How Memory Foam Works [Infographic]

how memory foam works

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Did you know that memory foam was first developed for use with the space program? It was first developed by the scientists from NASA. Their intention was to keep astronauts safe from G-forces and collisions. It is best known for its ability to change shape and deform when being exposed to a force or pressure. Its shock-absorbing ability is really awesome. Find out more about what memory materials are here.

Also after the force momentum passes it returns to its previous shape. It is recognized around the world by its memory changing shape. This is because its ability to return back to normal when there is no more pressure. So, it is not surprising why it was the first choice for keeping the astronauts safe.

Memory foam is most often made from polyurethane. It is a type of synthetic polymers that are interconnected to form a mass of tiny empty spaces and bubbles of air. The memory part of the foam comes to this structure’s ability to displace its position. Specifically under pressure instead of being compressed into a more permanent state. After the pressure stops – the structure simply returns to its normal state of rest.

The elasticity is one of its most recognisable properties of the memory foam. It significantly attributes to its vast use in real world usage. This amazing material also responds well to changes in temperature. Temperature changes affect its structural consistency in a significant way.

For example, when the material heats up it relaxes the internal structural bonds and becomes softer. When the temperature drops to cold the structure will stiffen and become hard. The material is used as a crucial component for crash helmets and aircraft seats. Also, it is well-known for its use in mattresses and bedding accessories.

The market for memory foam mattresses is currently booming. It's because it offers quite an advantage against its conventional spring-based mattress. Due to the structural properties, it offers great support for the human body during sleep. It also provides a generous amount of comfort too. This is achieved by changing shape according to the body curvature.

It can even distribute the weight through its entire surface area. Thus, there are zero pressure points on the body during rest. Unlike other materials, it needs little maintenance and is much more durable. It's also much cooler compared to other materials.

As for the safety, it is an essential part of any equipment designed to prevent injury and shock. Especially from the direct force. We use it in safety helmets, knee pads, shoulder pads and even in insoles for shoes and sportswear. Its shock absorbing ability helps in preventing head trauma.

This saves its wearers from serious and harmful injuries. It is an essential part of motor sports helmets. Athletes in sports where excessive force is experienced have equipment with memory foam. It prevents serious injury to the head, back, arm and leg joints.


To conclude our guide, we also have to point out one of the obvious negative points of this universally used material. This would have to be its specific production process and a high price per square inch of the material. Nevertheless, since the moment of its first discovery, memory foam changed our lives. From its stellar beginnings in space technology to now being available for use in every home. Given the comfort, it provides as well as its indispensability in safety. Since it is still fairly new material, researchers are finding out more and more ways of use for it. So only time will tell where memory foam will be used next.


Jill Zwarensteyn is the editor for Sleep Advisor and a certified sleep science coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.

She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.

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