About 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. don’t get enough sleep at night, and for some, their lack of sleep stems from sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress. A hybrid mattress offers both pressure relief and responsive bounce, and could be the right mattress type for you. Hybrid mattresses come in different firmness options, and can be a good option for side, back, and stomach sleepers alike.
When potential shoppers choose a mattress, it’s mostly based on preferred sleep position and body weight— these factors determine firmness levels or how a mattress feels to the sleeper. Each sleep position— side, back, stomach, and combination— need specific levels of comfort and support to maintain spinal alignment.
What is a Side Sleeper?
Side sleeping is the most common in comparison to other sleep styles— roughly 74% of Americans sleep on their sides. It’s also known as the healthiest sleeping position. Side sleeping allows for better breathing, reduces acid reflux, and lessens pressure on vital organs, like the heart.
Despite its benefits, side sleepers are prone to pain points in the shoulders and hips due to the pressure those joints take on in the side sleeping position. When it comes to side-sleeping, the best mattress is usually soft to medium in firmness, as these beds are best at cushioning and relieving pressure in the shoulders and hips.
Other Sleeping Positions
Other sleeping positions include back, stomach, and combination. Each sleep position needs a specific firmness to provide sleepers with the best comfort possible for better sleep and fewer aches.
Back sleeping enables natural spinal alignment by its direct contact with the sleep surface. Back sleepers have a higher risk of developing sleep apnea— gravity causes soft tissue to collapse at the back of the throat or the tongue falling back, obstructing airways.
Back sleepers need a medium to firm sleep surface to relieve pressure points in the shoulders and hips and maintain neutral spinal alignment.
Stomach sleeping is the least common and least healthy due to the excess pressure it puts on the spine. Stomach sleepers have a higher risk of neck strain— twisting the head to the side to breathe and lower back pain— gravity pulls weight down in the midsection, forcing the spine’s natural curve to straighten.
Stomach sleepers need a medium-firm to firm mattress to keep the body resting on the surface without deep sinkage.
Combinations sleepers toss and turn each night, switching between 2 to 3 sleep positions regularly. A medium to medium-firm mattress is the best option for combination sleepers, offering a balance of comfort and support while maintaining spinal alignment throughout the night.
What is a Hybrid Mattress?
A hybrid mattress combines pressure-relieving memory foam and responsive support of innerspring coils— essentially, two beds combined into one perfect mattress. Unlike other mattress types, hybrids may contain more layers of foam and innerspring coils, making it heavier to move. Because of the coils in the base, hybrids are not usually sold bed in a box style like memory foam or latex mattresses.
A hybrid mattress typically contains three different layers— comfort, transitional, and support. Some hybrid beds also include a pillow top or Euro-style topper to offer extra plush comfort.
The comfort layer of either memory foam or latex is at least 2 inches thick to provide conforming, pressure relief. Most hybrids contain comfort layers 3 to 5 inches thick. Anything thinner than 2 inches is not considered a hybrid.
The transition layer is usually made of foam (poly-foam, memory foam, or latex) and lies between the comfort and support layers. The transitional layer provides extra cushioning and support and also reduces motion transfer.
The support layer contains hundreds of individually-wrapped steel innerspring coils to reduce noise and lessen the risk of sleep disruptions. The support layers lend the mattress its durability and provide even support to the body.
|Motion isolation||Less pressure relief|
|Responsive bounce||Some motion transfer|
Benefits of a Hybrid Mattress for Side Sleepers
The right hybrid mattress can provide all the comfort and support that side sleepers need, including firmness level, responsiveness, and cooling. Most side sleepers need a mattress between a soft to medium firmness to fill in the large gaps between the body and the surface, and to ease pressure buildup in the shoulders and hips.
Firmness level is based on your preferred sleep position (in this case, side sleeping) and body weight. Body weight is divided into three categories— light, average, and heavy. While side sleepers need a softer mattress, a mattress with too much softness or not enough softness could result in misaligning the spine and creating more pressure points.
Light: 130 pounds or less
Light sleepers need a soft to medium-soft mattress to allow their bodies to slightly sink into the mattress to cushion and relieve pressure points.
Average: 130 to 230 pounds
Average sleepers need a medium to medium-firm mattress for just the right amount of balance of pressure relief and support.
Heavy: 230 pounds or more
Heavy sleepers need a medium-firm to firm mattress to both conform to the body to relieve pressure points and evenly support the body without risk of sagging.
Hybrid mattresses are more responsive than memory foam and latex beds, providing a responsive bounce to prevent side sleepers from feeling stuck. A hybrid’s responsive surface also makes it easier to switch from one side to the other during sleep.
Hybrid mattresses provide cooling, both through the memory foam comfort layer and the innerspring support layer. Memory foam with cooling properties like gel to absorb and disperse body heat, or copper or graphite infusions to pull heat away from the body, can better regulate temperature. Plant-based memory foam can also help through it’s breathable and responsive structure, allowing for better airflow. The open structure of the innerspring coils enables better air circulation inside the base layer.
Cost of a Hybrid
Because of the number of materials they contain, hybrids come at a higher price point. Cost ranges between $800 at the low end and over $4000 for high-end models. The average cost of a queen-size mattress is $2077.
Before committing to a mattress purchase, check the quality of the foam and coils. Most hybrids last between 7 to 9 years, but that time frame mostly depends on the materials’ quality. Low-quality materials leads to the mattress breaking down and sagging within 1 to 2 years of purchase.
Memory foam should have a firm support to rest on, reaffirming an even surface. Another way to check quality is through the warranty. Most mattresses come with a standard 10-year warranty, covering manufacturing defects and sagging greater than 1 inch (measurement depends on the brand). If the warranty is shorter than 10 years or if the mattress doesn’t come with a warranty don’t buy it— it could be a sign of a poorly-made bed.
Also, take a look at customer reviews older than 3 months— first-hand accounts from verified consumers can give you a better idea on what to expect from a potential mattress.
There are two ways to determine a coil’s quality— gauge and count. Coil gauge measures the thickness of a coil (millimeters). The higher the measurement, the thinner the coil.
- Thinnest: 18mm
- Thickest: 12mm
In the same sense, a thinner coil offers softer support, while thicker coils provide firmer support. Be wary of a base layer containing thin gauge coils— thinner coils have less support and are prone to sagging.
Coil count is another way to determine mattress quality. Coil count refers to the number of steel coils in a single mattress layer, ranging between 800 to 1200. High coil count doesn’t equal a high-quality mattress, particularly if the mattress contains a high number of high gauge coils as its main support system.
Other Mattress Types
If you’re not sure if a hybrid is the right mattress for you, other mattress types including memory foam, innerspring, and latex are available in different firmness options for the best fit.
Memory Foam Mattress
A memory foam mattress is one of the most popular mattress types available on the market. Memory foam conforms to the body’s natural curves through a combination of heat and pressure, relieving pressure points. Memory foam beds also have little to no motion isolation and sleep silently, so sleepers are less likely to wake from movement. Memory foam mattresses are some of the best mattresses for back pain because they have great pressure relief.
Because of their density, memory foam does run the risk of overheating, but choosing a memory foam mattress with cooling properties, like breathable plant-based memory foam, or heat-absorbing gel memory foam resolves this problem.
An innerspring mattress is traditionally known for its bouncy surface and edge support, making movement easier at night and preventing sleepers from rolling off the bed. Innerspring mattresses also regulate temperature through the open structure of its coils, enabling better air circulation.
Innerspring mattresses have less pressure relief from its thin comfort layer of foam or fiberfill (usually in pillow top form)— the thin layer isn’t able to adequately relieve pressure points. These types of mattresses also have more motion transfer and noise potential because of the steel coils.
A latex mattress has similar properties to memory foam— contouring, pressure relief and motion isolation with little to no noise. Latex has a sponge-like feel, and unlike memory foam, is more responsive and cooler.
A drawback to a latex mattress is its high price point— depending if the mattress contains natural latex. There are two forms of natural latex; Dunlop and Talalay. Dunlop is 100% natural latex, and a denser, more durable material. Talalay contains natural latex, but also polyurethane fillers to produce its signature soft feel.
Finding the Best Hybrid Mattress for Side Sleepers
Hybrid mattresses can be ideal options for side sleepers— the combination of pressure relief and responsiveness ensures pressure relief in the shoulder and hip areas while making it easier to switch from one side to the other. Hybrid beds sleep quieter and have better motion isolation than innerspring mattresses, and also offer a more responsive surface than memory foam or latex beds. Since you’re most likely a side sleeper, choose a hybrid mattress based on your body weight to improve your sleep quality.