- 1 Will a Memory Foam Mattress Improve Your Sleep, Cure Insomnia, or Reverse Sleep Deprivation?
- 2 Is a memory foam mattress too hot? Do you have a cooler foam bed?
- 3 What’s the difference between memory foam mattress toppers and mattresses?
- 4 Understanding the Firmness Rating of a Foam Mattress Topper
- 5 Memory Foam Mattress: Can I Use a Box Spring with My Foam Bed?
- 6 Secret Memory Foam Mattress Information Resource
Will a Memory Foam Mattress Improve Your Sleep, Cure Insomnia, or Reverse Sleep Deprivation?
Leading memory foam mattresses retailers claim that their bed will help improve your sleep, cure insomnia, and fight sleep deprivation. But according to The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), “there isn’t much published research on mattresses, or how mattress quality may affect how sleep feels to the sleeper.”
While NSF does not promote any scientific studies that show how a sleep surface will improve your sleep, they acknowledge that, “discomfort can make falling asleep more difficult and lead to restless slumber.” They encourage finding a mattress that is comfortable to you and replacing your old, unsupportive mattress.
If foam bed retailers do not have studies to support their claims to better sleep, they can certainly show their mattresses provide maximum comfort. The key measure of comfort in a mattress is pressure relief. Even weight distribution and elimination of pressure points are the pinnacle achievement of a great mattress.
Even distribution of pressure is the basis of claims to health benefits. The logic goes that with greatly reduced pressure points, a bed is more comfortable, sleep comes easier, rest is more satisfying, and we awake with more energy.
To show comfort and pressure reduction in technical terms, companies like Tekscan and Xsensor have developed pressure mapping technology. A pad, with hundreds of pressure sensors, is laid down over the mattress. Then a person lies down on top of it and a computer generated map is displayed on a screen showing color coded areas of different pressure. The image demonstrates, in an intuitive way, exactly how comfortable a mattress is.
Pressure mapping shows in a technical way the same thing people know intuitively when they lay down on a memory foam mattress. They conform ideally to your body and are really comfortable. Memory foam has dramatically risen to popularity in the past few years because of its unsurpassed ability to reduce pressure points and provide maximum comfort.
While most people will agree that a more comfortable mattress will naturally lead to better sleep, there is not a lot of scientific data to support this claim. There is much that experts don’t understand about insomnia, sleep deprivation, sleep apnea, restless leg, or other sleep disorders. Nevertheless, sleep experts will all agree that a comfortable sleep surface is a major contributing factor to improved sleep.
Is a memory foam mattress too hot? Do you have a cooler foam bed?
We’ve been shopping around for a memory foam mattress online, and there are a lot of reviews saying they are too hot. Are your mattresses hot? Is there a way to make a memory foam mattress cooler?
Memory foam is a good insulator, and that’s nice in the winter or for people who like to be cozy warm when they sleep. But what about keeping cool in the summer months, or people who have trouble sleeping because they get too warm at night?
All memory foam is composed of thousands of tiny cells with an open wall structure. Think of a sponge and the way they can soak up water. Sponges can soak up water because they have an open wall cell structure. Similarly, there are tiny holes in the cell walls of memory foam that allow air to flow between cells. This is what allows memory foam to conform so well to your body.
A lot of mattress sellers say that memory foam is cool because it has an open wall cell structure. And that’s true. Memory foam dissipates heat because it passes heat away from your body while you sleep. But still memory foam mattresses are warmer than traditional innerspring beds that everyone is used to sleeping on.
Some memory foam mattresses have “air flow” channels cut into the top surface or interior of the mattresses that allows air to move or “bellow” when you move about on the mattress. The idea is that this will allow heat to pass away from your body and keep you cooler. I agree with this concept, and I understand why it should work, but I’ve slept on a lot of beds in deciding which ones to sell in our store, and I’ve honestly not seen any difference in the warmth / coolness of mattresses with air flow channels.
The main thing that makes traditional innerspring mattresses cooler is a top layer of fiber fill. Fiber filling does a great job of preventing heat buildup, promoting airflow, and whisking away heat from your body. Fiber fill is the polyester, Americore, or Dacron fiber batting which is quilted into the top of a mattress. It is super soft and comfortable, and does an excellent job keeping you cool, but is not as good as memory foam at reducing pressure points.
Memory foam is a superior pressure reduction material. For best performance, you want your body to be as close to the mattress as possible. A “tight top” memory foam mattress has a top layer of memory foam and then a mattress cover over it. The mattress cover is all that’s between you and the memory foam.
But for the coolest memory foam mattress possible, you will want to go with a pillow top that has a layer of fiber quilted into the top cover. This type of memory foam mattress will keep you much cooler because it has a highly breathable airflow layer right next to your skin.
What’s the difference between memory foam mattress toppers and mattresses?
Memory foam mattresses have a top layer of memory foam 2” to 5” thick and a base layer 4” to 9” thick. Many memory foam beds also have a quilted pillow top layer made with super soft foam or Dacron fibers. This pillow top layer adds even more softness to the memory foam layer.
A memory foam mattress topper is just the memory foam layer. Some come with a zip off cover, and some without, and some have a permanent quilted fabric cover. A cover is handy for keeping the topper clean, but some allow it to slip around on top of the mattress. Foam toppers without any cover have a lot of friction and don’t slip around. You can keep bare toppers clean by putting them under the fitted sheet. Also you can put a mattress pad or mattress protector over them.
Memory foam beds are a complete package with a body forming comfort memory foam layer and deep support base layers. Foam toppers give body contouring comfort and initial support. They can be used with either a firm foam or innerspring bed. You don’t want to use a topper with a bed that is too soft or slumps in the middle.
When a topper is used on a mattress lacking proper support, it is almost useless. Yes it will be soft and conform to your body, but your hips and shoulders will sink too far into the mattress causing discomfort.
Understanding the Firmness Rating of a Foam Mattress Topper
While a memory foam mattress topper will rejuvenate most old innersprings beds to some degree, understanding the firmness rating of a foam mattress topper is essential to choosing the best topper for your body and your bed.
The best mattress toppers are made of visco-elastic memory foam, which provides the industry leading standard benefits of a memory foam mattress without the extreme expense. These benefits include relieving pressure points, joint pain, increasing circulation, dampening motion transfer between sleeping partners and resisting dust mites that aggravate allergies.
Manufacturers describe the firmness of foam by a standard known as Indentation Force Deflection (IFD) or Indentation Load Deflection (ILD).
In layman’s terms, this simply means the number of pounds of pressure required to compress it. The less force required, the lower the Indentation Force Deflection (IFD) or Indentation Load Deflection (ILD) number will be and the more easily the foam mattress topper will compress.
The more force required, the higher the IFD or ILD number will be and the more difficult it will be to compress the foam mattress topper.
For purposes of comparison, a15 IFD or ILD is medium firm and 12 IFD or ILD is medium soft. Do not confuse firmness with support when buying a foam mattress topper
A good topper will be both soft and supportive. A two-inch foam mattress topper will give most of the benefits that a 3″ memory foam mattress topper provides, and will work fine for most people. However, women who weigh more than 170 pounds and men who weigh more than 200 pounds will probably be more comfortable using a three-inch thick model.
In addition to the benefits listed above, memory foam is also temperature sensitive, softening as it grows warmer, which explains why lying on a memory foam mattress topper makes you feel as if your body is melting into it. Truly a comforting feeling like no other!
A visco-elastic memory foam mattress topper offers industry leading standards that include:
- Supports outstanding pressure point relief ·
- Provides relief from back, neck, and joint pain ·
- Relieves pain for arthritis and fibromyalgia sufferers ·
- Prevents tossing and turning ·
- Increases blood circulation ·
- Allows hours of motionless, undisturbed sleep ·
- Dampens motion transfer between partners ·
- Resists dust mites and household allergens
Memory Foam Mattress: Can I Use a Box Spring with My Foam Bed?
The terms box spring and foundation are used interchangeably and both refer to the base that you put into a bed frame to support the mattress. But the two terms used properly can refer to 2 totally different things.
Box spring originally referred to a group of springs encased in a box and covered with fabric. They were first built from metal, but are now mainly constructed with wood, and both types exist on the market today. Many box springs are specifically constructed to correspond to a given mattress, and the two are sold together as a set. Box springs sold in a set do not offer the proper support to other mattresses. Box springs are meant to give, or compress, when weight is applied. So when you lie down on a mattress set, the springs in the mattress compress and, where the weight is greater, the box spring also compresses.
A mattress foundation looks just like a box spring on the outside, a box encased with fabric, but it is constructed to offer a firm, flat surface to the mattress that will not give or compress. Foundations are the requisite base for a latex or memory foam mattress because they offer a surface that will not compress under body weight.
The softer top layers of a latex or memory foam mattress are meant to conform to and absorb the entire weight of your body while the underlying base foam layers offer a firmer support. When a foam bed is used with a box spring, the base foam layer cannot do its job. Rather than pushing back against your body to provide support, the base foam layer pushes the box spring lower. You end up sleeping in a concave pit with your hips too deep in the bed and your feet and head too high.
Secret Memory Foam Mattress Information Resource
There is a lot of information to be found online about memory foam mattresses, though the bulk of it has been written by people that actually sell the mattresses. When you type “memory foam mattress” into the top search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN, the top results are all companies selling memory foam mattresses. Yes, we’re in there 🙂
Much of this information is helpful and good, but what if you wanted at least some of your research information to come from an unbiased source? Well as it turns out, there is such a resource, but the information is hard to find.
The Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA) is a group whose mission is to educate customers and other groups about flexible polyurethane foam (FPF) and to promote its use in manufactured and industrial products. It is supported by its membership of US flexible polyurethane foam (FPF) manufacturers and companies that supply the raw materials for FPF.
So it’s not a 100% unbiased resource. After all, its goal is still to promote the use of FPF in bedding and furniture. But the group has a high degree of authority and trust within the industry. It’s a group of the top experts with a mission to help you get the facts about foam products.
Be warned, much of the information is written for industry insiders. It may be difficult to wade through the tech jargon / lingo and ferret out useful information. Some of the most useful information (like density, odor, firmness, visco-elastic foam) is in the Intouch articles section.
Europur is the European counterpart of the PFA. It has less information, but what is available, is less technical and perhaps more useful for the consumer preparing to make a large home purchase.