A new mattress is a significant purchase, so it goes without saying that you should window-shop around, before taking a final decision. However, shopping for a mattress isn’t just about comparing quality, price, or size! With the variety of mattress types available, it’s imperative to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each to be able to pick one that truly suits your needs.
A popular option for mattress material is memory foam. Originally invented by NASA for the comfort and safety of astronauts during launches, this material has come a long way ever since!
Read on to know the advantages and disadvantages of memory foam mattresses.
Conforms to Body Shape
Memory foam or visco-elastic uses your body heat and pressure to soften itself and conform to the exact shape of your body. The ‘visco’ part becomes more viscous, allowing you to sink in, while the ‘elastic’ part helps the mattress get back to its original form.
As such, memory foam mattresses actively mold to any sleeper’s body, offering a true body fit! What’s more, as temperature increases, the memory foam mattress becomes softer, providing better, more comfortable sleep.
Provides Pressure Point Relief
Since memory foam conforms to your body according to the pressure applied by different body parts, this type of mattress is ideal for individuals needing relief from frequent muscle pains and aches. Pain points are at a higher temperature than the rest of your body, which simply means that the mattress offers greater comfort around those areas, essentially relieving stress.
Also, noteworthy is the fact that memory foam doesn’t resist weight and doesn’t push upwards like other types of mattress materials. Downward gravitational pull on the body coupled with upward resistance from the mattress forces the sleeper to adjust their shape – a situation that can be avoided with memory foam.
Offers Alignment Support
As opposed to other types of mattresses that cause body weight to be concentrated in particular areas, in the case of memory foam, body weight is distributed evenly across the surface of the mattress. This translates to adequate support for the shoulders, lumbar area, hips, and heels.
By contouring to the body’s natural curves, memory foam allows your spine to stay in a neutral position, preventing back soreness and spine problems in the long run. Furthermore, memory foam can accommodate your body’s curves and provide ample support to your back and spine, irrespective of whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach!
Resists Motion Transfer
This feature of memory foam is particularly useful for couples or individuals who share a bed. Traditional mattresses allow motion in waves over to the other side, so if one person gets out of bed or rolls over, the other person’s sleep might be disrupted.
On the other hand, memory foam has a cellular nature, which enables it to absorb surface movement instead of transferring it around. It’s not just that it produces minimal disturbance, memory foam mattresses are quiet too, so you don’t have to worry if your partner is a light sleeper!
Mitigates Dust Mites
Dust mites exist in almost every home and are one of the leading causes of allergies. In the bedroom, dust mites can easily burrow into a traditional mattress and thrive in millions!
What makes memory foam resistant to dust mites is its structure – it’s hard for the little critters to bore into the material, and the dense foam provides little room for them to thrive. As such, dust mites tend to stay only on the surface of a memory foam mattress. Simply use a mite-proof covering on your mattress, vacuum regularly, and wash bedding in hot water once a week to keep your bedroom free of dust mites.
If you suffer from asthma or allergies, a memory foam mattress is the perfect choice for you. As discussed in the previous point, this type of mattress keeps dust mites at bay. In addition to this, memory foam repels allergens like pet dander and mold too!
Memory foam is also the material of choice for individuals with wool, feather, or other types of fiber allergies. If you’re sensitive to smells and harsh chemicals, opt for a memory foam mattress that is plant-based.
Polyurethane has increased durability and offers greater resilience as compared to metal components, fiber, and padding as used in spring mattresses. Other types of mattresses like airbeds and waterbeds typically require user maintenance and parts replacement over the course of their life.
Memory foam mattresses can give up to 7 years of use. Expect a lifespan of around 5 years with a lower quality memory foam mattress, and between 8-10 years for a higher quality one! These mattresses are also less likely to sag than other types of mattresses.
Gives off a Smell
A new memory foam mattress is likely to emit odors, which can be more pronounced while you sleep on it. The reason for this is that the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the polyurethane foam break down into gaseous form and escape from the mattress.
On the plus side, this odor dissipates over time. To expedite the process, air out your mattress by removing the packaging and leaving it outdoors on a dry day for a few hours. To air out indoors, leave the mattress propped up against a wall in a well-ventilated room.
Since polyurethane is petroleum-based, memory foam mattresses are flammable. While there are laws in place requiring these mattresses to be resistant to open flame, there are serious concerns regarding high levels of fire retardants used. Note that these chemicals also contribute to new mattress odors.
Memory foam mattresses that are a blend of plant-based materials and those with rayon treated Kevlar and silica fabrics are safer. In any case, you should always avoid using candles, lighters, cigarettes, etc. anywhere near your bed!
A huge disadvantage of memory foam mattresses is that they sleep hot, meaning they retain body heat. For people who tend to sweat a lot or get hot easily, and for those living in warmer climates, memory foam might not be the best choice of mattress material.
Having said that, this side effect can be nullified by using a de-humidifier in the bedroom. Another thing you can do is opt for a gel-infused or open-cell memory foam, both of which can help you sleep cooler. Bear in mind that over the course of your sleep, these mattresses will warm up, but you’ll be fast asleep by then, prompting your body to begin its natural cooling process!
A definite lack of springiness in memory foam mattresses makes the ‘sinking’ feeling, which proves uncomfortable for certain individuals. Individuals also find it difficult to get out of bed for the same reason. Since memory foam takes some time to conform to body shape, sleepers who roll around in their sleep often are likely to face discomfort as the mattress adjusts to the new sleeping position.
Further to this, owing to their construction, memory foam mattresses offer little to no edge support, leading to sinking in places. Couples might find these mattresses to be less suited, for getting intimate.
Memory foam is expensive, which is the main reason that holds back most individuals from investing in this type of mattress. However, these mattresses are of higher quality and have innumerable benefits for sleepers, offering great value for money!
Interestingly, mattress prices vary greatly, depending on the type of materials used, thickness of the memory foam, and the size of the mattress. Remember that mattresses aren’t made entirely of memory foam, but consist of about 20-50% of this material along with a base/support layer. Higher the amount of memory foam, higher will be the price of the mattress. Price also depends on the type and density of memory foam used, and the quality of the base layer.
Has a Longer Break-In Period
Memory foam mattresses take a while to decompress, so the one you order will feel a lot firmer at first. The mattress will eventually soften and provide the right support to your body.
You can break-in your memory foam mattress by adjusting the temperature of your bedroom- a higher temperature will make the foam more viscous and flexible. Walking or crawling on your new mattress will also help!
In the case of memory foam mattresses, it is clear that the pros outweigh the cons, and that it’s absolutely possible to turn the negatives into positives. Given that there are innumerable options available to buyers, it’s necessary to carefully consider the differences between each type of memory foam mattress before making an investment.
Research your options well, take note of pain points, and pick a memory foam mattress that is designed specifically, to address the said concerns. You’re sure to find a memory foam mattress that’s just the right choice for you!