Pros And Cons Of A Memory Foam Mattress
written by sleep expert Lauren Hall
Pros And Cons Of A Memory Foam Mattress
A good day starts with a good night’s rest; there’s nothing better than waking up feeling refreshed and ready for the day rather than slumped and walking over to the coffee machine for a coffee like a zombie. Our sleep is so so important for our health after all.
The best way to improve your quality of sleep starts with a comfy mattress.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a morning person, anyone who says they’re a “morning person” is lying, but you don’t need to wake up feeling crappier the night before; waking up feeling rested starts with the right mattress for you.
If you find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open during the day like millions of us Americans, it may be a sign that you’re sleeping on an outdated mattress that is well overdue for renewal. Tossing and turning in an uncomfortable mattress can greatly affect how much sleep you’re getting.
Am I on the right lines?
Well, let me introduce you to the wonders of memory foam. You will wake up feeling as fresh as a daisy in a memory foam bed, plus you and your body will feel refreshed and revived thanks to the pressure-relieving and body contouring capabilities.
Today I’m going to run through all the pros and cons of memory foam mattresses so you can see if it is a right fit for you, but before we get started if you’re a hot sleeper, I would recommend buying a hybrid mattress instead it has the same benefits of memory foam but sleeps much cooler.
So stay tuned. You won’t want to miss this.
What Is A Memory Foam Mattress?
Before we delve into the pros and cons of memory foam, let’s strip it back to the basics. What is memory foam? And what is a memory foam mattress?
Memory foam was first created by NASA and called it viscoelastic foam in the 1960s to counteract the extreme pressure which astronauts faced when exiting and entering the earth’s atmosphere. It was then used in hospital beds to offer lumbar support and help with bedsores.
It is made up of a polymer called polyurethane which is an extremely versatile plastic polymer used to create a wide range of products, including sofas and mattresses. Memory foam is known as a viscoelastic polyurethane foam created with various compounds and additives.
These added chemicals give memory foam the slow response qualities that it is well known for. This allows the memory foam to mold to your body shape and curves when activated by heat and pressure; then once pressure is removed, it bounces back to its original shape.
The chemicals used to create this foam can affect the viscosity and elasticity of the foam.
The viscosity is how long it takes to change shape under pressure or to transfer energy from one place to another, while the elasticity is the stretch, contouring and whether it will return to its original shape after the pressure is taken away.
Memory Foam Mattress Construction:
There are typically three foam layers to create the all-foam mattress, a comfort layer, a responsive layer, and a support layer or support core at the bottom.
- A top comfort layer: this often offers plush protection and comfort on delicate pressure points around the shoulders and hips. It provides plush comfort that we love from a memory foam mattress.
- A transition layer: this is then followed by a transition layer that is a little firmer than the comfort layer and supports and contours and conforms your body shape to relieve pressure points and provide support.
- Support layer: the final layer tends to be a support layer or base layer often found at the bottom of memory foam mattresses. It is a high-density foam that helps enhance the durability of the mattress and protects it from sagging over the years.
Memory foam mattresses are brilliant for all kinds of sleepers and sleeping positions because memory foam mattresses contour to your body weight and shape to relieve pressure points no matter what position you’re sleeping in.
The best memory foam mattress for side sleepers will be one that is medium to soft in firmness; this allows the mattress to cradle your hips, shoulders, and neck to help relieve pain throughout your body.
The best memory foam mattress for back sleepers would be a medium-firm to firm feel; this will prevent your hips from sinking down too far, which also improves lumbar support and helps to alleviate pressure points around your shoulder, neck, hips, and back.
The best memory foam mattress for stomach sleepers would be firm mattresses, as this will improve spinal alignment, stopping the hips from sinking into the mattress. Stomach sleepers put their spine in compromised positions, so it might be best to try to train to sleep on your back or side to prevent aches and pains.
Stomach sleeping causes undue stress to the sleeper’s back, which straightens the spine’s natural curvature and inflicts chronic pain. Stomach sleepers need a very firm mattress to improve spinal alignment and ensure the hips don’t sink into the mattress.
If you suffer from back and joint pain, a memory foam mattress will be best for you as it contours your natural shape to help combat back, neck and shoulder to help your body achieve a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day.
Types Of Memory Foam Mattress:
There are three different types of memory foam mattresses on the market that you’ll find on the market; some memory foam mattresses will use a combination of the three different types in order to create the most cooling mattress and comfiest memory foam.
So here are the top three.
Traditional Memory Foam Mattress:
This is also known as the regular, original, or “classic” memory foam; it was the first memory foam mattress to hit the market using the same materials from the original design by NASA. Traditional memory foam contours your body’s shape and curves to relieve pressure points to help with aches and pains.
Since traditional memory foam is known to retain body heat, other types of memory foam were created with cooling technology to help keep the sleeper cooler during the night and help regulate air flow throughout the foam. This can also help with sleep disorders.
Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress:
The most common type of memory foam is gel-infused memory foam which is used in many memory foam mattresses. Gels are often infused into the internal structure by pumping gel-based microbeads into the foam. These microbeads work to create pockets within the foam.
Gels are often “phase-changing” materials that actively absorb and release heat from your body. Some gels will cool you down until you reach a certain temperature and then help maintain that temperature.
Many modern memory foam manufacturers use gel-infused memory foam or other natural materials which are infused within the foam to help with cooling. Copper is another common infusion; it is highly conductive and helps disperse air and wick away moisture.
Some modern mattress companies incorporate gel and copper infusion within their memory foam design along with using an open cell foam to help dissipate heat, regulate temperature and airflow within the mattress.
Open-Cell Memory Foam Mattress:
Open-cell memory foam tends to use the same ingredients as traditional memory foam but uses an open cell structure which helps give these memory foam beds more of a breathable feel. The open-cell foam tends to have internal pockets to allow ventilation within the mattress.
This airflow is really effective paired with a gel as the gel can help disperse body heat and draw heat away from the body, while the open-cell design can help ventilate airflow to help keep the body cool.
Older open-cell designs had a very dense foam and were a lot less supportive than any other memory foam mattress type, but as technologies have improved, open-cell constructions made the sleeping surface much softer and more supportive, offering efficient spinal alignment.
Benefits Of Memory Foam Mattress:
Memory foam is best known for its pressure-relieving, body contouring, and conforming capabilities, but there are a few hidden benefits such as reducing motion transfer, being hypoallergenic, and many more, so let’s talk about them in more detail.
Body Contouring and Pressure Relieving:
Memory foam is best known for its body contouring and pressure-relieving capabilities; it’s what many people love about the mattress. Memory foam works wonders for relieving pressure around your back, hips, neck, and shoulders.
This conforming quality is activated through body heat and pressure to mold around your body, and then once it has cooled, it returns back to its normal shape. This conforming of the foam layers helps promote neutral spinal alignment as it cradles your body to relieve pressure points.
By evenly distributing body weight, it lifts pressure points in sensitive areas like your hips, lowers your back, neck, and shoulders while providing firmness where needed.
Memory foam beds are best for those with back pain or chronic pain as they can help to relieve built-up pressure around your pressure points. This is the reason memory foam was created by Nasa to relieve pressure when exiting and entering the earth’s atmosphere.
This body contouring really helps you get the best rest possible as it prevents you from tossing and turning, and it even gets more comfortable during the night because it molds with heat. If memory foam didn’t get so hot, it would be the best mattress on the market.
Unlike most mattresses made with springs, memory foam offers superb motion isolation and absorbs all shocks and movements from your partner tossing and turning throughout the night. Movement is absorbed within the memory foam layers to ensure minimal disruptions.
There’s nothing worse than your restless partner keeping you up in the night, especially if you’re a light sleeper. Now while memory foam cannot absorb the sound of sleep breathing disorders like snoring, it stops you from waking up from your partner tossing and turning.
So your partner or pet can move around and get comfortable throughout the night without the worry of waking you, so you both wake up feeling well-rested and ready for the day.
Memory foam is a great option for those with allergies, as long as you regularly clean the mattress and protect it with a mattress protector. The material used to make memory foam is brilliant for those with allergies as it is hypoallergenic.
Memory foam mattresses resist common allergens and are generally considered hypoallergenic as it is not a conducive environment for dust mites. For those suffering from allergies, it is recommended that you vacuum your mattress multiple times a week to keep up with the cleaning and prevent the buildup of dust mites.
Plus, a mattress protector will protect your mattress from dust mites by 80%! So get yourself a mattress cover protector!
Disadvantages Of Memory Foam Mattress:
The only issue with memory foam is that there are quite a few drawbacks to the mattress, including sleeping hot, poor responsiveness, sagging, and the off-gassing smell. Let’s talk about these in more detail.
Memory foam is known to sleep hot because of its porous structure, which is responsible for pressure relieving. Memory foam is known for retaining heat; when body weight is placed on the mattress surface, air bubbles are displaced, and air circulation is restricted, which causes heat retention.
Even with an open-cell structure and gel foam, because of how dense the foam is, it is known to trap heat.
But nowadays, there are many technologies in place to help combat this, such as using a plant-based foam, open-cell design with cooling gel, or natural infusion to help dissipate heat and regulate airflow. But even for these mattresses, heat can still get trapped in the memory foam layer.
This also means that memory foam mattresses are not ideal for hot sleepers.
If you want a memory foam feel but without heat, I would recommend going for a latex foam mattress. Latex has very similar qualities to memory foam when it comes to body contouring, but it has a neutral temperature and has a little more bounce to it.
Hybrid mattresses are another alternative if you want memory foam, it has an innerspring base with memory foam layers on top, and this helps improve ventilation. This, paired with cooling memory foam technology, can really help keep heat out and keep you cool throughout the night.
Not Very Responsive:
Memory foam is known for its slow response to pressure; it takes a minute for the material to conform to your body and takes a while to bounce back to its original shape once pressure is removed. This slow response offers deep body contouring for pressure and pain relief, but it can make it difficult to move in and out of the mattress.
But modern memory foam is much better and much more responsive, so it only takes seconds to conform to your body and seconds to regain its shape, making it much easier to get out of the mattress.
However, over time, this responsiveness weakens, and the mattress begins to sag, starting with the edges. While the middle is supportive and conforming, the outer edges tend to sink too much, and the edge support is not as good as an innerspring mattress or hybrid mattress.
Many manufacturers are beginning to reinforce the edges by using a durable, high-density polyfoam to help provide more efficient edge support.
Since memory foam is made with chemicals, there is an off-gassing smell that lasts for anything from a few days to a few weeks! Luckily most modern foam mattresses will air out after a few days, but cheaper foams will keep the smell for longer.
This smell is inevitable, but try to choose a memory foam that is plant-based or uses CertiPUR-US Certified foams; the initial odor will last for a shorter time.
Since memory foam is like a sponge, it means it can be easily damaged by water; water can sink through the layers, which will not only degrade the foam but also make it the perfect breeding ground for mold and infestations within the mattress.
Liquids, in general, can reduce the lifespan of a memory foam mattress; they’re not ideal if you live in a high-humidity area or have a young child or pet that is prone to accidents or spillages– especially not recommended if you have a toddler going through potty training.
A memory foam mattress is a much heavier mattress than any other type, many companies that sell their mattress online vacuum pack the mattress in a box to give the illusion that they’re lightweight, but in most cases, this isn’t true.
Plus, once it has been inflated, it tends to be even heavier, so it’s best to roll onto the bed and leave it to inflate, so you don’t need to do any more heavy lifting after getting it out the box– you’ll thank me later.
Plus, if you have a queen-size mattress or even bigger a California king, then I would recommend changing your sheets with your partner as lifting the bed will be quite a challenge in itself. Plus, if you decide to change rooms, then bear in mind moving the mattress out of the room will be more difficult than bringing it in.
So there you have it all the pros and cons of memory foam mattresses; if you’re not too hot of a sleeper, I would recommend going for a memory foam mattress that has cooling technology like copper or infusion; it should help dissipate heat.
Memory foam can benefit anyone; it relieves pressure points and helps with aches and pains, so if you’re considering making the splurge, I would highly recommend it! Be sure to check out the guide of my top recommendations below.
A good night’s sleep starts with the right mattress.
Related Post: Best Memory Foam Mattress [Review]