The category of memory foam mattress is often presented and discussed as singular, however that is no longer the case. In recent years, innovative manufacturers have developed different technologies to improve and perfect the material. These innovations were largely driven by customer complaints and a desire to remain competitive. While the original version became popular for its pressure relief and support, there were some issues customers voiced like heat and odor. We took look at the major technologies to see how they compare when it comes to top issues and complaints.
In this comparison, we’ll look at the three primary types:
- Traditional – the original made popular by Tempurpedic.
- Plant-based – the natural option, as popularized by Amerisleep.
- Gel-infused – the latest technology, made popular by Serta iComfort
Advantages of Memory Foam
Regardless of their differences, owner satisfaction is almost always above average when it comes to this type of mattress. Whereas spring mattresses tend to hover in the 65-75% range, this bed type finds itself in the 75-85% range, and is consistently rated best mattress on independent websites and by consumer journals like ConsumerReports.com.
- They are the most doctor recommended mattresses for back ailments, and provide optimum comfort.
- They offer motion isolation, meaning that couples will not feel their partners moving around in the middle of the night.
- The unique material relieves pressure points by distributing weight evenly across the bed.
- The materials contours to sleeper’s shape supporting natural alignment.
- The lifespan of these mattresses is average to above average depending on foam quality.
Complaint About These Bedss
Despite these strong advantages, consumers have noticed a few drawbacks. Because this is where the different technologies part, we will will at each type separately to see how they fare regarding heat, odor, and ease of movement.
This is one of the biggest concerns when buying this type of mattress, with a small portion complaining of allergic-type reactions. Off-gassing is the result of the use of harsh chemicals also known as VOCs, compounds used in foam creation, preservation, and for flame standards. These chemicals have been linked to a variety of health concerns from respiratory discomfort to long-term issues, and many consumers wish to avoid them.
- Traditional foam mattresses such as the ones made by Tempur-pedic, are made from petroleum-based compounds and inherently contain VOCs. These type of beds do receive complaints of odors from buyers, ranging from minor annoyances to noticeable enough to return the products. Typically these noticeable smells dissipate after 1-4 weeks of airing out.
- Over the years technological advances have made it possible for a memory foam to be good for the environment, as well as your health. Plant-based foam mattresses replace a portion of petroleum products with plant-based oils and polyols. Amerisleep’s mattresses are non-toxic, and do not emit any VOCs. While plant-based and even latex mattresses may have a “new” smell, it does not compare in intensity or effects to chemical offgassing.
- Gel-infused memory foam, like the Serta iComfort line of mattresses, takes water-based gel and introduces it to a traditional product. These mattresses still use the same chemicals in the traditional manufacturing process, however some manufacturers use odor-masking properties that reduce the noticeably of VOCs. While gel mattresses do still receive odor complaints, they appear to be less severe than standard foams based on initial reports.
Heat is another big issue when it comes to foam beds. Dense foams tend to retain body heat near the sleeper, which can be uncomfortable for people who sleep hot naturally. The added contouring effects of memory foam and breath-ability issues remain a top source of innovation.
- Traditional foam mattresses seem to retain heat much as it did when they first came out in the market. The manufacturing process of creating a this kind of mattress has not differed much since then for traditional models. Because of this brands like Tempur-pedic still have not been able to master the art of creating a cool mattress. They have tried to use convoluted layers and air channels, and specialized covers, though a percentage of people still complain about warmth.
- The plant-based memory foam mattress category seems to have the highest ratings when it comes to heat retention. It’s natural compounds and manufacturing provide an extreme open cell environment allowing air to flow freely through the mattress. Amerisleep’s beds sleep 10x cooler than traditional memory foam and reviewers don’t mention heat issues. A study from Cargill also showed plant based foams to sleep 25% cooler than gel-infused.
- While Serta iComfort first introduced their mattresses as the coolest option, in recent months they have had to withdraw this in advertising (NAB). While they claim their studies show cooler sleep, the fault lies in comparing just the top layer rather than the whole mattress. Tempurpedic also announced a study showing slightly cooler (<1.0 degree) temperatures in two of their beds versus several iComfort models, meaning gel may actually be the warmest technology. In essence this makes sense – gel is a conductive material which takes on surrounding temperatures. The bed may feel cool initially from the room temperature, but eventually will match the sleeper’s temperature.
Ease of Movement
While memory foam is designed to reduce pressure points, and thus tossing and turning, people still want to be able to move around easily on the bed to change positions, get out, and during certain bedroom activities. Slow-response foam presents an issue in that the mattress takes awhile to come back and readjust.
- Traditional memory foam has the slowest response time, averaging 45-60 seconds with Tempurpedic. This is where the complaint about being “stuck in crater” and difficult lovemaking comes from.
- Amerisleep’s beds have a 5-8 second recovery time, making it the fastest and easiest to move on. This is due to larger cells that are not temperature dependent.
- Gel-infused iComfort has a 30-45 second response time, so it is quicker than standard foam but still comparatively slow.
So Which Technology Wins?
Below is a chart borrowed from an informative Mattress-Inquirer.com article comparing memory foam.
|Brand||Type||Heat Dissapation||Off Gassing||Response Time||Durability||Price|
Overall it seems that the best memory foam mattress technology available on the market, in terms of resolving complaints, is plant-based. These comparisons are also supported in consumer reviews. Amerisleep’s plant-based beds have a 90 to 98% customer satisfaction rate. Tempurpedic’s traditional beds made of memory foam have an 80 to 82% satisfaction rate, while Serta’s iComfort gel line has average ratings of at 78 to 81%. (All based on reviews from retailer’s websites and third party review websites). While there are other factors to consider when comparing memory foam technologies, the above performance assessment and reviews offer a compelling case for the benefits and future of plant based foams.