The Difference Between Memory Foam and Orthopaedic Foam Mattresses

The Difference Between Memory Foam and Orthopaedic Foam Mattresses

The Difference Between Memory Foam and Orthopaedic Foam Mattresses

When it comes to finding a new mattress, there are a whole lot of factors to consider that include more than just the size of the bed and the cost.

There are now an array of different mattress materials and technologies to choose from that can dictate everything from your comfort level when sleeping, your muscle recovery for athletes and your body’s ability to reduce inflammation in the joints. Of course, with all of these factors and more to consider, it’s no surprise you’re doing your research on what’s what.

In this article, we’ll take a look at two relatively popular mattress materials, the memory foam mattress and the orthopaedic foam variant. Both of which are relatively similar, however, a few key differences may make one of these models a lot more comfortable than the other, depending on how old you are and how you like to sleep.

With that said, let’s take a look below at memory foam vs orthopaedic foam and what the best option for you and your partner is.

The Memory Foam vs Orthopaedic Mattress

To kick things off, we’ll take a look at the exact differences between the two mattress material types. Although both are foam models, there are a few, minor key differences between the two that are going to affect how you get to sleep.

Let’s take a look.

What is Memory Foam

To keep things simple, memory foam is a mattress material that was developed by NASA back in the 60s and 70s to improve comfort for astronauts and plane passengers. The material is ultra-plush and has been designed to allow for both comfort and support all in one.

You’ll find that memory foam supports body contours better than just about everything else out there, and is an ideal material for pressure relief in the joints and muscles.

If you take a look at a few items around the home, you’ll notice there’s likely memory foam integrated into it somewhere. Whether it’s a pair of shoes, your pillow or even a backpack, memory foam works just about anywhere.

However, there are a few issues with memory foam that might affect the way you sleep, and thus other materials have been developed to remedy this. These issues include:

  • Overheating or an inability to expel body heat.
  • Being too contouring to the body and creating a divot ‘trap’ when sleeping.

It’s good to note that most mattress manufacturers have recognised these issues with memory foam and have worked to develop a swathe of new technologies to improve the material.

From some quick research you’ll find that there are variations of memory foam that include open-cell structures, gel-infused models and more. Essentially, all of these adaptations have worked wonders on creating a fan-favourite material when it comes to bedding.

With all of the new variations of memory foam, you can rest assured that if you have the following issues, you’ll be comfortable on a memory foam bed:

  • Sore joints or joint pain from arthritis
  • Find it difficult to breathe from the angle of your sleeping position
  • Are sensitive to dust and mites inside mattresses
  • You’re often woken by a sleeping partner moving too often
  • Have pain in the neck or back

With memory foam out of the way, let’s take a look at what orthopaedic foam is and why it’s another great sleep surface.

The Orthopaedic Foam Option

When compared to memory foam, orthopaedic foam can be thought of as a more developed version of this material.

To keep things brief, the orthopaedic foam material has been designed explicitly for those who suffer from spinal alignment problems as well as joint pain and back issues. That said, it is a material that has been carefully engineered to work with the human joints and spine to ensure optimal comfort.

It’s good to keep in mind, however, that there isn’t an industry standard for what orthopaedic foam is and there aren’t any certifications out there either. With that noted, it’s always good to look at reviews online to get a more honest and accurate review of a mattress before making a purchase.

With that out of the way, if you do land on a genuine orthopaedic mattress, you’ll be glad to know that it does offer a sleep surface that can enhance your daily life in that it provides a good night’s sleep almost every night.

Research has shown us that with a mattress such as an orthopaedic, you can expect to sleep longer, more comfortably and at a better quality — improving your day to day.

A few tips from us here at Sleepify, for buying an orthopaedic mattress include:

Making a deep assessment of the mattress you’re looking to buy and researching the materials that are being used. In some cases, there are layers in the mattress that are used as ‘filler’ and can decrease the level of comfort.

Double check the densities of the foam in the mattress. These densities will help you gauge whether a mattress will be long-lasting and comfortable, or too sensitive to movement and risks sagging over time.

Always do your best to check your mattress’s reviews online from real customers. This way you’ll be able to tell whether the claims from the mattress brands add up or not.

Lastly, be sure to reach out to the customer support team or in-store salesperson before pulling the trigger on the mattress you’re looking at. Keep in mind that this bed will be with you for a decade or more, and it’s imperative to buy into a good one.

Orthopaedic and Memory Foam Similarities 

In some ways, both of these mattress materials are incredibly similar, and do offer a better night’s sleep and quality of life in the long term.

If you’ve read over our points above, it is quite clear that there aren’t too many major differences between both materials, other than the orthopaedic mattress’s being designed explicitly to conform and support the alignment of the spine.

You’ll find that both materials do offer body contouring support, motion isolation and the ability to cool you as you sleep if you choose a gel-infused model.

In all, both memory foam and orthopaedic mattresses will keep your back in alignment and the weight kept off pressure points; keeping you comfortable and asleep for longer.

Comparing the Two

If you’re set on one of these materials over the other, we’ve broken down the differences below to make the process a little easier. Keep in mind that these differences sound a little bigger on paper, though from experience, the feeling does come off quite similar.

For Plushness

We would suggest you choose a memory foam mattress over an orthopaedic model if you’re looking for an ultra-soft variant. The orthopaedic mattresses are a little firmer to improve lumbar and shoulder support for back and side sleepers, whereas memory foam is rather plush and contouring all over.

For a Cooling Effect

When it comes to sleeping in a hotter climate or if you’re someone who does sleep a little warmer or wakes up in a sweat, then the orthopaedic foam is the model for you. These mattresses are often a little more breathable and feature improved ventilation to keep body heat out of the mattress.

Aussies who live in a tropical climate, such as Cairns, Darwin, Townsville and Broome will be more comfortable on the orthopaedic mattresses too.

For Allergy Prevention

If you’re routinely waking up with a runny nose or sneezing because of dust mite sensitivity, then the denser memory foam mattresses will be for you. With a more tightly packed set of foam cells, the memory foam variants are less prone to getting dust mites inside the mattress.

They’re generally too dense for these allergens to build up, and thus are the better mattress for those with allergies.

For Immediate Use (Low Odours)

When it comes to getting a mattress into the home and ready to sleep on immediately, the orthopaedic is the model for you. In a lot of cases, memory foam does smell quite bad when it’s off-gassing after you open the box, and can’t be slept on by some for at least a few days.

The orthopaedic models don’t often come with this off-gassing issue and can be slept on right away, making it the better option for those replacing an old mattress or needing a new bed entirely after moving house.

For Increased Back Support for Heavier Sleepers

To get into the support and alignment offered by these mattress types, the memory foam models can often be far too soft for heavier sleepers to get the support they need. To add, if you’re someone who sleeps on their back or tummy, memory foam will, more often than not, be too soft for you to sleep comfortably.

That said, our top choice for heavier sleepers or those who need the most support and firm sleeping surface are the orthopaedic models. These are, after all, designed for the back and going to take care of pain in the spine.

For the Best Cost to Worth Ratio

To end, the mattress type that offers the best value for money, you’ll need to head to the memory foam models. These are often a lot more affordable than the orthopaedic beds and offer a close enough experience that you’re not losing out on too much.

Keep in mind that, since memory foam is an older and more developed material, it can be manufactured a lot more affordably than orthopaedic foam — making it our top choice for affordability.

Helping you Choose

To end our comparison between memory foam and orthopaedic foam mattresses, we’ll help you out when it comes to choosing one over the other.

As we know, there are numerous different mattresses out there, all with their different slogans and trademarked marketing jargon to help keep you confused. However, when it comes to choosing a mattress, you’ll only really need to consider a few simple things:

  • Your sleeping style
  • Your location or environment
  • Your partiality to firmness
  • Your budget

With those points out of the way, and checked off when you’re looking for a new mattress, the process will be a lot simpler.

For our orthopaedic vs memory foam readers, we would suggest choosing based on how important a spinal alignment feature is to you. If you absolutely must have a curated mattress that’s been engineered to offer up the best posture support, then an orthopaedic model is your best bet.

For everyone else, memory foam will do just fine. Remember to choose a gel-infused model if you’re in a hotter climate and you’ll be all set.

All that said, Sleepify hopes it’s a little easier to figure out whether an orthopaedic foam mattress is for you, or whether you should choose a cheaper memory foam variant.

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