June 2020

What is reflex mattress foam?

Reflex mattress foam is a term you may hear on your journey into finding the perfect new mattress. Reflex is a support foam used for either support or firming up upholstery layers in mattresses. However, it can often be used in different ways which completely change the feel of a mattress. So read on to find out the specifics on reflex foam.

If you’ve been looking at a foam mattress such as Memory foam, Eve, Casper or Simba you may have come across the term ‘support foam’. Each brand has its own proprietary support foam which we will explain are all derivatives of ‘Reflex foam’. This article will help explain what support foams and reflex foams are and why they are used in foam mattresses.

A memory foam mattress hand print

What is reflex mattress foam?

Reflex or the base foam (the part of the mattress under the memory foam) is the denser and firmer supportive part of the mattress. We use British Vita foams reflex branded foam mainly as a mattress insulator on entry-level mattresses.  These come in a different density rating, usually 30kg (Soft) to 33kg (Firm). Very few manufacturers give you any detail on this part of the mattress, but we do! The British Vita foam reflex foam we use is solid filler-free, unlike cheaper PU foams which are a mix of different foams.

The highlighted area in the image below is the Reflex layer of the mattress, shown as a white foam.  See our data sheets for all the foams here.

Reflex foam
Reflex Foam is a firm supportive foam for the base of foam mattresses such as Eve, Casper Simba and tempur

A standard memory foam mattress comprises of the memory foam top layer and then either one or more layers of Memory Foam or reflex foam. The best way to imagine it, because we really like old fashioned cakes, is that memory foam is the soft icing on a fruit cake, and the reflex foam is the firm fruit cake base that supports the icing.

There may be other ‘marzipan’ layers present but the reflex foam is the base, and this offers you your support.

Foam GradeDensity Min KG/M3Density Max KG/M3Hardness Min (n)Hardness Max (n)
Reflex 3003032100130
Reflex 300F3032130160

Density and hardness are quoted according to in-house test methods based upon BS EN ISO 845 and BS EN ISO 2439 respectively.

Reflex can also be used to firm up upholstery layers such as in our Origins Pocket Reflex 1000 model. It can help provide a firmer consistent top layer when matched with softer elements such as polyester.

Mattress Support Foam

There is also another set of foams used in Mattresses and these are identified by a V rating and a number. These foams are high support foams used in seating, car seats and mattresses that must offer support for heavier sleepers such as 22-30 stone sleepers.

These V support foams are excellent at both resilience and support and can be coupled together to make a superbly comfortable yet supporting mattress for heavier sleepers or those who want an ultra firm mattress. As these V foams have such a high hardness and tolerance for resilience against heavier weights they can provide a much stronger mattress in terms of longevity.   Our resilience range features V38 a firm support foam and V39 a medium support foam that can handle repeat pressure whilst still keeping its shape. For more information please see our two Resilience models made specifically for a heavier sleeper or someone wanting much more resilient support.

An example of support foams can be seen below.

Support Foam V38 Mattress
Support foams take the place where springs are usually used in a mattress

Memory Foam Support Explained

As we mentioned before each memory foam mattress brand will have its own version of reflex foam usually branded to muddy the water even more! This makes comparing mattresses even harder. Below is a list of reflex foam equivalents.

  • Durabase Technology in Tempur Mattresses
  • Base foam the term used by Eve mattresses
  • Durable base foam is the term Casper uses
  • Zoned support base foam used by the Simba mattress company

What they all have in common is they are all high-density support foam very similar to reflex foam. You need to ask these brands what the depth and density is to fully compare their mattresses.

Does Reflex Foam smell?

There is a smell usually present with all foam mattresses as they ‘Offgass’. This usually dissipates in a week or so but some people can be hypersensitive to the smell of new foams and mattresses. Good ventilation can help reduce it or choosing a more Natural Fibre mattress that has fewer chemical compounds to offgass within it.

Is reflex foam different from memory foam?

Yes, Reflex foam is far firmer than memory foam and is not as viscoelastic meaning it doesn’t mould as quickly to the body like memory foam. It’s still heat retentive like all foams are when compared to natural fibre upholstery. This can lead to sleepers getting far hotter than they would in a wool and horsehair mattress. Memory foam has an open-cell structure meaning it can trap air and heat and then mould to the sleeper. More often than not Reflex is used beneath memory foam as the support layer.

castellated foam john ryan
99% of all Memory foam mattresses will use Reflex foam as the support layer

Whats a better alternative to reflex mattress foam?

If your budget allows then a Pocket Spring unit is always preferable to a Reflex foam support layer. This is because:

  • Pocket springs work independently whereas Reflex foam is one solid mass of support
  • Pocket Springs are far more breathable compared to foams
  • You can choose different gauges and tensions of springs based on your bodyweight whereas Reflex foam comes in only firmer tensions (It’s not suitable for lighter sleepers)
  • Pocket springs don’t suffer from the compression rates that foam does and therefore have a significantly longer lifespan.
Pocket Springs are a far better alternative to Reflex foam. They are cooler, more breathable and can be created specifically for your bodyweight unlike firm foam.

Reflex foam is the undersung hero of support in an entry-level/foam-based mattresses. Whilst there is nothing super-advanced about it, it does do a great job to provide support in a foam construction mattress. It is an entry-level priced component and will be found in entry-level mattresses. However, if you are looking for a handcrafted high-end mattress, then you should be looking for more natural advanced construction methods.

Our small friendly team can help you choose a mattress specifically tailored to your needs. With our 60 Day Love it or Return it Guarantee its completely risk-free.
Our small friendly team can help you choose a mattress specifically tailored to your needs. With our 60 Day Love it or Return it Guarantee its completely risk-free.

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