Memory Foam vs. Air: Which Mattress is Ideal?

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A good night’s rest is vital for good health, body functionality, and even alertness. Unfortunately, the type of mattress that you choose can make sleeping difficult and uncomfortable. This means that you need to be well informed when it comes to buying mattresses. The market is filled with a wide collection of mattresses making it difficult for a buyer to choose one that is suitable for their needs. The most common mattress technologies are memory foam and air-filled cores. Read on for an in-depth comparison of the design, support, firmness, motion isolation, noise, maintenance, durability, lifespan, pricing, and availability of these mattresses.

  • Design

Memory foam mattresses consist of polyurethane foam designed to contour according to a sleeper’s shape and return to its former shape afterward. The foam contours using either pressure or temperature. The material is also effective in relieving pressure points and allows for the weight of the sleeper to be equally distributed on the surface. Visco foam cells do not resist weight but disperse air to embrace your weight. Many Visco foam beds are all foam, the top layers contain the “memory foam” while the surface layers offer support and prevent a sleeper from sinking in too far.

Air bed mattresses use adjustable air bladders allowing sleepers to add air pressure when they want a firmer feel or to reduce air when they want a softer feel. The bladders are inside a mattress cover. Some technologies use multi-chamber bladders for improved support while others use a single chamber. This type of mattress is very portable especially when you are going for camping trips or if you have some guests you are hosting for a while. You inflate them orally via blowing into a valve, using an electric pump, or a manual foot-powered electric pump. Some types are automatically inflating.

Is an air bed the same as an air mattress?

In the recent years, air mattresses have become more elaborate and larger. They are referred to as air beds. They are less portable and are closer to real beds. They can be used for short-term sleeping arrangements or even as permanent mattresses. The terms “air bed” and “air mattress” are usually used interchangeably.

  • Support

Unlike their foam counterparts, air mattresses do not make an imprint of your body. The air displaces to the sides of the body, leaving the middle with less support. An air mattress will help to reduce pressure points by spreading your weight across the length of your body.

A memory foam mattress, however, does not lose support even with the body’s contouring. It helps to eliminate pressure points by spreading your body weight all across the mattress.

Memory foam mattresses are better than air mattresses when it comes to pressure point reduction. This is because they spread your weight across a larger area. If you have back problems or suffer  from certain sleeping conditions, a foam mattress is a better option than its air-filled counterpart.7 zones of mattress support

Some types of mattresses offer a top layer made of memory foam. The middle region’s pressure cannot be changed without altering the pressure in the shoulder and leg sections. If there is any reduction in air pressure, the support in the middle section will be lost. Most airbeds do not blend with the foam due to a non-flexible chamber system.

  • Noise and Heat

Some sleepers are sensitive to noise which can interrupt their sleep. Foam mattresses are noise-free. Many owners of memory foam mattresses mention problems with heat. These mattresses change in temperature according to a sleeper’s body heat and in some cases; the mattress becomes too hot and causes severe irritation and sweating. Air beds have fewer complaints with regards to heat.

  • Maintenance

Maintenance is an important element of owning mattresses. Memory foam mattresses require minimal upkeep since they do not have parts that need maintenance. However, they need to be rotated after every 6 months and vacuumed occasionally to get rid of dust. On the other hand, air beds are harder to maintain. They leak easily over time and require frequent refilling and adjustment to maintain your desired level of firmness. They are also difficult to rotate and the internal parts need to be cleaned frequently to prevent mildew. Some parts of an air mattress such as hoses, seals, and pumps also require occasional maintenance.

  • Motion Isolation

This implies how a mattress prevents one’s person’s movements from interrupting their partner’s sleep. The absorptive properties in memory foam mattresses are effective in isolating motion and this helps limit partner disturbance. On the other hand, air mattresses have more motion transfer particularly the single chamber mattresses. An air filled unit is a good choice if a couple prefers different levels of firmness. The mattress can have 2 different air pockets to cater for the different firmness preferences.

  • Life Span

The life span of mattresses is how long owners keep the beds. Since most of the parts in air beds are replaceable, they tend to have a longer life span than memory foam mattresses. Air mattresses can last for an average period of ten years. Warranties for air mattresses are between 1-5 years. Memory foam mattresses may last for an average period of 8-10 years. Some high-density beds can last longer while low-density mattresses may not go beyond 6 years. Warranties on memory foam mattresses involve coverage against impressions and may last for at least 10 years.

  • Pricing

The average foam mattress is less costly than the average air mattress. For luxury brands, the prices for both types of mattresses are almost the same.

  • Availability

It is easy to find memory foam mattresses in local stores and online retailers. Air beds are much difficult to find and are mostly stocked by branded mall outlets and specialty mattress stores.

All in all

We have explored a memory foam mattress vs air mattress. The difference between the two arises from their different support mechanisms, with one relying on foam and the other on adjustable air chambers. Memory foam has an edge with regards to pressure reduction, conformability, maintenance, durability, and availability. Air mattresses are lauded for firmness, adjustability and sleeping cooler.The ideal mattress type will depend on your personal preferences. It is always advisable to compare your alternatives thoroughly and to combine this comparison with consumer ratings and reviews.


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