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As we entered into a brand new decade, there are few things that will remain the same for eg: our sleeping needs. Wrong! Many believe that humans have evolved but the sleeping patterns and needs have largely haven’t changed.
As our lifestyle changes, it impacts our basic needs. As per the latest report, there will be growing demand for memory foam and latex mattresses. There is substantial growth expected from 2020-2025. Latex being expensive caters to the niche markets. Memory foam mattresses will see a significant boost to support this demand.
What is Memory Foam? What is it made of?
Memory Foam is a kind of polymer, first designed by NASA in the mid-1960s for the use of seats and seatbelts. It was known to have shock-absorbing, pressure-relieving characteristics because of which later in 1990 it became popular.
It uses body heat to mold itself according to the shape of our body and is known for providing remarkable support and comfort at the same time.
Memory foam is made up of a polymer called polyurethane. Polyurethane is known for its binding properties. Polyurethane made with chemicals provides contouring and support to our body. It is also called viscoelastic which is a combination of two concepts- viscosity and elasticity.
Viscosity is related to the slow movement when pressure is applied. Elasticity tells us to what extent the material will regain its shape on the removal of pressure.
Combining these two gives you the feel of a memory foam that contours the body and gives us the feeling of a fluffy cloud without losing quality support.
Why has the Memory Foam been so successful?
The US online mattress market has been on the rise for the last 5 years. It is estimated to be more than $30 billion and is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years.
In the 1980s when NASA decided to make the memory foam technology publicly available, little did they know it would sweep away the mattress industry.
Before their introduction, the market was largely occupied by innerspring mattresses. When the foam was introduced, it clearly has major advantages over traditional beds.
Foam is soft and gives you a plush feel. It does not sag easily and has minimal motion transfer. It turned to be a big plus, especially among couples.
The only significant disadvantage was it holds body heat and makes you feel warmer in the bed. This lead to innovations and gel memory foam was introduced.
It further increased the popularity of memory foam.
Although, to make it cheaper many companies use calcium carbonate and other chemicals. The adulteration in manufacturing the memory foam is rarely discussed on public platforms.
Weight of Memory Foam Mattress
The weight of a memory foam mattress basically deals with the size and density of the mattress. As the density of foam increases, weight increases.
The concept of density can be confusing for many mattress buyers. In simple terms, the density is a weight of 12”x12” cube or one cubic foot.
Hence a dense mattress has a weight of around 5.0 lbs, whilst medium and less dense mattress fall below this range.
We should always aim for a mattress of at least 4 lbs. This thick mattress will be durable and will last longer. If you are buying a queen and above size, you would go for a denser mattress so that you do not sink much into the foam making movement difficult.
In contrast, lightweight people opt for lesser weight mattress which gives them a soft and cushiony feel. They do not need much body weight distribution and will like on the top feeling.
Different Types of Memory Foam Mattress
- Traditional Memory Foam– Traditional memory foam is the original classic polyurethane foam that is petroleum-based polymer introduced in the 1980s. It provides good molding and contouring to the body. One major drawback of traditional memory foam is its heat retention which causes the sleeping surface to be warm. To curb this issue, further enhancements in memory foam were made.
- Open-cell memory foam– Having a unique internal structure, this foam has open cells to allow easy movement of air across the mattress. The interior pockets formulate the airflow and are made with the basic idea of keeping the sleepers cool. But this can make the mattress less dense due to which their quality came at stake. However, newly produces open celled mattresses have overcome this drawback.
- Gel-infused Memory Foam mattress: To overcome the issue of heat retention, gel-infused memory foam mattresses were developed.
A gel-infused memory foam mattress can be further of two different types-
- Normally they are made up of a heat-absorbing gel. It keeps the surface cool and prevents any heat retention. It gives you a cooling feel.
- Another is the phase changing material which helps to modulate the body temperature. It absorbs and releases heat to help the body remain under normal temperature conditions.
These mattresses not only involve a gel layer, but they also add copper or gel beads to help in the purpose of cooling. Some give an additional egg crate structure to formulate airflow within the mattress. They also have an added scent to remove any odor of gel or copper.
- Plant-based memory foam mattress– Many companies have the petroleum components in the traditional memory foam mattresses but now being replaced by plant extracts by a few to form a different category. Some of these contain coconut form, soy, and other materials that help the mattress to get a better bounce. The spring back time of these mattresses is better than most of the memory foam mattress. They also have a cleaner carbon footprint.
Pros and Cons of Memory Foam Mattress
- It is highly permeable which helps in the spinal alignment of the body.
- It molds according to the shape and structure of the body and thus provides better contouring.
- The visco-elastic feature helps the mattress returns to its original shape after the removal of the force.
- Helps in pressure relief and is good for allergies
- It is highly durable for all kinds of sleepers and requires minimum maintenance.
- Memory foam mattress provides good motion isolation feature and is thus a couple friendly mattress.
- The dense nature of memory foam mattresses results in increasing the overall weight of the mattress thus making it slightly difficult to move.
- It exhibits a particular initial odor which might cause irritation to some people.
- Most of the mattresses tend to retain heat thus may make the person uncomfortable during his sleep.
- Memory foam mattresses are not waterproof and they soak liquid to deep levels causing further difficulty in cleaning the memory foam mattress.
- It takes time to adjust to the firmness level and sleeping position in case of frequent movement at night.
- To buy a memory foam mattress with minimum defects gives a big pinch to our pockets are they are pricy.
Characteristics of Memory Foam
- Hypoallergenic- This feature of memory foam makes it perfect for allergy sufferers as the components that are used do not usually trigger allergies. Due to its dense structure, there is not much space for the buildup of molds, mildew, and dust mites. Occasional vacuuming and a sprinkling of baking soda while cleaning will protect the mattress for a long time from allergens.
- Pain Relief- Memory foam is a good choice for people suffering from arthritis or joint pain. It helps in relieving the pain on pressure points. Eliminating the use of springs helps in better contouring of the body. Memory foam provides ideal firmness for most of the sleepers.
- Pressure Point Relief– This is one of the most important features searched online while buying a mattress. Memory foam provides good pressure point relief on the heavier or denser part of the body in any sleeping position. Suppose you are a side sleeper, it cradles your shoulder and hip area. It allows the mattress to soak the pressure exerted by the body. Its viscoelastic property outshines other mattresses in this feature.
- Spinal Alignment and Support- Sleeping on the wrong surface tends to affect our back support. While some can wake up stiff in the morning others may develop chronic back pain issues. Memory foam mattresses use up a part of our body heat to form a shaped bed according to our sleeping posture. The foam allows the body heat to soften itself and thus it shapes itself according to the posture. This feature helps in supporting our body and creating better spine support. The curve formed in the foam also promotes lumber support.
- Good for All Sleeping Position- Memory foam mattress supports all kinds of sleepers. It gives firmness to side sleepers, provides lumbar support to back sleepers, and gives a cushiony feel to stomach sleepers. It also excites combination sleepers who tend to change their position many times at night. For them, the mattress foam takes up the shape at every change. Certainly, no one needs to compromise on your sleeping style of the mattress.
- Motion Isolation- Memory foam is known for its motion isolation property. It absorbs the pressure and vibrations caused due to the movement of a person so that the other person sharing the same bed does not wake up from his sleep. Due to this feature, it is an ideal choice for couples and people with light sleep.
- Ideal for Adjustable Beds- Memory foam is a perfect choice for adjustable beds since they are easily compressible. Their bending property doesn’t bring breakage onto the foam. They are flexible enough to be molded in any shape without compromising on their lifespan.
- Durable- The most eye-catchy feature of memory foam is its durability despite all the features provided by it. Because they can bounce back to their original shape along with high density, they have a larger lifespan and won't sag over time.
Conducting proper research before purchasing a product is very important. Memory foam has got a good customer satisfaction record over the years because of its various characteristics. It is high-quality durability and support make it one of the best mattresses. Having the correct information can protect you from several problems. Choosing a memory foam mattress now becomes easy and less stressful while keeping the above points in mind.