Memory foam is basically an insulating material that responds to changes in temperature. As the foam comes into contact with something that is warmer, the foam realigns to provide a cushion, by softening at the points where the body increases the temperature of the foam. When used in a mattress, it molds itself to the contours of the human body, providing excellent support at pressure points along the spine, legs, and elsewhere. This makes it possible to avoid some of the stresses on the skeletal and muscle systems of the body that are incurred during sleep on any other type of surface. When a person shifts positions, the foam automatically realigns to maintain the cushion effect.
With the pressure distributed evenly across the whole body, there is less of a chance of waking in order to find a more comfortable position. The end result is that it is possible to achieve deep REM sleep, which is the most recuperative form of sleep. People with chronic back problems often find that using a memory foam mattress is particularly helpful for relieving pain.
While there are several excellent mattresses on the market today that are made from this material, the more effective models can be expensive. One way to find out if one may be a good solution to sleeping problems is to invest in a set of memory foam pillows. If the user finds that the pillows seem to be helping him get a more restful sleep, then purchasing a mattress made from the material would be the next logical step.
The development of memory foam came about because of the space program in the United States. The idea was to find ways to ease the negative effects of periods of acceleration and deceleration for astronauts who were in flight. Unfortunately, the foam that was created ultimately could not be used for this purpose, as it emits trace amounts of gas that would build up in the enclosed atmosphere of the ship. The result of all this research was a product that was ideal for use in other ways.