Memory Foam Mattress Reviews – Buyer's Guide
Nest Alexander Signature Series mattress
Memory foam is a mattress material that is moldable and heat sensitive. It molds itself to support your body, then returns to its original shape when pressure is no longer applied. Memory foam is also known as viscoelastic polyurethane foam, visco foam, or low-resilience polyurethane foam.
Memory foam mattresses are known for their ability to relieve pressure and conform to the unique shape of every sleeper. They are best for side sleepers and people with back pain or a need for pressure relief. With good contouring ability, memory foam mattresses are able to accommodate the natural curves of side sleepers with little pressure on shoulders and hips.
Memory foam’s ability to conform makes it a good choice for people with back pain or those who need to relieve pressure points. By closely conforming to your unique shape, memory foam mattresses offer support without pressure points.
Our Favorite Memory Foam Mattresses
|Nest Alexander Signature Series||$1,199|
Memory Foam Mattress Benefits
Memory foam mattresses are known for their ability to relieve pressure. With a high level of support as the foam adjusts to size and sleeping position, memory foam can reduce pressure points. This can offer relief for joint, muscle, and back pain.
Motion isolation is another benefit of memory foam mattresses. With a memory foam mattress, pressure on part of the mattress will not affect other parts. This is beneficial to couples, as a partner moving in bed or getting up can be disruptive to the other if there is no motion isolation.
Memory Foam Mattress Drawbacks
Offgassing, or the presence of a chemical smell, is a common complaint among memory foam mattress owners. When memory foam is manufactured, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are formed. They are released when the mattress is removed from its packaging. While the smell can be annoying, it is relatively harmless and usually goes away within a few days.
Memory foam mattresses retain heat more than innerspring or hybrid mattresses, as memory foam is not as breathable as other mattress materials. Memory foam mattress owners may also complain of sleeping hot due to the close contouring of the memory foam comfort layer.
Memory foam is not an ideal mattress material for sex. There is no bounce or responsiveness, and the close contouring effect of the memory foam can make it feel like you’re stuck in or fighting the bed to move.
Understanding Memory Foam Mattresses
There are four types of memory foam mattresses on the market: viscoelastic, gel infused, copper infused, and plant based.
Viscoelastic memory foam is the traditional memory foam material. It is the most widely available variety and is polyurethane based. Viscoelastic memory foam reacts and softens with heat, contouring to your body. This type of mattress tends to reduce pressure and increase circulation while offering support. It has little motion transfer, so you can sleep soundly even if your partner moves at night. However, this material can run hot and higher-density memory foam may feel too stiff.
Gel-infused memory foam mattresses offer contouring and pressure relief while also reducing heat. Gel is used to disperse heat through the mattress and draw it away from the surface. Gel memory foam mattresses are not as widely available as other memory foam types.
Like gel-infused memory foam, copper-infused memory foam mattresses are designed to offer the benefits of traditional memory foam without the heat. Copper-infused memory foam has thin copper wire throughout the foam that helps to carry heat away from the surface.
Plant-based memory foam mattresses are made of botanical materials as well as traditional petrochemicals. The layers have an open-cell configuration, which increases airflow and makes sleeping on a plant-based memory foam mattress cooler.
Memory Foam Mattress Density
The more dense a memory foam mattress is, the more firm it will be. With more air (lower density), memory foam is softer and easier to compress. At a higher density with less air, memory foam is more firm and resilient. Higher-density foams tend to last longer, but they also retain more heat.
Low-density memory foam mattresses (2.5 to 3.9 pounds per cubic foot) are softer, easier to sink into, and provide less support than a higher-density foam. They tend to be less durable and can wear out faster.
Medium-density memory foam mattresses (4.0 to 5.9 pounds per cubic square foot) offer more support and less softness than low-density memory foam mattresses without the stiffness of a high-density mattress.
High-density memory foam mattresses (5.5 pounds per cubic foot or higher) offer firmness and support while relieving pressure points. However, they may feel too stiff for some sleepers.
|Density Level||Density Range||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Low||2.5 to 3.9 pounds per cubic foot||Softer, easier to sink into, often inexpensive||Provide less support, can wear out faster|
|Medium||3 to 5 pounds per cubic foot||Good sink and support, durable||May not be firm or soft enough for all sleepers|
|High||5+ pounds per cubic foot||Firmness, less sink, very durable||Can feel stiff, retains more heat, often more expensive|
How Memory Foam Feels
Memory foam contours to your body, making a memory foam mattress feel like a customized fit each time you lay on it. This contouring offers good support for the whole body, which helps with spinal alignment and can reduce or prevent back pain.
A responsive mattress material, memory foam compresses in response to the amount of pressure you apply, so parts of your body that are heavier and apply more pressure will sink further into the mattress. This compression feels like a hug, or like you’re sinking into the bed.
Memory foam varies in firmness, but is generally a soft mattress material. The softer the memory foam, the more you’ll sink into the bed.
Memory Foam Mattress Construction
As memory foam is a highly conforming material, memory foam mattresses are usually not made exclusively with memory foam. Memory foam typically serves as the top comfort layer above a supportive core layer. This offers more support as sleepers sink deeper into the mattress. Supportive core layers are typically innerspring, latex, or polyurethane foam.
Other memory foam mattress components include the mattress cover, which is located above the top layer. Some memory foam mattresses have multiple memory foam or support layers.
Evaluating the Quality of a Memory Foam Mattress
Density: Quality memory foam mattresses tend to have a density of 4 to 5 pounds per cubic foot. A lower-density memory foam may be too soft and not as durable. And while a higher-density memory foam will likely be more durable, they can be more expensive and feel too firm for most sleepers.
Cooling elements: Memory foam mattresses often have cooling features including gel- or copper-infused foams. However, these elements almost never work to effectively cool down memory foam mattresses.
Comfort layer height: The thicker the comfort layer, the more contouring and support the mattress will offer. Some sleepers, particularly heavy sleepers, can benefit from a thicker top layer.
Overall thickness: The overall thickness of a mattress contributes to its support and comfort. Often, thicker mattresses can be better for heavier sleepers, offering better support. However, most sleepers will be comfortable with a mattress 10 to 11 inches thick. A thicker mattress isn’t necessary unless you have extreme needs, such as very heavy sleepers.
Cover: Mattress covers that go over the top comfort layer have varying thickness levels and materials. Covers that are too thick or not breathable can contribute to heat retention and cause you to sleep hot.
Memory Foam Mattress Lifespan
Assuming you buy a quality memory foam mattress, it should last for five to seven years of regular use. Durability depends on the quality of mattress materials as well as the density and thickness of the foam. Usually, higher-density memory foam will retain its shape and last longer than low-density foam. Other components of the mattress are important to durability as well, including the cover stitching and seams.
Your memory foam mattress warranty should be as long as possible, usually up to 20 years. It should cover sagging, seams, and other physical defects. Be sure that the warranty clearly explains how claims are handled, including mattress replacement, shipping costs, and turnaround time.
What You Should Pay for a Memory Foam Mattress
The price range of memory foam mattresses is large, with some that cost as little as $300 and others more than $3,000. High-density, plant-based, and gel- and copper-infused foam mattresses tend to cost more. But ultimately, you can get a great memory foam mattress for between $800 and $1,000.
Questions for Buying a Memory Foam Mattress
When you’re buying a memory foam mattress, make sure you know the answer to these important questions.
- What are the layers made of?
- How thick are the layers?
- What is the density?
- Will the mattress work for your sleep position?
- If you have a partner, is the mattress comfortable for them?
- What are the trial, return, and warranty policies?