Last Updated on January 10, 2023
The chances are that you’ve heard of memory foam mattresses before. Over the years, they have increased in popularity, offering an excellent alternative to the standard spring mattress. The right memory foam can adhere to the shape of your body, giving you more support as you enjoy a good night’s sleep.
You can find memory foam mattresses designed for sleepers who spend a lot of time on their back, and even softer options with comfort layers if you lay on your side.
But what is a memory foam mattress and why should you buy one?
If you think it’s almost time to replace your spring mattresses, and you’re considering a new memory foam alternative, here’s everything you need to know about this special type of mattress.
Memory Foam Mattress: The Basics
Let’s start with the basics. A memory foam mattress is a type of foam mattress that features unique layers that adjust to the contours of your body. Unlike other types of materials, memory foam can return back to its original shape, even with regular use. However, over time, you may notice that certain indentations don’t bounce back perfectly.
Aside from giving you a better level of comfort, quality memory foam can also reduce pressure on painful joints of the back, shoulders, and hips. Memory foam also helps you to avoid various issues with allergies. Unlike spring mattresses, polyfoam and latex mattresses, memory foam mattresses have a special layer of viscoelastic temperature-sensitive material on top.
Memory foam responds to heat, softening when it’s warm to allow you to sink into the material, but hardening when you leave the bed to stop the indentations from becoming permanent. While some people believe they get the best night’s sleep with memory foam, others aren’t fond of the “hugging” feeling when they use a mattress with a high foam density.
Polyfoam vs Memory Foam – Which is Better?
You may have noticed beds being advertised with a polyurethane foam layer before. This isn’t the same as having a memory foam mattress. Low-density polyfoam is a common choice for manufacturers who want to create a soft initial feel for your new bed.
Higher-density foams can also be excellent for creating supportive and durable cores in a good quality mattress. This helps to prevent you from sinking into your mattress every time you go to sleep. Additionally, high-density foams can also make sure that your new mattress will last longer.
Foam mattresses made from polyurethane are popular if you’re looking for a cheaper product that’s available in a lot of different firmness ratings. These products can provide extra pressure relief and support by varying firmness and density, and they’re easy to maintain. A product made from polyfoam may also be better for people who sleep hot, as they often stay cooler.
Unfortunately, polyfoam mattresses aren’t as durable as memory foam, and they don’t provide the same level of conforming support for various parts of your body. If you need relief from pressure points, joint pain, and back discomfort, you’re better off with true memory foam.
If you sleep with a partner, memory foam is also a better option. Aside from providing comfort, one of the benefits of memory foam is that it absorbs motion. This helps minimise motion transfer during sleep. Hence, when it comes to choosing foam mattresses, memory foam is a more likely option for many sleepers.
Are There Different Types of Memory Foam Mattress?
Just as there is a wide range of spring mattresses and air mattress options out there, you can also find different types of memory foam mattresses too. Mattresses and other sleep products made from memory foam differ based on a range of factors. When you buy your own mattress to discover the benefits of memory foam, you’ll need to consider mattress size, the pros and cons of foam vs spring mattresses, and more.
Options include traditional memory foam mattresses, which have a lot of comfort layers on top to allow the bed to adjust to the shape of your body. There are also open-cell memory foam mattresses which allow better movement of the air within your sleeping surface. These kinds of mattresses still help with pressure points and distributing your body weight. However, they’re also less warm than traditional counterparts.
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Gel memory foam is a more modern type of memory foam mattress which can last even longer than 10 years if you’re careful with how you use it. Gel foam doesn’t absorb much heat, making it an excellent option for a person who sleeps hot. Hence, if you’re a hot sleeper in need of a new foam mattress, memory foam that’s infused with cooling gel could be your perfect match.
Many of the cheaper memory foam mattresses, for instance, are actually sprung mattresses that have a layer of extra foam on top for additional comfort. There are also memory foam mattresses with denser internal foam for better support. The life expectancy of these sleep products will depend heavily on factors like what your mattress is made of.
The Benefits of Using a Memory Foam Mattress
Finding a new mattress that suits your needs is often a complex process. There are tons of high-quality mattress options out there, and memory foam is often highlighted as one of the best products for chronic pain and discomfort. Some of the benefits of memory foam include:
Adapts to Your Body Heat
One of the most impressive features of high-quality memory foam is how it adjusts to your body heat. The temperature-sensitive material softens when you lay on it, allowing you to sink into the cushioning. You don’t have to worry about your body weight causing issues with pressure points on this type of mattress as it will give you complete support.
If you often have trouble with your posture, then a memory foam mattress could be more effective than an innerspring mattress for re-adjusting your spine. Because this product adheres to your body shape, it can distribute your weight more effectively to ensure fantastic lumbar support. Unlike a spring mattress, there’s nothing to stick into your back.
Most people swear by memory foam products as a way to counteract pain and discomfort. When you replace your mattress with memory foam, you may notice that there’s a significant reduction in things like joint and muscle pain. This bed type is great for the sleeper who struggles with aches when they wake up each morning. You can even find a memory foam mattress that offers a hybrid spring experience for extra support.
Aside from back pain, memory foam can help with other kinds of discomfort. Many of the memory foam mattress options on the market today are hypoallergenic, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about itchiness and discomfort caused by dust mites and skin cells.
A memory foam mattress can last as long as any standard mattress or innerspring mattress when used correctly. Although it is also susceptible to wear and tear, you shouldn’t have to replace your mattress too frequently. Make sure you have the right frame type and slats to support your purchase and make your memory foam mattress last longer.
The Problems with Memory Foam Mattresses
Now that you know what is a memory foam mattress and its benefits, let’s talk about the possible downsides to owning one. A memory foam mattress with a good lifespan will appeal to a lot of people who want a comfortable and uninterrupted sleep from their bed. However, there are potential negative factors to consider before you use one of these mattresses; there are pros and cons to any kind of mattress.
Get some advice from your doctor on beds that can support your specific needs, or talk to a sleep support professional. Think about the size of your beds, and headboards that may get in the way too.
The right solution for a good sleep depends on your body needs. For instance, problems include:
Difficult to Move and Adjust
If you decide you want to adjust your sleep position or move your bed, then you’re going to struggle with a memory foam mattress. The dense foam inside will help your mattress last longer, but it is very heavy and means that it may be harder to move it.
If you’re a hot sleeper, then a memory foam mattress might not be ideal for you. Memory foam absorbs heat and makes it much harder to keep cool at night. You may need to consider using a cooling mattress protector to reduce the heat. Not only does your mattress retain body heat, but the foam can absorb moisture too. If you have a high body temperature, you might need to shop for items that reduce heat.
I’ve had memory foam and springs. It really comes down to the quality of the mattress. Both are very similar. Downside of memory foam can be the heat, downside of springs is dependent on style of spring.
— Mr C (@MrC_AndTheNews) January 31, 2021
A memory mattress can suffer from wear and tear like any mattress. These products aren’t waterproof, and absorb moisture quite easily. This means that you’ll need to use a mattress protector to improve the lifespan of your mattress. Take a look at how long your foam memory mattress is designed to last.
May Take Time to Adjust
If you aren’t used to a memory foam mattress experience, then you might take a while to adjust to the hugging sensation. If you’re not sure about memory foam mattresses, you might want to consider starting with a topper instead, to see how you feel about the foam experience. Some people struggle with the blood circulation and pressure relief features of a foam mattress. You may prefer a spring mattress for spinal alignment.
Memory foam mattresses often arrive with a significant chemical odour attached to them, as a result of “off gassing”. If you have a sensitive nose, you may need to leave your mattress to air out for a while before you start using it. Give your new mattress plenty of time to air if you have a comfort layer or memory foams included.
How bad is mattress off-gassing? We recently got a new mattress, a hybrid so the top is memory foam. It has a strong chemical odor to it. We’ve been airing out for three days, and the odor has faded, but is still there. Safe to sleep on? Should I get a PID to test for VOCs?
— DJP (@geologistdjp) January 6, 2021
True memory foam mattress options can be very expensive. If you want to make sure you’re getting a high-quality product, then you may need to pay a little more than you would with a standard spring mattress. Of course, it’s a small price to pay if the effect of the foam mattress is worth it. A good size mattress can offer extra comfort and relief from pressure for a range of people.
Who Should Use a Memory Foam Mattress?
Each person is different and not everyone may be best suited to a memory foam mattress. However, if you like the idea of a pressure point relief mattress that can mould to your shape, then you could be in the right place.
Finding the ideal bedroom furniture can be a tough task, particularly when you’re choosing something that’s going to affect your sleep and your health. A lot of people appreciate the unique sensations that a memory foam mattress can offer, but this kind of bedding won’t be right for everyone.
A memory foam mattress is ideal for sleepers who like an extra layer of softness in their bed. But if you struggle with finding the right position each night, memory foam mattresses might not work well for you.
If you have a high room temperature or are sensitive to dust mites then the advice may be to avoid memory foam; memory foam mattresses and pillows absorb heat and can make it harder to sleep if you’re too hot. Consider the need of your body and comfort levels before you shop for pillows and different mattress type options.
If you’re sensitive to smell, the support provided by the memory foam material may not outweigh the off-gassing smell that can stop you from getting to sleep at first. Spraying your headboards with a natural smell may help here.
How Long Does a Memory Foam Mattress Last?
The standard mattress lifespan for a pure foam mattress can be between 8 to 10 years, similar to a standard mattress. If your mattress lasts the full ten years or longer will depend on whether you pay attention to the warning signs that you’re harming the lifespan with improper care.
The mattress firmness you choose and sleep on can be important here. Firmness in memory foam beds allows for better durability.
Higher density foam in the base of your memory foam mattress should help it to last a little longer, and retain its shape over time. However, the question of how long does a memory foam mattress last will often depend on the brand you choose, and the entire structure of the bed. Having the right base or slats available for your mattress can be helpful too.
Also, remember to think about the pressure you expose your mattress to as you sleep. Multiple people in a bed means more pressure.
Mattress or Mattress Topper?
If you’ve been checking out our reviews of some of the best foam mattress options out there, but you’re still not convinced, there is another option. Look at some local bed stores and you might find a selection of memory foam mattress toppers for sale, too. These allow you to experiment with the sensation of using memory foam, without the initial expense and risk.
After all, it’s a big decision and the right mattress can help you to get a better night’s sleep.
If you’ve already tested the memory foam experience on your back and you’re keen to jump in with a new level of sleep comfort, then make sure you explore your options carefully. There are a lot of different styles of memory foam out there. The one that’s right for you will be dependent on your unique needs.
Now you know exactly what is a memory foam mattress and you have discovered all you need to know about them, you should have a better idea of whether memory foam is right for you. With so many factors to consider, we hope we have made the decision easier for you and you can be on your way to a better night’s sleep.
Rebekah is a writer who loves to explore new products and find hacks that make life easier. She has a knack for all things home improvement, health and fitness. So you’ll often find her on Pinterest or browsing Houzz for ideas.
She’s always looking for the next thing to fix up around the house or what gadget might be just right for her lifestyle. Rebekah enjoys exploring new recipes, taking care of her family, and making sure she stays healthy with regular workouts at the gym.