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What is a Memory Foam Mattress?

The Definitive Memory Foam Guide

Memory Foam Mattresses are becoming more and more popular in the mattress world. So what is all the hype about? We're here to help educate you about memory foam and the types of memory foam mattresses available.

History of Memory Foam

The creation of memory foam goes all the way back to the 1960s and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA. Before they could land on the moon, NASA needed to solve countless issues with space travel. One of which was the comfort level of their astronauts. NASA set out to create a material that would quickly and comfortably mold to an astronaut's body, so as to provide relief from the intense g-forces. In 1966 memory foam developed as a result of those concerns and would remain NASA property until the 1980s.
Throughout the 1980s, memory foam was not yet used in mattresses, but was primarily implemented in hospital and athletic equipment. It was not until 1991 that the first memory foam mattress was unveiled to the world, and since then has become a household name.

Benefits of a Memory Foam Mattress

Memory foam mattresses have a slew of benefits. They can provide relief from painful pressure points, and because of the contouring effect of a memory foam mattress, back pain is lessened due to a more natural resting position of the spine. The memory foam mattress can also provide extra warmth, which appeals to some and dissuades others.

The Feel of a Memory Foam Mattress

Everyone enjoys a unique comfort level. Thankfully, we have the only proprietary 10 Point Comfort Scale®. Rather than lying on every mattress until you find the right one, let our Comfort Scale help you recognize your preference. From 1 (super firm) to 10 (super soft), you'll surely find your desired comfort.

mattress comfort scale

Types of Memory Foam Mattresses

Traditional Memory Foam

Traditional memory foam is the most popular type. When most people say they want memory foam, they mean traditional. This foam, made popular by Tempur-Pedic, has many great advantages. First, it reduces pressure points and conforms to the body better than traditional innerspring mattresses. Less pressure means better blood circulation and a deeper, more restful night's sleep.

Second, it is anti-dust mite and anti-microbial which provides a healthier sleep environment. Maintaining a healthy sleep environment sounds like a no brainer. However, many people suffering from allergies aren't aware of how much their mattress plays a role in how well they breathe the following morning.

Third, memory foam reduces the amount of motion transfer better than any other mattress type. This feature is very important if you sleep next to someone who tosses and turns, disturbing your sleep.

Last but not least, memory foam is the most durable foam on the market. Most warranties require a 1½" body indentation before the mattress is considered defective, but most traditional memory foam mattresses only require ½".

For the most part, traditional memory foam is a great product, but some traditional memory foam customers have experienced some drawbacks. Traditional memory foam tends to retain more body heat than other mattress types, and, because the foam is slow to react to any changes in movement, some customers feel as though they are sleeping in quicksand. It is important to remember to take these minor drawbacks into consideration when choosing the memory foam that is right for you.

AirCool Memory Foam

Aircool memory foam is becoming more widely available in today's mattresses. AirCool (Formerly known as NXG) foam shares a lot in common with traditional memory foam: It's great at reducing pressure and motion transfer. It is anti-microbial and anti-dust mite. It also carries a fantastic warranty, (Some as high as 25 years!) but that is where the similarities end.

The biggest advantage of AirCool memory foam is the fact that it responds much faster than traditional memory foam, and thus, virtually eliminates the quicksand feeling reported by some customers. Also, the open celled structure of AirCool memory foam allows better airflow and less heat retention. Please note that AirCool memory foam, like all memory foam, still works on and retains a certain degree of heat, it just retains less than traditional memory foam mattresses.

We receive very few complaints on AirCool foam mattresses, except from customers who enjoy a firm to very firm comfort level. AirCool is a little softer than traditional memory foam, so if you want a memory foam mattress that feels very firm, you should look at traditional memory foam or gel memory foam.

Gel Memory Foam

Gel memory foam is the newest addition to the memory foam category and has been gaining popularity thanks to the new iComfort line of Serta mattresses. Like traditional memory foam and AirCool foam products, gel memory foam mattresses are great at reducing pressure and motion transfer. These mattresses are anti-microbial, anti-dustmite, and carry an outstanding warranty.

Gel memory foam is different than traditional or AirCool memory foam because, like the name indicates, the memory foam is infused with the same type of gel commonly found in athletic equipment and shoe sole inserts. Gel retains less heat and offers a solid, supportive feel.

Gel memory foam mattresses haven't been on the market long, so there isn't a great deal of feedback collected. The only complaint we have heard about gel memory foam arises out of comfort inconsistencies, meaning the mattress they received in their home felt different than the demo model at the store. However, for the most part, this new product has been well received by customers and critics alike.

So what memory foam is right for you? If you enjoy a softer comfort with a quick response time and less sinking, go for AirCool memory foam. If you like a firmer mattress, but you want the benefits of memory foam, then traditional memory foam will give you the widest variety of comforts and price points to choose from. If heat retention is a huge concern, gel memory foam is probably the best choice. Don't let the sea of products confuse you. ALL memory foam products are great at reducing pressure and helping you receive a better night's sleep.


US-Mattress is a Yahoo Top Service retailer. This means that our customers have rated us as "excellent!" Our professional sales representatives receive training many times a year from the nation's top mattress brands, and are ready to help you select the perfect mattress for you. If interested, our guarantees and policies will provide a clearer picture of our excellent service.

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