Sure, they push it during late-night infomercials, showing the glass of wine that doesn’t tip over when you jump on the bed—but is all that foam actually good for you? Some people like soft mattresses and others hard, but memory foam is in a category all its own—and it’s not cheap. Here’s what getting a Tempur-pedic mattress will do for you:
Tempur-pedic foam was developed by NASA to be a material that can withstand strong g-forces like those in space, but it was a group of Swedish scientists that decided to market it as a sleep surface on earth. On a microscopic level, it has a cellular structure, with billions of cells that breathe and form themselves to an individuals’ motion during sleep.
The Tempur-pedic website suggests that the spinal benefits of the material come from its layers, each with a different base that relieves different pressure while maximizing comfort. The top layer reacts to your body temperature and weight, the second layer distributes your weight and allows your spine to lay in perfect alignment, and the third increases airflow, comfort and responsiveness.
The mattress’ foam material allows your body to retain its natural curvature while it is supported. Traditional, box spring mattresses use counter-pressure to force your body to conform to it—rather than having it conform to you. This can cause poor sleep, pressure points, reduced blood flow and back pain.
Some people consider the Tempur-pedic the best mattress on the market because of what it did for their back pain. Others think it is a big waste of money, and many of those involved with medicine have trouble seeing how the spinal cord benefits from this foam.
The back depends on gravity to compress the spine while you stand and to spread it apart at night while you lay down. The nighttime is when your spine can absorb minerals and nutrients lost to it during the day’s compression. Tempur-pedic mattresses allow your shoulders to sink into the foam, thus preventing your spine from moving during the night. It is this motion that causes the decompression that your back needs during the night, so your discs never get the proteins necessary to rebuild or remove waste build up. This too can cause bulged discs and chronic pain.
This is really a decision that you need to make for yourself, as different people have different needs for their back. Firm mattresses typically aggravate spinal cord problems, but for some people foam does the same thing. It is also a good idea to consider adjustable beds and air mattresses. Take advantage of stores that allow you to try a mattress for 30 days, and find out what is the best choice for you.