Memory foam mattresses

Designed originally by NASA for their space programme, memory foam is a visco elastic product that yields when heavier parts of the body like the hips and shoulders lie on it, but gives support for the back, for example, helping to keep your spine aligned.

Used now primarily for the bed room, Memory Foam is becoming increasingly popular. Manufactured in different thicknesses, using foams with differing firmness ratings for heavy and light bodies.

This page was last updated by Dr Barrie Lewis on 21st December, 2018.

What is memory foam?

Choose the right mattress for your back, obviously. Don't just look at the price. That means testing the mattress, ideally for a couple nights.

Here's a little tip. If you're in the market for a new bed, whenever you sleep on a strange mattress, rate it; is it excellent, good, okay, or bad. Check the brand, and keep notes.

Remember you're going to sleep on it for eight hours a night, times twenty odd years. There's no rush. Choosing the right bed, even if it costs more, means it hurts only once.

One of the advantages of memory is the firmness at the edges, so you don't roll off, with mother Earth rising up to greet you. And no need to turn the mattress, a frequent cause of lower back pain; the inner spring variety are heavy.

Here's a little anecdote. We have a timeshare week at a well known trout fishing resort in the Drakensberg in South Africa. If you've read a frog in my throat, you'll know it's one of my hobbies. It's been a good investment, and for twenty years we have enjoyed a break from the daily grind at the Chiropractic Coalface. Don't get me wrong; I love my work as a DC, but the responsibility is enormous, the pressure huge.

My second book of anecdotes, Bats in my Belfry opens at Castleburn with an exhausted Bernard Preston, Bernie, me, ready to leave the profession because the chiropractic shoe is pinching his foot. He hasn't had a proper holiday in years.

My point? The annual escape to Castleburn for a week of total chill became vital.

Low back pain

Until two years ago, when from the first night I, a chiropractor, who knows about spinal health, I ought to after 32+ years in the business, woke up in the early hours with severe low back pain. It must have been lifting heavy suitcases, several unaccustomed hours per day fishing for the wily trout; and so it was every night. No, I did not know about memory foam mattresses.

Back home, all was well. Back in my own bed, no pain.

Then last year, an exact replica of the previous year. Severe back pain every morning at 5am. She who must be obeyed slept on oblivious. She liked the bed.

Contact with management confirmed the obvious. There had been numerous complaints about the inner sprung mattresses. All were to be replaced with memory foam mattresses in the new year... I wonder what 2013 at chill out holds in store?

They have been going through them one year at a time, and I've had two more years of pain; only when on holiday.

Memory foam mattresses

Memory foam mattresses have various firmness ratings and are allergy and mite resistant.

Medical insurance is desperately worried about the escalating cost of low back pain ... not only to insurers, but also lost productivity.

The economic burden of a disease is far more than the chiropractor's and surgeon's fees. Adding the direct and indirect costs, the opportunistic costs, hospitalisation, scans....

All in all, a good bed, buying the best suited to your back, makes good economic sense. And that may mean better mattresses though there is no perfect bed for every shaped body. Be prepared to try several different beds.

Help for sciatica pain

Low back pain is quite enough, thank you very much. However, should the injury impact on the Femoral nerve or the Sciatic nerve, everything becomes far more difficult. With or without memory foam mattresses after playing silly buggers, or sometimes just a long journey, help for sciatica pain might be needed.

Another condition often affected by the bed is groin and upper thigh pain. A too hard mattress will often aggravate them; sleeping with a pillow between the thighs may help.

The wisdom of the Dutch

Double base set bed

There is no perfect bed, and I have to say that despite market trends, the Dutch preference for providing a different mattress for he and she, within one double bed, still gets first prize. The bed that gives you a perfect night's sleep may give your spouse agony!

Two shes in a double bed? A Family Affair ... only 99c on your Kindle, tablet or smartphone. Women and intimacy... my fourth book.

A Family Affair cover

Lower back exercises

Lower back exercises every morning BEFORE emerging from under the duvet is half the solution, whether you have memory foam mattresses or not.

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