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A Complete Guide On Memory Foam Mattresses: Pros & Cons

There is a wide choice when it comes to mattresses. There are varying levels of firmness and material options available. The choices can confuse you easily. Yet, thanks to insightful tools like the Bed Selector, you can find your right mattress at a mattress store by answering a few insightful questions. Foam mattresses, specifically memory foam mattresses, are a god-sent boon for side sleepers. Yet, not every foam mattress might be the right fit.

Let’s dispel the confusion about memory foam and know the pros and cons of buying a foam mattress.

History of Memory Foam Mattress

People adopted coil mattresses as a primary mattress base in the early 19th century. Ever since coil mattresses dominated the market. The spring base was not comfortable, but the need for comfort was realized in the late 20th century. By 1960-80, waterbeds and air beds were introduced into the market. While the cores were different, they both functioned in the same way. When laying on them, the mattress stretches and contours as per the shape on top. This provided proper support to the spine and allowed equal weight distribution. This helped to relieve the pressure on specific points. Yet, getting in or out of these beds was a task in itself. Any puncture would render both mattress types useless.

memory foam mattress

(Image Source: Money Inc.)

NASA developed memory foam in the 1970s for better cushioning in spacesuits and crash protection in airlines. By 1991, foam mattresses gained entrance into the mattress market. It replaced waterbeds and air mattresses. Memory foam mattress provides posture support without the fear of puncturing.

types of memory foam mattress

(Image Source: Wikipedia)

The visco-elasticity property of the memory foam allows the surface to contour to perfectly fit the body shape. When you remove the weight, the mattress returns to its original state.

Types of Foam Mattress

The type of foam mattresses sold today can be divided into four categories depending on the top layer material.

Polyurethane Foam/ Polyfoam

The most basic type of foam is polyurethane foam. Depending on the chemicals added, the foam density can be altered. These offer the least visco-elasticity, so rarely used for premium mattresses. Yet, due to low visco-elasticity, the stiffest polyfoam is used as the base for all-foam mattress types.

Gel foam

A 1-2″ thick layer of gel on top of a polyfoam base is a technological revolution in mattresses. The gel eliminates one of the major flaws in traditional memory foam. It absorbs the body temperature of those sleeping on top. So, you end up remaining cool throughout, and your sleep remains undisturbed.

Memory foam

The talk of the town (and this article) is memory foam. Adding special chemicals extends the visco-elasticity of poly foam resulting in memory foam. It offers the most cushioning and has a body-hugging effect.

Latex Foam

The eco-friendly foam type – latex mattress is an alternative to the foam mattress. It offers similar springiness without the issue of mattress surface heating up. While on the pricier side, latex mattresses are long-lasting compared to others.

How Memory Foam works

When someone sits or lies on a polyfoam mattress, the molecules compress or expand based on the shape. Due to the additives added to create memory foam, the molecules are more elastic but are activated with heat. The body heat makes the foam a little more pliable and encompassing. This kind of body-hugging feel, as if the foam has your body shape in ‘memory,’ is one way the foam got its name. On getting off, the molecules return to their original state.

how memory foam mattress works

Benefits of Memory Foam Mattress

Optimal Lower Back Support and Pressure relief

When someone lies on a memory foam mattress, the mattress surface contours as per the shape of their body. This way, the entire body weight is divided evenly, and the pressure on different body joints is spread evenly. This is incredibly beneficial for those sleeping on their sides. The pressure on their shoulders and hips is distributed evenly. So, you do not wake up with pins and needles sensation on your limbs. The body-contouring capability of your memory foam means impressive lower back support, and the spine retains its natural curvature.

Those lying on their backs get a medium-firm response from the mattress. So, the spine is not contorted as much as lying on a spring coil mattress. The body-hugging effect adds a comforting feeling when lying, and it helps you fall asleep easier.

Relieve and Prevent Pain

When your body goes into the R.E.M sleep, it starts the work on healing itself. When blood can reach the site of injury or damage, the recovery is accelerated. Similarly, when lying sideways, extra pressure is exerted on the shoulders and joints. This pressure can cut off blood circulation to those sections, and you end up waking with pins and needles sensation on your limbs. Lying on the memory foam eliminates any extra pressures. So the blood circulation is normal. So physiotherapists and chiropractors suggest memory foam mattresses to those suffering from any physical issues or severe medical conditions such as arthritis.

Motion Isolation

Are you or your partner someone who cannot lie steady while sleeping? Does this movement disturb the sleep of the other as the entire mattress rumbles due to the movement? The chances are that your mattress does not offer motion isolation. Memory foam manages to provide the best motion isolation possible. All thanks to the viscoelasticity.

Resistant to Dust mites

Due to the viscoelastic property of the mattress, dust mites cannot enter inside a memory foam. This is not only making the mattress hypoallergenic but keeping the surface clean.

Disadvantages of Memory Foam Mattress

Chemical odor

Termed as ‘off-gassing,’ new memory foam mattresses tend to produce a chemical odor. As a result, most people tend to be put off or are inconvenienced by the smell. Thankfully, air-drying the mattress for 2-3 days rids the smell.

Temperature Regulation

Due to the denseness of the memory foam, it does not allow air to travel through it. So, the area around you, when lying, would heat up from the body temperature. It can become an inconvenience when you are in a deep sleep, and you feel sweaty, leading to you waking up flustered. This issue is circumvented by having a cooling gel material that wicks off the heat. Yet, initial memory foam mattresses had this issue of heating up.

The sinking feeling

When someone changes their mattress from a spring coil mattress, they find the ‘sinking’ feeling a bit jarring. This is because they are accustomed to the resilience of springs. Lying on memory foam makes them feel like lying on quicksand. This feeling, although, is a temporary feeling. You would overcome it after a few nights of sleep.


Compared to the other mattress types, memory foam mattresses are on the pricier side. The denser the mattress, the price goes higher. Yet, the benefits you get certainly justify the price. Also, by taking proper care of your mattress, you can extend the lifespan significantly. Brownies Mattress Direct eliminates the middleman to pass on the savings to you. So buying a mattress from us can bring the cost down quite a bit.

Wrapping Up

When shopping for a new mattress, a memory foam mattress is an excellent choice to consider. You get a comfortable sleep as the mattress moulds to the body’s shape. Also, the pain relief and comfort surely make a memory foam mattress a worthy investment. If unclear about which mattress would suit your choice better, ask Brownies Mattress Direct.


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