A Guide To Memory Foam
What is memory foam
The term ’memory foam’ refers to a technologically advanced variety of visco-elastic PU foam. Genuine visco-elastic memory foam mattresses are created with billions of spherical open cells and are temperature sensitive. These cells are responsive to pressure points and body temperature. Their forms shift under your bodyweight, adapting to your contours and providing support where it is needed the most. Unlike regular foams, a memory foam mattress possesses an open cell structure that permits air to freely circulate through the material.
Memory foam mattresses increasingly popular in the home
Memory foam mattresses are extremely popular in continental Europe. They have been utilised in hospitals and used by health authorities for numerous years. This is due to their ability to significantly enhance the level of comfort experienced by patients who are in the unfortunate position of spending long, inert periods confined to hospital beds. The consumer market associated with memory foam mattresses has experienced a lot of growth in recent years. The incredibly supportive design is attractive to consumers who want more benefits from a mattress than a traditional sprung mattress has to offer.
However, the growing range of memory foam mattresses flooding the market means that there is often a wide quality variation. Consumers must keep an eye out for good quality and do their research before deciding on which memory foam mattress they want.
Memory foam mattress density
A foam mattress’s density rating usually refers to how dense the top layer of the visco-elastic memory foam is as opposed to the entire mattress. The supporting base layer of foam of a true memory foam mattress utilises an ‘impact resistant’ or 'high resilience' polyurethane foam. This foam should not be confused with the visco-elastic memory foam used in the top layer. It is important to comprehend that the top layer is the most expensive to manufacture and the most essential component in all memory foam mattresses.
Higher density equals longer mattress life
The density rating measures how much visco-elastic memory foam makes up the mattress’s foam layer. A lower density foam means there will be bigger air cavities; these memory foam mattresses will not provide the best support. These type of mattresses will not provide you with as good a night’s sleep compared to a mattress with higher density foam. Crucially, a high-density memory foam layer means the air cavities will be smaller, greater in number and more tightly packed. This makes them more difficult to break down, improving the skeletal / muscular support and 'life expectancy' that can be expected from the mattress. It has been recognised that memory foam layers with a higher density, provide a greater degree of support to the user.
No imitation for high density memory foam mattresses
High density memory foam mattresses feel more sumptuous and full-bodied when compared with imitations that are of a lower quality. However, it is a misconception that density dictates memory foam firmness. True, high-density visco-elastic foam manufacturers can manipulate firmness ratings irrespective of density. A lot of manufacturers who create low-density variants, for example 50kg/m3, frequently make their memory foam possess a firmer feel, in an attempt to try and pass it off as being high density. The cell structure of lower density mattresses will inevitably break down, causing the memory foam to begin to sag over a considerably shorter time period. As a general rule, companies that supply genuine, high-density memory foam mattresses tend to offer an extensive, confident warranty period or guarantee. A lot of manufacturers of lower density memory foam will offer as little as a single year.
Those of you who are into numbers will be interested to know that density rating is worked out by measuring the weight of a cubic meter portion of the memory foam. This is why you usually see ratings expressed in terms of weight, for example 85kg/m3. For those of you who are more comfortable utilising imperial measurements, you can measure the weight of a foot in each direction as well. Density can then be displayed in pounds, for example 5.3lb.
Memory foam mattress ILD rating
The ILD rating and density of a memory foam mattress are the best indicators of its firmness level and quality. The acronym ‘ILD’ means ‘indentation load deflection’. To save you trying to decipher its scientific meaning, it can be understood simply as measuring how soft or how hard the foam is in a specific memory foam mattress. This can give you an indication of a products characteristics, before you purchase it. This will ensure that you are not disappointed on account of it either being too firm or being too soft for your tastes. After all, when it comes to mattresses everybody has their own opinions of what constitutes the perfect one. Some people like hard mattresses and some people prefer softer ones. As such, the ILD rating is an invaluable tool for helping people to get the mattress that is right for them. It sounds complicated but it is actually quite simple. It can prove extremely useful when it comes to choosing what you will be lying on each night for the foreseeable future.
How ILD is measured
ILD is worked out by measuring the number of pounds of pressure that are required in order to indent a 4 inch memory foam layer by a quarter. The test involves equal pressure being applied over an area consisting of 50 square inches in order to indent the memory foam by twenty-five percent. The amount of pressure required to do this is calculated in weight.
This example may make more sense regarding how a memory foam mattress’s ILD rating is determined: -
It could take eight pounds of pressure in order to indent a memory foam that is very soft. Alternatively, it could take twenty pounds of pressure in order to indent a sample of memory foam that is very firm.
Environmental factors contribute to rating variations
The ILD rating is often expressed in a range as opposed to as a single number. This is due to the fact that a rating can vary to a slight degree depending upon what has been done to condition the memory foam. The environment that it was stored in before the test took place could also have a slight effect. Humidity and moisture are two factors that influence the slight variations that occur in measurement. The ILD rating of our memory foam mattresses is thirteen pounds to fifteen pounds, meaning that they fall within the medium to firm category.
Memory foam firmness
The best way that you can understand the firmness of a memory foam mattress is to take note of the rating awarded by the manufacturer. It may not mean much to you if you have never used memory foam mattresses before. You should discuss the ratings system with a customer adviser in order to gain a better understanding if unsure.
Lack of official ratings may make comparisons difficult
No independent guides for memory foam mattresses or industry firmness tests currently exist in the UK. This means that manufacturers do not have to adhere to a code and have no official comparison guide. This obviously makes it quite difficult for the consumer to comprehend comparisons between the different manufacturers of memory foam and their products. How firm or soft the foam feels to each individual is a highly subjective matter. Naturally we all have different comfort preferences, thus making a rating guide or industry interpretation hard to use in isolation.
Do your research and try out the real thing
With this in mind, we strongly recommend you gain an understanding of the 'ILD' rating of memory foam mattress in order to gauge how firm it is. You should always ask for further details and explanations about memory foam mattress products. You should also try out the real thing in store. There is nothing better than a personal assessment for something as ambiguous as mattress comfort.
Unpacking your memory foam mattress
The process of unpacking a mattress may well require the manpower of two people. This is especially so if it has been packaged in a box and vacuum packed. The guidelines for doing so safely and properly are as follows:
1.) Safely remove the mattress from its box, as well as any other packaging.
2.) Take the adhesive tapes which secure the mattress for transit and cut them, so that the mattress then lies flat on the floor. At this stage of the process, it may not lie totally flat, but don't worry, this is completely normal and it will start to ‘relax’ after a very short while.
3.) Take the mattress to the bed on which it is to be situated, making sure that it is facing the correct way up – for reference, the zipped edge should be at the bottom.
4.) Using a pair of sharp scissors, carefully cut the plastic bag the mattress is in, making sure that you do not actually accidentally cut the mattress itself.
5.) Once this is done, air should start to enter the bag and the mattress should begin to gently expand.
6.) Once the bag is fully aerated, you can then carefully remove it from around the mattress.
7.) Over the next few hours your mattress will start to enter a process of ‘recovery’ in which it aerates and becomes accustomed to the atmosphere of the room. In some cases this can take as long as 24 hours, but mostly this will be a shorter period of time. Your mattress is now ready for use – and we thank you for making your purchase from us!
A couple of important mattress points to note:
Softening of the mattress: Over the first six weeks or so of use, you will notice a softening of the foam in your mattress, this is entirely normal and does not indicate there is a fault with your product. Foam starts its life off as liquid and is baked. This is a similar process that would take place if you were making a loaf of bread from scratch. As such, a little ‘bedding in’ and adjusting is all a part of its natural life and there should be no cause for alarm.
Initial odours: When the package is opened for the first time, you may notice an initial odour which emanates from the fresh foam. Again, this is entirely normal and should dissipate over the course of regular use in the first few weeks of its life. This is why we recommend a period of airing when the package is first opened in order to allow it to breathe. In the same way a new car does when you first drive it away from the showroom, polymer based products like foam all release odours upon manufacture. The odours are harmless, VOC free and should not be any cause for concern.
Caring for your mattress
Your mattress is the most important part of your bed and therefore must be looked after accordingly. To give it a longer life and the best chance of supporting you, it should always be placed on either a solid bed base or one with wooden slats.
Putting a brand new mattress onto an old base or one that is faulty, may in turn lessen the useful life of your mattress. If a new mattress is being placed onto wooden slats, it is best to leave a space of no more than two and a half inches between each slat and to make sure that there is adequate support in the centre of the bed. This is especially the case for doubles, Queen and King size beds. Mammoth Technology Mattresses are all non turn, meaning the zip should always be facing the floor.
All mattresses come with a cover that is both removable and washable at a low temperature (no more than 30 degrees). Washing should be done twice a year to keep it in optimum condition. Unlike mattresses that have fixed covers on them, removable covers will exhibit, over time, signs of general use, such as discolouration and perhaps slight indents to the fabric. These are completely normal and do not, in any way, affect the performance of the product.
Every single Mammoth Technology Mattress that is purchased is made to order and protectively sealed so that it will arrive at its destination in pristine condition. You may notice that there are slight odours on removal of this packaging, this is nothing to worry about. It is recommended that all mattresses are aired for a short period of time after being unpacked; perhaps in a room with an open window, or some other means of ventilation. From time to time, it can be very helpful to prolong the life of your mattress by giving it a good airing. This will help to maintain it’s condition and keep it from spoiling sooner than it should.