A memory foam mattress is a type of mattress that makes use of visco-elastic foam. Initially used in the medical industry for patients, it has since been introduced to the general public and is widely used today. 

The main reason people tend to purchase this type of mattress over others is their claims that they can provide users with relief from various aches and pains while also providing good levels of comfort and support.

The beginner’s guide to memory foam mattresses, Zazzy Home

The secret of a memory foam mattress is the open cells within the polyurethane foam. This type of foam is visco-elastic – it is soft and malleable to some extent but will return to its original shape once pressure has been removed.

Due to this fact and how it reacts to body heat, a memory foam mattress can be moulded into the exact shape of your own body. So instead of sleeping on top of a flat surface like you would with a traditional spring or latex coil mattress, your weight will be spread out over a larger area, preventing certain parts from becoming too compressed.

With this type of mattress, you can ensure that your spine is always in the correct alignment. For this reason, they are sometimes known as “the chiropractic mattress”. Memory foam mattresses are generally denser than regular mattresses due to their internal makeup.

This means that they can offer more support and stability than other types of mattresses, but they may also be more likely to wear out not only the more you use them but also quicker as well.

The one thing that some people dislike about memory foam is that it does tend to sleep a bit hotter than other types of mattresses due to its open structure. To prevent overheating, it is advised that if purchasing a memory foam mattress, you should always make sure it has been specially designed with breathability in mind.

Memory foam beds sometimes feature cooling coils or built-in fans, which helps to keep your temperature regulated and ensure air will flow through the mattress. Other things users often complain about include:

– Memory foam mattresses can be expensive.

– They might retain heat and get a bit smelly after some time (most of them come with a machine-washable removable cover, however, so it’s no problem).

– Some people find memory foam to be too firm. This may not suit everyone’s preferences and tastes.

– Memory foam mattresses can be more challenging to move around on.

How do memory foam mattresses work?

A memory foam mattress works by moulding itself to the exact shape of your body. This means that there is no pressure on any particular part, and it will reduce the chances of painful pressure points being formed while a person sleeps.

Their main feature is their density – they are generally much denser than traditional open coil spring mattresses, making them feel a bit firmer overall. However, they have been known to soften up quite a bit over time, so some people claim that they become even more comfortable as time goes by.

The beginner’s guide to memory foam mattresses, Zazzy Home

The polyurethane open cells within the mattress add up to its overall comfort and support. When you lie down on the mattress, your weight will cause these cells to compress, providing even distribution for your bodyweight while relieving pressure points and preventing any part from sinking in too much.

This also helps to relieve pain caused by excessive pressure and keep your spine and back in the correct alignment. NASA originally developed memory foam mattresses to create a comfortable sleeping environment for astronauts during space flights.

Memory foam tends to be malleable but will return to its shape upon being given time without any pressure being applied. This means that it can help you sleep more soundly during the night, helping you feel refreshed and energized when you wake up. In addition, it is known as one of the best types of material for bedding because it helps relieve pressure points, so it is popular with people who suffer from back problems.

The main types of memory foam

There are currently three main types of memory foam available on the market: Traditional Memory Foam

Latex Memory Foam

Hybrid Memory Foam Traditional / Regular Memory Foam

These types of memory foam are different from the traditional type, as they can offer more comfort due to their increased bounce levels. They will also generally have higher levels of durability than regular memory foam mattresses, which means that you can expect them to last for more extended periods.

Latex Memory Foam Latex Foam is made by compressing latex and adding visco-elastic material (generally in polyurethane). Its makeup has ‘cooling’ properties compared to ordinary memory foam, thus staying breathable. This type tends to be slightly firmer than regular memory foam, but it can produce more flexible mattresses when blended with other materials (namely natural latex).

Unlike regular memory foam, this type of mattress will usually have a two to three-year warranty attached to it.

Hybrid Memory Foam Is a blend between traditional memory foam and latex or spring coils – these types of mattresses are known as hybrids. They possess pressure-relieving properties typically associated with memory foam and offer good bounce levels due to their use of blended springs. As a result, these mattresses tend to fall between typical memory foam and traditional coil-based mattresses regarding prices, durability and comfort/support ratings.

You get what you pay for with memory foam mattresses, and cheap fake foams can result in many issues, such as reduced comfort levels and the increased likelihood of the mattress having dips or ruts. So this is one area where it’s definitely worth paying that extra bit of cash – especially considering how much time we spend sleeping on our bed each night!

How do I know which type is best for me?

Once you’ve decided that a memory foam mattress is a way forward for you, it is vital to choose the right type. For example, if you suffer from back or neck pain, it would be worth your while opting for the traditional memory foam to help relieve these aches. Alternatively, if you want a mattress that will offer better levels of comfort and support in comparison to your current bed, then hybrid memory foam may be ideal for you.

When looking at the prices of each type, regular memory foams are generally cheaper than either latex or hybrid mattresses. However, both hybrids and traditional/regular memory foams tend to surpass latex ones in terms of durability.

Regarding comfort/support levels, this tends to vary depending on what sort of material is used within the mattress. For example, blended spring coils tend to offer more support than their latex counterparts, thus making them better for people who need robust levels of support.

How is a Memory Foam Mattress made?

A memory foam mattress can be made in two ways: It can either be poured or constructed. A poured mattress is often referred to as a ‘cold’ mattress, and most sleep experts do not recommend these types because they tend to offer less back and neck support than traditional / constructed mattresses.

Poured memory foams also take longer to return to their original shape after being moved upon or used. Hence it may be worth your while avoiding this type when you’re selecting your new piece of bedroom furniture. Constructed (traditional) mattresses are manufactured by placing memory foam into an open-cell structure which allows air to circulate the material. This also ensures that the mattress is breathable, so it should not become too hot or stuffy for you to sleep on comfortably throughout the night.

How long will a memory foam mattress last?

Regarding how long a memory foam mattress will last you, the answer to this depends on location and quality. As mentioned above, cheaper memory foam can start to dip or become misshapen after only a few years. When compared to their more expensive counterparts, however, these types generally have a lifespan that lasts 5-10 years – although it’s worth bearing in mind that even higher priced mattresses may need replacing after eight years if they’ve been used heavily.

Regarding their general durability levels when being used as bedding for guests or children, cheap memory foams tend not to stand up well compared to latex or spring coil mattresses. However, to give you a rough idea of how long a mattress will last, if you choose a latex model/hybrid memory foam/spring coil – all of which have high levels of durability and comfort – then your mattress should remain in good condition for around 10-12 years.

How should I clean my Memory Foam Mattress?

Generally speaking, most standard memory foams are pretty easy to clean – especially if they do not have any fabric covers attached. You can usually wipe down your mattress using warm water and a mild household detergent (or something similar). However, if you’re worried about staining your mattress, it would be best to seek advice from the manufacturer beforehand; this way, you will avoid dealing with any potential issues later down the line.

In terms of stains, most will come out quite easily as long as they have been treated quickly. For tougher stains, you could try using a mixture of warm water and white vinegar to help fight them – many people also swear by baking soda for removing stubborn marks from the surface of the bed.

There are many memory foam mattress protector options available that can help to protect your mattress against spills and staining/marking. In addition, these liners can often help your bedding to stay cool and dry longer too.

What is the best depth for a memory foam mattress?

Many consumers ask this question, while some do not realize the correct depth for a memory foam mattress. Memory foam mattresses come in varying depths.

Some are as low as 3 inches, while the thicker ones can go up to 6 to 12 inches. There are obvious comfort differences between these types of mattresses, but one should also consider the bed frame used with the mattress. If you sleep with your partner, then it is advisable to get two twin or full-size mattresses, and if both partners prefer sleeping on their backs, they might want to consider getting separate king-size beds (or queen-sized beds) instead. Below is a helpful guide that will give you some guidelines on how to select the best depth for your memory foam mattress:

SHALLOW DEPTH – If you like sleeping with a lot of pressure on your spine, going for a shallow depth of no more than 3 inches is recommended. This type of mattress works well with bed frames that do not have any platform compared to those with platforms.

SHALLOWER THAN AVERAGE DEPTH – If you like sleeping above average weight and prefer having less pressure on your spine, hips, and shoulders, then try getting a memory foam mattress with an average depth ( 4 – 5 inches ) rather than the standard 6 inches.

STANDARD DEPTH – If you are looking for a memory foam mattress that would provide the best support, consider getting one with the standard depth of 6 inches. This type of mattress is suitable for most people who do not carry more than average weight. Thus it works well even with bed frames with platforms.

WIDER THAN STANDARD DEPTH – Memory foam mattresses wider than the standard 6 inches are excellent options if you are planning to buy a new bed frame since they can help fill up any extra space under the head or footboard.

DEEPER THAN AVERAGE DEPTH – These types of memory foam mattresses take pressure off your lower back and hip area and tend to be very comfortable.

DEEPER THAN STANDARD DEPTH – These memory foam mattresses are best suited for people who carry above average weight and prefer having less pressure on their upper back, shoulders, hips, and thighs.

Does it take time to adjust to a memory foam mattress?

As with any new bedding, it is not uncommon to have difficulty getting used to a memory foam mattress. It’s very common for people used to traditional innerspring mattresses or even spring-coil hybrids, such as Sleep Number beds, to take several weeks before they adjust to the feel and support of a memory foam mattress.

The break-in time will vary depending on how often you change positions during sleep and your body weight. Lighter individuals, including children and teenagers, may adapt more quickly than heavier people because it usually takes less pressure over a larger area for them to exert enough weight and force for the material beneath their bodies to conform and fit smoothly around an individual part of the body, such as hips, shoulders and elbows.

After you’ve had a chance to give the mattress a good try and decide if it’s right for you, keep in mind that many memory foam mattresses offer a trial period during which you may return the mattress for any reason or no reason at all. And although different companies have different policies about their memory foam mattresses, most will take back the mattress within 100 days of purchase and provide a full refund minus original shipping costs and fees charged by third-party vendors for delivery and setup labor.

Final Thoughts

Overall, a memory foam mattress can be a great choice if you want the added pressure relief and deep contouring comfort that this type of bedding has to offer. However, as discussed in the article, they might not be as durable as some other types. Still, it’s important not to exaggerate this point too much – especially as there are ways that you can prolong the life of your bedding (by using mattress protectors or choosing a well-made hybrid model). Overall, buying a memory foam mattress needn’t be overly complicated with the proper knowledge and advice.



Interior designer and home improvement blogger, Abby has over 20 years of experience in the field. After working as a designer in New York City, she moved to the suburbs and began blogging about her design projects and tips. Abby's work has been featured in magazines and online, and she is always looking for new ways to make her home look beautiful and inviting. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, cooking, and hiking.

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