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What is Memory Foam?

by Divya Antony 28 May 2024

If you are shopping for a new mattress, you will hear and read the term “memory foam” often. Mattresses are available in a variety of styles, sizes and materials and memory foam is one of the most popular options because it is designed to slowly mold to the body in response to pressure which evenly distributes body weight. These mattresses are also very resilient and return to their original shape once body shape and pressure is removed. 

A memory foam mattress will soften when it comes into contact with your body heat and will mould to your unique contours and distribute your weight equally. Depending on how you apply pressure or force, the material will respond differently, and if you apply pressure fast, the foam will change its shape more slowly. Memory foam is great at absorbing the force of an impact and your mattress will cushion your body evenly and create a slow contouring feeling as your mattress adapts to the impact of your body and re-forms around your curves. 

When force is removed, memory foam will return relatively slowly to its original shape. Another important feature of memory foam is its viscosity, which decreases with temperature. Memory foam becomes less stiff and more flexible the hotter it gets, which is why memory foam mattresses feel softer or more pliable after lying on them for some time. 

Types of Memory Foam Mattresses

1. Traditional

This is a classic option and is engineered to mould your body. The issue with traditional memory foam is its tendency to retain heat, and this can cause the sleeping surface of your mattress with that foam to become too warm. Your body heat will increase the temperature of the sleep surface, and you may find this uncomfortably warm. 

2. Open cell

Open-cell memory foam mattresses have internal pockets allowing ventilation and airflow throughout the mattress, which helps disperse heat.

3. Gel

This type of memory foam incorporates gel in its construction, and this is added to the mattress by pumping gel-based microbeads into the foam. These microbeads create pockets like those that are in open-cell mattresses but rather than allowing air through the mattress, these gels actively absorb and release heat from your body. 

Some mattresses use foams that only fall into one of these categories but there are modern memory foam mattresses that incorporate all three. 

Characteristics of Memory Foam

  • Contouring. When you lie down on a memory foam mattress, you will feel the sleep surface contour specifically to the curves and angles of your body. 

  • Sink. Memory foam also has a sink-in feeling, and you will feel embraced by your mattress when you lie down.

  • Palpable response. Memory foam is very adaptive to pressure, and you will feel the material becoming more pliable and less viscous in response to the pressure and heat of your body when you lie down. 

Benefits of a Memory Foam Mattress

  • Pressure relief. Memory foam contours to the body and uses your own body heat and pressure to conform to your shape. This will provide you with relief in areas of the body we put the most pressure on during sleep, like your neck, hips, and shoulders. Regular pressure on these parts of the body can cause pain, and you may have trouble getting to sleep. The contouring qualities of a memory foam mattress can reduce pain and discomfort by evenly distributing weight and eliminating stress from pressure points. 

  • Promotes spinal alignment. For many sleepers, a memory foam mattress will promote good spinal alignment and provide lumbar support. The surface will respond to the natural curves of your body which will make it easier to find sleeping positions that keep your spine in neutral alignment. No more back pain or soreness in the morning or tossing and turning while you sleep!

  • Allergen resistant. Memory foam mattresses tend to resist the buildup of common allergens for people with allergies. Their dense structure makes them less likely to attract and accumulate allergens like dust mites, mould, and other common irritants. 

  • Reduces motion transfer. Co-sleepers and couples who can feel if their partner moves or gets up at night will appreciate a memory foam mattress because it reduces motion transfer. The density of memory foam and the way it responds to and distributes pressure allows it to keep motion on one part of the bed. If you are a light sleeper or constantly feel your partner's turns, a memory foam mattress will allow you to sleep comfortably because you will not feel motion on the other side of the bed. 

  • Quiet. This is another important quality for couples who don’t want to wake their significant other when getting out of bed. It's also ideal for anyone who does not want to be bothered by the squeaking or any other sounds that can come from a noisy bed.

If you think a memory foam mattress is right for you, there are a few factors you must consider when choosing the right mattress for your needs. Make sure you consider:

  1. Firmness. There are different levels of firmness you will come across when shopping for a mattress and this aspect is generally described on a scale between very soft and very firm. This is based on personal preference, and you must decide whether your body requires firmness or a soft surface while sleeping. 

  2. Density. This refers to the measure of how much actual foam is built into each layer of the mattress. The higher the density of the foam, the longer it will keep its shape, elasticity, and support structures. 

  3. Thickness. This refers to how many inches the mattress measures from the side, and thicker mattresses are more supportive than thinner mattresses and can also be softer. Make sure you consider the thickness of the mattress as a whole and the thickness of each individual level. 

Considering a Foam Mattress? 

Do you think a memory foam mattress is right for your sleeping needs? Sleep Nation has the perfect mattress waiting for you! We have a selection of memory foam mattresses and pillows, and our friendly staff will discuss the details of this type of mattress. 

A good night’s rest is very important, and customers in Oakville and Burlington can come to our mattress store to find the best mattress!

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