of this make I’ve seen are all just latex mattresses built with a layer of either cotton or sheep wool on top, which often makes for a remarkably enjoyable sleep experience.

Natural fibers tend to be extremely long-lasting compared to other comfort layer materials, too – though if the product isn’t built properly, you might experience some bunching in various areas of the mattress over time.

Our top-rated product to feature natural fibers is the Zenhaven Latex Mattress, which features organic New Zealand wool.

Polyurethane: Inexpensive, but Watch Yourself

Polyurethane foam (or “polyfoam,” for short) is pretty much ubiquitous in the mattress industry right now, mostly because of how inexpensive it is.

A huge number of mattress companies feature some amount of polyfoam somewhere in their production process, and sometimes, it works.

High-grade polyfoam is generally fairly good quality, with decent motion isolation and reasonable airflow.

It doesn’t offer the same kind of localized support as something like memory foam, but if a mattress company knows what they’re doing, it can still make for a reasonably comfortable sleep.

If you end up with any kind of low-grade polyfoam, though…

Well, there’s no way to put it lightly – your mattress is pretty much trash.

Low-grade polyfoam degrades extremely quickly – so while your mattress might feel just fine for the first couple months, pretty soon that polyfoam will compress and you’ll be in for one heck of a sleep.

If you’re considering a mattress with a polyfoam construction, be sure to check out our complete guide to polyfoam comfort layers before making any final decisions.

Microcoils: Fancy Tech, though Still Evolving

Image: A man in a white turtleneck taps a glowing, futuristic-looking visor around his eyes.

For a slightly more intriguing option for your mattress’s comfort layers, you might want to have a look at some of today’s latest microcoil technology.

Microcoils are actually one of the most recent entries to the world of mattresses, though they’ve been growing in popularity every year.

That’s because they’re completely unlike anything else on the market.

They’re like springs, but they’re not innersprings; they’re used in comfort layers, but they’re made out of metal!

Basically, microcoils (along with their physically smaller offshoots, “nanocoils” and “minicoils”) are just a bunch of tiny springs, usually embedded in some kind of gel, which provide a completely unique kind of responsiveness and support.

They’re also extremely durable and offer fantastic airflow, and the latest models of top-tier microcoil mattresses are hitting the market all the time.

One of the best products out there to feature microcoils in their comfort layer construction materials is the Helix mattress.

We also like the Agility mattress, which came to market recently.

Buckling Column Gel: The Material of the Future?

Finally, buckling column gel is the absolute latest entry to the mattress world.

First hitting the market in the 1990s in the form of a kind of latticework of hyper-elastic polymers filled in with gel, buckling column gel is making some big waves in our industry through the mattress giant, Purple.

The New Purple mattress and Original Purple Bed are to my knowledge the only major products to incorporate this construction technique right now, but these two products alone have been enough to secure Purple a place in the world of top-rated mattresses.

These products have challenged us to almost completely rethink the way we talk about mattresses.

In fact, they’ve actually done away with the whole idea of including gel in “buckling column gel” at all, opting instead for a squishy, easily compressible comfort layer the company calls the “Smart Comfort Grid.”

This basically eliminates the possibility of hot sleep, maximizing ventilation while perfectly conforming to the shape of your body.

It’s actually some pretty freaky stuff, and if you haven’t see then commercials yet, I’d recommend having a peek around Purple’s website.

Conclusion

So there you have it – your complete guide to mattress comfort layer materials.

Congratulations!

You’re now one step closer to making one of the best decisions of your life.

A good mattress really is important for your sleep and health in general, so you really want to take your time to get this thing right.

So happy shopping – and good luck!