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You’ve seen the photos: someone sinks their hand deep into a mattress, then pulls their hand away, leaving one glorious, perfect print. These images certainly invoke a feeling of luxury and comfort. But what do you need to know about memory foam? What makes it a great buy, and what’s the difference between the different varieties on the market?
We’re here to help! Here are some of the most common questions that we get about memory foam.
Where does memory foam come from?
Memory foam is the very definition of a Space Age technology! NASA originally developed the material to help astronauts handle g-force pressure more comfortably. They needed something which would conform to the astronaut’s body but which would then return to its original shape (and conform again) as soon as the astronaut moved even a little bit. Otherwise the mismatch between the seat and the astronaut’s body would cause injuries.
The result of NASA’s innovation was a viscoelastic foam. Mattress makers quickly realized that this foam could be adapted to create a better sleep experience. Memory foam mattresses were the result. You may not be facing g-force pressure, but having a mattress shift with you every time you roll over in bed means that you get a deeper, more restful sleep on a mattress which does a better job of supporting you than a traditional innerspring mattress.
How is memory foam rated?
Memory foam is rated or graded on four different qualities.
The first is weight. A memory foam mattress gets heavier as more viscoelastic materials are added to it. Thus, a heavier mattress is going to be better at retaining your shape. However, you don’t want to get the heaviest mattress available, either, as many people will find this to be very uncomfortable. Most people are most comfortable within the 1.8 kg to the 2.2 kg weight range. Weight is also referred to as density.
The next is the ILD rating. The acronym stands for “Indentation Load Deflection.” That’s a fancy way of saying “how firm this mattress is.” A higher ILD rating means a firmer mattress. Again, you don’t need to go crazy looking for the firmest mattress on the market.
Resilience is the next rated quality. This rates how “springy” the foam is. A foam with more spring is more durable, but it’s also less comfortable. As with the other ratings, there’s a trade-off.
Finally, there’s a grade that doesn’t matter much to the average customer. That’s how tensile the mattress is. This just says how stretchy the foam is. Since most people don’t go around stretching their mattresses this rating isn’t very useful.
If you noticed the trade-off between comfort and quality you’re not alone. Most memory foam mattresses try to reach a happy medium by using layers of foam to reach the desired effect. Thus, many mattresses will place a softer layer of foam placed over harder and heavier layers of foam.
I’ve heard memory foam gets hot.
Memory foam isn’t as “breathable” as other mattress materials. Some customers do report that the foam retains heat. Other customers are able to compensate by the problem by adjusting their thermostat or removing some covers. You can also search for a memory foam mattress which includes a layer of cooling gel, or gel beads. Either option helps.
I’ve heard memory foam smells.
There may be a scent when your mattress is brand new. This chemical smell is a result of “off gassing.” Though the name might sound scary the process is totally natural. You’re smelling the breakdown of “Volatile Organic Compounds” or VOCs. These are totally safe.
When you get your mattress we recommend allowing it to air out in a well-ventilated space. Less than 15% of our customers actually ever notice or smell the odor at all.
Is memory foam “green?”
It depends on what you mean by “green.” Viscoelastic material is safe and non-toxic. However, it is a chemical. An all-natural, organic, or fully soy-based foam mattress could not achieve the effects that a memory foam mattress achieves. However, manufacturers who add up to 10% soy do find that complaints about odor and heat decrease.
Do I still need to buy a box spring for a memory foam mattress?
Absolutely not! A memory foam mattress can rest comfortably right on the floor, though some people do add platforms to achieve additional bed height. This makes them more cost-effective than innerspring mattresses, which require frames, box springs, and other accoutrements.
Can I test a memory foam mattress before buying one?
Absolutely! Come visit our Mississauga, ON show room, stretch out, and see what’s comfortable. You’ll soon see why memory foam mattresses have an 81% satisfaction rate over an innerspring’s average of 68%--and coming in to perform the test is the surest way to make sure you’re a member of the satisfied majority.