There is no better investment than a good night’s sleep, and one of the best ways to ensure you get one is a good mattress. A memory foam mattress is one of the top-rated mattresses around these days, having transformed itself from a niche product to a highly popular one over the past few decades. Memory foam mattresses now account for about 20% of all mattress sales in the industry and often rate highest in customer satisfaction surveys.
What’s all the rage about? Are they worth the investment? Read for the pros and cons of purchasing a memory foam mattress.
Pros of the Memory Foam Mattress
The number-one reason for the popularity of the memory foam mattress is comfort. These mattresses are made of visco-elastic memory foam, a material developed by NASA during the 1960s to buffer the effects of gravity on astronauts. The material soon found application in the medical field, where it was found to be especially useful in relieving pressure point stress on individuals confined to wheelchairs or beds for long periods of time. When a person lays in one position for a long time, the downward pressure of gravity, combined with the upward resistance of the typical bed, can have a negative effect on circulation and soft tissues, leading to discomfort and even pain. Unlike a typical spring mattress, however, a memory foam mattress will adjust to your body shape, thereby accommodating the downward pressure of gravity.
The benefits of the memory foam mattress include better back support and back/neck alignment and the prevention and relief of body aches and pains. The material evenly distributes body weight, ensuring no part of you is left without proper support. Because of its inherent malleability, the memory foam mattress can also accommodate individuals who sleep in different positions. Long-term use of a memory foam mattress can reduce back and neck pain and even ease chronic respiratory problems by making it easier for you to breathe while you sleep.
The memory foam mattress has other benefits. It minimizes the effects of motion by absorbing the motion rather than distributing it throughout the rest of the bed, meaning you will barely notice if your partner tosses and turns throughout the night or gets into bed after you’ve gone to sleep. Memory foam is also naturally resistant to most microbes and dust mites and requires minimal maintenance. Usually, all you need to do is cover it with a clean, washable mattress protector and mattress pad, and occasionally spot-clean or vacuum the surface (some people also choose to turn their memory foam mattress around every few months to distribute the wear and tear evenly). A memory foam mattress can also be quite durable; although some only last about eight to ten years (the same amount as a high-quality traditional mattress), others are warrantied for as long as twenty years.
Cons of the Memory Foam Mattress
The number-one drawback of a memory foam mattress is the cost. A high-quality, brand-name one can set you back a few thousand dollars. That said, many high-quality spring mattresses these days are also quite costly, often approximating similar prices to their memory foam counterparts.
Unfortunately, a memory foam mattress is not a style to look at if you like a bargain. You want a reputable brand and quality dealer in order to make sure you’re getting all the benefits of a good quality mattress. A low-quality memory foam mattress can lack some of the necessary components and features that usually make the material so coveted. For example, the use of poor underlying material can negate the support offered by the memory foam, making you feel like you need more support in order to be comfortable throughout the night.
Earlier versions of the memory foam mattress used to trap heat, making people uncomfortably hot throughout the night (newer technology uses open cells and gels to regulate temperature). Memory foam can also change its consistency depending on the temperature, turning softer when it’s hot and firmer when it’s cold. This may be an issue if your home isn’t temperature-controlled.
In terms of upkeep, a memory foam mattress is quite heavy so it can be difficult to lift or turn (some people like to turn them periodically to even out wear and tear). Some users have also complained of a chemical smell emanating from the mattress, though this problem is usually resolved by stripping the mattress completely and airing it for several hours when you first buy it.