What is Memory Foam?
Memory foam is an improved type of polyurethane based foam. It was originally developed by NASA for use in its space program, and is now used in countless applications, from mattresses, shoe insoles, mattress toppers, pillows to car seats.
Memory foam (or Viscoelatic foam) is a superior PU Foam which is more softer, denser and temperature sensitive
It differs from the traditional PU foams in its ability to mould to any shape without exerting pressure, and returning back to the original position once the object is removed.
Another interesting fact is its temperature sensitivity. It becomes softer when warm, and hard when cool. (we will explain how that helps sleep below)
How does it help sleep better?
Traditional PU foams have an inherent spring action, when they are pressed they constantly exert pressure to come back to its original position.
Memory foam on the other hand, when pressed does not exert back any pressure and continues to remain pressed.
Traditional mattresses use ordinary PU foam for cushioning. When our body weight pushes down on the mattress and the PU foam is constantly trying to push the body up. This results in numbness at body's contact points with the mattress. This is referred to as "pressure points" in medical terms. These "mattress-pressure-points" disrupts sleep (when pressure points are formed, the body reaction is to turn and toss until the numbness goes away) and can cause pain over time.
Memory foam topped mattresses do not push up when the body pushes down. Instead, it allows the body to sink in comfortably thus creating a custom cradling with no pressure points. This leads to uninterrupted sleep and pain-free rest.
Advantages of Memory foam mattresses:
- Body Contouring: When you settle into the mattress it changes its form to mould itself along the curves of the entire body. So instead of having to adapt your entire body to the hard and also unpleasant form of the mattress, you can sink into it comfortably.
- Reduces Pressure points: Memory foam does not exert any pressure on our body. This reduces turning and tossing, and the reduced sleep disturbance helps sleep better.
- Unmatched comfort: Nothing comes close to memory foam in terms of comfort. It gives a very unique sleeping experience
Is this the best mattress type?
Given its many advantages, memory foam is one of the best sleep materials in the market today. But it must be noted that memory foam is only a cushioning material. It can be used only as a top layer in a mattress and not completely. So if anyone tells they are giving a 100% memory foam mattress, its a plain lie.
It is used in combination with other mattress type like Innerspring, Latex, PU Foam or Coir which forms the core of the mattress. Manufacturers use memory foam with different mattress cores to offer customers varying comfort options.
Side sleepers generally find memory foam topped mattresses more comfortable. They are less likely to wake up in the morning with sore shoulders or hips.
Quality in Memory foam mattress?
Since memory foam is essentially PU foam, it can be made in varying densities. In India memory foam is available upto 65 Density Kg / m3 (4 lb/ft3). When buying a memory foam mattress, always enquire about the density since a lower density memory foam might be priced lower but will not be as durable and body-conforming as the higher density ones.
Thickness of memory foam used is also an important factor. The international consensus is that atleast 2 inches i.e 50mm of memory foam must be used in a mattress to experience any real effect of memory foam. When buying a memory foam mattress, always check the cross-section to find out the actual thickness of memory foam used in the mattress.