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Viscoelastic polyurethane foam – better known as memory foam – was first developed by NASA engineers. One of memory foam’s defining traits is slow response. The material becomes softer and more adaptive when exposed to body heat, allowing it to mold around the unique contours of your body. As it cools, the foam returns to its original shape.
Today, memory foam is one of the most popular mattress materials. Due to the wide selection of memory foam mattresses on the market, choosing our top picks was no easy task. Each mattress below exemplifies the qualities people love most about memory foam, such as even contouring and weight distribution, pressure relief along the spine, and superior motion isolation. Our testing team also singled out particular models based on how well they perform for certain types of people, such as side sleepers and those who run hot in bed.
Our top picks represent mattresses that excel in a range of categories that might appeal to those shopping for memory foam beds. After checking out our list of picks, you can learn more about memory foam beds with our in-depth guide. We will cover who should buy a memory foam bed, what to look for in a memory foam bed, and other details you may want to know about this type of mattress.
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Fans of memory foam mattresses have plenty of options to choose from when shopping for a new bed, but the Nectar Mattress stands apart from the competition for its balance of support and contouring, quality construction, and approachable price-point.
The 12-inch mattress begins with a comfort layer made of memory foam that contours closely with the body. With a medium firm (6) feel, the mattress is still firm enough to offer support to sleepers who don’t want to sink too deep. Beneath is a transitional layer of firmer polyfoam that further prevents excessive sinkage, followed by a support core of firm high-density polyfoam.
One of the bed’s most noteworthy performance features is the excellent pressure relief. Side sleepers will likely find this mattress to be a good fit, since the contouring surface provides ample cushion for the shoulders and hips, where pressure typically builds up for these sleepers during the night. The foam surface also absorbs motion with great efficiency, making this bed a strong choice for sleep partners who don’t want to disrupt each other’s sleep with nighttime movement.
Nectar offers a generous 365-night sleep trial as well as a lifetime warranty with this mattress. The bed also comes with free shipping and returns throughout the contiguous U.S.
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While all memory foam mattresses offer some degree of pressure relief, the Zoma Mattress is specifically engineered to offer enhanced pressure relief to sleepers with active lifestyles.
The mattress is made with three layers of foam. The comfort system begins with a layer of memory foam that conforms closely to the body. The memory foam features a zoned design that offers enhanced relief to common pressure points, such as the shoulders and hips, and firmer support to areas like the lumbar region. Beneath is a layer of polyfoam, which provides support and prevents the body from sinking in too deep. The support core is made of high-density polyfoam.
With a medium (5) firmness, the Zoma is an optimal choice for sleepers who weigh under 230 pounds. It’s especially well-suited for side and back sleepers, since these sleep positions tend to produce more pressure points. While memory foam generally traps more heat than latex and hybrid beds, this model has a cooling design that may appeal to hot sleepers who enjoy the feel of all-foam beds. The memory foam is infused with a cooling gel, and the bed is encased in a breathable polyester and spandex fabric.
Zoma offers free shipping within the contiguous U.S. The bed comes with a 10-year warranty and 100-night sleep trial. Shoppers receive a full refund on beds returned within this period, minus a $99 early processing fee if the bed is returned before the end of a 30-day break-in period.
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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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GhostBed offers a lineup of mattresses with varying features and designs. The Classic is the brand’s flagship bed as well as its most affordable model. Close contouring from the memory foam and latex construction makes it an ideal fit for side sleepers who require a bed with strong pressure relief.
The mattress has an 11-inch profile and begins with a layer of responsive, perforated latex that helps air circulate on the surface. This is followed by a 2-inch layer of memory foam that conforms closely to the body, providing ample relief for areas of the body that may experience pressure buildup during sleep. Since side sleepers put a lot of pressure on the shoulders and hips at night, these types of sleepers may find this bed a good fit for alleviating discomfort in these areas. A base layer made of high-density foam offers support and durability, providing a level of firmness that should satisfy some back sleepers.
While foam beds typically retain a lot of body heat, the latex layer on the Classic helps offset some of the heat retention that may occur. The memory foam is also infused with cooling gel and designed with larger cells, both with the intention of drawing heat away from your body.
GhostBed mattresses come with free shipping within the contiguous U.S. Customers receive a 101-night sleep trial and 20-year warranty with the bed.
Best for Back Pain
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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.
Best for Side Sleepers
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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 for Active People
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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.
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The Loom & Leaf from Saatva edges out many competing memory foam mattresses thanks to a thoughtful design and durable materials. The comfort layer is ventilated and infused with cooling gel to reduce heat buildup on the surface and help you sleep cool, while a transitional layer of high-density memory foam provides excellent reinforcement and prevents excessive sinkage. A base layer of dense foam rounds out the luxurious design, stabilizing the entire mattress to keep your body on an even plane.
You can choose between two firmness levels, medium soft (4) and firm (7), each of which is best suited to certain types of sleepers. The latter offers more support and responsiveness, making it an ideal feel for people who weigh at least 130 pounds – particularly those who sleep on their backs or stomachs. The medium soft feel delivers closer body-contouring and should alleviate pressure along the spine for side sleepers weighing up to 230 pounds. Saatva’s 180-night sleep trial includes exchange options, so you can trade in the mattress if you aren’t happy with the initial selection.
The Loom & Leaf’s all-foam design ensures excellent motion isolation for couples. Both memory foam layers absorb movement and nearly eliminate transfer across the surface, allowing you and your partner to sleep soundly when the other person changes positions or gets in and out of bed. The entire mattress is encased in a cover made of GOTS-certified organic cotton that enhances the cooling gel in the top layer and promotes breathability on the surface.
Unlike most online mattress brands that ship their beds via ground delivery, Saatva offers free White Glove services for all customers in the contiguous U.S. This includes a scheduled delivery date, full assembly in a room of your choice, and removal of your old mattress and/or box spring upon request. The company’s sleep trial is also longer than average, and you’ll receive a 15-year warranty should you decide to keep your Loom & Leaf after the return period expires.
Best Pressure Relief
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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.
The team of sleep product experts at Sleep Foundation has tested hundreds of mattresses over the years. Our testing team includes side, back, stomach, and combination sleepers with a variety of body types. This range in our testing group helps us determine who will benefit the most from every mattress we review. Our sleep lab puts each memory foam model to the test in order to determine its performance in a number of categories as well as who will find it most comfortable.
The Sleep Foundation team tests each mattress by lying on it, changing positions, and evaluating its support. We also use technology such as body mapping to measure pressure relief as well as thermal cameras that determine heat retention. All of these metrics are important to consider when shopping for a memory foam mattress.
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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