An honest customer review of memory foam mattresses.
A little over a year ago we decided to replace our worn out 15 year old bed with a new one. Shopping around, we were repeatedly advised by sales staff to purchase one of the new memory foam mattresses instead of a traditional pocket sprung style mattress with which we were familiar.
We took the salesman’s advice and bought a memory foam mattress. It was expensive but we were sold on the promised extra comfort, the additional posture support which was promised to prevent development of back problems, and the promise that ‘Once you have used a memory foam mattress you will never go back!’
After a year of use, let’s compare a memory foam mattress with a traditional pocket sprung mattress. I will be frank, a bed has two main uses: sleep and sex.
Let’s talk about sex, baby!
The problem I found with a memory foam mattress is that it is like sleeping on a giant bath sponge. A spring based mattress bounces; a foam mattress lets you sink in. Sex on a traditional pocket sprung mattress is great, because the bounce adds to the fun.
By comparison, sex on a memory foam mattress is hard work. With one partner on top, the other sinking into the foam mattress, you end up working harder. Sex becomes more tiring than on a spring mattress, and you sweat more. I found the reduced bounce back from the partner underneath detracts from the pleasure. Sex was not so much fun. In fact, I would go so far as to think that a memory foam mattress might be bad for your sex life!
First impression of sleeping on a memory foam mattress was excellent. It was much more comfortable then a pocket sprung mattress, although like any new bed it took a while to get used to. The back support seemed to be good, and the whole bed felt somehow softer.
Then we noticed the problems. Basically, we found that sinking into a memory foam mattress caused us both to feel too hot to sleep (and I don’t mean that it a good way!). As the night progressed the mattress grows hotter and hotter directly under you, and you start to sweat. Eventually we woke up, a few times a night, dripping and uncomfortable.
The discomfort from the memory foam mattress was sufficiently unpleasant that I got into the habit of waking up at between two and four in the morning and having to shower in order to get back to sleep.
We resorted to using summer weight duvets through the winter, which left us cold on top, hot and sweaty underneath. Not conducive to a good night’s sleep.
We tried adding more and more sheets, and eventually a thicker layer of padding between us and the mattress. All this helped just a little bit, but we found we were still waking up and suffering.
We ended up wasting a lot of money, but solving the problem. We scrapped our memory foam mattress, and bought a combination memory foam / pocket sprung mattress instead. We went back to the original shop, who gave us a reasonable discount of a replacement because of our bad experience. This was good of them, because after 12 months they did not have to.
We are still being eco-friendly! The original memory foam mattress has been recycled – some friends of my wife have taken it to replace their old worn out mattress.
The new combination mattress is far more comfortable to lay on that the 100% foam mattress. The old mattress was an inch or two of memory foam on top of what looked like a giant bath sponge. The new mattress is pocket sprung in the middle, with a similar looking layer of memory foam top and bottom, allowing the mattress to be turned over.
The springs inside the mattress seem to help with the cooling because they allow some air flow inside the mattress, unlike the old foam one. The memory foam itself is supposed to be sprayed with a chemical to help with cooling. I was a bit sceptical about this claim. However the mattress also comes with a better cover than the old one, which is itself supposed to provide better cooling and heat control.
I find it odd that the shops and the manufacturers seem to play down the idea that memory foam mattresses make you too hot. When I ask around friends and family they have similar heat problems, or in the case of my parents, their memory foam mattress sank and collapsed after four years.
The shop staff were quick to tell us that our experience of sweating and feeling far too hot using a memory foam mattress is very unusual. However, this is not borne out by the promotional signs and billboards in the shop advertising the ‘not too hot, not too cold’ features of our new combination mattress. The manufacturer had even given the shop material samples for the mattress cover, which the sales staff encouraged us to hold to our faces so we could feel the heat, and how quickly it dissipates. Also there were a pair of mittens, which looked like oven gloves. One was made of the new material, the other was not. The idea was to let customers wear both mittens and walk around the store for a few minutes so that you could feel on hand get hot, the other stay at a comfortable temperature.
Hmmm. If there is no widespread problem of overheating with memory foam mattresses then why is heat control the main thrust of this year’s sales pitch, I wonder? Am I cynical, or is the problem more widespread than shops and mattress manufacturers admit?
So far I am delighted with the new combination pocket sprung / memory foam mattress. I have not been overheating at night, and suffered no more sweat issues. If you want buyer’s advice, my recommendation is to go for a combination memory foam mattress, not a foam only one. Oh, one more thing – sex is better on the combination mattress!