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Memory Foam Buyers Guide

SleepWarehouse bedding specialists have created this memory foam guide to inform and assist consumers with buying memory foam toppers and mattresses.We highly recommend reading through all the information provided below to become more knowledgeable about memory foam sleep products, which will assist you in selecting the exact right product for your sleeping needs.SleepWarehouse has the largest selection of memory foam toppers enabling you to find the perfect sleep surface.There is vast amount of good and bad information on the internet regarding memory foam sleep products.We have assembled straight forward information on topics that are most commonly asked and some that are not to help you become a more informed shopper.Scroll through the topics below to answer many questions that you may have.

What is Memory Foam?

Memory Foam, also know as; visco elastic foam, visco-elastic polyurethane foam, NASA foam, temperature sensitive foam, slow recovery foam, t-foam and mfoam to name a few.  Marketers and industry members will use any combination of the above, but the most common is Memory Foam.

Memory foam is made from millions of high density, visco-elastic, memory cells.  The tiny round open-cells are temperature sensitive and as a result conform to the shape of the person using the product as it warms.  In warmer areas, the cells get softer and more pliable.  By contrast, in cooler areas the cells will stay firm.  Within the confines of our homes and standard room temperatures, memory foam provides the ultimate in sleeping comfort.  The conforming quality of memory foam results from the combination of the soft, compliant cells (comfort) with firmer (support) cells. ( Top of page )

Is Memory Foam from NASA?

Undoubtedly you've heard that NASA developed Memory Foam.  Immediately images of astronauts sleeping on the high tech sleep surface jump into your head.  Not so fast!  The technology was developed at NASA's Ames Research Center in the early 1970s.  Initially NASA experimented with the material because it would conform to the shape and exact body weight of any astronaut.  It was also developed to relieve astronauts from the intense G-Forces they experienced during lift off.  So the cutting edge material was in fact developed for NASA use originally, but was difficult to manufacture and had durability issues. It was never used in the space program, but was subsequently used in medical applications. The use in sleep surfaces was a later development by the bedding industry.It is also important to note that the quality and uniformity of the material has improved dramatically since those initial developments, not to mention the ability to manufacture in a more environmentally conscious way and economically less expensive. ( Top of page )

Memory Foam Density

5lb, 4lb, 3lb and 2.5lb densities are the most common and most popular with consumers today.Foam density is measured in pounds per cubic foot (pcf) or in metric terms, kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m3). When a foam product is described as being a 5lb density what that actually means is that 1 cubic foot of foam material weights 5lbs. It is important to know the actual foam density to make sure it will provide you with the comfort and support you are looking for.Mostly the higher the foam density, the more support it will provide and the more durable it will be.Support is a very important aspect of foam bedding as it is defined as “to carry weight of, hold up, and keep from falling or sinking”. In bedding, this corresponds to making sure the product does not bottom out or compress to the point where it no longer holds the weight of the person using the topper, mattress or pillow.Foam density is independent of foam firmness (see ILD info below).

A good analogy is comparing cookie dough.Think of two bowls of cookie dough with one at room temperature and one that has been in the refrigerator, side by side.You place your hands on top of each and feel the difference.The room temperature dough will conform to your hand quickly and will feel rather soft to the touch.The refrigerated dough will feel firm and slow reacting.As this dough warms to your hand, it slowly conforms/molds to your hard and begins to soften.This is a good comparison of a low density (room temp dough) to high density (refrigerated dough) memory foam and there corresponding support.While the difference is normally not quite as extreme, it is a good description of the difference between a 2.5lb product and a 5lb or even 8lb product.

Figuring out the foam density of a specific pad is very easy. All you need is the weight of the product and do some simple math.Say you are trying to confirm the specific density of a 2” thick queen sized topper. You take the dimensions of the topper and multiply them to get the total cubic inches of the product.In a queen that would be 80” x 60” x 2” thick = 9,600 cubic inches. Now we need to convert cubic inches into cubic ft by dividing by 1,728 (12x12x12). Our queen turns out to be 5.56 cubic feet of memory foam material (9,600/1,728=5.56). If the topper you purchased is 4lb density, your topper should weight approximately 22lbs (5.56x4=22.24lbs).

Some retailers and marketers are not stating their foam density ratings.  Don't be surprised when you get the product.  Make sure that they state that information up front and guarantee the product you receive to be of the specified density rating. ( Top of page )

IFD ( Previously called ILD-Indentation Load Deflection)

The IFD (Indentation Force Deflection) rating of the foam will determine the feel of the product.Most memory foams fall within the 10-14 ILD rating.The higher the IFD measurement the firmer the foam will feel.IFD is taken by measuring the force in pounds required to compress (indent) a sample of foam a specified percentage of its thickness across a surface area of 50 square inches.This is normally done on a 4 inch thick piece of foam.US foams are typically measured at 25% indentation or at a depth of 1” with a 4” foam sample.

Firmness of the memory foam measured by IFD is an indicator of the surface feel of the foam, while support (density) is an indicator of the foams ability to support the load placed upon it. ( Top of page )

What density topper should I buy and how thick should it be?

This is far and above the most common questions we receive at SleepWarehouse.Bedding is a very personal choice and unfortunately is not a black and white decision.Many variables should be considered when purchasing a new mattress or topper.

First decision is what density memory foam would be best for YOU!Many retailers and web sites claim they have found “the best product after testing them all”. Well, that is just not true.As different as each of us are, there are a variety of foam densities to fit our different needs.One size does not fit all.

SleepWarehouse offers memory foams that span from 8lb density, down to 2.5lb density.As previously discussed above (Memory Foam Density), the higher the density the more support it will provide and the more durable it will tend to be.

  • VENUS our 8lb product is the most dense memory foam we carry.It is a specialized product that is very slow responding and very “cookie dough” feeling.Applications using Venus are normally to give a mattress an extra luxury comfort feel with 1 or 1.5 inch thick topper.
  • SENSUS 5lb memory foam is our most popular selling topper.  Senus provides exceptional support with firm comfort.  Sensus is the memory foam that set the mark all others are compared to.  
  • AERUS 4lb is the only memory foam manufactured with the unique proprietary (FOAMEX) open-cell construction, which allows air to flow through the topper more efficiently than traditional memory foam.Great support with medium firm comfort.Aerus is great for individuals who normally sleep hot or are concerned that a topper may make them sleep warmer.Be leery of products that promise “cool” sleeping comfort due to channels or convoluted patterns cut into their toppers.Once the foam is compressed by your body weight, how is air circulating to make you cooler?Its not!
  • Comfort 3lb memory foam is great for adding a comfort layer to your bed without spending a whole lot of money.People who are less concerned about support, but want all the comfort and “feel” of memory foam will be excited about this product.

All of our memory foam toppers come in a variety of thicknesses.The most common are the 2 and 3 inch versions.Tests have shown that the majority of support in memory foam is gained within the first 2-3 inches of material.SleepWarehouse offers 4” toppers for those who are making their own memory foam mattress or for specific reasons are looking for a 4” thick pad.

Most people who primarily sleep on their backs, stomachs and sides and are of normal size/weight do well with a 2 inch thick topper.Individuals who are looking for a bit more “plush” feel, those who have specific issues with limbs/legs/shoulders going numb/tingling and those who may be larger in size can benefit by going to a 3 inch thick memory foam topper pad.The additional inch of material will provide greater cushioning when needed.The thicker the topper, in the less dense memory foam topper and mattresses will let your body sink further into the product.This is more prevalent with the 2.5 and 3lb products.

If you have any questions regarding what topper would be best for you (and your partner), please do not hesitate to contact us  ( Top of page )

Do I need a cover for my memory foam topper?

SleepWarehouse recommends covering all foam toppers.This can be accomplished by using a standard mattress cover that you may already have or by purchasing one of the SleepWarehouse topper or mattress covers.Covering your topper will keep the product clean and help keep it from getting torn or damaged.

SleepWarehouse has a new line of mattress covers that offers a waterproof barrier, along with dust mite protection for your health.This high quality mattress cover fits mattresses up to 18” thick and can be conveniently washed. ( Top of page )

SleepWarehouse offers the highest quality memory foam available

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for and this is true with bedding products.SleepWarehouse sources all of its memory foam used in fabricating mattress toppers and memory foam mattresses from Foamex here in the United States.Foamex is the #1 leader/producer in foam technology and manufacturing with their patented VPFSM technology.VPF manufacturing is an environmentally-friendly process that yields branded proprietary foam products in a wide range of densities and hardness's that cannot be made by any other manufacturer.The VPFSM process does not use CFCs, eliminates volatile organic agents from the foaming process and actually exceeds the Clean Air Act requirements.SleepWarehouse makes every effort to offer products that are environmentally friendly in the manufacturing process.

With the huge demand for memory foam products, many companies who have never made memory foam before, have rushed into the business. Not all memory foam product is created equal and it's hard to tell that just by looking at the product.  Cutting corners during the manufacturing process results in lower quality products that are not created under stringent engineering and control procedures or in as environmentally friendly fashion.

Our competition cannot duplicate the quality of product we sell so they try their best to make it look the same.  It's not the same.  Here are a few of the differences:

Measurable performance:

  • Slow Recovery is a claim made by many products.  Our 5 lb memory foam improves on other leading premium products with nearly 3 1/2 times slower recovery!!
  • Reduction of surface pressure is another popular claim, and it's true that nearly all memory foam products reduce surface pressure.  However, our 5 lb memory foam lowers surface pressure even more effectively. While lying on your back by 10%, and for side lying by 15% over our competition's premium products.

Also, the controlled manufacturing yields products that are:

  • More Consistent
  • More Durable
  • Higher Quality.
  • More friendly to the environment.
  • More responsive to a broader ranger of body temperatures.
  • Softer, more luxurious feel.

**All mattress toppers, pads and pillows conform to Cal 117 Fire Retardant Requirements. (Top of page)


Memory Foam Care and Use