Are Memory Foam Mattresses Safe To Sleep On

You will sometimes hear this question asked. Before we look at the answer, there are a couple of things to look at first that will help clarify things as we investigate.

First, we need to define memory foam and examine its origins and uses.

The second thing to examine is why some people think that sleeping on a memory foam mattress could be unsafe.

So, what is memory foam? Memory foam is a temperature-sensitive foam material that moulds itself around weights placed on it and gradually returns to its original shape when that weight is removed. This process is called memory foam because it remembers the shape.

When used as a mattress, memory foam’s temperature sensitivity and gradual forming around the body’s shape while still retaining support are among its key advantages. It supports the body so uniformly and well that one of the earlier uses for memory foam was in the medical field. When patients had to be immobile for long periods, it prevented pressure sores from forming as it spread the pressure evenly rather than at single points.

Memory foam was originally developed in the mid-1960s by NASA, an organization that has safety baked into its fundamental makeup. It was used to improve the safety of aircraft seats by providing better protection against impact than previously used materials. In its original incarnation, memory foam was known as Tempur Foam.

In the intervening years, there have been various advances and changes in the formulation of memory foam, particularly for mattresses. Changes in physical makeup include gel beads added by manufacturers and aloe vera and other healing or aromatherapy materials.

Memory foam is not only found in mattresses. There are numerous other places where the properties of this material have made it an ideal fit. It is found in some headphones, gymnastics and yoga mats, bicycle seats, sports helmets, and insoles. Memory foam bathmats are also commonplace. Again, this is because it distributes pressure so well and can be incorporated into mats well suited to the bath environment.

So, with such a well-respected history and widespread adoption of so many different products in our daily lives, why would some people worry about the safety of a memory foam mattress? The reason most often cited is something called ‘off-gassing’; you may also hear it as ‘outgassing’.

Just what is off gassing? You may be familiar with that new car smell or the smell you get when you unwrap a new carpet. It also happens with new paint or vinyl. The scent that you associate with new products results from what are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in the original manufacture being released into the atmosphere when new things are unwrapped, opened, or exposed to the atmosphere initially. As you will have found, the smell dissipates over time, and your items no longer ‘smell new’.

Some of these VOCs are a result of the manufacturing process of the memory foam itself. In today’s world, we also have strict fire safety requirements for furniture in most countries, and the flame-retardant chemicals needed for this can be a source of volatile organic compounds and, hence, some off-gassing.

Some early manufacturers also included some actively harmful chemicals in the process. In most developed nations, regulatory bodies have clamped down on what can and cannot be used to produce materials such as memory foam for furniture use, so many, if not most, of the historical concerns have now been addressed.

It is well accepted that the level of chemicals in outgassing from just about anything we buy is so low that it produces minimal or no risk. On most occasions, this is more a matter of personal taste.

Searching for green, eco-friendly mattresses manufactured with natural ingredients free from VOCs is even possible, with no or minimal chance of outgassing.

Avoiding lower-end mattresses or ones manufactured outside of well-regulated manufacturing regimes is always advisable. Like many of the things we buy, quality is always a consideration.

Another advantage of strict control over the creation process is that governments require clear labelling so you can be reassured by reading the list of chemicals used. This allows you to research each mattress and gain the comfort of knowing that any potentially harmful VOC-producing chemicals have been either minimized or eliminated from the process altogether.

With all this said, it should also be noted that off-gassing is usually a transient process. This means that the smell and release of VOCs are most noticeable right after first unwrapping and fade over time, often very rapidly.

Should there be any remaining concerns even after knowing the material’s history, learning about its widespread use, and the availability of natural, organic options, you can still reduce worry further if there is any odour from your new mattress. If you order a next day delivery mattress, the best way to do this is to open the packaging of the new mattress in a well-ventilated area and allow it to breathe for a time. If you have space, time, and luxury to do so, you may open it up in an outbuilding or area and leave it until the new smell is no longer noticeable. Be advised, however, that you may need help moving the mattresses around as, when opened, they will tend to expand to their full size, and with the weight of the supporting foam, it could be awkward to move around depending on where you have placed it. It may be easier just to leave it on your bed early on the day of purchase and wait a while before making the bed.

Countless satisfied, happy, and comfortable users of memory foam mattresses exist. Are they safe to sleep on? Yes, they are.

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