How does memory foam work? What is memory foam? Many people purchase memory foam mattresses and pillows without fully understanding the underlying principles of this type of artificial foam. It is generally well known that memory foam was developed by NASA to help absorb the G-forces astronauts experience when accelerating at high speeds. But how does it work?
If you are going to be purchasing a memory foam mattress, or are considering doing so, it is important that you have no preconceptions! It is important that you know what memory foam is and understand how it offers all the benefits impressed upon you by those trying to sell it to you. It does not matter whether you are considering purchasing a memory foam mattress or a pillow. The principles are the same for each. So here goes:
How Does Memory Foam Work
Memory foam is also known as viscoelastic foam. Why does this type of foam mold exactly to your body shape and offer total support? As we noted above, today’s memory foam is an offshoot from a NASA program to develop a type of foam that would absorb the extreme forces experienced by astronauts during rapid acceleration- and deceleration. These forces are particularly experienced just after blast-off when the rocket force has to push such a massive weight upwards and escape the earth’s gravity.
We will not go too far into this technology, but suffice it to say that the type of viscoelastic foam this project created can be used today to support people sleeping in their beds. Viscoelastic foams can become more elastic under forces of pressure and also with the heat of the human body. In other words, when you lie on a viscoelastic foam, AKA memory foam, your weight and body heat together soften the foam so that it molds round your body and supports it when you are sleeping.
Why Not a Latex or Spring Mattress?
Yes! Why not any other type of foam – and why not a spring mattress? When you sleep on springs, the springs that are in contact with your body are compressed. Those not in contact with you remain uncompressed and can lead to discomfort. You can feel the springs on your shoulders, back and buttocks. It can be extremely uncomfortable in many cases. Pocketed springs reduce this discomfort to an extent, but not to the extent that memory foam does.
Latex foam supports only the parts of your body in contact with it. Your whole body can sink into a latex mattress, not just the pressure points of your shoulders, buttocks, hips and heels. There is no support to hold the small of your back in the correct position. Your spine has a natural curvature, and a memory foam mattress can maintain this curvature while you sleep – unlike many other types of mattress.