foam mattress vs spring motion transfer

Foam Mattress vs Spring: Which One Is Better for Couples Who Toss and Turn?

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After snoring, constantly tossing and turning at night is perhaps the next most irritating sleeping habit your partner can have. Every time you drift off into dreamland, you are awoken by what feels like small earthquakes in the mattress.

One way to reduce the disturbance is to get a mattress with less motion transfer. In today’s blog post, we are going to compare foam mattress vs spring to find out which one will help you sleep better.

Side note: Before you get a new mattress, try to find out why the tossing and turning is happening. It could be related to a sleeping disorder that needs to be addressed or the bed is uncomfortable and you need a new pillow or mattress (or both).

What is Motion Isolation?

Before we compare foam vs spring mattresses, it’s important to understand exactly what motion isolation is.

When you turn or get out of bed, you create motion on your side of the bed. That motion is transferred by the materials in the mattress to the other side of the bed where your partner is sleeping. If the disturbance is great enough, it might wake them up.

Different materials transfer less motion than others. In other words they isolate motion, or most of it, within the point of origin which in this case is your side of the bed. Very little or no disturbance reaches your sleeping partner.

Spring Mattresses and Motion Transfer

Traditional innerspring mattress
Traditional innerspring mattress with connected coils

Traditional innerspring mattresses are some of the worst when it comes to motion transfer. The same springs that make the mattress pleasantly bouncy also transfer a lot of motion within the mattress.

Bonnell and continuous coil mattresses are especially the worst. Motion moves rapidly from spring to spring, creating a disturbance with every turn or shift.

Modern pocketed coil (also known as Marshall coils) mattresses are much better at motion isolation. Because each coil is isolated within a casing, very little motion is transferred.

pocketed coil mattress
pocketed coil mattress

So if you decide to buy an innerspring mattress, make sure it uses pocketed coils. It will be more expensive than other types of coils but it will help you enjoy a more restful night.

Foam Mattresses and Motion Transfer

Foam mattresses are the best in motion isolation.

Unlike springs, foam is not very good at conducting motion. Most of it dies down before it reaches the other side of the mattress.

If you want a mattress with almost zero motion transfer, a foam mattress is your best bet.

Both memory foam and latex foam have excellent motion isolation though memory foam has a slight edge.

Hybrid Mattresses and Motion Transfer

A hybrid mattress is a good compromise if you don’t want an all-foam mattress but want to avoid the motion transfer of innerspring mattresses.

Most innerspring mattresses today are actually hybrid mattresses. They have a layer or two of foam at the top and then a support/contouring layer of pocketed coils in the middle or at the bottom.

Best Hybrid Mattress
A hybrid mattress with foam and pocketed coils

These mattresses are almost as good as all-foam ones at limiting motion transfer. The foam layers at the top are enough to isolate disturbance within the point of origin.

The thicker the top foam section the better the mattress will be at motion isolation.


For couples shopping for a new mattress, motion transfer is an often ignored but important factor. If your partner gets fidgety during sleep or keeps waking up in the middle of the night, too much motion transfer will ruin your sleep.

Every time they move you wake up. It’ll then be several minutes before you go back to sleep. In the morning you’ll feel less rested and it will affect your productivity during the day.

You can’t go wrong with a good quality all-foam mattress like Casper, Nectar or Ghostbed. If you want the support and longevity of innersprings, I recommend a good quality hybrid mattress. Some good options include Next Alexander Hybrid, Avocado Green and Helix.

And as I mentioned, also try to find out why you or your partner is tossing a lot during sleep. Is it the mattress, the pillow, the temperature in the room or a sleeping disorder?

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