The Memory foam Mattress, From The Beginning
If you've been looking to buy a new bed recently it won't
have escaped your attention that there's a relatively new type of mattress
material available - memory foam. And if you've never experienced memory foam
before you're probably asking what it is and where it came from.
You may be surprised to learn that despite its fairly
recent appearance in the consumer market memory foam has been around for at
least forty years. As with many modern inventions, it began its life in the
laboratories of NASA during the height of the Space Race between the United
States and the USSR to be the first to put a man on the Moon.
Since the Russian Yuri Gagarin first blasted off into
space in 1961, one thing has become clear: the g-forces that astronauts are
subjected to as they leave the Earth are not only uncomfortable but also
potentially damaging to the human body. To solve this problem, NASA began to
work on a new type of high-density polyurethane foam that would help to cushion
and prevent injury to their astronauts. Described as a visco-elastic memory
foam and made out of similar materials to those in today's mattresses, the
original material NASA designed was a much thicker, denser version that could
offer more protection from the impact of the extreme g-forces experienced
After the Moon landing in 1969 the excitement surrounding
space travel diminished, leaving NASA to count the financial cost. This led to
the decision to sell on some of their technologies to fund future research.
Unfortunately, however, the potential of memory foam for the average consumer
wasn't immediately clear. As it was originally designed to withstand the
extreme forces of space travel it was thought that there was little use for it
here on Earth. With little likelihood of finding a buyer, the invention was
shelved until the 1980s. It was then that a Swedish company was inspired to
redesign it into the material used today.
So what does today's
memory foam actually do? In layman's
terms, it 'remembers' the imprint of your body and doesn't give way to pressure
as readily as ordinary upholstery foam. Designed to adapt to the amount of
force we exert when horizontal, it gradually conforms to the individual shape
of your body, providing a feeling of being 'cradled' by your
bed not unlike the
sensation of weightlessness. This benefit led to its first use in the medical
field to provide comfortable support for immobile hospital patients while
reducing friction on pressure points. It was used to give patients a better
night's sleep by alleviating pain and preventing pressure sores developing.
Today its popularity has grown enormously as more people
experience its advantages. Due to improvements in manufacturing which have
driven down the cost to buyers, it has moved from the niche medical market into
the mainstream consumer market and is now readily available to everyone.