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Mattress Materials Breakdown: Memory Foam Mattresses

by Waverly Wilde

There’s nothing quite like a memory foam mattress when it comes to the world of beds. Aside from feeling like a warm hug, its innovative sleep technology has proven to help certain aches and pains throughout the body making it a go-to among people with arthritis, back issues, and other ailments. 

So, what is this magical thing we call memory foam made of and how does it work? We’re saving the ins and outs of innerspring and hybrid mattresses for another time and breaking down memory foam to show you why these materials will benefit you.

Designed for Bigger Things

Before jumping into what materials make up a memory foam mattress, we wanted to give you a brief history lesson! Starting in the 1960s, NASA designed memory foam in hopes of creating shock-absorbing cushions, seat belts, and more for aircrafts. The product was so successful that when the medical universe caught wind of memory foam, they had to have a part of it. With the new technology they were able to mold cushions for helmets, shoes, wheelchair seating, prosthetics, and more. It wasn’t until the early 1990s when memory foam was introduced, changing the mattress game forever!

What Memory Foam is Made of

While it would seem that magic is what memory foam is made of, the truth is, it’s formed of a polymer called polyurethane. This kind of plastic polymer used is considered viscoelastic, meaning that the chemicals and compounds within the memory foam affect the viscosity and elasticity of the foam. Basically, the polyurethane is a material that changes shape and contorts when pressure is applied but will return to its previous appearance when the force is removed. Imagine applying pressure with your hand on a memory foam mattress or pillow. You should notice a handprint indented in the memory foam morphing back to its regular shape after you lift your hand.

Although, every memory foam mattress has some level of polyurethane in it, not every memory foam mattress feels the same. That’s because every manufacturer has their own “recipes” to make their version of the perfect memory foam bed. The different and usually secret processes and chemicals included affect the feel and function of your sleep experience making it extremely important that you take the time to test out memory foam mattresses before making such a serious decision. 

How it Works

Now that you understand the basics of what memory foam is made of, it’s time to learn how it works on your body. We explained earlier what happens when you add and remove pressure with your hand, but we didn’t get into the benefits of that effect. When you lay your whole body down on this material, the foam contours your body and conforms to its shape. Unlike other mattresses, which can push back and put strain on your spine, memory foam relieves that pressure by molding to your body's shape, evenly distributing the weight and promoting proper spinal alignment.

Knowledge is power! Now you can take your newfound understanding of memory foam and apply it to your life for the better. But, if you still have questions about this material or just need some help with mattress shopping, give us a call and we’ll happily lend you a hand!