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Memory Foam Mattress Pads

Updated on December 21, 2010

Unlike many other types of bedding, a memory foam mattress pad can adjust to fit the body type and sleeping style of both you and your partner.  Memory foam has unique qualities that make it perfect for reducing pressure areas that make it difficult to sleep and increase pain for people who have back pain or other chronic injuries that make sleeping difficult.  Many people who are generally happy with the mattress they already own can increase their comfort level and lengthen the life of their mattress by using a memory foam mattress topper pad over the mattress they already own.  A memory foam topper can allow partners with different bed comfort needs to sleep comfortably together as well.

How Memory Foam Works

Memory foam is something called an open cell foam.  When most foam cushions are under pressure, they get compressed but push back with air pressure to return to their original shape.  When open cell foams like memory foam are under pressure, the air leaks out of the holes in the foam cells under pressure and into areas of the mattress that are not currently being depressed.  This means that when you get up from sitting or laying on something made of memory foam, the foam stays compressed in the shape you left it in and only returns to its original shape slowly as air naturally fills in the open foam cells.

The materials used in memory foam react to temperature as well, heightening the shaping of the foam.  When the foam begins to warm up from being in contact with someone, it gets a little bit softer and starts to have a little more give where it is heated from contact.  Because of this heating effect and the way memory foam keeps its shape, a person sitting or laying on a memory foam pad has high pressure areas spread out to make sleeping feel more even and comfortable.

Memory Foam Mattress Pad Sizes

While the obvious bed size differences exist, with a memory foam mattress pad the most important issue is choosing the thickness of the foam pad you need. Memory foam mattress tops come in sizes that generally range from one inch to about four inches with a pretty heavy price increase when going from one size to another.

A two inch pad is probably fine for the majority of people who want a memory foam pad to help deal with pain issues that show up while sleeping. For an average sized person, a two inch pad will provide the comfort that is needed without sinking in so much that some sleep positions continue to cause pain or produce new issues. For larger people, a three inch memory foam pad may be necessary to achieve the same effects. By the time you go to a four inch foam pad, you might as well be purchasing an entire memory foam mattress or simply a new regular mattress that is more comfortable.

A memory foam mattress pad can make sleep much more comfortable for some (but not all!) people.
A memory foam mattress pad can make sleep much more comfortable for some (but not all!) people. | Source

Memory Foam Mattress Pad Issues

One major issue associated with many memory foam mattress pads, pillows, and other household items is an unpleasant smell associated with memory foam until it has been unpackaged and in your home for a bit.  While most people don't find this to be much of an issue, you may want to take a look at a memory foam item up close at a local store before you make a large purchase if you haven't tried it before. 

A memory foam mattress pad will not work as well as advertised on a soft or pillow top mattress, since the whole foam sheet may sink with the mattress when you get on the bed and reduce the effects.  Check the return information on any memory foam item you purchase to make sure you can get your money back if there is a problem with your mattress, the comfort level of the pad, or anything else that may show up before you make a final purchase.


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