Although, memory foam has been in continued use for at least last 3-4 decades, still most people are unaware of the basic working principles of memory foam.
Even the people using memory foam mattresses and memory foam pillows are unable to answer the question “How does memory foam work?” when asked.
In this article, we’ll explain the history of memory foam, materials used in making memory work and how memory foam works.
Memory foam was developed by NASA in 1970s at the height of space race and in the eventual aftermath of the 1st human landings on moon when films such as Star Wars captured public imagination and deep space exploration seemed to be within reach.
At that time, it was widely expected and understood that for further exploration of space new materials which would be able to support human life during multiyear space journeys will be developed.
Human body undergoes several changes in space due to several factors such as zero gravity outside environment of earth, gravitational pull experienced during blastoff of a space shuttle from earth and gravitational pull felt when arriving back on earth.
These forces have the potential to affect each part of human body and the health of astronauts is of paramount importance to any space exploration agency.
During 1970s, NASA decided to develop new cushioning materials which would be used in cockpits for minimizing the pressure felt by astronauts during blast off and landing back on earth.
(Why) & How Does Memory Foam Work?
Memory foam was thus developed from low resilience polyurethane foam and is also known as viscoelastic foam.
Memory foam is created by feeding gas into a polymer mixture and has an open cell structure on a molecular level which matches pressure against it.
As such, memory foam adjusts to the pressure applied on it by even distributing the pressure across the contact surface and slowly springs back to its original shape once the pressure is removed.
In practical terms, this means that a memory foam mattress will distribute the body pressure of a person lying to it by adjusting to the contours, position of the body of the lying person and then return to its original shapes once the person in question leaves the mattress.
In medical terms, this is a unique feature which comes handy when dealing with various orthopedic diseases such as arthritis, back pain, spinal injuries, low back pain etc.
As such, memory foam and products made of it are extensively used in medical and health settings and the term memory foam has become synonymous with pain relief.
In addition to the pressure point and adjusting feature memory foam also has some other unique properties not commonly found in other types of foams such as high resistance to most allergens, durability, etc. which are often directly related to the chemical structure of memory foam.
Due to its dense surface and cell like structure, memory foam resistant to all types of common allergens, molds and fungi usually found in other types of foams.
Manufacturing Memory Foam
During the manufacturing process several chemicals are used which may or may not provide fire resistance to memory foam. Although, it’s nowadays common for most type of memory foams to be fire resistant up to a certain degree.
Use of fire retarding chemicals varies by jurisdiction as regulations in a country may or may not permit manufacturers to use fire resistant chemicals in memory foam.
Another commonly cited advantage is the durability associated with memory foam and products made by memory foam such as mattresses, pillows, helmets, cushions, seating pads etc.
Memory foam is a long-lasting material and as such memory foam products often outperform other similar items made with different materials when it comes to durability.
Memory foam mattresses can easily last up to 8-15 years and most manufacturers nowadays offer 10 year warranties for any type of defect which often includes wear and tear.
Although, sometimes the working of memory foam can become an issue and this may not be suitable to be used in all type of weather conditions.
One of the most common complaint is the hot temperatures associated with memory foam as memory foam absorbs heat from the surroundings and adjusts accordingly.
This means that in hotter climates a memory foam mattress will have higher temperature as compared to other types of mattresses and as such may result in restlessness and discomfort during sleep.
Although, as compared the the working and benefits of memory foam, the disadvantages are quite few and due to this simple reason memory foam usage is rising across various industries and today memory foam due to its unique structure and working is used across a vast array of settings for different purposes.
Thanks for reading, be sure to leave me a comment down below if you have any questions about memory foam.
We try our best to research and curate the best tips for you that will help you when picking your next memory-foam product. Our highly-rated product reviews and informative guides are crafted from our own personal experiences, user-generated content and scientific research (from various sleep-scientists online).