Few options have been more popular in recent years than memory foam beds. Memory foam has become an incredibly useful material in the mattress industry as it limits motion transfer, eases pressure points for certain sleep positions and overall, is very comfortable.

There are, however, some limitations of complete memory foam mattresses. Our sleep experts dig into the benefits of memory foam beds, the drawbacks and some alternatives that might be stronger choices.

What Is Memory Foam Made From?

Memory foam is a type of viscoelastic polyurethane foam. The nature of memory foam materials allows it to resist deforming over long periods of time while still providing comfort and cushioning.

Many companies add additional elements when trying to create a high-quality memory foam mattress. These may make the mattresses more breathable, improve the smell and otherwise improve the mattresses.

Benefits of Memory Foam Mattresses

Here are the most common benefits of memory foam mattresses.

Typically Allergy Friendly

Memory foam mattresses are not completely hypoallergenic – but some do avoid triggering certain allergies. This makes them particularly useful for people who can’t sleep on down or feather beds. This benefit can also be attained if you purchase a plush mattress topper, but be sure to check the materials for elements you may be allergic to.

Motion Transfer Resistance

One of the most useful memory foam mattress benefits is its resistance to motion transfer. This makes it possible for one person to get in and out of bed without disturbing their partner. Memory foam also returns to its original shape quickly.

The limited motion transfer is also useful when you’re sleeping on your own, especially if you share your bed with a particularly squirmy pet.

Can Ease A Variety Of Sleep Conditions

Memory foam benefits also include easing various sleep conditions. By relieving pressure on the body, memory foam often aids breathing, reduces pain, and can make sleeping more comfortable for people with certain ailments.

Can Be Good For Certain Sleep Positions

Side sleepers, in particular, can benefit from memory foam. Side sleepers usually put a lot of weight on their shoulder, but when memory foam distributes the weight better, this alleviates a lot of pressure. Memory foam is also useful for pressure point relief, particularly when painful pressure points impact spinal alignment.

Additional Health Benefits

Among the other health benefits of foam mattress is the general improvement in health that comes from less stress at night. Less stress means your body can spend more energy on other things. The general softness and comfort are especially helpful for light sleepers, people with sleep apnea, and people with lower back problems. It’s important to note that these benefits depend completely on the quality of memory foam mattress you choose.

Drawbacks of Memory Foam Mattresses

Despite their popularity, most full memory foam mattress haven’t been studied very extensively, and the subjective nature of sleep limits the credibility of some claims that fans of memory foam may make.

They Can Retain Body Heat

Some types of memory foam retain body heat, which is especially bad in warm months, and when you want to alleviate a high body temperature. While this is true of many brands, high-quality mattresses that use memory foam in their construction can mitigate this issue.

Helix Sleep, for example, uses Memory Plus Foam as a layer in its mattresses. This is a more breathable, cool material than most mattress brands.


Offgassing is viewed as a normal part of buying a new memory foam mattress. Basically, it’s the release of gasses that causes an unpleasant chemical smell. It usually dissipates over time but lasts for a while with some low-quality mattresses.

Helix mattresses have little or no odor and chemical offgassing, as they contain no harmful chemicals or heavy metals.

They’re Not The Best Choice For Every Sleep Issue

Memory foam mattresses cannot solve every sleep issue, including some caused by body weight or back pain. It’s usually best to get a mattress specifically made for your sleep characteristics than choosing one that claims to solve them all. Do your research!

They’re Not Great For Some Body Positions

While memory foam is a good solution for side sleepers or stomach sleepers, they are not always great for people who prefer a firmer feel.

Alternatives To Memory Foam Mattresses

The benefits of memory foam mattress options are hard to deny, but they’re not the only option on the market. Here are some alternatives that might be a better fit for you.

Hybrid Mattresses

Hybrid mattresses, such as Helix Sleep mattresses, seek to combine the strengths of different mattress materials to create a better sleep surface. These are more comprehensive than one or two layers of foam.

Helix mattresses use a combination of Memory Plus Foam, Helix Dynamic Foam, High-Grade Polyfoam and DurDense Foam. They also have a soft-touch cover and individually wrapped coils for additional support to cradle your body and limit motion transfer. They are a true “hybrid” of what makes different mattress types effective.

Natural Latex Mattresses

Natural latex mattresses like those made by Birch Living are made from natural and organic materials, like wool, cotton, latex and steel individually individually wrapped coils. These are a good option for environmentally-conscious sleepers who want a mattress made from completely natural materials.

Mattress Toppers

Mattress toppers are suitable for all mattress types. You can use a memory foam or plush mattress topper on any type of bed to get that feel, even if you have a simple innerspring mattress.

How Much Does Subjectivity Come Into Play?

Subjectivity is one of the most important parts of getting a new mattress and obtaining restful sleep. A mattress that one person thinks is good quality may not be a good choice for you.

Helix made a mattress with subjectivity in mind. We craft our mattresses to be built for different types of sleepers. All things are considered from weight, to sleep position and even the differences between two people who share a bed. Check out the Sleep Quiz to see which type of mattress is best for you.

Zach Gentry
Zach is the Helix Sleep Customer Experience Manager and Mattress Guru.

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