Viscoelastic Memory Foam in Mattresses

testing out memory foam with hand
What is visco-elastic memory foam?

What is Visco-Elastic Memory Foam?

Visco-elastic foam, also commonly known as memory foam, has been around for about 40 years now. The material was originally invented by NASA to be used in space shuttle seats. It has come a long way since then and is now used in the creation of memory foam mattresses, toppers, and pillows.

Types of Mattress Foams

There are three main types of foams being used in the mattress industry today: Latex, Polyurethane, and Visco-Elastic (memory foam).

Each foam is made from different materials and provides a different sleeping experience.

According to mattress expert Sean Fry, foams are a good option for mattresses because they are “able to contour to the shape and curves of your body in a unique way, which significantly reduces pressure points.

So, what are the key differences between each type of foam? We’ll highlight what each foam is and how they differ:

  1. Latex foam: Mattresses made with this foam are known for being natural and durable. They are one of the most eco-friendly mattresses on the market and they provide excellent support and will outlast polyurethane and memory foam mattresses.
  2. Polyurethane foam: This is the most common type of foam used in mattresses and is derived from petroleum. They are considered non-toxic once the chemicals have reacted. It’s one of the more economical choices, but this mattress doesn’t provide as much support as latex or memory foam mattresses.
  3. Visco-Elastic(memory foam): This mattress uses the same chemicals as a polyurethane foam, but it also has added chemicals to create that signature foam imprint seen on mattress ads and mattress commercials.  Since it is much denser than its counterparts, it absorbs more pressure and offers more support. Due to the materials and chemicals used to make this foam, the mattress tends to sleep hot and it won’t sleep nearly as “cool” as latex.

Regardless of which type of foam you choose to go with for your mattress, keep in mind that the higher the density of the foam, the better the overall durability….but also more expensive.

Should I Buy Visco-Elastic Foam?

Visco-Elastic foam mattresses are highly rated in customer satisfaction due to their motion isolation and pressure-point relief. Owners also report that sleeping on memory foam has helped ease their overall pain.

Here are some of the main benefits from sleeping on visco-elastic foam:

  • Durable—memory foam mattresses have an average lifespan of 7 years.
  • It “remembers” you—memory foam contours to your unique sleeping style and body shape which helps alleviate pain.
  • Less likely to sag — they are 30% less likely to sag or compress than innerspring mattresses.
  • Good motion isolation — since there are no coiled springs, you are less likely to feel your partner’s movements.

There are some disadvantages to visco-elastic foam, though:

  • Off-gassing — a major drawback is that memory foam mattresses tend to emit odors and can off-gas for up to a month.
  • Retains heat — due to the chemicals used, memory foam mattresses tend to “sleep hot.”
  • Can be costly — the manufacturing for these types of mattresses are costly and are passed onto you, the consumer.
  • Less supportive, more comfortable — visco-elastic mattresses are known for their comfort(think layers of memory foam)and not so much for the support they provide(think a system of innersprings).

Foam mattresses are a great option for you if you prefer motion isolation, pressure-point relief, and durability. If you decide to go with a foam mattress, make sure to check out the foam densities and the chemicals used.

Check out our guide for the best mattress for back pain and our patented spinal zone gel for back pain on Loom and Leaf.

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Nicolle is the Content/Social Media Marketing Manager for Saatva and Loom & Leaf. If this article interests you, don't forget to share it using the buttons directly above.