Memory foam mattresses are quite popular among consumers nowadays, and their popularity only seems to be increasing.
Of course, with these types of mattresses consistently rating higher than your typical spring mattresses in terms of comfort level and overall satisfaction, it is not hard to see why.
However, some people may take issue with the fact that these types of mattresses are made with harmful chemicals, and thus have the potential for off-gassing these volatile organic compounds (or VOCs for short).
Off-gassing is when a substance leaks out chemicals in the form of a gas, and, due to the many hours we spend on our mattresses resting or sleeping, the health hazards posed by this prolonged exposure are very worrying indeed.
Despite this, it is not so easy to give up your comfort just for a potential risk. Of course, you still want to be able to sleep easy at night, so you look out for healthier alternatives. Luckily, such an alternative has been created in the form of a plant-based memory foam mattress.
But what is plant-based memory foam? How does it hold up to more traditional memory foam mattresses in terms of comfort levels and potential health issues?
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both types of memory foam mattress below.
Plant-Based Memory Foam Vs. Traditional Memory Foam
Plant-based memory foam mattresses are made from a portion of plant-based ingredients, namely soy or plant-derived oils, to help counter the concerns people have with traditional memory-foam mattresses.
Typically, traditional memory foam mattresses are created from a petroleum-based polyurethane, a substance first developed by NASA for their aircraft cushions.
Of course, due to the chemical processes involved in making this substance, some people may be concerned with the risks it poses to their bodies.
Other chemicals that make up these traditional memory foam mattresses include formaldehyde, phthalates, CFCs (which are used to make plastic foam), and PBDEs (which are flame retardants). These chemicals may emit strange odors that may or may not dissipate over time.
Though these mattresses may sound “greener” than more traditional memory foam, keep in mind that these are not created from 100 percent plant-based materials. Instead, they use only a portion of plant-based materials – with the rest being composed of petroleum.
Percentages of plant-based ingredients within these mattresses tend to vary among different companies, so feel free to ask these companies what the exact percentages for their memory foam mattresses are.
Breathability and Heat Retention
Plant-based mattresses tend to be more breathable than traditional foam mattresses due to their enhanced open-celled structure.
This breathability allows for the bed to remain cooler throughout the night, which has been proven to improve sleep quality.
The closed-cell nature of traditional mattresses traps the heat and may lead to your feeling too hot in bed or to excess sweating. If the sweating becomes too awful, it may start to affect the mattress itself.
The response time of memory foam mattresses refers to the amount of time it takes for the bed to reform to its original shape after you move about.
Memory foam is temperature-sensitive. It hardens in cold spaces and will soften out again in warm spaces, making it easier for the mattress to contour to your sleep position – and allowing you more comfort.
Plant-based memory foam mattresses typically feature a six- to eight-second response time, and are not affected by ambient temperatures. Therefore, these mattresses will contour to your body whether the surrounding temperature is hotter than your current body temperature or not.
This faster response time grants ease of movement and offers more general comfort.
Traditional memory foam mattresses typically feature a 45- to 60-second response time, which may cause some discomfort throughout the night.
Users of traditional memory foam beds have complained that the slower response time makes sleep uncomfortable, as the heated areas they had previously rested on will almost suck their bodies in and make it difficult to move about.
The fact that the rest of the mattress will remain stiff almost gives the user a feeling of being trapped in a hole or being sucked into quicksand.
While the differences between these two types of memory foam mattress may sound substantial on paper, they are actually very inconsequential.
Remember that plant-based memory foam mattresses are made with only a small percentage of plant-based materials.
Other than that small difference, both plant-based memory mattresses and traditional memory foam beds are made of the same materials, any of which can pose a potential for off-gassing.
Still, if you are someone who is sensitive to heat when sleeping, or you do not like the sensation of being stuck in your mattress as you rest, then a plant-based memory foam mattress may be the way to go.