Who Should Use A Memory Foam Topper And Why?

Who Should Use A Memory Foam Topper And Why?

You may have heard your friend raving about his new memory foam topper. If he is like many other satisfied customers, he has probably been praising its ability to help him sleep better and wake up without all his old aches and pains. He isn’t spouting nonsense. Memory foam bedding can actually do that for many people. There are valid reasons rooted in the physics of memory foam and also human physiology.

 

Memory Foam Topper

Memory foam was developed by NASA in the 1960s to make safer aircraft seats. But what relationship does NASA have with aircraft? Not much, is it … at least, not with normal aircraft. However, NASA was sending men to outer space inside rockets with high acceleration. They were also going to send astronauts to the moon, which needed even bigger rockets with even higher acceleration. And they already had plans to develop reusable spacecraft like the space shuttle, which also required high acceleration. Not only that, but they no doubt also wanted to send less physically fit men and women to live in space and conduct experiments. All of these needs required seats that could help absorb and reduce the tremendous pressures exerted on the human body by high acceleration. Thus the invention of memory foam.

If memory foam could absorb the pressures caused by acceleration, then it can also absorb the pressures caused by gravity, which to physicists is more or less just another form of acceleration. Used in hospitals, memory foam adjustable beds greatly reduced the incidence of bedsores in patients who had to remain immobilized for long periods of time. It also greatly reduced the pain felt by patients with burns on their bodies, as well as other wounds across their backs.

How memory foam toppers work

How did it do this? Well, normally the human body contacts a normal mattress at only a few points. For a 200 pound man, that means 200 pounds of his mass are pressing down on just a few parts of his body. If he sleeps on his back, most of the pressure will be on his head, his shoulder blades and part of his mid-back, his buttocks, part of his thighs and part of his calves. But if he sleeps on a memory foam mattress topper pad, it will partially conform to his body shape, allowing for greater contact area between body and bed. Suddenly, the pressure of his 200 pounds will also spread to his lower back, most of his shoulder instead of just his shoulder blades, his entire mid-back, his lower back, and so on all the way to his feet. This doubling of his body’s surface area in contact with the viscoelastic memory foam topper reduces the pressure he feels by half. If you were this man, wouldn’t you also feel a lot more comfortable?

Memory Foam Topper

Memory Foam Topper

But this isn’t all. When you sleep in a normal bed, you do not get much support for your spine. Because a normal mattress does not conform to your body shape very well, there is little support when gravity presses down on the curves of your spine. This means your spine flattens unnaturally, causing strain on various tendons, ligaments, and muscles. There is increased pressure in the cartilage disks that cushion the vertebrae of your spine. All this leads to the aches and pains that you normally feel when you wake up. But for those who sleep on Viscoelastic memory foam mattresses, all these things do not happen. That is why your friend sleeping on his new memory foam topper wakes up more alert and refreshed without his usual aches and pains.

Memory Foam Topper

Memory Foam

Is this a property unique to the viscoelastic mattress topper? No, it is not. You can get the same effect from a really good quality water bed. In fact, before memory foam was invented, that was what hospitals used. But water beds had a few disadvantages – they were even more expensive than memory foam bedding. They had to be warmed up, otherwise, the water was too chilly for the patients sleeping on the beds – which was an expensive maintenance operation for hundreds of beds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, every year. Water beds were also much heavier, which limited the number of such beds they could place on each floor. Water beds could also leak, which could not only cause accidents but were a terrible mess to clean up.

Problems with the memory foam topper

Does this make the memory foam topper pad the perfect solution for a good night’s sleep? Unfortunately not. There are a few problems which prevent its widespread adoption (besides the fact that not everyone knows or believes about it). The first is that the visco-elastic memory foam mattress topper releases minuscule amounts of volatile organic compounds. As it ages, it starts releasing more and more. For most adults, these amounts are unnoticeable. But for children and for those with sensitive respiratory systems (for example with asthma), these gasses can potentially irritate their noses and lungs and disturb their sleep.

Another problem with the memory foam mattress pad is the high price. While branded low-density 1-1/2″ memory foam toppers can be bought for as little as $50, they are not really worth the money. To obtain the true benefits of a memory foam pad, you need to buy one which is made from high-density foam and is at least 3″ thick. Unfortunately, this kind of quality does not come cheap, especially if you choose to buy the branded Tempur-Pedic memory foam topper or Serta memory foam topper. While you could buy a generic brand memory foam pad for a lower price, is there any guarantee that you are getting high quality (and real) memory foam? There is a good reason why memory foam is not cheap. This material is difficult to make. The manufacturing process is not particularly stable or reliable. And because real memory foam products can be sold for very high prices, there is a real incentive for unscrupulous businesses to make and sell fake memory foam products.

Memory Foam Topper

Memory Foam Topper

Memory foam toppers also have the problem of trapping body heat. Because memory foam is so dense, the usual air channels that exist in normal beds are not present in a memory foam topper. That means your body heat has nowhere to escape but remains trapped between your skin and the mattress pad. This is not a problem on a cold night or if you have your aircon turned on. But on a warm night with only a fan to cool you down, the heat could be unbearable. Not only that but if you sleep without a blanket to gain more relief, the exposure of your muscles to the fan’s wind could result in muscular stiffness, which defeats the purpose of buying a memory foam topper.

A further problem with memory foam mattress pads is that they can be rather hard when they are cold. If you were staying in someplace really cold, that means need to warm your bedroom and memory foam pad before you sleep. If you fail to make the time for the necessary preparations, you could be facing an uncomfortable night on a hard bed instead of the restful sleep you were counting on.

Memory Foam Topper

Memory Foam Topper

So is the memory foam topper for everyone? No, it is not. If one of the four problems with memory foam mattress pads is an issue for you, then you should look for another alternative (maybe a water bed, if allowed by regulations in your area/building; or maybe an air bed, whose lifespan cannot compare to that of a memory foam pad.) However, for everyone else, the deep blissful slumber brought by sleeping on a memory foam topper pad is something that must be felt to be believed.

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About docinek

I am from the United States and a smart consumer takes Computer Science and experiences interior products. Being a dynamic person at the age of 30, I find it healthy and worthwhile to create a blog that can interest you as a reader…

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