Memory Foam is a temperature and pressure sensitive foam, a property that has made it ideal for use in mattresses. Originally credited to Nasa who developed it to support astronauts during take-off and re-entry, memory foam reacts to body heat and pressure to mould to the contours of the body. Released to the public domain in the 1980’s its price restricted its use to more commercial groups and hospitals.

Then as price has come down, memory foam mattresses have become accessible to domestic consumers, who can make use of its ability to reduce body pressure points during the night. This reduces tossing and turning significantly, paving the way for a better night’s sleep.

Be sure to visit Our Best Memory Foam Mattress Reviews Page and in a further article we discuss the best memory foam mattress brands.

Types of memory foam mattresses

Memory foam mattresses vary in the thickness and density of the memory foam part of the mattress. The memory foam tops the mattress and can be a variation in centimetre thickness, being 3cm, 5cm or 8cm, for example. This affects the density of the memory foam, measured in lbs, and all this should be clearly labelled on the product. The rest of the mattress is usually made up of springs or a supportive foam, though pure memory foam mattresses can be obtained which have extra layers of memory foam, though will be more expensive.

What are the benefits?

Hospitals started using memory foam mattresses to help prevent bed sores, and as it helps relieve pressure on certain areas as the foam moulds around the body, they can be good for arthritis sufferers, those with back pain and also joint problems. They are also useful in aiding the alignment of the body during sleep, plus not containing feathers and being resistant to mites they can also benefit those with asthma or allergy related issues.

The Pros & Cons Of Memory Foam Mattress V Spring Mattress

Spring Mattress
Memory Foam Mattress
Pros• The Low Cost. The cheapest mattress you can buy apart from a futon perhaps.

• Durability. A firm mattress can last up to 10 years.
• The Low Cost. You can get them for under $650.

• Pressure distribution. It relieves pressure points better than the other types of mattress.

• No motion transfer. No waking up your partner.

• Hypoallergenic. Dust mites can’t make their new home in your mattress, only on the surface.
Cons• Loss of Support. Conventional mattresses lose nearly16% of the support in year one alone.

• Dodgy Warranties. Mattress warranties allow for 1.5 inches of normal body impression. This often occurs just 3-6 months after date of purchase.

• Poor Back Support. Innersprings do not address spinal alignment and lacks the support for your back.

• Painful. Spring mattresses do not distribute body weight evenly which means that pressure points are inevitable.

• Not Hypoallergenic. the cavity in-between the spring means a cozy nesting ground for dust mites.
• Price. The top brands can be expensive, The high cost is directly associated with quality seeing as the materials are costly, not the labor.

• Quicksand-Like Feel. As the mattress adjust to the contours of the body, some foams mattresses take a bit longer than to conform as well as revert back to the original shape.

• Smell. The material of some lesser quality products may have a pungent unpleasant smell when new.

What to consider when buying a memory foam mattress?

The comfort of your mattress is vital to a good nights sleep, so considering what makes a good mattress is time well spent before purchasing. With memory foam mattresses the labelling should give vital information on the thickness and density of the memory foam. Memory foam mattresses come with an ILD rating, which in its most basic form is how hard or soft the foam is, and most producers will label the mattress as either soft, medium or firm. This can be used with the density to make a judgement on the quality of the memory foam, but advice is best sought to satisfy the individual requirement. Opting for a brand that offers a guarantee of at least 12 months should give a level of reassurance that the stated specifications of the mattress will be matched in practice. Customer reviews are also helpful.

Popular Mattress Sizes

Twin 39''x 75'' (inches)90 x 190 (cm)
Twin-XL39''x 80'' (inches)90 x 215 (cm)
Full54''x 75'' (inches)120 x 190 (cm)
Queen60''x 80'' (inches)135 x 190 (cm)
King 76''x 80'' (inches)150 x 200 (cm)


Who is a memory foam mattress for?

Anyone can benefit from a memory foam mattress for a better night’s sleep, but those who struggle with conditions such as arthritis and joint pain, people who are confined to bed for long periods, or those with allergies and asthma issues are the primary groups that the mattress is for.

Some key facts to consider

  • 49% of Americans report that they have some issue with their beds that stop them from getting a good nights sleep.
  • 1 in 4 Adults report that they do not sleep soundly and wake up tired and weary.
  • 46% of Americans are considering buying a memory foam mattress with the primary reason being comfort.
  • The top reasons for selecting a memory foam mattress are comfort (63%), contours (26%) and no motion transfer (19%).

What About Memory Foam Mattress Accessories?

As the name implies, memory foam is a type of polyurethane foam which contains the addition of other chemicals. This increases both density and viscosity. When the warmth of a human body is placed on the material, the foam will quickly mould itself to the desired shape. Additionally, the foam will subsequently “recover” and return to its original dimensions when it is not in use. Many modern types of foam will offer faster recovery times and thus, this material is now extensively used for resting and sleeping purposes.

Memory Foam Mattress Toppers

memory foam mattressIt can only be expected that some consumers will not be able to afford a complete mattress comprised of memory foam. In this case, what is known as a mattress “topper” is often an ideal choice. A mattress topper is a relatively thin layer of memory foam (or another material) which can be conveniently placed atop the mattress and offer similar levels of comfort and support.

While memory foam can be used alone, there are other times when a gel is placed within the foam. It is said that gel-infused foam provides greater levels of support. Or, there can exist a combination of regular foam and memory foam layered atop one another. Of course, the mattress topper can be purchased in a variety of thicknesses and dimensions. This will help to accommodate for nearly any size bed imaginable.

Some designs may offer an “egg crate” contour while others can simply be flat. There is also a growing trend for many toppers to provide different zones and thicknesses within an individual unit. This can help to further enhance one’s overall comfort and in the case of chiropractic issues, this option is frequently a popular choice.

Finally, newer designs have helped to eliminate odours which were once common when the item was initially unpacked. While this was slightly unpleasant in the past, technology has now all but eliminated this possibility. This further enhances the overall benefits of these mattress toppers.

Memory Foam Mattress Pad

While some websites will place mattress pads into the same category as mattress toppers, pads tend to be much thicker and thus, the levels of contoured support that are offered can be superior. As some varieties can be twelve inches thick or more, these pads are ideally suited for use atop a mattress or even as the mattress itself. Once again, their design will accommodate the dimensions of any bed and different shapes can take into account unique sleeping positions (such as on one’s back or side).

It is interesting to note that while a mattress pad can likewise use different combinations of materials, another profound advantage is that added levels of comfort can frequently be provided with the addition of heating or other accessories such as pillow tops. So, a mattress pad can be considered quite modular with respect to the options that one has to choose from.

So, the main benefit (in comparison to the aforementioned mattress topper) is that in general, higher levels of comfort can be achieved. Anyone with spinal problems or those who may be recovering from an injury should take this into account. The levels of support will be robust while the mattress itself has a much longer lifespan than a simple topper (up to ten or twelve years in many cases). So, a mattress pad will normally be accompanied by a thorough warranty that may not be available when purchasing a topper alone. When we combine this benefit with the numerous options that are available, it is clear to appreciate why mattress pads have proven to be very popular.


In these modern times, memory foam has enabled countless individuals to obtain a restorative and sound sleep. As such foam is ideal for anyone who may be suffering from orthopaedic issues (as well as the general public), mattress and toppers are now some of the fastest-selling items within the bedding industry. Although this technology is relatively young, a great number of advancements have already been made. Thanks to continuing improvements, we should only expect that memory foam will evolve yet further in the years to come. It will indeed be interesting to see what the future holds.

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