Reviews of mattresses are often one of the most difficult products to assess in general terms, because of the extreme differences within the product categories. When assessing mattress reviews, it can prove helpful to focus on just one mattress category at a time. In this overview, we’ll go over the basics of memory foam and their owners perceive the pros and cons of this type.
How do These Beds Ratings Compare?
When it comes to mattress of this type, there are generally many more pros than cons, however the cons can be significant depending on the type and quality of foam. About 81-83% of consumers who purchase a memory foam bed say they were satisfied with their purchase in reviews across third party websites and manufacturer websites. While slightly over 80% may not seem exceptional, it is the highest rating among all the major mattress types including latex, water, and innerspring.
It seems to be that the top reasons for customer satisfaction among reviews that we researched comes from buyers claiming that the comfort level they receive from a good quality memory foam bed surpasses that of any traditional spring one.
What’s behind this material’s better reviews?
To understand why memory foam offers a better alternative, you need to understand the factors inherent to this type of material. Let’s look at the main features of memory foam mattresses.
Conforms to Body
This type of mattress conforms to the contours of an individual’s body to cradle the sleeper, and provide a sense of floating on the sleeping surface. While traditional mattresses lay flat and displace heavier areas like hips and shoulders, memory foam mattresses contour the body allowing you to settle in a natural position. The cellular material of memory foam conforms to your body’s curves wherever it needs to and creates a sleeping surface with even pressure distribution.
No Pressure Points
Reviews for this type of bed focus heavily on pressure relief. Humans don’t have a plank-like body shape, therefore mattresses that are flat and plank-like, place strain on the lower back, distort natural alignment, and apply pressure to the heaviest parts of the body. For side sleepers this would be the hips, shoulders and thighs. For back sleepers, these areas would be the buttocks, upper back, and calves. Because weight is spread evenly across the surface of the mattress and the material does not resist gravity, the sleeper maintains alignment as the body settles into a natural position.
The biggest “pro” of owning a memory foam mattress according to consumers is the reduced back and joint pain that results for pressureless support and natural alignment. Spring mattresses cannot provide the same type of support, even with expensive pillow tops; unless the pillow top has several inches of memory foam in it. Even then, the springs still prevent the foam from performing optimally. While some say it takes a few weeks to adjust, many owners report reduced back pain and joint aches when sleeping on high quality memory foam versus other types.
Resists Motion Transfer
Another key selling point for memory foam is that this type prevents motion from traveling. This means when one person gets up off the bed, the other person will not be disturbed (illustrated by the classic wine glass test).
Most mattresses from reputable sellers come with 10-20 years of warranty, which is longer than many other types. Higher quality foams tend to last about as long, which means people find they need to replace their mattress less frequently.
Potential issues from memory foam
However, reviews have shown that not all types are perfect, and that no one mattress will please everyone. Here are some of the top concerns or complaints present in mattress reviews for this type.
The majority of memory foam beds are made of petroleum-based polyurethane foam, which makes them flammable. As such, they require added flame retardants to meet state and federal guidelines, and many manufacturers use a host of chemicals to meet these rules and are not required to disclose this to consumers. Several of these chemicals pose health risks, and while the most dangerous have been banned, recent recalls of imported foam mattresses highlight this issue (though to be fair, nearly all mattresses on the market face this issue right now). In reviews and forums, there are a significant minority of shoppers concerned about flame retardants in their beds.
Off-Gassing and Odor
The odors that are released from new polyurethane foams, often called “off-gassing”, contain chemicals known as VOCs. These chemicals have been attributed to a host problems and many are noted carcinogens. They can cause serious health problems like aggravating asthma and bronchitis, irritate lungs and eyes, and other allergic reactions. These come from the foaming and production processes of traditional memory foam manufacturers. Odor appears to be an issue for 10-15% of people.
Another concern among many consumers is the heat retention factor. Traditional foam mattresses have been reported to sleep warm in reviews. The compact, cellular structure and heat-sensitive properties can lead to a build up heat around the sleeper that does not readily dissipate. This makes for an uncomfortable night’s sleep for a portion of people that naturally sleep warm.
A traditional foam bed has a delayed spring back after an object has been lifted from it. In other words, if you place your hand and push down on the mattress, and lift it up again, your hand imprint will be there for several seconds. Some people dislike this sensation, and report it as a sinking feeling, or feel as if they are stuck in quicksand when trying to change position or get out of bed. This issue appears to be most common with temperature sensitive foams as they soften near the sleeper, but remain firmer elsewhere.
Can Plant-Based Materials Answer the Negative Reviews?
One newer type of memory foam aims to help address the negative aspects of memory foam while retaining the positive benefits. Natural plant-based memory foam like those from Amerisleep.com utilize natural oils and polyols in place of petroleum.
Amerisleep says their foam was independently verified to sleep 10x cooler than traditional, and Cargill says their studies show plant-based foams sleep 25% cooler than gel memory foams. Likewise, many also use a green fire barrier in place of chemical flame retardants, and Amerisleep’s foam is also manufactured in a zero-emissions environment with zero toxic VOCs. Plant based memory foams feature a large, open-celled structure which offers maximum breathability and also quicker response time to prevent the quicksand feeling. In terms of actual ratings, across 285 verified reviews of all five models, Amerisleep’s beds averaged 4.63/5, or 92.7%., which is considerably higher than the 81-83% average for memory foam in general.
These factors together may reduce some of the issues people have with traditional foams, while preserving the benefits. Consumers interested in a memory foam bed but worried about the complaints may want to consider looking in to the plant-based options, as they appear to offer promising alternatives.
While no one mattress will provide universal comfort, the fact that memory foam continues to be the best-rated bed certainly makes it worth trying. Just make sure to consider the pros and cons, as well as all available options, when researching a purchase to see which will be best suited to your needs. Mattress reviews on retailer websites and third party sites will help provide valuable insight in your search for the best bed.