Memory Foam, the material invented by NASA

memory foam, the material invented by NASA

Memory foam is the most recent innovation inside the materials applied to bedding sector. It is recognized for its ability to help relieve painful pressure points during sleep, so much to be utilized into orthopedic seating pads, mattress and other paddings for the severely disabled.

Bedding sector is demonstrating a crescent attention for pillows. Everyone knows how important are mattresses in order to sleep well and the correlated impacts on your daily life.

But what about pillows? Are you aware about the key role they play in getting a good night’s sleep?

Think about how many hours a year you use your pillow. Have you ever counted them? Over 2500 hours a year, that’s over 100 days non-stop! Your pillow it’s much more than just something to put your head on at night! Un unappropriated pillow can mean that you don’t sleep as deeply as you should. Waking up from deep sleep to try getting more comfortable positions, resulting in not refreshing rests: sounds familiar?

Let’s better understand what memory foam is and what are its correlated advantages and disadvantages when applied to pillows.

Memory Foam: what is it?

As far as pillows go, memory foam is the current buzzword.

Memory foam material started out as the idea of a NASA Engineer in the 60s . It was invented in 1966  as a solution to improve sleeping conditions in shuttles.

For many years, pillows have been filled with duck and goose feathers that, while soft in the beginning, compress throughout the night, leaving your head to rest on a flatbed of fluff. The lack of support found with down pillows has led some traditional users to experience unsavory health complications.

This the main reason why today viscoelastic polyurethane memory foam is one of the most popular material for pillows and mattresses.

Memory foam was designed to be an innovative material, and thus has very unusual and unique properties. It is a dense foam that responds to heat and pressure from the human body to provide a supportive, cushioning shape. When not in use, it springs back into its original form.

Continue reading to better understand characteristics and advantages of it.

Technical characteristics

A visco-elastic material

The term viscoelasticity underlies two different concepts: viscosity and elasticity.


This term technically describes the resistance to flow. In the context of pillows, it refers to the resistance of the material when a pressure is applied.

The higher the viscosity, the higher resistance the pillow make to the pressure of your head. As a result, your head will be increasingly supported, leading you to a higher sensation of hardness under your head.


The ability to contour while still being able to return to it’s original shape. This characteristic allow you to maintain the same level of comfort during the whole night, without needing manual adjustments to give back volume and shape to your compressed pillow.

As you can clearly understand it has got a direct impact on the quality of your sleep. No adjustments of the pillow during the night means an uninterrupted rest.

As you might expect, when you combine these two factors you get a pillow with the perfect amount of support and comfort, ensuring a high quality sleep for the whole night.

Thus, if made by premium materials, a visible imprint is left behind and last for entire seconds. Memory foam adjusts around pressure and is slow to bounce back, which gives it that typical “cushioning” feel.

imprinting on memory foama material: the meaning of viscoelasticity

The internal structure

The internal structure of this kind of foam is made by bubbles or ‘cells’, that are open. Thanks to its structure, the matrix allow the motion of the air, reducing the proliferation of dust mites and improving the freshness of the pillow.

Benefits of Memory Foam in Pillows

Sleeping on memory foam pillows can provide a number of health benefits.

Memory foam pillows are special because of the heat reactive cushioning insulator. What this means is that when pressure is applied along with heat, the foam reshapes itself to conform to the object.

That’s the reason  why memory foam pillows shape to the head and neck better than other pillows.

This characteristic allow distributing weight evenly, relieving pressure, and helping with neck and back pain. This can also help with a better night’s sleep and a refreshed rest.

Memory foam is also beneficial for those who share a bed with a restless sleeper. Because it’s so energy absorbent, the tossing and turning of a sleeping partner on a memory foam pillow will have little to no ripple effect. They’re also normally squeak-free.

Top 6 reasons to use memory foam pillows

1. Spinal Alignment

Do you suffer from headaches, neck or back pain? One of the major cause is the poor spinal alignment.

The main health benefits of sleeping on memory foam pillows is spinal alignment.

one benefit of memory foam pillow: good spinal alignmentAs you lay your head and neck on the pillow, the weight and warmth of the body allow the foam to reshape itself. This forces the pillow to give greater resistance under the heaviest parts of the head, and equally support the lighter, more pressure sensitive neck area.

Proper spinal alignment helps reduce tossing, turning and discomfort. It allows your muscles to relax properly offering natural spinal support  to your body, adjusting to your unique shape promoting a deep restful sleep.

2. Pressure Points elimination

a benefit of memory foam pillow: pressure points eliminationMemory Foam is designed to contour to the unique shape of your body to help support your head and neck. They provide even support for the neck and head. The foam reforms less where it does not need to, and more where the stress is increased. This allows for uniform pressure on all areas of the head and neck, eliminating pressure points.

3. Hygienic and Hypoallergenic

Memory foam pillows are known to be hypoallergenic and free of dust mites. Remember that this material has been developed by NASA to improve sleeping conditions in shuttles.

Memory foam products are considered safe and nontoxic and are naturally hygienic inhibiting the growth of bacteria, mold, fungus and dust mites. This is an advantage for those with allergies to dust mites, feathers, or other natural pillow materials.

4. Snoring reduction

All types of snoring have one thing in common: an obstruction in the upper respiratory tract.

closed airways means snoring. reduce it with the proper pillowA regular pillow tends to tilt your head in an incline. This causes an obstruction in the airway which results in snoring related problems. The result is snoring.

When your head remains aligned with your neck and spine with a memory foam pillow, these passages will remain open and allow for proper respiratory function

5. Side Sleepers best solution

The lack of support found with most of traditional pillows has led some users to experience unsavory health complications.

Specifically, for those who mainly sleep on their sides, it’s common to experience stiff necks each morning due to improper alignment of the spine.

The optimal position for the neck during rest is what experts call the “neutral” position. This is when that natural curve of the neck is at the perfect and comfortable angle, so as not to overly bend or compress the joints.

For this ideal alignment of the neck to occur, it’s best to find the proper pillow. Have a look to our article that deeper explain the impact of the sleeping position on your health, when using un unappropriated pillow.

6. Sleep Apnea

The spinal alignment and the consequent alignment of  the airways is a key factor for those who suffer from Sleep Anea, allowing easier breathing.  The lack of pressure points has also an indirect benefit to those with sleep apnea, as there is less tossing and turning, leading to sound, restful sleep.

Disadvantages of Memory Foam Pillow

Because of its capacity to contour head and face, memory foam is unsuitable as a bedding choice for babies or small children, who can get stuck in the contours and struggle to breathe.

It should be noted that memory foam pillows cost more than competitive traditional pillows, but they provide a number of benefits that traditional pillows do not provide.  When it comes to comfort and quality sleep, cost should not be a concerning factor.

Pay attention about cheap memory foam pillow: beware of it!

In fact, the most of the disadvantages you may experience from a memory foam pillows are linked to the poor quality of the material.

Current market demand of this material is increasing, thanks to the substantial benefit it ensure.

However it cannot be considered a cheap solution, since the high costs of the raw material. The tentative to transform it in a product for massive production is leading to poor quality products with no viscoelastic properties but commercially still called memory foam.

A poor quality memory foam

When the quality is poor, memory foam tends to retain heat and body humidity, losing the material breathability power. It may result in un uncomfortable warm sensation and in  the formation of harmful bacteria.

Moreover a poor quality material doesn’t present viscoelastic power, particularly for what concern elasticity. And with it, it lose all the associated benefits explained before.

When the product must be cheap producers tend to reduce all the internal costs, not only the raw material expenses. Important process phases are skipped, having a direct impact on the final result quality. If not well processed, memory foam products can give off a strong chemical smell, a phenomenon known as off-gas.

Therefore your bad experience with a memory foam pillow is certainly linked to the poor quality of the product.


Now you may have a better idea about what memory foam is and the positive impact on the quality of your sleep and on your health more in general.

You have also understood the importance of focus on quality avoiding cheaper products ,if you want to benefit from the explained advantages.

Particularly, if you’re someone who suffers from poor sleep quality, then you should consider making the switch. The ability to contour to the body promotes a healthy sleeping position and improved sleep. They cost a bit more up-front but will pay dividends long term.

You also have learned that it doesn’t exist the perfect pillow for everybody. When choosing a memory foam pillow a lot of factors should be taken into consideration: your sleeping habits (sleeping position, posture, …), your body dimension (a basketball player has different needs than a marathon runner) and a lot of other factors that play a role in the alignment of your spine.

Even it’s not so easy, you spend so much time with your pillow that it’s worth understand how to select one that’s right for you.

Nightingold can help you in easily solve this issue: our pillow are tailor made solutions designed starting from YOU, your necessities and your desires. Discover our world and the innovative process we have designed to create the best sleep experience for each single person.

The brand Icon of Nightingold_The Nightingale, a bird whose lirical song is utilized as a treatment to relaxFor any further information don’t hesitate to contact us, click our Nightingale

We are happy to put at your disposal our knowledge.

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