Mattress Coil Counts: Pocket Sprung vs Open Coil - What's the better one?
When shopping for a new mattress, you may come across the terms 'pocket sprung' and 'open coil', but what do they actually mean, and do they make a difference? In this guide, we'll teach you all about pocket sprung and open coil mattresses, give you the pros and cons of the two main mattress coil types, and hopefully help you decide on the best mattress for your needs.
What is a pocket sprung mattress?
As the name suggests, pocket sprung mattresses contain lots of springs sewn into pockets of fabric. Each spring works completely independently of the others in the mattress, only reacting to pressure directly applied to it. Most high-quality pocket sprung mattresses will have at least 1000 springs, with firmer mattresses reaching up to 3000 springs. Of course, these mattresses also contain soft fillings, and sometimes even a memory foam layer along the top, making them quite soft and comfortable. Some people consider pocket sprung mattresses to be the 'updated' version of open coil mattresses, as they've taken the traditional use of springs and completely modernised them.
To find out more, read our guide about what is a pocket sprung mattress.
Pros and cons of pocket sprung mattresses
Now that you know what pocket sprung mattresses are, you're probably wondering if they're the right choice for you. Here are some pros and cons to help you decide:
- No movement transfer: Since all of the springs inside of a pocket sprung mattress work independently of each other, they don't transfer movement. This means that if you're sharing the bed with someone else, them moving around on the mattress should cause you little to no disturbance.
- Springy and bouncy: Pocket sprung mattresses are naturally quite springy and bouncy, meaning that you won't sink into your mattress when laying on it. This can be really good for individuals with back pain who require a more supportive mattress.
- Wide range of options: The number of individual spring pockets can vary quite drastically in these mattresses, giving you lots of options to choose from. As mentioned earlier, most good pocket sprung mattresses will range anywhere from 1000 to 3000 springs.
- Comfortable: The surface of a pocket sprung mattress is often very smooth and comfortable since all of the springs are surrounded by fabric. This reduces the chances of a stray spring digging into your back in the middle of the night.
- More breathable: Pocket sprung mattresses have a pretty good airflow, which creates a cooling effect. This makes these mattresses ideal for those sleeping in warm environments or suffering from night sweats. The good airflow also manages to keep nasty things like mould and dust at bay, making pocket sprung mattresses a very healthy option.
- Can get heavy: As we've already mentioned, pocket sprung mattresses contain thousands of springs, meaning that they can get pretty heavy. While at first, this may seem like a trivial thing to consider a con, having a heavy mattress can become quite problematic. For example, it's recommended to turn your mattress every few months and you may struggle to do so with a pocket sprung mattress, especially if you live alone.
- Not always hypoallergenic: Unfortunately, some pocket sprung mattresses use natural materials such as lambswool for their fillings, which can potentially aggravate allergies. While this usually isn't the case, do make sure to check the materials used in the mattress you're considering buying if you have any allergies.
- Expensive: While they're not the most expensive option on the market, pocket sprung mattresses can still get quite pricey. This is especially true if you're after a mattress with a higher spring count, or with hypoallergenic fillings. Pocket springs are more advanced technology than regular coils, so they take more time, money, and effort to manufacture, resulting in a higher price.
- Increased pressure: Pocket sprung mattresses are quite supportive, however certain individuals may find that this type of mattress actually increases the pressure on certain parts of their body. This is usually due to the unconnected springs causing certain body parts, such as the chest or hips, to 'lie heavier' on the mattress, causing discomfort. An easy solution to this would be purchasing a firmer mattress.
What is an open coil mattress?
Open coil mattresses contain springs that are all connected to each other by wire rods, running from side to side inside the mattress. The springs and wire rods are usually shaped from just one sheet of steel, which is why everything is interconnected. The springs all work together to evenly distribute your body weight as you lay on the mattress. They are usually either soft, medium, or firm, and the firmness level is actually determined by the thickness of the wire rods rather than the number of springs in the mattress. Open coil mattresses are also known as traditional sprung mattresses, coil spring mattresses, or standard coil mattresses.
Pros and cons of an open coil mattress
Open coil mattresses are one of the most popular on the market, but why is that the case? What are the disadvantages to owning this type of mattress? Take a look at the pros and cons below:
- Lightweight: Open coil mattresses usually only contain around 300 springs, so they're very lightweight. This makes them the perfect option for someone who lives alone or moves often, since lifting the mattress to turn it around or transport it elsewhere won't be an issue.
- Comfortable: Since the springs inside open coil mattresses work together to evenly distribute your body weight, they end up being quite comfortable for individuals who prefer to 'sink into' their mattress. This is ideal for solo sleepers and those who don't really toss and turn during the night.
- Wide range of options: As we already mentioned, open coil mattresses are usually available in three different firmness levels: soft, medium, and firm. They also come in practically any size you can think of, from small single mattresses to queen and king size.
- Cheaper than most options: Since open coil mattresses are fairly simple to produce on a mass scale, they usually retail for lower prices than other mattress options. Of course, the price will depend on the specifics of the mattress you choose, but you likely won't be breaking the bank to buy an open coil mattress!
- Lots of movement transfer: Since the springs inside open coil mattresses are all connected, you're unfortunately more likely to feel someone else's movements while in bed. This can be especially annoying for couples that don't necessarily wake up and go to bed at the same time, as they risk waking their partner simply by getting in or out of bed.
- Can develop a dip: Open coil mattresses are unfortunately prone to developing a dip in the area you usually sleep in. Repeated pressure (i.e. sleeping on the same side of the bed each night) will eventually lead the springs in that area to weaken and since everything is connected, the whole area will begin to sag. This, of course, takes years to occur but can still negatively affect your sleep if you're not able to replace the mattress quickly.
- Upholstery migration: The springs inside open coil mattresses usually have quite large gaps between them, which unfortunately allows for the mattress upholstery to migrate into them. This can eventually result in weird dips or uncomfortable lumps forming in the mattress, rendering it unusable. This does depend on how much use the mattress sees, but can still be a very annoying issue to deal with, especially if you purchased it with longevity in mind.
- Lack of deep support: While open coil mattresses usually provide enough support for the average sleeper, they lack the deep support needed to fully accommodate back pain and other orthopaedic issues. The springs' ability to evenly distribute body weight is simply not enough to relieve back pain - this type of issue requires a firm and springy mattress, rather than something you sink into as you sleep.
The difference between open coil and pocket sprung mattresses
The main difference between open coil and pocket sprung mattresses is how the springs inside are arranged. As described earlier, open coil springs are all connected to each other whilst pocket springs exist within their individual fabric pockets.
Open coils are very easy to manufacture and have been around for quite some time, while pocket springs are a more advanced, recent technology. Open coil mattresses are usually cheaper than pocket sprung mattresses, because of their ability to be mass-produced with ease. Some perceive this price difference as an indication of pocket sprung mattresses being of higher quality, which is usually true.
While both types of mattresses are relatively supportive, the pocket spring system provides much more sturdy support. Open coils are great for general support, but simply do not provide enough pressure relief to be helpful for back pain. Pocket sprung mattresses can sometimes irritate pressure points in certain sleeping positions, though the issue is usually easily resolved by purchasing a firmer, higher-quality mattress.
Which mattress is best for....
So, after all that, which type of mattress is best for you? Take a look below at some of the most important factors to consider when buying a mattress to find out whether pocket sprung or open coil is the better option.
Open coil mattresses are by far the better option if you're on a budget. They'll usually cost you between £200 and £400, while pocket sprung mattresses can cost upwards of £500.
Back pain and support?
Pocket sprung mattresses provide much better and deeper orthopaedic support than open coil mattresses do. However, if on a budget, a firm open coil mattress is better than nothing, and can still be capable of relieving some back pain.
Different styles of sleeping?
Pocket sprung mattresses are a good option for those who usually sleep on their back, or who don't put a lot of weight on their hips when sleeping in other positions. They're also pretty great if you change positions often, as the springs don't retain the shape of your body and simply spring back to their original shape when you remove pressure from them. Open coil mattresses are usually suitable for any sleeping position, but seem particularly helpful for side sleepers, especially if you buy a soft or medium firmness mattress.
Maintenance and durability?
Pocket sprung mattresses will be a bit more durable than open coil mattresses since their springs are independent of each other. This means that there's a small chance of any dips or lumps developing, since the springs don't all act as one. However, open coil mattresses can be easier to maintain as they are lighter, and therefore easier to turn around every few months. They are also cheaper to replace, which may cancel out their shorter life span for some customers.
Movement in bed?
It's no surprise that pocket sprung mattresses are the better option when it comes to movement in bed. They don't transfer movement, unlike open coil mattresses, and therefore cause very little disruption when someone gets in and out of bed, or changes sleeping position. If you're a light sleeper who shares your bed with someone else, avoid open coil mattresses like the plague!
Summary of open coil vs pocket sprung mattresses
Overall, both open coil and pocket sprung mattresses have their benefits and will be the perfect option for the right person. If you're someone on a budget, with little to no orthopaedic support needs, and with a preference for softer mattresses, open coils are your best bet! If you're willing to spend a bit more money, need good back support, or share the bed with a partner who can't keep still at night, pocket springs are the way to go!
Curious to know more about pocket sprung mattresses, and how they compare to other higher-end mattress types? We've got you sorted. Check out our guide about pocket sprung vs memory foam vs hybrid mattresses to figure out which type is the one for you.