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What is memory foam and how does it work?

Memory foam was actually developed for NASA in the 70's. Memory foam was not really available to consumers until the early 90s. However, since it has been available to the everyday consumer it has quickly become one of the most sought after mattress types in the industry. Now a days there are so many companies developing memory foam that it has become somewhat difficult to keep up with all the latest memory foam products on the market.

To shop effectively it is important to understand what memory foam is, how it works, and what you should look for in a memory foam. This guide is meant to give you a good overview of memory foam, however if you have additional questions feel free to email us at

History behind Memory Foam

You have probably heard several times that memory foam was first developed for NASA and its space programs. While this is true, it is worth noting that the foam was never actually used in any space mission. This was because the first memory foam called T-foam "offgassed" too much in contained environments and therefore was not safe in those circumstances. The good news for us is that many saw the potential that the foam had for the medical industy as an agent to help relieve pressure sores. Memory foam researchers learned quickly of the foam's unique ability to respond to temperature and allow pressure to spread over a greater surface area.

This is where Tempur-Pedic ® entered the scene. They had worked on creating their own version of memory foam, and come up with a foam they called Tempur ®, which proved to be much more durable while still maintaining the pressure reducing benefits of the original memory foam.Tempur-Pedic ® began solely in the medical industry, but they soon realized that the product had a great potential to sell to consumers as well.

Now if you have looked at Tempur ® foam you know it is expensive. This is a direct result of its beginnings in the medical inustry. Now many other foam manufacturers have seen the potential of memory foam and began to produce their own versions many of these at much lower costs.

It is important to note that not all memory foams are created equal. They differ substantially in quality, density, hardness, softness, and their ability to respond to temperature. You will also find a great deal of difference in durability.

Memory Foams Unique Benefits

No other material can hold a candle to memory foam in the way it conforms to your body and reduces pressure points. However, because memory foam is too soft a material to constitue an entire bed it is most effective when layered over a solid supportive material. This is precisely why you will find memory foam "mattress toppers" (2" or 3") which can be used directly on top of your existing mattress.That isn't to say that you would want a whole mattress made just of memory foam. Memory foam is just too soft a material and isn't meant to be supportive. So it works best when layered over a firm, supportive material. That is why you will mainly find memory foam as a 2" or 3" topper to be used on your existing, firm mattress or as a 2" or 3" topping layer in a new mattress.

Two reasons memory foam is so unique

1. The memory foam cells tendecy to breakdown and "deform" when under a load of pressure. Different from standard foams that compress, but react by attempting to spring back to their original shape, memory foam cells (as an open cell foam, which means the cells of foam have holes in them) compress completely and can then spread their air pressure to neighboring cells. This is precisely why memory foam actually reduces pressure points. This is also how the memory foamcan truly conform to your body's shape. No other material has this property of actually custom shaping to your body form.

2. Next memory foam is temperature sensitive. Meaning that the lower the temperature the harder or more viscous, and at higher temperatures it is softer and more elastic. Now you know why memory foam is also known as visco-elastic foam. This temperature sensitive quality is precisely the reason you feel like your "melting" into your mattress when you lie down on memory foam.

Density is the secret to successful memory foam

The denser the foam the more you will pay. It actually costs more to make a more dense foam because more raw material goes into making a denser substance and therefore you will pay more as a consumer. Density can be measured in weight. A 4 lb. density simply means that a cube of this material, which is one foot in each dimension, would weigh 4 lbs.

A 2.5 lb. density memory foam just doesn't have enough density to give you the real memory feel that you get from a 4 lb. memory foam.