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 equivalents.
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 minimize 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' bedroom activities.
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.