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Innerspring Mattresses

INNERSPRING MATTRESSES

Nancy K.

Last updated: 26.10.2020 8.5 Min.

What is an innerspring mattress? And are there different types?

The innerspring mattress is a classic. But our experience with innerspring mattresses has been fairly mixed, and there are big differences in quality.

Lying down on an innerspring mattress generally feels firmer and more ‘springy’ in comparison to a foam mattress, which moulds to the shape of the body. Sleeping on an innerspring mattress is also cooler than sleeping on a foam mattress, making it ideal for those who sweat heavily at night.

Before we get to the advantages and disadvantages of innerspring mattresses, it is important to note that there are three types of innerspring mattresses: the barrel pocket spring mattress, pocket spring mattress, and the Bonnell spring mattress.

These all have different characteristics but not all are recommendable. Here’s why.

Innerspring Mattresses
  • Overview
  • Types
  • Pros & cons
  • Look out for
  • Slatted frame
  • Sizes
  • Alternatives

Advantages

  • Great for people who like firmer mattress
  • Good for heavier-weight people
  • Good for people who sleep on their stomach or back
  • Provide for a cooler sleeping climate
  • Suited to restless sleepers
  • Suited to people who sweat heavily at night
  • Often quite affordable

Disadvantages

  • Not suitable for those who feel cold easily
  • Not great for people who like a softer mattress
  • Not good for pure side sleepers (especially in the case of a Bonnell spring mattress)
  • Unsuitable for people who are disturbed by spring reverberation
  • Can't be used with adjustable slatted frames
  • Older and inferior models tend to form dents

Different types of innerspring mattresses

There are various types of innerspring (or simply, spring) mattresses available. Here are our top recommendations.

Barrel pocket spring mattress

The barrel pocket spring mattress is our favourite type of innerspring mattresses. Its construction is identical to that of the pocket spring mattress: hundreds of individual steel springs, also known as mattress coils, are sewn into fabric pockets. The name of this mattress comes from the shape of the springs, which look like barrels. This design makes the barrel pocket spring mattress point-elastic. It offers a slightly softer feeling when lying down than the pocket spring or the Bonnell spring mattress. Comfort zones are also possible, as with the 7-zone barrel pocket spring mattress. These can improve ergonomics and relieve the pressure of the musculature. This type of mattress is thus recommended to those who suffer from back pain.

Pocket spring mattress

The difference between the pocket spring and the barrel pocket spring mattress lies only in the shape of the springs. With both types, hundreds of springs are sewn individually into fabric pockets. But in contrast to the Bonnell spring mattress, the individual springs are not connected to each other. This makes both the barrel pocket and the pocket spring mattress point-elastic.

When you lie on a pocket spring mattress, only the springs that are under load give way. This means that the shoulders and pelvis can sink in deeper with a pocket spring mattress and that the spine is better supported. This is especially important for people who sleep on their side, as they need more depth to support heavier parts of the body. However, people who sleep on their back or stomach also benefit from stabilisation in the lighter parts of the body, such as the head, lumbar, and foot sections. Comfort zoning is also possible with a pocket spring mattress. We recommend this type of mattress too.

Bonnell spring mattress

The Bonnell spring mattress has a stable spring core made of hundreds of individual steel springs connected to each other. There is usually a layer of foam on top of the spring core so that you do not feel the springs directly. The Bonnell spring mattress is the cheapest option. Although you get the typical springiness, the Bonnell spring mattress has no point elasticity. If only offers surface elasticity and, as such, does not relieve musculature. The mattress is not particularly comfortable and we don’t recommend it.

Advantages and disadvantages

We have tested several innerspring mattresses with different body types and sleeping positions. It is important to distinguish between the different types of innerspring mattresses. Overall, in our experience, the barrel pocket spring mattress is one of the highest quality innerspring mattresses, followed by the pocket spring mattress.

Advantages

  • Very good sleeping climate: The innerspring mattress has excellent temperature regulation as air can circulate better between springs than it can in a foam mattress. You will sleep cooler on an innerspring mattress than on any other type of mattress.
  • Excellent moisture control: If you or your partner sweat heavily at night, the spring mattress is a good choice.
  • The barrel pocket spring mattress is point-elastic: This is due to the bulbous-shaped springs sewn into pockets. If you have back or neck problems and are looking for an innerspring mattress, then you should choose a barrel pocket spring mattress. A Bonnell spring mattress, on the other hand, only offers surface elasticity because the springs are connected to one another.
  • Sturdy base: The innerspring mattress is sturdy and, as such, particularly suitable for people who sleep on their back or stomach and need a little more support. Here, a barrel pocket spring mattress with 7 comfort zones is ideal.
  • Suitable for heavier-weight people who sleep on their back and stomach: If you weigh over 100 kg and like to lie on your back or stomach, an innerspring mattress is well-suited.
  • Safe for allergy sufferers: The good air circulation within the innerspring mattress prevents mould and mildew from forming. Even dust mites don’t feel happy in an innerspring mattress.

Disadvantages

  • Overall firmer feeling: Innerspring mattresses tend to be a little firmer. Many people like this, while others don’t. This is, of course, a matter of preference. If you are a little heavier, we would recommend a firmer mattress.
  • The tendency to form dents: Older and inferior innerspring mattresses in particular often form permanent dents. Not only is this uncomfortable but it’s also bad for the spine. We would recommend that you spend a little more and purchase a high-quality innerspring mattress.
  • You sleep a little cooler: For most people, this isn’t a problem, but those who feel cold easily may find this to be a disadvantage. The sleeping climate of an innerspring mattress is cooler than on a foam one. This is what makes it ideal for those who sweat heavily at night.
  • Not suitable for adjustable/electric slatted frames: Adjustable or electric slatted frames are not ideal for innerspring mattresses as they are simply not as flexible as a foam mattress. We would rather recommend a rigid slatted frame. Bear in mind that innerspring mattresses are relatively heavy and can only be moved with difficulty.

What to look out for when purchasing an innerspring mattress

There are various factors you should consider when purchasing an innerspring mattress.

1. The number of springs (at least 350)

For an innerspring mattress, the more steel springs, the higher the quality. We recommend looking for an innerspring mattress with at least 350 springs for the smallest mattress size. By having more springs, the mattress is not only more point-elastic, but it will also last longer as fewer dents will be able to form.

As the springs in pocket and barrel spring mattresses are sewn into individual fabric pockets, these mattresses are more point-elastic than Bonnell spring ones.

2. Choose a pocket spring or barrel pocket spring mattress

We are not big fans of Bonnell spring mattresses. Not only do we find them uncomfortable, but, as already mentioned, they also do not have good point elasticity and are not well-suited for people who like to sleep on their side. We highly recommend a pocket spring mattress or a barrel pocket spring mattress instead.

3. Innerspring mattress with comfort zones

If orthopaedic effects are important you, you should consider an innerspring mattress with 5 or 7 integrated comfort zones. This is especially important for people who sleep on their side as the spine should remain aligned at all times.

Which slatted frame is best?

Consider the following when purchasing a slatted frame for your spring mattress.

1. Think about zoning

To support the divisions of the comfort zones of an innerspring mattress, you should choose a slatted frame that has the same divisions. For a 7-zone innerspring mattress, for example, we recommend using a 7-zone slatted frame. A 7-zone slatted frame allows the pelvic and shoulder areas to sink in a little deeper and stabilises the rest of the body.

2. Rigid slatted frame

Innerspring mattresses are not suitable for adjustable or electric slatted frames. You should use your innerspring mattress on a good rigid slatted frame instead.

3. Small slat spacing

Stiftung Warentest recommends a maximum distance of 5 cm between slats. This allows the characteristics of a high-quality, zoned mattress to be better accentuated. Adjustable slatted frames are not recommended for innerspring mattresses.

Available sizes

The most common sizes for spring mattresses are single sizes. This is due to the motion transfer of this type of mattress - it "bounces", so to speak. If your partner is restless, you will notice this much more on a spring mattress than on a foam mattress.

Therefore, we would not recommend a spring mattress for couples. If you prefer the feel of a spring mattress, then perhaps consider two separate single spring mattresses and place these on a double bed.

WHICH MATTRESS SIZE IS THE RIGHT ONE?

Alternatives to the innerspring mattress

Different types of materials

A good alternative to an innerspring mattress is a foam mattress. Here is some more information.

If you are not sure which type of mattress is best for you, have a look at our detailed comparison of foam mattresses vs. innerspring mattresses.

Memory foam mattress (Visco mattress)

Visco mattresses have similar properties to cold foam mattresses. They are characterised by their memory imprint: When pressure is applied, the foam becomes softer and allows for the body to form an imprint on it. Due to its extremely high adaptability and pressure relief, Visco foam is used for orthopaedic purposes. The innerspring mattress, in comparison, has a completely different lying sensation; it is springy and not so adaptable. A very good Visco foam model is the Eve.

Another difference lies in the temperature regulation. Visco mattresses are temperature sensitive and you will sleep a little warmer. Innerspring mattresses, on the other hand, are completely temperature neutral and more breathable overall.

LEARN MORE ABOUT VISCO MATTRESSES

Cold foam mattress

A cold foam mattress is more adaptable than an innerspring mattress. Cold foam mattresses have good point elasticity - similar to good barrel spring mattresses - and high adaptability. They are therefore also recommended for orthopaedic problems.

The biggest difference here is temperature regulation. The innerspring mattress offers a cooler sleeping climate than the cold foam mattress. If you prefer to sleep a little warmer, a good quality cold foam mattress is a better choice. We would recommend the Emma mattress.

LEARN MORE ABOUT COLD FOAM MATTRESSES

Latex mattress

Latex mattresses also have a high point elasticity and offer high comfort. Latex mattresses made of high-quality natural latex have very good ventilation. The sleeping climate on a latex mattress is also cooler - similar to that of an innerspring mattress.

The feeling of lying on a latex mattress is slightly different. Latex mattresses tend to be slightly softer than innerspring mattresses.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LATEX MATTRESSES

Nancy K.

Yoga-loving nature fan (when the sun shines) with a knack for all things health & wellness. Strangely obsessed with tacos. 

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