For years, the use of mattress foam has been acknowledged as a great improvement over the traditional coil spring counterparts. The qualities of this material in providing a more restful sleeping experience have been well documented. Not surprisingly, this has led to innovation both in the development of new materials and their application.

A Brief History

The genesis of mattress foam dates back to the 1970s. Also known as “temper foam,” this product was developed under a NASA contract. The original goal was to fabricate a material that would improve seat cushioning and crash protection for the crew and passengers in airline and aerospace industries. NASA ever released this material to the general public in the 1980s.

From that point, it would be less than a decade for a new industry to develop. Use of this cushioning product in mattresses first appeared in the early 1990s, and the popularity has continued to grow among consumers ever since. Newer innovations have expanded the concept and opened new potential products to the marketplace.

Different Types Have Different Attributes

Mattress foam has evolved into several different categories. Each type has its own positive hits that meet different demands of those customers looking for a better quality of sleep experience.

Standard / Traditional Memory Type

This is the classic version based on the original NASA-inspired product. It has long been favored for its ability to provide relief of pressure points, individualized contouring (allowing both occupants of the bed to have their own conforming space), and prohibiting motion transfer. While certainly the most popular, the fact that this type tends to retain body heat has been viewed as a negative by some users.

Gel-Infused Memory Type

This is a new product that has received a great deal of positive feedback in the marketplace. The major feature is that the gel will help disperse heat from the surface and make the sleeper more comfortable as a result. The gel is added to the foam in the form of a liquid or as tiny beads after the manufacturing process. Some products will use gel pockets or layers on the surface. In terms of performance, the gel-infused design has all the features of the traditional model with the added benefit of being cooler for sleepers.

Plant Based / “Green” Memory Type

The newest type presents itself as more environmentally safe and user-friendly than its competitors. Being plant-based, rather than petroleum-based, these “green” foam products produce zero emissions and contain zero toxic volatile, organic compounds. The fact that there is no reliance on body heat to add in conforming to a sleeper's shape has increased response and recovery time over the other designs. Combined with all of the other benefits of similar products, this design could well be the future of these products.

As technology continues to advance, developments relating to improvement of the quality of mattress foam can be expected to increase exponentially. Consumers looking for a better quality of sleep will find these advances to be a welcome change from the classic box spring and coil mattress design, and sleep will never be the same again.