If you are like most people who find their entire day is affected by how well they rest, a good night’s sleep is undoubtedly priceless. Though most types of mattresses provide enough support for proper rest, most people are going for memory foam products to enhance overall comfort. But does the foam really improve quality of sleep? While some people are less enthusiastic about it, some swear by it. So what exactly is memory foam? What is it made off? What are its advantages and disadvantages? Here is all you need to know about memory foam and if memory foam products are worth a try.
What Is Memory Foam?
Originally designed for NASA airplane seats in the 60’s, memory foam is mainly made from viscoelastic, polyurethane and other chemicals that enhance its viscosity level as well as its density. It was later released into the market by one of the engineers who designed it and today it is used in both sports and medical equipment.
Depending on the overall density of the memory foam and the exact chemicals used, it can be softer in warmer environments or firmer in cooler temperatures. A lower density foam is usually very pressure sensitive and it will mold very easily to the shape of the user. On the other hand, a higher density memory foam usually reacts with body heat allowing it to mold itself to the shape of a warm body within minutes. In a nut shell, memory foam molds according to the body heat, pressure and body weight. When you remove the pressure it returns to its original position. Today memory foam is well known for its use in mattresses, mattress pads and pillows which come in different depths and densities.
Why is memory foam special?
Memory foam not only has great orthopedic applications and qualities that provide invaluable relief to pains and aches, but it also makes for a comfortable and luxurious sleep enhancer for people without additional support requirements. Unlike other types of pillows and mattresses, memory foam mattresses also have a unique feature which allows them to mold around the body supporting all contact points by re-distributing weight evenly and absorbing impact when pressure is applied to their surface.
Its viscoelasticity also makes it ideal for reducing the pressure placed on body joints during sleep, which in turn allows the body to relax fully. Also, because of its spring back qualities, memory foam products usually respond to the redistribution and repositioning of your weight, to support, reshape and shape around the body and ultimately returning to its original position after use. In addition, memory foam is also used in prosthetics to counter pressure ulcers in products such as seating pads for patients who are severely affected.
Types of memory foam
There are 3 main types of memory foam:
- Traditional Memory Foam:
This was the first type of memory foam to hit the market in the 90’s.It was designed to cradle the body when sleeping which helps enhance blood circulation and reduces pressure on your joints. It is also microbial which helps reduce the number of bugs and mites making it a great option for a healthy sleeping environment. Finally, the traditionally foam will last longer than any spring product because of the materials used to manufacture it.
- Air Cool Memory Foam:
After the traditional memory foam was released into the market, most people complained about the amount of heat it produced. This is because they were designed to react to a user’s body temperature. Producers listened to these cries and now you can purchase a more enhanced type of memory foam known as air cool memory foam. The improved product responds to body temperatures more quickly and will emit the warmth out almost instantly. This feature eliminates the problem of excess heat and makes for a cool night’s sleep. There are also some types of foams that use “open cell technology,” which helps redistribute heat across the foam evenly.
- Gel Memory Foam:
The gel memory foam will not only cradle pressure points and help stop motion transfer when you sleep, but it is also anti-microbial, so you do not have to worry about allergies. What’s more is that all these amazing features are infused with the same type of gel used in short inserts or sports equipment. This makes the gel memory foam one of the best on the market in terms of support and comfort. This unique feature also makes it perfect for people who suffer from severe to medium pains and aches due to posture when sleeping. Nonetheless, note that because of the gel, it will feel a bit firmer than traditional and air cool foams.
One big problem that many people have with most memory foam products is “off gassing” or memory foam smell. This is the odor produced when you first take a memory foam product out of a box. The odor usually subsides relatively quickly but if it is a nuisance to you there are some things that you can do minimize its effects. First when you receive your product, take it out of its box and allow it to air out. If you have fans, you can run them to enhance circulation. Also, if it is a mattress, you can put your bed off the ground outside or it is possible let the mattress air out for a few hours until the smell subsides before put on any mattress covers or sheets back onto it.
Is Memory Foam Safe?
Off gassing or memory foam smell is not harmful and as mentioned earlier, it often subsides very quickly. Research has also confirmed that over 90 percent of the memory foams produced globally are non-toxic and completely safe. Even though you might smell the odor, the fume won’t affect your health. Nonetheless some people who are naturally allergic or more sensitive to some chemical fumes have reported minor headaches and irritations until the smell subsides.
Pros of Memory Foam
- They provide a true body fit
- Enhanced types of memory foams have temperature control features
- Provide pain relief and comfort
- Non-toxic and allergy friendly
- Motion transfer resistance
Cons of Memory foam
- Can be expensive depending on the brand and quality of foam
- May take longer to comfort into your body shape as well as to return back to its initial shape
- The smell or off gassing may be allergic or irritating
- Temperature sensitive
Wrapping it up
While comfort and sleep preferences vary from one person to another, memory foam offers a better alternative to springs and other alternatives. With the ability to contour into a specific body fit and to provide natural pain support, memory foams are a great consideration when looking for a new mattress.