What Is a Memory Foam Mattress?

A 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 was developed as a result of those concerns and would remain NASA property until the 1980s. 
Throughout the 1980s, memory foam was not 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 Memory Foam Mattresses

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. Memory foam mattresses can also provide extra warmth, which appeals to some but not 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. 

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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 deeper, more restful sleep.

Second, it is anti-dust mite and anti-microbial, maintaining a healthier sleep environment. 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 motion transfer better than any other mattress type. This feature is very important if you sleep next to someone who tosses and turns, disrupting your sleep.

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

For the most part, traditional memory foam is a great product, but some customers have experienced drawbacks. Traditional memory foam tends to retain more body heat than other mattress types, which causes some to sleep warm. Memory foam is also slow to react to changes in movement, resulting in what some customers refer to as a "quicksand" feeling. It is important to remember these potential drawbacks 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 Foam (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, and it also carries a fantastic warranty (as high as 25 years!).

The biggest advantage of AirCool Memory Foam is its fast reaction time, virtually eliminating the "quicksand" feeling reported with traditional memory foam. 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, is still designed to work with and retain a certain degree of heat, it just retains less than traditional memory foam.

We receive very few complaints about AirCool mattresses, but we have received complaints 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 stick with 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, gel memory foam mattresses are great at reducing pressure and motion transfer. These mattresses are anti-microbial, anti-dustmite, and carry outstanding warranties.

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 dense, 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. This is a result of temperature sensitivity which is present in all memory foams, but may be more severe in gel memory foam. However, for the most part, this new product has been well received by customers and critics alike.

So which 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, 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!

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