What is a Memory Foam Mattress?

May 17, 2021

It’s a fact that restful sleep helps you feel your best during the day. However, it’s also a fact that a 10-year old box spring mattress can’t perform as well as it once did.

The problem is that every time you go mattress shopping, what you find is just more of the same—uneven, uncomfortable, and unjustifiably expensive.

Memory foam mattress technology has come a long way, and it's starting to become inexpensive enough that most consumers can afford one.

So, it's time to upgrade your mattress and join the 21st-century sleep revolution. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about polyurethane foam mattresses, also known as memory foam.

What is Memory Foam?

Even if you know nothing about mattresses, you probably have heard of the memory foam mattress. In the 1970s, NASA developed a type of polyurethane material called memory foam. Their ultimate efforts were to create a material that could reduce the astronauts’ pressure during take-off and space flight. 

However, it wasn't until decades later that companies began to see sales skyrocket for one consumer product: the mattress.

Memory foam is a polyurethane material mixed with a variety of chemicals and other materials that allow it to contour to your body. The foam reacts to changes in temperature, so when you lie on it, the pressure from your body weight causes it to conform to the shape of your body.

Memory foam is also known as viscoelastic foam. This means that it offers a combination of viscosity and elasticity. Viscous fluids are those that have a certain level of thickness and density. On the other hand, elasticity is the science of stretching and compressing certain materials.

When you combine these two properties, you get a mattress that contours to the shape of your body and conforms to your curvature. With a plush feel that makes you feel like you're sleeping on a cloud, it returns to its normal state once you no longer put weight on it.

Three Common Types of Memory Foam Mattresses

Like most types of bedding material, memory foams come in many styles, shapes, and sizes. These are the most common types of a memory foam mattress you're likely to find at a showroom:

Type #1: Traditional Memory Foam

The most common type of memory foam that you’re probably familiar with is the kind that you find in your bed. Traditional memory foam molds to the contours of your body, enveloping you in a sort of hug as you sleep.

When most people think of memory foam, they typically envision what they might find in a brand like Tempur Pedic. However, this type of material is notorious for making side sleepers feel too hot while they sleep. 

As you put pressure on “traditional” memory foam, the material traps your body heat. This makes it a poor choice for summer.

Type #2: Gel Memory Foam

Gel memory foam technology mimics the feel of a box spring mattress. Instead of springs, this type of mattress uses gel beads in the interior. This gives the mattress a bounce and responsiveness that you don't find in other types of foam.

An additional feature is natural temperature control, since the gel layer provides a cooling effect for the sleeper. It helps to regulate your temperature as you sleep.

In other words, if you tend to sleep hot, a cooling gel memory foam mattress could be something to consider. Phase-changing materials in a memory foam mattress absorb excess heat from the body to keep your body temperature cool and comfortable.

Along with a gel, copper, and lavender scents, cooling memory foam mattress will often include other temperature-reducing materials, including corrugated foams and cotton. The advantage of these additional materials is their ability to redistribute heat by maximizing airflow through each component of the mattress.

Type #3: Open-Cell

The open-cell structure all foam mattress is an innovation in the sleep industry because it provides more airflow and insulation. With its airy design, you'll stay comfortable all night long — no matter if you live in a hot climate or have a problem with night sweats.

As a trade-off, open-cell memory foam also lacks density. It is a lower quality material that is less durable than traditional mattresses. Customers often complain that these types of mattresses don't last as long as high-ILD (indentation load deflection) mattresses.

Mattress Construction

Memory foam mattresses all follow the same basic construction. Still, there are many ways to change up the design to achieve different goals. Manufacturers will use memory foam to fill in the whole mattress or just part of it. They may also custom-engineer the mattress's foam layers to improve airflow, softness, and other essential properties.

There is a comfort layer (which includes multiple layers of foam), a support layer, and a core layer. Typically, memory foam is used as a top layer in a mattress to give it a soft, cradling feeling.

The comfort layer is the soft layer that you sleep on, and the support layer is the layer that prevents you from sinking into the mattress. Featuring one or more foams, this section both cushions and conforms to the shape of your body. The most breathable foams lie in this layer, so they don't trap heat.

Next, there's the transition layer. As the name suggests, transition layers separate the comfort layers from the core. They are generally firmer than the comfort layers and, as a result, help wick heat away.

The core of the mattress provides support, shape, and structure. They're usually high-density foams, so they feel stiffer when you press on them. In some hybrid mattresses, the core is the same material as an innerspring—providing a supportive and firm base for the rest of the mattress.

What Are the Benefits of a Memory Foam Mattress?

You can measure the health benefits of a memory foam mattress on a case-by-case basis by their ability to relieve pressure points and support joints. However, because sleep quality is subjective and varies based on sleeping style, it can be challenging to measure the effects these types of mattresses have on quality sleep.

Generally speaking, these are the most significant benefits of sleeping on a memory foam mattress no matter what kind of sleeper you are:

Benefit #1. Memory Foam is Temperature Sensitive

Memory foam beds react differently at various temperatures. When it's colder, the bed is firmer and takes longer to mold to your contours. However, when it's warmer, the bed recoils and becomes softer, conforming to your body shape more easily.

Attempting to press your hand into a memory foam mattress will leave an imprint. This is because of the temperature difference among the various regions on the bed. Softer areas may be reacting to your body’s warmth, while other areas remain cool and firm. 

A memory foam mattress will also prevent you from moving around easily during sleep and can result in the familiar, characteristic feeling of being hugged by your bed.

Benefit #2. Memory foam Supports Your Back and Spinal Alignment

A memory foam mattress provides support and relief for the entire body. Since the material conforms to the natural curves of your body, high quality memory foam is especially helpful in protecting you from joint and back pain and potentially providing pressure relief.

The foam hug maintains a neutral spine position. In contrast, spring mattresses may create issues like pain and pressure due to uneven support.

Benefit #3. Memory Foam Alleviates Pain

For those who have problems with pain from their current mattress, there are many benefits to a memory foam mattress. These mattresses provide support and relief by relieving pressure on the shoulders, hips and back.

People with chronic pain, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, can benefit from sleeping on a memory foam mattress. Memory foam properly aligns the body so that the individual is not putting pressure on sensitive areas while they sleep.

Benefit #4. Memory Foam Offers Superior Durability Over Traditional Mattresses

A key benefit of a memory foam mattress is the longevity. These mattresses can last up to 10 years and they’re less likely to sag or become misshapen over time — a common problem with innerspring mattresses. 

Because of a longer lifespan, memory foam costs more than a typical mattress. However superior support and durability means you won’t have to keep spending money on a mattress every three to five years.

Benefit #5. A Memory Foam Mattress Is Low Maintenance

Even standard memory foam mattresses are low-maintenance, so they're an excellent choice for people who want a supportive bed with minimal upkeep. It's best to avoid electric beds because their equipment can malfunction and need costly repairs while memory foam is less likely to experience this problem.

These mattresses doesn't require flipping, rotating, or spring repairs the way traditional innerspring mattresses do. With a memory foam mattress, you only need to rotate and vacuum it every once in a while.

Benefit #6. A Memory Foam Mattress Is Great for a Number of Sleeping Positions

No matter what position you adopt to sleep — on your stomach, on your side, or on your back — a memory foam mattress will cradle and support the body. This type of bed also provides relief from pressure points and joint pain.

Memory foam pads offer a range of firmness options from soft to medium to firm. That way, you can choose the level of support that's best for you.

Benefit #7: Memory Foam Mattresses Provide Pressure Point Relief

Mattresses made from memory foam are a popular choice for many people because they help reduce the pressure on sensitive parts of the body.

The best memory foam mattresses offer relief from pressure points and don’t apply any downward force to your body, unlike other types of beds. Instead, they comfortably contour to your shape and cradle your curves.

Benefits of Choosing an Essentia Memory Foam Mattress

Despite these general benefits, not all memory foam mattresses are created equal. It’s important to remember that materials, manufacturing, and construction all make a significant difference in your sleep quality, your respiratory health, and your overall comfort through the night. 

If you think that getting a good night’s sleep is just a fluke, think again. These details of your mattress matter — a lot. Let’s take a look at what the highest quality mattresses can afford you as you sleep. 

Benefit #1. Eco-Friendly

Every Essentia memory foam mattress begins with natural, organic latex that is sourced from hevea milk sap. A mattress made of natural ingredients promotes a cleaner sleeping environment that focuses on recovery through rest. Our patented eco process is GOLS- and GOTS-certified to ensure that the materials we use are sustainable and suitable for your body. 

Besides this, all Essentia mattresses incorporate essential oils and organic cotton to ensure a deeply restorative, low-impact sleeping environment.

Benefit #2. Less Heat Retention

It's essential to have a good mattress for your mattress in the summer if you're going to sleep in a hot room. Essentia mattresses are a good choice because they wick heat away from the body and dissipate it, so you don't overheat at night. 

If you're a sleeper that gets too warm under the covers, memory foam beds will help you balance out your body temperature regulation. Essentia’s Classic 8, for example, naturally pulls heat away from your body and sleeps three degrees cooler than your body temperature. 

Benefit #3. Hypoallergenic

Unlike other mattresses, Essentia memory foam doesn't retain any allergens like dust mites or mold. The foam’s dense structure makes it inhospitable to these irritants. This means that if you have an allergy or sensitivity, a memory foam mattress will allow you to sleep soundly!

Conclusion

Give your body the comfort and support of natural memory foam. Essentia mattresses are crafted with high-quality, organic ingredients that prevent you from inhaling the harsh chemicals that other polyurethane mattresses contain. 

Along with our superior temperature regulation and pressure relief features, Essentia provides the sleepers the most restful and restorative sleep in the world. Get a better night's rest now and for years to come by adding some memory foam to your home with Essentia.