Innerspring vs. Memory Foam:
Which is Right for Me?
With all the attention given to memory
foam mattresses these days, many
innerspring mattress owners wonder whether they might enjoy switching to
a memory foam mattress. Naturally, this is largely a matter of personal
preference, and not all memory foam or innerspring beds are the same (many
innerspring mattresses even contain memory foam). Nonetheless, to
help with this decision, we compiled some of the most commonly cited pros
and cons of memory foam mattresses, as compared with their innerspring
Memory foam devotees typically relish in the
unique sensation of sleeping on a memory foam mattress, describing the
feeling alternately as "melting" into
the bed or "floating" on top of it. Partners of restless sleepers
also take great enjoyment from memory foam's unrivaled ability to
disturbance from movements on the other side of the bed (as exemplified
by the wine glass demonstration made famous by Tempur-Pedic).
On the flip side, this unique experience can take some
adjustment, and may not be for everyone. A common complaint is that memory foam
mattresses feel warmer than innerspring mattresses, a byproduct of the
very form-fitting quality for which they are praised. With more
of your body's surface area in contact with the mattress, less of your
skin is free to "breathe," resulting in discomfort and/or added perspiration
for some people. Similarly, active sleepers often find it difficult
to change positions once the bed has formed itself around their body. Memory
foam also has a slight chemical odor when new (akin to the smell of paint),
which fades over time but some find pungent at first. Finally, others
disparage the lack of "springiness," particularly as it affects their 'non-sleeping'
Memory foam mattress owners praise the balanced,
even support their bodies receive as a result of memory foam's unique ability
to form itself to the contours of their body. This is particularly true among side
sleepers, for whom proper spine alignment and pressure points can often
be an issue on overly firm innerspring mattresses. Stomach and back
sleepers, on the other hand, typically prefer the support provided by a
firm innerspring mattress.
In general, high-quality memory foam is thought
of as a very durable material, particularly when compared with many of
the padding materials used in less expensive innerspring mattresses, which
can have a tendency to pack or break down over time. In fact, when used in the
upholstery of an innerspring mattress, memory foam is considered one of the more durable
components of the mattress. In addition, many people believe that
memory foam mattresses are more resistant to bacteria and pests (e.g.,
mold and dust mites) than innerspring mattresses. Overall, a good
memory foam mattress is expected to last at least as long as an innerspring
mattress of comparable cost and quality.
That said, memory foam mattresses
are still relatively new, and only a few makers of memory foam mattresses
have been around long enough to truly substantiate any claims about the
longevity of their beds.