I have been looking into getting a new king size memory foam mattress. The only issue I worry about is that I tend to sleep hot, and I have heard that is an issue with memory foam. Are all memory foam mattresses like that? I was interested in the icomfort series but after reading some of your post I am starting to rethinink that. I am military so I was looking at the exchange and they have a company called Boyd specialty sleep, with a mattress called respondaflex 512 memory foam, and a latex natrual flex 920, I have tried finding reviews but have not seen any. Do you know anything about these beds? Also, I am willing to look locally, I live near Seattle, WA. To give specifics I am 5’6 and am 160, I am 6 months pregnant, my husband is 5’7 and 170. I am stomach, side sleeper, he is a side, back sleeper. Please let me know some options I have. What are some national brands that you would recomend? I tend to like soft beds, and my husband doesn’t care one way or the other. Thanks.
There are certainly differences between different types of memory foams but as a group … memory foam is the “hottest” of the three types of foam used in mattresses (polyfoam, memory foam, latex). Latex is the most breathable and the coolest sleeping.
That’s probably wise to rethink this. Even the best mattresses made by the major brands have poor value compared to the alternatives suggested in the forum and on the information throughout the site.
Boyd is a national brand which you will often see on places like Craigs List with a supposed really high “regular” price being offered as a “great deal” at about 30% of the so called regular price. They are also sold through big box stores a lot. While they do use some good materials in them such as latex and reflex polyfoam from Foamex … the latex is only in thin (mostly meaningless) layers in a few models. They have another type of foam called “engineered latex” which is not latex at all but polyfoam but is designed to fool the unwary into thinking they are buying latex. Their advertising is very misleading here. The 920 for instance has no latex at all … just engineered latex … AKA polyfoam. The respondaflex 512 has 3" of memory foam over polyfoam but they don’t give any details about the density of the memory foam. Probably 3-4 lbs which is low-mid quality. While they are certainly an “entrepreneurial company” they are IMO put together to provide a good look and high profit margins to the retailers. At the right price (very low) I might consider them if my budget was really low. A reference point for pricing would be something like this http://www.airbediq.com/naturalflex920.html and this http://www.airbediq.com/bospslre51si.html . I’d certainly tend to look at other choices as there is a very wide range that Boyd sells for … much of it too high.
What I would likely suggest is to read the overview on the site starting with this one The basic functions of a mattress - Overview - The Mattress Underground and then the others which will take you step by step into how to buy a mattress and know what you are looking for. Some of the more recent threads on this forum should also be quite helpful.
I personally don’t recommend any national brands … or at least any of the name brand national brands … as all of them have exceptionally poor value when compared to local and regional factory direct manufacturers who use much higher quality materials and sell for much lower prices. I also recommend buying a mattress based on knowing what is in it rather than what manufacturer makes it. This is the only way to truly find a mattress that suits your own unique needs and that has true value. Local manufacturers (and higher quality sleep shops) will gladly tell you layer by layer what is in the mattress you are buying … why it would or wouldn’t be suitable for your circumstances … and how long you can reasonably expect it to last. The chain stores, the big box stores, and many others are more interested in telling you stories that they hope will sell the mattress they want you to buy.
I’ll take a look around Seattle and post a little later tonight with a few suggestions. Did you have a budget range in mind?
Hi again lrhodes,
NOTE: There is a more up to date Washington State list in post #2 here.
Here are a few options regarding local factory direct manufacturers. I’ve included most of the Washington state choices so you can make a few phone calls and decide which ones are worth a visit.
http://www.parklanemattresses.com/FindAStore Local Factory direct manufacturer. While they are quite a long way away … they perhaps have the best value of any of the manufacturers on this list (which is why I invited them to be members here). They make great products and have great value. I took a drive from near Tacoma (which is where I live) just to visit their factory outlet in Tualatin and test their mattresses and I’m glad I did. At least you won’t have to pay taxes if you purchase from here.
http://www.seattlemattress.net/contactseattlemattress.html They are a local manufacturer who also carry other brands. They are also very helpful and knowledgeable and I did quite a bit of mattress testing here however they are more expensive than most local manufacturers (probably so they can sell other brands) and I don’t believe they have the same value as many independent manufacturers that I have dealt with.
http://www.nwbedding.com/store_locations.php Local manufacturer that makes high quality products based in Spokane
http://www.sunrisematt.com/index.php?id=2120&title=home A local factory direct manufacturer also in the Spokane area.
http://www.slumberease.com/ or http://www.seattlebetterbedding.com/default.asp or http://www.eastsidemattressfactory.com/ Local factory direct manufacturer. I’ve talked with them and found them to be knowledgeable and informative. All three are the same company
http://www.mattressfactorynw.com/info.html An Oregon based factory direct manufacturer with an outlet in Moxee.
http://www.mattress-makers.com/index.html Factory direct manufacturer in Tacoma.
http://www.everrestmattress.com/ourlocation.html Factory direct manufacturer in Seattle and Marysville. Was originally run by the father but now is run by the daughter and her mother when he passed away. When I talked with the daughter the conversation was quite different from most of the conversations I have with family owned manufacturers who normally are very happy to share with me what they do and how they make their mattresses. She seemed to be more of a business person than a mattress person. Perhaps she was having a bad day :). There does seem to be good value here from what I can see.
http://www.bedroomsandmore.com/images/products/mattress/mattress-seattle.htm They are a retail outlet or “sleep shop” where I also spent a lot of time testing mattresses. They are very helpful and knowledgeable and even though they are not factory direct … they are close to and compete well with Seattle Mattress. They are a good place to test mattresses to get a sense of what works for you.
http://www.4daymattressstore.com/index.html Another retail outlet or “sleep shop” with exceptionally helpful and knowledgeable people and ownership.
http://www.higginsonsflooringandsleepshop.com/alternativemattresses.html Retail outlet. I have talked with them on the phone several times and they too were very helpful. They carry some interesting mattress brands such as Pure Latex Bliss and Enso. While they do not have the same value as most factory direct outlets … they would be a good place to test mattresses. They also carry the Boyd you mentioned earlier.
http://www.coco14.com/mattresses1.html They carry a selection of Natura and GreenSleep mattresses which are high quality latex mattresses. They would be good for testing layer options and for comparison purposes … but are too expensive IMO to buy as they don’t have great value compared to other options you have available.
Hopefully this should give you some choices as to the value that is available in and around Seattle. A few phone calls to some of these once you have a rough idea of what you are looking for should help you decide where the best value may be for your circumstances. The mass market stores and the chain stores in the Seattle area do not carry the same quality or value as most of these.
Feel free to post if you have questions along the way.
Thanks for all the great info. I will be checking out one the places today and the rest this weekend. I am actually 20 min north of Seattle. I was wondering if there is certain type of memory foam that is less hot? If so is that what I should look for when shopping? I have looked over your latex mattress info, it sounds like exactly what I want but way out of my price point, which is around $1000-$1500 at the very most. I was at costco today and they had there 2 types of memory foam, gel & purecomfort, on sale. I know they are probably not great quality but for the price how long do you figure they would last? Do you think that they would be worth trying? If so which one is a better value? That is what I really liked about the icomfort was that it didn’t sleep as hot. I really love the feel of memory foam but I just worry that I will end up hating it if it is too hot. Thanks.
Also, do you know if the costco brand memory foam, do you know how firm either are. Would they be similar to the icomfort insight? Thanks.
Your budget of $1000 - $1500 for a King Size would certainly allow you to use a latex comfort layer over various types of support layers which would give you many of the benefits of sleeping on latex. Depending on the thickness and type of latex and personal preferences … the top of your budget is just in the range of an 8" all latex mattress (@2" over @6"). Of course you would almost never find this type of value outside of local independent manufacturers or DIY manufacturers such as some of those that are members here.
Part of the reason memory foam sleeps hotter than other foams is that you will sink more “into” a memory foam comfort layer than other foams. It also is a more “insulating” type of foam than others because the internal cell structure is not as open as regular polyurethane foam and much less open than latex. It also forms itself around your body more closely which again is more insulating. How hot each person may feel on any individual memory foam mattress would depend on the type of memory foam used (not the brand of mattress), the density of the memory foam, the weight of the person (heavier people will sink in deeper), and perhaps most importantly of all … the individual metabolism and tendency to sleep hot anyway and where you are in the “oven to iceberg” range.
There are several ways that individual foam manufacturers are using to try to reduce the sleeping temperature of memory foam mattresses. One of these is using more open celled memory foam. More open cells allow more airflow inside the memory foam which results in cooler foam. It will also be faster responding than typical memory foam. Many manufacturers are using various chemical and mechanical manufacturing methods to produce more open celled foam … and memory foams like Aerus memory foam manufactured by FXI which uses variable pressure foaming or many of the other newer generation more open celled memory foams are an improvement and more breathable than the older generation slower response memory foams.
Lower density memory foams also tend to be cooler since they tend to have a larger more open cell structure however they are also less durable, have less "memory, and can be less conforming. Lower density can also result in a faster recovery time (less “memory foam” like). 4 lb memory foam in other words can be more breathable than 5 lb memory foam but less durable.
Other manufacturers are using various combinations of holes punched in their memory foam or different types of airflow channels in the memory foam or the polyfoam underneath it to encourage airflow. These are often less effective than more open celled foam … although this can depend on whether these airflow channels actually stay “open” and allow airflow from the body surface to the outside environment during actual use.
Other manufacturers are putting gel or other conductive or phase change materials inside the memory foam because in theory they will conduct heat away from the body (thermal conductivity) or can store and and release heat (phase change materials) to help regulate temperature. These gels are quite heavy and they become part of the memory foam itself. The reviews on these are mixed and my own personal opinion is that it they can make a small difference in temperature (if the gel foam is on or very near the surface of the mattress) … although that difference may be a bigger improvement for some than for others and tends to be temporary and only lasts until temperatures equalize. In other words they can help while people go to sleep but not over the entire course of the night depending on the percentage of gel in the foam. The gel may also make a memory foam appear to have a higher density (durability) than it really does since it is denser than the memory foam it’s added to. In other words … it can make lower density/quality memory foam weigh more and appear to be higher quality but in general the density of gel memory foam can be compared to regular memory foam of the same density in terms of durability.
Some information about the different types of gel memory foam (and other gel materials) available in the market is in post #2 here. There is also a brief outline of the three main cooling technologies (thermal conductive materials, phase change materials, and ventilation/humidity control) that can affect sleeping temperature in post #9 here.
Many manufacturers are using various temperature regulating covers (tickings) in their memory foam mattresses which can help reduce heat. Others yet are using various forms of quilting in the ticking (such as highly breathable low density polyfoam or various natural and synthetic fibers) over the memory foam to encourage air circulation, evaporation and moisture wicking, and cooling. The side effect of this is that the memory foam is further away from the body heat which can no longer “soften it” as easily which can make the memory foam feel firmer for some or take away from the feel of the memory foam which they prefer.
The bedding layers used on top of the mattress (mattress protectors, mattress pads and toppers, sheets etc) will also play a major role in sleeping temperature and in some cases the primary role because they are the closest to the skin and can either add to or reduce the effectiveness of the layers and materials below them. There is more about the many variables that can affect sleeping temperature in general in post #2 here.
All in all it is a combination of all these factors (physiological factors, types of memory foam, other components and technologies, and bedding) which determines how hot someone will sleep on any memory foam mattress (or any mattress for that matter). Personal testing over a long enough period of time is really the only way to know for certain how “hot” any particular mattress will sleep for any particular individual however knowing the cooler types of mattress components and materials and the knowledge and experience of a salesperson or manufacturer based on longer term customer feedback can also be very helpful to predict how cool a particular mattress may sleep for any particular person.
There are many types of gel memory foams made by many manufacturers and they have been used in several variations for years (microencapsulated beads, particles, liquid infusions various minerals etc) although they have recently been much more heavily advertised and become more popular. I would compare them to regular memory foam in terms of value as I believe that the amount of gel in most of them is not enough by itself to make a significant temperature difference in “real life” over the whole course of the night for some … although it may just be that extra piece that in combination with other factors works well for others at least for a period of time. There is not a lot of evidence and publicly available factual information that justifies the somewhat exaggerated claims of gel foams in general compared to other methods of effective cooling (or better yet combinations of different methods) but they can certainly be one piece of the puzzle.
The tradeoff in using gel foams would be how much does the particular type of gel affects the durability or properties of the memory foam itself and how much is the current marketing emphasis on new “cool” technologies and the stories attached to them actually adding to the cost of the mattress compared to effective technologies and materials that have been in existence for longer and that may be overlooked.
From looking at the pure comfort topper … it is made of 3.25 lb memory foam (the mattress doesn’t list the memory foam density). This is very low quality and for some people may only last for weeks/months although for others it may last longer. I wouldn’t tend to choose memory foam below 4 lbs unless you are comfortable with the probability of lower durability.
The Novaform “gel” memory foam doesn’t list the density of the foam.
I personally would not buy any memory foam without knowing its density and the quality and type of layering underneath it. While you would certainly be “rolling the dice” with any online purchase of an “unknown” memory foam or mattress construction … at least Costco allows a return at no cost if the mattress isn’t suitable for you.
If your baby will be using the mattress at all … I would avoid memory foam completely as it is unsuitable for babies and infants. I personally would never put a baby or infant (or even a young child) on memory foam (see post #2 here).
There is no “standardized” testing for the “sleeping temperature” of different memory foams and what feels OK for some will be hot for others … especially in combination with other factors that may contribute to sleeping warmer. If you have tested a specific type of foam or manufacturing method or cooling method for a few nights (not just a few minutes in a showroom) … then this will certainly be much more accurate for each individual.
Overall though … memory foams as a group are warmer than other foams. How much warmer would depend on a combination of all the individual factors I mentioned.
Hi again lrhodes,
The firmness and softness of memory foam in “real life” is almost meaningless, similar to “coil counting” when looking for an innerspring mattress. This is because memory foam both affects and is affected by its density, all the layers above and below it, the temperature and humidity of the weight above it and in the room itself, weight distribution and speed of compression, chemicals used in the memory foam manufacture, and how all these factors interact. High density memory foam which feels very firm when pressed in with a hand can be very soft when the body is on it and it “melts” with the heat. Even wood that is perfectly carved to a body shape can feel very soft … as long as you don’t move
Every memory foam manufacturer … including Sleep Innovations which makes the novaform brand memory foam (and the serta iComfort memory foam) which is sold through costco can make memory foam with many different qualities and densities. The gel memory foam used in the novaform mattresses for example … while they are made by the same foam manufacturer as the Serta iComfort … is a lower density version. Depending on the many interacting factors and the layer thickness … less dense memory foam can be made to feel either “firmer” or “softer” depending on many factors. Denser memory foam can initially feel “firmer” when initially compressed but softer in actual use when it warms up for example.
The two main functions of a mattress are pressure relief and spinal alignment … and both are possible within a “soft feeling” or “firm feeling” mattress. After these two main functions … everything else is preference.
Most of the “firmness” or “support” of a mattress comes from the layers under the memory foam not the memory foam itself. Whether a mattress is perceived by any individual as either “soft” or “firm” also depends on the sleeping positions, weight, and weight distribution of a person … the makeup of every layer in the mattress … the perceptions of each individual … and how all of these interact together.
Some people who talk about soft are talking about the comfort layers and the pressure relief they feel, some are talking about the support layers and how well they are being “held up”, some are talking about how deeply into the mattress they are sinking (how deep the pressure relieving cradle is), some are talking about the “hand feel” which is how the top inch or so of a mattress feels when it is pressed down, some are talking about the springiness of a mattress, and some are talking about their own personal subjective impressions. Without knowing specifically which version of “soft” someone is talking about or whether they are mixing up soft or firm with pressure relief or spinal alignment, it is difficult to answer “soft” or “firm” types of questions. Even then … each person feels things differently so one persons soft is another persons firm.
How similar any memory foam mattress is to another depends on the type and density of the memory foam itself, the thickness of the memory foam, all the layers under and over it, and how they interact. The complexity of most “soft / firm” general types of questions and the many many different factors involved makes them difficult to impossible to answer for mattress constructions or materials where there is “missing information”.