Memory foam is a material that submits to pressure in a manner that causes it to then conform to the shape of the object applying the pressure. When the pressure is removed, it will then return to its original shape. This property is known as visco-elasticity and is a preeminent feature of the product contributing to a number of memory foam mattress benefits. For more on the material’s properties, see our introductory article: What is Memory Foam?
Origin of Memory Foam
In the mid 1960’s NASA was looking to develop a material with which safer aircraft cushions could be manufactured. Memory foam was developed by infusing gas into a polyurethane base, to produce a foamy substance which would be firm enough to withstand pressure and additionally return to its original shape after that pressure was lifted. Originally quite expensive to produce, memory foam eventually became affordable enough to mass market. There are several variations of the product, designed to enhance its advantages and to neutralize a number of associated disadvantages.
What are Memory Foam Benefits?
- Superior Motion Isolation: Motion isolation is the property of limiting how far disturbances (motion) on one area of a mattress transmit through the product. Good motion isolation means that -on a shared product, such as a queen size memory foam mattress– one partner’s tossing and turning is hardly felt by the other partner. This is because the mattress absorbs the movement locally and does not transfer it throughout the mattress. Motion isolation mattresses are thus ideal for couples.
- Superior Comfort through Weight Distribution: Because of its ability to conform to the shape of the person lying on it memory foam distributes that person’s weight evenly. This means that undue pressure is not felt on any particular body part. It also means that the sleeper can lie in their natural body shape without contorting to match the shape of the mattress.
- Superior Heat Retention: Memory foam tends to have poor ventilation. It does not allow for free air flow. As such it often traps the heat of the user’s body temperature. For those who prefer this, or who have medical conditions requiring heat applications, this is beneficial. Conversely though, this may result in uncomfortable nights of sweaty sleep. Newer generations of memory foam have added infusions, particularly of gel, which provides cooling properties to the material.
- Durability: Good quality mattresses of this type will retain their sturdiness for up to a decade. This is one of the memory foam mattress benefits that justify the higher price point of many models. Regular coil mattresses will become misshapen, uneven or suddenly spring protruding coils which can be a danger.
- Ideal for Pain Management: For those with conditions where the weight of an injured or diseased body part on a regular mattress produces discomfort, memory foam offers a much better option because the mattress does not unduly apply upward pressure on any part of the body. Combined with the property of conforming to the shape of the object lying on it, it offers relief to sufferers of back pan, fibromyalgia and other ailments.