Memory Foam Mattress History: Where Did It Come From?

Memory Foam Mattress History - Astronauts, Racehorses and Bed Sores

With the little that's known about memory foam mattress history these days, it's hard to imagine that this material has only been in existence for a little over 30 years.

It's difficult to find an exact date when this foam first came into being, but it is known that it was originally formulated during the early days of manned space flight. Most likely, it was in the mid to late 1960s.

The National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) needed a material that would cushion the astronauts from the unparalleled g-forces of launch and reentry during space missions.

In response the their request, a material was produced that was called visco-elastic memory foam.

I've seen dozens of articles explaining what this means and not one of them has the same explanation.

The online dictionary gives no definition for the word visco, but the word is derived from viscous—which means "gummy" or "pasty."

I think we all know what elastic means but again, the definition is being able to return to its original shape after being deformed.

Well, enough of the grammar lesson. The point is that this material hadn't existed before; it's unique.

The whole idea of showing a picture with a hand print is that if the material was pushing up against your body, it would immediately spring back when your hand was removed.

The other quality of visco foam is that its temperature-reactive. When it is heated, it becomes softer and when it is cooled, it becomes firmer.

A body laying on the material will heat it, making it softer under that heated area.

Again, it's unclear whether this material was ever actually used in any space missions.

Some claim that the material off-gassed, producing an odor that couldn't be tolerated in the small quarters of a spacecraft.

Memory Foam Mattress History: Race Horses

Whatever the reason, this material was too expensive to be used in the form of a memory foam mattress or pillow for the average consumer.

It was not, however, too expensive for use as an aid to recovery for multi-million dollar racehorses who had been injured or were recovering from surgery.

When horses are recovering, they need to be in the upright position so that their blood circulation isn't restricted.

This can be very difficult or impossible because if the injury is to a limb, the horses massive weight is too much for the limb to support.

Laying the horse on a large, thick slab of memory foam solved this problem.

Memory Foam Mattress History: Bed Sores

Because the memory foam melts away from where pressure is placed on it, the body of a horse or human can lay on it without restricting the blood flow.

Blood flow is critical to healing and recovery from surgery, so it makes sense that recovery is greatly enhanced by using a memory foam mattress.

Memory foam was then discovered to be a great inhibitor to bedsores.

Bedsores occur when the blood supply to the capillaries is restricted over a period of time. Bedsores are also called pressure ulcers.

Since the unique character of the foam is its ability to melt away from anywhere that pressure is applied, pressure points are diminished or eliminated.

Its broad use in the medical field finally led to the cost-effective use of memory foam for consumer mattresses.

Memory foam mattress pricing for a quality product in queen size is usually about $2,000 to $2,500—which is in line with most of the high-quality innerspring products.