If you’ve ever been on the lookout for a new mattress, you’ve probably heard of “memory foam” and wondered what it is. A lot of different mattresses are available on the market today. But despite being around for only a couple of decades, memory foam has become one of the most popular.
How come? There are a couple of reasons, which you will learn all about here. This article covers all things memory foam, including what it is, how it is made, and why you may or may not need one.
What it is
Memory foam was invented in 1966 by NASA specifically for aircraft seats and seatbelts. It was purposefully created to protect astronauts from extreme impact upon takeoff and landing. Shortly after, memory foam started to pop up in different places such as cushioning in helmets and shoes, as well as in prosthetics and wheelchair seating pads.
It wasn’t until 1991 that memory foam was used for mattresses. During that year, a company called Tempur World launched an innovative new product called the “Tempur-Pedic Swedish Mattress,” a revolutionary mattress topper that molded itself around your body. This company still produces mattress toppers to this day.
However, due to how difficult it was to produce the material at the time, memory foam was too expensive for the average consumer. It was recorded that Tempur World sold only 70 mattress toppers their entire first year in business. But as memory foam became easier to produce over time, it became significantly more affordable and began to make its way to bedrooms worldwide.
How it is made
The main component of memory foam is polyurethane, a versatile plastic polymer that is used in a wide range of materials and products such as furniture, liquid paints, spray foam, and even harder materials such as car parts and roller skate wheels. Memory foam is made by combining polyurethane and other chemicals, which vary based on each manufacturer’s unique formulas.
Memory foam is also called viscoelastic, which combines two concepts: viscosity and elasticity.
- Viscosity – the ability to move slowly and reluctantly when pressure is applied.
- Elasticity – the ability to change shape and return to its original form.
When you combine these two properties, you get something that contours to the shape of your body, hugs your curves, and essentially makes you feel like you’re lying on a fluffy cloud. And when you get up, it returns to its initial shape.
Pros of memory foam
Pressure point relief
One of the biggest benefits of memory foam mattresses is that they help alleviate the pain generally associated with sleeping. Memory foam contours to the body by using pressure and body heat. This can provide relief in areas of the body where you put the most pressure on during sleep, such as the hips, shoulders, and neck.
Memory foam relieves the pain and discomfort by taking the stress off of these common pressure points, therefore evenly distributing the pressure throughout the body. This makes memory foam especially helpful for people with joint pain or arthritis.
Back support & spinal alignment
Ideally, your spine should maintain a position when you’re sleeping that is similar to when you’re standing up. This is exactly what memory foams are designed to do. The contouring qualities of memory foam provide lumbar support, which allows the spine to maintain its neutral shape.
To maximize the benefit of lumbar support and proper spinal alignment, make sure that the memory foam mattress you buy has the right foam density for your body. Foam density measures how much weight the foam can handle per cubic foot. As a general rule, the higher the foam density, the more firm the mattress is.
Low-density memory foam has a measurement of 3 lbs/ft3 or lower, medium-density memory foam has a measurement of 4 to 5 lbs/ft3, while high-density memory foam measures 6 lbs/ft3 or more. Each foam density will feel and respond differently. If you are unsure which foam density is right for you, it’s suggested that you lay on different mattresses before making a purchase. Ideally, you want to buy a mattress that you feel most comfortable in.
Suitability with all sleeping positions
Memory foam’s contouring properties make it suitable for all sleeping positions. If you are a side sleeper, memory foam gives you an extra layer of cushioning to protect your shoulders, hips, and ankles. If you are a back sleeper, memory foam gives you extra lumbar support to promote proper spinal alignment. And if you prefer to sleep on your stomach, you are less likely to have your lower back bow over the bed, making you less prone to back discomfort.
Memory foam’s viscoelastic material can absorb pressure and movement. Instead of causing the bed to bounce like spring or latex beds, memory foam keeps motion on one part of the bed from being felt across the entire surface. This is especially beneficial for couples and light sleepers.
Depending on the manufacturer and brand, a high-quality memory foam mattress can last up to ten years. Because the foam can bounce back to its original shape, these mattresses tend to have a longer lifespan. If you’re looking for the best value for your money, mattresses with a higher foam density generally last longer before sagging.
Cons of memory foam
Because the foam is made to retain heat, memory foam mattresses are known to be hotter than ordinary mattresses. In most cases, you will need to adjust your room temperature with a thermostat or air conditioner to avoid discomfort. With that said, more recent innovations in memory foam technology such as open-cell and gel foam are developed to help solve this problem.
Because of the foam’s density, memory foam mattresses can be heavy and difficult to move. One person alone might not be able to set the mattress up, or lift it up to put sheets underneath. However, more and more products are being released and advertised as lighter memory foam mattresses. This is due to the fact that they only contain memory foam layers, which reduces the weight of the mattress in exchange for some durability.
Memory foam is not waterproof. As such, it takes a bit of effort to clean a memory foam mattress after beverage spilling, excessive sweating, or other unwanted circumstances. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you protect your memory foam mattress with a waterproof mattress cover.
Some sleepers complain of an odor from their memory foam mattress. This problem occurs if the mattress is not cleaned and maintained properly, especially after years of use. Much like any other mattress, sweat and dirt are retained in memory foam materials.
However, not all memory foam mattresses are created equal. This problem occurs less with higher-quality brands. Before you purchase a memory foam mattress, it is recommended that you check the customer reviews to spot any comments about this issue in particular.
Memory foam mattresses are generally more expensive than ordinary mattresses. Top-quality mattresses such as Tempur-Pedic can cost upwards of a thousand dollars. However, it’s safe to say that the price of a memory foam mattress is generally an indication of its quality. A memory foam mattress may be more expensive than a regular mattress but it is better for your body and lasts longer.
The good news is that memory foam mattresses are getting more affordable, as more manufacturers are coming out with new products and new ways to innovate this tried-and-tested technology.
When looking for a memory foam mattress to buy, make sure to take into account your sleeping habits, room conditions, and personal preferences. This will help you decide which density, make, and brand of memory foam you need. More importantly, read the online reviews to see if a particular mattress ticks all the boxes in your list.
When it comes to mattresses, memory foam products have some of the highest customer satisfaction rates across the board. Introducing a memory foam mattress into your bedroom will not only give you a good night’s rest every night, but will also enhance your mood throughout the day.
Source from Sweetnight
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