Memory Foam is a technology developed by NASA which is now used in many mattresses and pillows to assist in pressure relief and support. Unlike most other mattresses, memory foam doesn't rely solely on the effects of gravity pulling you down to the bed for the bed to have the ability to shape to you. Memory foam can achieve this as it has an open-cell structure which responds to heat by softening and allowing the mattress to mould itself to the unique shape of the user, assisting in the relief of pressure effects and the filling in and support of hollows, such as the arch of your back.
Memory Foam is temperature sensitive and can sometimes feel like a firm solid block if in a cold environment This is why it is commonly advised that you must spend several minutes trying the mattress to really know how it feels as it adjusts to your own body temperature.
Memory foam mattresses tend to be something you either really like or really don't like. The feel of them can be quite 'dead' with little or no bounce to them.
There are many benefits to owning a memory foam mattress as opposed to a sprung mattress, the main one, as mentioned above, is the mattresses ability to conform to the shape of your body and relieve pressure points. This however isn't the only benefit to owning a memory foam mattress, in many cases they can also aid with allergies, asthma and other health problems due anti fungus properties many have which kill the fungus that bed mites can feed off.
Due to their very distinct, like it or hate it feel, manufacturers developed mattresses which are constructed of both a spring system and memory foam. This method feels much more like the traditional way of doing things and has been very popular. A spring unit returns the bounce that you get in a more traditional mattress, removing the 'dead feel' of a solid foam mattress. However due to the memory foam also being present you still receive the benefit of the memory foams pressure removing and contouring properties. An added benefit to this method is that due to the foam not having more airflow restricting foam below it breathability is improved and moisture dispersion is improved.
Briefly put the main difference between Latex and memory foam is that Latex contains natural rubber which has instant rebound properties, whereas memory foam is a totally chemical produced material which conforms to the users profile and tends to rebound much slower. Gel Infused Latex is a relatively new material that has evolved to combine the instant comfort properties of Natural latex with a cooler surface environment. This helps create an ideal surface temperature all year round. Moisture dispersion is enhanced by mini-surface air- pockets. Gel Infused Latex is shown to improve blood flow through its pressure relieving properties which in turn can reduce interrupted sleep due to tossing and turning.
This is a very common question from people considering purchasing a memory foam mattress and it is not an easy question to answer as the feedback is always mixed. Some people love their Memory Foam mattresses and have no problem with heat where as some simply could not sleep on them. The problem is more evident in the denser foam mattresses due to airflow restriction and moisture retention. To overcome this potential problem manufacturers have developed/used techniques and technologies. These may include:
Drilling and venting the foam to allow moisture and air to pass through
Using a layer between the top of the mattress and the foam to allow moisture to disperse and airflow to pass through
Using covers which incorporate natural cooling materials such as Tencel and Bamboo.
Placing a layer of memory foam on a traditional sprung mattress.
Density is another case where you can go from one extreme to the other. If the density of the mattress is too low the memory foam does not perform as it should, however the more dense the memory foam is the more restricted the airflow. It does tend to be that the cheaper the mattress the lower the density, however this may not always be the case so if considering purchasing a mattress containing memory foam ask the sales advisor for advice on the quality and the density of the mattress.
With regards to thickness it is often advised that anything less than 50cm and the foam has less effect, however over 150cm and the foam has a less than desirable feel.
Again this a common concern when people first purchase foam mattresses in general, but it is usually due to the fire retardant which is used on the mattress, removing any sheets or duvets and allowing the mattress to air usually solves this problem.
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