What is Memory Foam?
Visco-elastic foam better known as “memory foam”, according to Wikipedia, is a super comfortable foam that responds to the body’s temperature and then perfectly conforms to the body’s shape. As the memory foam conforms to the shape of the body, the pressure points that normally develop from sleeping on unforgiving surfaces are significantly reduced. The body’s weight is redistributed so that more of the body is in contact with the sleep surface. Since this conformability of the memory foam allows every square inch of the body to be supported, the overall skin pressure is reduced by as much as 50%.
Memory foam is made from polyurethane with additional chemicals that increase its viscosity level, thereby increasing its density. It is often referred to as visco-elastic polyurethane foam. Depending on the chemicals used and its overall density, it is firmer in cool temperatures and softer when warm. Higher density memory foam reacts to body heat which allows it to mold itself to the shape of a warm body within a few minutes. A lower density memory foam is pressure-sensitive and will mold more quickly to the shape of the body. The example often used to demonstrate its properties is that a hand pressed into the foam and then removed will leave a clear impression in the foam.
This decreases pressure points increasing circulation and supporting the spine in a more natural position. Customers report much better sleep, less tossing and turning and waking up feeling refreshed and well rested.
Originally developed by NASA, memory foam helped decrease the very high pressure caused by the extreme g force occurring during the take-off of the space shuttle. It was never used in the space program but was subsequently used medically, for example by patients who used to lie in bed on hard or very firm mattresses for long periods of time without regularly moving such as being bed-bound after a paralyzing stroke. The pressure over some of their bony regions decreased or stopped the blood flow to the region causing pressure sores and/or gangrene. Memory foam mattresses helped hugely to decrease such events.
It was such a great success that hospitals began ordering memory foam mattresses for bedridden patients, patients with arthritis, burn patients and others who might require more comfort and support.
It didn't take long for someone to realize how attractive these memory foam mattresses would be to home users. A Swedish bedding company quickly turned concept into reality by marketing the first generation of memory foam mattresses to general consumers: Swedish memory foam by Tempur Pedic. Tempur Pedic ™ has made memory foam a household word.
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A memory foam mattress is usually denser than an ordinary foam mattress. This makes it more supportive – but also heavier. It is often seen as a good compromise between the comfort of a soft mattress and the supportiveness of a firm one. Memory foam mattresses often sell for more money than traditional mattresses but they last longer.
The property of firmness (hard to soft) of memory foam is used in determining comfort. Firmness is measured by a foam's IFD (Indentation Force Deflection) rating.
IFD measures the force (in pounds) required to make a dent 1 inch into a foam sample 15" x 15" x 4" by a 8 inch diameter (50 sq in) disc - known as IFD @ 25% compression. IFD ratings for memory foams range between super soft (IFD 10) and semi-rigid (IFD 120). Most memory foam mattresses are firm (IFD 12 to IFD 16).