Shopping for a memory foam or gel mattress can be a daunting process – even after you’ve committed to not springing for springs. The wide availability of tightly rolled bed-in-a-box options can make selection more difficult, as many companies drop the names of dozens of fillers and foams that may sound unfamiliar to the average consumer, and offer little in the way of explanation. So what do you need to know before kicking back in the bed of your dreams?
What is memory foam?
Memory foam was developed in 1966 by NASA to improve the safety and comfort of aircraft cushions. To create it, conventional polyurethane foam is treated with chemicals to increase viscosity and elasticity. This inflated foam then gently contours in response to weight, and slowly returns to its original state once pressure is relieved. In other words, memory foam cradles your body evenly at every point of rest.
NASA open-sourced the science of memory foam in the 80s, and medical professionals were quick to see the potential. Soon they discovered that memory foam can alleviate the blood flow restrictions of bedridden patients, and can support people frustrated by chronic back and neck pain or injuries. Other sleep researchers, like Donna L. Arand, PhD noticed the positive impact on restless sleepers, thanks to foam’s promotion of quiet sleep and minimal movement. This raised questions about whether memory foam could provide relief to people with other chronic sleep issues exacerbated uncomfortable spring mattresses.
Mattress companies saw the potential, and Tempur-pedic emerged as an early industry leader, marketing heavily to physical therapists and chiropractors. The company offered firm memory foam mattresses and support pillows at luxury prices that were out of reach for many consumers. Modern bed-in-a-box and mail order options soon followed, which brings us to the affordable memory foam mattresses we know today.
So what’s the downside?
Heat is necessary for memory foam to work. Body heat softens the dense foam, and then the body sinks gently into place. The downside is that memory foam also retains this heat. Individuals with pain issues responsive to warmth usually consider this aspect of memory foam a bonus, as their injury is both comforted and treated. However, people in warm climates, or with a tendency to sleep hot sometimes struggle to get comfortable.
Many mattress companies have explored solutions to this issue, including open cell structure designs that encourage better air movement, and transfer heat away from the body. Other companies have also added breathable wool or cotton fabric toppers, to wick away excess moisture and minimize heat response. Moisture wicking also discourages mold, especially when paired with waterproof mattress covers.
The other downside to memory foam is the release of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and off gassing. Memory foam mattresses usually contain 65 different chemicals, 18 of which have had adverse health effects reported. Most mattress companies suggest a 24-hour air-out time prior to putting sheets on the bed, to minimize direct inhalation during the peak off-gassing stage. To address concerns about chemical odors and potential toxicity, mattress companies have begun incorporating plant-based memory foam, and/or plant-based fire retardants that meet safety standards but don’t compromise health.
Gel: the evolution of memory foam.
Gel is the next frontier of memory foam mattresses, working to address the identified shortcomings of older models. Gel particles are fused with visco foam to absorb and release trapped heat. This fusion also increases the density of the mattress, and can prolong its life. To address odor issues, some gel mattresses include elements such as green tea extract, activated charcoal, and aloe Vera. Gel memory foam has also ushered in the era of the hybrid mattress, where gel, memory foam, latex, plant-based memory foam, and encased coils work collaboratively to provide optimal sleep comfort and health.Both memory foam and gel memory foam mattresses provide excellent support to aching limbs, and relief from chronic pain. Testing these mattresses at a retail outlet with help narrow your search, and identify strengths and weaknesses of both varieties. With some basic definitions and understanding of design, selecting a memory foam mattress can smoothly transition from nightmare to dream.
Finding a Pillow To Go With Your Luxury Mattress
You’ve invested in the best mattress for the money, but what about your pillow? A cozy spot to rest your head is just as important as a comfortable mattress. The best pillow will place your body in a midline position, supporting your spine and providing just the right amount of “fluff” to cushion your head.
When choosing a pillow, consider your sleeping style.
If you sleep on your side, look for a pillow with a medium firmness that supports your neck and keeps your spine straight. For back sleepers, memory foam works well in cradling your head and neck. If you’re a stomach sleeper, consider changing your position. We’d hate to see you wake up stiff from this style. If you must, then a lower profile pillow will help ensure your neck isn’t angled too high.A good pillow will fit all your contours and leave you waking up as good as new.
Do you remember the last time you fell asleep soundly and stayed asleep throughout the night?
It seems that in our time-starved culture, a good night’s rest has taken a back seat to work, chores, and television. And when it finally comes time to catch those ever-so-elusive Z’s, your sleep is robbed by the stress-inducing woes of everyday life. After all, few things can keep you awake more than your seemingly never-ending to-do list.
So much for counting sheep.
If this sounds like you, then it’s time for a change. It’s time to put an end to those sleepless nights and to reclaim what you truly deserve – a rejuvenating 8 hours of pure, blissful, sleep.
Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. You’re not doomed to lousy sleep for the rest of your life. In fact, a few simple lifestyle changes might be all you need to nod off into a slumber worthy of royalty.
Five Ways You Can Enjoy a Blissful Night’s Rest
Start your path to a good night’s sleep by following these 5 tips today:
1) Say No to Bright Lights
There’s a pretty good reason why the sun comes up in the morning and goes down at night. Watching television or using your cell phone late at night is counterproductive to getting a good night’s rest.
The truth is, it’s simply not natural to expose your body to bright light at night. Light can influence your circadian rhythm, a biological process that regulates your sleep cycle.
When the lights go out, your body produces melatonin, otherwise known as the “sleep hormone”. Light can put a damper on your body’s ability to produce melatonin, so dim those lights and consider sticking with your favorite novel instead of checking how many likes your Facebook post received.
2) Be Thankful
Instead of focusing on all the negatives in your life, think about what you have and be grateful for it. Dwelling on the bad things in your life can hurt your sleep and keep you from making positive changes for yourself. In fact, one study by the University of Manchester found that those who expressed gratitude and positive thoughts slept better than those who didn’t.
3) Watch Out for Sugar
Yes, we’re looking at you, Mr. Late Night Bowl of Ice Cream. Sugary food can cause a blood sugar spike that’ll likely disrupt your beauty rest. For an uninterrupted night’s rest, avoid eating heavy meals three hours before you hit the sack.
4) Try an Epsom Salt Soak
Treating yourself to a blissful Epsom salt bath before bed can help gently soothe frazzled nerves thanks to its high magnesium content. Go ahead – light up those candles, dim the lights, and soak it up because you’re so worth it.
5) Upgrade Your Mattress
Let’s face it, no one likes to sleep on a rock-hard bed. If you can’t remember when you bought your bed, it might just be time for a new one.
A memory foam mattress can give your body all the support it needs for a luxurious night’s rest.
The Night is Yours – Start Sleeping Better Today
By recognizing what’s important in your life and putting a stop to poor sleep habits, you can enjoy a better sleep every single night.
If you’ve just purchased a new memory foam mattress or currently own one, you might be wondering what’s the best thread count for new sheets or pillowcases? Traditionally, a higher thread count is supposed to mean a higher quality bed sheet. Unfortunately, marketing companies quickly found out how to game the system by using artificial threads. That means a 600-count bed sheet might not be as comfortable as a higher quality 250 count sheet.
Because manufacturers are now inflating bed sheet thread counts, it might be a better idea to just use the number as a reference and look at other factors instead.
Comparing Bed Sheet Qualities & Comfort
If you’re worried about artificial thread counts, here are a few different factors you can use to determine the quality of your bed sheets.
Fabric Material: A high-quality fabric will often be more comfortable than a poor-quality sheet with high thread counts. If you’re looking for premium comfort and luxurious softness, consider looking for authentic Egyptian cotton sheets. Watch out for synthetic cotton blends as these types of sheets often don’t feel soft to the touch.
Weave: Most people don’t realize that many bed sheets are woven differently. A few of the popular weave types include sateen, percale, and satin. The type of weave in your bed sheet can affect how it feels when slept in.
Location: While not always an indicator of quality, be mindful of the origin of your sheets. For example, French or Italian sheets tend to be of higher quality than those found in China or Pakistan.
It’s Too Confusing!
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed trying to decide on what bedsheet is best for your memory foam bed, you might just want to try to feel the sheets in a store before making your purchase. There’s no better indicator on quality than touching the sheets and finding out if they feel soft to you.
Get a Deeper and More Rejuvenating Sleep With These Steps
Looking for strategies to help ensure you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your day with vigor? You’ve come to the right place. At Christeli, we feel everyone deserves a great night’s rest.
Go ahead and snuggle up in your bed with a cup of tea. We’ve done the hard work and found you four awesome ways to get you the beauty rest you need.
1) Just say no to bright lights.
Light disrupts your body's natural rhythm and makes it difficult to doze off. Dim your home lighting within a few hours of bedtime. Artificial light from electronics is especially troublesome. Put away those electronics and choose to record your favorite TV shows to watch later. Don’t worry, we won’t spoil the ending.
2) Pass on the caffeine.
Coffee’s a great way to start your morning, but definitely not a great way to start your night! Instead, have some chamomile tea. A nice warm beverage before bed helps soothe frayed nerves and tell your body it’s time to sleep.
3) Get cozy.
Your bed should be a place of comfort. If you’re sore, make sure you pick a good mattress for back pain. Already have a luxury bed? Great, grab your teddy bear and cuddle up for a wonderful night of rest!
4) Break a sweat.
A study found that at least 150 minutes of exercise a week resulted in improved sleep quality and alertness throughout the day. Just don’t do it too close to bedtime.
Better Sleep, Better Day
By following these practical tips and making sure you have the most comfortable mattress, you can have a more restful night of sleep.
Have any bedtime routines that help you doze off faster? Drop a comment and let us know!