What’s more valuable than diamonds, gold, and winning lottery tickets? A good night’s rest.
Peaceful sleep is the key to staying focused in economics class, nailing a big presentation at
work, or even playing your best game of basketball at the YMCA. Nothing but net! Or, should we
say, nothing but polyurethane.
Memory foam, which was first developed by NASA in the 1970s to improve crash protection for
astronauts, found its way to our bedrooms 20 years later when Fagerdala World Foams
innovated the existing technology and introduced their TempurPedic Swedish mattress to the
consumer market. Today, memory foam is often made from a type of synthetic polymer called
polyurethane. This special polymer is full of tiny air bubbles and spaces, which gives memory
foam the famous ability to adapt to a sleeper’s body. The air pockets help the mattress displace
its position under pressure until the pressure is alleviated. What does that mean for you? Your
mattress will form perfectly to your shape every night, then magically bounce back to normal
when you get up.
Okay, It’s Made of Polyurethane. But What’s It REALLY Made of?
According to Sleep Foundation, the memory foam mattress you know and love today is made of
three layers: the comfort layer, the transition layer, and the core. Let’s call it a slumber cake.
The comfort layer is the top layer of the mattress, which you recognize as the layer you sleep
on. Like the frosting on a cake, it’s light, fluffy, and soft. It’s made of foam layers that shape to
and cushion your body for the ultimate snooze. A bonus? Many manufacturers use breathable
foams to keep heat away from the surface, so you stay cool all night long.
The second layer of the mattress, the transition layer, is like a fruity filling. Similar to a thick layer
of strawberry jam under the icing on a cake, this layer is firmer than the foam that makes up the
comfort layer above. This semi-firm layer also helps keep excess heat away from your body
while you sleep.
The core is the base of the mattress, just like a sponge is the essential base of a cake. This
sturdy tier is often made of a firmer foam and makes up the largest layer in the mattress. A firm
core provides stability and support to your body while you rest.
All three layers work together to give you a cool and cozy sleep experience – it’s a little slice of
Why Does Sleep Temperature Matter?
- Room temperature. According to New West Physicians, temperatures between 60- and
67-degrees Fahrenheit result in the best rest while temperatures above 75 degrees and
below 54 degrees will make sleep shallow and unpleasant.
- Thick bedding and sleepwear. Toss out the wool blankets and flannel pajamas. Maybe
even sleep commando. We won’t tell if you don’t.
- Pre-sleep activities like heavy exercise. Try going for a run at 8 AM instead of 8 PM. A
racing heart and pumping adrenaline is guaranteed to turn up the heat when you hit the
- Co-sleeping. If you’ve ever felt like your partner radiates heat in bed, you are correct.
Their body heat in close proximity to you can make a significant temperature difference
under the sheets.
- Medication. Check the side effects of any prescriptions you take. If you’re feeling warm
at night, these might be to blame.
- Hormones. Menopause or your menstrual cycle can directly impact body temperature.
Two words: Hot. Flashes.
Illness. Overheating could be the result of a fever, your body’s natural response to
fighting off infection.
How to Pick the Right Memory Foam Mattress for You
The best memory foam option for you can depend on a few factors, as described by Best
Mattress Brand, According to their buying guide, consider mattress density before making a
purchase. Density is calculated by the weight in one cubic foot of foam. For a mattress that is
breathable, choose one made from low-density foams. For a mattress with optimal body
contouring, choose a high-density foam. Unlike the more fragile low-density foam, high-density
is a sturdier option; however, it comes with a higher price tag.
You should also consider thickness when purchasing a memory foam mattress. Mattress
thickness can affect the longevity of use, particularly if you’re plus-sized. A thin mattress isn’t
likely to have enough layers to hold a heavier sleeper – more bodyweight calls for more layers.
A majority of memory foam mattresses are 6-14 inches thick; a 10-to-12-inch mattress is the
best option for adults. For heavy-set sleepers, also consider a firmer option to better support
Sleep position is also a factor to consider when you’re deciding which level of firmness is right
for you. Depending on how you sleep, you will have more or less space between your body and
the surface of the bed. Firmness will determine how the mattress will fill the different gaps for
different sleepers. The best options based on sleeping position include:
Back sleeper: A firmer mattress is the best option if you sleep on your back. It provides the
ultimate spinal support and contouring plus lumbar support.
Stomach sleeper: A medium-firm to firm mattress is ideal for this kind of sleeper. A firmer
mattress will combat the back pain that can come with sleeping in this position, which puts
pressure on your spine due to gravity.
Combination sleeper: If you toss and turn throughout the night, fighting to get comfortable, a
medium to medium-firm mattress is best for you. Just like Goldilocks, you need a mattress that
isn’t too hard or isn’t too soft. It should be just right.
As with any large purchase, budget is a major deciding factor when it comes to mattresses.
High-quality, durable options are available for under $2,000; however, even that price can be
steep for some buyers. Blissful sleep doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Bed-in-a-box
brands have grown in popularity and feature compressed memory foam mattresses that are
delivered right to your front door. Simply open the box, unroll, and tuck in for the night. The
prices are lower than traditional options because they don’t include extra cost for commission or
for the manufacturer to store the inventory. The lower cost also allows box mattress companies
to use higher-quality materials in the product.
Whether you purchase a mattress in a box or one from a traditional showroom, a trial and
warranty period adds the ultimate value to your sleep purchase. You have the pleasure of taking
a memory foam mattress for a test drive in the comfort of your own bedroom with the peace of
mind that comes with knowing if you aren’t happy with your purchase or if your mattress is
damaged over time, you can return or exchange it. No pressure to settle means you’ll sleep
soundly at night.
It’s tempting to cut corners when it comes to buying memory foam, especially since the cost can
be significantly steeper than a traditional spring mattress. Though a crafty salesman may dangle
a slashed price tag under your nose, remember anything too good to be true probably is just
that. These imposter mattresses are made with mediocre products and aren’t built to last in the
long run. Best Mattress Brand lists factors such as loose and broken seams and strong
off-gassing odors as signs of low quality. Off-gassing is a chemical smell new memory foam
beds may give off; however, the smell should neutralize a few hours after the mattress is
removed from the packaging and aired out. Cheap memory foam off-gassing can last for days,
which can cause headaches and possible allergic reactions. Other signs of poor quality include
thinness, low density, and breaking down quickly over time.
Sure, better-quality memory foam mattresses cost more, but the purchase is worth every penny.
According to Verywell Health, quality sleep can help your body regulate blood sugar, reduce
stress and inflammation, make you more alert, help you lose or maintain a healthy weight, and
even help the systems in your body function more effectively.
Your body deserves the benefits of peaceful, comfortable, and cooling sleep. Something as
simple as switching from a standard, flat spring bed to a memory foam mattress can be the
difference between restlessness and the best sleep of your life.