Thank you, NASA: The Unusual History of Memory Foam

Are you one of the millions of people who sleep on a mattress made with memory foam? This remarkable invention’s origins can be traced to the space program. Here is the surprising story behind memory foam: It took off because of a NASA mission. Memory foam was the brainchild of Charles Yost, a visionary aeronautical engineer in Asheville, N.C., who helped build a recovery system for the Apollo command module in 1962. Four years later, the NASA contractor was given a new mission: to develop airline seats that offer better impact protection in the event of an accident, as well as enhanced passenger comfort on long flights. Yost, who died in 2005 at the age of 71, created a new type of flexible polyurethane foam material that conformed to whatever shape was pressing against it, returning to its original shape when the pressure was removed, providing an even distribution of body weight. Early on, Yost called this tempur foam, while others referred to it as “slow spring back foam.” Technically, it is viscoelastic foam, but widely referred to as memory foam. I can’t write about memory foam without giving a shout-out to one of our CertiPUR-US® participating foam producers [...]

By |2021-02-05T22:01:51-05:00February 4, 2021|

Sheltering in Place? Here’s a Worthy Home Health and Safety Project

Thanks to Covid-19, we are all spending more time at home and more time cleaning. Once you've got your  anti-virus protocols in place, since you're already focused on healthy and safety, why not look at other ways you can protect yourself and your family? To that end, I'd like to introduce the concept of "replacement cycles." These are the predictable lengths of time that you can expect household products to last before they lose their effectiveness or deteriorate. Between waking up and going to bed, we engage in many routines for our personal hygiene, beauty and fitness, as well as household cooking and cleaning —all with the best of intentions.  However, many items we use carry hidden dangers if we don’t swap them out soon enough.  Here’s a room-by-room guide: Whole-House: Smoke Detector Batteries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends changing your smoke detector batteries twice a year, at the same time you change your clocks.  Of course, in the interim, if your smoke detector chirps at you to let you know the battery is dying, you’ll need to replace it before then.  This is so critical.  The CPSC says two thirds of residential fire deaths take [...]

By |2020-03-19T10:16:26-04:00March 18, 2020|

7 Surprising Facts about Chairs

I just love “Chairman Tut,” a sculpture by the artist Larry Morris because it speaks to the creative process (often born of discomfort!) and also illustrates that chairs may well be one of man’s greatest inventions—certainly a vast improvement over nature’s chairs, such as the logs, tree stumps and rocks used by our early ancestors. In his book “Now I Sit Me Down,” which is an appreciation of the chair and its 5,000-year history, architect Witold Rybczynski notes, “The way we choose to sit, and what we choose to sit on, says a lot about us: our values, our tastes, the things we hold dear.” Consider these seven facts about the fascinating history of the chair: Seating styles differ around the world. More than 100 distinct seating postures have been identified worldwide. For example, some cultures have a strong preference for squatting, kneeling or sitting on mats on the floor. In China, chair backs often have a 45-degree angle, as opposed to Western chairs with straight backs or slight reclines. Each of these culturally dictated postures has informed the development of chair styles as well as our muscles—which is why people used to floor-sitting may choose to sit on [...]

By |2020-02-24T07:13:57-05:00February 19, 2020|

Put Your Feet Up

The trend and health benefits of stand-up desks aside, putting your feet up is good for you. After a long day, have you ever been so tired that your inner voice said, “I’ve just got to put my feet up!”? That’s your body being wise. This point was driven home to me recently when my 93-year-old dad, who isn’t nearly as active as he used to be, remarked that his lower legs were swelling. I suggested he try putting his legs up when sitting on a chair or sofa. It worked! Within 48 hours, his legs were completely back to normal. Vein specialists confirm that elevating your legs is beneficial for those of us who spend hours a day sitting—or even standing—at a computer.  I’m also a big believer in cat naps, but if you’re too busy for a nap, taking just five minutes to put your feet up can be wonderfully restorative.  Ideally, you should lie in a position on your sofa or bed that elevates your legs above your head and heart. A stack of pillows or cushions can provide the necessary height and support under your feet. Experts stress not to elevate your legs on a [...]

By |2019-05-16T11:03:57-04:00April 11, 2019|