Consumers' Top Memory Foam Mattress Complaints
In the bed industry, the memory foam mattress is often heralded as the pinnacle of sleep comfort. However, even though as a whole the genre is highly rated, some consumers do voice complaints with this type of bed. Here, we’ll address these common complaints, their veracity, and if any of the various brands resolve the issues.
4 Biggest Memory Foam Mattress Complaints
In order, here the biggest issues voiced in reviews, complaint boards, and in concerns from memory foam mattress prospective buyers. We will also take a look at how leading brands of different memory foam types fare in regard to each issue. We mention Tempurpedic, Serta iComfort and Amerisleep because they are recognized leaders in the industry for their type of memory foam.
Being hot at night can prove uncomfortable as optimal sleep conditions often involve cooler temperatures. Because a memory foam mattress, especially the viscous kind like Tempurpedic, molds around the sleeper, released body heat may get trapped around the body and become uncomfortable.
Traditional memory foams have small, tightly spaced cells that prohibit heat transference, even more so when the cells are closed rather than open. Tempur pedic and other traditional manufacturers attempted to remedy complaints with cut air channels, designed to circulate more air. Tempur-Breeze represented another attempt at resolving complaints the brand denied existed, with a special foam and upgraded cover (little about the technology is actually explained), though reviews still appear mixed.
Gel memory foam sought to capitalize on this concern by claiming that cooling gel would wick heat away and keep surfaces comfortable. The issue here is that water-based gel is conductive and will achieve the ambient temperature. Meaning while the material may initially feel cool (due to the room temperature), eventually it will reach body temperature and suffer the same issues as standard visco foam. In fact, a recent ruling from the industry’s National Advertising Board prompted Serta to drop its claims that iComfort was cooler than Tempurpedic because the studies presented didn’t look at the whole mattress or appear convincing enough to the board. Tempurpedic also announced a study showing slightly cooler sleep (0-0.7 degrees) in Tempur-Cloud and Tempur-Contour versus a few iComfort models.
Before gel was even introduced to the market however, plant-based memory foam was already making headways into cooler sleep. Amerisleep’s BioPur memory foam contains a breathable extreme open cell technology and plant-based polyols that don’t respond to heat like petroleum. The brand claims their memory foam mattress line sleeps 9x cooler and permits 10x greater airflow than traditional. A long-term study by Cargill also found that plant-based memory foams sleep 25% cooler than gel-based foams.
Odor is an issue cited by a small percentage of new mattress owners, often less than 15% for all memory foam mattress types. Off-gassing is the term that typically refers to odors emanating from new products. All newly manufactured products, from wood furniture to couches to vehicles will have a certain smell, often described as a “new” smell. These odors are typically reported to be mild and fleeting, but a portion describe them as serious and pervasive. Some people are sensitive to smells in general, while others may have respiratory issues with VOCs [Volatile Organic Compounds] that some foams may emit when made with certain petrochemicals, preservative, and fire retardants.
Traditional memory foam contains many different chemicals, and often preservatives and chemical flame retardants. This is why it tends to receive the most complaints for smell. Tempurpedic ignores the issue, and does not provide information on the inclusion or absence chemicals or VOCs. A significant minority report intense offgassing, to the point they had return the mattress or suffered allergic-type reactions.
Serta also makes no claims regarding VOCs. While consumer data is still limited, it appears that some people do still report off-gassing though to a lesser extent than traditional foams.
Plant-based memory foam from Amerisleep is made using patented Variable Pressure Foam technology which is virtually emission free and free of CFCs, auxiliary blowing agents, and dangerous VOC’s. VPF technology exceeds USA and global environmental regulations. The brand’s mattresses are claimed to be free of toxic VOC’s. While a very small numbers of owners report a mild “new” smell, there does not appear to be any major complaints or reactions caused by odors like those of traditional and gel memory foam mattress types.
3) Feeling of Being Trapped
This concept is a little more difficult to describe, though it refers to the sensation caused by visco-elastic foam molding to the sleeper. While one of the benefits of a memory foam mattress remains its ability to contour to unique curves, some foams allow too much sinking and recover slowly, meaning when you try to move, you must exert extra effort and wait for the material to adjust.
Tempurpedic prides itself on slow recovery time. The highly temperature sensitive nature of the foam can also result in softer foam near the sleeper and firmer spots where exposed to the room, creating a “crater” and making it difficult to roll over or change position. While some may like this feeling, many do not. Those with arthritis and less agility often find it hard to get in and out of bed. Couples have also noted less enjoyable “bedroom fun” do to the lack of buoyancy and extra effort.
By all regards, Serta’s iComfort memory foam remains fairly similar to traditional in terms of responsiveness, though gel does have slightly quicker recovery time.
Because plant-based memory foam mattress technology is temperature neutral, these concerns about cratering and uneven firmness are resolved. Amerisleep’s memory foam also has a 5-7 second recovery time which allows the material to quickly adjust to sleepers’ movements.
4) Durability / Quality
With any mattress, buyers are always concerned with how long the product will last and how it will hold up over time. Given the price of memory foam, people expect the bed to provide comfort for several years. While personal use, weight, and care all play a role, one of the biggest indicators is the foam’s density (how much it weighs per square foot). Densities less than 4lbs are considered poor as they will provide less support and break down quicker. If you prefer a low density foam and like the price, it’s fine to buy but know that a new bed or topper will likely be necessary within a year or two.
Tempurpedic set the bar with their original 5.3lb density foam, however they have since lowered by introducing low density foams in newer collections, as low as 2.5 lbs. While the original higher density lines have a good reputation for longevity, the newer low density foams are already receiving complaints in reviews from owners of 1-2 years.
Serta’s iComfort and other gel-infused foam really only became popular in the past 2 years. This means that little is known about their long-term performance. Will the water-based gel stay in the oil-based foam well? Will the “beads” affect the structural integrity of the memory foam cells? As far as density goes, Serta uses 3.0lb to 5.0lb densities, so some of the lower density (cheaper) models may not fare so well.
Plant-based memory foam has been offered by Amerisleep since 2007, with no reports of performance issues. Densities in their lines range from 4.5-5.3lbs, well withing the desirable range for comfort and longevity.
Getting the Best Memory Foam Mattress
With all the choices online and locally buying a memory foam mattress which one should you choose? Well, finding the right mattress is largely a matter of personal opinion and preference.
Here we have outlined the pros and cons of the top technologies based on the four biggest concerns consumers often express. Of course, as a smart shopper you’ll have to decide which factor – luxury label, the latest fad, reviews, eco-friendliness, comfort, etc – take precedence when shopping.
Though, some things to keep an eye out for regardless include retailer guarantees and where the memory foam mattress is made. A good memory foam bed will have a warranty of at least 20 years and no less than 30 days to try the product at home. You should also look for a mattress made in the USA to ensure it complies with basic material safety standards, workmanship, and ethical labor/manufacturing practices. Shopping online, at the very least researching online, before buying also proves an important part of getting the best overall value and a memory foam mattress you will be satisfied with.