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Anything hybrid is a combination product. It is made from two or more elements. It serves plural purposes or even cross-purposes. The Oxford dictionary defines the adjective hybrid as, “Of mixed character, composed of different elements.” A hybrid mattress fits the bill perfectly. It combines the two most prevalent mattress types – the innerspring and memory foam or latex mattresses.
How Did the Hybrid Mattress Evolve?
It is said that necessity is the mother of all inventions. In the case of hybrid mattresses, I will say, innovation is the answer to all discerning needs. As we entered the 21st century, our lives and lifestyles experienced a total transformation. From sufficiency, we graduated to efficiency. Technology, in particular, information technology took the center-stage. The invention of the internet and its commercial application changed our working patterns forever. Incidentally, globalization also took off as a parallel movement.
The result was an extraordinary change in our everyday lives. They became fast-paced. Also, intellectual activities prevailed over physical and vocational activities. The working hours also stretched, as expectations from individual workers grew. Continuous peak performance became the new normal.
As a result of these changes in our lives, physical and mental fatigue increased significantly. Sleep and rest, the only antidotes to fatigue, became precious. Man’s search for quality sleep became earnest. That search led to innovations in the way we sleep. It was a classic example of quality trying to make up for quantity. Since we slept less, we tried to sleep better. Newer materials and technologies were introduced in the sleep sector. That is how and when a tangible revolution took off in the mattresses market.
The hybrid mattress is one such revolutionary new-age innovations. It strives to offer better sleep through the combination formula.
What Is the Concept of the Hybrid Mattress?
This mattress is created to address two different sleeping styles. One needs the bounciness of coiled support but in a controlled manner. The other demands the wrap-around feel of soft, cushiony memory foam. As they move in bed, the mattress keeps embracing their body contours. The hybrid mattress meets these varying needs by combining the innerspring and memory foam technologies in one mattress.
This, in short, is the concept of hybrid mattresses. It is an innovation that combines the counter-needs of firmness and softness, bounciness and clingy embrace.
I have observed that of late, hybrid mattresses are gaining in popularity across various age-groups. These include the Gen-X as well as the discerning millennials. It means that preferences in the sleep sector are shifting from single-feature beds to combination beds. The reasons, according to my market study, are:
- Suitable for singles and couples. The bounce of hybrid mattresses is not excessive. If sleeping alone, it provides manageable bounce while turning sides or altering positions. For couples, the controlled bounce is a real blessing. When a partner moves, the bounce does not disturb the other partner’s sleep.
- Optimized comfort and luxury. The mix of functionality and affluent feeling does the trick.
- Tapered edges. Contemporary buyers pay attention to ergonomics and aesthetics. Due to the innerspring constitution, hybrid mattresses are stylishly tapered at the edges. This gives a classier and refined look than the angled memory foam beds.
- Some of us simply love innovative products. They hold a special appeal for us. The hybrid bed is bought because of its perception as an imaginative concept.
The concept of the hybrid mattress is a successful commercial experiment. It offers multiple winning propositions to the consumer.
What Is the Structure of the Hybrid Mattress?
I will divide this into two parts – the structure and the constitution of the mattress.
Hybrid mattresses are made of several layers of materials. Beginning from the bottom, these are:
Foam Layer Base
This layer is positioned beneath the support core. Its aim is to provide a cushiony base and stability. In quality hybrid mattresses, it is usually made of polyurethane or PU foam.
Why PU? Because it provides the following unique characteristics:
- Sturdy and strong yet cushiony. PU has an unmatched strength-to-flexibility ratio.
- High load bearing capacity in both tension and compression contexts. PU is a unique material. It deforms when under pressure but regains its original shape once the pressure is released.
- PU adjusts to the load or pressure put on it.
- Abrasion resistance. PU does not scratch or wear off easily.
- Impact resistance. The material absorbs the impact of weight very well.
- Tear-proof. It does not tear or disintegrate.
- Water-resistant. A PU layer at the base of hybrid mattresses is a very thoughtful measure. The mattress does not get affected in case the floor gets wet or flooded.
- Resistance to greasy and oily materials. It protects the mattress from spillages on the floor.
- Resistance to mold, mildew, and Floors are made of, or covered with different materials. Wood, woolen or synthetic carpets, they are home to several bacterial colonies. PU safeguards the hybrid mattress from such ‘infections’ at the base.
- Insulation from electrical currents. An excellent feature to make the mattress shock-proof!
- Excellent bonding capacity. PU bonds well with a wide range of materials. These include plastics, metals, and natural materials such as wood. This property gives room for future innovations to improve the mattress’ performance.
- Adapts to different climatic conditions. This gives high stability to the mattress in diverse climates.
Innerspring Coil Support Core
This is the ‘spine’ of a hybrid mattress. It is usually six to 7 inches in height and forms the bounce zone due to the springy coils. But that’s not all The innerspring area is vital for providing spinal support and relaxing various pressure points. This amounts to a vastly improved sleep quality. The neck, shoulders, hips, and other points that withstand the rigors of an active day get the much needed relaxation.
Let me take you through the structure of the coil core area to fully understand its functioning.
This zone lies directly above the PU base of the mattress. Its constitution is made of several horizontal and vertical rows of tubular vessels. The coils are placed inside these vessels to make coil compartments. When put in place, the entire structure looks like a symmetrical grid of coils. This grid offers a hybrid mattress its unique distinction. It produces:
- Robust tensile strength
- Recoiled energy within the springs that produce bounciness
- Equal and uniform distribution of the bounce factor
- Shock and impact bearing capacity
The Comfort Layer
This layer is placed above the coil grid. It is made from cushiony materials such as memory foam or latex. This layer is of three to 4 inches’ height. As we saw earlier, this layer is meant to give soft comfort, cushiony feel, body-hugging surface, and the resultant feeling of luxury and coziness.
This cushiony layer is responsible for a few important features that make hybrid mattresses so popular:
- Controlled bounce. The pores of the cushion material and its cellular structure absorb the hard bounce of naked coils. Foam or latex act as a shock absorber. It ‘filters’ the excessive bounce and produces a gentle, enjoyable springy effect that is so welcoming. This feature is especially appealing to couples who share a bed. The bounce caused by one partner’s movement is not excessive to disturb the other partner’s sleep.
- Well distributed bounce. The cushion spreads the bounce equally on the mattress’ surface. This avoids hard spots.
- Cooling effect. Memory foam or latex possesses a temperature moderating property. As a result, the bed surface remains cool. This improves the quality of sleep. Additionally, it also controls the temperature of people whose bodies get overheated during sleep.
Pillow Top Layer
This is the top-most layer. I must caution, though, that it is not a standard feature of hybrid mattresses. Some discerning manufacturers include this layer in their products.
This layer substitutes a pillow. Its height is around one inch. It is either sewn with a gap between it and the mattress, r without this gap. The latter is also known as Euro top layer.
The material for this layer varies. Some alternatives are latex foam, memory foam, polyfoam, or even fiber-fill, cotton or wool.
Quality Parameters of Different Materials
A hybrid mattress is a multi-material product. There are several quality parameters of these materials. Discerning consumers can check for the below when buying a mattress.
This is about the material’s capacity to manage compression while maintaining its supportive strength. When a body rests on the mattress, its weigh puts pressure on the mattress’ surface. Now, the denser the comfort foam, the more efficiently it will handle the compression. Good density foam also retains its dimensions over time. It does not deform.
Foam density is measured in pounds per cubic foot. Good memory foam will have a density of 5.5 or above.
It is important to understand what a compromise with foam density will result in. High-density foam will produce the best motion isolation. It means that the bounce is more controlled due to the dense structure of the foam. On the other hand, low density will increase motion spread. This will cause discomfort to the sleeping partner and disrupt their sleep.
This factor is measured in a term called indentation load deflection, or ILD. Foam with high ILD will give better firmness, but it will be less body-hugging. Conversely, low ILD material will have lesser firmness but will be more cushioned.
ILD range for memory foam is eight to 20, and fifteen to 40 for latex foam.
Healthy and overweight persons should opt for high ILD foam. This is also true for those who sleep on their stomachs.
This is related to the thickness of the wires that make the coils. Good gauge coils ensure uniform, sustained bounce over a longer period. They will also retain the coil strength and shape for years.
Quality coils are made from steel or other alloys with high tensile strength. These materials do not rust. They also don’t corrode easily.
Coil gauge is key to the longevity of hybrid mattresses. Interestingly, the thicker the coil, the lesser its gauge is. For example, 10-gauge coil is thicker than the 15-gauge coil. Ideally, quality hybrid mattresses provide coil gauge between twelve and 18.
This is another vital factor that affects the mattress’ performance and life. Higher coil count across the vertical and horizontal rows will produce a denser coil grid. However, for best results, coil count should be optimized, not maximized. The ideal count is up to 1,000. Denser coil count beyond 1,000 will be counter-productive.
The veracity of the above parameters depends on actual experience.
I appreciate that buying a hybrid mattress is a strategic decision. In many cases, the consumer would be shifting from standalone memory foam or innerspring beds to this mattress. The decision also involves a significant expense.
I strongly recommend that the purchase of hybrid beds should be made after experiencing its features at a physical store. Consumers should also discuss the above parameters in detail with the brand staff. Most of them offer various combinations and permutations. Do check them out. Opt for the best solution that meets your individual requirements.
Pros and Cons of Hybrid Mattresses?
In my studied opinion, the positives outweigh the negatives of hybrid beds.
However, I concede that hybrid beds are relatively new in the market. To help consumers decide what is in their best interest, I list the pros and cons of hybrid mattresses as below.
Pros of Hybrid Mattresses
The Bounce Factor
Who does not love a little bit of bounce in life?
The hybrid beds manifest our inborn desire for a springy life.
I dare say, we go to bed for two purposes. For sleep and for physical intimacy. The bounce factor offers better quality for both the purposes. We have already checked the reasons for this earlier, so I will not repeat them.
In addition, the controlled nature of bounce does not disturb the partner’s sleep. This is true for even pets!
We all twist, turn and move in our sleep. The foam layer embraces our bodies throughout those motions. Many of us also sleep in multiple positions. When we are ‘tired’ of sleeping on sides, we lie on our backs. The soft hug of the upper layer never leaves us, regardless of our sleeping position.
The foam layer helps in keeping the surface cool. It increases comfort. It also reduces the discomfort of those who over-heat during sleep.
Advantage of Inbuilt Pillow
The pillow top layer is a valuable addition. It does away with the need of having pillows separately on the bed.
Multiple Options and Choices
The market is flush with innovation. Different brands offer various options. These are centered around varying firmness, softness, types of top layers, innerspring gauges, and more. Consumers can make an informed decision after checking out various brands and their range of options.
Cons of Hybrid Mattresses
While the advantages are appealing, there are some negative factors. Here is a reality check:
Hybrid beds are priced higher than standalone innerspring or memory foam beds. This is understandable since they combine the features of both. That said, good quality hybrids top the price of memory foam by around 10%. When compared with innerspring beds, they can be costlier by up to 40%.
The Sleep Help Institute provides good price guidance. It says that a quality queen size hybrid bed costs around $1000. This is $400 costlier than a good quality innerspring mattress. It is costlier by $100 when compared to memory foam beds. The website further says that high-end hybrids may cost up to $4,000.
Due to the multi-tier structure and multi-material constitution, hybrid beds have a shorter life than all-foam or innerspring variants. Do discuss this point with the brand sales staff before making a final decision.
Bulky and Heavy
The weight of hybrid beds is more than the other mattress types. Again, this is due to the multiple layers and different materials used in the mattress.
In a conventional sense, heavier is stronger. However, it is entirely up to the consumer. My duty is to make the point!
Potential for Off Gassing
Hybrid beds have the potential to emit an unpleasant odor when unpacked and unwrapped. This can be the case if the mattress is made with a foam upper layer and absence of a bed covering. However, this odor is passing. It will go away within a short time after unwrapping the bed. It is not as intense as all-foam beds. And it is completely harmless.
Which are the Top Hybrid Mattress Brands?
The mattress market is excited about the hybrid innovation. Almost all players are jumping in the fray. They obviously want to have their cut of the cake.
The abundance of choice could be confusing for shoppers. The similarity of claims being made may compound the confusion. When two leading brands proclaim that their hybrid beds the best, one does not know who to believe. Below, I provide snippet reviews of some leading hybrid brands. They are arranged in ascending order, price-wise.
Helix – It uses dynamic foam as the top layer, and offers customizable firmness. At $995 for a hybrid Queen, its price aligns with the market leaders’ average.
Tomorrow – It has a sub-brand for hybrid named “Sleep Hybrid”. It uses memory foam and comes with two firmness options – medium soft and medium firm. Price for Queen bed is $990.
Nest Bedding – offers the royal-sounding Alexander Signature Hybrid model. Its top layer is quilted memory foam. The brand is among the few who offers pillow top. Two firmness options – medium and luxury. Price for Queen size is $1199.
Purple – It markets its hybrid model as New Purple Mattress. The top layer is a hyper-elastic polymer. It has three firmness variants – medium soft, medium, and medium firm. Its Queen bed is sold at a retail price between $1599 and $2799.
Sapira – markets hybrids with the same name. The top layer is made of polyfoam + memory foam. Firmness on offer is medium firm. Price for Queen bed is $1475.
Apart from these brands, Saatva, My Green, and Wink Beds also enjoy leadership status in the hybrid mattresses’ market.
Important points to note are:
- Free trial nights. Almost all leading brands offer a trial period of up to a hundred nights. Make sure to get the most of this offer.
- Brands also offer a product warranty of between 10 and 15 years.
- Lastly, the no-questions-asked return policy is part of all brands’ selling propositions.
Hybrid mattresses are a sustainable market innovation. My sense is that they are here to stay. Over the years, its market will grow in size and stature. In all probability, they will occupy the market mainstay within the next two or 3 years. They will become as common as smart televisions.
The reasons for hybrid beds’ growing popularity are understandable. Today, sleep is becoming scares. It is a luxury for certain people who lead hyperactive lives. Such people will not mind spending more to get a better quality of sleep. As I said in the introduction, since they sleep less, they want to sleep better. It is proven that quality sleep of lesser time refreshes the body and mind better than more sleep of lesser quality.
The hybrid breed f mattresses fulfill this unmet or under-met need of contemporary working class. They are a smart option for smart people.
Interestingly, hybrid beds are being perceived as the choice of thoughtful and mindful people. They are also increasingly aligned with sophistication and refined taste.
Gazing into my crystal ball, I dare to predict that hybrid beds will even embrace AI in a big way. This will not take much time. It is my educated guess that within three years, the sleep sector will have the choice of smart hybrids. This will take the sleep experience to the next level of sophistication and automation. One will just need to speak to the bed, “adjust my firmness level to level 6.” The hybrid will obey and switch to medium firmness. Or, there will be on-demand, adjustable bed height. One will have to instruct the bed to adjust the coil compartment’s height, and it will be done.
Ahoy! The future of smart hybrid mattresses is here!