Memory foam beds are a newer type of mattress that have gained popularity for their “customized” feel. Originally created by NASA researchers in the 1970s to provide crash protection for airline pilots and passengers, memory foam is now used in pillows, mattress toppers, and as a comfort layer for multiple types of mattresses. The viscoelastic foam reacts to pressure and heat, changing shape to fit the sleeper’s body and becoming softer from body heat. As a result, memory foam mattresses deliver a signature feeling of “hug” that many sleepers appreciate.
This guide will first dive into our selections of the best memory foam mattresses and then walk you through everything you need to know when shopping for one.
What are the best memory foam mattresses?
Memory foam has become such a common material in mattresses that there are a head-spinning number of options that you can buy either in-store or online. While the popularity of this material is well-deserved, not all memory foam mattresses are worth your hard-earned dollars.
To help guide you to a great choice, we’ve selected our top 5 best memory foam mattresses. A quick introduction to these mattresses — listed in no particular order — is in the table below.
|Manufacturer||Model||Comfort Layer Thickness||Firmness||Price (Queen)|
|Alexander Signature Series||2.5″ – 3.5″||2 Choices: Medium (5.5) or Luxury Firm (7.5)||$1,199|
|Loom & Leaf||4.5″||2 Choices: Relaxed Firm (5-6) or Firm (8)||$1,099|
|Leesa||4″||Medium Firm (6-7)||$995|
|Nectar||4″ – 5″||3 Choices: Soft (3-4), Medium (5), or Firm (6-7)||$1,099|
|Nectar||4″||Medium Firm (6)||$795|
We know that you may be the type of shopper who wants to have a lot more detail before making a decision, especially for a significant purchase like a mattress. Below you can read more about the construction and benefits of our top picks.
Nest Bedding Alexander Signature Series
Nest Bedding makes a number of different types of mattresses, and the Alexander Signature Series is one of their most popular all-foam options. This mattress is available in two different models and comes with gel-infused memory foam and a quilted stretch fabric cover.
The Alexander Signature memory foam mattress comes in a Medium (5.5 firmness) and Luxury Firm (7.5) model, and the construction is slightly different for these two options. The Medium has a comfort layer that is made up of two thinner layers. The topmost is 2.5” of gel-infused memory foam with a density of 4 PCF. The second is a 1” layer of memory foam that also has a density of 4 PCF. The third layer is 2” of a transition foam (1.8 PCF), and the base layer is 6” of polyfoam (1.8 PCF). The Luxury Firm model has the same 1” quilted cover. Its top layer is 1” of gel-infused memory foam (4 PCF) with a second layer of 1.5” of memory foam with a density of 4 PCF. It then has 2” of transition foam (1.8 PCF) and then 7” of support foam (1.8 PCF). In both models, the memory foam has a higher than average density, which can enhance durability.
In either mattress, the memory foam underneath the quilted cover can give an inviting and responsive feel. This helps to eliminate pressure points to help you sleep pain-free. The inclusion of gel-infused foam is designed to help reduce heat retention by the mattress.
Nest Bedding has a quality reputation and offers a Lifetime Comfort Guarantee that includes a 100 night sleep trial and an option to exchange the mattress at a discounted price long into the future. Its performance, materials, and price all make it one of our top choices for the best memory foam mattresses.
Loom & Leaf
The Loom & Leaf mattress is manufactured by Saatva, which also produces high-quality innerspring and latex mattresses. These mattresses include thick comfort layers and high-density foams that make them a clear best bet among memory foam mattresses.
The Loom & Leaf mattress is offered in two models — Relaxed Firm (5.5 firmness) and Firm (8). The Relaxed Firm (5.5 firmness). Both models have the same interior design and construction with a top layer of 2.5” of gel-infused memory foam with a density of 5 PCF. The second layer is 2” of 4 PCF density memory foam. A 2” transition layer (1.6 PCF) makes up the third layer while 5.5” of support polyfoam (1.8 PCF) is the bottom layer. These layers are covered by a quilted organic cotton cover.
The thickness and density of the topmost foam layers make the Loom & Leaf an extremely durable and supportive mattress even for sleepers who weigh more than average or side sleepers who have very sharp pressure points. The memory foam can tailor to the body’s support needs to help maintain spinal alignment without overheating, thanks to the gel-infused foam and the fact that the foams are firm enough to prevent sinking too deeply into the mattress.
The Saatva company offers free installation of this mattress and haul-away of an old mattress and has a widely-recognized reputation for customer satisfaction and service. At a price of $1,099, this is a tremendous value given the quality of the company and the materials.
Few if any online mattress companies have the track record and reputation of Leesa. Their all-foam mattress has been winning over customers for years, and with its combination of memory foam and latex-like foam, the Leesa provides a top-notch sleeping experience that places it easily among our top 5.
Unlike many other mattresses on this list, the Leesa’s top layer is not actually memory foam. Instead, the material is known as Avena foam. Avena foam was developed by Leesa and has some of the responsiveness of memory foam but also has more bounce and resilience in a way that is reminiscent of latex. The Avena foam layer is 2” thick and has a density of 3.65 PCF. Underneath this is a 2” layer of memory foam with a density of 3 PCF. The bottom layer is 6” of support polyfoam with a density of 1.8 PCF.
The mix of latex-like Avena foam and memory foam gives the Leesa a unique feel that is able to conform to the body’s supports needs while also avoiding excessive sink or issues with moving on top of the bed. This makes it an excellent mattress for sex and one that avoids most issues with sleeping hot. At a price of less than $1,000 and backed by Leesa’s strong track record, this mattress was a shoo-in for our list of the best memory foam mattresses.
Novosbed is a Canadian mattress company with nearly 10 years selling online — a track record that exceeds the vast majority of its competitors selling memory foam mattresses. They offer a memory foam mattress in 3 firmness levels, and each option includes excellent materials and a design that can work for all types of sleepers.
The Novosbed is offered in Soft (3-4 on the firmness scale), Medium (5), and Firm (6-7) models. The Soft mattress has a top layer of 2” of gel-infused memory foam with a density of 3.7 PCF. The second layer is 3” of memory foam (4 PCF). The bottom layer is 6” of polyfoam with 1.8 PCF density. The top layer in the Medium mattress is 2” of memory foam (5 PCF) above another 2” layer of memory foam with density of 5 PCF. The bottom layer is 7” of 1.8 PCF support foam. The Firm mattress also has two 2” memory foam layers: the top is 4 PCF while the second is 5 PCF. Its support layer is 7” thick and made with 1.8 PCF density polyfoam.
In each of the Novosbed models, the comfort layer offers plenty of thickness and makes use of high-density memory foams. Customers can choose whichever firmness level is the best fit for their needs while knowing that each option is built using the type of high-end foam that effectively contours to the body and promotes spinal alignment. Moreover, these foams are more likely to stand the test of time thanks to their density and based on the years worth of customer reviews for the Novosbed.
With its quality design, construction, and price point (less than $1,000 for a Queen), the Novosbed is clearly worthy of our list of the best memory foam options on the market today.
Though it is the lowest-priced mattress on our list, the Nectar mattress still delivers a fantastic sleeping experience that provides the kind of responsiveness and comfort that sleepers have come to expect from memory foam.
This medium-firm mattress (6-7 on the typical firmness scale) has four foam layers. The top layer is 1” of gel-infused memory foam with a density of 4 PCF. The second layer is 3” of memory foam with 3.5 PCF density. The third layer is a transition foam with a thickness of 1.75”, and the bottom is 5.25” of support foam that has a density of 2.2 PCF. The two memory foam top layers allow the mattress to contour to the body and keep the spine and neck in alignment. At the same time, the use of gel in the top layer can decrease heat retention and reduce the risk of sleeping hot.
Two other factors make the Nectar mattress especially appealing: its price tag and its sleep trial. This mattress can be purchased for $670 for a Queen, which is significantly less than the other mattresses on this list. In addition, it comes with a 365-night sleep trial, which gives you a full year to test out the mattress and determine if it is the right fit for you. With these extra benefits that differentiate it from many other memory foam options, the Nectar mattress rounds out our list of the top 5 best memory foam mattresses.
Memory foam mattress construction
Types of memory foam mattresses
You’ll come across a few different versions of memory foam mattresses as you shop. Here are the most common labels used and what they mean:
- Traditional memory foam mattresses are made of viscoelastic foam, a polyfoam that’s polyurethane-based. They’re the most popular option available.
- Plant-based memory foam mattresses combine petrochemicals and botanical ingredients. They tend to be cooler to sleep on than traditional memory foam, due to the breathable open-cell configuration of the foam.
- Gel-infused memory foam mattresses are a less common option, albeit a popular one among hot sleepers. Cooling gel is added to the mattress to help reduce heat.
- Copper-infused memory foam places copper wire in beads throughout the foam to cool the mattress. Copper also helps blood circulation, making these mattresses popular among sleepers with joint pain.
What are the components of a memory foam mattress?
Memory foam is very soft, so mattresses are not made entirely of memory foam, despite their name. Typically the memory foam comfort layer makes up 25 to 40 percent of the mattress to provide the sleeper with a comfortable sense of “hug” and contour to the body. The support core is made from innersprings or high-density polyfoam to create a sturdier base that prevents the sleeper from sinking too far into the mattress.
The firmness of a memory foam bed depends on the ILD. ILD (indentation load deflection) indicates how much pressure is required to make a four-inch indentation on the mattress surface. The higher the ILD, the firmer the mattress. Conversely, the lower the ILD, the more you will sink into the mattress.
Memory foam mattresses may have a ILD range because environmental factors like room and body temperature can affect the ILD. A quality memory foam mattress will have an ILD of 10 or more, although you’ll see comfort layers ranging from 8 to 20. As a general rule, ILDs of 10 or less are extremely soft, 11 to 15 are very soft, and 16 to 21 are soft. A higher ILD will still contour to the body, but not as much as a lower ILD. Higher ILDs will provide less pressure point relief for lighter weight sleepers, but will offer better support for heavier weight sleepers.
Density is another thing to look for as you shop for a mattress. Density indicates how well the mattress will support you, and is measured in pounds per cubic foot. The density of memory foam comfort layers range from 2.5 to 8 pounds per cubic foot.
With memory foam beds, density also indicates how quickly the mattress will retain its shape after you get up from the mattress. The higher the density, the more slowly it will retain its shape, but the better it will be at contour and motion isolation. Lower-density foams will retain their shape quickly, but offer less motion isolation and contour ability.
What do they feel like to sleep on?
Memory foam mattresses are popular because their superior contour ability makes the mattress feel customized to the sleeper’s body.
Memory foam reacts to the pressure and heat of your body, so regardless of your sleeping position or body weight, it will keep your spine aligned by sinking deeper at pressure points like your hips and shoulders and less so in other places like your stomach. This reactive contouring makes memory foam beds excellent at reducing back pain, especially for side sleepers. Memory foam compresses according to the amount of pressure on it, providing that quintessential responsive feel that lets you sink into the mattress and feel “hugged” by it.
Pros and cons
Memory foam mattresses come with pros and cons that are more or less important to different sleepers. Review the following to determine whether a memory foam mattress is a good fit for you based on your sleep preferences.
Pros of memory foam mattresses
+ Excellent contour ability
+ Comfortable, supportive sleeping surface
+ Superior motion isolation
+ Easy to ship
Cons of memory foam mattresses
– Sleep hot
– Sinking feeling disliked by some sleepers
– Lack of bounce unsuitable for sex
– Initial offgassing odor
Excellent contour ability
Memory foam beds are the best mattress at providing contour, bar none. As the softest foam available, they conform to the body and provide a feeling of hug that feels customized to you.
Comfortable, supportive sleeping surface
Memory foam mattresses provide excellent pressure point relief. They react according to the pressure exerted on them, allowing them to evenly distribute your weight and keep your spine aligned and supported while asleep.
Superior motion isolation
Memory foam mattresses are a popular option for couples and light sleepers, because weight and movement on one part of the mattress does not affect others. This allows for a quiet sleep surface that isn’t interrupted by a person or pet moving elsewhere in the bed.
Easy to ship
Memory foam beds are easily compressed to ship, so they can be packed and shipped in a box that delivers straight to the shopper’s door. There’s no need to schedule an in-home delivery with a memory foam bed, and they’re widely available in stores and online. Once unpacked, the mattress will expand and recover to its shape and be ready to sleep on within a day or two.
One of the biggest complaints with memory foam mattresses is their propensity for heat retention. The benefit of their excellent contour ability means that they also wrap and envelop your body, trapping your body heat which can be uncomfortable for hot sleepers. Adding insult to injury is the fact that memory foam itself is not very breathable. Pure memory foam is the worst at heat retention, while cooling gel-infused, copper-infused, and plant-based foams are cooler to some extent.
Sinking feeling disliked by some sleepers
While the sinking feeling is beloved by many memory foam bed aficionados, it can be a drawback for some sleepers. If you sleep hot or simply feel uncomfortable having the mattress hug your body, a memory foam mattress may not be a good fit.
Lack of bounce unsuitable for sex
Memory foam beds are not bouncy like innerspring beds. They also contour to the body and cause you to sink into the mattress, which can make them more challenging to have sex on.
Initial off-gassing odor
The foam manufacturing process creates volatile organic compound (VOC) particles that get released when the mattress is unwrapped. These are harmless but have a strong odor many find unpleasant. Fortunately, this odor goes away within a few hours to a few days. Viscoelastic memory foam mattresses with thick comfort layers have the strongest smell, while plant-based foam beds have the least.
How much do they cost?
The average price for a quality queen-size memory foam mattress is between $800 to $100.
Memory foam mattresses range in price depending on size, foam density, layer thickness, and types of foams. The larger the mattress, the more expensive it will be. Same goes for foam density and thickness of the comfort layers – the higher density and more layers, the more expensive. Visco-elastic memory foam mattress are often the cheapest, while plant-based, gel- and copper-infused models are more expensive.
How long does a memory foam mattress last?
On average, a quality memory foam mattresses should last around 7 years.
Factors that impact the bed’s durability include the types of foam used and the density of the foam. Polyfoams are cheaper and less durable, so take care to check how many are used in the comfort layer and support core vs other higher-quality foams. Low-grade density foam provides the softest sleeping experience and recovers its shape quickly, but it also tends to have the least longevity the worst motion transfer. High-grade density foam, on the other hand, will last longer and provide the best contouring and motion isolation, but will recover its shape the slowest.
Shoppers should also review the warranty terms before purchasing. Make sure you understand how long it lasts and what’s covered, especially in regards to indentation and the type of platform required for the bed.
What type of sleeper is best suited to a memory foam mattress?
Certain qualities make a memory foam bed a better option for some sleepers over others.
- Lightweight sleepers especially benefit from the contouring abilities of a memory foam mattress. Because the foam is so soft, they can sink deeper into the mattress and enjoy a more comfortable sleeping experience than they would a traditional medium-firm innerspring bed.
- Light sleepers who share the bed with a partner or pet and wake easily from the other sleeper’s movements will appreciate the superior motion transfer offered by memory foam mattresses.
- Side sleepers in particular benefit from the contour abilities of a memory foam mattress, which allows them to sink in at the hips and shoulders and keep their spine aligned.
Some sleepers who may not enjoy a memory foam bed include hot sleepers and overweight sleepers. Memory foam is notorious for retaining heat, and heavier weight sleepers may find the softness of the foam allows them to sink too far into the mattress. Sleepers who weigh 230 pounds or more will want to look for a high-grade density foam mattress with a high ILD rating, or consider another mattress type to receive the best support.
Memory Foam vs. Other Mattress Types
Memory Foam vs. Latex
Both memory foam and latex are responsive materials that can properly cushion the body’s pressure points, although memory foam tends to hug or contour more to the body. One of the biggest differences has to do with resilience. Memory foam slowly regains its original form while latex rapidly springs back. This makes latex feel bouncier and makes it less likely to feel like you are sinking into the material. Because of the nature of the material, memory foam has a greater tendency to retain heat and to in some cases inhibit motion (including sex) on top of the mattress. Latex is typically heavier and more expensive than memory foam.
Memory Foam vs. Innerspring
Innerspring mattresses are made with a support core of metal coils and are the most traditional style of mattress. Memory foam mattresses tend to get higher customer satisfaction ratings than innersprings. For many consumers, this is because memory foam mattresses are much better at contouring to the body than innersprings and as a result are usually better at relieving pressure points. Innerspring mattresses have more bounce and have fewer issues with sleeping hot or with offgassing. Innerspring mattresses are usually less expensive, but many have weaker materials that are likely to be less durable than a well-made, high-density memory foam mattress.
Memory Foam vs. Hybrid
Like an innerspring mattress, a hybrid has a support core that is made up on metal coils, but a hybrid has a thicker (greater than 3”) comfort layer above those coils. In some cases, the comfort layer in a hybrid is in fact made with memory foam. The performance of a hybrid is more variable than with a memory foam mattress precisely because there is more diversity in their design and construction. In general, though, a hybrid will offer more bounce and often more edge support than an all-foam mattress with memory foam. Depending on the thickness of the comfort layer, a memory foam mattress may offer a greater level of contouring.
Memory Foam vs. Gel Foam
Gel-infused foam, or gel foam, means that there are either beads or swirls of a gel material interspersed within the foam. Most of the time, these are actually memory foams with the gel, but in some cases there are also gel-infused polyfoams. The goal of the gel is to help prevent heat from building up in the foam overnight, but there is no consensus on how much this gel helps in this regard.
Memory foam mattress FAQ checklist
The following checklist of questions may be helpful to you as you shop for a memory foam mattress:
- How thick is the comfort layer?
- What types of foams are used in the mattress?
- What is the density and ILD rating?
- What is the lifespan of the mattress?
- Is this mattress a good fit, based on my body weight and sleep position?
- Should I expect an offgassing smell with this mattress?
- Is there a trial period and what is the return policy?
- How long is the warranty and what is covered?