Considering the amount of time we spend in bed, it’s so important to find the most comfortable mattress you can. Personally, I’d always been wary of memory foam mattresses, until the day that I actually tried one…
When I organised the first Which? test of memory foam mattresses back in 2006, I spent a long time talking to our highly experienced lab experts about the advantages and disadvantages of memory foam.
Their big concern was a suspicion that sleeping on memory foam significantly cuts down on the amount of rolling around people do at night. This could, they believed, have an impact on the nightly process of plumping up the discs between the vertebrae in our spine, a natural part of a good night’s sleep.
I wanted firm, not foam
I couldn’t find much medical evidence to support or disprove this view, but as part of my research I also learned that memory foam is hard and cold when you first get into bed. But once it softens you sink into it much more than a sprung mattress, reducing airflow around your body, which can make you feel much hotter.
Being a perpetually over-hot individual who already woke myself up several times a night turning over in bed, I also didn’t like the idea that it’s even harder to turn over in a memory-foam bed – the foam surrounding you is harder than the foam you’re sleeping on, so it creates some resistance to moving out of the ‘me-shaped’ mould your body heat creates.
So when I chose a mattress for my own bed I went for a good-quality, firm, sprung mattress with a high number of springs that offered good support. It started off OK, but I’ve always suffered from back and neck pain and over time I found it becoming more noticeable every day.
Back pain is just a memory
This all changed when I moved into a rented apartment in Shanghai where memory foam mattresses were all that were provided. The first time I sat on the bed my husband said ‘I know, I know, we can change apartments, but I have to tell you, I think this is the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in’.
And so it was; night after night of undisturbed sleep followed, with day after day of waking up refreshed instead of sore and sleepy. I did find it harder to turn over, but soon got used to it, so the only major problem was getting into bed in the freezing cold nights – when it did feel more like a marble slab for the first 10 minutes. Snuggling up close soon solved that though!
When we returned to the UK, a memory foam mattress was top of our list of things to buy. Choosing a new one was not easy; they all seemed to be considerably softer than the one we were used to in Shanghai. But in the end we found one that we like – it’s firm, has a padded cover so you don’t feel the initial cold, and I’ve never noticed feeling too hot on memory foam.
We both think that our bed is fantastically comfortable, and ‘Aaaah, I love my bed’ is as much a part of our bedtime ritual as ‘I love you’. It cost a lot of money but, as soon as I spend a few days away from home and my old backache returns, I know it was some of the best money we’ve ever spent.
So what do you think about sleeping on memory foam mattresses? Too hot, too cold or just right? Has it transformed your sleep or proved an expensive mistake?