Are memory foam mattresses worth it?

by Elia Strange

When I mention to others that I sleep on a memory foam mattress, I am often asked the following two questions: 'Is it comfortable?’ and ‘Is it worth it?'

So I've decided that instead of you sending me emails I would write a small article on it and just share my thoughts and experience on the subject of sleeping on a memory foam mattress.

Instead of diving straight into the why’s and why not’s in this piece, I will start my story from the very beginning - my very first meeting with Mr. (or her Majesty) Memory Foam Mattress.

About 10 years ago I went to the beautiful Canary Island of Gran Canaria for a short holiday trip.

Whilst I was there, I decided to take the free excursion to the nearest market. I think they had advertised this excursion as something like 'merino wool products and free wine tasting' to get as many people as possible on this trip. I new full well that this trip would be aimed at trying to get as many sales for the wool products as possible, but the offer of ‘free wine’ always sounds good to me, so I singed up.

On the way to the market the coach pulled off the main road and into a large courtyard and stopped. We were invited into the biggest house where they sat us down on the benches along the wall.

As I expected we were the captive audience and an old guy started demonstrating the goods he was selling, mostly made of merino wool. Some were made into warm clothes, whereas other ones were mostly to use for the household, like rugs and cushions for hard chairs.

He let us to touch the goods and even try them on so we could evaluate their quality. I have to admit, if you live in a cold climate, you would have loved to purchase some of those products for your own home.
But the last product he was selling, now that was something I would never forget.

The 'wine' experiment

He invited us all to stand around a bed, which looked like a very typical bed to me, covered with some light sheets and colourful cushions. I was beginning to wonder what he had in stall for us all as he started explaining that the mattress on that bed was not typical at all.


Ten years ago not many people had heard a lot about memory foam mattresses yet and I was one of them. My first thoughts were what a waste of my time, but as I was still waiting for my ‘free wine’ I kept listening to him.


With an unexpected flash of showmanship he said that he would now like to demonstrate to us something interesting. He took a glass of red wine and placed it on one side of the bed, then he went to the other side of the bed and laid himself down. Then he got up. The glass on the other side of the bed did not move! I wouldn't say that he laid down or got up gently either just in a normal way as you would when you get up in the morning.

This is where I was amazed, I needed that free wine now!

If you have a typical mattress, not a memory foam one, you would not even try to put a glass of water on it, then sit down or lay down, then get up. You know that a 'normal' mattress cannot withstand such an experiment.

What the seller was trying to show to us is that if you share your mattress with your partner, then every time they move or get up in the middle of the night, you feel it because the whole mattress moves so much that even wakes you up.
For the most people this happens several times a night, and every night. I know this from my own personal experience!

Lost and found

The mattress also seemed very comfortable and supportive, especially if you have problems with your back. But the price was too way to high for me to buy, I think it was something like $1000 back then.
I had to leave it. But I left a piece of my heart on it as they say.

When I returned to the UK, I kept looking for those types of mattresses, but the price was still too high. So I left the idea of buying this magic mattress for several years.

Then, around 3 years ago I went shopping to buy a new mattress (not a memory foam one, but just a typical normal mattress). The stores were having their January sales and I was hoping to get something really comfortable but at a more realistic price.

The store seller showed me a few different mattresses, which seemed nice and comfortable. But the last mattress he showed to me was a memory foam mattress, exactly like I've seen 10 years ago in Canary Islands. I laid myself upon it and fell in love with it all over again.

The mattress was firm but very comfortable. The mattress didn't even move when I laid myself on it. It was absolutely perfect, especially if you have to share it with someone else on a nightly basis! It was a bit more expensive than the other ones, but the kind seller offered me a good discount on the top of the January sales discount, and I bought it.

Three years later and it is still my favourite mattress. I sleep on it every night and I love it.
But I have to be honest, and besides the benefits of it, I have to share with you the downsides of having a memory foam mattress too.

So here it goes.


The downsides:

1) It's pricey. This type of mattresses is never cheap. However, it will last you for many-many comfortable years.

2) It's heavy. If you can get it deliver it, then let them do it.

3) Because it contains foam, it can get very warm at night.

In fact, there have been a number of times where I have sweated during the night because the mattress got too warm.

If you live in a hot sunny country and you never feel really cold, then this may be the biggest downside for you. However if you live somewhere with a colder climate, or if you are a 'cold-bum' (my partner calls me something else) then this shouldn't be a big issue.

If I get too hot whilst sleeping on this mattress, I just get a thinner blanket.

The benefits:

1) It's firm but comfortable. It moulds to your body shape.

I find it really supportive for my back. On the previous 'normal' mattresses I had to change many sleeping positions during the night, as I could not get comfortable enough. With the foam mattress I hardly ever experience any discomfort, and this is very important to me. I suffer from occasional backache, but when I sleep on the foam mattress, it's never the problem.

2) You never feel the mattress springs.

Well, obviously this mattress doesn't have any springs. But believe me, the previous 'normal' mattress I got was not a cheap one either, and it was advertised as 'medium firmness, high comfort, orthopaedic mattress'. After just a couple of years I had to buy a ‘topper’as I could feel its springs digging into my back nearly every night. After 5 years, it just lost its shape, and this is why I went to the store to get another mattress. What a waste of money that was!

3) If you have someone else sleeping with you every night, then you will be amazed. When they get up during the night or early in the morning, you won't even notice it! Unless they shout into your ear “Wake up!” (But for these cases you can use some good ear-plugs).

4) You and your partner will never roll to the centre of the mattress as you would with many ‘normal’ mattress after several months of sleeping on it. A memory foam mattress retains its shape for many long years.

5) It's warm. As I was saying earlier, it could be a downside if you prefer cool bed all night. But for the winters in the UK, it's just perfect. The mattress warms up very quickly and stays very warm until you get up in the morning.

6) It's a luxury. The mattress usually has a soft touch cover. I would also recommend to get an additional mattress cover, as you can wash it time to time, and your mattress will look like new every time.

7) The mattress usually comes with several years guarantee, which is much higher than any typical 'normal' mattress.

A memory foam topper


I would advice against getting a memory foam topper instead of the mattress.

 For those who don’t know, the topper is a much thinner version of the mattress and basically you can put it on the top of your existent mattress.

Yes, it's cheaper and much more affordable.

But you cannot experience the full benefits of a memory foam mattress. For example, if your mattress 'moves' during the night, for example when you or your partner turns on the other side or trying to get up during the night, the mattress will continue to do the same. Because it is the old mattress underneath you, and the memory foam topper won't stop this occurrence.

Also, in a few years time you will need to get a new mattress anyway. So why not save for a decent memory foam mattress instead? Or wait for January or summer sales and get one with a good discount as I did?

There are many stores selling memory foam mattresses these days. Of course I would advise to go the store if you can and try one for yourself by laying down on it. Then you will notice the real difference in the comparison to the other ones.

However, I know that many people are just too busy for that these days, or prefer to make all the purchases online, a quick search and you can find many online stores offering good deals and free returns. Just make sure they offer a free refund policy and long-term guarantee.


Now where’s that ‘free wine?’

Other articles you might like to read:

Do I have a sleep disorder

What happens to me when I don't sleep enough?

Why am I sleeping too much?

What are our dreams?

Sexual dreams and your sleeping position

How to get a good night sleep: the professional recommendations

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