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Memory Foam: Break Out of the Mold

Designed to relieve pressure points, memory foam mattresses and pillows can ease pain in specific areas. If you have a sore spot in your shoulders or hips, for example, heat from that spot will trigger a chemical reaction that softens the memory foam, right where you need it to yield.

Wonderful idea, right? But there’s a problem. Many people report that after the novelty of the sensation wears off, they feel almost “stuck” in a memory foam mattress. While the molding, contouring reaction feels great while you’re first settling into bed, your body has to literally heat up the material to trigger it. This means that when you try to change position during the night, you’ll have to re-heat the foam before it can contour fully around you again. There’s a lag before the mattress catches up with you, and those uncomfortable intervals can contribute to restless sleep—and sore awakenings.

Even while asleep, your body is naturally designed to make continual, tiny movements to maintain good circulation and prevent stiffness. We call them micro-movements. While awake, you likely seldom notice when you make a micro-adjustment. You might suddenly sit up straighter to avoid some discomfort, cross your legs to relax, or put up your feet to relieve lower back pain. We do this naturally all day long, and during our sleep as well.

Sleeping soundly is one thing, but sleeping immobile is another. Some people say that sleeping on a memory foam mattress feels like sleeping in damp sand. They have trouble getting up. They feel stiff because they were unable to shift freely all night. Their own subtle movements, the body’s natural method of warding off muscle and joint stiffness, were blocked by the behavior of the memory foam.

Natural latex mattresses and pillows are different. Although they relieve pressure very well, they do not inhibit your natural micro-movements during the night. A natural latex mattress is very comforting and responsive, and many people say they feel relieved to be sleeping “on” their mattress rather than “in it.”

The result? Most people wake up less stiff and sore, with muscles relaxed, after sleeping on a natural latex mattress.

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