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 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 Does a Mattress Last ?
Perhaps you no longer feel lulled into sleep, or you bear the ironclad mattress to finally fall asleep every night. Regardless of your reason to ponder the lifespan of your mattress, it is imperative to know theaverage lifespantoo. As most of depending oninstinctsto upgrade or renew the mattress, it is the time you focused how long your rugged old mattress has been the culprit of yourill health.
Today, having a multi-purpose mattress is trendy, while mattress aficionados advocate mattresses shouldcater for sleepalone. The best feature of a mattress is how well it supports the body to enterdeep sleep.
Moreover, using a damaged mattress canaggravatebackachesand introduces new health issues due to poorsleep postureas wellsleep cycle.
Average Lifespan of a Mattress
How many years (5, 8, 10, 15 or 20) should a mattress is used until it becomes unfit for further use?While most mattresses boast10 yearsaccording to warranties, the health of the mattress is solely dependent on youruse. Studies show that each of us spends about2900 hoursor oddly8 yearsof our life on the mattress.
The primary cause ofback painin a variety of people owes it to theworn out mattressesthey use. Not only does updating boost your health, but it also helps to dissipate the annoyance ofsleepless nights.
According to extensive studies, the average lifespan of a standard mattress isunique. While theSleep Outfittersadvocate7 to 10 Yearsfor a mattress, Consumer reports advocate that people above 40 must not use the same mattress for more than7 years.A mattress lasts as long as it is used well. Oklahoma State University inferred that sleep cycle was considerably enhanced when a person changed from a neglected mattress to new mattressafter a decade.
If the diverse recommendations confuse you, refer to the in-depth table on how long does a mattress last:
- Futon– 4 to 5 Years
- Innerspring– 6 to 7 Years
- Coil Spring– 8 years
- Memory Foam-7 to 8 Years
- Latex Mattress– 8 Years
- Water Bed– 8 to 9 Years
- Air Bed– 9 to 10 Years
An easy way to determine the average lifespan of your mattress is to crosscheck with themanufacturer’s warranty. If you are dubious about the health of your mattress even after rummaging the paperwork, yourintuitionmust be the signal that you need a new mattress!
Symptoms of a Bad Mattress
It is not easy to determine if your mattress is ready to bedumped. Being anexpensive purchase, trashing a mattress requires appropriate planning, in addition torecognizingthe symptoms of an old mattress.
The best way to determine the lifespan of your mattress is by analyzing the following and its effectiveness towards sleep-
The first symptom of sleeping on a beaten up mattress is themorning fatigue. Even though you’ve slept more than enough of your regular sleeping hours, you feeltired. Theworn out feelingowes it to thelack of deep sleepdue to theabsence ofcomfortduring slumber.
If you suffer from pains andspasmsin your body immediately after waking up, your mattress might be the culprit. As the mattresslacks softnessandmedium firmness, the sleeper experiences nbosupportduring sleep and wakes up withpricking pain.
· Reluctance to sleep on one’s own bed
An effective way to determine if your mattress is apain than balmis by checking whether you prefer places other than your mattress to doze off. If you find comfort sleeping in your car, couch or best friend’s mattress, it is time to replace your mattress. When you realize that you get abetter night’s sleep everywhere other than your mattress, you need a new bedding!
Abad mattressis not easy to notice if it is damaged since long. The best way to diagnose your mattress is byinspecting theevennesson the surface of your mattress.
What are the dangers of using a bad mattress?
Do you wash your mattress equal to the times you wash your clothes? How many times do you wash your mattress?Perhaps you are one of the many that rarely cleans their mattresses. Moving on, it is no surprise that none of us genuinelycaresorvaluesour mattress.
Why do you need to change your mattress?If you wear your clothes for years at a stretch without washing them, would you be healthy?
Sleeping on aneglected mattresscannot only give you astiff neckthe next day, but alsosores,rashesorallergies!
People who use damaged mattresses wake up with cramps, drowsiness and body pains. Mattresses are often replenishedlong afterit becomes unusable. These risks pose adirect threatto thephysicalandmental healthof a person.
In addition, if you work from your mattress, the same is why;sweatmust becakedon the foam. You mustperiodicallyrotate, dust and clean the mattress to avoid catchinginfections!
How to Check if you need a new Mattress
If you doubt your mattress’s health, you mustweighandcomparethe measurement with itsinitialweight. Often, theshocking weight differenceis sufficient to enlighten how pivotalcleaningandmaintenanceof a mattress is.
Essential factors to determine if you need to buy a new mattress is by inferring-
· Age of your Mattress
Every manufacturer lists the warranty oryear limitfor every mattress. Mostly embroidered as a tag on the blanket, theage limitof the mattress is not always the best answer. If your mattress does not have such a tag, contact your manufacturer and crosscheck with the model number to determine the lifespan of your mattress.
Oftentimes sleep specialists give admonition about using mattresses are older than10 years! Depending on the type of mattress you use, the age limit varies.
· Quality of your Mattress
The second most important characteristic of a mattress itsmake. If you have alow-grade mattressmade with cheap foams and springs, it is paradoxical to expect longevity of the mattress, let alone agood night’s sleep.
Theworthof your foam determines your health status as well. Moreover, buying acheap mattresswill hike your medical bills while an expensive mattress will be alifelong investment.
· Duration of usage
Synonymous with the age of the mattress, usage of the mattress alsodiffers subjectively. In fact, depending on thehoursyou spend on the mattress, its lifespan varies. The mattress in your guest room is used sparingly, in comparison with the one in master bedroom. Noting thedifferencebetween the two will make you understand the effect of sleep duration on a bedding.
Additionally, depending on the kind of use, for example, if you have a routine of watching TV from the bed, then, surely, your mattress counts double the time you spend sleeping on it. In such cases, the lifespan of the mattress is,reduced by half.
· Weight of the users
Yet another important factor that adversely affects the health of your mattress is the weight of the sleepers. Depending on your body weight, select a mattress that canconformorsupportyour body weight rather than hinder it.
Not all mattresses are built to last a decade when used by hefty people. Always remember to pick your mattress respective to yourphysiqueanduse. If you do not, the mattress will break and wear out easily, not to forget newer somnipathies!
· Maintenance provided
There are numerous ways to care for a mattress and keep it healthy throughout the use. Provided you aredisciplinedabouthowandwhenyou occupy the mattress, the mattress lasts longer.
Exemplifying, if you use abed coverfor the mattress, you add a quarter decade to its life. Depending on whether you let yourkidsuse the mattress as atrampoline, the age of the mattress differs.
· Dust mites and Stains
If you are irregular about spring cleaning your mattress, there is a high chance that the mattress is caked withdead cells, sweat, dirtand ready fordust mites. The same is the primal cause ofallergiesandskin infections. If you do not clean the mattress regularly, the same can lead to its speedy damage too!
On an average, mattresses must bevacuumed6-12timesper year!
· Noisy Mattress
Another notable way to determine if you need a new mattress is by observing how well the mattress functions. If your mattress makesstrange noisesevery time you occupy it or move around, then you need new bedding!
Creakymattresses are not only annoying to its user, but a signal of how close your mattress is towards dying out! If thesqueakingis chronic, it is a red sign that it can break at any time. Often, mattresses also creak when thespringwithin the foam is damaged.
· Sagging or Sleep Impression
Lastly, an easy way to judge your mattress is by waking up and checking how well the mattress haspreservedtheimpressionof your body. Overtime, beddings tend tosagor developuneven lumpson the sleeping surface. Not only is thisirking, it disturbs thequality of sleeptoo.
Ways to Keep your Mattress Clean
When you invest in a mattress worth a few grand, you must alsomaintainitadequately. Keeping a mattress is clean is an easy habit of picking up, provided youwantto make your mattress last. The first step is to determinehow many times a year can you clean the mattress.
The two essential types of cleaning that a mattress requires arevacuumingandsun drying.Washingis not recommended and it is best to mark aroutinefor cleaning your bedding. Make sure to change your bedcover every few days and vacuum the mattress soon after. Overall cleanliness is necessary to keep the allergens and sleep-spoilers away.
If you ownsingle sided bedding, rotate it in anend-to-endfashion. You can reverse the foot end with the head end and vice-versa for each rotating session. Fordouble-sided bedding,invertthe mattress and repeat the sameonce every two weeksif your mattress is brandnew.
How to increase the lifespan of a mattress
It is true that a brand new mattress makes you feel like it will always be a dream sleep. Although it takes a few days for the mattress to loosen up into its original outline, caring for a mattress starts from the first night!
Dos and Don’ts of using a mattress to make it last longer-
- Do notrollyour mattress at any point of cleaning. This tends todeformits evenness and may even make the bedding lumpy or uneven at places. The same applies avoidingbendingthe mattress at angles more than20 0 .
- When shifting or going for vacation,how do youstoreyour mattress? If you’re not going to use it for –>report this ad
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.