Published on July 10th, 2013 | by The Best Mattress0
The Best Memory Foam Mattress for Staying Cool
Nothing feels better than slipping into cool sheets on a hot night, and many mattress shoppers concerned about coolness wonder if a memory foam mattress can fit the bill. Within the memory foam industry, there are a variety of formulas and iterations that can affect coolness. Reviews can help highlight differences between brands and models, and learning about composition and construction can help shoppers determine the best mattress for staying cool. This article will explain the basics of memory foam and compare two brands on coolness and comfort.
Memory Foam Mattress Basics
Memory foam mattresses have consistently stayed at the top of the chart for comfort, averaging 81% owner satisfaction compared to 62% satisfaction for innerspring owners. However numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Within those ranges of all types of construction, models and manufacturers, there are owners who rated theirs much higher than the average and those who rated lower. Due to this, averages often have to be broken down for accuracy.
Staying cool during the night is an issue to some degree with owners of nearly every type of mattress. Overall approximately 5% of innerspring mattress owners and 10% of memory foam mattress owners report their mattresses sleep uncomfortably hot.
Memory foam mattresses are all made of polyurethane, and tend to rate well for comfort and pressure relief. What the polyurethane is made of can vary, with main compositions including traditional petroleum-based memory foam, plant-based memory foam, and gel-infused memory foam.
- Traditional memory foam tends have tighter cell structure which can impede air flow, especially with closed-cell structures. The heat activated nature of a traditional memory foam mattress can also lead to trapped heat and a “stuck” sensation, especially with denser foams.
- Gel infused foams contain aqueous gel mixed into polyurethane either via liquid or beads. The idea is that the gel will initially take on the room temperature and feel cool to the touch, however with 20 minutes it warms to the sleeper’s body temperature and has not necessarily shown to improve breathability.
- Plant-based foams replace a portion of the petroleum with botanically-sourced oils and may have a reduced chemical profile compared to other polyurethanes. This type of foam is usually temperature neutral, and has proven more effective and dissipating heat than other memory foams.
Density measures the weight of one cubic foot of foam, with ideal ranges between 4 lbs. to 5.3 lbs. The density of a mattress affects its contouring ability but also its ability to dissipate heat. The middle range of density provides the best balance of support, durability and coolness. Low density foams (under 4 lbs) tend to rate as cooler, but may lack support and begin showing wear earlier. High density foams (over 5.5 lbs) trap more heat since the cells are very close together and the material molds tightly around the sleeper.
How a memory foam mattress is put together can also influence whether or not it sleeps cool. Thinner beds tend receive lower complaints for heat simply because there is less material in which heat can be trapped. Mattresses with layers of memory foam over 6 inches (in addition to the core) may also be warmer since there will be higher contouring.
Now that you know the basics, it is time to compare three leading brands of memory foam. We looked at Tempurpedic, Amerisleep, and Serta iComfort, considering the information provided about their models and the consumer reviews on their respective websites. The following table provides an overview of our findings, which are discussed in depth afterward. All results were drawn from stated characteristics or collective analysis of owner reviews, which can be found on the retailers’ websites should you wish to investigate further. While individual mattress models vary within each brand, this comparison looks at all reviews to show general trends.
|Composition||Traditional Memory Foam||Plant-Based Memory Foam||Gel-Infused Memory Foam|
|Density||2.5-7.0 lb||4.5-5.3 lb||4.0 lb|
Tempurpedic beds have a wide range of density, from 2.5 lb with the Simplicity, 4.1 lb with the Cloud, 5.3 lb with Tempur ES/Contour, and 7 lb in the Allura and Grand. Amerisleep uses 4.5 lb density in the majority of their beds, in combination with 5.3 lb in the Colonial model. It is estimated that the Serta iComfort line uses 4.0 lb density foam in their mattresses.
In reviews for Amerisleep, less than 5% of owners complained of excessive heat. Tempurpedic beds had complaint rates of 10-15% for heat. Serta iComfort reviews indicated about 6-8% of owners reporting heat issues. This places Amerisleep and iComfort above average for memory foam, and Tempurpedic within the average range. The newer Tempur Breeze line showed a slight reduction in heat complaints, but reviews were limited.
Odor and Eco-Friendliness
Odor is a concern of many shoppers. This refers to the offgassing polyurethane products exhibit during the first few weeks. About 20% of Tempurpedic reviewers mention odor, whereas about 6-10% of iComfort owners and 5% or less of Amerisleep owners mention odor. These differences result form formulation and also density differences. The plant-based memory foam from Amerisleep is certified free of harmful VOCs that contribute to offgassing odors, which explains the lower rate. Their plant-based foam also receives higher scores for eco-friendliness due to a healthier profile, zero-emissions manufacturing, and less wasteful shipping practices.
Longevity refers to how long consumers can expect to actually use the mattresses and how well the bed holds up in terms of support. Tempurpedic and Amerisleep have similar lifespan expectations of around 10 years and limited reports sagging or lass of support. Serta iComfort reviews do exhibit a noticeable rate of people (7-9%) mentioning compression within 1-2 years, though they have a strong warranty.
All three memory foam mattress brands cover sagging at a depth of 0.75 inches and have similar policy terms. Tempurpedic offers a 25 year warranty with 10 years full coverage, Amerisleep offers 20 years with 10 years full coverage, and Serta offers 25 years with 15 years full coverage. After the full coverage periods for each line, the remainder of the warranties are prorated (meaning the owners pays part of the cost depending on the age of the bed).
To compare pricing, we considered a similar top-selling model from each memory foam mattress line, all featuring a 12 inch medium firm profile in queen size. The Tempur-pedic Rhapsody costs $3199, the Amerisleep Revere $1299 and the iComfort Prodigy $1774. Other models also follow a similar pattern with Amerisleep being most affordable, Serta in the middle, and Tempurpedic most expensive. Tempurpedic and Serta also appear to charge sales taxes in most states though taxes apply only for Arizona -based Amerisleep customers.
We tallied the average owner review rating for each brand by weighting the average score for each model by number of reviews, then averaging the total.
- Tempurpedic had an average review score of 3.6 in 502 reviews, and 75% say they would recommend their bed.
- Amerisleep had an average review score of 4.6 in 408 reviews and 97% say they would recommend their bed.
- Serta iComfort had an average review score of 4.2 in 327 reviews and 83% say they would recommend their bed.
All three brands make their memory foam mattresses using a similar construction, with memory foam layered over a poly foam core. All use a spring free design and did not appear to have an significant issues in this regard. Pressure and pain relief and motion transfer all rated similarly well across the brands. As for availability, all three brands sell nationally online, though Tempurpedic and Serta also sell nationally through dealers.
With all factors considered, Amerisleep received an overall A-, with Tempurpedic and iComfort both receiving B ratings (iComfort’s total was about 2% higher overall, placing them in 2nd).
How to Choose a Cool Memory Foam Mattress
Shoppers looking for a cooler memory foam mattress should consider density, memory fom type, and cell structure. Amerisleep’s plant-based memory foam received the lowest rate of complaints regarding heat, which is supported by Cargill’s study that found plant-based memory foam to be more breathable than other types. The higher density foam in Tempurpedic and the temperature sensitive properties of both Tempur and iComfort foams all appear to adversely affect heat dissipation. A memory foam mattress with a natural-fiber cover like bamboo or cotton can also improve breathability and help keep your bed cooler.