Do you experience fatigue and lethargy the entire day due to an uncomfortable sleep the night before? Do you toss and turn because you feel hot and stuffy while sleeping? Do your sleep get disturbed because your back starts to pain after a few hours of sleep?
These discomforts are caused by your mattress. If your mattress is not the perfect fit for your body needs it will cause a lot of health problems and will not let you sleep in peace.
A mattress should be an investment for us as it determines how peaceful our sleep will be, and it also reduces backaches and other posture-related problems. Therefore, you must be really careful in selecting the foam.
There are several types of foams (poly foam, latex, memory foam) available in the market and each boasts of its own unique features. Memory foams are becoming very popular these days so we will be doing an in-depth analysis of the types, benefits, and features of these foams.
What Is It?
Comprising mainly of polyurethane, memory foams are more dense and viscous and can easily mold to the body shape in reaction to the body heat and can then revert back to their original form.
Learn more about The Best Memory Foam Mattress if you want to see the details before purchasing.
How Did This Foam Come Into Being?
Memory foams have a very interesting history. They were invented by NASA in the 1960s to facilitate their astronauts that were going to the moon. They wanted to create a material that can quickly adjust to the astronaut’s body and provide them with utmost comfort in the space crafts.
It was NASA’s property until the 1980s but the technology was then implemented in hospitals and sports equipment. Sports brands starting using memory foams to manufacture athletic shoes as they found out the foam is very beneficial for an athlete as it conforms to the shape of the foot. It gained popularity in the 1990s when foam brands discovered different and improved technologies to manufacture this foam and nowadays memory foams have become very common in households for mattresses.
What Are Its Features?
Different compositions in the memory foam provide different qualities to it. Each feature mentioned below is so you can see how it makes the foam unique.
Higher density memory foams mold to the body in a very short period of time. This is because they are sensitive to body heat. This means that these mattresses are harder at lower temperatures and softer at higher temperatures, and form a slight impression of your body due to its heat when you lie down on it.
Pressure and heat soften and mold the foam. The time it takes the foam to revert back to its original form is called ‘Response time’. This time is affected by the composition of the foam; the viscosity, elasticity rate, and resilience are some of these factors. The higher the viscosity, the longer is the response time.
Most people find themselves stuck and suffocated in a foam with a larger response time. Moreover, people with back problems find it challenging to get off the bed if the response time of the foam is very large. This causes discomfort and increases back problems. So a mattress with a response time that is for only a couple of seconds long is preferred.
The durability of a memory foam is determined by its density. Foams having densities of less than 4 pounds per cubic feet are considered to be of low quality as they do not last long and are more prone to sagging. Foams having densities greater than 5.3 pounds per cubic feet are too hard to be comfortable. There is a tradeoff between durability and comfort sometimes but the perfectly durable and comfortable foams are those that have densities ranging from 4 to 5.3 pounds per cubic feet.
Most memory foams trap body heat and cause a person to feel stuffy. Some types of memory foams nowadays work to take the heat away from the upper layer of the foam and release it into the atmosphere. This makes them more comfortable to sleep in.
This technology was developed in response to the heating up problem of the foam. This is called the ‘open cell technology’ which has air passages that cool the foam down by letting air pass through which takes heat away.
Perhaps the most important feature of some memory foams is that they are CFC free, formaldehyde free, and have almost no volatile organic compounds. Volatile organic compounds release gases that can be harmful to the respiratory system as well as the environment, they also sometimes give off a bad odor. Companies have, however, developed technologies to minimize the use of these compounds while manufacturing memory foams.
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What Are The Different Types Of Memory Foams?
Now that we have informed you about the salient features of memory foams, let’s do an in-depth analysis of the different types of memory foams that are available in the market.
Made of the polymer called polyurethane, it is the first form of memory foam that was developed in the 1960s by NASA. It is designed to mold to the shape of the body when exposed to body heat and is very effective in relieving backaches and pressure on the joints. It also helps increase blood circulation. Moreover, it is very beneficial for those suffering from allergies as it is antimicrobial and does not let bacteria, dust or mites settle in its fibers. It also does not transfer motion.
Each person has a different body weight and a different way of sleeping. These particular kinds of mattresses are motion resistant, meaning, that you will not be disturbed even if your partner tosses and turns while you are sleeping.
The response time for these mattresses is 45 seconds to 1 minute and this is why people complain of getting trapped or stuck inside the mattress. Moreover, it has proven to be detrimental to people with back problems as it makes them very difficult to get out of bed.
It comes in a variety of densities (3 – 7 pounds per cubic feet) so choose wisely. The density will determine the durability and the comfortability of your mattress so choose a middle ground. Another downside of these foams is that they retain heat and sleeping on them can get very uncomfortable and can make one feel suffocated. Some manufacturers tried cutting voids and holes into the foam to increase breathability but they did not do much good.
This memory foam is a slight upgrade of the traditional one. It responds to the body temperature faster and molds to your body perfectly. Moreover, the composition of the foam is such that it tries to dissipate the heat to the surroundings. Some air cool memory foams may also contain a layer of porous material to aid the process of dissipation. This makes it slightly more bearable than traditional foams but please note they are not the most efficient in releasing heat to the surroundings.
The rest of its features are the same as those of the traditional foam’s. It also has the antimicrobial and motion resistant properties. Some advanced, recent forms of air cool memory foams are equipped with the open cell technology for greater breathability.
Small particles of the gel are infused in the layer of the foam or are evenly distributed all through it using beads. This gel reduces response time making the mattress more comfortable and reduces the heat retention properties of the traditional foams.
The gel particles can only transfer a certain amount of heat to other layers of the foam. When this limit is reached the foam starts becoming hot and uncomfortable again.
These foams have less response time than those of traditional foams (30 to 45 seconds) which makes them more efficient but it is still not beneficial for people with back problems.
Gel foams have low densities (3-4 pounds per cubic feet) and therefore are not very durable. People who want soft beds go for these but keep in mind that they tend to sag and the effects of wear and tear start showing faster on gel foams rather than on foams of higher densities. Gel foams are also motion transfer resistant and antimicrobial like traditional memory foams.
This foam is developed using plant extracts like Aloe Vera extracts, extracts of green tea, activated charcoal, bamboo, oils from plants etc. This makes them environmentally friendly and enhances its features to make the foam more comfortable. It also has no volatile organic compounds and does not give off harmful gases. These foams are not 100 percent organic, but they contain a combination of plant-based and petroleum-based compounds that make it the most eco-friendly type out of all the foam types.
A unique feature of this foam is that body heat is not the guiding factor that makes it mold to the body’s shape, instead, body pressure is used to conform the shape of the body. Hence, no heat is retained in the mattress and one can sleep undisturbed without getting hot and sweaty. Also, it is very beneficial as it uses the open cell technology to increase breathability.
Moreover, plant-based foams have an excellent response time (only 5 to 8 seconds) making it extremely beneficial for elderly people and patients suffering from back problems. It does not make one feel trapped, suffocated or hot while sleeping. It is also antimicrobial and prevents motion transfer.
Plant-based memory foams are slightly more expensive than the other types but they guarantee a peaceful sleep that is healthy for both; the human body and the environment and is a long-term investment.
These foams contain millions of tiny balloon-like cells that have tiny air passages in them and around them. This causes air to pass through, collect body heat and then dissipate into the surroundings when pressure is applied. This compression of the cells helps the foam to stay cool by letting air escape out. This makes this kind of foam the most breathable. The permeable foam also has a very small response time, and is very sensitive to temperature, providing users with a smooth, peaceful sleep. They are also far more durable and soft when compared to other types of memory foams.
Sometimes, this open cell technology is combined with other types of memory foams (as mentioned above) to provide users with the most comfortable mattresses.
Advantages of Memory Foam Over Spring And Latex Foams
- Memory Foam is more durable than spring foams.
- Spring foams do not have the option of being environmentally friendly while memory foams can easily be made with sustainable products that do not harm the environment.
- Memory foams can conform better to the shape of the body than spring and latex foams.
- Memory foams are motion resistant.
- Memory foams reduce soreness, back pains and pressure on joints.
- Spring mattresses are not hypoallergenic and can cause allergies.
- Memory foams are more cost-effective when compared to spring or latex foams.
- Spring mattresses are not temperature sensitive and cannot customize themselves to each different body type.
- Spring mattresses need to be flipped or rotated after every 3 to 4 months so that they do not get dips or start sagging. Memory foams, on the other hand, revert back to their original form after only a few seconds and do not need this kind of maintenance.
See our in-depth Latex Foams overview.
You may want to read more about How to Choose a Mattress Fit For You?
Memory foams come with a variety of different qualities and we hope that our analysis helped you understand them better. The correct combination of density, breathability, response times, material and heat sensitivity can provide you with a mattress that will let you sleep peacefully and comfortable without being disturbed or getting allergic reactions and back problems. The most important factor is that there is an option i.e. environmentally friendly.
Memory foams are economical and if bought after a proper research can be investments that can last you for up to a decade! You can only judge a mattress after using it for some time. This is why some companies offer trial periods that last a few months. This can help you easily make your decision without wasting large sums of money on mattresses that turn out to be uncomfortable for you.
We hope that this analysis gave you a better understanding of the types of memory foams and you can now make an informed decision. Share this information with your friends and family so that they too can benefit from this information.
Have a peaceful sleep!