All About Memory Foam

Written by: Carlo Badalamenti

Viscoelastic polyurethane foam, also known as memory foam, is a by-product of 1960s NASA space program research. According to “Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep,” astronauts of the day needed relief from punishing G-force training and high shuttle acceleration levels.

Memory foam’s “memory” works by softening and molding to the person’s body sleeping on it. The unique ability to adapt to a specific weight and shape allows for better sleep by effectively removing pressure points from the individual at rest. According to Canada Foam by Mail, the process of creating memory foam has changed a lot over the years.

Memory foam manufacturing process

A king size memory foam mattress purchased today is the result of manufacturing and process improvements over the years. The first memory foam mattresses of the 1980s were very expensive and only affluent individuals could afford them.

Specific chemical ingredients used by manufacturers’ “recipes” may vary, and precise formulas are carefully-guarded trade assets of their manufacturers. In general, though, memory foam is made of a kind of chemically-engineered polyurethane. A bubble-like substance surrounded by foam is created from water and polyol, a multiple hydrogen plus oxygen molecule; hydroxyl; and di-isocyante, an oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon molecule. It’s fast, easy, and relatively inexpensive to make today, and large blocks may be sliced to any mattress size.

Memory foam mattress costs

People who sleep on memory foam mattresses say it’s like sleeping on air. The pressure-relief properties of memory foam help the sleeper’s spine to properly align–naturally. Unlike coil and box spring mattress types, the memory foam mattress’ many layers–such as thick and firm base layers supporting a delightfully soft top layer–offer maximum comfort and oxygen flow.

Memory foam mattress types

Not all memory foam mattresses are the same. The best quality memory foam is the result of “good chemistry.” The bubble cells are uniform and offering reliable response to the individual or individuals sleeping on it. High quality memory foam “resets” when the sleeper wakes in the morning.

Some manufacturers take a traditional mattress and cover it with a one to four inch-thick memory foam topper. This type of memory foam mattress is often much less expensive than a one hundred percent memory foam variety. Depressed “grooves” from the sleeper’s body, foam compression, or thinning of the foam top are hallmarks of memory foam mattress knock-offs.


When it doubt, check the market to compare memory foam mattress prices. A discount memory foam mattress may cost a few hundred dollars for a king size. In comparison, premium expensive memory foam mattresses may cost thousands. It’s important to compare mattresses, then consider guarantee or warranty features when selecting the memory foam mattress that’s the just right balance of function and cost.