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It's all the talk around town, memory foam, but just what is Memory Foam and what is all the hype about?
Well, firstly let's resolve its origins: generic description is visco elastic foam, a synthetic petroleum based product that is also treated to inhibit allergens. It was first conceived by NASA seeking a foam cushioning for its astronauts to counter gravity issues.
NASA needed a slow release foam to conform to the shape of its astronaut's bodies and absorb and relieve G force pressure. To gently relieve pressure points caused by the download force on the body.NASA found it in visco elastic foam.
The foam needed to react to the body's temperature rather than the ambient temperature. To 'personalise' the fit. Visco elastic memory foam certainly achieved that, and we can all thank NASA for their earlier experiments.
It's really the ability of memory foam to absorb pressure and spread the load that is the essence of this supple material. Something that an ordinary inner spring or coil mattress simply cannot provide. Memory Foam contoured pillows diffuse the pressure to the point where the neck and head are cradled evenly, encouraging the natural curvature of the spine.That means less tossing and turning for a better night's sleep.That's the key ... it gives into the body's pressure points, and forgives load probably better than any other material.
A natural extension to the NASA development of memory foam is in mattresses and mattress toppers in hospitals and nursing homes where burns patients, those with arthritic conditions, and other problems where body pressure needs to be spread and diffused and where circulation needs to be enhanced.
Because is it warmer to the body than conventional bedding. Depending on the density, it may be.But simply adjust your bedding to suit.
As the years rolled on many foam producers around the world have pursued the development of visco elastic foam ... with a vengeance! The result is a wide diversity in visco categories, some dense and 'dough-like' and some lighter yet still containing the wonderful reliever characteristics of pressure dispersion.
The choice these days is broad, and you need to be selective when checking out the memory foam options. More expensive need not be better where memory foam is concerned. Be careful not to select memory foam that is too heavy or too dough like. If it is too pliable or dough like, then you just keep sinking into it and eventually finish up with uneven cushioning to your body part. Also if it is too dense and heavy, it won't breathe and you will sweat.
A good measure of its quality is in a simply test it using the impression from your fingers. Sink your fingers into the pillow or mattress and if it takes between 3 and 6 seconds to rebound then that is perfect. Any longer and it means your head or body will continue to subside into it beyond the point where it is not relieving and spreading pressure. And if your fingers' impression rebounds too quickly then you really haven't got good quality visco elastic memory foam for your money. If that be the case then you may be better off just getting regular foam.
So is memory foam living up to its hype? Yes, and for good reason because memory foam can improve your chances of quality sleep, particularly if you have back or neck problems. But the key is the selection of the memory foam for your application. Too pliable, no good. Too quick to rebound, no good.
So what about regular foam, latex rubber, and feathers and down, for pressure care cushions, pillows, mattress toppers, and mattresses?
Latex from the rubber tree may not have the pressure diffusion qualities of memory foam, but it certainly has wonderful cushioning properties and supporting qualities nevertheless. It's the 'pure' natural product, and you get the right density (feel) and you have something special to sleep on for quality sleep. But it must have that right mix of feel and density to achieve quality sleep.
Regular foam (non visco elastic foam) can also provide you with excellent comfort and support. The problem over the years is that foam in general has a 'cheap' image about it and that has been brought about by producers make low grade foam to a price. There are some beautiful foams out there, both in density and quality, you just have to be prepared to pay a little extra. Check the weight: the heavier regular foam is, the better it is, and the longer it will give you support.
They have their merits, but unfortunately don't stand the test of time ... and by time we mean during the night because feathers and down pillows collapse with use and form a groove under the weight of your head, giving you no ongoing support through the night. Nice to squish but no good for maintaining the natural alignment of your spine.