While renting an Airbnb in the Dominican Republic in February 2020, I discovered that the queen size mattress in the house had several indentations. Although the mattress was not impossible to sleep on, it was quite uncomfortable.

What the mattress indentation looked like

The top layer had some significant sagging and there was a distinct body impression on the left side of the mattress. The particular location of the indentation was due to the fact that access to the rest of the apartment was easier on one side of the bed.

I used the shower pole from the bathroom to verify my assumptions that the mattress had some body-impressions. With the straight edge of the shower pole, I was able to measure the depth of the impression. I did this by laying it across the width and the length of the mattress and rolling it across the mattress surface to pinpoint where the indentations were.

The sagging was significantly more pronounced when the pole was placed on the long side of the mattress. At it’s the deepest point, the indentation was close to two inches. The long side of the mattress definitely had a banana shape to it.

The sleeping experience

Although I did get some good rest, it was more because of the quiet neighbourhood that the Airbnb house was located in.

Despite the visible sagging, the mattress did offer some comfort and pressure relief. However, when trying to fall asleep, I found myself changing sleeping positions quite frequently. I would quickly get sore from staying in one position for too long.

A relatively new mattress that is already starting to fail

This particular mattress had what is referred to in the mattress industry as a “EuroTop”. It is an aesthetic addition to the cover of the mattress that makes it look more thick and lofty. But, it doesn’t offer any additional functionality or comfort.

The Eurotop has become more popular in recent years. So, judging by the styling of the mattress and the wear and tear, I assumed that the mattress was less than five years old.

For a mattress of that age to be failing to that extent with severe sagging and indentations is disappointing, to say the least.

What is the alternative to a sagging polyurethane mattress?

Obviously, replacing a polyurethane mattress by another polyurethane mattress that would potentially last just a few years is a bad investment.

Natural latex is much more durable and environmentally friendly than polyurethane foam (gel foam, memory foam, cooling foam). I have seen natural latex from a 50-year-old mattress that is still in good shape!

A natural latex mattress, whether it be an all-latex core or hybrid, will not only outlast a polyurethane mattress by decades but will have many characteristics that make it a better financial and health investment.

Benefits of natural latex over polyurethane foam

  • At least 3x more durable than polyurethane.
  •  It offers more pressure relief than polyurethane which means your hips and shoulders will be less prone to soreness.
  • Dust mite resistant.
  • Mould & mildew resistant.
  • Hypoallergenic.
  • More responsive than polyurethane which means it reacts instantly to support your body when you change sleeping positions.

The Natural Advantage: Organic Latex mattresses vs. Polyurethane

Additionally, natural latex mattresses as a whole have a number of benefits over polyurethane mattresses

  • No chemical fire barrier, which may lead to undesired health issues.
  • More durable materials like organic cotton, and a wool fire barrier.
  • Much more breathable than polyurethane mattresses.
  • Made with sustainable materials that provide socio-economic benefits to local communities across the globe.

The likely result of polyurethane mattress ownership

Polyurethane mattresses, when made with ultra low-density foam in the top “euro layer” are prone to failing. The cell structure of the foam starts to break down after a very short amount of time. Sure, when a polyurethane mattress is new, it offers great comfort and pressure relief, but as time goes on, the low-density foam is prone to sag and develop indentations.

A better long-term investment to switch to a natural latex mattress. Initially, it is a bigger financial investment, but in the long term, it will not only be less expensive but will get you many health benefits in comparison to a polyurethane mattress. You can either invest in a 3rd party certified natural latex mattress that will last several decades or get an inexpensive polyurethane mattress that might start to fail in just a few years. Additionally, you will be exposing yourself to VOCs and hazardous chemicals by choosing a polyurethane mattress.