What Makes an Innerspring Mattress?
Innerspring mattresses, also called coil mattresses, are traditionally made with a network of steel coils that provide support without rigidity. The bottom, or foundation, is typically made with wool, which supports the coils inside. Coil design and number can vary significantly from one product to another.
Originally, there was little besides a piece of thick fabric to separate the sleeper from the coils. However, nowadays, many mattresses contain a thicker barrier, or comfort layer, to provide more cushion and support.
Types of Innerspring Mattresses
Generally, the more coils a product contains, the more responsive it is, but there are many types of coil mattresses, including Bonnell, continuous, pocket, and micro coils.
- Bonnell coils: These hourglass-shaped coils are wider at the bottom and narrower at the top. They’re the original coil mattress type and tend to be some of the least expensive.
- Continuous coils: Also known as Mira coils, continuous coils consist of an unbroken S-shaped network of wire. These can be more durable and supportive compared to some other designs. They also don’t transfer as much motion, which may make them preferable for couples.
- Pocket coils: These are the most prevalent modern iteration, each coil is individually wrapped, allowing it to function separately from the others. This creates fewer pressure points for a more comfortable night’s rest for all sleeping positions.
- Micro coils: Although similar to pocket coils, these have smaller springs, making micro coils the most responsive.
New Coil Mattress Technology
Many contemporary innerspring mattress manufacturers offer consumers the best of both worlds with hybrid designs. Often, this entails combining a coiled network with memory foam, gel, or latex to provide better support and responsiveness than coils alone.
Pros and Cons of a Coil Mattress
Pros of a Coil Mattress
Consistent Level of Support
Innerspring mattresses are ideal for sleepers who prefer a medium-firm or firm bed, including people who sleep on their side or back. Unlike memory foam, gel, or latex, which can produce a “sinking” feeling, coil mattresses typically have a bit less give. This may also be preferable for people with back pain or other musculoskeletal issues that require a uniform level of support to relieve pressure points.
Better Airflow Helps You Sleep Cooler
The innerspring design is inherently conducive to airflow. That makes these mattresses an excellent choice for people who sleep hot. Often, memory foam and latex mattresses tend to retain heat, although some manufacturers offer built-in cooling technology to offset this problem.
Cons of a Coil Mattress
The biggest drawback of coil mattresses is that they can wear out over time and, eventually, may sink and fail to provide sufficient support. An unsupportive mattress of any kind can cause spinal misalignment, which can increase the risk of back and neck pain. Worn-out coils may also put pressure on existing pain points, exacerbating discomfort and stiffness. However, an old mattress of any kind can cause such issues.
No Motion Isolation
These do not contour to the body like memory foam and latex do. Likewise, they are not as responsive and do not isolate motion as well as some other materials. That means if you are sleeping with a partner and one or both of you tends to toss and turn, the motion transfer may keep you up at night.
What to Look for in an Innerspring Mattress
The first step to selecting a good mattress is to purchase from a reputable retailer. Check consumer reviews of the brand to see what others have had to say about the company’s products and customer service.
It’s always best to buy from a company that offers a sleep trial, or test period, in which you can try the mattress out risk-free. Most sleep trials are at least 90 days, at the end of which you may be able to return the mattress for a refund or exchange, depending on the company’s policy. Similarly, choose a product with a reasonable warranty.
When evaluating the mattress it’s best to check the “coil gauge.” Most innerspring mattresses have between 600 and 1,000 coils. More than that does not necessarily mean a better bed, as some manufacturers simply make each coil thinner. However, generally speaking, the more coils there are, the more responsive the mattress will be.
Next, you’ll want to evaluate the comfort layer. This is the portion of the mattress that sits between your body and the coil core, which means it can significantly affect your comfort. Manufacturers will often place hybrid materials like memory foam or latex in the comfort layer. This may be particularly helpful if you have chronic pain or prefer to sleep on your stomach.
Some products also contain cutouts, or indents, at the shoulders or hips for added comfort.
While materials can, of course, be important for temperature regulation and breathability, manufacturers are also beginning to offer more variety in the form of eco-friendly and sustainable materials or hypoallergenic mattresses.