Memory Foam Mattress: Lifespan & Care Tips (Explained)

Buying a new mattress can be an expensive affair. As such, knowing how long a mattress can last before making your decision on which to buy is an important consideration.

Memory foam mattresses typically have a longer lifespan compared to traditional spring mattresses.

This, however, is a generalization that has not taken into account individual product build and quality, and the product care regime that is so often ignored to the detriment of its durability.

Does a Memory Foam Mattress Wear Out?

Memory foam consists of high-density viscoelastic polyurethane and is commonly used in sofas, car seats, and mattresses.

It is a material that molds to the shape of your body in response to the heat and pressure when you lay on it, evenly distributing your body weight. It is this that gives you the feel of comfort.

The elasticity of the material allows the mattress to return to its original form once the pressure is removed from it.

The repeated compression and decompression of the memory foam mattress will make it lose its elasticity and support over time. When you feel that it no longer provides you the support for a good sleep, it is an indication that it’s time to replace the mattress.

How Many Years Does a Memory Foam Mattress Last?

Memory foam mattresses typically last longer than traditional innerspring mattresses.

The average lifespan of a memory foam mattress is between 8 to 10 years although how long your mattress actually lasts very much depends on how you care for it. However, when these signs appear – sags and indentations on your mattress, or you start to feel body aches when you wake up – it’s a good time to look for a replacement.

Material Quality Affecting the Durability of Your Memory Foam Mattress

How you care for it through actions such as rotating the mattress every few months and keeping it dry and clean helps to prolong the life expectancy of a memory foam mattress.

That, however, comes after you make the right decisions with regard to the quality of mattress to start with.

What Density Memory Foam Mattress Is Best?

Most of the memory foam mattresses available on the market today are typically composite mattress made up of multiple layers of memory foam of varying density.

From the base up, you would usually find a high-density layer at the bottom for overall support of the mattress, and lower density layer at or near the top for comfort.

The density of the memory foam layers largely determines the firmness of the mattress. Although they are not the same thing, the density of the foam does correlate to the firmness of the mattress and should act as a guide on what memory foam mattress you should go for.

Foam DensityWeight per Cubic FootSuitable ForRelative Price
Low3 pounds or lessLighter bodyCheaper
MediumBetween 3-5 poundsAverage bodyAverage
High5 pounds or moreHeavier bodyMore expensive

*The density of memory foam mattress is expressed in pounds per cubic foot.

People generally go for memory foam mattresses for the comfort and a feeling of deep hug they provide. Lower density foam is more suitable for lighter people while one of higher density provides better support for heavier bodies.

What Thickness of Memory Foam Is Best?

The thickness of the memory foam mattress not only affects how it feels, but it also affects the price and its durability.

Although the choice of the top memory foam layer density is determined by your body weight, higher overall mattress thickness does generally last longer, relatively speaking.

Notwithstanding that, there is a general correlation between the appropriate mattress thickness and the weight of the person sleeping on it (whether as a single or a couple):

Body Weight (pounds)Mattress Thickness (inches)
100 or less6 to 8
101 to 1508 to 10
151 to 20010 to 12
201 to 25012 to 14
251 or more14 or more

What Type of Memory Foam Mattress Is Best?

Although personal preference is a subjective matter, it is good to understand the three types of memory foam mattresses available. Each with its own set of qualities to suit different needs.

The traditional memory foam mattress is the most affordable option for budget-conscious buyers. The gel-infused memory foam mattress is best for a cooler sleeping experience. Meanwhile, plant-based memory foam suits those looking to make a safer and healthier choice.

The three types of memory foam mattress are further explained below:

Traditional Memory Foam Mattress

Although the advancement in technology has come a long way to give us better mattress materials to suit our needs, traditional memory foam mattresses have not changed much and are still made from petroleum-based products.

As such, it is the most affordable out of the three mentioned here.

It has an open-cell structure that reacts to body heat and pressure. However, it also does tend to trap heat making it unsuitable for hot sleepers.

Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Gel infused memory foam was designed in response to the need to address the issue of trapped heat in traditional memory foam mattresses.

There are two types of gel memory foam mattress – one has a thin-layer of gel that acts as a separation between layers of foam, the other has gel beads infused in the foam.

Either way, this results in extra buoyancy (bouncy mattress) compared to the traditional memory foam mattress.

Plant-based Memory Foam Mattress

As the name suggests, a large portion of the petroleum products used in manufacturing traditional foam mattress is substituted with plant-based oils.

The benefits include increased breathability, free of common chemicals such as CFCs (source), and formaldehyde (source).

This also means that the issue of off-gassing (the release of smell that typically comes with new cars and wet paint) is less pronounced with this type of memory foam mattress.

Regardless of which type of memory foam mattress you decide to buy, look for the covering material that is strong and well stitched.

What base is best for a memory foam mattress?

No matter how the mattress is used it will sag and wear out over time. People who are overweight may also find that the mattress will lose its support more quickly.

However, placing the mattress on a firm base can make it last longer. It is important though that you do so from the time you start using the new mattress. Otherwise, damage may already have occurred in the mattress thus rendering this move less effective.

It is also essential that your memory foam mattress is placed on an elevated base and not directly on the floor. This is to avoid moisture

How to care for your memory foam mattress so it lasts longer?

How you care for your mattress plays a huge part in how long it lasts.

Maintaining a memory foam mattress is simple and it involves 8 easy-to-do steps as follows:

  • Rotate it regularly

Rotating your memory foam mattress from head to foot once every 3 months helps prevent depressions from developing in concentrated areas of the mattress where pressure is usually applied.

If your memory foam mattress is made of different materials or foam density at the top and bottom layers, which most memory foam mattresses are, flipping the mattress over is not an option.

  • Keep it off the floor and on a suitable base

Do this right from the start before you start sleeping on the new mattress. Once sags and indentations appear on the mattress, putting a strong base underneath the mattress is less effective then.

Another reason for keeping the mattress off the floor is to avoid water either from spillage on the floor or from cleaning activity that involves water.

  • Keep it dry and clean

Avoid eating or drinking on your bed to prevent accidental spillage. If an accident can happen, it usually does. It’s just a matter of time.

  • Protect it with a mattress protector

A mattress cover protects not just from staining on the mattress itself, it also acts also an additional layer of fabric between you and your mattress to soak up sweat. Thus making it easy to simply wash the cover instead of cleaning the mattress which is a much bigger task.

  • Avoid heat

Memory foam reacts to heat and is designed to absorb heat from your body and soften to provide comfort when you sleep.

Having an additional source of heat would simply make the mattress, especially the gel type, become saturated with heat quicker and thus become less effective in its intended purpose.

  • Keep the mattress ventilated when not in use

It’s good practice to make the bed after you wake up. However, when you’re not sleeping on the bed let it ventilate by folding the quilt (or blanket) in half exposing the top half of the mattress.

It is where the head and shoulders lay and potentially perspire when you sleep, so it is good to expose that half so moisture can escape.

  • Keep the room naturally ventilated, weather permitting

As an extension to the preceding step, natural ventilation does your mattress a whole lot of good as a way for moisture and odor to escape.

  • Dry it under the sun

There is nothing better than letting your mattress get a healthy dose of sunlight once in a while. It helps not only to get moisture out of the mattress, but it also kills germs and prevents any buildup of unpleasant smell.

When should you replace your memory foam mattress?

Nothing lasts forever.

As well as you might have cared for the mattress, it will come a time when it becomes apparent that it cannot perform the function it is designed for – giving you restful sleep.

It is time for a replacement mattress when you notice one or a combination of the following:

  • Your mattress is saggy or deformed (in any way)
  • You wake up with back or waist pain
  • You wake up with muscle stiffness around the shoulder and spinal cord
  • Development of skin breakouts (especially from sleeping on old mattresses)
  • Visible signs of wear and tear on the surface of the mattress

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