What is a Memory Foam Mattress?

By | October 15, 2012

Due to the increasing popularity of memory foam mattresses, you will now find a large number of brands and different varieties on the market. Whilst this is great for you, it is important to know what you are buying.

To help make sense of it all, below you will find a buyer’s guide to memory foam mattresses.

What is a Memory Foam Mattress?

An image depicting how memory foam will mould to your body shape to off unique support.

Memory foam moulding to your body’s shape.

Memory foam mattresses are temperature sensitive so they will react to body heat and will mould to support your body’s shape. As the mattress is able to mould to support your personal sleeping position, this will create a very comfortable area for you to sleep.

Unlike traditional foam, memory foam has been specifically designed to return to its normal shape once pressure is no longer applied. This is why you will often hear of it referred to as viscoelastic. As such, you won’t have to worry about your mattress being forever indented with your personal sleep position.

History of Memory Foam:

Memory foam was developed by NASA in the 1970s and has undergone numerous revisions and improvements since. It was originally designed for wheelchair seats and to reduce bedsores in patients. However, mattress manufactures quickly became aware of the commercial value of memory foam and what benefits this would bring to their customers.

But What Are The Advantages?

  1. As memory foam moulds to your body’s shape, it will neutrally support each part of your body and is therefore supportive of any sleep position. This will relieve pressure points and ensure your spine constantly remains aligned which, as you will see in the picture below, is of the utmost importance.

    Image depicting how a memory foam mattress will keep your spine aligned whilst sleeping.

    How memory foam works to keep your spine aligned

  2. Memory foam will only provide support to the area where pressure is exerted, so if your partner is a restless sleeper you are unlikely to feel the effects.
  3. Due to their dense cell structure they are allergy free and hypoallergenic which is great for those with an allergy to dust mites.

Choose the Density to Match Your Needs:

Often memory foam mattresses will have a core that consists of supportive materials such as springs and the memory foam will be layered on top. The thickness of the memory foam top will affect how supportive a mattress is. Put simply, the denser the memory foam the firmer the mattress. Therefore, a thick layer of memory foam will be more supportive and feel more luxurious.

As a general rule 50mm of memory foam will provide plenty of support for an adult of average weight. This will provide you with great support and will allow the memory foam to conform to the body’s shape effectively. As you would expect, you should increase the thickness for heavier adults and reduce it for lighter adults.

Warning: Can You Handle The Heat?

Memory foam mattresses can retain body heat and a common complaint  is that people have experienced an uncomfortably hot night’s sleep. Although this might be great if you enjoy a cosy night’s sleep, it won’t suit everybody.

However, hope is on the horizon as there are a new generation of memory foam mattresses with a cooling effect. In these mattresses the heat repellent properties will be inbuilt in the memory foam, or you will find a fabric covering which will help reduce heat absorption. Either way, these new mattresses promote air circulation so you won’t have to worry about the mattress retaining body heat.

Quality: You Get What You Pay For

As with any type of mattress, memory foam mattresses vary in quality. Whilst some reasonably priced ones are of high quality, be aware of extremely cheap ones. These are often made with poor quality, low density memory foam which will not give you the support or durability that a good quality memory foam mattress would. We would therefore strongly recommend choosing one from an established brand you trust.


Don’t be confined to springs all your life, if you are yet to experience the pleasures of memory foam we think you should definitely give this one a go; as Bob Dylan famously stated “The Times They Are A Changin’”.


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