Memory foam is a soft pressure and heat sensitive material which contains millions of open, spherical cells. It mainly consists of polyurethane foam and other added chemicals to increase its viscosity and density. Memory foam is used within mattresses and other bedding related products due to its unique properties that make is perfect for support and comfort.
The History of Memory Foam
In 1966 a group of NASA engineers wanted to design a custom seat that would relieve pressure from the massive gravitational forces that the astronauts go through during takeoff and landing. but they soon came to the realization that they won't be able to make a custom seat for each astronaut because their bodies change over the course of the ongoing training each astronaut goes through. That means they would have had to change seats with every mission for every astronaut which is rather impractical. So instead the NASA engineers invented a material that could adapt to your body and help protect the astronauts from the G Forces they experience. This material became what we know as today as memory foam.
Different Types of Memory Foam
Traditional Memory Foam
When people think of memory foam they are most likely thinking about traditional memory foam. This is the memory foam that was originally design to be used for astronauts in space. Memory foam is great for pressure relief, motion isolation, durability and is hypo allergenic due to this is was perfect to use in mattresses. Well almost, the main problem with traditional memory foam was that in ran hot which lead to the innovations of the other types of memory foam listed below.
With tradition memory foam running to hot, manufactures came up with a process of adding a more open cell structure to the foam. The open cell structure helps to displace heat more evenly across the memory foam creating a cooler and more comfortable sleeping temperature. With an open cell structure heat no longer gets tramped inside the memory foam but is allowed to escape through the air pockets.
Gel Memory Foam
Gel Memory form is one of the newer types of memory foam on the market, they combine the properties of comfort and support that comes with traditional memory foam while adding gel to combat the temperature issues that are associated with the foam. The gel is similar to what you find in sole inserts so this also ads density to the memory foam resulting in more support.
Infused Memory Foam
Infused memory foam is the latest type of memory foam that is now hitting the market. Companies are trying to combat one of the biggest weaknesses with memory foam and that is cooling. All memory foam has cooling issues due to it trapping heat within the structure of the foam. But when infusing new materials like graphite or copper they are able to dispense heat away from the body and offer up to 7 times better cooling then that of conventional memory foam.
What is memory foam made of?
Polyurethane foam also known as viscoelasticis built up by a few main ingredients:
- Polyols– which is the binding ingredient. Mostly coming from petroleum oil but may also include plant-based products like soy or castor beans.
- Blowing Agents– introduces carbon to create the foam. Used to use CFCs, though today manufacturers may use water, HFC or other agents.
- Diisocyanates – the reactive ingredient. When combined with polyols and blowing agents they react creating a soft flexible polyurethane foam. The most commonly used Diisocyanatesare MDI and TDI, MDI is regarded as the safer and less toxic option and is known to be the least hazardous organic isocyanate.
Benefits of Memory Foam
- Pressure Point Relief
Memory foam is fantastic for pressure relief because it conforms to your body’s natural sleeping position. Memory foam is used to help reduce bed sores and minimize pain in sensitive areas. Memory foam contours to your body rather than laying on a surface that forces your body to conform to that it so there is no push back effect
- Motion Isolation
When sleeping especially if you are a couple, having a bed that doesn’t absorb motion can cause some sleepless nights. If there is no isolation between two people than movement can transfer across the whole mattress. When one-person rolls over that doesn’t mean the other has too.
- Dust Mite Mitigation
Memory foam is more dense than other materials that are used within a mattress leaving little to no room for dust mites to occupy that space.
The density that helps with the reduction of dust mites also helps with that mattress being hypo allergenic leaving little to no room for allergens to attach.
The Average lifespan of a memory foam mattress is 7 years while foams with a higher density can last up to 10 years. They are also less likely to sag and retain their shape compared to innerspring mattresses.
What makes memory foam so comfortable?
memory foam reacts to body heat and compression which makes it mold to your warm body giving support in high impact areas within a matter of minutes, so when you lay on a memory foam mattress topper there is the initial sinking then once your body relaxes you might notice you sunk in a little bit more, this is due to your body heat helping mold the foam around you.