Best Memory Foam Mattress of 2018 & Buying Guide

If you think memory foam mattresses are all the rage these days, you’re not wrong: while traditional innersprings and newer hybrid models are still the top sellers, memory foam is a close bronze-medal placer.  Over ten percent of mattress sales are by memory foam experts Tempurpedic; of all the customers who purchase memory foam beds, 81% are satisfied with the quality of sleep they get from it—higher than any other mattress type on the market.

Our buyer’s guide will answer common questions about memory foam mattresses, compare its advantages and disadvantages to that of latex foam (which is also very popular), and look at a few of the best models out there to help shoppers start an informed search for their next mattress.

Product

Quality

Our Rating

Price

Casper Sleep Mattress

A+

Leesa Mattress

A+

LinenSpa 5” Gel

A  

Synwell Sleep 10”

A-

Buyer’s Guide:

What is memory foam?  When did it become popular in the mattress industry?

Memory foam is a substance composed of, among other elements, polyurethane (note: specifically polyurethane foams are less dense and elastic, and are often used as support bases in memory foam mattresses), and also known as viscoelastic foam.  It softens with body heat and contours to weight, so it provides a specialized support with just the right amount of give.

The material was invented in 1966 for NASA, who wanted to utilize it in their spacecraft seats and cushions.  Originally called “slow spring back foam” and “temper foam,” it was later commercialized and used, almost exclusively, by Tempur World, who created the Tempur-Pedic Swedish Mattress—the predecessor of today’s most popular memory foam mattresses.

At first, these beds were only used in hospitals and other medical arenas, where bedbound patients would develop bedsores and other ailments from traditional mattresses.  

The memory foam models, however, relieved pressure on these spots, and reduced pain overall.

Casper Sleep Mattress

Casper Sleep Mattress

As memory foam became less expensive, it slowly entered the mainstream market.  Initially, it was unpopular because it retained so much body heat.  By the early 2000s, gel-infused memory foam and ventilated designs were introduced to combat this problem, and the trend really gained traction.

In short, memory foam mattresses have been in the works for a long time, even if they seem like a fairly new invention.  Today, they’re infused with everything from gel to charcoal, green tea, plant oils—and even, in the case of Beautyrest Black’s luxury line, micro-diamonds to conduct body heat away from the user.

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of memory foam?

Some of the pros and cons with memory foam are based on opinion: for example, its high heat retention might be a negative for a hot sleeper, but a definite plus for a cold one.  

Buyers should consider all points listed below and determine what, if any, are must-haves or dealbreakers for their particular needs.

Pros

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    Contouring comfort to your body and sleeping position, for pressure relief where you need it and support elsewhere.
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    Respond to body heat and weight; “custom” experience for each user.
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    Helps keep spine in natural alignment.
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    Can eliminate tossing and turning/frequent waking, allowing for deeper REM sleep.
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    Can help mitigate snoring and even apnea, in some cases.
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    Most are hypoallergenic; check manufacturers’ descriptions for a list of all components.
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    Silent; unlike innerspring models, you won’t hear a creak or groan when someone moves.
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    Excellent motion separation, the ability for one partner to turn over or get in/out of bed without disturbing the other.

Cons

  • Most are not ideal for very heavy/overweight individuals.
  • Retain much more heat than other materials.
  • Mattress reacts to the climate; cold homes will have firmer mattresses, and hot ones will have very soft mattresses, even if the models are exactly the same.
  • Some people will have difficulty getting up from memory foam mattresses because of the close contour.
  • Price tends to be an indicator of quality/durability more so for this type of mattress than any other.  While quality mattresses can be found for less money, it’s likely they’ll need to be replaced sooner—so memory foam isn’t always ideal for people on very tight budgets.
  • Good for side sleepers, but not often the case with back and stomach sleepers, depending on overall density/firmness.

Is memory foam better than latex?

This is, again, a matter of personal opinion, but there are some undisputed differences between the two materials that are worth considering.

Latex foam is usually all natural (though not all are; the manufacturer should state this), sleep much cooler because they retain less heat, and have a broader contour overall, which might make them more suitable for overweight individuals, or people who find the “sinking” feeling of memory foam to be uncomfortable or unpleasant.  Latex foam also has a greater durability, in general, and springs back more quickly.

Memory foam—though it sleeps more warmly and isn’t natural—has the same support as latex, but with a closer contour and better pressure relief.  It allows for better blood circulation, as well, and beats latex in terms of overall sleep quality, according to most studies.

In the end, latex is best for most heavy individuals, back and stomach sleepers, and anyone who “runs hot” or sweats while they sleep; memory foam is better for lightweight to average-sized people, side sleepers, and neutral to cool temperatures.

LinenSpa 5” Gel

LinenSpa 5” Gel

This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, of course: the material that’s best for you depends not just on weight and position, but personal preference.  Some people simply like firm or soft surfaces, closer contours, faster spring back, etc.  If you’re not sure which would be best for your needs and wants, consider visiting a showroom in person to try mattresses of both materials, or look for online options offering “sleep trials,” 60 to 100 days where you can test your mattress, gauge its suitability, and send it back if it doesn’t perform as expected.

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What features/qualities should I look for in a memory foam mattress?

Synwell Sleep 10”

Synwell Sleep 10”

First, consider thickness.  The thinner a mattress is/the fewer layers it has, the more firm it will be; likewise, more layers and a greater thickness will generally be softer and have a deeper contour.

Next, look at the foam’s density.  2 to 3 lb. densities will be softer and better for side sleepers overall, while 4 to 5 lbs. is recommended for back and stomach sleepers.  The denser it is, the firmer it will feel.

Best Memory Foam Mattress Reviews

1.LinenSpa 5” Gel Memory Foam Mattress Review

LinenSpa 5” Gel

While a firm mattress isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, for many it’s the only way to get a good night’s sleep and pain-free morning. This model from LinenSpa is only 5” thick, making for a sleeker profile, easier transport and setup, and overall firm support that back and stomach sleepers will love.

Pros

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    1” gel-infused memory foam layer; 4” high-density base foam for support.
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    28 lbs.; easy to set up by yourself.
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    10-year limited warranty.
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    Firm; good for back sleepers and stomach sleepers.
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    Available in Twin, Twin XL (dorm standard), Full, Full XL, Queen, King, and Califnoia King.

Cons

  • Not ideal for most side sleepers.

We recommend this to back and stomach sleepers; side sleepers will likely need something thicker, with more than 1” of memory foam. We could, however, see this as an adequate guest bed for all sleeping positions, and a wonderfully durable addition to kids’ rooms, as well.

2. Casper Sleep Mattress Review

Casper Sleep Mattress

Casper, once a humble but impressive start-up, has now grown into one of the most popular online brands available.  They receive consistently positive reviews for their adaptive mattresses, which are designed to suit as many sleeping positions as possible, and feature open-cell foam for improved breathability over other models.

Pros

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    4 layers of foam: ventilated top layer, responsive memory foam, transition foam, and high-density support foam.
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    Hypoallergenic.
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    Open-cell design for breathability and cooler sleep.
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    100-night sleep trial; free returns within this window.

Cons

  • Out of some budget ranges.

3.Synwell Sleep 10” Gel-Infused Ventilation Memory Foam Mattress Review

Synwell Sleep 10”

Synwell Sleep’s 10” memory foam mattress features a gel infusion and aerated design to keep you cooler than solid foam beds, and even comes with a removable cover for easy cleaning.  Best of all, it’s incredibly affordable, making it ideal for people on tight budgets, or those looking to outfit a guest room or vacation house.

Pros

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    1.5” gel-infused memory foam, 2” convoluted high-density foam, 6.5” high-density support foam.
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    Removable cover.
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    51 lbs.; self-installation and transport can be done with one person.
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    10-year limited warranty.
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    Firm feel overall.
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    Very affordable.

Cons

  • Not enough “give” for most side sleepers.

We recommend this to back and stomach sleepers, or heavier BMIs; side sleepers and lightweight individuals might find it a little too firm, but it does have the proper layering to provide adequate pressure relief and support for most people.  Its low price is probably the best selling point, since high cost is the main reason shoppers don’t consider memory foam models in the first place.

4. Leesa Mattress Review

Leesa Mattress

Leesa claims their mattress is “universal,” one that can adapt to any weight and sleeping position.  It has memory foam, but also utilizes a patented blend called Avena foam, which has superior ventilation and high durability similar to latex.

Pros

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    Medium feel overall; surface is adaptive
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    Good motion separation between partners.
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    For every 10 mattresses sold, Leesa donates one to a shelter for those in need.
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    Made in America.
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    100-night sleep trial and money-back guarantee.

Cons

  • Out of some price ranges.
  • Sleep neutrally, rather than cool.  Might feel a little too warm for hotter sleepers.
  • Good for most side sleepers, but not all.

While it’s certainly a “one size fits most” mattress, the Leesa isn’t going to suit everyone 100%, which is about what we expected. The best candidates for this mattress seem to be back sleepers and some side ones.  The price is fair, and it’s nice to know that your purchase will contribute to a homeless shelter and people in need.

To Conclude:

After its initial invention and movement to the commercial market, memory foam was touted as a revolutionary material—and, in some ways, it is.  There’s nothing in the industry with such close contouring and impressive motion separation…but there’s also very little out there that sleeps as warmly. Memory foam is a godsend to some folks with chronic pain or sleeping disorders, while for others, it makes the problem ten times worse.

In short, memory foam deserves most of the hype it’s gotten the last few years…but not all of it.  It isn’t the perfect mattress material for everyone, but can suit most very well.  We hope our buyer’s guide has been helpful in beginning your search for a memory foam mattress that can give you reduced pain, improved comfort, and a better night’s sleep overall.