Memory foam pillow, topper, back support, seat cushions and travel accessories are known to provide comfort for almost everybody at home, in the office. Here is what you need to know before buying memory foam products.
One of the most important measurements of memory foam is density. The industry standard measures memory foam density by “pounds per cubic foot”, which is “Lbs/ft³”, in scientific notation. It measures how many pounds of a block of one cubic foot of memory foam weighs.
Most memory foam products range from 2 to 5.5 Lbs/ft³ in density. The basic rule is that the heavier the weight is going to press on the foam, the denser the foam has to be. For example, 3 Lbs/ft³ (+/- 1 Lbs/ft³) pillows are the most common ones in the market, while 4 Lbs/ft³ (+/- 1 Lbs/ft³) are the most common density for mattress and toppers, because toppers need to be denser to support the heavier body weight.
Be careful, there are labels showing only the number of pounds, such as “5 Lb Memory Foam” or even “10 Lb Memory Foam” without mentioning how many cubic feet of foam they measure. Some of those numbers may be weights measured from two or three cubic feet of foam, making the number of pounds seem larger. In a case like this, it is always a good idea to ask the seller how many cubic feet they derive the weight from.
Selecting a Memory Foam Pillow:
They are basically personal preferences, when determining the height, the width (left to right) and the depth (front to back). Of the three measurements, proper height is critical in selecting a comfortable pillow. Most pillow heights range from 3” to 4 ½” tall. It seems that the difference is only an inch or so, but that inch-or-so does make a pillow feel very different.
Unlike common beliefs, pillow height has not much connection to body size or weight. A tall, muscular man may prefer a low profile pillow just the same as a small body-size lady does. If someone always likes to use a fluffy pillow, a low profile pillow may work just fine, whereas, if he/she constantly needs to pile up two pillows to get a comfortable sleep, a tall profile pillow should be the best choice.
The next feature is the pillow types. There are generally three types of memory foam pillows, machine-cut, individually molded and classic shape.
• Machine Cut
Those pillows are cut out of blocks of memory foam, and are probably the most common seen memory foam pillows in the market. It is often called Contour Pillow“Contour Pillow”, as there are usually one low lobe and one high lobe.
For those who prefer to have extra support around the neck area, the taller lobe does just that providing excellent alignment on the neck. For side sleepers, contour pillows are also good choices, as those pillows fit the gap between the neck and the shoulder, when sleeping sideways.
• Individually Molded
There are high end memory foam pillows that are molded one at a time. The advantage of this molding process is that the manufacturer will be able to shape pillows that have curves in all three dimensions. (Note: machine cut pillows can only be carved in two dimensions, not three.)
These high-end deluxe pillows can provide additional features than contour pillows don’t. For example, Dreamsweet Products created a Massage Pillow that has massage bumps on the pillow giving the face gentle rubs on the face when sleeping. Dreamsweet also designed another unique low profile pillow, Face Comfort Pillow that curves from left to right and from front to back, creating a resting cradle for the face.
Other than Dreamsweet’s deluxe pillow line, there are other manufacturers producing special functioned pillows for various purposes.
• Classic (shredded foam) Shape
For those who prefer traditional shapes of fluffy pillows, which can be squeezed and reshaped easily, this is the type of pillows to choose. Be aware that there are shredded memory foam pillows in the market that use merely fabric cases to hold a load of shredded foam. It’s like buying a bag of shredded foam.
A good classic memory foam pillow constitutes a thick layer of memory foam shell filled with shredded foam inside, and comes with soft feel fleece fabric cover. It retains the benefits of traditional shape of pillows with the advantages of memory foam.
Selecting a Memory Foam Topper:
• The Foundations.
Memory foam toppers do not replace your old mattress. They merely add comfort to your existing mattress. As memory foam topper is soft itself, the foundation (usually your old mattress) has to be fairly flat.
If the existing mattress is badly worn or exhibits soft spots after years of usage, adding a topper may not help that much, because one will still very likely sink into the same old spot. If that is the case, it is better to replace the old mattress, and add a topper later, if so desired.
• Bed Types and Topper Dimensions.
The first step is to determine the bed types. Most commonly sold types in the US are Twin, Full, Queen, King and California King.
Here are the industry standards.
Twin/Single 39” x 75” (inches)
Full / Double 54” x 75”
Queen 60” x 80”
King 76” x 80”
California King 72” x 84”
Keep in mind that some manufacturers cut their toppers a few inches shorter and/or narrower than the standard bed types, but simply post the bed types, Queen, King, etc., without mentioning the actual sizes of their toppers. Those toppers can still be comfortable, except that they are a couple of inches shy from the edges of your existing mattress. It is always a good idea to check the topper true measurements before buying one, so that there will be no surprises after opening up the package.
• The Thickness.
If the person using a Visco-elastic memory foam mattress pad weighs less than 200 Lbs and he/her is looking for added comfort, a 2" thick topper should be good enough. If he/she weighs over 200, a 3" thick topper will be sufficient for the comfort. For those that weigh over 250 Lbs, a 4" topper will be a good selection.
There are mattresses that are 6”, 8”, 10” or even 12” thick in the market. Those mattresses consist of a firm foam base between 4” to 8” thick and a layer of memory foam between 2” to 4” thick on the top. The thickness of the memory foam layer should receive more attention than the combined (total) thickness of the mattress.
Using Memory Foam Products:
It is always a good idea to cover memory foam products with washable and absorbent pad or cover, so that the pad/cover can be removed and washed periodically. It is particularly so during hot summer months for those who tend to sweat at sleep, so that the foam products won’t retain body odors.
One consumer reported that adding a mattress warmer to memory foam mattress/topper adds amazing relief for any kind of pain for those who have arthritis, since the combination of foam mattress and the warmer gives gentle warmth from below the person.
The Down Side:
Memory foam often comes with a light odor. It is recommended to allow a few hours of airing after opening the packaging, so that the odor will gradually fade away. To the majority of consumers, the odor is light enough to ignore, even without airing, and only very few object to the smell.
If airing is found insufficient, consumers can remove the cover and speckle some baby powder on the foam. Let it stay for another few hours to allow baby powder to absorb the odor. This additional absorption process usually solves the issue.
If baby powder still doesn’t help, washing the foam in cold water will be the last resort to do away with the odor. Never use heated dryer to dry foam, however. Allow extra time for the foam to air-dry. Since some manufacturers do not suggest washing the foam, be sure to check the manufacturer’s warranty coverage. Note: This washing remedy is not recommended, but, if that is what it takes to remove the odor for those who are ultrasensitive, it may work.
By now, this guide has covered most important topics of buying memory foam products. If you find this guide helpful to you, please vote “yes” at the bottom of the page. If you are interested in know more about memory foam, read on…
Memory foam is known to have a slow rebound physical property, so that, after an object depresses the foam, the depression stays for a few seconds after the object is removed from the foam. It looks as if the foam “remembers” the impression, thus the name “memory foam”.
Made from polyurethane with additional chemicals that increase its viscosity and density levels, memory foam is sometimes referred to as “Visco-Elastic polyurethane foam”, or “Visco-Elastic foam”, as well.
During the space era, NASA wanted to source a material for astronauts that would reduce the discomfort resulting from extraordinary G-force during rapid accelerations and decelerations. In 1966 NASA’s Ames Research Center, located in Moffett Field, California, started a research project to develop foam that would improve aircraft safety cushions.
The new foam turned out to be much heavier than common foams known at the time. The scientists also found that it exhibited two very interesting properties. It changed its firmness depending on the surrounding temperature and it displayed a sort of imprint-memory property. Years later, the new foam was eventually commercialized for various applications.
How it Works:
Memory foam is dense and heavy, which provides a firm layer of supportive cushion to pressured areas. It is also temperature sensitive, in that it turns harder when gets cold and softer when warm. Another property of memory foam is that it rebounds much slower than other types of foam.
There is a firm layer of cushion (high density) that wraps around body curve (temperature sensitive) and stays that shape (slow rebound), until the body curve changes. Adding all those three characteristics together, it practically becomes a custom molded cushion to body shapes.
Memory foam was initially too difficult to manufacture and too expensive. However, in recent years with advance manufacturing technologies, it has become cheaper to produce and become accessible for the general public.
Its most common household and office applications are mattresses, pillows, mattress toppers, seat cushions and back supports. In sports, football helmets as well as other cushions also use memory foam as protections. In medical applications, memory foam is being used as wheelchair seat cushions, hospital bed pillows and padding for persons suffering long-term pain or postural problems.
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