In this article I go over the pros and cons of memory foam.
Table of Contents
Pro: Motion Isolation
One reason memory foam is a great material in a mattress is because of the motion isolation.
We have all seen the commercial where there’s the glass of wine on one side of the bed and there’s a person jumping on the other side of the bed and the glass of wine stays perfectly still.
I tried that test a few time and it works.
There’s no better material at isolating the motion than memory foam. If you’re a light sleeper and share your bed with someone and you don’t want to feel them moving around in bed at night, then memory foam is the best material in keeping that motion isolation away from you.
Con: Slow Responsiveness
One drawback of memory foam is a slow responsiveness of the material. Majority of us are active sleepers, meaning we don’t sleep in just one position, but we actually move from one side to the other.
A memory foam works against you, if you’re trying to move from one side to the other, because a material responds slower than traditional foams or latex.
The reason this is a drawback is because it can take you out of your deep sleep, if you’re trying to move over, because you actually have to work to roll over in a memory foam mattress.
So it actually works against you then working with you.
Pro: Pressure Relief
Another reason memory foam is a great material is the pressure relief it provides. One of the better materials for pressure relief is memory foam.
Because memory foam is a slow response material, there is no push back against your body. You should not feel pressure in the sensitive spots, like your shoulders and your hips, which are typically gonna be more sensitive.
Another drawback of memory foam is the heat factor. Simply put memory foam sleeps the hottest compared to traditional polyurethane foam, which is found in most mattresses and also latex.
If you have seen any of the advertisements from some of those online mattress companies, that is the angle they typically take when it comes to memory foam. It seems that they are always talking about how memory foam sleeps super hot and the person is waking up in a pile of sweat.
Although it is true that memory foam does sleep the hottest, not everyone that has a memory foam will sleep hot. It’s mainly for those that typically run hot or the body temperature runs hotter. So if your body temperature runs hotter, avoid memory foam.
The reason it sleeps hotter is because of the breathability. Whether it’s infused with gel, copper or any other type of cooling agents, those don’t really help with the breathability and allowing your body heat to go through the material as opposed to staying right at the surface of it, which is typically what happens in memory foam.
So if your body tends to run hotter and stay away from memory foam.
Pro: Conforms to Body
Another benefit of memory foam is how well it conforms to the body.
We’ve seen that ad with the lady laying on the memory foam mattress and you can see how the mattress conforms to her body perfectly.
Memory foam does a great job of filling in all the gaps, so that the mattress is in direct contact with your body. It also proportionately distributes your body weight throughout the entire mattress.
Con: Making It Happen
Another con from memory foam pertains to making it happen. Yes that’s right – sex.
Because of the slow responsiveness, it is harder to move around in a memory foam mattress. It’s not responding as good as other mattresses when you and that special someone are trying to get busy.
So if you want to be a little bit more active in bed, just remember it’ll take a bit more effort in memory foam mattress than others.
Pro: Easy To Compare
Another advantage for memory foam is the easiness to compare memory foam between different brands.
In a memory foam mattress, there are really only two components to research: the quality of the base layer and the quality of the memory foam top layer.
Knowing the quality of the base layer foam and memory foam used, you can compare pricing against other brands and also get an idea of the durability of the mattress.
The higher the density of the foam, the higher quality it is. The lower the density, it is gonna break down faster and it’s going to be a lot cheaper.
I recommend looking for at least a five pound memory foam. That is gonna be a lot more durable and it’s gonna be a heavier weight and it’s just going to last you a lot longer.
Another con in memory foam is the odor of memory foam.
Memory foam mattresses tend to off-gas the most and is known for being really smelly. This can have effect in some people, especially those who are sensitive to chemicals.
But in any case, make sure both the base layer foam and the memory foam are CertiPUR, which means the foams have been tested and certified to have a lot less harmful chemicals than those that haven’t been certified.
How To Find The Best Mattress
The most obvious thing is that comfort and pressure relief are the most important thing when looking for a new mattress, because if you’re not comfortable in your new mattress, you’re not gonna sleep good at night. And if you’re not sleeping good you’re not gonna feel refreshed in the morning.
You want to make sure that your mattress is giving you great pressure relief, because pressure points can interrupt your sleeping patterns.
It can cause you to toss and turn at night and it could prevent you from getting to that deepest level of sleep.
Pressure relief and comfort go hand-in-hand.
The second most important factor is support for your back.
The heaviest parts of our body is our midsection and what you want to look for is a mattress that’s not gonna allow this midsection to sink too deeply into the mattress.
If it does, what will happen is our spine will be out of alignment and this is actually a leading cause of lower back pain.
What you want to look for is a mattress that has a firm enough support layer and a soft enough top layer which will allow us to conform to the shoulders and the hips, which will keep the spine in alignment and also keep that pressure relief off your shoulders and your hips.
The third most important factor when looking for a new mattress is the durability.
We already talked that comfort is the most important factor in looking for a new mattress. However, comfort is not the only thing when looking for a new mattress.
Because comfort is very subjective, it’s not that hard to make a mattress to feel comfortable that lasts
120 days or a year.
You want your mattress to feel comfortable for many years to come and the two most important factors in that is the way the mattress is constructed and also the materials that are used in the mattress.
The higher quality of the materials, the longer the mattress is gonna last you.
Higher density foam and memory foam are great materials but over time they do get softer, they do break down and they do tend to lose some of that resiliency.
If you are gonna get a mattress made with some sort of this material, make sure the foam is made with high density foam.
The higher the density, the better quality it is.
However the best material used in mattresses is latex.
Latex is natural rubber base. It’s a lot more resilient, it springs back a lot better than regular foam does and it’s not gonna get that dip in time. It lasts about two to three times longer than regular foam and memory foam.
The materials aren’t the only thing that affect the durability of the mattress. The way the mattress is constructed.
Mattresses that are really thick and made with a lot of layers, tend to break down a lot faster, especially pillow tops do.
The more layers that you have going on in the mattress, the easier and faster it’s gonna be to break down, because all it takes is one weak link in the mattress to break down and it’s gonna affect the rest of the mattress.
Less is more!
The less that you have going on in the mattress, the more minimal the mattress is designed, the longer it’s gonna last you, because there’s less that could go wrong.
You’re not gonna sacrifice comfort going with a more minimal mattress, but it is gonna last you a lot longer.
When looking for durability, remember the quality of the materials and also less is more in mattress construction.
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Alex P. Davis has a BA in Interior Design from The New York School of Interior Design and 10 years of experience expertly designing sophisticated interiors.