What are Some Possible Issues With Memory Foam?

While personally I find memory foam to be an amazing sleeping surface, there are some issues that you should be aware of.

Memory Foam Feel and Personal Preference

Memory foam is a unique material. As a result, it doesn’t feel like any other bed you’ve slept on before. While many people love it, some simply can’t get over the “sinking” or “trapped” feeling. Others love it! It’s a very personal response, which is why I recommend you try out memory foam products in person before you order to make sure you’ll enjoy it.

So you’ve tried out memory foam and love it – but what about your spouse or sleeping partner? Make sure that they like it as well! One of the easiest ways to pick up a full memory foam bed on the cheap is to keep an eye on classified ads, the story always seems to be that one person loved it, the other hated it. Don’t bet on this method however, it’s a rare find but worthwhile considering if you can verify the age of the mattress (ie a few days via receipt) and condition.


Memory foams conform to your body incredibly well. While generally a good thing, if you live in a warm climate or are a hot sleeper you may have issues with a memory foam bed.

Possible solutions to this are “wicking” covers which are similar to those used in athletic uniforms, and high air flow foams. “Wicking” covers pull away sweat and moisture keeping you dry and comfortable, and are recommended for a “build your own” bed. High air flow foams have larger open-cell “bubbles” (see What is Memory Foam?) which allow increased air circulation. This approach is typically only found in more expensive multilayer beds, and is difficult to mimic yourself without
considerable expense.


There is a distinct memory foam “smell” that is given off in the first few days the new product is used. Some vendors have minimal smell, others have overwhelming odor which can cause allergic reactions. It is a result of volatile compounds (chemicals that can become gases which your nose then picks up) in the polyurethane foam mix. A certain amount of these volatiles is an unavoidable part of the manufacturing process, but a large amount is indicative of poor quality or process controls.

High quality memory foams generally have less odor issues than low quality foams. If you are mildly allergic, let the memory foam air out for 3-4 days. If you are severely allergic, you may not be able to sleep on a memory foam bed at all, or you may have to consider the new “green” memory foams which have been recently developed.

One thought on “What are Some Possible Issues With Memory Foam?

  1. Dear Geoff,

    Thank you for providing all the wonderful information on memory foam, it is very informative. I have been eyeing a memory foam topper at Costco which is by Sleep Innovations. It is referred to as “gel and memory foam” with gel beads infused throughtout the memory foam. Can you tell me anything about this type of topper and is it worth purchasing?

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