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Benefits of a Memory Foam Mattress

Updated on May 4, 2016
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Slaine M. Logan hails from the state of North Carolina. She has long been an avid researcher, product reviewer, and health fanatic.

Memory Foam

Memory foam contains three basic components. The solid and majority part is a polyol. For a long time, polyols that were used in memory foam were exclusively derived from petroleum. More recently, some have come from beans, such as castor and soy.

The part that gives the product its foamy texture is what is known as a blowing agent. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) used to be the exclusive choice. However, due to their reputations after the environmental push, hydrofluorocarbons have become a much more prevalent option, and sometimes even water.

The reacting component is invariably a diisocyanate. Detractors of the memory foam mattress from the aspect of health concerns point out that in their raw form, they are suspected of being carcinogenic. While that is true, once the reaction takes place, the resulting product is inert. It is also true that upon buying a new memory foam mattress, people have reported an odor due to offgassing for a short period of time, however, while the scent may be annoying to some, it is not hazardous to your health.

When memory foam was first developed in the 1960s, its production cost made it far too expensive for mass use. As technology advanced, it eventually was able to be feasibly worked into the medical and sports industry in relatively less massive components such as liners. Subsequently, the efficiency of producing this material became sufficient enough to begin using them in larger items. In 1991, the first Tempurpedic mattress was sold.

A handprint made in a memory foam pillow. Eventually the resulting print will disappear, the product returning to its initial form.
A handprint made in a memory foam pillow. Eventually the resulting print will disappear, the product returning to its initial form. | Source

Exceptional Owner Satisfaction

If you have never slept on a memory foam mattress before, it can take some getting used to. Many people who return their memory foam mattress do so within the first week, but that can often be a matter of lack of acclimation. The feel of pure memory foam is probably the most unlike all the other mattress types. It is even more true if you have opted for a high-density, firm mattress.

From the time you first lay down on an innerspring, to the time you drift off to sleep and wake up the next morning, the firmness is going to remain unchanged. The only thing that will change is how warm it will feel at the end of your sleep cycle. With memory foam, this will not be the case. When you first lay down on it, it will feel relatively unyielding. As your body warms the foam, it becomes softer, and adjusts to your contours. Many people feel unwilling to adjust to that initial feeling, and return the mattress. However, for those who stick it out, the reality is that most of them end up really fond of their product. There is definitely a longer break-in period, especially if you are new to this mattress type. But if you stick it out, you may end up being glad that you did.

Relief of Pressure Points

If you are a person that has a preexisting chronic sore spot, or by your usual position of sleeping, you habitually wake up feeling pain in a particular area, a memory foam bed may just be the answer, or at least part of the total solution.

As stated in the previous section, as your body warms the foam, it shapes around the curves and the natural contours of your body. In this manner, it acts completely opposite to an innerspring or an air mattress. When you lay down on a spring, or tubes of air, there is a resisting force of varying degree, depending on the firmness of the mattress. It pushes back up against your body. With memory foam, your body's natural position will shape the foam after several minutes of laying on it. There is a limit to its give, depending on the density of the mattress, but it can distribute your weight off the pressure point better than a uniformly resisting spring set or air tubes.

Back Pain Reduction

If you are suffering from back pain after sleeping, and it fades away after you have been awake for a while, that can indicate one of two things. Should you have had your mattress for more than ten years, it most likely means that it has seen better days, and it is time for a new one. If your mattress is not very old, it could mean that it is the wrong one for you, either in terms of firmness, or type.

There are two main factors that contribute to the wellness of your back when it comes to a mattress. Support and conformability. Memory foam matresses have a much higher level of conformability than innersprings or air mattresses. Because of the resistance of the latter two types, your back is more likely to be at least somewhat of its natural position. There are two resisting forces meeting each other; the upward force of the mattress material, and the gravity of your body. On the other hand, when a surface literally molds to fit your body, it will be far easier to maintain a neutral spine.


Durability

Of course, there is a quite a bit of variation when it comes to makes and models. However, as a rule, foam mattresses will last significantly longer than other types. While you are likely to pay more for a good quality model, many of them have warranties of 10, 15, or even 20 years.

Wide Selection and High Availability

Though water beds, air mattresses, and especially innersprings all predate memory foam, their performance has made them very popular in a relatively short period of time. Several companies, Tempur-pedic being the most widely known, are exclusively devoted to this design. And because their sales volume is very competitive with innerspring models, many companies who used to only offer the innerspring model have branched out into both memory foam and hybrid mattresses. The competition has resulted in a wide array of models with varying densities, and varying prices.

As a consequence of this, manufacturers have responded to this market shift by making sure that their models are always available for purchase. Brick and mortar, as well as online retailers, in kind, want to separate themselves from their competition by offering the widest selection. There are yet some other models that are only available for purchase online. Provided you do adequate research, there are clear advantages to buying your mattress online.

Choosing the right mattress is important for quality sleep. The memory foam mattress may be the correct path for you.
Choosing the right mattress is important for quality sleep. The memory foam mattress may be the correct path for you. | Source

Less Noise

Air mattresses can often squeak or crunch in response to movement. Water beds will often emit a slight sloshing sound. Innersprings can also squeak and creak. If your partner gets up frequently at night, this can also mean a disruption in your own sleep.

While general mattress technology and design improvement has significantly reduced this problem in the aforementioned mattress types over the decades, they still make their presence known. With memory foam, this problem is nonexistent. Because of the technology and the chemistry of the mattress material, there is no immediate recoil when weight is either laid down or lifted off of a particular point. The reforming is gradual, deliberate, and completely quiet.

If a memory foam mattress is the best option for you, a memory foam pillow serves as a good complement to help you get the deep sleep you need for optimal health and function.
If a memory foam mattress is the best option for you, a memory foam pillow serves as a good complement to help you get the deep sleep you need for optimal health and function. | Source

No Disruptive Surface Motion

When your partner gets up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, sometimes if it isn't the noise that awakens you, it can be the motion of the surface of the bed. Similar to the noise factor, other mattress types have seen a marked improvement over the decades, especially with the higher end models of innersprings. An innerspring mattress with a high coil count will be much better than one with a low count.

However, it still does not compare to the isolation of the memory foam surface. Because it does not immediately spring back to its shape, and the foam sinks where heat is present, leaving the space between you and your partner largely unchanged, you will experience no motion if they must leave the bed for whatever reason. And vice versa. A lower quality mattress may provide a slight exception to this rule. Though any motion in that case would still be less than that of a material that has a quick response time to movement.

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