Selecting the best mattress to prevent bed sores and relieve pressure points during sleep means thinking outside of the box–or in this case, the box spring mattress. The health professionals who operate beds.org, a site dedicated to providing objective reviews of the best types of mattresses for those with certain medical problems, such as back and joint pain, suggest that high-density foam mattresses may be the best bet.
Memory foam is a spin-off consumer product with roots in the earlier material, temper foam, developed by NASA for use in airplane seats to provide better shock protection and comfort. Temper foam has been used to insulate football helmets, line the soles of shoes and pad hospital beds to prevent patients from suffering bed sores. This material is also called visco-elastic foam or "slow spring back foam," because it gradually returns to its original shape once weight is applied and released. Memory foam, derived from plastics, also relies on body heat for its conforming properties.
Piggybacking on the success of memory foam is the latex foam mattress, the material of which is derived from the milk of the rubber tree. According to Latex International, latex mattress components have breathable cells that permit the mattress to remain cool in the summer and warm during the winter months. Latex International claims that its products provide 30 percent more pressure relief than memory foam. Latex mattresses provide the same conforming support as memory foam mattresses. But latex foam is immediately responsive to body weight, springing back quickly to its original shape as weight shifts during the night.
Which Is Best?
Makers and marketers of memory foam and latex foam mattresses ascribe similar benefits to their respective products. Both mattress types are resistant to dust mites and mildew, and both have conforming properties that prevent bed sores and relieve pressure points, which permit more restful sleep. But there are differences between these two high density foam mattresses.
Latex instantly conforms to the body's shape, while memory foam relies on the body's heat to shape and mold the material. High-density memory foam mattresses are indeed more durable and yield better "memory" in this item of bedding, but a common complaint is that H.D. memory foam mattresses can get warm to sleep on. Ultimately, the best mattress to prevent bed sores and relieve pressure points depends on if you prefer the slow spring back action of memory foam or if you desire a springier latex mattress more similar in feel to a conventional box spring set.
Lisa Sefcik has been writing professionally since 1987. Her subject matter includes pet care, travel, consumer reviews, classical music and entertainment. She's worked as a policy analyst, news reporter and freelance writer/columnist for Cox Publications and numerous national print publications. Sefcik holds a paralegal certification as well as degrees in journalism and piano performance from the University of Texas at Austin.