Is Memory Foam Good For Your Back? We Take A Look At The Research

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written by sleep expert Lauren Hall

A good night’s sleep is all about getting the right kind of support for your body and back. If you’ve ever woken up feeling sore in the muscles or with some back pain, consider looking into getting another mattress.

While some people believe that firmer mattresses are better for spinal support, the truth of the matter is that isn’t always the case. You might need a softer, more malleable material which is where memory foam comes in.

Memory foam mattresses are increasingly becoming the favored mattress of choice.

It is known to be soft and comfortable and made out of a material that responds to heat and body pressure, molding itself to your body shape and providing maximum support. In this article, we will explore what memory foam is and whether or not it is good for your back.

What Is Memory Foam?

Memory foam was first developed in the 1960s by NASA for use in aircraft cushions. Once the concept was perfected, it entered the public domain where people realized it could be used for a wider variety of uses, including in pillows and mattresses.

While people have begun touting memory foam as a more comfortable and superior mattress, there have been concerns about health standards.

Known originally as “viscoelastic polyurethane foam,” memory foam is a chemical product and because of that it sends out VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the air in a process referred to as “off-gassing”.

Research on whether or not this is harmful is indecisive, which some saying the small but prolonged exposure can lead to skin irritation and respiratory problems.

However, if you’re sensitive to chemicals there are some green and eco-friendly memory foam mattresses out there that use less toxic materials.

Ever since hitting the market, memory foam has increasingly become a consumer favorite.

While it’s a good idea to try the mattresses out before committing to purchasing one, it’s important to note that while memory foam works for some people it might not work for you. If you suffer from back pain, however, memory foam might help you sleep better.

Is Memory Foam Good For You Back?

When it comes to picking out the right mattress, you need to be aware that everyone is different. While some may swear by memory foam, saying it helps relieve back pain, others might beg to differ.

Memory foam mattresses also come in a variety of brands, thicknesses, and densities, so you might need a little trial and error to find the perfect memory foam product for you.

Good spinal support is the kind that allows your back to be in its natural curving position. The properties of memory foam that are elastic and malleable, makes it a good candidate as it molds to fit your sleeping position, whether you sleep on your back or on your side.

This is especially useful if you tend to move a lot in your sleep. Memory foam is also good at absorbing motion, which means if you sleep with another person, they’re less likely to feel it and wake up from the movement of the mattress.

Compared to spring mattresses, memory foam mattresses are costlier but spring mattresses are often firm and may cause back pain if you are already prone to them. Those without chronic back pain might find spring mattresses more comfortable.

Memory foam, unlike spring mattresses, also do a better job of distributing your body weight evenly. This relieves a lot of pressure from certain parts of the body you are resting on. Less pressure point tension leads to fewer muscles aches and spinal pain.

Memory foam mattresses also work by responding to heat. The heat allows the material to change shape according to your position. Because of this, memory foam retains more heat which some people complain makes it too hot for them to sleep.

Alternatives like gel memory foam, are made specifically to be cooler while still having the malleable back support qualities of memory foam. The heat itself might be good for you as it relaxes your muscles and relieves tension in your joints.

Getting a memory foam mattress isn’t as simple as just choosing one. There are different properties to consider and tailor to your needs, including thickness and density. For example, according to studies, medium-firm mattresses rate the highest for pain relief.

Depending on your body shape, you might need thicker upper layers. 3-4 inches are good for most, while smaller people can get away with 2-3 inches. If you are of a larger build, consider 5-6 inches for maximum comfort.


So, is memory foam good for your back? The short answer is yes, the malleable properties of memory foam make it easier to contort to your body proportions and provide better support. However, you still need to figure out what kind of memory foam mattress would be good for you.

Depending on your body type, you might be on the heavier side and need a thicker mattress, or you might be smaller and can get away with a thinner one. A good rule of thumb is to try out different mattresses and see which one feels best for you and helps you sleep the best.

To help you get started here’s a list of the Best Memory Foam Mattresses, and hopefully by the end of your search, you’ll have the perfect mattress and finally get a good night’s sleep.

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