The Best Memory Foam Mattresses and Buying Advice
If you think memory foam mattresses are all the rage these days, you’re not wrong: while traditional innerspring 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 expert Tempurpedic. Of all the customers who purchase memory foam beds, 81% are satisfied with the quality of sleep they get from them—higher than any other mattress type on the market.
Our buyer’s guide will answer common questions about memory foam mattresses, compare their 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.
Mattress Casper Sleep
Sunwell Sleep 10
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 is also known as viscoelastic foam. It softens with body heat and contours to weight, providing specialized support with just the right amount of giving.
The material was invented in 1966 for NASA, who wanted to utilize it in their spacecraft seats and cushions. Originally referred to as “slow spring back foam” and “temper foam,” it was later commercialized and almost exclusively used by Tempur World, which created the Tempur-Pedic Swedish Mattress, the forerunner 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.
Mattress Casper Sleep
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 gained traction.
In short, memory foam mattresses have been in the works for a long time, even if they seem like a reasonably 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.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of memory foam?
Some of the pros and cons of memory foam are based on opinion. For example, its high heat retention might be a negative for some but a definite plus for a cold one.
Buyers should consider all the points listed below and determine what, if any, are must-haves or dealbreakers for their particular needs.
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 always; the manufacturer should state this), sleeps much more relaxed because it retains less heat, and has a broader contour overall, which may make it more suitable for overweight people or people who find the “sinking” feeling of memory foam uncomfortable or unpleasant. Latex foam also has more excellent durability, in general, and springs back more quickly.
Although memory foam sleeps more warmly and isn’t natural, it has the same support as latex but with a closed contour and better pressure relief. According to most studies, it allows for better blood circulation and beats latex in terms of overall sleep quality.
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.
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 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 made 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.
What features/qualities should I look for in a memory foam mattress?
First, consider the 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. Densities of 2 to 3 lbs. 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.
The Best Memory Foam Mattress Reviews
LinenSpa 5 “Gel Memory Foam Mattress ReviewWhile 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 inches thick, making for a sleeker profile, more accessible transport and setup, and overall firmer support for your back and joints.
We recommend this for back and stomach sleepers; side sleepers will likely need something thicker, with more than 1 inch 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.
Once a humble but impressive start-up, Casper has now grown into one of the most popular online brands available. They receive consistently positive reviews for their adaptive mattresses, designed to suit as many sleeping positions as possible and feature open-cell foam for improved breathability over other models.
With a medium firmness to suit all sleeping positions and weights, this model from Casper seems to live up to the company’s goal of creating “one perfect mattress” with just the right amount of giving and support. Other than its price (which is still very affordable for a memory foam mattress of this caliber), we think this is worth considering for all buyers.
Sunwell Sleep’s 10″ memory foam mattress features a gel infusion and aerated design to keep you cooler than solid foam beds, and it 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.
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 the high cost is the main reason shoppers don’t consider memory foam models in the first place.
Leesa claims their mattress is “universal,” one that can adapt to any weight and sleeping position. It has memory foam and utilizes a patented blend called Avena foam, which has superior ventilation and high durability similar to latex.
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.
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 helped begin your search for a memory foam mattress that can give you reduced pain, improved comfort, and a better night’s sleep overall.