Few mattresses are as enduringly popular as the coil mattress. Made with a network of spring coils ideal for side and back sleepers, this mattress has dominated the market for decades since emerging in the late 1800s.

Thanks to consistently high demand and increasingly efficient production processes, consumers can typically find high-quality products at affordable prices from manufacturers including Saatva, DreamCloud, WinkBed, Sealy, EcoCloud, Brooklyn Bedding, and Amerisleep.

With that said, it can be difficult to choose the best coil mattress (or even decide whether this design really is right for you). For more information about innerspring mattresses, what they offer, and what to look for in your search for a good night’s sleep, read on.

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

Longevity

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. 

Sleep Trial

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.

Coil Count

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. 

Comfort Layer

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.

Materials

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.

Sleep Trial

Coil Count

Comfort Layer

Materials

Choosing the Best Innerspring Mattress for You: The Bottom Line 

Mattress shopping can feel overwhelming with so many brands, designs, and features to choose from. And ultimately, picking the right mattress is a highly personal choice, dependent upon your distinct needs and preferences. The best innerspring mattress for you is really the one you feel most comfortable in.

Mattress shopping is an important decision, so as a rule of thumb, buying from a retailer that offers a decent trial period and warranty will help you sleep easier.