The Foams in Your Mattress

A foam mattress offers a soft and cushy surface ideal for sleeping on, but have you ever wondered what type of foam is really inside? After all “foam” is a broad term with a variety of different specifications.

This guide takes a closer look at the types of foam that you will find in most common brands of mattresses so that you can make a well-informed decision when you are mattress-shopping.

Types of Foam

Polyurethane Foam

This type of foam is very soft and seems to “melt” when you lay down on it. There are three grades of firmness with this type of foam, so keep the density in mind when you are shopping. Polyfoam is an inexpensive option, but it can sometimes have issues with excessive off-gassing (chemical smell) and lack of support. It can also adapt to your body impression over time.

Memory Foam

Similar to polyfoam, it uses the same processes and materials. However, it has an increased density and viscosity. It gets the name “memory foam’ because when you lie on it, it conforms to the shape of your body, and then when you wake up it springs back to its original shape.

Gel Memory Foam

This is a modern type of memory foam that is infused with gel. It was invented because traditional memory foam had some issues with holding onto too much heat. The gel that is swirled throughout the foam helps to keep you cool. Nectar is one popular brand that uses gel memory foam.

Reflex Foam

This is a high-density style of foam that has a medium level of firmness. It contains bubbles within, which move and conform to your body. However, when you get off the mattress the bubbles will bounce back to their original form – which is why it is known as reflex foam.

Convoluted Foam

You might know it as “egg carton foam.” This is the type of foam that is made with peaks and valleys on the surface which resemble an egg carton. This foam is usually used in mattress toppers in order to add another level of support for sleepers. It is advantageous because it distributes heat and weight well and can provide you with good spinal alignment.

looking at layers of a foam mattress

What’s Important in a Foam?

When choosing a foam mattress, what’s important for you may not be as important to someone else. You’ll likely have your own list of priorities in terms of price, firmness, bounciness, coolness, warranty, and other factors.

If you sleep on your side, you’ll likely want a softer or medium-firm mattress. If you sleep on your back or even stomach, a firmer foam mattress will likely feel best while supporting your body. If you sleep in multiple positions, you may want to a medium-firmness mattress for the best of all worlds.

If you have mobility issues, look for a foam mattress that has enhanced edge support. This will make it easier to get out of bed. Otherwise, you may sink too much into a memory foam mattress, making it hard to stand.

If you’re very sensitive to smells, you may be concerned about off-gassing. Within the first few days of decompressing, your polyurethane mattress may emit a smell. It often dissipates within hours, if not a few days. Still, take this into consideration when shopping for a foam mattress.

What Affects The Durability of a Foam?

One of the factors that will affect the durability of the foam is the density. Foams that are in the 2.5-3.5 lb range will usually have less resilience and will show wear sooner than other foams. Foams that have a density of 4-5.5 lbs will last a long longer before showing signs of degradation. Therefore, it’s generally a better idea to choose a higher density foam, which is better quality, than a lower density foam.

What About the Feel of the Foam?

Memory foam contours to your body. It’s available in different firmness levels, however, you’ll find that the material allows you to sink into it. It is a great choice for those who want motion isolation, but be aware that this means it doesn’t have much bounce to it. Gel foam is often incorporated into pure memory foam mattresses to make them cooler. Traditional memory foam on its own sleeps hot, so a layer of gel foam is ideal in these types of mattresses.

There are many different types of foams to choose from. When you are shopping for a mattress, it may be helpful to make a list of the factors that you desire in the foam. Use this guide to help you make that list and refer to it often while you’re shopping and reading our mattress reviews. The more you know what you are looking for, the easier it will be to find the perfect foam bed for your needs.

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