In 1966, NASA developed memory foam to use as cushioning in their rocketships. Specifically, it was engineered to relieve stress astronauts were subjected to during takeoff. Now, memory foam is found in hundreds of mattresses on the market today. There are many benefits to sleeping on memory foam, they contour to your body, ease aches and pains, and aid in healthy rest. In this guide, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of these beds as well as our five recommendations to help you find the best memory foam mattress for yourself.
The Amerisleep AS3 is our Editors’ Choice as the best memory foam mattress because it’s designed to adapt to a variety of sleepers and promotes healthy sleep positions.
- Pros of Memory Foam
- What’s the Best Memory Foam Mattress?
- What Makes the Best Memory Foam Mattress?
- Cons of Memory Foam
- Have You Found Your Next Bed?
Pros of Memory Foam
Memory foam mattresses have been steadily growing in popularity since the 1990s for many reasons. For starters, memory foam has the ability to contour to your body unlike any other material, due to its viscoelastic properties. Because it has this functionality, it can cradle your body while you sleep, releasing stress and tension. The reduced pressure and added comfort these beds provide help reduce chronic aches and muscle pains, specifically lower back pain. As memory foam molds to your body, it evenly distributes your body weight throughout the bed, resulting in even support from head to toe. These beds also help foster your spines alignment by properly supporting your body’s curves.
Another perk to memory foam is that it’s exceptional at isolating motion. Share the bed with someone who tosses and turns all night long? A memory foam bed could be the solution for sound sleep. Because these beds are designed to cradle your body in a healthy position, they should also prevent you, or a restless partner, from tossing and turning in discomfort throughout the night. Memory foam mattresses are almost virtually silent, too, considering they’re lacking noisier materials such as springs.
In general, memory foam mattresses receive excellent customer reviews. Review sites like Sleep Like the Dead compile customer feedback, and rank memory foam at an 81% satisfaction rating.1
Below, we’ll discuss our five memory foam mattress recommendations, who they’re best suited for, and their prices to help you find the most comfortable mattress for the money.
What’s the Best Memory Foam Mattress?
Our Editors chose Amerisleep’s AS3 as their favorite memory foam mattress of this year. In this section, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of this bed as well as our five other choices.
1. Amerisleep AS3
Amerisleep sells five different mattresses, each of which range in firmness and are designed for different types of sleepers. Their AS1 and AS2 are their firmer mattresses, their AS3 is their medium mattress, and their AS4 and AS5 are medium-soft and soft, respectively. We chose their AS3 mattress as our choice for best memory foam mattress because it is engineered to deliver an even balance of comfort and support, and is versatile enough to adapt to a variety of sleepers. Amerisleep uses high-quality engineered foams and innovative sleep technologies to deliver healthy, restorative sleep.
Let’s look at the layers of the Amerisleep AS3:
- Every Amerisleep mattress comes with a Celliant® cover. Celliant® is a fabric that has been determined by the FDA to promote better sleep by regulating your body temperature. At night, you naturally emit body heat while you sleep. This fabric recycles that body heat into infrared light. Your body then absorbs infrared light, which in turn, increases local blood flow. Increased local blood flow is thought to keep your body temperature regulated and prevent you from overheating. If you tend to sleep hot, this technology should prevent you from waking up uncomfortable.
- The top layer of the AS3 is Amerisleep’s Bio-Pur® foam. This plant-based memory foam is five times more breathable and than traditional memory foam, allowing for air to easily pass through this layer. When you lay on this layer, the memory foam will hug your body’s curves and offer instant comfort. However, this layer is also designed to be responsive, ensuring you don’t feel trapped in the bed.
- Amerisleep uses HIVE® technology in their next layer to offer unbeatable zoned support. To make this technology, they cut hexagons in strategic comfort zones. In areas where you need more support, these hexagons are placed closer together and feel firmer, and should prevent you from sinking unhealthily far into the mattress. A recent study found HIVE® technology successfully reduces pressure points up to 49%. As far as we know, HIVE® is the only targeted-support system backed by a third-party, peer-reviewed study.
- The last layer of this mattress is Amerisleep’s Bio-Core foam. The base of the mattress is durable foam designed to help prolong the lifespan of the mattress by preventing against premature deterioration and sagging. Amerisleep also backs their beds with an impressive 20-year warranty.
Because this bed is designed to be adaptable, it’s great for a variety of sleepers including back sleepers, side sleepers, and those who tend to snooze in a variety of positions throughout the night. A Queen AS3 comes in at $1,399 in price, but Amerisleep regularly runs mattress promotions, so if you watch their site, you could probably snag a deal. Plus, Amerisleep offers a 100-night trial and extensive 20-year warranty with each of their beds.
2. TEMPUR-LuxeAdapt Memory Foam Mattress
TEMPUR-Pedic® is one of the leading memory foam mattress brands in the industry, and even worked with NASA in the development of traditional memory foam. They sell dozens of mattresses, but we chose their TEMPUR-LuxeAdapt bed as our favorite. Available as a soft or firm, this bed has three layers engineered for maximum comfort. Below, we’ll break those down:
- The cover of the TEMPUR-LuxeAdapt, called their SMARTCLIMATE™ Dual Cover System, is polyester and Phase Changing Material. Phase changing technology is designed to feel cool to the touch and pulls heat away from your body while you sleep, keeping your temperature regulated throughout the night.
- The first layer of this bed is TEMPUR-Pedic® ‘s proprietary Tempur-ES foam. This memory foam is slow to respond and feels plush. You should sink down into this mattress, allowing for extra comfort and cradling. If you’re someone who prefers a more “in the bed” feel from your mattress, choose the Soft model of this bed.
- Next, is a layer of Tempur-APR+ foam, designed to contour to your body and help you relax down into the mattress. This material offers excellent pressure relief for the shoulders and hips, especially— making this a great bed for side sleepers.
- The base of this mattress is high-density poly-foam, in place to give the bed structural and edge support as well as its shape.
TEMPUR-Pedic® traditionally has slower to respond memory foams, and offer a true cradling feeling. If you’re somebody who prefers a more hugging feeling from your mattress, these beds are great. For back and stomach sleepers, we recommend choosing the firm option of this bed, as it should be supportive enough to foster a healthy spine.
When you buy a bed with TEMPUR-Pedic® it comes with free White Glove Delivery, 90-night sleep trial, and 10-year limited warranty. A Queen TEMPUR-LuxeAdapt comes with a hefty price tag, costing you $3,999.
3. Loom & Leaf Mattress
Loom and Leaf, otherwise known as L&L, is a subsidiary of the ever-popular Saatva brand. Saatva, founded in 2011, sells three beds and operates under three brand names of the same name—Saatva, an innerspring mattress; Zenhaven, a latex mattress; and Loom & Leaf, a memory foam mattress. To buy a Loom & Leaf, you have to do so online. However, L&L offers a sleep trial with every mattress, making their online-only business model possible. After your mattress arrives at your doorstep, you have 120 nights to sleep on it and decide if it’s a good fit for you. If you decide against keeping it, L&L charges a $99 transportation fee to return the mattress back to them. Let’s talk about the four different layers of this mattress:
- The cover of the Loom & Leaf is a combination of organic cotton, thistle, and a thin layer of foam. Knitted around the foam, this cotton and thistle feels soft and cooling to the touch. Plus, thistle acts as a natural flame retardant for this bed, eliminating the need to use other fire guards.
- The top layer of this mattress is memory foam infused with gel swirls. Cooling gel offers two key benefits: one, it absorbs and dissipates body heat, preventing you from overheating, and two, it offers enhanced support. L&L infuses this foam all throughout the first layer of memory foam, but adds a little extra in the lumbar region of this bed, offering more pressure relief for your hips and torso.
- Below, is another layer of contouring memory foam, designed to ease tension and reduce aches and pains.
- Next, is a transitional layer of poly-foam, meant to add extra support for the sleeper and prevent them from sinking too far in the bed.
- The last layer of this bed is high-density poly-foam, engineered to offer sturdy support the layers and sleeper above.
The L&L mattress is carried in Relaxed Firm and Firm, and costs $1,299 for a Queen. When you buy one of these beds, it comes with a 15-year warranty, protecting your investment for years to come.
4. Layla Memory Foam Mattress
We chose to feature this unique mattress because it has one quality the other beds on this list don’t, flippable firmness. Coming from a bed-in-a-box company, this is a great feature. The Layla mattress is soft on one side, and firm on the other, making it a great option for those who aren’t exactly sure what they want from a bed and prefer to have options or those who want a firm mattress and a soft mattress. Layla also infuses copper into their beds, a highly conducive element that acts to pull heat away from you and keep you cool while you sleep. Their innovative technologies make them stand out amongst competitors, and below, we’ll discuss the other materials Layla uses in their mattress:
- The cover of this bed is polyester infused with cooling gels to help reduce heat retention and offer a temperature-neutral sleeping surface.
- Starting at the soft side up, the first layer of this mattress is copper-infused memory foam. When you lay down on this side, this layer should contour to your body and help you relax in the bed, easing pressure points. The soft side of the Layla is rated an average 4 out of 10 on the firmness scale, meaning you should sink pretty far into this side of the mattress. In addition to keeping you cool, copper is naturally antimicrobial, so your mattress should be germ-free.
- Next, is a layer of transitional poly-foam, meant to cushion your body and offer some support.
- The core layer of this mattress is high-density poly-foam, giving sturdy support to both sides of the mattress.
- The base layer of this mattress, or the firm side of the bed, is another layer of memory foam. Layla ranks this layer a 7 out of 10 on the firmness scale, which means it should feel pretty solid to the touch. However, when you lay down on this side, you should still receive exceptional pressure relief.
A Queen Layla is a budget-friendly option, only costing $999 for a Queen. Layla also offers an impressive lifetime warranty and a generous 120-night sleep trial to each of their customers.
5. Bear Mattress
Bear designs their mattresses with athletes in mind, and put a large emphasis on “recovery” while you sleep. They use state-of-the-art sleep technology, including Celliant® fabric, to promote a better night’s sleep. They market their mattresses towards those who are active because they’re engineered to foster healthy sleep and alleviate aches and pains. We recommend this mattress to those who frequently experience aches and pains in the mornings, or those who struggle to get a good night’s sleep due to uncomfortable tossing and turning.
Let’s talk about the layers of this bed:
- The cover of the Bear mattress is Celliant® fabric. We discussed the perks of using this material when we covered the Amerisleep AS3, however as a reminder, this material promotes better sleep by regulating your temperature.
- The first layer of this mattress is graphite-infused memory foam. A perk to using graphite in this layer is enhanced temperature control. As you can expect, the memory foam in this layer should cradle your body upon laying down on this bed.
- Bear uses two layers of poly-foam as the “middle” layer of this mattress. They design this poly-foam to be more responsive than memory foam, so it should suspend your body in the mattress and prevent you from sinking too far.
- The base layer of this mattress is a high-density poly-foam base. They design this base to be long-lasting, but back their beds with a 10-year warranty just in case anything were to happen.
The Bear mattress comes with a 100-night risk-free sleep trial, and costs $840 for a Queen.
What Makes the Best Memory Foam Mattress?
Types of Memory Foam
Not all memory foam is created equal. There are type sof memory foam tha tis more open-cell in construction, promoting healthy airflow. Some types of foam have a greater chance of heat retention. Below, we will go over the more general types of foam in our quest to explain what constitutes a high-quality memory foam mattress.
There are essentially three varieties you will come across in the present marketplace: traditional, gel, and plant-based. All of these types represent the visco-elastic characteristics to varying degrees and mainly differ in ingredients and manufacturing methods.
- Traditional memory foam: is made from polyurethane with solely petroleum-based components. This is the original manufacturing method for visco-elastic, temperature-sensitive foams, seen in other brands. While traditional brands provide the notable benefits like pain relief and motion isolation, odorous off-gassing and trapped heat can be an issue for a portion of people.
- Plant-based memory foam replaces a portion of ingredients with plant-based materials. These sustainable mattresses reduce chemical concerns and have also been shown to improve comfort when it comes to sleeping temperature. Plant-based foams, like those from Amerisleep, can be made with a larger cell structure and with more stable temperature sensitivity which may reduce complaints seen in traditional foams, but there can be concerns of misrepresentation as with latex-based foams being presented as memory foam.
- Gel memory foam is made using traditional poly foams layered or infused with gel (blended in or beads/particles). This mattress type is popularized by brands like Serta and is the most recent, claiming to sleep cooler than traditional. While gel foam may create a cool sensation initially in some models, there are concerns of gels affecting durability over time and not living up to coolness claims (according to sources like Consumer Reports).
Memory Foam Density
One of the key features used to compare memory foam mattress brands is density, which is measured by the weight in pounds of a 12″ by 12″ square of material, or pounds per cubic foot. Foams are made more or less dense by changing the ratio of polymers to air.
Low density memory foams can be more responsive, cheaper, and less likely to trap heat, but break down quicker and may not offer enough support. High-density foams last longer and excel at support, but tend to trap heat, hinder movement, and cost more. More so, you want a mixture of high density and low density foam in your mattress to help with motion transfer. A mattress with bad motion transfer will lead you to wake up throughout the night as your sleeping partner moves.
- Low Density — 3.5 lbs and less
- Medium Density — 3.5-5.0 lbs
- High Density — 5.0 lbs and more
In addition to the density of the memory foam layer, the core or support foam density also plays a role in longevity and support, with 1.8 lbs and less considered low, 2.0-2.5 lbs considered medium, and over 2.5 lbs considered high. The vast majority of brands use cores between 1.5 and 2.5 lbs.
Indentation Load Deflection refers to force required to compress a material 25% or one inch on a four inch sample, depending on the test. Lower numbers reflect softer materials while higher numbers reflect firmer. With this type of mattress, firmness options depend on several factors: the ILD of each foam comfort layer and core, and the thickness of all layers. Since ILD numbers are so important to knowing the firmness level of a mattress, it’s a shame more companies aren’t upfront about the ILD of each layer. If you can’t find this information on the company website, consider reaching out and asking a customer support representative.
The range for memory foams is typically 10-16 ILD, where core foams register ILDs between 20-45. Mattresses with thicker layers of memory foam will also typically feel plusher than those with less. Not all manufacturers will disclose this information, but if they do it can help you make a more objective decision rather than relying on more arbitrary terms like soft and extra-firm.
Room temperature also plays a role with foams that are more sensitive to temperatures, as cooler rooms will make the foam feel firmer while warmer rooms and body heat will make the foam feel softer. Temperature-neutral foams will have less fluctuation and the firmness should feel more stable.
Mattress firmness preference is fairly subjective topic, but sleep studies have shown the majority of people will prefer medium to medium-firm beds for overall comfort and pain relief. The best starting point is to consider your current mattress firmness and whether you want something similar or different.
Different compositions of different layers can actually make a large impact on individual comfort.
When comparing different models, looking at the layers within the mattress proves important, both for understanding the relative value the mattress offers, the potential lifespan and how comfortable it will be for you. Some brands also use filler foams and other materials in the upper layers, which is important to know since these may be less durable and reduce comfort over time.
For example, consider two beds that are the same price and size. One has 4″ of 4.0 lb memory foam over a 7″ core. The other has 2″ of 3.0 lb memory foam, 1″ of regular foam and an 8″ core. Even though they are the same overall thickness, the first mattress contains an additional 2 inches in the comfort layer and a higher density. The second bed would represent less value at the same affordable price, since it contains less memory foam and lower density.
Foam Responsiveness & Viscosity
The responsiveness refers to how quickly it contours or returns to its original shape after being pressed. Traditional memory foams have a slow-response rate since they rely on body heat to conform and soften. Newer generations can be made with less temperature sensitivity, which creates a more responsive material that contours and returns to its original shape more quickly.
In terms of comfort, slow response foams provide a sinking or melting sensation and close contouring that some people enjoy but others may describe as being trapped in a hole or sinking in quicksand. Those with mobility concerns may also prefer more responsive foams since changing position and getting out of bed requires less effort compared to slow-response foams.
Heat Traps and Bad Odors
Though memory foam rates among the highest of all mattress types in owner satisfaction, two complaints that come up most often include warmer sleeping and an initial odor. For a majority of people, these are not an issue but about 10% of people report sleeping hot and about 15% report strong odor.
The factor most associated with sleeping hot is high foam density. Dense memory foams tend to contour more closely and are also less efficient at circulating air. Mattresses with thicker layers of dense foams tend to receive more complaints of heat than lower density beds and those with thinner layers.
While almost all newly manufactured products have some type of odor, the primary concern some have with with poly foams is volatile organic compounds. VOCs encompass around 60 gasses that various compounds (often petroleum related) release over time as they break down.
Though many of the worst offenders have been banned for use, mattress companies are not required to disclose ingredients so it can be hard to tell what is or is not in a mattress. Certi-Pur is an independent organization that tests polyurethane foams and only certifies those that have been found to have low-VOC levels, and do not contain chemicals of concern like PBDEs and formaldehyde. If odors and chemicals are a concern for you, consider checking for this certification when shopping and see what reviewers say.
Tired of waking up sweaty? Find the best memory foam mattress for sleeping cool
The cover on a memory foam mattress should complement the characteristics of the materials within. Breathable fabrics like cotton and rayon may be more preferable than polyester-blend knits for those who sleep warm. The material should also be able to stretch with the memory foam as it contours to your body and rebound without getting saggy. Covers should contain no more than 1″ of padding, quilting or fiber between your body and the memory foam layer(s), since any more could reduce the contouring and pressure reducing benefits.
Sleep Positions & Body Type
Different body shapes deform foam at differing degrees in different places, which can affect what feels comfortable to you.
Don’t forget to take your personal needs such as sleep position and body type into consideration when shopping as well. Side sleepers need thicker layers of memory foam to prevent pressure on hips and shoulders, whereas back and stomach sleepers require less since less of your body “sinks in”. Petite people may also feel comfortable with thinner-profile mattresses, though larger-framed people will feel more comfortable on thicker mattresses.
Therefore, if you are a 150 lb back sleeper, an 8-9″ mattress may be a good option, but a 250 lb side sleeper would do better with a 12-14″ mattress. For couples with significant differences, finding a middle ground or a customizable solution may be necessary.
Mattress Warranties & Sleep Trials
All mattresses should come with a warranty, though length and terms often vary. Most brands will have both a full coverage period (5-15 years) and sometimes a longer pro-rated period (5-15 additional years). Quality mattresses should have full coverage periods that extend through the expected lifespan of the mattress (at least 10 years ideally). You also want to find out how deep impressions must be before warranty coverage kicks in. Surveys have indicated that sagging over one inch can significantly affect comfort, so a warranty that covers impressions of one inch or less would be ideal.
In-home trial periods are offered by many retailers and allow customers a window in which they can return after buying. This is especially important if you are trying memory foam for the first time. Ask what fees are associated with returns. Some charge only return shipping, while others have restock fees, pickup fees, and other costs. You should have a minimum of 30 days to return or exchange in order to get a feel for the mattress since it can take time to fully adjust to new beds. While buying online can seem counter-intuitive, online retailers tend to have more generous return policies (and even showroom shopping doesn’t guarantee satisfaction since 40% of buyers report remorse).
Best Mattress Sales & Deals
Shopping for the best mattress prices usually includes looking for sales, discounts, and sometimes haggling. The following tips can help you get the lowest price after finding the ideal bed for your needs:
Watch for sales. Mattress retailers typically run sales during major holidays and during January when new models are debuted.
Mattress Buying Tips
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a deal. Retailers want to earn your business and may have additional specials or promotions that are not advertised.Showrooms typically charge more for mattresses than online retailers due to the higher costs associated with overhead and commissions, and usually have quite a bit of markup that can be reduced to make a deal. Online sellers also face stiff competition, and even if they don’t have a lot of negotiating space things like pillows or sheets could sweeten a sale.
- Consider a variety of brands. Advertising costs are typically passed onto the consumer. Name brands that spend millions on advertising campaigns may not always represent the best deal. Comparison shop based on value rather than brand name, and check online mattress reviews for unbiased information.
- Below is an overview of four leading memory foam mattress brands from different niches. We included details on the most important comparative factors to illustrate the above points and provide a starting point for research. Using a similar method of tracking your own product research can make it easier to compare value and pinpoint the best memory foam mattress based on what you are seeking.
We also included information from reviews of each mattress brand. Browsing reviews, especially third party, verified reviews (rather than “testimonials”) can be an important and helpful part of mattress shopping, as you can learn from other owners’ insight. But, bear in mind that those customers who are motivated to write reviews are often either very happy or very upset and since no bed will satisfy everyone, some vacillation is to be expected.
The key thing to look for is the overall trend of opinions, whether or not the mattress meets reviewers’ expectations, whether they would recommend the mattress, and if they had problems with the service or product integrity. To provide a baseline for comparison, the average owner satisfaction rating for memory foam brands is about 80%, or the equivalent of 4/5 stars.
Cons of Memory Foam
Memory foam is not the end-all be-all of mattress materials, and these beds do come with their downfalls. The most prominent being off-gassing. In the production of memory foam, petroleum is used to give the material it’s foam consistency. Without petroleum, there is no memory foam. Unfortunately, the use of petroleum can lead to unpleasant odors when first unpacking your new mattress, often referred to as a “new mattress smell.” Many brands are trying to combat this issue by using more eco-friendly materials in their mattresses such as plant-based foam. Other companies engineer poly-foam to be similar to memory foam, so they can offer the same benefits to their customers without the negatives of memory foam.
Another risk with memory foam is that it can trap heat. Some foams are not breathable enough to allow for air to flow in and out of the mattress easily, meaning any body heat you emit during the night can get trapped in the material below you. Mattress brands are integrating cooling gels and engineering their foams to be more breathable to prevent you from sleeping hot on their beds. If you’re somebody who’s prone to sleeping hot, memory foam may not be the best material for you.
The risks above are much more prominent in cheap materials, such as a foam mattress topper. Look for companies which are CertiPUR-US® certified to help you find your top pick. And, as always, consider your sleeping position (do you sleep on your side or back or stomach?) to help you find which type of mattress is right for you.
Did You Find Your Next Bed?
We hope this guide has helped you decide if a memory foam bed is right for you. When weighing the pros and cons of these beds, consider your own sleeping habits. Also, don’t forget to read customer and mattress reviews during your search to get more insight information about the beds you’re thinking of buying. If you’ve decided memory foam is solution to your sleep struggles, we’re confident one of the beds on this list could be a great mattress for you.