Choosing Your Mattress: Memory Foam VS: Fully Sprung
When it comes to choosing your mattress, it can seem as though there are endless options. Fully sprung, pocket sprung, open coil, memory foam, hybrid…with so many choices, choosing the right option for you and your needs can seem far more complex than it needs to be! In reality, your mattress selection boils down to a simple choice between two core options: foam or springs (we’re presuming nobody actually buys a waterbed these days…).
In recent years, you can’t open a magazine, log onto social media or walk down the high street without coming face to face with an advertisement for a memory foam mattress. Touted as being comfortable and supportive, you’d be forgiven for thinking mattresses made from synthetic memory foam offer a better quality of sleep than a traditional sprung mattress. Memory foam mattresses however are not without problems – and can leave sleepers feeling poorly supported and hot. Being made from a synthetic, oil-based material, they also pose environmental issues both in their manufacture and disposal. In this article, we’ll examine whether a memory foam mattress or a fully sprung mattress is better for you, your body, your wallet and the planet!
What is a memory foam mattress, and what is a fully sprung mattress?
To start with the obvious, let’s look at what a memory foam mattress is made from – no, it’s not just memory foam! In fact, despite its name, the ‘memory foam’ component typically makes up a just thin layer on the very top of the mattress – the comfort layer. The rest of the mattress is made up of differing layers of high density polyurethane foam which are used to create a base layer on which to support the top memory foam layer.
A fully sprung mattress refers to a mattress which at its core comprises either a Bonnell or pocket sprung spring system, on which fillings are placed to create a comfort layer. The springs used in fully sprung mattresses mould themselves to the contours of the body while at rest, supporting the body’s natural posture and therefore relieving the muscle groups situated around the shoulders, spine and rib cage. The comfort layer in Odd Mattresses consists of natural fibre fillings like lambswool, cashmere, horsehair and cotton. These fillings are chosen for their inherent qualities of breathability, heat regulation and comfort. They are also 100% biodegradable and recyclable.
Let’s now establish the advantages and drawbacks of your fully sprung – or memory foam- mattress!
Price is one of the most common reasons that consumers choose a memory foam mattress. These mattresses are mass produced by machines which cut each section of foam to size and then glue each foam layer together before rolling the mattress up and placing it in a box. These mattresses are therefore cheaper and faster to manufacture than their handmade fully sprung counterparts from the Odd Company. Although the purchase price may be lower, the truth is, the cost of a memory foam mattress is much greater than it first appears.
For starters, memory foam mattresses will need replacing far sooner than a quality pocket sprung mattress which uses natural fibre fillings. Most memory foam mattresses sold in retail parks or arriving in boxes via online retailers have a usable life of around three to four years. After this time compression on the top surface of the mattress will normally be quite evident. This dipping is caused by the structure of the foam breaking down through nightly use and is therefore irreversible, resulting in a relatively short time in the mattress failing. One of the reasons the point of failure is reached far sooner with a memory foam mattress than with a pocket sprung mattress made by The Odd Company, is because memory foam mattresses generally cannot be turned. The memory foam layer is only found on the top surface of the mattress, this prevents the mattress being turned, and results in the top side of the mattress getting continued use night after night. As a two sided fully sprung mattress can be turned and rotated, both sides of the mattress get even use, ensuring that wear and settlement are shared by both sides of the mattress equally. The result is that the life span of your fully sprung mattress is at least double that of a foam mattress.
A fully-sprung mattress from The Odd Company is designed to provide a decade or more of quality, rejuvenating sleep. Handmade by our craftspeople who ensure every single spring is located exactly where it needs to be, our mattresses have integrity and durability stitched into their very design. When compared by retail price a fully sprung mattress will be more expensive than a mattress made from memory foam. But when compared by lifetime cost – the retail price divided by the number of years before the mattress needs replacing, the price of a fully sprung mattress will be much lower than a mattress made from memory foam. While a mattress priced at £1,000 may appear an investment for some, over a decade this amounts to £100 a year, working out at just 27p a night (or 13p per person, if you’re sharing!).
Let’s turn now to the experience of sleeping on a memory foam mattress: if modern marketing is to be believed, the ultimate sleeping experience. Right?
Unfortunately, no. Memory foam is often heralded as a good choice thanks to large marketing budgets which highlight the ability of foam to form around a sleeper, touching the body everywhere. Unfortunately, as many of us know, the cradling of the body in this way prevents airflow through the mattress, resulting in the sleeper feeling stifled and uncomfortably-warm. What is more, the cradling effect created by the foam around the body makes it difficult to roll over and move when in bed. By restricting movement foam mattress make changing to a cooler sleeping position in which heat can be released a challenge.
As well as retaining body heat memory foam mattresses also act like a sponge to moisture. Moisture produced by natural perspiration while sleeping cannot easily evaporate from a foam mattress and instead is retained on the mattress surface. The build up of perspiration within the mattress primarily poses a problem of mattress hygiene, but will also break down the mattress’s upholstery, reducing mattress life.
An Odd Mattress has been designed to be breathable and heat regulating. The fully sprung core of our mattresses allows air to easily pass through and circulate within the mattress. This continued airflow aids the evaporation of perspiration, helps prevent the body from overheating and is good for mattress hygiene. Each of the natural materials used in our mattress’ comfort layer has been selected, among other things, for their breathability; horsehair, for instance, is a springy microscopic hollow tube, and has consequently been used in mattresses to aid airflow and circulation for centuries. Our natural fibre fillings help draw unwanted heat and perspiration away from the body, retaining a hygienic top surface to the mattress and extending the mattress’ lifespan.
The heat regulating properties of our natural fillings additionally mean that the sleeper feels cosy in winter months and cool during the summer ones; a comfort layer made principally of lambswool provides natural breathability and heat regulation to ensure you’re comfortable whatever the weather.
Lastly, in the clash of the mattresses, it’s important to look at the most crucial element: the support offered by each mattress. Memory foam mattresses are touted by some as the answer to the issue of inadequate mattress support. However memory foam mattresses ability to support the body’s natural form is, as already touched upon, generated through the retention of body heat. Heat causes the structure of the foam to change allowing the foam to mould itself around you. This process can lead to the sleeper feeling hot and creates a sensation of the body being enveloped by the mattress.
As memory foam mattresses need to be replaced more frequently than fully sprung mattresses, the support they do offer is also short lived. Once a memory foam mattress starts to sag and dip – caused by the foam degrading through use, the mattress will no longer provide adequate support for the body’s natural posture. The sleeper will begin to notice muscular and joint aches on waking as the mattress no longer performs its primary function – providing suitable support to the body while at rest.
Overall Winner: Fully Sprung!
In short, a mass-produced mattress cut from thick synthetic foam is simply unable to provide individual bodies at rest with the support they need. Without structural integrity of springs within the core of the mattress, a dip or sag is sadly inevitable – leaving your mattress – and your health – a little worse for wear.
It’s perhaps no surprise that the support offered by a handmade, fully sprung mattress from The Odd Mattress is second-to-none. Our sleep experts, together with our craftspeople, work together to ensure each mattress is created to support your body in its natural position at rest. Our priority is always that each Odd mattress provides optimal rest for the sleeper, which is why each and every mattress we make uses a fully sprung spring system to ensure that the natural curve of the sleeper’s spine is supported correctly throughout each night’s sleep.
With at least 1,000 pocket springs in each of our mattresses (and up to 3,000 individual pocket springs in our highest specification range), our mattresses support your posture while at rest without causing your body to overheat during your sleeping hours. By being able to intricately mould themselves to the shape of the spines natural curve, pocket springs ensure that tension around joints and muscles are relieved and pressure points elevated.
Despite their prevalence, it seems that memory foam mattresses simply aren’t up to the task of providing you with the quality of sleep you need to feel energised and up to the day ahead. With the quality of our rest of enormous importance for our health and wellbeing, it’s time to prioritise that mattress. To browse our range of standard luxury mattresses or commission a custom-built mattress, simply speak to one of our experts, who will be all too happy to help.