What Are the Disadvantages of Memory Foam Mattresses?

Yes, PandaZzz is a memory foam mattress company. We live, breathe, and eat (not really) memory foam.

At the same time, we want to be honest. PandaZzz chose memory foam because it’s the most affordable and high-tech. That doesn’t mean it's a perfected mattress material, but at the same time, many of the negatives of memory foam have been dramatically overblown.

Let’s honestly and carefully examine the pros and cons of memory foam as a mattress material to help you make the most informed decision.

Every mattress material has its downsides

There’s no such thing as an ideal mattress material. When someone finally invents one, we’ll be the first to adopt it. Let’s briefly cover some of the worst aspects of each mattress material to start things off on the right (or wrong) foot:

1. MEMORY FOAM

Some of the potential disadvantages of memory foam include:

  • Low-quality foam may offgas
  • Older foam tends to sag
  • Doesn’t last quite as long as latex

2. LATEX

Sorry, latex ain’t perfect either:

  • Firmer and colder
  • Synthetic latex is more toxic than even the worst memory foam
  • Organic latex is extremely expensive (1 mattress is the price of 4!)

3. INNERSPRING

Innersprings are obsolete for a reason. A few of them, in fact:

  • Uncomfortable
  • Springs can poke through, causing injury
  • Very hard to recycle

4. WATER BED

Do we even need to say anything?

  • Easy to puncture even without scissors for hands
  • Breeding grounds for mold and bacteria
  • Require chemical treatments to prevent mold growth

Are memory foam mattresses bad for your health?

They can be, but they don’t have to be. Almost ironically, memory foam has actually become one of the safest and most sustainable mattress materials. Not all memory foam, though.

If you’re still concerned about memory foam toxicity, we don’t blame you. A decade ago, Mother Jones published a scathing exposé of the most popular memory foam mattresses of the time, revealing them to be full of harmful chemicals.

Half of the industry ignored this warning. The other half, however, started pioneering new memory foam materials no one could ever label as dangerous again.

PandaZzz is the end product of this journey. We bring our unique access to cutting-edge technology to the table with our OEKO-TEX® and CertiPUR-US® certified mattresses, toppers, pillows, and accessories.

Is memory foam bad for your back?

It can be, but memory foam can also be very good for your back. Stomach sleepers might find back pain worsening after switching to memory foam, but the body-hugging properties of this bedding material naturally incentivize you to sleep on your back or side anyway.

Recent research indicates stomach sleeping may be bad for you, so you may want to at least experiment with a different position. Memory foam will help you do that at the same time that it relieves weight off your back and pressure off your joints.

Is memory foam better than a regular mattress?

If by “regular mattress” you mean an innerspring mattress, then yes, absolutely. In some cases, latex or hybrid (latex + foam) mattresses might outstrip memory foam if you’re a fan of firm sleep and 100% organic ingredients.

As long you’re fine with something softer and non-toxic, though, memory foam is a lot cheaper while also offering sleep quality that’s leaps and bounds better than innerspring.

PROS — Why are memory foam mattresses good?

There are too many benefits of memory foam mattresses to list. Here are the top five that are most relevant to the current topic:

1. Body-molding

Conforming to every contour of your body, memory foam releases pressure on your back and joints, helping you recover and overcome chronic pain. Plus, these body-molding attributes are undeniably comfortable.

2. Compressible

Memory foam is the easiest mattress material to ship. Compressible down to around 20% of its expanded size, this material is both economical and non-bulky to send around the country. Plus, it’s easy to get your memory foam bed in your home and unpack it.

3. Affordable

Cheaper than both hybrid innerspring and organic latex, memory foam is a solid step up from conventional innerspring mattresses without breaking the bank. The value of memory foam keeps going up as technologies improve.

4. Long-lasting

Memory foam beds are right in the middle when it comes to expected lifespan. They aren’t quite as durable as latex, but they’re just as long-lived as innerspring.

5. Recyclable

Innerspring mattresses contain lots of different kinds of components, making them hard to recycle. Memory foam mattresses, however, solely consist of various layers of foam, making it easy to shred and reuse their components.

CONS — Why are memory foam mattresses bad?

We believe in transparency and honesty. Let’s build trust by taking a clear look at the potential drawbacks of memory foam:

Does memory foam dissipate body heat?

No, it doesn’t — not inherently. Polyurethane, the primary component of memory foam, traps heat. It’s possible to engineer memory foam, however, to be heat-conductive. AirCell foam, for instance, is perforated with small holes that allow heat to transfer away from your body.

The heat-retaining attributes of memory foam can be a blessing. If you run cold or live in a colder climate, memory foam feels warmer since it wraps you up in a body-molding hug.

Do memory foam mattresses sag?

Yes, after a while, they do. There’s only so much pressure memory foam can take, after all, before it deforms. Every mattress material is subject to wear and tear.

How do you fix a saggy memory foam mattress?

It’s possible to counter memory foam mattress sag by:

  • Rotating your mattress 180° horizontally, flipping the direction in which you sleep
  • Sleeping on a different part of your bed than usual

The problem is that your memory foam bed is indented in the spot where you put the most pressure the most consistently. If you simply switch up where you sleep occasionally, your mattress won’t have time to indent.

Does memory foam offgas?

It doesn’t have to. The latest forms of memory foam are made with sustainable materials, and they don’t offgas. To prevent even the slightest chance of air contamination, continue following the established guidelines, and air out your new memory foam mattress for 24 hours before use.

How long does a foam mattress last?

Treated right, a decade or even longer. Treated average, around seven years. Treated absolutely terribly, a memory foam mattress might last you a day — or even less.

Reputable memory foam mattress manufacturers offer warranties. They might not cover everything, but they should at least cover workmanship defects and other natural responsibilities of the manufacturer.

What is the safest memory foam mattress?

There are three things you need to look for to determine the relative safety of a memory foam mattress:

Technology

There are lots of ways to make memory foam. In the olden days, only toxic processes were available, but that’s no longer the case. It’s now possible to make sustainable memory foam that doesn’t off-gas or cause any other toxicity concerns.

Production

Even the best memory foam can be ruined by shoddy production methods. In terms of your physical safety, mattresses without enough layers or with inferior forms of memory foam might hurt your back or leave you with long-lasting chiropractic concerns.

Certifications

The only way, ultimately, to ensure your memory foam mattress is safe is to check for certifications. And, ultimately, there’s only one certification that matters — CertiPUR.

This international certification agency carefully inspects mattress materials for toxins common, obscure, and practically unheard-of. Mattresses that have received the CertiPUR seal of approval are guaranteed to offer a basic standard of safety — CertiPUR-US® is the sticker you want to see on American mattresses.

Sustainable fabric is also a plus. OEKO-TEX® is the world’s foremost authority on sustainable textiles in bedding and other applications.