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.
The History Of Memory Foam
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.
What Is Memory Foam Made Up Of?
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.
How Does A Memory Foam Mattress Work?
Memory foam softens on contact with pressure and body heat to provide a comfortable sleep surface that moulds to the shape of your body.
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 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.
Is Memory Foam Safe?
Yes. The chemical ingredients which are used to make memory foam have undergone rigorous testing over the years and are completely harmless.
Types of Memory Foam
There are a few different types of foams that are used to construct mattresses. We explain a few common ones;
What Is Reflex Memory Foam?
This type of foam is much like memory foam, however the way it’s constructed means it springs back faster and has a firmer feel.
What Is Polyurethane Foam?
Polyurethane is a cheaper alternative to memory foam; however it is slightly lower in quality and therefore less long-lasting.
What Is Open Cell Memory Foam?
This type of foam is formed of a more open structure, allowing air to pass through. This results in a cooler night’s sleep.
What Is Gel Memory Foam?
Gel infused foam helps to regulate your body temperature by absorbing and releasing heat. Ideal if you find traditional foam too stuffy.
Memory Foam Benefits
Memory foam has a number of benefits that make it a fantastic material for a reliable mattress.
Here are some benefits of memory foam beds at a glance;
- Pressure relieving
- Easy to care for
- Fire retardant
Are Memory Foam Mattresses Good For You?
- Temperature sensitive memory foam responds naturally to body weight and temperature
- It moulds to your body shape – with a traditional spring 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 and returns to its original shape after a certain period of time
- Memory foam supports your entire body equally, reducing strain on your pressure points
- Encourages correct spinal alignment
- And healthy blood circulation
- Reduces movement transfer
- Is suitable for all sleeping positions
- Memory foam is hypo-allergenic (great for allergy sufferers)
- And it inhibits the development of dust mites and bed bugs
Are There Any Disadvantages Of Memory Foam Mattresses?
In the past, memory foam has had complaints from those who find it too hot to sleep on. However, innovation in memory foam technology has solved this issue. New open cell foam allows better air circulation for a cooler night’s sleep.
If you’re a hot sleeper, we have two mattress collections designed specifically to give you a good night’s sleep;
Coolmax Cooling Memory Foam
The breathable fibres that make up the Coolmax mattress covers are perfect for dispersing moisture and heat throughout the night. All of the covers are washable, hypoallergenic and antibacterial.
4GAircool Memory Foam
With 95% increased airflow, the 4GAircool mattress range contains infused gel particles to keep things cool all night long.
What Is A Memory Foam Pillow?
It’s not just mattresses that get the memory foam treatment. A quality foam pillow is a simple and affordable way of improving spinal alignment and easing muscle strain.
A contour memory foam pillow is designed to provide the best support for your head, neck and shoulders, leading to improved posture in the long run.
Which Is The Best Memory Foam Mattress For Me?
The type of mattress for you depends on a variety of factors;
Memory Foam Density and Body Weight
If you need extra support or are a heavier sleeper, choosing a high density memory foam mattress is best. The higher the density, the more support your mattress provides.
Side sleepers require a softer sleep surface that cushions pressure points such as hips and shoulders, while stomach sleepers will need firmer support to prevent their spine from overarching.
Sleepers with back pain may want to opt for an orthopedic memory foam mattress which features strategically placed grooves for optimum comfort and support.
Choosing Your Memory Foam Mattress
If you’re looking for a new mattress that provides full body support, pressure relief and will last up to 15 years, memory foam could be for you.
To find the right type of mattress for your sleeping needs, our online mattress guide is full of advice for choosing a mattress, no matter your budget or style preferences.
Or, if you’re ready to get shopping, start browsing our memory foam mattresses today.