Are Memory Foam Mattresses Bad?


We live in a world where we are flooded with choice. According to most estimates, adults make around 35,000 decisions every single day! It’s dizzying to think of the amount of information and input a brain has to unpack every second of every waking moment.

When it comes to something as important as sleep, there are plenty of decisions to make. What time you’ll go to bed; what kind of sheets to put on your bed; how thick your duvet and pillows will be; and on and on and on.

One of the most important decisions to make when it comes to sleep is what kind of mattress to sleep on. There are plenty of options to consider and a lot of information to wade through. And yes, some mattresses are definitely superior to others.

One question we often get asked at WR Mattress is: are memory foam mattresses bad?

We spend a third of our lives on our mattress, so it’s definitely a valid question! But it can be a tricky one to answer. It’s up to you to make decide what’s best for you, but there are some concerns when it comes to memory foam mattresses.

That’s because memory foam mattresses are synthetic and usually made of polyurethane memory foam layer and a polyurethane foam core layer. These layers are then encased in materials that are sprayed with a flame retardant chemical coating.

New memory foam mattresses begin to break down once they are in use, and this means that the chemicals begin to “off-gas” or release chemicals into the air. Since we spend eight hours a day with our faces next to this material, breathing in whatever is released, we might want to think twice about memory foam. Off-gassing has been attributed to allergic reactions, breathing issues, skin irritation, headaches, nausea and toxin buildup.

Each manufacturer has a different blend of chemicals so each brand of memory foam mattresses will differ. But here’s a list of just some of the chemicals that can be found in memory foam mattresses.

  • Methylene dianiline.
  • Vinilideine chloride.
  • Methyl benzene.
  • Dimethylformamide.
  • Acetone.
  • Formaldehyde.

These chemicals can cause irritation to the eyes and skin, can affect the nervous system and interfere with organ function. The other concern, as mentioned, is the fire retardant chemicals used on memory foam mattresses that end up in the environment and in humans!

If you are concerned about the chemicals in a memory foam mattress, be sure to do your homework before purchasing one. And remember, there are alternatives on the market (more decisions!). Organic latex mattresses are considered a safe and healthy option, for example, since latex is naturally occurring and is flame resistant without the use of chemicals.

At WR we are passionate about helping people make the right decisions regarding their sleep and their sleep health. If you are in the Surrey, White Rock or Langley area, stop by our mattress showroom and have a chat with us about what kind of mattress is right for you.