What Is Memory Foam? Secrets Behind This Magical Material!

Our article is full of interesting facts about memory foam, how it was created and what it is used for nowadays!
Romeo Vitelli
Romeo Vitelli
Expert Writer
Received his doctorate in Psychology in 1987, spent fifteen years as a staff psychologist in Millbrook Correctional Centre. In 2003 went into full-time private practice. read more
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Medical Advisory Team
Medical Advisory Team
Includes well-known professionals, who together provide decades of sleep medicine experience that enables Talk About Sleep to fulfill its mission of creating access to high- read more
Last updated: September 16, 2023
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If you’ve flicked on the television for anything recently, chances are that you have seen advertisements for beds filled with memory foam. It is reported to mold to your body, provide support, and remain durable ever after years sleeping on the same bed. However, that doesn’t tell us what memory foam is or why it is so important to our bodies while sleeping.

It’s in every single shop, on every single type of media, and everyone seems to be chatting about how memory foam has been helping them get to sleep. It’s gotten to the point where you might be wondering why we would sleep on non-memory foam.

So, it’s time to peel back the bedsheet and see what goes into memory foam and what makes it so important for our sleep. Memory foam is being touted by the media for a reason and we want to know why.

What is memory foam made of?

What Is Memory Foam? Secrets Behind This Magical Material!Of course, the most important part of memory foam is what it is made of. The material is what gives it the properties that make it so interesting. It is made of a material called polyurethanes, which is basically the same material that other types of foams are made off.

Sponges, spandex, tires, and even condoms are even made from the same material! So, polyurethanes are very common in today’s world. Still, what makes the polyurethanes inside of memory foam special? Well, there are other chemicals inside of the memory foam mattress that also increases its density and its viscosity or thickness.

This means that it can easily return to its original shape after it has been changed. For example, you can press your hand into the foam and exert pressure. After a moment, the foam snaps back into place as if you never touched it.

Memory Foam is also called low resilience polyurethane foam because of this. Air can easily move into the mattress and this helps to create a matrix. If the memory foam is high density, then it will soft in reaction to heat. This also includes the heat of a body, which is why a warm body can seem to be snuggled into the memory foam once they lay down into it.

When was memory foam created?

Memory Foam was created by NASA’s Ames Research Center, and it was designed to create airline cushion reinforcement. It was very hard to manufacture, but after a while people began to use it in both the sports and the medical settings. It was used to create medical mattresses that would keep the patients free from bedsores and other problems.

After a while it became cheaper to make and eventually became used in mattresses and pillows to help support posture, reduce pain, and provide warmth thanks to its heat retaining properties.

Types of memory foam

Of course, there are several different types of memory foam, and we are going to break down each one. Then you can figure out what types go into your bed and what benefits each one has for you. After all, you want to do the best that you can to pick the right mattress for your body.

The memory foam can go a long way to getting to your body back to normal, but you need to pick your type to get the best benefits. Take a look at the qualities of traditional memory foam, gel memory foam, and open cell/plant-based memory foams.

While the properties for each memory foam is often enough to draw you to one, make sure to try out a few mattresses from each category.


What Is Memory Foam? Secrets Behind This Magical Material!Traditional memory foam is the same type of foam that was made for NASA, and the process is about the same. It is made from petroleum-based products, and comes with an open-cell structure. That open matrix gives the mattress the ability to react to both the heat and the pressure of the body that is laying on it.

According to most reviews, one of the best beds for a traditional mattress experience is the Nolah Signature 12, thanks to its large size and sensitivity.

Whenever you lay down on the mattress for long enough, the mattress molds to your body and can get started on removing your pressure and your pain. As you turn and twist through the night, the memory foam will connect with your body and continue moving to give you the best benefits as you sleep through the night.

Open cell

What Is Memory Foam? Secrets Behind This Magical Material!This type of memory foam is about the same as regular memory foam, except it has an open-celled form instead of the mattress. This brings in more air to the mattress and allows you to sleep much cooler. It is also cheaper to make and buy, while also able to reduce off-gassing from a new mattress.


What Is Memory Foam? Secrets Behind This Magical Material!The main disadvantage of memory foam is that it retains heat thanks to its open-air structure. If you sleep hot, then traditional memory foam can only amplify it. Gel memory foam was created to solve this problem, and it is infused into the foam in several different ways. First, mattress companies pour a layer of liquid gel on top of or at the bottom of the foam.

This gel layer can separate the body from the foam, proving a cooling effect that still gives you the benefits of traditional memory foam. Another method has the memory foam completely infused with gel beads. The gel spreads out through the entire mattress and gives you more temperature control.

If you sleep hot and don’t want to sweat through the night, a gel memory foam mattress is right for you. However, the mattress is also very bouncy due to the properties of the gel, so if you want an extra bounce in your mattress then this can be good for you. Your memory foam mattress is going to be very responsive to your body.

However, if you want the slow response of a traditional memory foam mattress, then a gel mattress might be a bit too fast for you.

Plant based memory foam

What Is Memory Foam? Secrets Behind This Magical Material!While every single memory foam bed needs to have some chemicals inside of it to give the bed it’s bouncy feel, there is an increasing field of plant-based memory foam that is being used. The plant-based memory foam is much safer when looked at compared to the traditional memory foam.

The plant-based memory foam is also filled with larger open cells inside of the foam. This allows the mattress to be much more breathable, and it will be more responsive to your body. Plant based memory foam was created whenever people began to worry about the chemicals released by new mattresses.

They were worried about off gassing, which was the release of new chemicals coming from the mattress whenever it airs out and loses that ‘new mattress’ smell. While most of the time the odors fade away, they can cause skin irritations and headaches if not treated or dispersed.

If you want to buy a new memory foam mattress and know that you are sensitive to that ‘new mattress’ smell, then a plant-based memory foam is good for you.

Advantages of memory foam as material

What Is Memory Foam? Secrets Behind This Magical Material!Memory foam as a material is so interesting because it is able to mold your body. Once you get into it and start pressing down the material reacts to your body weight and will remain like that until you move. Because your weight is what is pushing into the mattress, you won’t be tossing and turning as much. This can directly lead to you getting more sleep.

Your bodyweight is also supported evening by sinking into the mattress, improving your posture, and helping to support your entire body as you rest and sleep. This also reduces and prevents the painful points on your body. Unlike beds that are made of traditional materials, they can help your injuries heal faster, and reduce pain from pressure while you sleep.

Additionally, your sleep is custom for you in real-time, where the heat and body movements force the foam to contour and shape around you. The mattress is custom to you, and once you get off of it, it will spring back into place afterward.

There is also a massive reduction in pain whenever you lay down in the memory foam bed. Unlike traditional beds, the memory foam mattress doesn’t have any springs. In traditional beds, the springs can sometimes start to poke you as the soft layer fades out.

The way that the memory foam molds to your body helps to reduce pain and doesn’t put pressure on your pressure points. If you suffer from chronic pain, then a memory foam mattress might be able to help you.

Finally, memory foam is very resistant to allergens and bedbugs. A typical mattress can have millions of bedbugs and dust flecks inside of it, so you want to get memory foam if you are afraid of attracting pests into your house. It can also be great for people who have allergies to deal with. The dense structure is unable to provide an entry point to allergens, dust, and mold.

Disadvantages of memory foam

However, for all the good things that memory foam provides us, they do have a few cons as well. For starters, memory foam can easily retain your body heat and will react to it whenever you are comfortable. While the mattress reacting to your heat can be a good thing as you are getting into position, some people think that getting too hot while inside the memory foam mattress can be a bad thing.

A gel mattress topper can prevent most of the heat from the mattress from getting to you. Most reviews recommend the 1.5 inch Air Flow Queen Topper, because it’s thick enough to stop the heat. However, it still allows you to feel the benefits of the mattress.

Additionally, since the mattress Trusted Source Mattress thieves: why light-fingered hotel guests are now a very big problem | Crime | The Guardian Luxury hotels have always had to contend with toiletries and even the odd bathrobe being pilfered. www.theguardian.com contours to your movements and you actually sink into the mattress a little bit, some people report that they feel like they are being swallowed up by the mattress. They complain that they feel stuck and they are prisoners inside of their own beds. While that is impossible to get stuck, for people to find it constricting it can be tough.

Finally, like every single new mattress, people find that it just takes some getting used to. Especially if you are used to having some level of support around your body while you sleep. The feeling of sinking into a mattress rather than having the mattress be rigid around your body is hard to get used to, but once you do, you won’t ever want to go back.

Most of the disadvantages of the mattress are able to be circumvented with a different type of mattress. For example, a gel mattress can provide the flexibility of a traditional mattress, just without the swinging temperature changes.

A studier mattress with closed cells can help to provide some extra structure and padding to your body. You can always exchange mattresses as you get used to finding the right one, and don’t be afraid too. A memory foam mattress is different from anything you have ever felt before, so if you need to try new ones to get it right you can.

How to choose the best memory foam mattress?

Picking the best memory foam mattress does have a few standards attached to it. First, you need to consider your sleeping style. Are you a back sleeper? Side sleeper? Stomach sleeper? Does it hurt whenever you get out of bed? If so, where?

The memory foam that you might need depends on your sleeping pattern. For example, if you sleep on your back, then you need memory foam that supports your spine. Firmer memory foam is great for those who want to sleep on their stomachs, and for the people who snooze sideways, they like soft mattresses.

None of this is set in stone, but it’s a good guideline. If a certain part of your body hurts as well, you need to figure out why and then research if memory foam can help. For example, sleeping on a lumpy mattress can really mess up your spine, but memory foam can easily soothe your spine and remove those pressure points.

Look at the density

What Is Memory Foam? Secrets Behind This Magical Material!The density of the memory foam mattress is also something you need to consider along with your sleeping status. For example, a mattress that is very high density is the most durable mattress out there. It’s able to withstand a lot of abuse and years of sleeping. Mattresses that have a medium density are the best if you are working with a partner.

Medium density mattresses have motion density isolation, so if you share your bed with a partner each side will be tailored to a different person. You can collapse into your side of the bed with a smile at the end of each day, while your partner does the same. The bed is made perfectly for both of you.

If you are looking for a bed that is easy for you to fit into, then low-density foam is the easiest to break into. So, your body will adjust to that foam much quicker, and you will be able to get used to it that much faster.

Understand your allergies

Every single piece of memory foam is antimicrobial and very resistant to dust and bed bugs. However, if you want memory foam that is the best at keeping dust and bugs away, then you need to pick the right type. The gel memory foam is resistant to dust mites and higher density foams don’t let in allergies as easily.

You can also use hypoallergenic mattress toppers and beddings to also reduce symptoms. This does only apply if you suffer from allergies in the bedroom and want to reduce them. If you do get allergies at certain times of the year, it can be good to prepare your bed to make sure you aren’t bringing them to your mattress.What Is Memory Foam? Secrets Behind This Magical Material!

Look at the bed frame and the budget

The bed frame is just as important to your comfort as the rest of the mattress is. If you have the wrong bed frame it can make the memory foam uncomfortable at worst and start to void the warranty at best. So, make sure you have a proper bed frame.

You can have a basic steel frame, modern platform beds, slat beds with proper spacing, and even adjustable foundations that can move up and down with the touch of a button. Finally, you should still try to stick to your budget, but don’t be afraid to splurge a bit on a high-quality mattress. After all, that mattress will be determining how you sleep for quite a while!

Final Thoughts

Picking a memory foam mattress isn’t easy, even when you know the answer to ‘what is memory foam’, you still need to keep looking. Try to understand that memory foam isn’t just a mattress. It is a work of art, and something that requires careful consideration to make sure that you get the right one.

Do research, not just into the mattress but also into yourself. How do you sleep? What do you want out of the mattress? What will make you the most comfortable? By understanding those questions, the answer of what memory foam mattress you should buy becomes very clear.

Once you have a good memory foam mattress, you won’t ever want to go back to using another mattress again. They just will not feel right for you!


Mattress thieves: why light-fingered hotel guests are now a very big problem | Crime | The Guardian
Luxury hotels have always had to contend with toiletries and even the odd bathrobe being pilfered.
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