Memory foam, which was designed for NASA airplane seats in the 1960s, is made from a material called viscoelastic. Both soft and highly energy-absorbing, it is a great choice.
In response to heat and pressure, memory foam molds to the body, evenly distributing weight. When you remove the pressure, the object regains its original shape.
As well as protecting against impact, memory foam is also very comfortable. Memory foam made its way into other fields after its “virtual flight” for NASA. It was used as a cushion in helmets and shoes, for instance. It has also been used in prosthetics and products to prevent pressure ulcers, such as seating pads for people with severe disabilities.
It was then that memory foam gained a lot of momentum. Pillows, mattress pads, and mattresses of different densities and depths are made of memory foam, which has become well known for its use.
What Are the Benefits of Memory Foam?
Can the special properties of memory foam help you sleep better? Donna L. Arand, PhD, a sleep specialist, says there are no objective studies to back up claims that memory foam provides certain benefits. She says this is true for a variety of reasons. Independently conducted sleep studies can be expensive. If it is supported by industry, it is “chased” by a shadow of bias.
Likewise, some sleep technology, such as memory foam, is relatively new, so it hasn’t been well studied. However, one of the more difficult obstacles to testing the health benefits of mattresses such as memory foam is the subjective nature of sleep. Simply put, it can be difficult to measure.
According to Arand, who directs the Kettering Sleep Disorders Center in Dayton, Ohio, the brain’s electrical activity, measured by an electroencephalogram (EEG), doesn’t always match up perfectly with a person’s subjective experience during a sleep test. Sleep is not only subjective, but sleep preferences for sleep surfaces are also individual, Arand says. “They may say ‘I had a great night’s sleep, but the EEG parameters might not indicate that.”
“There is quite a bit of variability among individuals when it comes to what type of surface they prefer when sleeping,” she says. Arand says there is no rhyme or reason for the phenomenon. Many of his patients who use memory foam say they enjoy using it: “I sleep great.” “Best sleep I’ve ever had.” “I love to sleep at night.” Arand believes these responses may be only one-sided. Those patients do not all get a chance to tell her what their sleep surfaces are because her office staff does not ask. “We may only hear the good stuff,” Arand says.
Kathy R. Gromer, MD, sleep specialist at the Minnesota Sleep Institute in Minneapolis, agrees that memory foam may improve sleep. If it relieves painful pressure points, it can help, she says. The doctor adds that memory foam does nothing for sleep apnea, snoring, or other sleep-related breathing disorders, which are the primary complaints of most of Gromer’s patients.
As you lie on memory foam, heat from your body softens it at appropriate points, so that your body is supported along the curves and natural lines of your body. Memory foam manufacturers claim this helps relieve pain, leading to a deeper sleep. Despite consumers often believing that very firm mattresses are best, more “giving” mattresses, like these, may lead to better sleep for people with back pain, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Despite the absence of scientific evidence, Arand wonders if memory foam sleep surfaces could be especially beneficial for older people. For them, minimizing extra movement could reduce the number of times they wake up at night. Moreover, she adds, bed partners might be less aware of each other’s movements. If the coiled springs are removed, you may feel your partner’s movement less, which may help as well.” If you need best memory foam kitchen mat recommendation, we have a list you can check.
What Are the Disadvantages of Memory Foam?
“Most people can adjust their thermostats or blankets according to the season,” Arand says. “Memory foam products may retain body heat, which could make them uncomfortable in warm weather.” Gromer agrees.
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When new, memory foam can produce an odd chemical smell — a phenomenon called offgassing. To minimize this problem, the Sleep Products Safety Council, a sleep products trade group, recommends airing out the mattress or pad for at least 24 hours before putting sheets on it. “If you follow directions, the smell dissipates quickly,” Arand says, “But I’ve never heard of anyone having reactions to it.”