We’ve all seen the commercials for memory foam showing how it forms to your body and gives support. But for the average consumer, there are more things to consider. What are the different types, what are the advantages and disadvantages, and of course, how much is it going to cost?
There are several factors consider when buying a visco elastic foam mattress. The first is the ILD (indentation load deflection). The ILD is the force required to make a 1in deep depression with a 50in disc in a piece of foam that measures 15 x 15 x 3in. Put more simply, it is the firmness of the memory foam. An ILD of 10-11 is soft, an ILD of 12-16 is firm, and an ILD of 16-20 is extra firm. Most mattresses fall between 12 and 16. Another term for this is IFD (indentation force deflection), but it is the same thing as ILD.
The density of the foam, measured in pounds per cubic foot, should also be considered. You should look for a mattress that measures at least 3 lbs density, as anything else won’t provide enough support. Denser foam is generally better for support and is more durable, but it will trap more heat.
Visco elastic foam mattresses are more expensive than spring mattresses. They range from around $300 to well over $1000. Some of this has to do with the size and features of the mattress, but some of it also has to do with quality. Beware of memory foam mattresses that seem unusually inexpensive, as these are often inferior products.
Advantages of Memory Foam
Memory foam mattresses relieve pressure points found in normal mattresses. They can ease joint pain and back aches, and make for more restful sleep. Since motion is not as easily transferred, you are also less likely to disturb your partner if you share a bed. Furthermore, memory foam generally houses fewer dust mites, which can be a benefit to allergy and asthma sufferers. They are also more durable than regular mattresses.
As mentioned above, memory foam traps heat much more than regular mattresses. This can be nice in the winter, but uncomfortable in the summer. New mattresses are often have a chemical smell and should be aired out to get rid of this smell. In some cases the smell causes respiratory irritation. Memory foam may also be unsafe for babies and small children as they could suffocate when the soft foam makes it more difficult to turn over. Also, while ILD ratings make a good reference point, temperature and humidity can alter the firmness of the foam. It is important to test out the mattress yourself before buying.