If you’re struggling to decide between purchasing an orthopaedic or a regular memory foam mattress, our article on orthopaedic vs memory foam mattress might be exactly what you need to make an informed decision. We’ll tell you about the different types of memory foam and orthopaedic mattresses as well as go over their benefits and disadvantages. You will find out what makes orthopaedic mattresses so good for spinal alignment and back pain, which will hopefully help you decide if they’d make for a good investment.
At the end of the article, we included a buying guide where you’ll find some pointers as to what factors to consider regardless if you want to buy a memory foam or an orthopaedic mattress. In addition, we also included an FAQ section.
Now, let’s delve into the ins and outs of memory foam mattresses.
All About Memory Foam Mattresses
As their name suggests, memory foam mattresses are made primarily of foam, or polyurethane. Various substances and additives are added to polyurethane to create memory foam. Apart from mattresses, polyurethane is also used for other types of furniture, like sofas and car seats.
Memory foam has been used in the mattress manufacturing industry for years. It was first invented by NASA in the 60s, with the purpose of providing as much comfort for astronauts as possible. It was first used to cushion aircraft, and now it’s widespread in the mattress industry. As the years went on, people started using various different materials in memory foam mattresses to make them cooler and more comfortable, so it’s safe to say that memory foam mattresses have come a long way.
One of the main features of memory foam mattresses is that they’re quick to spring into shape. When you’re lying on your mattress, it hugs your body and adapts to its shape. As soon as you get up, the memory foam goes back to its original shape.
Types of Memory Foam Mattresses
While all memory foam mattresses share one component in common – polyurethane – there are several different types of memory foam mattresses that we will explore below.
Traditional Memory Foam Mattresses
The most common type of memory foam mattresses is traditional memory foam. Its classic and timeless design, as well as the comfort it provides, make it a go-to for many people. While it’s known for providing pressure point relief and comfort, there are also certain benefits that are associated with this type of mattress, such as its tendency to retain heat.
Open-Cell Memory Foam Mattresses
This type of memory foam mattress is made of the same materials as traditional memory foam mattresses. However, unlike traditional memory foam mattresses, open-cell memory foam mattresses have small cells located inside the mattress, which allow for maximum airflow. This makes them incredibly breathable and cooling, which is why they’re quite popular with hot sleepers.
Gel Memory Foam Mattresses
Another popular type of memory foam mattresses is gel mattresses. As the name suggests, these types of mattresses contain gel in their construction. The gel is either directly incorporated into the mattress, or it has a layer of gel particles. There are several benefits that come with the addition of gel to mattresses, the main one being the added breathability and cooling effect. The gel particles are so effective in retaining heat because they absorb the excess heat and prevent overheating and night sweats, so this type of mattress is another good choice for hot sleepers.
The Benefits of Memory Foam Mattresses
Now that we went over the different types of memory foam mattresses, it’s time to delve into all the benefits which they are known for.
Memory Foam Mattresses Provide Pressure Relief
Their ability to soothe the pressure points of the body, especially the shoulders, neck, and back, is one of the most well-known benefits associated with memory foam mattresses. They completely follow the contours of your body and mould to its curves as you’re sleeping. By soothing the pressure points, they’re amazing at preventing any pain and stiffness in a certain area of the body, which can significantly help those who’re proe to waking up in pain.
Memory Foam Mattresses Are a Great Choice for Partners
Memory foam mattresses provide excellent motion isolation properties, which prevents you from disturbing your partner with your movements during the night, and vice versa. Since memory foam mattresses give you that sinking feeling, any movement of your body gets absorbed, so you won’t be able to feel your partner if they get up at any point during the night, or if they’re tossing and turning in bed.
In addition to providing motion isolation, memory foam mattresses are also known for being quiet. This is a great feature if you don’t want to disturb anyone in the household with any noise during the night.
Memory Foam Mattresses Provide Spinal Alignment
A benefit memory foam mattresses share with orthopaedic mattresses is their ability to provide spinal alignment. They promote a healthy posture during the night and help align your spine with your body, making them a great choice if you’re prone to waking up with back pain or soreness in your back area.
Memory Foam Mattresses Are Hypoallergenic
Another amazing benefit that comes with purchasing a memory foam mattress is that they’re hypoallergenic. If you’re someone who struggles with allergies, you’re probably already aware of the fact that you should invest in a hypoallergenic mattress. Not only are memory foam mattresses naturally hypoallergenic, but they also have anti-mite and antifungal properties, making them a wonderful choice for anyone who appreciates a healthy sleeping environment.
The Drawbacks of Memory Foam Mattresses
While there are many benefits that are associated with memory foam mattresses, there are also certain drawbacks you should be aware of.
Memory Foam Mattresses Retain Heat
As we mentioned earlier, traditional memory foam mattresses are notorious for retaining heat. Foam is quite a dense material, and without any airflow, you could see how it would create an environment prone to overheating. While this makes them excellent for those who live in colder climates, if you’re a hot sleeper, chances are traditional memory foam mattresses aren’t the best option for you and you should opt for gel or open-cell memory foam mattresses.
Memory Foam Mattresses Can Be Hard to Transport
Because of the density of memory foam mattresses, they can be slightly harder to transport than some other mattresses, so if you need to move them around your house, you’ll probably need someone to help you. Additionally, due to their weight, changing the sheets might also be a problem, so you’ll probably need assistance with that as well.
Memory Foam Mattresses Aren’t Always Budget-Friendly
Another complaint customers often have regarding memory foam mattresses is that they can be quite expensive. Of course, the price of the mattress depends on several different factors, such as the brand and the type of construction, but, generally speaking, memory foam mattresses are more expensive than some other types of mattresses, like spring.
Memory Foam Mattresses Can Have a Chemical Smell
Due to the number of chemicals used in the making of memory foam mattresses, they have a certain chemical smell associated with them. Luckily, this smell dissipates quickly after you open the mattress, so it’s not a major deal-breaker.
All About Orthopaedic Mattresses
Orthopaedic mattresses offer support for your back and joints. Your spine supports your body as it moves throughout the day, so it requires a lot of support during the night. Orthopaedic mattresses provide many benefits for those who are prone to waking up with pain in their spine or back, or those who have been diagnosed with health issues that concern the back area, such as arthritis or spondylolisthesis. In addition, they’re a popular choice among people with bad posture, athletes, or those with painful joints. They typically provide a firm sleeping surface, which is the firmness back sleepers prefer.
The Benefits of Orthopaedic Mattresses
Here are some of the benefits you could enjoy if you decide to opt for an orthopaedic mattress.
Orthopaedic Mattresses Encourage a Healthy Posture
In these modern times, we spend a large percentage of our day hunched over electronic devices. Orthopaedic mattresses can help alleviate some of the drawbacks of modern times by encouraging a proper posture throughout the night. They help your spine align with your body and get a neutral position regardless of your sleeping position, which significantly helps with posture.
Orthopaedic Mattresses Provide Support
But it’s not just your back that gets support – orthopaedic mattresses are known for providing amazing full-body support and pressure relief. They minimise the chances of waking up in pain in the other problematic areas of your body and they help distribute your body weight evenly.
Orthopaedic Mattresses Can Help Heal Injuries
Another benefit of orthopaedic mattresses is that they can speed up the recovery process of certain spinal or back-related injuries. This is why they’re often used in hospitals or prescribed for patients after a surgery or an accident. Not only will they help with recovery, but they will also prevent any pain, making the whole experience that much more comfortable.
Orthopaedic Mattresses Provide Firm Support
Many people prefer sleeping on firmer surfaces, especially those whose favourite sleeping position is on their back. If the surface you sleep on isn’t hard enough, chances are it won’t provide sufficient support for your spine and back, which is why almost all orthopaedic mattresses provide firm or extra firm support.
The Drawbacks of Orthopaedic Mattresses
To help you make the right decision, we also included two of the drawbacks you can experience with orthopaedic mattresses.
Orthopaedic Mattresses Aren’t Always Compatible with Side and Front Sleepers
As we already established, most orthopaedic mattresses provide firm to extra firm support. While this is great news for those who prefer firmer surfaces or sleep on their backs, not everyone is going to love sleeping on an extra firm mattress, particularly side and front sleepers. If you fall into these two categories, you might be better off opting for a memory foam mattress that provides orthopaedic support, instead of buying an orthopaedic mattress.
Orthopaedic Mattresses Can Be Pricy
Depending on their construction and brand, orthopaedic mattresses can be on the pricier side. Take this into account when choosing between an orthopaedic and a memory foam mattress.
Keeping the pros and cons of orthopaedic and memory foam mattresses in mind, which one should you opt for? Here’s our verdict.
Opt for a memory foam mattress if:
- You find yourself waking up with pain in multiple parts of your body;
- You don’t have a specific problem with your posture or back area, but you want a mattress that will keep you comfortable and supported;
- You don’ like sleeping on extremely firm surfaces.
Opt for an orthopaedic mattress if:
- You’re recovering from a spinal or back injury, or you’ve had surgery in those areas;
- You feel like your posture suffers while you sleep due to the quality of your mattress;
- You want a mattress that will align your spine with your body;
- You’re constantly waking up with pain in your back area or spine;
- You love sleeping on firm surfaces.
Regardless of whether you opt for an orthopaedic mattress or a memory foam one, here are some things you should keep in mind before you start your browsing process.
When Do You Need a New Mattress?
First things first, let’s establish some of the warning signs that you need a new mattress.
There are many tell-tale signs which signify that you need to change your mattress. If it doesn’t offer the same amount of support like it did at the beginning and you constantly find yourself waking up in pains and aches, it’s a sure sign you should replace your mattress.
Another sign to look out for is a sagginess or lumps in your mattress. These indicate that the quality of your mattress has been significantly affected, and you’re bound to have a bad night’s sleep on that kind of mattress.
If your mattress has started to get excessively noisy or you find yourself being disturbed by your partner’s movements, then you should definitely consider replacing your mattress.
Consider Your Sleeping Position
As we alluded to at multiple points in our guide, your sleeping position plays a huge role in deciding what kind of firmness you should go for. Generally speaking, side sleepers tend to do best with medium-firm mattresses because of the balanced support they provide, which helps with pressure relief. Front sleepers would be most comfortable with a soft to medium-firm mattress. Back sleepers tend to require additional support for their backs, so they need a firm or an extra firm mattress which has an ergonomic design.
Different mattresses provide different levels of breathability. You already know that gel and open-cell memory foam mattresses are amazing at temperature regulation, so consider those if you’re a hot sleeper. Additionally, the type of cover plays a major role in the breathability of your mattress, so choose one that has a cotton or a linen cover.
Motion transfer refers to the mattress’ ability to absorb movement. If you sleep with a partner or a pet, we strongly encourage you to invest in a mattress that offers motion transfer. By doing so, you’ll ensure that your sleep remains undisturbed throughout the night.
How Long Does an Orthopaedic Mattress Last?
The lifespan of orthopaedic mattresses depends on the brand and the construction of the mattress. Generally speaking, assuming that the mattress is well-made, it can last anywhere from 5-10 years without losing its quality.
Can an Orthopaedic Mattress Help with Back Pain?
Yes, one of the many benefits of purchasing an orthopaedic mattress is that it can help with back pain, stiffness, and improper spinal alignment.
Is an Orthopaedic Mattress Good for Anyone?
Orthopaedic mattresses are good for anyone who finds that their posture suffers during the night, wakes up with pain and stiffness in their back area, has bad joints, or has recently undergone a spinal surgery.
We hope our article on orthopaedic vs memory foam mattress has helped you decide what kind of mattress you should invest in.
Memory foam mattresses are among the most popular types of mattresses. They’re created using polyurethane foam, to which various different substances are added. There are three main types of memory foam mattresses: traditional, open-cell, and gel. The main benefits of memory foam mattresses are full-body support, motion transfer, pressure relief, and hypoallergenic properties, whereas some of their drawbacks include lack of temperature regulation and a hefty price tag.
Orthopaedic mattresses provide support for your back, spine, and joints. They’re incredible at encouraging a healthy posture, providing firm support for back sleepers, and preventing back pain and stiffness. However, they can be quite pricey depending on what kind of brand you want to opt for and they’re not the best choice for front and side sleepers, so be wary of that when you’re making a decision. Regardless of what kind of mattress you decide to purchase, you should consider your sleeping position, its motion transfer properties, and its breathability when you’re browsing for a mattress.