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In recent years, memory foam mattresses have transcended the realm of specialty beds, now accounting for over 20% of all mattress sales. The reason for this sustained popularity is the numerous benefits of memory foam. The unique advantages of memory foam are a result of the material’s unique properties that include:
Read on to see how these properties can benefit you as a sleeper, and how memory foam compares to other common mattress types.
One of the leading benefits of memory foam is its ability to prevent pressure points. Springs resist weight and push upwards against you, while gravity also pulls you down. This results in painful pressure points at the heaviest points of contact like hips and shoulders. Open-celled memory foam does not resist weight, rather it compresses, conforming to the sleeper and distributing weight across the surface of the bed. Compared to traditional innerspring mattresses, memory foam can reduce pressure by up to 50% or more.
The unique conforming properties of memory foam also provide another important benefit: supporting natural spinal alignment. Spring mattresses distort alignment as they push against heavier areas like hips and shoulders without supporting the lower back. Air and water beds can also distort alignment with the ‘hammock effect”, in which the torso tends to sink furthest in and the lower back takes on an unnatural position. A memory foam mattress allows the sleeper’s body to assume a natural, neutral curvature and maintains lumbar support.
The dense cellular structure of memory foam is naturally inhospitable to microbes and prevents the buildup of allergens like dust, dust mites, mold, and pet dander. Large open spaces and fluffy fiber pillowtops found in innerspring beds provide an ideal environment for dust mites and mold growth, while water and air mattresses can also be prone to mold and mildew. Low-VOC, hypoallergenic memory foam mattresses combined with proper care provide an excellent mattress alternative to those concerned with indoor allergens.
The conforming, cellular nature of memory foam also serves to absorb motion rather than transfer it. Classic commercials demonstrating a person jumping on a memory foam mattress near a glass of undisturbed wine demonstrate this concept. Standard spring mattresses and water beds tend to be worst for motion transfer, through air beds and pocketed coil mattresses still have noticeable motion transfer. The ability of memory foam isolate motion is a valuable benefit for light sleepers and couples on different schedules.
The lifespan of memory foam mattresses offers another benefit. A good quality, medium to high-density memory foam mattress averages between 7-10 years of useful life. Spring mattresses average closer to 5-6 years, which means they may require replacement up to twice as often. This is because viscoelastic and polyurethane foams have stronger durability and resilience compared to metal springs, fibers, and padding foams typically seen in innerspring beds. Air beds and waterbeds can last almost as long as memory foam, but typically require parts replacements and user maintenance along the way.
The combined benefits of reduced pressure and pain, less allergens, and motion isolation come together to create the ideal environment for deep sleep. Tossing and turning, breathing disturbances, and partner disturbances can all reduce sleep quality on other types of beds. On a quality memory foam mattress, these concerns or reduced or eliminated which can help lead to deeper and more restful sleep. As research continues to show, deep sleep is a vitally important part of overall physical and mental health. Memory foam mattresses benefit sleepers by providing individualized support and unparalleled comfort that facilitates rest, paired with one of the most durable materials on the market.
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