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How supportive is memory foam?

Author imageThe Mattress Warehouse

Memory foam:

Last week I stole the Mattress Warehouse Midrand branch’s Silentnight memory foam sample to put behind my back while I sit in my chair upstairs. It’s the perfect size, conforms to my back while supporting it, and it stays cool, even though my back is pressed against it for hours. In other words, the perfect lower back cushion. These are the same characteristics that help memory foam make a great mattress.

What is memory foam?

Memory foam is a chemically produced foam mattress filler and comfort layer. It is distinctive because it is heat sensitive, reacting to body heat and softening around it, which helps to cushion a sleeper’s pressure points and relieve weight from them.  It’s a fairly new sleep technology that was developed for commercial use only about 30 years ago. Its use in mattresses has become more and more advanced, from basic foam mattresses to massive hybrid (foam and coils) mattresses.

What does it do?

Memory foam is called that exactly because of the “memory” of the foam’s cells. This means that it can return to its former shape after being pushed out into another. Springs have memory too. This causes the memory foam to make a great support for body weight, as it pushes up against the weight pressing it down from above, and allows the sleeper to relax. The fact that the person sleeping on the memory foam doesn’t have to hold themselves up, but can relax completely into the foam, also allows the foam to support the hollow of the lower back, shoulders and knees, and allow the body to rest and rejuvenate during sleep.

Memory foam can get hot, due to its sensitivity to body heat and its heat retaining properties, but if made well with open cells and a good base that allows for air circulation, this is not really an issue. Memory foam that has been gel infused doesn’t form a heat trap either, so the sleeper stays cool and comfortable, your body heat being an important element of a good night’s sleep.

How is it used in mattresses?

Because memory foam has so much “give” a foam mattresses cannot be made entirely out of memory foam: it needs to have a stronger support that holds the full weight of the sleeper and allows the memory foam to do its job without causing the sleeper to sink too far into the mattress. This is why memory foam is used as a comfort layer (the one we sleep on directly) and something else, such as latex as the core support layers.

Latex is very resilient and makes a firm, durable support layer and pure foam mattress  (such as Cloud Nine).

Spring/coils are bouncier, but still very supportive, as typically bonnel coils or continuous coils are used for the core layers of a memory foam mattress (such as Silentnight). These mattresses are called hybrids.

Why should you consider a memory foam mattress? The foam is very supportive, good for your lower back, and also minimises motion transfer if you are sharing a bed. Memory foam beds fall into every price range, and are very durable and comfortable. For all your mattress needs, Contact The Mattress Warehouse on 0861 007 000 or

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