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What is a Memory Foam Mattress?

by Bill Welles

You’re researching mattresses and you see two kinds — the innerspring mattress and the memory foam mattress. Many people are familiar with an innerspring mattress. Innerspring mattresses are more traditional, consisting of a few inches of padding on the top with springs below the padding. But you might still be asking “What is a memory foam mattress?” and “What are the benefits of memory foam?”

Answered simply, memory foam mattresses directly fit the contours and lines of your body, not putting too much pressure on any single point on your body. They also absorb movement from other surface areas of the bed. But when you get out of bed, the foam reverts to its original position.

This makes memory foam sound appealing to many with back pain or for those who do not want to feel their partner move in the middle of the night.

Memory Foam and NASA

I bet you didn’t think your potential bed originated with our own National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Memory foam was designed by NASA in the mid-1960s. Originally designed for airplane seats, it now is used in helmets and seating pads for the disabled.

NASA made the foam from a highly soft and heat absorbing material — viscoelastic. Because of this, it molds to a person’s body based on heat and pressure. This makes it incredibly comfortable, as though sleeping on a very soft pillow but with more stability.

Innerspring vs. Memory Foam

Innerspring Mattresses:

  • Often feels firmer than memory foam because of the springs.
  • Might have a slight bounce because of the springs in the mattress.
  • Have firmer mattress edges than memory foam mattresses.
  • Are often described as allowing for greater airflow and coolness because your body does not directly fit into the mattress.
  • Are generally more expensive, starting around $1000.

Memory Foam Mattresses:

  • Feel less firm but eliminate painful pressure points in sleep because the foam molds to your whole body and there are no springs.
  • Allow you a feeling of sinking into the mattress rather than sleeping on top of it.
  • Often have modern gel cooling in the mattress that makes it less hot.
  • Are often more affordable, starting around $500.

People most often complain about the heat in memory foam mattresses, but in our modern culture, most houses have adequate cooling systems.

Other than that, memory foam mattresses are usually cheaper and have the potential to eliminate some pain for those with painful pressure points.

Back Pain? How Memory Foam Benefits Your Pain

Kathy R. Gromer, MD, a sleep specialist with the Minnesota Sleep Institute in Minneapolis thinks memory foam benefits sleep for those with hurting pressure points. This makes memory foam seem ideal for those with back pain or other points of hurt along their body.

While some companies promote the firm innerspring mattresses for better support, Gromer argues that the weight distribution of memory foam mattresses helps support “the natural curves and lines of the body”.

Waking Up? How Memory Foam Benefits Your Sleep

Although there have been no confirmed studies that show memory foam improves sleep, many people feel as though it does.

Sleep specialist Donna L. Arand, PhD. also says that many of her patients have glowing reviews of the memory foam mattresses. She states that many patients reported feeling more rested and prepared for their days.

Kathy R. Gromer, MD, also says that memory foam may be particularly beneficial for older couples who easily awaken. Memory foam absorbs surface movement. So, if your partner moves in the middle of the night, you will not feel the movement.

This is particularly beneficial for anyone who sleeps lightly but your partner tosses and turns. You no longer need to lose sleep from your partner’s movement.

But isn’t Memory Foam Hotter?

Many hear that memory foam causes a hotter sleep. But ultimately, this ignores that with modern thermostats, you can adjust the temperature of your house accordingly.

Further, many memory foam mattresses now contain a cooling gel. It is called Cool Touch Gel Memory Foam. This gel allows you to experience the same coolness and breathability than a traditional innerspring mattress offers.

What if I just Bought an Innerspring Mattress?

If you just bought a traditional innerspring mattress, but you wish you could experience the benefits of memory foam, you might want a memory foam mattress topper.

Designed to go on the top of your mattress, the memory foam mattress topper gives you similar comfort and painless nights as would the memory foam mattress itself.

So if you can’t afford to go buy a new memory foam mattress, the memory foam mattress topper is your best bet. It gives you a similar feeling to that of the mattress but is often only around $100.

However, these toppers do not have the same depth of memory foam. While providing a similar feeling, they don’t offer the same degree of comfort.

Buying the Mattress and Potential Problems

At this point, now that you have answered “What is a Memory Foam Mattress?” and you know how memory foam benefits you, you might want a memory foam mattress.

But here are some helpful hints to consider before making your purchase.

  • You will need to transport your new mattress. This will require a truck or straps for your car. Make sure that there is adequate room and the mattress is adequately strapped down so that it does not fall from your car.
  • You will need to move or get rid of your old mattress. Follow the proper disposal methods for mattresses.
  • You will need to set up the frame for your new mattress and move it into your house.

All of these might require extra help, so make sure you have some available.

But if you live near or in Reno, Nevada, Sierra Mattress Company offers free delivery and set up of your mattress within 30 miles of its location in Reno.

Sierra Mattress Company also offers a variety of memory foam mattresses and they will also take care of removing your old mattress at no additional cost.