Is A Memory Foam Mattress Perfect For You?

Paiton, George & I have had many years of experience in the mattress world listening to customers and watching which mattresses come back under comfort exchanges and warranties. Our experience is not from a handout but actually from our hands loading and unloading mattresses from trucks and visiting with the customers as they come in or call the stores.

We are always curious, so if we have chosen to take care of a customer and the manufacturers declined (not very often) we have taken the mattresses apart to find out why there are warranty issues. We found out a really fancy word for blending foams, just meant they tore up scraps of memory foam and glued them together, like carpet padding, then charged more (we don’t carry them here).

Memory foam mattresses’ overall rate as well as other mattress types for comfort and support. Motion isolation and pressure-point relief are above average. Cheaper, off-brand memory foam mattresses often do great for the price range that they are in. The main issue is the initial off-gassing. Sometimes people also comment on heat retention, excessive firmness, firmness unpredictability, “squishy” feel in high temperature, poor durability, not good for the romance department, and lack of edge support (in the less expensive brands). High-density models are often somewhat difficult to move on and get up off, especially for heavier people. Several memory foam mattresses are available only or mostly online which can make the selection process somewhat more difficult.
Anything will feel better than a mattress you do not like for a few months but after about 6 months you will be uncomfortable with a mattress that is not right for you.

Please make a note to yourself, memory foam will most likely never get an impression, but the foam will lose integrity (it will get softer).

As I have sat here for days reviewing, learning, going over memory foam mattress, I have realized, that the mattress people like to each uses their own name for the same foam… that is made in the same factory and same chemicals (in some cases). Memory foam is identical to visco-elastic foam. Tempur-Pedic ™ was the first company to use memory foam in mattresses. Swedish foam is another term trademarked by Tempur-Pedic ™. It is the same as their memory foam, which they like to call Tempur® material. Many companies have done something similar such as Comforpedic that was made and sold out of a warehouse over in NE Portland and has now merged with the Simmons company and is sold around the world. This is an open-celled foam that responds to the weight and heat of your body and relieves pressure. It comes in many thicknesses, densities, and different levels of softness and firmness (see ILD). However, when you get right down to it, it is a Polyurethane Foam: – A flexible, durable, and resilient material used in a variety of products as a cushioning material. All foams, other than natural latex foam, are polyurethane foams.

Rating terms:

Density: – Is how much it weighs per cubic foot of foam. Density is independent of firmness but is thought to be an important indicator of foam quality. A higher density foam usually has a higher durability factor due to its stronger and heavier cell structure.

High-Density foam (HD Foam): – is the term used to describe foam that is a higher quality foam with a stronger, heavier, dense, and more durable cell structure.

Medium Density

Medium-density mattresses, like high-density mattresses, tend to use a substantial amount of memory foam resulting in less firmness. However, medium-density foam is less temperature sensitive than high-density foam. As a result, medium-density mattresses have fewer complaints about being excessively firm when cold.

One thing that our customers complain about is that their mattress is too firm. Excessive firmness tends, however, to be a problem mainly for low-density mattresses, not high density – as you might think.

The price of a memory foam mattress is often linked considerably to its density of memory foam and the amount of memory foam. The denser the memory foam, the more expensive the mattress usually is.  Higher-priced brands will tend to use higher-density memory foam (5 lbs/ft or greater in significant quantity); medium-priced brands will tend to use mostly medium-density (4.0 lbs./ft), and lower-priced brands will tend to use mostly lower density (2.5 – 3.0 lbs./ft).

Although the manufacturers tell us that they have eliminated the problem of the room temperature affecting the feel of the mattress. High-density memory foam mattresses, however, can feel excessively firm, but often only when they are cold because of their temperature sensitivity (with some of the Memory foam brands). (Comforpedic & Optimum are the only brands that I have found currently that have completely eliminated that problem). Memory foam becomes softer once warm room temperature or the sleeper’s body heat warms the foam. Temperature sensitivity can also mean that turning over or changing positions on a high-density memory foam mattress can mean that the new area of the mattress the sleeper has moved to will be firm until body temperature warms it.

High Resilience foam (HR Foam): – HR foams generally offer superior resilience, comfort, and durability and are considered higher quality. It has a measured density greater than 1.8. It is also based on its ability to bounce back. All though Memory foam will remember and bounce back, it is not known for doing it in a timely manner.

IFD (Indention Force Deflection): See ILD

ILD (Indention Load Deflection): The level of firmness or softness of a piece of foam (or load-bearing characteristics). ILD is defined by how much weight it takes to compress a sample of foam by 25% (Ex: If it takes 15lbs of load/force to compress the foam sample by 25%, the foam has a 15ILD rating). The higher the ILD rating of foam is, the harder the foam.

On average, the higher the memory foam density is, the better the durability / long life of the mattress. Mattresses with high-density foam can generally be expected on average to remain supportive and comfortable for around nine years. This is only an average, however; the long life of a particular mattress can vary from the average considerably.

Memory foam mattresses with low and medium density tend to have a shorter lifespan, often in the 4-8 year range. Again, this is only an average, and the life of a particular mattress can vary from the average Considerably.

In my opinion memory foam is for comfort. You need a strong base whether coil or foam and then get the right comfort for you. On an 8” mattress, you should look for at least 3 inches of medium to high-density memory foam. 3 inches of memory foam gives you a proper amount of material to cushion and conform to your body. As this contours to your body, try to make sure you get the best active support you can underneath. To maximize its conforming ability make sure the protector does not constrict its movement.

While you could get by with 2 inches of memory foam in a mattress, 3 inches is a plusher and a more comfortable feel for most people. It’s a nice depth of foam where you wouldn’t sink uncomfortably into the mattress or lose the support of the base foam.

Memory foam mattresses do well as, if not better than, other mattress types except for latex. Motion isolation and pressure-point relief are above average. The important thing to remember is to make sure the base is good and solid for your back and neck support.

The complaints that I have heard are about off-gassing odor. Some other complaints are heat retention, excessive firmness, firmness unpredictability, “squishy” feel in high temperature, poor life, unsuitability for romance, and lack of edge support. As for heat retention and other heat-related problems, most have been addressed in your higher to middle models with gel. As far as the long life of memory foam and your romance department, they have done nothing that I know of to help you out there.

High-density models are often somewhat difficult to move on and get up off, especially for heavier people.

Memory foam mattresses usually do not get comfort exchanged; if they do them 95% go for another memory foam mattress. The various memory foam mattress brands like ComforPedic, Tempur-pedic, and Optimum models tend to rate fairly similar to one another. The other brands also have some that compare the same in their introductory category levels.  If you want to compare an off-brand with a more expensive brand, in all fairness, you need to compare everything from edge support, density of memory foam, to the base foam.  Your luxury brands also come as a set as the off brands usually do not and have not been properly tested with the foundation you will receive at the time of purchase.  We are not suggesting that these are the reason you should spend more money, we are simply suggesting that is why you would pay more money.

Memory Foam Mattress Lifespan

The lifespan of memory foam mattresses usually ranges from 4 to 12 years with regular use, with about a 7-year useful life on average. Memory foam mattress lifespan is not clearly correlated with price. In other words, paying more does not ensure a Considerably longer lifespan. Tempur-Pedic, Comforpedic & Optimum, however, have historically been an exception to the norm for memory foam mattresses.

Reasons For Price Differences

Prices for memory foam mattresses can range from $200 to $7500 (queen).

Mattress Thickness:

High-priced memory foam mattresses are at least 75% thicker than low-priced ones.

Memory Foam Layer Thickness:

Memory foam mattresses are not made entirely of memory foam. They contain 20-50% memory foam; this memory foam lies over a base layer of polyurethane foam. High-priced memory foam mattresses tend to have at least two times more memory foam than low-priced ones. More memory foam equals increased comfort, contouring support and, perhaps, this combination will extend the life of your mattress.

Base Layer Thickness:

The base layer of a foam mattress consists of relatively inexpensive foam and often makes up 50-80% of overall mattress thickness. The base layer of low-priced memory foam mattresses tends to make up a greater portion of overall mattress thickness compared to high-priced memory foam mattresses.

Memory Foam Density: High-priced memory foam mattresses tend to use memory foam that is 50-100% higher in density than what low-priced mattresses use. The higher-density foam tends to have a better long life than lower-density foam and provides better contouring support which can help to relieve pain, including back pain.

Other Factors:

Other things that affect the price include

  • Cover material. High-priced memory foam mattresses tend to use more expensive and luxurious mattress covers.
  • Quality of foam used. High-priced memory foam mattresses seem to use at least somewhat better quality foam that will provide a longer life for the mattress.
  • Extra features. High-priced memory foam mattresses are more likely to have extra features, such as handles and edge support.
  • How sold. Mattresses sold only or mostly online tend to have a lower price than those sold in stores.


Off-gassing is usually just an annoying odor to those who notice it.

Some mattress sleepers, however, report feeling ill from it. Reports of headaches, nausea, eye and throat irritation, sweating, sleeplessness, and asthma resulting from off-gassing occur in about 1.5% of owner experiences. The illness diminishes when the off-gassing diminishes or when the person avoids being in the same room with the mattress during the off-gassing period.

People sometimes deal with off-gassing odor by putting the mattress in a well-ventilated room, spare room, covered patio, or garage until the odor has mostly diminished.

In regards to off-gassing being a long-term health threat, such as a cancer risk, there is currently no credible study or evidence showing this to be the case.

Domestic vs Imported

The overpower of off-gassing comes from inconsistency while making the foam. These are things such as temperature fluctuation while curing the foam, and many other variables. Many consumers believe that American-made memory foam off-gasses less (and is, therefore, safer / healthier) than imported foam, namely foam from China. Our research-based on actual consumer experiences shows the opposite: Domestically made memory foam has considerably more off-gassing reports than foreign-made foam.

High vs Low Density

The fact that domestically made memory foam has more off-gassing reports than foreign-made foam may be explained by foam density. Higher-density foam usually off-gasses more than less dense foam. And higher density foam tends to be produced domestically, while the less-dense foam is often foreign-made.

Sleeping Hot / Heat Retention

Some people have said they sleep hot on memory foam, however, they usually say it before they have tried it, I think that it is something they have read on the internet sometimes. Oregon is not that hot in the evenings, but nationally about 9% of memory foam mattress sleepers say that their mattress retains heat and, as a result, sleeps hot. This problem can result in sweating, restlessness, and inadequate sleep quality. An additional 15% of sleepers report that their mattress sleeps warm, but usually not to an uncomfortable extent. Put differently, most memory foam mattress sleepers experience no heat-related problems.

Gel Memory Foam and Heat

It is increasingly common for memory foam mattresses to have at least one layer of gel memory foam – foam that is infused with millions of tiny gel beads. This material is touted to sleep cool longer than regular memory foam and based on our collected consumer experience data it does reduce sleeping hot complaints by about one-third. Some consumers, however, report no meaningful heat relief from gel foam.

The amount of gel foam in a mattress also seems to be a factor. Mattresses with two inches or more of gel foam, especially at the top of the mattress, tend to sleep cool longer than those mattresses with less than two inches.

Memory Foam Density and heat

Density can and often does differ by memory foam mattress brand or model. Mattresses with higher density foam tend to have at least twice the number of sleeping hot complaints than mattresses with less dense foam.

High foam density seems to restrict air circulation which can result in the mattress acting as a heat trap. Also, higher density foam is often more sensitive to temperature and weight than is lower density foam. This can mean that a person can sink somewhat into higher density foam instead of staying on the surface where there is more air circulation.

Unpredictable Firmness

Memory foam mattresses overall have more unpredictability in their firmness than do other mattress types. This means that each individual mattress may have its own firmness and “personality” to some degree.

High-priced memory foam has the most consistent feel from showroom to the home, they are treated and inspected and transported the same or even more carefully the inner spring and latex mattresses. The less expensive brands 10% to 11% feel significantly different than they did in the showroom. It is hard to discover this before it gets to the customer because of the way it is stored and transported. Inexpensive memory foam is transported in a vacuum pact roll.

Suitability For Romance

Opinions vary, but most memory foam mattress sleepers say that their mattress is at least acceptable for romance. On this issue, comfort is the reported top advantage of memory foam mattresses, while a lack of bounce is the main disadvantage.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew growth on memory foam mattresses is an issue that receives major publicity. However, out of all the memory that I have sold, I have maybe one of the memory foam mattress sleepers report a mold/mildew problem. We had a little question on what caused the mold because the box spring came from a different manufacturer and it was moldy also. The most important thing is to keep your mattress dry and protected and decrease this potential development.

Mattress Protector Use With Memory Foam Mattress

A mattress protector can protect a memory foam mattress against dust mites, bacteria, sweat, urine, and fluids. Using a protector can be wise because the dirtying or soiling of a mattress will often void its warranty.

According to owner experience data, the use of a protector, however, can reduce the contouring and molding properties of memory foam by at least 25%. In other words, a protector will likely limit the comfort and pain-relief potential of memory foam.

Buying a Memory Foam Mattress Online

Many memory foam mattresses are sold online, and, indeed, some popular memory foam mattresses are available only or mostly online. It is impossible to print out the description of the memory foam and lay on it and be able to feel what it will feel like in your home, lay on your monitor or keyboard. We have found warehouse pricing for a lease, and have the largest selection of memory foam under one roof (after Dec. 15, 2014).

Memory Foam Mattress Foundations and Frames

A proper foundation and frame can make a significant difference in both the comfort and lifespan of memory foam mattresses. In addition, you should be aware of the foundation and frame requirements of the specific memory foam mattress you purchase because an improper foundation and or frame can void the mattress warranty.

​Foundation: Most memory foam mattresses, including Tempur-Pedic, Comforpedic & Optimum, are designed to work on a firm, solid-surface, non-spring foundation with no irregularities. A box spring (coiled springs contained in a box-like frame) may not properly support the mattress and thus undermine the contouring and molding ability of memory foam. A medium-density fiberboard (MDF) foundation, platform mattress, or slat foundation is often preferable.

Rolling over / Getting out of bed

Memory foam, especially higher-density foam, tends to resist a person’s movement at least somewhat due to its conforming properties. Getting out of the mattress and changing positions may require extra effort. Weak, elderly, sick, and disabled people may want to avoid higher-density foam. Some brands provide support to keep a person from rolling off the mattress when close to the edge, but many do not.

Weight and Memory Foam

Memory foam is sensitive to weight, a person over 200+ lbs tends to benefit the most from the foam’s contouring assets. However, a mattress that is less than 9″ thick may not provide an adequate cushion for the same person. Given the weight sensitivity of memory foam, a person 110 lbs or less tend to benefit the least from the contouring properties of the foam, especially if the mattress is firm.

It is my suggestion from my experience that you try any mattress you are going to purchase. As long as it is a quality brand like Sealy, Simmons, Stearns & Foster, Optimum, Sealy Posturepedic, Beautyrest RE-Charge, Beautyrest Black, you can’t go wrong no matter how much you spend or little they all are great products. We have also hand-selected local manufacture for you, who is so picky and makes nothing but quality products and is making our private label for us. Memory foam is a very important part of the mattress world, and if you do not try the different options you will not get the perfect one for you. Our goal at Mattress Showcase. Bargains are to find you the perfects night’s sleep.