Though memory foam was introduced to the market in the 1960’s thanks to NASA, memory foam mattresses and the bed-in-a-box phenomenon really took flight in the 2000’s. Today millions of Americans are sleeping on these mattress marvels, yet, not everyone really understands what they are resting on. So let’s take a look at the memory foam mattress- the good, the bad and yes…the muggy of this super foam.
What is Memory Foam?
Technically, memory foam is a visco-elastic polyurethane foam. NASA engineers first developed it to absorb turbulence and improve the safety of aircraft cushions. Early adopters understood Memory foam had special absorbent characteristics that mold to the body from heat and pressure. If it could keep the backsides of these scientists going supersonic more comfortable, then perhaps NASA was on to something.
Today, Memory foam is used just about everywhere, from helmets to medical bracing to mattresses, proving sometimes good sleep needs the help of some science.
- Memory foam is temperature sensitive, which allows the materials to adjust to the sleeper’s body heat and body weight.
- Memory foam is great for pressure point management by displacing pressure along the length of the body
- Memory foam absorbs movement, which can help mitigate disturbances from your partner at night
- Memory foam, if too soft, can cause the sleeper to lose healthy spinal alignment by sinking into the mattress too deep. Memory foam is considered a low resilience polyurethane, which means the foam doesn’t rebound, or push back, to help align your body.
- Memory foam adjusts to the temperature of its environment. If the room is too cold, the memory foam will harden and lose its softness and response mechanism.
- Light sleepers have trouble getting comfortable. Even though memory foam is soft, many sleepers struggle as they change sleep positions at night. The memory foams adjust to your body movements with slow responses, which can compromise your sleep.
- Memory foam has an unfortunate reputation for having a bad smell often referred to as “off-gassing”. US manufacturers have done a great job managing environmental restrictions, but Memory foams that come from overseas are less monitored and do not have to pass environmental regulations.
- Memory foam is temperature sensitive as mentioned earlier. Even though, Memory foam is considered an open cell urethane, it is inherently warmer than other polyurethane foams. Memory foam on the sleep surface tends to sleep hot causing the sleeper to sweat.