We’ve all heard of the stuff, but what is memory foam, where did it come from, and why is it so good for our health? To fully understand the benefits of a memory foam mattress, let’s take a closer look at this clever material.
What is memory foam?
Memory foam is a unique material with unique properties. This soft and soothing foam can move and change shape in reaction to weight, pressure and heat – and is absolutely brilliant for sleeping on.
So how is it made? Memory foam is a chemically produced foam, aka polyurethane foam. It’s made using water and a number of chemicals, which react together to create foam. Once this foam dries you are left with durable memory foam. The chemical ingredients which are used to make memory foam have undergone rigorous testing over the years, and are completely harmless. Click here if you want to find out more about the chemical side of things.
Why is it called visco-elastic?
This bit is quite simple, once you break it down. The word Visco-Elastic describes the unique properties of memory foam. ‘Visco’ refers to the increased viscosity of memory foam compared to other foams – that is its ability to react and mould to weight, heat and pressure. ‘Elastic’ refers to memory foam’s ability to spring back to its original shape once body weight and heat have been removed. Hence Visco-Elastic Memory Foam.
To see the evidence for yourself, press your hand into a memory foam mattress for a few seconds. When you take your hand away you’ll see that your hand has left a print in the mattress. That’s the viscosity of the memory foam in practice. Then you’ll see your hand shape quickly disappear – that’s the elastic property of the memory foam.
Where did memory foam come from?
Memory foam was actually invented by NASA scientists in the 1970s. They intended to create a material which would provide pressure-relief and cushioning for astronauts, to protect them against massive gravitational (‘G’) forces during blast-off. And so memory foam was created! Initially, it was referred to as ‘slow spring back foam’, but the name didn’t seem to catch on.
Why does memory foam make a good mattress?
The extensive list of health benefits which come with a quality memory foam mattress all boil down to its unique visco-elastic properties:
- Memory foam responds naturally to body weight and temperature
- It moulds to the shape of your body – with a traditional mattress your body has to do all the adapting
- Memory foam provides extra support and comfort for high pressure areas such as your hips and shoulders
- It springs back to its original shape in the morning!
- Memory foam supports your entire body equally, reducing strain on your pressure points
- Encourages correct spinal alignment
- And healthy blood circulation
- Memory foam is hypo-allergenic (great for allergy sufferers)
- And it inhibits the development of dust mites and bed bugs