The Origins of Memory Foam Mattresses

by | Jul 23, 2012 | Home And Garden

The reason memory foam mattresses are some of the softest and the absolute best in means of support is because none other than the National Aeronautics and Space Administration designed the material. That is right, NASA invented memory foam. In the late sixties, a group of scientists had the singular goal of protecting astronauts from the g-force pressures during lift off. They needed something that would not only support and cushion the space adventurers but would also be shock absorbing and not transfer the force of the impact.

What they created is called “visco-elastic polyurethane foam,” and it does all it was ever meant to and more. Not only does it have the shock absorbing qualities that were so important to the scientists at NASA, but it also returns to its original form when pressure is removed.

The first memory foam mattresses tended to break down chemically after a year or two, and the fumes produced by the foam itself was unsafe for a confined area like the cockpit of a spacecraft. This is why NASA never actually used it in any of the space shuttle missions. Too bad for the astronauts. NASA sold the memory foam mattresses technology to Sweden. By the 80s, they had perfected the foam mattresses for consumer use.

At first, the memory foam mattresses were only available in Sweden, but it enjoyed such great success that people in North America demanded the technology be available to them. All of a suddenly, the metal spring mattresses were facing a real form of competition for the first time in decades. The memory foam mattresses provided lumbar support, let people sleep however was most comfortable for them, and was such a fantastic shock absorber that their partners could sleep soundly even when they got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Scientists are now studying how the memory foam mattresses react to temperatures. They want to make sure that, in regards to long term use, it does not harden or soften over time or due to weather. Great strides are being taken to make each generation of the memory foam mattresses better and better. The great thing about a scientifically created product is that it keeps getting better. Every chemist and chiropractic doctor looks at the foam and says “If you could tweak this, it would be even better.” You cannot expect to change a spring mattresses with science like you can a foam mattress.

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