Memory Foam Mattresses – A Buyer’s Guide
The first question we need to answer is – What is memory foam mattress? It is a cutting edge, engineered form of visco-elastic PU foam. Authentic memory foam mattresses made from visco-elastic are made with millions and millions of open cells that are sphere shaped. The special design of these cells makes them responsive to both body pressure points and temperature. A mattress made from visco-elastic is thus able to contour itself to match to the shape of your body, giving the most amount of support where it is needed. Along with the support it offers, a memory mattress differs from standard mattress foams in that the open cell design allows air to pass through the material freely, which helps keep the mattress and the person using it cool and prevents excessive sweating.
Memory mattresses made with visco-elastic material have been very popular for a long time now across Europe and have been used by health authorities and institutes and in hospitals because of the way they support patients body’s more effectively and thus prevent pressure points from occurring that often happens when patients have spent a long time in bed.
It has only been in recent years that the consumer market for visco-elastic foam mattresses has increased with customers taking note of the benefits that these mattresses have over standard spring based structures. As consumer demand for this type of mattress has increased, so too is the number of different foam mattresses increased. The problem is that there is a wide variation in terms of quality, which means that customers have to take into consideration many vital factors before they can make the right decision as to which mattress is best for them.
What You Should Look For When You Are Purchasing A Foam Mattress
When you are looking to purchase a high quality foam mattress there are some important factors and considerations that you should take into account. The three most important ratings and measurements that you should take note of when understanding the specification of memory mattresses are the Firmness Rating, ILD Rating and Density. These three different criteria will determine the experience you have with a mattress and how well it will actually perform its job.
Let’s take a closer look at the basic factors
The Size of The Mattress
As you may or may not know, it is a matter of fact that the majority of people spend around a 3rd of their life lying in bed. Interesting research has shown that a large percentage of people are spending more money on sofas than beds and mattresses. This is different in Europe, were the most important purchase a person can make is considered to be their mattress. It makes sense that because we spend a long time on our beds and mattresses that whatever we decide to buy is just right. After all, who does not want a restful, comfortable night’s sleep which is directly connected to having a healthy mind and body?
With the above taken into consideration it is important that you purchase a mattress as big as you can with regards to the size of your bedroom, bed and budget.
The Suitability Of Your Current Bed For A Memory Foam Mattress
Most mattresses can be used on most bedsteads and bases, but some will help it perform better and feel more comfortable than others. For instance, if you have a bedstead or bed with a slatted wooden base, the recommendation is that the slats are not more than 2 to 3 inches apart. The majority of foam mattresses on the market today are also suitable for box or divan sprung type of bed, but you have to keep in mind that the mattress does not need any extra support from the base. This means that just a stable and solid platform is the best foundation for the mattress.
Why There Is Confusion When Comparing Different Mattresses By Model And Manufacturer
It is generally thought that it is in the retailer’s best interest to make it as hard as possible for you, the customer, to compare effectively different memory foam mattresses by their value for money and actual specification. One way to make a reasonable comparison is to compare another brand’s products with Tempur’s own products, as they were the company who first introduced foam mattresses and are still a leader in that sector of the market.
Why The Depth Of A Mattress Is Important
Although the depth is important, the most important aspect of a memory foam mattress in terms of depth is how deep the actual foam layer is as this will determine how well it relieves pressure points, supports your body and provides you with a comfortable sleep.
Understanding The Density Of Memory Foam
The rating of density of a foam mattress refers to the top layer of visco-elastic memory beds density, not the full mattress. The supporting base of any mattress that is truly memory foam uses impact resistant or high resilience polyurethane foam. It is important that you never mistake this for what is known as visco-elastic memory foam. The most important part and most costly to manufacture of any foam mattress, which makes it the vital component is the top visco-elastic foam layer.
Therefore, the density rating actually corresponds to how much visco-elastic memory form is present in the foam part of the mattress. This means that the lower the density rating, the lower amount of raw material has actually been used to make the memory foam layer, which means that the air cavities or cells are much bigger. The higher the density, the heavier the memory foam is which means that there will be more air cavities or cells and that they will be more tightly packed together and much smaller. Which mean they are harder to wear down and will determine the life span of the mattress as well as the skeletal/muscular support it offers. Experts have stated and recommended that memory foam mattress that has a higher density rating of visco-elastic offer more support than mattresses with a lower density rating.
Whereas a high quality mattress with a high density rating will feel sumptuous and full bodied, lower quality and density ratings will pale in comparison. It is worth noting however, that this does not indicate how firm the memory bed will be. The leading manufacturers of memory foam mattresses with high density visco-elastic foam can and do change and alter how firm their mattresses are regardless of the density level. This is important to keep in mind when purchasing foam because many manufacturers that produce low density products, 50kg/m3 for instance, make the memory foam feel firmer to customers into thinking that their product has a higher density rating. It is inevitable that mattresses with lower density rating’s cell structure will wear down easier and faster and cause the memory bed to lose its shape very quickly.
A good rule of thumb is to look for companies that offer a very comprehensive and long warranty or guarantee, as many producers of foam with lower density will not offer much more than 12 months.
The actual density rating is worked out by the weight of the memory foam in cubic meters, which is why it is written as a weight, for example 85kg/m3. If you are not as familiar with modern measurements and prefer imperial measurements, it is basically the same calculation by weighing a cube of memory foam measure 1 foot each way. Imperially, the density is displayed in pounds, for example 5.3lbs.
Understanding How Firm Memory Foam Will Actually Feel
In most cases the best way you have of understanding how firm memory foam will feel is by looking at the manufacturers’ own rating. Most use terms such as soft, medium and firm.
The main issue with this is that mattress manufacturers do not need to follow a certain guide or test of firmness so that all mattresses can be compared against one another. This is a problem when trying to understand the differences between memory foam products as how firm or soft foam feels to one person will be different to how it feels for another person. As we all have different preferences of comfort, it is important that we don’t rely solely on the manufacturer’s rating of the firmness, but look at the ILD to understand how soft or hard the mattress will feel.
Understanding What The ILD Rating Of A Memory Foam Mattress Actually Is And Why It’s Important
It is a combination of the ILD and density of a foam mattress that gives you the most accurate picture of its level of firmness and quality.
ILD is an abbreviation for Indentation Load Deflection which means in the most simple of terms, how soft or firm a memory foam mattress will be.
Manufacturers calculate the ILD by measuring the amount of pressure in pounds that is needed to indent 25% into a memory foam layer of 4 inches. This is tested by using equal amounts of pressure on 50 square inches to press into the memory foam by 25%. The pressure level needed to indent the foam by 25% of the total depth is calculated as a weight.
The example below will help you to understand much better a memory foam mattress’s ILD rating.
8lbs of pressure is required to indent the softest memory foam by 25%, while 20lbs of pressure is required to indent into extremely firm memory foam.
For the majority of memory foam mattresses the ILD rating is displayed as a range – 10 – 12 for example, rather than just one number. This is due to the fact that there can be slight variations in the ILD rating that depends on where the foam was stored before testing or how it has been conditioned. Two of the factors that contribute to this light variation are humidity and moisture. For instance, a memory foam mattress with a 13-15 ILD rating is 13 to 15 lbs. meaning it’s a medium to firm mattress.