What Is Memory Foam?

In This Guide

A memory foam mattress has a memory foam layer on top of springs or supporting foam. Memory foam softens and moulds to your shape using your body heat. This offers exceptional comfort and support. Memory foam will progressively expand once pressure is released, remembering your body form and best resting positions over time.

NASA invented memory foam, also known as visco-elastic foam, in the mid-1970s. Memory foam, made of polyurethane, was created to help astronauts deal with the high pressure they endured when leaving and reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. The potential for the memory foam was understood and then it has been utilised in various products, and it is now found in mattresses, pillows, and mattress toppers.

With the memory foam mattresses‘ benefits, these are a popular option among consumers. Keep reading to learn what memory foam is and how a memory foam mattress may help you achieve a good night’s sleep.

What Is Memory Foam Made of?

Polyurethane, a material with giant molecules made up of numerous tiny, identical subunits bound collectively, is the crucial element of memory foam. Polyurethane is a widely used versatile plastic polymer that could make various materials and components along with furniture such as sofas. And mattresses, coating, liquid paints, primers, spray foam, elastic fibres, car parts. And perhaps even elastomers such as rollerblade wheels.

Memory foam is a polyurethane foam known as “viscoelastic” or “low-resistance” polyurethane foam. It’s made by mixing several chemicals and additions with polyurethane, which influences the type of foam.

These compounds impact the viscosity and elasticity of memory foam. Whenever we state that memory foam is “vicious,” we imply that it takes longer to change form under pressure or transmit energy from one point to another. When we say the material is “elastic,” we’re referring to its ability to stretch or distort. But then return to its standard size once the stretching force is removed.

Manufacturers utilize different “recipes” for the chemicals they use in the foam and their procedures to make it. These formulations and techniques impact the touch and function of every memory foam product and are frequently kept as trade secrets. Usually, viscoelastic memory foam utilized in memory foam mattresses, on the other hand, includes at least some degree of a substance called polyether polyol, which aids in the foam’s flexibility and viscosity.

How Does Memory Foam Work?

Memory foam mattresses are made to conform to the body’s shape over time in reaction to pressure, equally distributing body weight. They’re also made to be tough, returning to their standard shape once body weight and strain are lifted.

How you apply pressure, or “force,” to memory foam affects how it reacts. When pressure is applied fast, the foam changes shape more softly or “timidly.” Memory foam is efficient at absorbing the power of an impact. Hence, it first utilized it in sectors like space shuttle production.

This feature enables the mattress to cushion the body equally. It produces the gradual conforming effect as the mattress responds to the pressure of your body and actually across your contours whenever memory foam is utilized as a mattress material.

Whenever force is released from memory foam, it takes a long time to return to its previous shape around 5-10 seconds on average. The energy from the hit is received and released during this recuperation phase. Hysteresis, a temporal lag caused by the prone body, also cushions sleepers by removing part of the pressure imposed by the prone body.

Memory foam’s viscosity reduces with temperature, which is a crucial aspect of working. That implies that it is far less rigid and more elastic when the temperature rises. Because your body heat raises the temperatures of the sleep surfaces, memory foam mattresses seem softer or more malleable if you’ve been resting on them for a while.

Types of Memory Foam Mattress

There are three varieties of memory foam:

1. Traditional

That is the “classic” memory foam that started it all. It was the first consumer-grade memory foam to hit the market. Classical memory foam is designed to conform to your body and is built in the described above. Traditional memory foam can heat up, causing the sleeping surface of mattresses made with others to become hot and uncomfortable. Developed The other two varieties of memory foam to solve this problem.

2. Gel

A gel is used in the manufacture of another form of memory foam. Gel memory foam is often injected into the foam by pumping gel-based microbeads. These microbeads create pockets comparable to those found in open-cell mattresses. These gels are often “phase-changing” materials, which means they actively absorb and release energy from your body instead of merely allowing air to pass through to the mattress.

3. Open-Cell

Traditional memory foam includes the same elements as open-cell memory foam. However, the interior structure is different. Interior pockets in open-cell memory foam mattresses enable ventilation and air movement all across the mattress, which assists in distributing heat.

Open-cell memory foam mattresses were initially much less dense, which altered the hardness of the mattress and made it seem less supportive. On the other hand, new production processes have been developed to alleviate this issue while maintaining the mattress’s open-celled structure.

Most mattresses solely employ foams that fit into one of these categories, while most current memory foam mattresses use a combination of all three.

In addition to these three basic categories, some memory foam mattress manufacturers also use additional materials in their mattresses, frequently for cooling purposes. Copper is one of these materials. When utilized in memory foam mattresses, copper is very conductive and aids in heat dissipation and moisture-wicking. Copper is used to manufacturing mattresses that fulfill the characteristics of all three of the main varieties of memory foam.

These may, for example, exchange some of the petroleum-based components and derivatives used in traditional memory foam manufacture with soy or maize oil-based compounds and variants. These production processes are still relatively new, although they will become more prevalent as technology advances.

Memory Foam Mattress Construction

Memory foam is utilized in a variety of ways in mattresses. For starters, separate memory foam mattresses have various architectures to accomplish distinct attributes. Even though the individual components fluctuate, most memory foam mattresses follow a similar structure. There are three parts to this template:

  1. The layer of Transition:  between comfort layers and the core, this mattress area comprises one or more foam layers. They’re a little more complex than the foam in the comfort levels, and they frequently aid in wicking heat away from the comfort layer.

  2. The layer of Comfort: This mattress component comprises one or more foam layers that, dependent on the hardness of the mattress, are meant to give contouring and cushion. Maintain heat away from the sleeping surface. Several mattress designs include more permeable foams in this portion.

  3. Core: This is the mattress’s foundation. It is generally made out of significantly stiffer foam and is the thickest layer by far. The other foam layers offer stability and support to the mattress. The core of particular mattresses, known as hybrid mattresses, is not foam but rather the same type of core found in an innerspring mattress. Adds more support, bounce, and ventilation to the shoe.

Memory Foam Mattress Pros and Cons

Aside from the distinctive feel of the foam, memory foam mattresses offer a variety of additional characteristics, some of which attract customers and others that repel them. Some love memory foam and those who can’t bear it.

Furthermore, some people choose memory foam for some attributes but not others. When discussing memory foam, it’s critical to consider both the benefits and the drawbacks that have been documented.


  • Provides relief from pressure:  Memory foam conforms to the shape of your body by utilising your body heat and pressure. That can help relieve strain in the hips, shoulders, and neck, which are the regions of the body where we exert the most pressure while sleeping. Putting consistent, disproportionate pressure on particular portions of the body might result in pain when you wake up, as well as difficulty falling and staying asleep.

  • Hypoallergenic: One of the critical advantages of memory foam mattresses for allergy sufferers is that they tend to be hypoallergenic. Memory foam mattresses are less prone to collect and retain allergens like dust mites, mildew, and other common irritants due to their thick structure.

  • Motion Transfer is Reduced: When shopping for a mattress for co-sleepers and couples, exceptionally light sleepers, make sure you can’t feel something. If your spouse moves or gets up throughout the night. Memory foam offers a significant benefit when it comes to reducing motion transmission. Along with its density and how it reacts to and distributes pressure. Memory foam performs a fantastic job of preventing motion from being sensed in other parts of the bed.

  • Spinal Alignment is Promoted: A further benefit of memory foam’s contour properties is that it supports appropriate spinal alignment and lumbar pillow for many sleepers. It’s simpler to discover sleeping positions that maintain your spine in neutral alignment when a surface reacts to your body’s natural curves as memory foam does. That can help you avoid tossing and turning during the night, along with morning back stiffness and tightness.

  • Quiet: Mattresses made of memory foam are also known for being silent. That is vital for couples who don’t want to disturb their partners while getting out of bed. As well as anybody who wouldn’t want to be annoyed by squeaky, moaning, or other noises that can occur from a boisterous bed.


  • Retention of heat: One of the most common complaints regarding memory foam mattresses is that they retain heat and become too hot to sleep. Memory foam, especially conventional memory foam, may get highly heated since it is meant to respond to body heat and because of the density of the material.

  • Waterproofing is not possible: Water, and other moisture/liquid in general, can cause damage to memory foam mattresses, toppers, and pillows. Liquids can deteriorate the foam and shorten the memory foam mattress’s lifespan. If you reside in a high-humidity environment or have a small child or pet that is prone to spills or accidents, this is very troublesome. It also makes it tough to clean a memory foam mattress.

  • Cost: Another disadvantage of memory foam mattresses is that they are often more expensive than conventional mattresses. That is particularly the case if you choose a high-quality memory foam mattress: compared to a comparable-quality innerspring mattress, memory foam mattresses are often more expensive.

  • Odours & Off-Gassing: Memory foam mattresses have a distinct, chemical-like odour when first manufactured. “Off-gassing” is the term for this. In most cases, the odour dissipates within 24 hours of unpacking, although it can sometimes linger for weeks. Off-gassing is more substantial and lasts longer in memory foam mattresses made with less expensive ingredients.

  • Feeling “Stuck”: Some customers complain that the memory foam sensation makes them feel overly deep into the mattress as if they are stuck or pulled up into it. That can make it more challenging to move around during the night, and some individuals find it unsettling or off-putting.


  • Heaviness/difficulty in moving: Most memory foam mattresses nowadays come in the form of a mattress in a box, giving the impression that they are light. That isn’t always the case, though. A memory foam mattress is often heavier than other types of mattresses once it has been set up.

How To Choose The Right Memory Foam Mattress?

Even if you’ve concluded that memory foam is the correct choice for you, there’s still a lot to learn about finding your perfect memory foam mattress match. Here are some general guidelines for selecting a memory foam mattress.

1. Firmness

Mattresses are available in a variety of firmness levels. Mattress firmness is usually expressed on a scale from incredibly soft to very firm, with numbers ranging from 1 (very soft) to 10 (very hard). Consider it a more nuanced version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Some individuals prefer hard mattresses, while others prefer soft mattresses, and still, others prefer mattresses somewhere in the centre.

2. Density

The thickness of memory foam refers to how much natural foam is included in each mattress layer. Memory foam is available in a range of densities expressed in pounds per cubic foot (PCF). The higher the foam’s density, the longer it will maintain its form, elasticity, and structural components. Higher-density foams, on the other hand, sleep hotter.

3. Thickness

Thickness relates to how often inches the mattress extends from side to side instead of memory foam mattresses. That is not the same as density: three inches of foam, for example, might have an ILD score of 10 or 50. Memory foam mattresses are available in various thicknesses, ranging from 6 inches to 14 inches. Thicker mattresses are often more supportive than thinner mattresses and depend on the mattress, and they could also be softer.

4. Certifications based on standardised testing

Lower-quality memory foam mattresses may have chemicals that deteriorate the substance, shorten the mattress’s lifespan, or even cause discomfort and emit fumes that are potentially harmful to one’s health. When shopping for a mattress, seek the Certipur-US accreditation. That is a certification indicating the memory foam in the mattress created without specific chemicals that might harm the mattress and perhaps your health.

Selecting a mattress with certified foam means you’ll have one less thing to worry about regarding the quality, longevity, and safety of your mattress, so it’s worth checking to see whether one is certified before making a purchase.


Memory foam mattresses are ideal for the elderly or those who suffer from diseases, making them a superior option for orthopaedic bedding. Memory foam is an excellent option if you’re searching for treatment for your joints and other difficulties. It conforms to your body, reduces tossing and turning, and relieves pressure in ways that conventional mattresses can’t.

If it has a sufficiently high density, memory foam is a durable substance that provides decent support and excellent pressure release. Spring mattresses have a shorter lifespan than these types of beds.

Furthermore, they are the most expensive and high-maintenance alternative for high-maintenance bodies because of their cost and other reasons. If you don’t mind a lot of contouring and sinking, a memory foam mattress might be the answer to your physical problems!

Frequently Asked Question

Memory foam mattresses are frequently given the most fantastic scores for comfort, durability, and customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, some memory foam mattress owners have expressed their dissatisfaction with the memory foam’s first performance.

Off-gassing is the term for chemical-like odours. The petrochemicals used to produce the mattress cause this terrible odour, persisting for up to four weeks.

The good news is that some mattress makers use superior components in their foam, such as plant-based oils, which lessen or eliminate memory foam odour.

Memory foam mattresses are, without a doubt, the greatest for alleviating back discomfort. They mould to your body, relieving pressure points and alleviating discomfort. The body-conforming ability of memory foam is the finest of all mattress kinds.

Back discomfort is usually caused by a stretched spine. Maintaining a proper posture, especially when sleeping, is excellent to avoid aches and pains. With their body-conforming and pressure-relieving properties, memory foam mattresses can help keep your spine in good shape.

Memory foam might be challenging for stomach sleepers since you need just the perfect amount of firmness to feel comforted. The Loom & Leaf comfortable firm mattress’s ultra-premium memory foam claims to chill you down while transporting you to comfort.

A good memory foam mattress may last 10 for 15 years if adequately cared for. That involves rotating it regularly.

Because of the technology used in the manufacturing process, memory foam mattresses are slightly more expensive than other mattresses. However, that does not imply that a memory foam mattress is out of your price range. The cost of these mattresses has decreased in recent years, making them a far more accessible alternative.

All budgets are catered for when it comes to memory foam mattresses. Mattresses made of memory foam start at £149.95.

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