Why is Memory Foam so Popular?
Consider this iconic image from mattress advertising: a glass of red wine sitting on a mattress miraculously does not fall over even when a bowling ball is dropped on that very same mattress. What manner of mattress wizardry is this? The answer is memory foam—an increasingly popular mattress material with a surprisingly high-tech back story. But besides the fact that you can throw a bowling ball on your mattress without spilling your wine, why has memory foam become so popular? The answers are numerous.
What is Memory Foam?
Technically, memory foam is a high density visco-elastic polyurethane material also known as “visco foam.” Translation? It’s a super dense material that molds either to pressure or heat. This means that it’s denser than traditional mattresses, making it more supportive. But just because it’s denser, doesn’t mean it’s firmer. Memory foam’s viscoelastic polyurethane substance means that when a person lies on a memory foam mattress, heat given off by the body causes the low viscosity material to soften and mold to the sleeper’s natural contours. Because memory foam also has elastic characteristics, the mattress will return to its original shape after pressure has been reduced or removed, such as when a sleeper arises or shifts sleeping positions.
Memory Foam’s Space Age Origins
We have astronauts to thank for a good night’s sleep. Memory foam was originally developed in the late 60s by a group of chemists at the NASA Ames Research Center. Originally called “temper foam” by its inventors, memory foam was initially used for seat padding in space vehicles to provide astronauts with some relief from the effects of gravity during mission launches and landings. That same out-of-this-world pressure relief can now be enjoyed by everyone on earth with a memory foam mattress.
Memory foam has come a long way since its NASA days. After NASA released the technology to the public in the 1980s, memory foam found its way into boot linings, horseback saddle padding, bicycle seat cushions and mattresses, which became an immediate success.
In the early 90s, Sweden’s Fagerdala World Foams introduced a mattress made from memory foam. The revolutionary new sleep system was met with much enthusiasm by Sweden. By 1992, Tempur-Pedic® began selling its memory foam mattresses in North America with the same positive results. Prompted by Tempur-Pedic’s success, several other companies began to manufacture memory foam mattresses. In addition to Tempur-Pedic, Sit 'n Sleep’s extensive inventory of memory foam mattresses includes well-known brands such as Sealy, Beautyrest, Serta, and more.
Memory Foam’s Many Benefits
Memory foam is a unique material in comparison to traditional mattresses that can make for an incredible night’s sleep for a variety of reasons. Let us count the ways!
As mentioned earlier, memory foam forms to the human body, you’ll have whole-body sleep support with little to no concentrated pressure points. Memory foam uses your body’s heat to conform to your body shape while evenly distributing your weight throughout the bed. This is what makes memory foam great for achy joints, morning pains and restless sleepers. The contouring effect of memory foam takes pressure off your joints, while reducing pressure points.
Memory foam mattresses are hypo allergenic. This is because polyurethane foam tends to repel mold, and mildew. It's also resistant to dust mites and pet dander. As a result, these mattresses are great for anyone with allergies. You might also want to invest in a mattress protector to better secure your mattress against allergens. Mattress protectors provide a physical barrier that resists allergens, dust mites, moisture, mold and mildew. They can also be taken off and cleaned in the washing machine.
If you’ve ever shared a traditional innerspring mattress with a partner, you’re likely familiar with the experience of being rocked and rolled when they toss in bed beside you. You’re way less likely to feel that on a memory foam mattress. Memory foam mattresses transfer less motion, so you won't disturb your sleep partner when they turnover in bed— and they won’t be disturbed by you!
Memory Foam vs Hybrid Mattress
Many people ask us about the benefits of a memory foam mattress vs. the benefits of a hybrid mattress, which combines innerspring and memory foam technology. Memory foam seems to be better at relieving pressure and isolating motion compared to hybrid mattress. However, hybrid mattress are better at regulating temperature and allow you to move around more easily. Furthermore, hybrid mattresses seem to be more durable than memory foam mattresses.
Choosing a Memory Foam Mattress
Over the last several years, there’s been an explosion of options for those seeking a memory foam mattress. There’s a memory foam mattress for every sleeper out there. Here are a couple of factors to keep in mind to find the right memory foam for you:
Density and Thickness
When shopping for a memory foam mattress, the foam’s density and thickness are important factors to consider. Measured in pounds, a mattress with a density of less than four pounds may begin to show wear sooner than heavier density mattresses. Look for a mattress with a density factor of at least four to five pounds. Memory foam mattresses come in thicknesses of six to fourteen inches. An eight-inch-thick memory foam mattress is generally recommended for back sleepers and lighter weight people. Side sleepers and larger individuals, however, tend to prefer thicknesses of ten to twelve inches.
Temperature Regulating Technology
One issue with memory foam is that it’s often less effective than other mattresses at regulating temperature. However, a recent innovation combining gel particles with visco-elastic foam has changed the heat game. Often called gel memory foam, this hybrid material reduces trapped body heat for a cooler sleeping experience, lessens the time it takes to return to its original shape after having been compressed and makes the mattress feel even softer and cooler than regular memory foam.
Considerations for Adjustable Beds
Because they are flexible and durable, memory foam mattresses are an outstanding choice for adjustable beds. More and more people are discovering the benefits of pairing a memory foam mattress with a bed that can be electronically adjusted to the sleeper’s ideal sleeping position for an incredible night's sleep. However, you want to make sure you pick a mattress that’s pliable enough to work with your adjustable bed. Although mattresses over ten inches thick will work in adjustable beds, the range of motion may be restricted.
Ask a Pro!
One of our knowledgeable Sleep Consultants will help determine the density, thickness, and comfort level that's best for your unique situation.
Where Can You Get a Memory Foam Mattress?
Sit ‘n Sleep offers a variety of different memory foam mattresses for you to choose from. With various sizes and comfort levels, you can be sure to find the perfect memory foam mattress for your needs. If you like a firm mattress, a plush mattress, or any in between, Sit ‘n Sleep can help you find the mattress that fits your needs. We even have a memory foam mattress made specifically for kids!
If you’re tired of your traditional inner-spring mattress, or you wake up feeling sore and achy, consider buying a new memory foam mattress from Sit ‘n Sleep. Stop by one of our Southern California locations and check out our selection of mattresses today!