Home Improvement Magazine

How Does Memory Foam Work: What is Memory Foam?

By Richard Morse @insidebedroom

How does memory foam work? What is memory foam? Many people purchase memory foam mattresses and pillows without fully understanding the underlying principles of this type of artificial foam. It is generally well known that memory foam was developed by NASA to help absorb the G-forces astronauts experience when accelerating at high speeds. But how does it work?

Table of Contents

If you are going to be purchasing a memory foam mattress, or are considering doing so, it is important that you have no preconceptions! It is important that you know what memory foam is and understand how it offers all the benefits impressed upon you by those trying to sell it to you. It does not matter whether you are considering purchasing a memory foam mattress or a pillow. The principles are the same for each. So here goes:

Why Choose a Memory Foam Mattress or Pillow?

Also known as viscoelastic foam, memory foam is becoming increasingly more popular for use in mattresses and pillows. So what is it made from and how does it work? Let's face it, when you buy a mattress you are going to be lying on it for a large part of your life: that means at least 7 - 10 years lying or sleeping on a mattress over the next 20 - 30 years of your life.

Sure, you may purchase more than the one mattress over the next 20 years, but that is how long a good mattress should last - and more! You should, therefore, be looking for the most comfortable mattress that you can find. Cost may be a factor, but what price do you put upon a mattress that will offer you a comfortable night's sleep over so many years - year after year?

So, the question is not one of cost, but one of how a memory foam mattress works to provide you with comfort beyond belief. This is particularly the case if you suffer from any specific back or joint problems. Why memory foam? What is it about memory foam that attracts so many great reviews? Why do hospitals, clinics and ordinary families decide that memory foam mattresses are their first choice? Let's look first at how memory foam works.

How Does Memory Foam Work

Memory foam is also known as viscoelastic foam. Why does this type of foam mold exactly to your body shape and offer total support? As we noted above, today's memory foam is an offshoot from a NASA program to develop a type of foam that would absorb the extreme forces experienced by astronauts during rapid acceleration- and deceleration. These forces are particularly experienced just after blast-off when the rocket force has to push such a massive weight upwards and escape the earth's gravity.

We will not go too far into this technology, but suffice it to say that the type of viscoelastic foam this project created can be used today to support people sleeping in their beds. Viscoelastic foams can become more elastic under forces of pressure and also with the heat of the human body. In other words, when you lie on a viscoelastic foam, AKA memory foam, your weight and body heat together soften the foam so that it molds round your body and supports it when you are sleeping.

Why Not a Latex or Spring Mattress?

Yes! Why not any other type of foam - and why not a spring mattress? When you sleep on springs, the springs that are in contact with your body are compressed. Those not in contact with you remain uncompressed and can lead to discomfort. You can feel the springs on your shoulders, back and buttocks. It can be extremely uncomfortable in many cases. Pocketed springs reduce this discomfort to an extent, but not to the extent that memory foam does.

Latex foam supports only the parts of your body in contact with it. Your whole body can sink into a latex mattress, not just the pressure points of your shoulders, buttocks, hips and heels. There is no support to hold the small of your back in the correct position. Your spine has a natural curvature, and a memory foam mattress can maintain this curvature while you sleep - unlike many other types of mattress.

Major Benefits of a Memory Foam Mattress

Picking up from the above comments on pressure points, memory foam softens with the heat from your body. That means that the heat from your pressure points (your shoulders, buttocks, hips, elbows. etc, depending on whether you lie on your side, back or front) will soften the memory foam and allow these pressure points to sink into the foam for added support.

The parts of your body that are not so intimately in contact with the foam will sink only slightly, so the memory foam supports your body in its natural curvature. Because it is viscoelastic foam, it adapts to the movement of your body when sleeping. When your body moves on the mattress, the foam you move away from will go back to its original flat shape. The area of mattress your body moves to will then support your body in the same way as in your original position.

Support of the Natural Curvature of the Spine

So, no matter how you move around your mattress when sleeping, you will get the support you need to maintain your natural body shape. That means you will have fewer back problems and other issues that arise from poor posture when sleeping. Your body is almost perfectly supported, and your spine is kept straight if you sleep on your side, and maintains its natural S-shaped curvature if you sleep on your back.

If you sleep on your belly, a memory foam mattress gives you support where you need it. You don't want your belly squeezed flat on a hard spring mattress. Memory foam softens and allows your belly to sink into it while maintaining support for the lower parts of your body. Your chest, belly and knees may sink into a luxurious foam while your midriff and legs are supported correctly. Your spine is maintained in its natural S-curve position.

See Also: Is Your Mattress Causing You Back Pain: Choosing the Right Mattress "

Viscoelastic Foam Supports Your Natural Body Shape

So, to answer the question, How Does Memory Foam Work, It works by softening where your body shape places most pressure on the mattress and supports these and the other areas of your body equally. No more excess pressure on your hips and shoulders, and no lack of support for your spine.

Viscoelastic foam supports your natural body shape, no matter what way you sleep: back, side or belly! Because of this property, it also separates the movement of your partner from you - you can each toss and turn with minimal disturbance to each other. It achieves this through its viscoelastic properties that bring space age technology into your bedroom!

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog