Memory Foam Sleeper Sofa Mattresses and Why They Are a Bad Idea

Woman looking tired after sleeping on a memory foam sleeper sofa mattress

A sleeper sofa mattress needs to be as comfortable and supportive as possible. If you are looking to replace the original mattress, you will appreciate the tips that follow and the reasons that memory foam, while very popular, may not the best choice.

What Is Memory Foam?

Made from a temperature-sensitive substance named viscoelastic, it was designed in the mid-1960s for NASA airplane seats to protect against impact, be soft and comfortable, mold to the shape of the body, be highly energy absorbent, and respond to pressure and heat by evenly distributing body weight, and then returnto the original shape once the pressure was removed.

That being said, it’s important to note that no replacement mattress is made entirely out of memory foam, because memory foam is a contouring foam, not a support foam. Most memory foam mattresses are actually mattresses with a thick layer of support foam/springs with approximately 2″ layer of memory foam on the top. They may be softer, but they are also much pricier and are not necessarily better.

Why Memory Foam Sleeper Sofa Mattresses Won’t be Comfortable

A sofa bed mattress must be able to fit into the folding mechanism correctly, and that’s why sleeper sofa mattresses are around 4″ to 5″ thick. Therefore, if a 2″ layer of memory foam is used (which is necessary to create the contouring feel memory foam is famous for, any less won’t really do the trick), that leaves room only for a 2″-3″ thick support foam. In order for you or your guests not to feel the bar when sleeping on a sofa bed mattress, the thickness of the support foam should be maximized. Thus, we recommend investing in a sleeper sofa mattress made entirely out of support foam and utilizing a completely separate memory foam mattress topper for extra comfort.

Note that the quality of the layers underneath the memory foam and the density and firmness of the support foam are also important when it comes to supporting the sleepers’ body.The best couch mattresses have a solid core with a foam density (weight) between 1.8 and 2.5 pounds per cubic foot.The firmness of mattress foam is measured in units called Indentation Force Deflection, or IFD. Firm foams are made from high compression material with an IFD of between 40 and 50. Softer medium compression foams have an IFD of between 20 and 30. Read more about foam here.

Other Drawbacks of Memory Foam Sleeper Sofa Mattresses

While the reasoning above is the main disadvantage of a memory foam sofa bed mattress, there are other smaller drawbacks as well:
1. Odd Smell. When new, memory foam can produce an odd chemical smell called “out-gassing,” which is quite unpleasant. The mattress would have to be aired out for at least 24 hours before putting sheets on it, with the hope that the smell will dissipate.
2. Retains Body Heat. Memory foam retains body heat and reduces air circulation around your body, which could make the mattress uncomfortably warm. Memory foam is also affected by room temperature, so you might find it cold and hard when you first go to bed.
3. Difficult to Move. Memory foam reacts to body heat and it molds to your shape. That could make it rather difficult to move or to get out of bed.
When far superior high compression, high density, high resiliency foam cores are used, not only will the mattress properly fold into the sofa bed mechanism, but you won’t feel the bars of the mechanism as you sleep because this type of foam is both supportive and comfortable.

When you choose a replacement mattress, make sure it is of excellent quality, will fit your sofa bed perfectly even if it has to be custom sized, is resilient and firm, and will give you a superlative night’s sleep for many years to come.

[Also read The ABZzzz’s of Buying a Sofa Bed Mattress]