What is a Memory Foam Mattress?

Kat Yares

A memory foam mattress is a type of bedding that is both pressure and temperature sensitive. The Visco-Elastic foam was developed in the 1970s by NASA engineers to provide protection and comfort for astronauts during lift and reentry into the earth's atmosphere. Designed to be breathable, memory foam is able to distribute pressure evenly over its surface and return to its original state when the pressure is removed.

Visco Elastic foam is used in a majority of hospital beds for better patient comfort.
Visco Elastic foam is used in a majority of hospital beds for better patient comfort.

Memory foam was first introduced to the general public in the form of special pillows. Today it is also available in mattress and mattress sets and comes in varying depths from 3 - 6 inches (7.62 - 15.24 centimeters). Memory foam pads less than 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) are used as mattress pads for an existing conventional bed.

A memory foam mattress is comparable in price to an equivalent sized regular mattress. The most popular type is 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) and has both a soft and firm side. Memory foam mattresses can be purchased from regular brick and mortar stores or online.

Many super centers sell memory foam mattresses and full mattress sets packaged in boxes for a very reasonable price, often less than conventional bedding. Once you take the package out of the box and the open the vacuum-sealed plastic around the mattress, the memory foam will expand quickly to its stated size.

Online, memory foam mattresses range in price from five hundred to several thousand dollars. By doing a price comparison, it is easy to find the best value for your dollar.

Sleeping on a memory foam mattress is often compared to sleeping on a cloud by many manufacturers. It is recommended for those who have back problems, arthritis and other bone and joint difficulties. Most memory foam mattresses come with a cover made of anti-microbial fabric, which repels dust mites which can relieve allergy symptoms for many sufferers.

Many people claim that memory foam mattresses gave them the best nights sleep they have ever had. Not only does the foam give them complete comfort while sleeping, movement by their partners no longer affects them. A spouse or partner can climb in and out of bed without waking the sleeping person, since the foam doesn't move except beneath the one who is doing the movement.

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Discussion Comments


A memory foam mattress will cost you more than a regular mattress topper, but I think the extra money is worth the cost. We have a king sized bed, so purchasing a king memory foam mattress was not cheap, but I think you have to consider how much getting a good night of rest is worth to you.

If you feel more tired when you went to bed than when you got up, that is usually because you are tossing and turning all night. The memory foam kind of surrounds your body in a way that is comfortable, yet supportive. After purchasing one for our bed, I then went out and bought one for our guest bed also.


I am a believer in the benefits of these mattresses. We purchased a memory foam mattress toppers to place on top of our existing mattresses. We figured it would be less expensive than buying a brand new mattress.

The first thing we noticed was that our backs did not hurt when we got out of bed in the morning. Because there is a significant weight difference between my spouse and I, the fact that one person can get up without disturbing the other is also another plus.

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