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Memory foam, first developed by NASA and technically known as viscoelastic foam, has become one of the most popular components in mattresses. For many people, memory foam is synonymous with comfort.
This material has earned a loyal following because of its unique characteristics; it compresses in proportion to the weight applied to it and then slowly retakes its full size. As a result, it hugs the body with tailored cushioning, contributing to significant pressure relief.
Thanks to its contouring, memory foam excels at motion isolation and doesn’t make any noise, reducing the chances that you’ll be woken up by a partner getting in and out of bed. Nonetheless, memory foam mattresses aren’t for everyone, as they have potential downsides as well.
Utilizing in-house testing and customer experience data, we’ve made a list of the best memory foam mattresses of 2021. Additionally, we’ve written an in-depth buyers guide to help you figure out a memory foam mattress is right for you
Choose memory foam if:
Skip memory foam if:
More and more mattresses have come on the market using memory foam layers, which has left many shoppers unsure of what distinguishes the best from the rest. We’ve simplified the process and identified the top memory foam mattresses.
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The GravityLux by WinkBeds is a memory foam mattress that comes in three firmness levels: medium soft (4 out of 10), medium (5), and firm (8).
The mattress has a cover made of Tencel, which is a eucalyptus-derived fabric known for it’s breathability and durability. Its comfort layers consist of layers of polyfoam and their proprietary AirCell memory foam, which is open-celled to prevent it from trapping as much body heat throughout the night. Under this is a zoned transition layer that supports the midsection while conforming to the shoulder and hips. Finally, this all sits on top of a high-density polyfoam support core.
The memory-foam construction results in excellent performance in the categories of pressure relief and motion isolation, making it great for people who experience back, shoulder, or hip pain, as well as couples and light sleepers. Since it’s available in three different firmness options, sleepers of all weights and sleeping positions should be able to find a model that works for them. While all-foam mattresses inevitably will sleep somewhat hot at night, the open-celled foam technology makes the GravityLux more temperature neutral than the average memory foam bed.
As a luxury option, the GravityLux comes at a slightly higher price point than the average all-foam mattress but it also stands out due to its quality construction and materials. WinkBeds offers a 120 night sleep trial, lifetime warranty, and ships free within the contiguous US.
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The Layla’s innovative flippable design, quality construction and competitive price point distinguishes it as one of the best memory foam mattresses. The Layla is two-sided, with a medium (5 out of 10) firmness on one side and a firm (7) feel on the other.
The Layla has two copper-infused memory foam comfort layers on each side. These layers conform closely to the body to relieve pressure — this is especially true of the soft side. The copper infusion is designed to prevent the foam from trapping as much body heat, making the mattress sleep cooler. In between these layers is a support core of high-density polyfoam.
The Layla’s two-sided design gives more versatility among sleepers of different body types and sleeping positions. We recommend the soft side for side sleepers and some back sleepers who weigh less than 230 pounds. The firm side will likely suit back and stomach sleepers over 230 pounds. This mattress performed very well when tested for pressure relief, motion isolation, and durability, making it a good long-lasting option for those with pain issues and couples.
The Layla’s price point is on the low side of average for an all-foam mattress. Layla guarantees their mattress with a 120 night sleep trial and a 10 year warranty — and ships free to the contiguous US.
Best Pressure Relief
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Amerisleep has built a product line of memory foam mattresses that stand out in large part thanks to their thoughtful construction and specialty cover. The AS3 is one of their most popular models and can provide excellent sleep to most sleepers.
For the interior construction, the AS3 is made with three layers. The topmost of these is 3 inches of memory foam, creating a contouring sleeping surface with above-average motion isolation. The second layer is 2 inches of transition polyfoam using SMT technology for zoned support. The third layer is 7 inches of sturdy, high-density polyfoam.
Side sleepers usually appreciate the Medium feel of the AS3 as do many back and stomach sleepers who weigh under 130 pounds. All sleepers get 100 nights to try out the mattress with the option to return it, and over the long haul, the AS3 is covered by a 20-year warranty.
SleepFoundation readers get the best price on Saatva Mattresses.
The Loom & Leaf is the memory foam mattress offered by the well-regarded Saatva company. With high-density memory foam in its comfort system and two firmness options to choose from, the Loom & Leaf is a leading choice for people who want to experience the key features of this material.
Part of the appeal of the Loom & Leaf is its quality materials. The cover is made with breathable and plush organic cotton. Quilted into this cover is a little over half-an-inch of polyfoam.
Underneath the cover are two layers of gel-infused memory foam that achieve a total combined thickness of three inches. The density of those layers is five and four pounds per cubic foot (PCF). Combined with the quilted cover, these layers provide the conforming needed to proportionately cushion each part of the body.
A two-inch layer of transition polyfoam helps hold the line against any excess sink, and a six-inch foam support core rounds out the mattress construction. As a whole, these materials promote excellent motion isolation in addition to contouring.
Customers can choose between a Medium and a Firm option, with the Firm being an especially good fit for stomach and back sleepers and people over 230 pounds.
The Loom & Leaf is delivered with free white-glove service, ensuring a stress-free installation and removal of an old mattress. There’s a 180-night sleep trial with each mattress, but $99 is deducted from any refund to cover the cost of pickup and return shipping. Long-term protection against defects comes from a 15-year warranty.
Get $399 worth of free accessories with every mattress purchase.
Another standout mattress is the Nectar Lush, which features a 3-inch comfort layer of memory foam that contours closely for a signature “body hug” feel. The mattress has a medium (5) feel, but its transitional and support layers of high-density polyfoam prevent excessive sinkage for people who weigh up to 230 pounds. Altogether, the mattress measures 12 inches thick.
Like other memory foam beds, the Lush excels at motion isolation. The foam layers absorb movement on each side of the bed and prevent it from transferring across the surface, which can curb nighttime disruptions for couples and co-sleepers. The mattress is completely silent, as well.
Pressure relief is another strength of this mattress. Side sleepers receive plenty of cushioning for their shoulders and hips, which can improve their spinal alignment and alleviate discomfort throughout the body. Back sleepers should also be able to rest comfortably without sinking too much around the midsection.
Compared to other all-foam mattresses, the Nectar Lush’s sticker price is a bit steep., However, Nectar provides free ground delivery anywhere in the contiguous U.S. and backs the mattress with a 365-night sleep trial – one of the longest return periods in the industry. You’ll also receive a lifetime warranty with your purchase.
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Made by the trusted long-standing mattress brand, Sealy, the Cocoon Chill is available in medium firm (6). Our testing has shown that back sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds can find comfort and support on either firmness option of the Cocoon Chill. However, sleepers who weigh more than 130 pounds tend to prefer the more robust support found in the medium firm option.
Among the bed’s unique features is its cover constructed with phase-change material (PCM). The PCM infusion into the cotton and polyester blend cover is designed to absorb heat from your body and disperse it away from the surface, with the intent of keeping the mattress cool despite the ambient temperature of the room or your body heat. This unique cover helps the Cocoon Chill sleep noticeably cooler than many competing memory foam models.
As is typical among memory foam mattresses, the Cocoon Chill excels in pressure relief and motion isolation. This ability to isolate motion, along with the silence of the bed’s mixed-foam construction make it a great choice if you share a bed with a co-sleeper who is easily awakened by your movements, or vice versa.
Sealy offers a 100-night sleep trial for the Cocoon Chill and you can return or exchange the mattress at any time during this trial, without a mandatory break-in period. The mattress is shipped for free within the U.S. and it comes with a 10-year warranty.
SleepFoundation readers get $200 off a DreamCloud Mattress.
A memory foam hybrid is the best of both worlds for many people. The comfort layers provide close, even contouring but the mattress as a whole offers more support and stability compared to an all-foam model. The DreamCloud stands out from other hybrids due in part to its luxurious construction. Measuring 15 inches thick, the mattress features a pillow-top cushioned with memory foam that gives the surface a plush feel, followed by additional memory foam and polyfoam layers that contour to the body without sinking too much.
The support core contains individually pocketed coils that stabilize the mattress without causing an overly stiff feel or generating too much motion transfer. Air circulates freely throughout the coil system, while a breathable cashmere-blend cover regulates the surface temperature, so all in all the DreamCloud sleeps quite cool.
Due to its medium firm (6) feel, the mattress is best suited to sleepers in the range of 130-230 pounds. Side sleepers receive adequate padding for the shoulders and hips, which ensures even alignment and reduces pressure points along the spine, while back and stomach sleepers in this weight group can rest comfortably without sinking around the torso and hips.
The DreamCloud’s 365-night sleep trial is among the longest in the online mattress industry, and those who keep the mattress after the return period ends receive a lifetime warranty for extra peace of mind. Shipping is free throughout the contiguous U.S.
Best for Athletes
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The Bear Pro Mattress is a medium firm (6) mixed-foam mattress that regulates temperature using comfort layers and an innovative cover. Back sleepers and side sleepers of all sizes are likely to find good pressure relief with the Bear Pro. The mattress isolates motion well, making it a worthy choice for couples and light sleepers.
The Bear Pro has a 7-inch HD polyfoam support core, a 2.5-inch polyfoam transition layer, a 1.5-inch gel-infused memory foam comfort layer, and is topped with a 1-inch copper-infused polyfoam comfort layer. The four foams work together to create a surface that combines the hugging sensation of memory foam with enough support to avoid excessive sinkage. The Bear Pro’s price-point is within the average range for mixed-foam mattresses.
The mattress cover is made from Celliant, a material crafted with temperature regulation and recovery in mind. Celliant is designed to convert body heat into infrared energy in order to improve blood circulation and help sleepers stay cool throughout the night. The copper-infused polyfoam comfort layer also contributes to the bed’s cooling effect by offsetting heat absorption.
Bear provides free FedEx ground shipping to the contiguous U.S. while customers in Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada must pay additional shipping fees. The mattress has a 10-year limited warranty and sleepers can try it for 100 days. Bear offers free returns and full refunds for mattresses returned within that 100-night trial window.
Best for Side Sleepers
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Puffy describes the experience of their flagship mattress as sleeping on a cloud, a state of comfort and support driven by a memory foam layer in the comfort system.
That memory foam layer is two-inches thick and made with the company’s gel-infused CloudComfort foam. Customers report above-average pressure relief to assist with healthy spinal alignment, and people highlight its notable motion isolation that limits nighttime disruptions from a partner’s tossing and turning.
A second foam layer, two-inches thick and made with polyfoam, has less conforming, which keeps sleepers from sinking too far into the Puffy. A six-inch, high-density polyfoam support core creates a stable, noise-free base for the rest of the bed.
A medium (5) feel makes the Puffy a good fit for sleepers in any position who weigh under 130 pounds. It’s an excellent match for side sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds because its plush comfort level and degree of contouring can soften impact at the hips and shoulders.
Puffy’s sleep trial lets customers try out the mattress for 101 nights with the option to return it for a complete refund. For the long-term, Puffy offers a customer-friendly warranty: it is a lifetime warranty that provides for full replacement of the mattress at no cost if a defect arises in materials or craftsmanship.
Side sleepers, who have high-impact areas at the hips and shoulders, frequently have great results with memory foam mattresses. Back and stomach sleepers, especially those under 230 pounds, appreciate these beds as well.
Memory foam is not the best fit for people who sleep hot. It may be a poor match for people who need to move easily on top of the mattress (including for sexual activity).
To find the best memory foam mattress, it helps to know the key things to look for so that you can keep your eye on the ball. In general, memory foam provides above-average pressure relief and motion isolation but can sleep hot and permit too much sink for some people. Manufacturers often add components to try to address the downsides, but the actual effects of those design changes are mixed.
As you review specific models, consider the following factors and how important they are for your personal decision-making
If you’ve never tried out a memory foam mattress, it’s natural to wonder what it feels like. While words can’t explain it perfectly, this section gives you an idea:
All forms of memory foam have shared characteristics, but not all memory foams are the same. The feel, durability, and performance can be different depending on the composition and type of the foam as well as its quality.
Traditional memory foam offers the most classic performance of this material. It has deep contouring and motion isolation along with notable heat retention and minimal bounce.
Both its benefits and drawbacks are easily detected, and as a consequence, this type of memory foam is controversial. Some people love its cloud-like hug while others complain about feeling stuck in the foam or overheating on it during the night.
With newer memory foams on the market, traditional memory foam’s use has declined slightly, but it can still often be found in the comfort system of all-foam and hybrid beds.
The manufacturing process for memory foam involves a handful of chemicals, some of which are derived from petroleum. In a plant-based memory foam, sometimes called a “bio” foam, a certain percentage of those petrochemicals are replaced with products that come from plant matter, such as soybean oils.
Plant-based memory foam is appealing for eco-conscious customers, but it is important to note that the plant oils replace some but not all of the petrochemicals.
Because the rest of the manufacturing process is similar, the performance of plant-based memory foam is similar to other types. It may come with a slightly higher price tag than petroleum-based memory foam.
Gel-infused memory foam intersperses a gel material into the foam itself. The gel can be added in a swirl pattern or can be enclosed in small beads that are distributed through the foam.
The goal of infusing gel into memory foam is to try to reduce heat retention. The gels often have properties that are designed to absorb heat from the foam, keeping heat from building up near the sleeping surface and around your body.
Gel-infused foams are common and, depending on the gel used, may provide a modest decrease in heat retention. That said, even these memory foams will heat up more than other mattress materials.
In this type of memory foam, copper-filled beads are intermixed with the foam. These beads are intended to draw heat away from the surface of the mattress. Copper has antibacterial properties, which may help prevent odors and the deterioration of the mattress.
Many products that include copper are marketed as having health-promoting effects on circulation or muscle recovery. To date, there’s limited evidence that copper gel in a mattress has any direct positive or negative effects on individual health.
A great deal of mattress shoppers find themselves deciding between a memory foam or hybrid mattress. Hybrids are built with a coil-based support core and various layers, including sometimes memory foam, layered above the coils.
The following table compares memory foam and hybrid mattresses. As you review it, keep in mind that the performance of hybrids has a wider range because of the multitude of ways that their comfort system can be built.
|Memory Foam Mattresses||Hybrids|
|Support Core||High-Density Polyfoam||Innerspring Coils|
|Comfort System||Memory foam, sometimes with other supplemental layers (polyfoam, latex)||One or more layers of memory foam, polyfoam, latex, micro-coils, wool, cotton, and/or polyester|
|Motion Isolation||High||Low to High|
|Bounce||Low||Medium to Hgih|
|Temperature Regulation||Low||Medium to High|
|Common Firmness||Plush to Medium-Firm||Medium to Firm|
|Expected Durability||6-8 years||6-8 years|
|Price Range||$800 – $2,500||$1,400 – $2,500|
The typical price range for memory foam mattresses goes from $800 to $2,500, but there are options with price tags above and below that range. A number of factors can influence the cost of these beds:
Even for higher-end models, there are often discounts or promotions that can give customers significant savings from the sticker price.
Many mattress manufacturers list the specifications of the foam employed in their mattress. Two of the most helpful specifications are density and indentation load-deflection (ILD).
Density is measured in pounds per cubic foot (PCF), which is calculated by weighing a 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot cube of the foam. For memory foam used in a mattress comfort layer, 3.5 PCF is about average. Higher density memory foam is usually 4-5 PCF.
The density of the foam can affect the feel, but not all high-density foams are firm. Instead, the biggest impact of density is on longevity of the mattress. Higher density usually correlates with a longer lifespan. Additionally, high-density foam generally recovers its shape slower, giving it that slow-responding feel traditionally associated with memory foam.
ILD provides an indication of how easy it is to compress the foam. It is measured with a special device that applies force to the foam until it reaches a certain level of indentation. The higher the ILD, the firmer the foam will feel. For a broad sense of what ILD numbers mean,
You can look at listed foam ILD to get a sense of how a mattress may feel, but keep in mind that a mattress is made with multiple layers, each of which plays a part in the overall feel and performance. In addition, not all companies calculate ILD in the exact same way, so ILD alone is not always a reliable way to assess mattress firmness.
Most memory foam mattresses last from six to eight years before having issues with sagging or diminished performance. This lifespan is longer than most innersprings and airbeds, similar to hybrids, and shorter than all-latex beds.
Some memory foam mattresses may last for more or less than the 6-8 year average. Issues that can affect longevity include:
Higher-end foams tend to cost more, but that investment often pays off over time. Opting for better materials and then taking care of the mattress can contribute directly to a longer useful life for your bed.
Now that you’ve got a strong base of information about memory foam mattresses, there are only a few other issues to cover to round out your knowledge.
When a foam mattress is made, certain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are created, and those become sealed in when the mattress is compressed and prepared for shipping. As a result, when it is first installed, the mattress can “off-gas” those VOCs. There is no health risk from this, but it can cause an unpleasant odor. This smell is temporary and should fade within a few hours to a few days, especially if your bedroom is well-ventilated. This issue doesn’t affect overall satisfaction for the majority of customers, but if you’re extremely sensitive to smells or VOCs, a foam mattress may not be the best option for you.
A sleep trial is a way of describing the return window for a mattress, and it lets you test out the bed in your own home to make sure that it is the right fit for you. Because you can’t feel them out before buying them, most online mattresses come with a risk-free trial of 100 nights or more, and we advise buying a product that comes with this type of return policy.
Your mattress is just one part of your bed; another part is your bed frame. Make sure that the frame you use is in accordance with the mattress warranty. This enhances performance and keeps your warranty valid. If you don’t already have a quality frame, include the cost of a new one in your budget.
Bedding is another aspect of setting up your bed that is worthy of your consideration. For example, breathable sheets or a lighter comforter may be helpful if you buy a memory foam mattress and are concerned about sleeping hot. You also want a quality pillow that works in conjunction with your mattress to promote spinal alignment.
Memory foam mattresses are ideal for side sleepers, but the best model is one that fulfills your unique sleep needs. Side sleepers require excellent pressure relief to avoid pressure points, and memory foam contours against the body to cushion sensitive areas and support the waist.
All the same, there are other factors that side sleepers should consider before purchasing a new mattress. For example, side sleepers require balanced support to ensure proper spinal alignment. Your body type will help determine what firmness level you should choose, though memory foam can feel subjectively “soft” regardless of its overall firmness. Personal preferences, such as a tendency to sleep hot, should also guide your decision.
Memory foam may soothe your back pain with its pressure-relieving qualities, but only if your mattress offers enough support at the correct firmness level for your body type. Since all foam mattresses are not always as supportive as hybrid or innerspring models, you may want to choose one with support features like ergonomic zoning.
Standard memory foam mattresses can also offer enough support, but only if they are firm enough. While some people consider all memory foam mattresses to be soft, this is due to their pressure-relieving and contouring qualities rather than their overall firmness. A too-soft mattress prevents proper spinal alignment, while one that is too firm can compress joints and lead to tension despite offering pressure relief.
Since memory foam mattresses are among the least expensive options on the market, even inexpensive models can be excellent choices that fulfill your sleep needs. As always with mattresses, there is no single mattress that can be described as the “best”. Consider your body type, your usual sleep position, and your personal preferences to determine what is best for you.
Once you have decided on what you need from a mattress, you can narrow the field by reading independent reviews and discovering how different mattresses perform. It is also worth considering that you may be able to purchase a higher-priced memory foam mattress at a discount, either through online promotions or by waiting for a sale.
Memory foam mattresses do tend to sleep warmer than other mattress types. However, mattress manufacturers have sought to address this downside. Memory foam mattresses sleep warm for two reasons: airflow and heat retention.
All foam beds are solid and therefore have minimal airflow through the body of the mattress. Still, memory foam worsens this problem by contouring closely to the body and preventing surface airflow as well. Breathable covers do help, but only marginally. The easier issue to address is heat retention, which occurs when the bed absorbs your body heat and feels warmer as the night goes on. Gel and copper-infused memory foam may offer modest decreases in heat retention, while open-cell foam can sleep even cooler.
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