There are things that are certain in life: death, taxes, and your right to a good night’s sleep. So if your back feels like a weathered piece of driftwood and you wake up to no less than 4 mysterious aches every day, it may be time to change your mattress.
Ahead, allow us to break down the 3 most popular types of mattresses, including their pros, cons, and recommendations. After all, a good mattress doesn’t come cheap, and we want you to make the best choice.
Spring mattresses: Pros and Cons
Spring mattresses use a concealed layer of metal springs to support the plush layers that the user lies on, hence their name. They come in a variety of types, ranging from the traditional innerspring to the more recently developed pocket spring mattress.
Spring mattresses are one of the oldest types of mattresses in the market, so if yours is more than a few decades old, it’s probably this type.
One thing about spring mattresses is that they’re cost-effective. A price tag in the low to mid hundreds for something that lasts between 7-10 years? Sign me up.
Our colleague Rae’s Seahorse spring mattress has even managed to last her 20 years, with “minimal changes to [her] quality of sleep”. This, however, is not recommended as according to experts from the Sleep Foundation, you should change your mattress every 10 years – 6-8 years if there’s significant wear and tear.
Of the 3 types of mattresses we’re comparing, the spring mattress loses to the other 2 in terms of the amount of support it provides to the user’s body. However, that’s not to say that the support isn’t good enough. Taking into account its affordability and materials used, spring mattresses are quite worth the money.
In addition, they are breathable, which is good news if you tend to feel hot while sleeping. The temperature regulation therefore ensures that you won’t wake up sweaty and uncomfortable in the middle of the night.
Image credit: Sealy
As mentioned, there are different kinds of spring mattresses, including the traditional innerspring, pocket springs, offset coils, and continuous coils. Each of these have different uses, which you can compare and contrast to find one best suited for your needs.
Perhaps the best thing about these mattresses, though, is that consumers are already familiar with the product. Most of us already know what to expect from these mattresses, especially compared to other newer variants in the market.
The inside of an innerspring mattress.
Image credit: McKenzie & Willis
As any responsible spring mattress owner would tell you, it’s not easy to keep them clean. From its structure, the hollow interior of a spring mattress creates a space where fungi or mould can grow. Furthermore, they also need to be regularly flipped and rotated to ensure that the springs don’t sag.
Spring mattresses in general are also very susceptible to dust mites and other allergens that not only significantly shorten the mattress’s lifespan, but may also give you a whole host of health issues.
Spring mattresses are therefore not recommended for busy folks, people with dust allergies, and those who prefer something more low-maintenance. In addition, they are not the best choice for light sleepers and those who share a bed with one.
Image credit: IKEA
Rae says that the springs are prone to wear and tear, which can result in annoying squeaky noises that could disturb your quality of sleep. Spring mattresses also have the most motion transfer out of the 3 mattress types we’re comparing today. While it isn’t inherently bad, it’s something to take into consideration if you share a bed with someone.
Memory foam mattresses
Memory foam mattresses are, as the name suggests, mattresses made out of memory foam. These mattresses are usually supported by springs or a thick layer of support foam. Memory foam differs from regular foam mattresses as they use your body heat to sort of “mould” to your body shape, making for a more comfortable sleep experience.
The cross-section diagram of a memory foam mattress.
Image credit: SleepKraft
Memory foam mattress users would tell you that sleeping on one feels like being in an 8-hour-long hug. Our colleague Rainier, in particular, loves his Woosa memory foam mattress because its firmness ensures that he “doesn’t sink [in] but still […] conforms to [his] body curves”.
Memory foam mattresses have great health benefits too. They’re able to relieve pressure on areas of the body that carry the most weight when you lie down, thus reducing chronic back and neck pains.
Image credit: Lazada
You will also be glad to know that memory foam mattresses are hypoallergenic and dust mite-resistant, meaning you don’t have to clean it as often as you would a spring mattress. They also generally last longer, with an average lifespan of about 8-10 years.
Also great news for those of you who can’t sleep alone, memory foam mattresses have better motion isolation than their spring counterparts. So, even if you toss and turn throughout the night, your partner is less likely to be woken up by you.
Overall, memory foam mattresses are low-maintenance – the direct result of having little to no moving parts – and are also at lower risk of sagging as compared to spring mattresses.
No mattress is perfect, and memory foam mattresses are no exception. For one, its dense foam layers retain a good amount of heat, and are therefore not recommended for hot sleepers. Another downside is that foam mattresses aren’t waterproof, which could be an issue especially for those with young kids who aren’t potty-trained yet.
Affordability is another huge factor to take into account. Compared to spring mattresses, memory foam mattresses definitely lose out on this part. However, many have also said that the cost of investing in a high-end foam mattress is worth it in the long run.
Latex mattresses: Pros and cons
Latex mattresses are made of natural latex, with springs or reflex foam making up the base support layer.
First developed by Dunopillo in the early 20th century, they were meant to offer a more environmentally friendly option compared to the other mattresses on the market, seeing as latex is a naturally occurring material. Latex mattresses are also known for their stellar support and comfort.
The cross-section diagram of a latex mattress.
Image credit: Dreamzee
Latex mattresses work similarly to memory foam mattresses in terms of support and pain relief. This makes it comfortable to sleep in almost any way, from back to side to stomach – it’s even good for spine alignment.
An average latex mattress can last up to 20 years – that’s twice the lifespan of its spring and memory foam counterparts. And on top of being resistant to dust mites and allergens, latex mattresses are easy to clean. All you need is mild soap, water, and several hours of air-drying.
Image credit: Heveya
Last but not definitely not least, the open-celled structure of the latex mattresses help with air circulation, which is great for a cool night’s sleep.
As with more technologically advanced mattresses, investing in one would leave you around a few thousand dollars poorer. Still, as our colleague Tom says, his Seahorse latex mattress was worth the splurge and recommends it to those with a bigger budget.
Another one of our colleagues, Xin Tian, reminds would-be shoppers to do their due diligence and research the brands on the market beforehand as mattress quality isn’t consistent across the board. Her mattress – a no-brand one from a HDB void deck shop – is “uncomfortably hard”. For a side sleeper like herself, it gives her shoulders a lot of grief.
In addition, latex mattresses tend to be heavier than a regular spring or foam one, so it’s not advisable to get one if you move a lot and have to lug your mattress along. Some respondents have also said that new latex mattresses tend to have a rubbery odour that only goes away after a few days in the sun.
Spring vs Memory Foam vs Latex Foam Mattresses
As with most comparisons, there isn’t an option that’s inherently wrong or right – you’ll have to decide based on your needs, likes, and dislikes.
For example, those who prioritise comfort will do well with memory foam or latex mattresses. On the other hand, those who find joy in familiarity and affordability will be more inclined to get a traditional spring mattress.
Here’s an at-a-glance comparison of spring, memory foam and latex mattresses.
For more comparisons: