The Ins and Outs of Memory Foam: Is It Worth the Hype?
April 10, 2017
Filed under: Shopping Tips
Memory foam mattresses have soared in popularity over the last decade. Memory foam pillows are a more recent addition to the product line. But what’s so great about memory foam? A lot, it turns out.
What is memory foam?
Memory foam material dates back to 1966 when it was developed by NASA to absorb shock in airplane seats. Since then, “slow spring back foam” (as it was initially referred to) has been used in NFL helmets, hospital beds, shoes, and prosthetics.
Memory foam has evolved in recent years, and technologically advanced foams are common materials in mattress construction. For example, Serta’s gel foam mattresses are made up of a combination of tiny cushioning chambers, each infused with millions of Titanium gel beads uniquely designed to relieve pressure points, provide added support and aid in temperature regulation.
Why do some sleepers prefer memory foam?
Memory foam is a great mattress material for many reasons. It evenly distributes weight and pressure over an area, giving many sleepers pressure point relief. The foam contours to each individual’s body shape, allowing for a high level of mattress personalization. Memory foam is also resistant to movement. If your bed partner gets up frequently or tosses and turns at night, the activity doesn’t ripple throughout the entire mattress.
Now, advanced memory foam technology helps keep you cool while you sleep. Serta’s iComfort mattress collection, for example, features EverFeel® Triple Effects™ Gel Memory Foam which provides a cool and comfortable night’s sleep.
How long does memory foam last?
Memory foam mattresses can last anywhere from eight to ten years, depending on how well they’re cared for. Typically, a memory foam mattress will last as long as any other type of mattress, whether it’s an innerspring or hybrid.
A liquid resistant mattress protector is a good way to keep your memory foam mattress clean and free from stains, which can impact the warranty. Our iComfort TempActiv mattress protector is a great choice for your memory foam mattress due to its cool-to-the-touch feel and water proof barrier.
What if I’m still not sure?
That’s okay! A new mattress is a big decision. If you prefer the traditional feel of an innerspring mattress, Serta offers the best of both worlds. Our hybrid mattresses mattress models combine gel memory foam with the most advanced individually wrapped steel coil innerspring systems. No matter your comfort preference, we’ve got you covered.
How Long Does a Mattress Last
How do you know if you need a new mattress? If you’re waking up tired and sore, it may be time to replace. Find out how long pillow top, memory foam, hybird, latex and more can last.
How Long Should a Mattress Last?
The average mattress lasts around 7-10 years depending on the type. Read on to learn the lifespan of each kind of mattress type.
These typically have a lifespan of8 years. A continuous coil mattress tends to last longer, as its single coil is less likely to break.
Memory foam mattresses contain an extra layer of foam for added comfort. With proper care, they can last for10-15 yearsdepending on the density of the foam.
Gel Memory Foam
This type of mattress helps to dissipate the heat throughout the bed and keep the mattress cooler at night. It also has a lifespan of10-15 years.
A natural latex mattress lastsup to 15 yearsdue to its elasticity. If the top layer wears out, you can replace it rather than purchase a new mattress. Latex mattresses are also the only mattresses that are naturally resistant to dust mites, making them particularly good for people with allergies or asthma.
The lifespan of a hybrid mattress depends on its material. Typically, a hybrid mattress combines inner coils with foam and has a lifespan of8-10 years.
Waterbeds are made with a vinyl covering that can puncture or tear. With proper care, a waterbed can last between8-10 years.
The soft top of a pillow top mattress shortens its longevity. With proper care and rotating, it can often last about7 years.
Some mattresses, like memory foams and latex, can last up to 15 years, much longer than the average innerspring. In the end, it’s up to you how long your mattress lasts. If you’re still getting a good night’s sleep, you might not need to make a change.
How to Extend the Life of Your Mattress
Mattresses can last longer than expected depending on their use and care. Here are some preventative measures to extend the life of your mattress.
- Use a secure base
Without the right support, your mattress will sag prematurely. Use a proper foundation, such as a box spring, wooden slats, or a metal base.
But consider to purchasing a new base if yours:
- No longer retains its shape
Has dents or sagging areas
Get a Mattress Protector
Dust, sweat, body oils, and lotion seep into the mattress and wear down its fibers.
Clean Your Mattress
Ideally, your mattress should be cleaned twice a year. Sprinkle it with baking soda and vacuum after 30 minutes.
Wash Your Sheets
Wash your sheets weekly to eliminate dust, body oils, and debris that collect. This will prevent the debris from leaking into the mattress.
Rotate Your Mattress
Overuse of the area that supports your body will cause your mattress to feel less comfortable. Rotating it every 3 months can eliminate wear and tear in one area.
Don’t Jump on the Bed
This can cause wear and tear. For certain types of mattresses, you also risk damaging the springs.
Don’t Sleep with Your Pets
Your pet’s oils, dander, and urine can leak onto the mattress.
Always check your luggage and clothing for bed bugs when traveling. Getting bed bugs may require buying a new mattress altogether.
How to Know if You Need a New Mattress
Here are some telltale signs that your mattress may be past its prime:
- You wake up feeling older than your age- One of the biggest signs that it’s time to replace your mattress is when you consistently get a poor night’s sleep. Pay attention to how often you feel worse upon waking than you do when going to bed.
You feel like the coils poke you in your sleep- This could be a sign of advanced wear and tear, depending on the type of mattress. It means you don’t have proper support and will likely affect your sleep quality.
Your bed has become noisy- You’ll want to make sure that the mattress’ base is secure and still supports the mattress. You may have to replace both at once, or just one at a time, depending on the level of wear and tear.
You just can’t get comfortable- Though an old mattress isn’t always the culprit of sleep discomfort, it should be one of the first things you check.
Sleeping aggravates your allergies/asthma- Some dust mites live in every mattress and pillow, but they can accumulate over years of time. In addition to dust mites, common allergens, including mold, can grow in your mattress.
Overall, if you’re consistently waking up feeling unrested, it’s probably time to start shopping. You’ll likely be able to save some money by looking online instead of in mattress stores. Check out our mattress reviews, such as our review of Saatva mattress, to learn more.
Finding a mattress that lasts long can be tough. Once you find the right one, prolong its lifespan by taking care of it properly.
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How Long Do Mattresses Last? The Results May Shock You!
Mattresses are pretty expensive — one quick glance at our buyer’s guide will confirm this fact. This is why many people do not replace them – not even after many years of use.
They do not want to spend a lot of money on a new one. Besides, now you can delay the process of buying a new one if you do an excellent job at maintaining your existing one.So, how often should you replace your mattress?
It doesn’t matter which type of bed you have. Most of them are ready for replacement within ten years to ensure a good night’s rest (old mattresses can hurt your sleep quality). Besides, it can last beyond ten years on average, if the owners maintain it properly.
Also, many different factors affect a bed’s lifespan. You can extend its life expectancy by following a few easy steps in the text below. We prepared and wrote down some tips to boost its longevity.
What Are Gel Mattresses?
The ‘Cool’ New Material in Your Mattress
Gel is most often touted in mattresses for its cooling qualities, but it can offer several other characteristics, such as enhanced pressure relief, unique support characteristics, and extended durability.
From a scientific standpoint, gel is a material that falls somewhere between a solid and a liquid. Known as a ‘viscous semi-rigid solid,’ gel chemically resembles a liquid but exhibits no ‘flow’ when in a steady state. This means it has the ability to be stretched, squished and pulled, but will always return to its original shape. Gel is similar to rubber, but it tends to be heavier and have more of a delayed resiliency than rubber. Because of these qualities, gel is a great material for shock absorption and pressure relief in mattresses.
What is the Difference Between a Gel Mattress and a Memory Foam Mattress?
Gel and memory foam are two different materials. However, they can be, and often are, combined. Both can have pressure relieving properties, depending on how they are used in a mattress.
There are three gel construction types most commonly seen in mattresses today:
Gel-infused memory foam.The most prevalent usage of gel in today’s mattresses is gel-infused foam. Requiring a lower amount of gel than other gel mattress construction types, this approach involves mixing small flecks of gel into a layer of foam. Technically, this can be done with any kind of foam, however it is most often seen with open-cell foams such visco-elastic foam (resulting ingel memory foam) or Talalay latex (resulting ingel latex). The use of open cell foams creates additional ventilation around the gel, which works in concert with the cooling effect of the gel.
Below: Gel flecks are visible in the top layer of memory foam
Collapsible column (or “honeycomb”) construction.Some mattresses (significantly Purple) utilize a layer of collapsible gel columns in their beds. In this approach, thin vertical ‘walls’ of gel are inter-connected in a square or hexagonal pattern across the bed, so that when viewed from above, this layer resembles a grid or honeycomb. This structure is most well-known for its unique support characteristics. In order to maintain proper spinal alignment, a mattress needs to allow our curvy parts to sink deeper into the bed (but nottoodeep!), while still providing adequate support for the rest of our body.
Collapsible gel columns have a unique property known as non-linear resistance – meaning that once a certain amount pressure is applied, the columns stop providing resistance and completely collapse. This allows our heavy or protruding parts, such as the hips and shoulders, to sink down to the bottom of this layer, while our lighter or more concave parts are still supported on top. For maximum spinal alignment, a layer of collapsible column gel is typically about 2 inches tall, which is the average amount of ‘curve’ that our bodies have between our hips and our waist.
Below: ‘Honeycomb’ gel layer of a Purple mattress
Solid gel layer.Perhaps the most recent innovation in gel mattresses is the use of a solid layer of gel at or near the top of the mattress, or on top of a pillow. Given the weight and density of gel, this layer is usually less than 1" thick. That said, depending on the softness of the gel, a solid gel layer can give the mattress or pillow a very unique yet familiar feel – similar to a gel bicycle seat or gel insoles. For those that tend to sleep hot, a solid layer of gel offers the maximum gel surface area, so the cooling effects of the gel should feel very pronounced. This style of gel mattress tends to use the most gel (by weight), so the coolness of the gel can last longer into the night.
Below: Thin layer of solid gel on top of a pillow
Do Gel Mattresses Keep You Cool?
Gel is most commonly promoted by mattress companies as a solution for "sleeping hot." So, is gel really "cooler" than other materials? Well, technically no – but it doesfeelcooler. The reason is that gel is a conductor, like water or metal. Because our bodies are generally much warmer than the ambient temperature of our bedroom, the gel’s conductive properties act to ‘pull’ this excess heat away from our bodies, making us feel cooler.
To better understand what this means and how it works, think first about sitting in a bedroom that is room temperature (
72° F). Now think about sitting in a swimming pool that is 72° F. Which one feels cooler? Of course, the pool feelsmuchcooler!! This is because our body temperature is much warmer than 72° F (the surface of our bodies is normally
90° F), and the water (an excellent conductor) allows this excess heat to travel away from our bodies very efficiently, making us feel cooler.
How much cooling do you really get from a gel mattress?
The amount of cooling provided by the gel depends mostly on three key factors:
- How close the gel is to your body.The cooling power of the gel is based on its conductive properties, so layers of other materials between you and the gel tend to act like insulators, reducing the transfer of heat from your body to the gel. This means that minimizing such layers – e.g., additional padding above the gel, mattress protector, thick sheets, and even pajamas! – will maximize the cooling effect of the gel.
- How much gel there is.The more gel there is, the longer it will take your body to warm the gel from room temperature to body temperature, after which the gel will cease to feel cool. Beds with less gel are generally designed to remain cool for 15-30 minutes – long enough for you to fall asleep, but perhaps not long enough to remain cool throughout the entire night. Beds with thick layers of gel (e.g., 50-100 pounds of gel in a queen-size mattress) are designed to remain cool for several hours or more.
- How the gel is constructed.Because gel itself does not allow air to flow through it, layers of gel in a mattress are often structured in such a way as to enable or create air flow. With gel-infused foam, an open-cell foam is typically used to create added ventilation. With collapsible columns, the hollow columns allow plenty of air circulation. And with solid gel, channels are typically carved in the gel (giving the gel a waffle iron appearance) to enable air flow along the gel’s surface.
How Long Do Gel Mattresses Last?
In general, gel is considered to be among the most durable materials used in mattresses today. As a semi-rigid solid, it should not lose its shape or its flexibility over time. That being said, the gel used in mattresses can be made from either polyurethane or plastic. Because plastics are known to become brittle with age, polyurethane-based gels are more desirable from a durability perspective.
It should also be noted that in the case of gel-infused foams, the gel represents a relatively small portion of that material. As such, the durability of that type of material will have much more to do with the quality of the foam that is used than with the gel that is mixed into the foam.
Gel Mattress Brands
Thanks in large part to the breakout popularity of the iComfort mattress line from Serta, including the iComfort Blue 100, there are now many manufacturers that have either created a special line of gel mattresses or added gel as a feature to their existing lines.
In addition, there are several smaller manufacturers that specialize entirely in gel mattresses, some of which have been working with gel as a mattress material for decades. Purple is the best known example. GoodBed has reviewed the original Purple mattress, as well as the Purple 2/3/4 line, all of which use a wide layer of honeycomb gel.
Most commonly, you will see gel incorporated into memory foam and used as one of the comfort layers of a mattress. Examples include the Bear mattress, the GhostBed Luxe bed, and the Lull mattress.
How Long Do Memory Foam Mattresses Last?
Table of Contents
Thelifespan of a memory foam mattress dependson the type of memory foam, number of layers, thickness, and density of layers, foundation layer properties, and construction strength.There are three types of memory foam namely the traditional, air cool, and gel. Traditional type is more suited if your body mass index is higher than normal and you want firm support for your spine and body. Gel memory foam has thetherapeutic propertiesfor healing lower back pain and aligning the spinal cord in a straight line. Air foam is forcontrolling your body temperaturewithin standard values and cooling your skin.
How Foam Density Effects The Life of a Mattress?
Density is a measure of weight per cubic foot. Low-density mattresses support 1.5LB per cubic foot. Medium density mattresses support 2-3LB per cubic foot. High-density mattresses can support 4 to 6 LB per cubic foot or even more. They have a high resistance to stress factors. It is because they distribute your body weight across the length X width and depth through the other supporting layers. Hence, the stress on individual layers will be relatively less.
Tensile strength is a measure of stretching limits. It is directly proportional to the elongation threshold when your body weight is placed on it. High-density mattress elongation could be hardly 10% to 15% of its original dimension. Medium density mattress elongates to 25%-30% of its original dimension. Low-density mattress elongates to 40% or more. Hence,reaching the breaking point takes more time for the high-density mattress compared to the other two types.Here, our research has been focused only on the memory foam layer. When it is supported by others like comfort layer, transition layer, spring layer, and base layer, elongation probability of memory foam layer gets reduced further. Hence,it can carry more weight per cubic foot and last longer than the other two types.
Weight required for compressing 4” memory foam by 25%. Higher ILD rates can mean more weight capacity and extended lifespan.It also means the mattress is firmer in its construction.It also means the mattress can support your body weight without sinking in. However, it may not be practical to keep this factor always high since it can affect softness factor. Hence, the modern mattresses have introduced an additional layer of Gel memory foam over the polyurethane (PU) memory foam. ILD rating of gel foam is relatively low. But it transfers the weight onto the PU layer. Gelprovides softness for your body, while PU provides firmness. Combination of these two factors increases the comfort level while sleeping.
It is called resilience. You might have seen children jumping and dancing on memory foam mattress in your home.They bounce on the mattress due to the rebound pressure offered by the foam.If this factor is higher, pressure relief points on the mattress can work more efficiently. Me top two memory foam layers can carry weight without experiencing an excess of stretching. It can also mean better body contour support which in turn increases coziness and comfort factors.
Heat absorbing gel memory foam mattress doesn’t retain it with its layers. It is due to increased risk of rupture within a few years. So, the design principles follow two methods of dissipating this heat.Transfer to the base layer or conversion into another form of energy for providing pressure and pain relief for your body while you sleep.The first form of transfer puts extra stress on the base layer. It can transfer heat onto bed frame if it is made of metal. When placed on a wooden bed frame, the heat gets trapped within the base layer. Since it has no way of retaining it longer, it transfers heat back to the top layer. This type of thermal circulation can also significantly reduce the lifespan of the mattress.
Hence,the best method is to convert heat into energy for pain and pressure relief.The sectional memory foam mattress consists of many horizontal sections from head to your feet. It can transfer the heat to the feet and legs section to induce faster and deeper sleep. Hence, the heat gets utilized. It also transfers part of the heat to the abdomen and hips section.If you sleep on back posture, it can help relieve lower back pain.Gel memory foam uses this heat for relieving the stress and eliminating fatigue factors from your body.
Low-density mattress can absorb shocks from abrupt posture change only for short duration. Then the cells start breaking down. You may have to change the foam layer frequently. Our experiments with a body weight of 198LBs and above showed significant differences in reaching breakdown point with time.High-density memory foam mattress with multiple layers can absorb shock better.By keeping the rebound pressure high, it is possible to reduce the impact of shocks on the foam layers.
By increasing base foam thickness to 6” it is possible to provide better support for your body while resting. Transition foam of 3” and memory foam of 3” with gel memory foam of 3” thickness can increase the lifespan of mattresses at least by 5 to 6 years. It is not only due to weight distribution, but also support for different sleeping postures. If you are a side sleeper,the top gel memory foam can adjust its cells around your body to give you maximum support and comfort.PU foam can distribute your body weight around your body with spinal cord acting as a balancing point. Hence, the probability of losing your balance and changing to a back or stomach posture will be almost zero.
If you are a back posture sleeper, the density of PU memory foam will be higher, while the density of gel memory foam can remain the same. This sort of construction can also increase lifespan. If you happen to be a stomach sleeper,the thickness and density of transition and comfort layers have to be more.We have considered the BMI factor from an upper limit of the standard range to the low to high obesity levels. Practical experiments have shown that any mattress which can support higher BMI can certainly extend its support for normal BMI also.
Preventive Maintenance to Increase The Life of Your Memory Foam Mattress
The finest range of quality memory foam mattresses can have a long life when you can follow certain simple preventive maintenance procedures.They can protect your mattress from mold and mildew, dust and dirt, germs and microorganisms.Maintenance keeps your mattress free from moisture and dampness due to sweating.
Vacuum your memory mattress once a week to remove dirt and particles. Make sure you have used the upholstery attachment to regulate pressure.If the mattress has a zipper, you can open it and vacuum the internals also.Such cleaning is highly useful for assembled mattresses.
You can use antifungal and anti-infectious sprays to eliminate the harmful elements from your memory foam mattress. But you have to make sure they are free from moisture and dry off naturally.
Cleaning agents without moisture content such as vinegar can help in removing stains. You may also use the off the shelf products after reading the ingredient specifications.
Drying the memory foam mattress in the open air without exposing it to the direct sunlight is one of the simplest and safest methods after cleaning. It will also eliminate the pungent odor of the spray
How Long Do Memory Foam Mattresses Last – Summary
BMI VS Mattress Density
If your BMI is within the healthy range and you sleep alone, you may opt for amedium density mattress with three foam layers. If you are a couple with healthy BMI, you can opt for thesame type of mattress with high resistance for motion transfer.If your BMI is anywhere near the stage of obesity, it is better to opt for a high-density mattress.
Make sure you check the above-listed parameters in detail before placing an order. Then you can select the best mattress that supports your sleeping posture, Body Mass Index (BMI) and usage pattern. If you constantly change your posture during sleep, it is better to opt for Hybrid /composite mattress with four to five layers of foam. The top layer being Gel memory foam and the layer beneath that being PU foam.You can opt for a mattress company which gives you a free trial period of at least 15 nights.Then you can evaluate the mattress quality and durability.