Plant Based and Traditional Memory Foam Go Head to Head.
Are you curious about how plant-based memory foam compares to traditional? Many shoppers are surprised to learn there are differences and may not realize what characteristics distinguish one from the other. To learn more about the similarities and differences we take an in-depth look at not only the two types, but also comparisons of two popular manufacturers that were chosen to represent both plant-based memory foam and traditional.
Traditional vs Plant-Based Memory Foam
Traditional forms of viscoelastic material have been used in bedding for over 20 years now. Memory foam continues gaining popularity among consumers, and in the past ten years this has inevitably meant more options coming to the market. Though this type of bed consistently rates higher than spring beds in terms of comfort and overall satisfaction, there are few issues that new comers like plant-based foams have sought to address.
Traditional Memory Foam
Traditional memory foam mattresses are made from petroleum-based polyurethane. The process was originally developed by NASA, later purchased and introduced by Tempurpedic. This type of foam is temperature-sensitive, meaning it reacts by hardening in cold spaces and softening in warm. The buoyant sensation and pressure-reliving properties come from the memory foam’s ability to contour to the sleeper and evenly distribute weight.
Tempurpedic is still a leader in traditional memory foam, though other prominent brands use similar formulations now as well. Their all-foam beds were revolutionary at a time when mattress was synonymous with metal springs. Today, they offer their original high density models as well as lines designed to respond to calls for cheaper, cooler, and softer options.
Plant-based Memory Foam
Though traditional memory foam has many positive aspects, their are few complaints which variations have sought to address such as heat retention, odors and chemicals, excessive viscosity, and firmness unpredictability. Plant-based memory foam replaces a portion of the petroleum products with plant-derived oils. In addition to being considered more eco-friendly, some types of plant-based memory foam have actually been shown to improve breathability and eliminate other concerns with temperature-neutral properties. Certi-PUR® certified plant-based foams are also free of chemicals like CFCs, formaldehyde, pthalates, PBDEs, and are low in VOCs, all of which have been cause for concern in traditional memory foams.
Amerisleep is a leading brand of plant-based memory foam. They were one of the first retailers to use the innovative material, and have carved out an eco-friendly niche with renewable bamboo blend covers, eco-conscious shipping practices, affordable pricing and foams free of harmful chemicals. The brand uses an extreme open-cell memory foam that dissipates heat 10x quicker than traditional foams, is temperature neutral, and has a quick response time.
Comparison of Amerisleep and Tempurpedic
Grading is based on total owner reviews from both Amerisleep.com and Tempurpedic.com, with detailed explanation below.
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The two brands provide pressure relief, above average warranties, longevity, quality construction and reduction of motion transfer on nearly an even keel, with both receiving similar ratings in these fields. The most notable differences are health/offgassing, sleeping hot, response time, price, and owner reviews. We have included an explanation of each of these concerns with information gleaned from mattress reviews to help shoppers determine how plant-based memory foam compares to traditional.
Health / Offgassing
For this purpose, health refers to potentially harmful chemicals used in the composition of the mattresses, which is closely tied to the potential for off-gassing and the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This is a group of more than 60 chemicals that are considered to present health hazards when people suffer prolonged exposure. With the average person spending 8 hours, or one-third of their day in close contact with their mattress, chemicals can pose serious concern.
- Plant-based memory foam mattresses manufactured by Amerisleep have been certified by Certi-PUR®. This certification means they don’t contain toxic chemicals, heavy metals, or dangerous additives. There is an initial “new” odor as with most new products; however it dissipates within a few days and is mentioned by fewer than 5% of reviewers .
- Tempurpedic remains tight-lipped about their formula, with a disclaimer at the bottom of one page saying the beds are free of harmful VOCs, formeldahyde and CFCs. But, traditional memory foam that uses petroleum has been associated with the release of VOCs, which can continue for the life of the product. The company has no third party certifications, and about 18-20% of reviewers mention odor, some to the point of having to return their bed.
Sleeping Hot/Trapped Heat
Most people prefer to feel cooler when sleeping, and it is thought that cooler temperatures improve sleep quality. Thus, heat and memory foam has become a hot topic in recent years and is a top concern for some.
- Amerisleep claims to use an open celled foam with greater breathability than traditional foams. This claim appears to bear out in reviews, with less 2-5% of reviewers complaining of sleeping hot. Even about 5% of innerspring owners complain of heat, so this percentage is well below average for foam mattresses.
- Sleeping hot has been a complaint from owners of Tempurpedic beds since they were first introduced. The close, temperature sensitive of the foam structure may contribute to trapped heat, especially on denser and thicker models. In reviews, approximately 10-15% of owners complain of sleeping hot, some to the point of excess sweating affecting the mattress.
The response time of a foam refers to how quickly it returns to its original shape or recontours to sleeper movements. This affects how easily a person can move and change position, as well as intimate moments.
- Plant-based memory foam mattresses from Amerisleep feature a 6-8 second response time. They also are stable in firmness since the material is not affected by ambient temperatures. Fewer than 2% of reviews mentioned anything about difficulty moving or other issues related to response time.
- About 15-18% of Tempurpedic mattress owners complain of issues with response time or ease of movement, likely due to the 45-60 second response time of Tempurpedic mattresses and temperature sensitive properties. Some mention the bed being too hard, then too soft to move after it warms up, and others mention a “quicksand” effect where the material near their body is soft while the rest is hard creating a sensation of being stuck in a hole.
Savvy shoppers generally approach a major purchase with the objective of receiving the best value for the money they spend. This can include watching for sales, as well as understanding that name brands do not necessarily equate with quality. Many well-known lines from clothing to cars to mattresses spend a great deal of money on advertising which is generally passed on to the consumer. They may be status symbols, but in reality, once the sheets go on the mattress tag doesn’t matter – but comfort and quality do.
- Amerisleep mattress range in price from $849 to $1899 for queen size. The brand offers frequent sales and promotions year round.
- Tempurpedic mattresses range from $1099 to $7499 for queen size models. They only offer discount on closeouts, but may have pillow or financing promos on certain holidays.
Reviews and ratings are an important consideration for many shoppers, especially when shopping online or trying a new product. Average reviews for these two brands showed significant difference. To provide a baseline, about 80% of people overall are satisfied with memory foam beds.
- Amerisleep’s website uses a third party verified reviewing system that matches customers to products actually purchased to ensure legitimacy. The average owner rating for all mattresses combined is 4.6 out 5 in over 390 reviews (or satisfaction average of about 92%).
- Tempurpedic has a simple in-house review system. Across all mattress models, the average review rating is 3.6 out 5 in over 500 reviews (a satisfaction rate of 72%).
As we’ve mentioned before, when researching different types of beds, it can be helpful to compare performance factors using actual owner opinions rather than relying on cost, commercials, or branding to make shopping decisions. The above information was tabulated from analysis of the total available reviews from each brand’s website, as of July 1 2013. Individual mattresses vary, however this comparison is designed to show averages to help readers identify differences between memory foam types for product research purposes.