The History of Memory Foam

Memory Foam. Feels wonderful, helps you wake up rejuvenated and relaxed, and when your partner joins you in bed, you won’t bounce to the other side of the room! It is the material that revolutionized the modern mattress world. Within the past decade or so, it has increasingly gained in popularity moving from an expensive elite material to a household necessity. We know it feels great, but where did it come from? Why was it invented?

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “its not rocket science!” Funny thing, in this case, it is! The humble beginnings of memory foam began in 1966. Scientists from NASA’s Ames Research Center had one very important goal in mind. This was to improve the safety of aircraft cushions. They needed to find a way to absorb some of the g-force pressure astronauts encountered while being flung into the realms of space. The foam created was weight and temperature sensitive with an open cell structure.  It conformed to the astronaut’s bodies and cushioned them as they launched into space. It served as a complete shock absorber. Another unique feature was its slow spring back motion, making it different from any other foam. One of the head scientists even decided to name it “Temper Foam.”

Soon after the development of this amazing material, NASA released the foam to the public and it went on to the next level: commercialization.  There we so many ways this foam could be beneficial to various industries and consumers – from medical equipment such as X-ray table pads to sports equipment like football helmet liners.

Upon the initial release of memory foam from NASA, a Swedish company called Fagerdala World Foams and Dan Foam in Denmark picked up where NASA left off and spent an entire decade and millions of dollars in research to perfect it. Their 1991 product, the “Tempur-Pedic Swedish Mattress” eventually led to the mattress and cushion company, then called Tempur World . Early research showed that using this material in beds proved to be extremely helpful. For medical situations where the patient was required to lie immobile, they rested on too firm a mattress for extended periods of time. Because the mattress was too firm, it would decrease the amount of circulation through the body, causing pressure sores or gangrene. Memory foam drastically improved circulation, ultimately aiding these patients by providing more comfort. Despite it’s open celled structure, the memory forma mattresses were also very dense, meaning that you could barely feel your partners movements when in bed.

Memory foam is open celled but is structured so that is temperature sensitive. It softens where it feels your body heat and is firmer where it doesn't. Essentially it is soft where you want it and firm where you need it!

Memory foam is open celled but is structured to be temperature sensitive. It softens where it feels your body heat and is firmer where it doesn’t. Essentially, it is soft where you want it and firm where you need it!

Up to this point, the Swedish memory foam was only available in the European market. In the early 90’s Lexington, Kentucky resident Bob Trussell visited Denmark to meet the scientists at Dan-Foam. Realizing the opportunity to improve sleep for people in the U.S., he started Tempur-Pedic and the rest was memory foam history!

Tempurpedic is now a household recognized name with 90% customer satisfaction!

Tempurpedic is now a household recognized name with 90% customer satisfaction!

Since Tempur-pedic was introduced into the mattress world, a few other well-known brands developed their own versions of this beloved memory foam mattress. These included Serta iComfort and Simmons Beautyrest. These manufacturers also added another element to their mattresses. Gel. Whether it be gel beads or gel infused into the memory foam itself, the presence of the gel helps achieve a comfortable sleeping temperature.

Example of gel beads within the memory foam

Example of gel beads within the memory foam

Here is a block of cool gel before it is broken down into the beads. Can tell it is cool right away by touch!

Here is a block of cool gel before it is broken down into the beads. It is cool to the touch.

I personally am a major advocate for memory foam. At SlumberWorld we feature ALL THREE brands of memory foam mattresses! I purchased my Tempurpedic mattress 6 years ago and it is still as comfortable and supportive as the first day I took it home! With my little ones on either side of me rolling around like bowling pins, I can honestly say that I barely realize they are moving. Memory foam is truly an amazing product.

References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_foam
http://www.bedinabox.com/history-of-memory-foam-mattresses.php
http://www.tempurpedic.ca/our-company/our-history.asp
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