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Memory foam consists mainly of polyurethane as well as additional chemicals increasing its viscosity and density. It is often referred to as “viscoelastic” polyurethane foam, or low-resilience polyurethane foam . The foam bubbles or ‘cells’ are open, effectively creating a matrix through which air can move. Higher-density memory foam softens in reaction to body heat, allowing it to mold to a warm body in a few minutes. Newer foams may recover more quickly to their original shape.
Choosing furniture for your bedroom is an important decision. Your bedroom is your hideaway, your sanctuary. This means that everything inside of it should be comfortable, beautiful and beneficial to you. Most important of all is the selection of your bed and the mattress that goes on top of it. The process of selecting a mattress is key while furnishing the bedroom. But how do you know which mattress is right for you?
You must take into consideration your needs, your partner’s needs and your budget. If you want a quality bed, you should be prepared to pay a bit more money. As well, it can be difficult to select a good mattress type that works for you. Memory foam is a common type of mattress that people use. However, a lot of the time people do not fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of this type of foam. You’ll be keeping your mattress for a long time, so it is important that the various advantages and disadvantages are considered.
A term that is not commonly used in everyday conversation is ‘viscoelastic’. Viscoelastic foam is another way of saying memory foam. The method of manufacturing viscoelastic foam varies depending on the formula used by the company. These different formulas change the qualities of the foam. For instance, some types of viscoelastic foam might be more resilient to changes in the shape of a body that is lying on them. It might take longer to mold to the exact shape of the person. Visco foam is very solid and dense. This means that most substances cannot pass through the surface. However, the foam also displays elastic properties. It is able to recover its shape over a certain period of time. It will soften when you lie on it but will return to its original shape when you get up.
This type of foam has been around for 50 years. In fact, it was originally invented by NASA as material that would have been used for the comfort and safety of astronauts during launch. People liked it so much it started being used in more and more instances and really blew up in mattress form when Tempurpedic released its memory foam mattress. Now you can find it in seat cushions, pillows, and even shoes!
Memory foam has certainly progressed a long way since it was first invented. Viscoelastic memory foam is often combined with materials that regulate the temperature of the human body. The consolidation of these materials usually results in a cool and supportive place to sleep. It is typically a dense, yet comfortable feeling for a sleeper. Usually, it is a good idea to check out the density of the foam mattress that you are considering. If it is below a certain density level, it may not be good quality and might not perform as well or last as long as you would like it to.
What is Memory Foam?
The basic kind is made out of a polymer known as polyurethane. This is a material that is commonly found in most sofas, mattresses, car seats and spray foam. Memory foam is a very durable type of material if it has a high enough density and is also known for providing good support and excellent pressure relief. These kinds of beds usually have a longer lifespan than spring mattresses.
What are the Different Types of Memory Foam?
Memory foam comes in three primary types: traditional, open cell and gel-infused. Each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a quick look.
Traditional memory foam is what we’ve been talking about thus far. It provides for a good sleep experience by molding to your body. One of the biggest complaints, which we’ll go over in a later section, is the fact it has a tendency to retain body heat, making it uncomfortable to sleep in high temperatures. The other two types of memory foam were created to resolve this issue.
Open cell memory foam is your basic memory foam with a different internal structure. Open cell memory foam allows for a better movement of air inside the mattress, allowing it to better transfer heat away from your body as you’re sleeping.
Gel memory foam, or gel-infused memory foam, is memory foam that has been pumped full of gel, which also has two different types. The first is a kind of material that just absorbs heat. Think of this like an ice pack you might keep in your freezer. The other type is actually what is called a phase-changing material. What this stuff does is help regulate your temperature as you sleep by absorbing and releasing heat. Science!
As a side fact, the gel microbeads used in gel-infused memory foam can actually serve to increase the density of your mattress. They can also, however, cause it to degrade faster if there aren’t enough pumped into it.
To really get the best sleeping experience for you, make sure you know what type of foam you’re getting!
Advantages of Memory Foam
Some people have insisted that these types of mattresses are the reason that they started sleeping well at night again. But is this true? Overall, it is very difficult to measure because sleep is so subjective. It varies for every single person, so it is hard to judge what a ‘good sleep’ looks like. However, there are some key benefits to memory foam that are known to us.
Uses Your Heat
One of the great benefits of solid memory foam is it’s able to use your heat and body pressure to form to your exact shape. The “visco” part of viscoelastic is what comes into play here. Your body heat actually softens the memory foam, making it more viscous. This is what allows you to sink in. It essentially creates a mold of your body. When you get up from the bed, the foam goes back to how it was originally. That would be the “elastic” part.
This will make a more comfortable sleep for people, as the mattress is perfectly indented to suit them. This is also good for supporting the alignment of your body. Sleeping on a natural curve is good for your spine, and promotes lumbar support.
A great feature of memory foam is that it’s also helpful in terms of relieving the pain on pressure spots. If you have arthritis or joint pain, then these beds might be able to help. It cushions you and will reduce any impact you might otherwise encounter.
Older beds which use only a pillow top or some sort of soft top layer, have a tendency to begin wearing out over time, which allows the underlying springs to start making more and more of an impression. Eventually, these springs can serve as pressure points on the bed, causing you discomfort.
Memory foam, for the most part, eliminates this. Many memory foam mattresses don’t even include springs, and in hybrid mattresses that use both, the foam serves as a fair enough protector between the two. This is, of course, good news for anyone who suffers from things like back pain.
When using a memory foam mattress, it is less likely that you will be able to feel your partner moving. There is a reduced chance that you will be bothered by their getting up or tossing and turning. This is due in part to the density of the mattress. Because you sink in, movement is basically absorbed by the mattress, rather than being transferred, as would happen with a traditional spring mattress. This is good if you are a light sleeper and are easily awakened.
Great for Those with Allergies
Another benefit is that memory foam can be hypoallergenic. It has a very dense structure, which is good for reducing the number of allergens that can build up. Dust, mold and other allergens will not be able to find a way into your mattress. This is very helpful for people who have allergies, as they are very often prevented from getting a good night’s sleep.
If you’re going to be spending a large chunk of money on a mattress, you’re going to want to make sure it will last a while. This is entirely up to the durability of your mattress. For memory foam, that is determined in large part by three factors: the density of the foam, what is in the foam and your BMI.
First off, how are we going to define durability? This would be how long you can sleep on a mattress and still find it to be as comfortable as it was when you first purchased it. Because of this, the length of time can be subjective, but it should all be relative.
Let’s talk density. We discussed earlier you want to go for a mattress with a density of no less than 3.5 lbs per cubic foot. For the longest lasting, you want to aim for 6 lbs per cubic foot. Anything more than this suffers from diminishing returns and will likely cost more than it’s worth.
Sometimes fillers are added to memory foam which can affect its density. Some of these are beneficial, like materials to increase fire retardancy or the aforementioned gel microbeads. Others can help lower the cost or make the memory foam easier to manufacture. Whatever the reason, though, these fillers can cause your mattress to deteriorate faster. They include silica, carbon black, calcium carbonate, various clays and more.
Though these materials may have positive effects, they can give your mattress a “false density,” making it seem more durable than it may actually be. If possible, try to ascertain the “pure” density of the memory foam in your mattress, which would be the density before anything was added.
Weight can have a great impact on the durability of memory foam. A heavier person will sink deeper into the memory foam, so foams with a lower density may wear faster than one might prefer. If you’re a heavy person, try not to settle for a density any less than 5 lbs per cubic feet.
Additionally, your oils and such can have an effect. Our skin naturally contains oils that can be transferred to our mattress during sleep. This can be further aided by sweat, which itself can be damaging to your mattress. Using a mattress cover can help keep your investment safer over time. A good mattress cover can also protect you from the unexpected, like a sick child, a misbehaving dog or even a poorly placed glass of wine of plate of food after having a delightful breakfast in bed.
There are a few signs to keep an eye out for when it comes to replacing your mattress. While a good quality memory foam mattress should last for eight to 10 years, it’s important to watch for these issues, as poorer-quality foam can go much faster.
If you see obvious sagging or that impressions last much longer than they did previously, that’s a good sign the elasticity of your mattress is starting to wear out. This can also present itself in the form of lumps and bumps in the foam.
Finding yourself being unable to fall asleep and stay asleep can also be a sign things are going wrong, assuming you didn’t previously have this issue.
Also, even though these mattresses tend to lean toward being hypoallergenic, in their older age you may find yourself seeing a noticeable increase in allergy symptoms.
For the most part, you’ll know when it’s time to get a new mattress. Memory foam is a great material, but when it begins to wear out, it’s fairly obvious.
If you’ve gone through all this and determined that perhaps memory foam isn’t for you, there is a less expensive alternative to consider: reflex foam.
This is a particularly high-density version of polyurethane foam, which is the basis for memory foam. As such, it’s made as basically the same materials like memory foam, except it has a little bit of a different cell structure.
Instead of the hole’s memory foam uses to achieve its viscoelastic properties, reflex foam uses a bubble structure. These bubbles will move to conform to your body, but they bounce back to their original form when the pressure is released.
It is going to feel a bit more firm, which is good for the folks who don’t like the sinking feeling of memory foam.
Buying a memory foam mattress might be a great decision for you. It might help you get to sleep and prevent you from waking up through the night. However, it is important to conduct all your research before you go through with the expensive decision of buying a mattress. If you are easily woken up by a change in temperature, then these might not be right for you. As well, people who are easily bothered by strong smells might not find themselves happy with a mattress like this.
Overall, though, there are some great benefits to switching to memory foam. The additional comfort is top-notch and the fact they tend to last longer than traditional mattresses is definitely a big plus. And, with the right mattress, you may find the heat issues and off gassing aren’t a problem at all. It all comes down to quality and making sure you have the right information.
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