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The Best Memory Foam Mattresses – 2021 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Written by Keith Cushner

Quick Overview

People love memory foam mattresses for their characteristic, pressure-relieving “hug.” These mattresses conform closer to the body than other mattress types, resulting in better spinal alignment and more pressure point relief. It’s no surprise these mattresses are a favorite among those with chronic pain. Memory foam also isolates motion transfer and produces little to no noise when bearing weight. These two qualities make memory foam beds suitable for couples, particularly if one or both of the sleepers awaken easily due to motion or noise.

Whether this is your first time buying a memory foam mattress or your fifth, we share everything you need to know about the distinct feel these mattresses offer sleepers. We review our top picks for the best memory foam mattresses sold today, based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product analysis. Then, in our Buyer’s Guide, we give you all the insider information on how to evaluate and find the best memory foam mattress for you.

Best Memory Foam Mattresses
First Time Buying a Mattress?

Hop down to our Buyer’s Guide for a crash course on finding the best memory foam mattress.

 

Best Memory Foam Mattresses - Reviewed

Editor's PickNectar Mattress

Editor's Pick – Nectar Mattress

Highlights

  • Medium firm (6)
  • 365-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Close conforming and good pressure relief
  • Good motion isolation
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Editor's PickNectar Mattress

nectarsleep.com

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The Nectar Mattress is a high-quality, affordable foam mattress that offers close conforming and great pressure relief. This bed comes in medium firm, or 6 on the 1-10 firmness scale, which is one of the most popular firmness options among all sleepers.

The Nectar’s comfort system features two layers of gel memory foam and standard memory foam, providing close conforming with some extra cushioning. Additionally, the two-layer polyfoam support core helps maintain a flat surface for sleepers and has been shown to reduce aches and pains throughout their bodies. At such great value, the Nectar Mattress is almost unmatched in quality.

Nectar Sleep offers White Glove delivery and old mattress removal at an extra charge. Further, the company’s 365-night sleep trial is one of the longest in the business.

The Bottom Line.

The Nectar’s quality construction delivers everything memory foam aficionados expect from their mattress, with extra perks like a year-long sleep trial, lifetime warranty, and free shipping.

  • People looking for a high-quality mattress at an affordable price. The Nectar features high-quality, durable foams in its construction, despite having such a low price point.
  • Those who prefer some extra cushioning. A full 4 inches of memory foam comprise The Nectar’s comfort layers, providing comforting pressure point relief.
  • Back and stomach sleepers of all weight groups (light, average, heavy). As a medium firm, The Nectar provides the support these sleepers need, without letting them sink too deeply into the mattress.
  • Back pain sufferers. The dual comfort layers of memory foam offer superior conforming and pain pressure point relief for those with chronic back pain.

Not Recommended for:

  • Lightweight side sleepers. The medium firm feel may feel too firm for these sleepers.
  • Those sensitive to smell. It’s common to experience initially off-gassing odors with The Nectar, although these completely dissipate within a few days.

Best ValueEmma Mattress

Best Value – Emma Mattress

Highlights

  • Medium firm (6)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Great motion isolation for couples
  • Above-average temperature neutrality
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Best ValueEmma Mattress

emma-sleep.com

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High-quality memory foam mattresses can be quite expensive, but some models offer the same levels of comfort and performance at much lower price-points. The Emma Mattress is a great example of a high-value memory foam bed that won’t break the bank. This medium firm (6) model is constructed with a comfort layer of gel-infused memory foam that delivers moderate and even contouring, so sleepers feel less pressure without sinking too much.

A key component of the Emma Mattress is its support core layer, which consists of high-density polyfoam topped with convoluted channels that allow air to circulate throughout the interior. This helps the mattress maintain a comfortable temperature. Like other all-foam models, the Emma Mattress also excels at motion isolation and can help couples cut down on sleep disturbances.

In addition to carrying a reasonable sticker price, the Emma Mattress also qualifies for free ground shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The mattress is backed by a sleep trial that allows customers to test it out for up to 100 nights before deciding whether to return it, as well as a 10-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The budget-friendly Emma Mattress offers the pressure relief and superior motion isolation of a high-end memory foam bed at a very affordable price-point. A convoluted support core also promotes interior airflow, resulting in above-average temperature control.

  • People who weigh at least 130 pounds. Due to its medium firm feel and moderate contouring, the Emma Mattress is best suited to sleepers in the average weight and heavyweight groups – side and back sleepers in particular.
  • Couples. The foam layers absorb movement and reduce transfer across the surface to minimize sleep disturbances for co-sleepers. The mattress is also completely silent and won’t creak when someone gets in and out of bed.
  • Those who usually sleep hot on foam mattresses. A convoluted foam support core circulates air throughout the mattress core, resulting in above-average cooling for a memory foam model.
  • Value seekers. Compared to other memory foam beds, the Emma Mattress is very affordable.

Not Recommended for...

  • People who weigh less than 130 pounds. The Emma Mattress is medium firm, meaning lightweight sleepers are likely to find it too firm.
  • Those who prefer very responsive mattresses. Due to its all-foam construction, the Emma Mattress lacks the bounciness of innersprings and hybrids.

Best for Side SleepersLayla Mattress

Best for Side Sleepers – Layla Mattress

Highlights

  • Flippable design with dual firmness (4, 7)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Good pressure relief and motion isolation
  • High-value pick
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Best for Side SleepersLayla Mattress

laylasleep.com

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The Layla Mattress earns a spot among our top picks for its quality construction, dual firmness options, and unique copper-infused memory foam, which helps the mattress sleep cooler than most all-foam beds. The bed features a flippable design that offers sleepers the choice between a medium soft (4) side or a firm (7) side, which enables the Layla Mattress to suit sleepers of many differing sizes and sleep positions.

The Medium Soft side of the Layla mattress features a 3-inch layer of copper-infused memory foam over a 2-inch layer of convoluted polyfoam, while the Firm side instead uses 1 inch of the copper-infused memory foam. Both sides share a 4.5-inch high-density polyfoam support core. Lighter weight sleepers tend to prefer the thicker comfort system and closer contouring of the Medium Soft side, while heavier sleepers receive better support on the Firm side.

The Layla’s low price, combined with free shipping, a 120-night sleep trial, and a lifetime warranty, make this mattress a high-value pick for shoppers.

The Bottom Line.

With unique materials and a flippable construction, the Layla Mattress suits a wide range of sleepers at an affordable price-point.

  • Those who share a bed. The Layla Mattress isolates motion well and does not produce any noise, making it a good choice for couples.
  • Sleepers looking for adjustable firmness options. With two distinct feels, owners can easily switch the mattress’s firmness by flipping it over.
  • Individuals who weigh less than 230 pounds. The mattress received the best ratings from our sleep testers who were in the average and lightweight groups.
  • Value-seekers. The Layla’s low price and high quality construction make it a great option for shoppers on a budget.

Not Recommended for:

  • Those who prefer a responsive, springy feel. The Layla’s memory foam layers and all-foam construction mean that it does not offer the springiness that some sleepers prefer.
  • Side and stomach sleepers over 230 pounds. Though the firm side did perform better than the medium firm side for sleepers in these categories, individuals in these groups may not find sufficient support from either side of the Layla mattress.

Most ComfortableLoom and Leaf

Most Comfortable – Loom and Leaf

Highlights

  • Multiple firmness options (5.5, 8)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 15-year warranty
  • Excellent motion isolation and conforming
  • Free white glove delivery
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Most ComfortableLoom and Leaf

saatva.com

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In terms of support and pressure-relief, The Loom & Leaf by Saatva is one of the best memory foam mattresses on the market. Fit for sleepers of different firmness preferences, the bed is available in two firmness options, medium (5.5) and firm (8). The Loom & Leaf excels particularly with sleepers in between 130 and 230 pounds.

The Loom & Leaf is constructed with both high-density gel memory foam and standard memory foam in the comfort layers, as well as a luxurious foam-quilted cover made of organic cotton. This two-layer comfort system provides close conforming for excellent spinal alignment and pain relief. Meanwhile, the high-density polyfoam base layer ensures an even, supportive sleep surface. This all comes together to provide that traditional memory foam “hug” feel.

As a Saatva brand, Loom and Leaf also offers free White Glove Delivery in the contiguous U.S. This includes in-home mattress assembly and old mattress removal.

The Bottom Line.

Whether they prefer a true medium or firmer sleep surface, the Loom & Leaf offers sleepers of average weight the ideal amount of support and contour.

  • Those who like the close conforming “hug” of memory foam. With over 4 inches of responsive memory foam, you’ll feel like you’re sleeping “in” this mattress.
  • Side and back sleepers. With both medium and firm settings available, sleepers can select the ideal firmness to suit their sleep position.
  • Back pain sufferers. High-density memory foams provide excellent pain and pressure relief.
  • Couples. The Loom & Leaf sleeps quiet, making it a good fit for those who may wake up from a partner’s movements during the night.

Cons

  • Those who tend to sleep hot. While the mattress does include cooling gel in the comfort layers, it can still sleep too hot for some sleepers.
  • Sleepers who weigh 230 pounds or more. These sleepers may find they sink too deeply into the  mattress to feel adequately supported through the night.

Best CoolingPandaZzz Premium

Best Cooling – PandaZzz Premium

Highlights

  • Medium firm (6)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 12-year warranty
  • Plush quilted top but great overall support
  • Excellent motion isolation
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Best CoolingPandaZzz Premium

pandazzz.com

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Cooling can be an issue with memory foam mattresses because the material tends to trap body heat, causing sleepers to become uncomfortably warm in the process. The PandaZzz Premium is a memory foam bed that addresses this issue well. The top comfort layer is infused with gel intended to dissipate heat away from the sleeper’s body, while a second ventilated memory foam layer promotes airflow near the surface. The cover, made of jacquard quilted with cooling yarns, also assists with temperature control.

Aside from above-average breathability, the PandaZzz Premium offers the same benefits as many of its competitors. The two memory foam layers, along with a support core of high-density polyfoam, absorb movement on each side of the bed and prevent transfer across the surface. This can significantly reduce nighttime disruptions for couples. The Premium has a medium firm (6) feel, meaning it will feel most comfortable to side sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds, and back and stomach sleepers who weigh up to 230 pounds. The memory foam contours moderately and evenly, resulting in good pressure relief for these groups.

The mattress also has a very low sticker price compared to the average memory foam model, and PandaZzz will ship it for free to any destination in the lower 48 states. Customers receive a 100-night sleep trial and a 12-year warranty with their purchase.

The Bottom Line.

The budget-friendly PandaZzz Premium offers above-average temperature regulation thanks to cooling fabrics and breathable foams near the surface. The mattress also excels at motion isolation and pressure relief.

  • People who prefer some body-contouring without a lot of sink. The PandaZzz Premium has a medium firm feel, so most sleepers can enjoy gentle cradling from the memory foam layers without dipping too deeply beneath the surface.
  • Those who normally sleep hot on all-foam beds. A cover quilted with cooling fibers and two memory foam layers engineered for breathability allow the PandaZzz Premium to sleep exceptionally cool.
  • Couples. The mattress provides consistent motion isolation to reduce sleep disturbances for couples.
  • Value seekers. The PandaZzz Premium is very low priced compared to the average memory foam mattress.

Not Recommended for:

  • Back and stomach sleepers weighing more than 230 pounds. Despite the PandaZzz Premium’s medium firm feel, these individuals will likely find the mattress too soft and sink to an excessive degree.
  • Shoppers who need a smaller mattress. The PandaZzz Premium is only sold in queen, king, and California king sizes. Those who need a twin, twin XL, or full will need to look elsewhere.

Best for Lightweight SleepersAmerisleep AS3

Best for Lightweight Sleepers – Amerisleep AS3

Highlights

  • Medium (5.5)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 20-year warranty
  • Dense memory foam offers above-average longevity
  • Good balance of pressure relief and support
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Best for Lightweight SleepersAmerisleep AS3

amerisleep.com

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Amerisleep offers a line of memory foam mattresses, each with a distinct profile and firmness level that best suits certain sleep positions and body types. We’ve chosen the AS3 as our top pick from this brand because it is a good mid-level option for sleepers.

The mattress has a medium (5.5) feel, ensuring a close body contour without excessive sinkage. The memory foam comfort layer is quite dense for precise body-conforming and great weight distribution, not to mention above-average durability. The AS3 also features a cover made from a breathable blend of cotton and polyester, so the mattress sleeps noticeably cooler than many competing memory foam models.

Although the AS3’s sticker price is somewhat high for a memory foam mattress, Amerisleep will ship it for free anywhere in the contiguous U.S. and includes a 20-year warranty with each purchase. Customers who prefer more responsiveness from their mattress may want to consider the AS3 Hybrid, which features the same cover and comfort layer but also includes pocketed coils in the support core.

The Bottom Line.

Excellent motion isolation, close contouring, and a plush medium feel make the AS3 from Amerisleep a quintessential memory foam mattress. The materials are also quite durable, so owners should get a decent lifespan out of their bed.

  • People who weigh up to 230 pounds. Due to the AS3’s medium feel and thick comfort layer, the mattress is best suited to lightweight and average weight sleepers who don’t require too much support.
  • Physically active people. Although results vary from person to person, some sleepers find that the AS3’s Celliant fabric cover can help the body recover during the night.
  • Couples. Great motion isolation and a noise-free design make the AS3 suitable for co-sleepers who tend to wake up when their partner moves in bed.
  • Shoppers looking for a long-lasting mattress. The memory foam layer of the AS3 is denser than average, so the material should perform for several years before indentations or body impressions occur.

Not Recommended for:

  • People who weigh more than 230 pounds. The AS3’s medium feel means heavyweight sleepers will probably find the mattress too soft, but Amerisleep offers firmer models that may be more suitable.
  • Hot sleepers. Dense memory foam has its downsides, and excessive heat absorption is one of them. The mattress may not sleep cool enough for some people.

Best for Average Weight SleepersPlushBeds Gel Memory Foam Ocean Mist

Best for Average Weight Sleepers – PlushBeds Gel Memory Foam Ocean Mist

Highlights

  • Medium (5)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 25-year warranty
  • Close contouring and targeted pressure relief
  • Excellent motion isolation
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Best for Average Weight SleepersPlushBeds Gel Memory Foam Ocean Mist

plushbeds.com

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The Ocean Mist is one of two mattresses in PlushBeds’ Gel Memory Foam line. This model, which measures 9 inches thick, is constructed with a thick comfort layer of medium-density memory foam that cushions and contours to the body without sinking too much. This, along with a medium (5) feel, makes it particularly well suited to lightweight and average weight sleepers. A support layer of high-density polyfoam adds extra reinforcement.

Despite its density, the memory foam has an open-cell composition that prevents it from retaining body heat to a bothersome degree. People who usually sleep warm on foam beds will likely find the Ocean Mist more comfortable by comparison. The foams also absorb motion and reduce motion transfer across the surface, so owners can sleep soundly without disruptions whenever their partner moves around or gets in and out of bed.

In addition to a very reasonable price-point, PlushBeds offers free ground shipping to all customers in the lower 48 states. The mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial, as well as a 25-year warranty that is among the longest in the industry.

The Bottom Line.

The low-profile Ocean Mist provides optimal comfort for sleepers across a wide range of body types and positions. An approachable price-point and exceptionally long warranty will sweeten the deal for some customers.

  • Side and back sleepers. The Ocean Mist provides ample cushioning for side sleepers while maintaining a flat, even surface for back sleepers.
  • People who enjoy sleeping on low-profile beds. At 9 inches thick, the Ocean Mist rests lower to the ground than many of its competitors. Some people will have an easier time getting in and out of bed as a result.
  • Couples. The mattress can minimize sleep disturbances for couples thanks to its strong motion isolation. The mattress is also completely silent.
  • Owners of adjustable beds. The Ocean Mist is available in a split king size, so those with adjustable bases can program different settings for each side of the mattress.

Not Recommended for:

  • Those who prefer bouncy mattresses. Like many competing memory foam models, the Ocean Mist is not particularly responsive or springy.
  • People who would rather sleep on a thick mattress. Since the Ocean Mist measures 9 inches tall, it may not be comfortable enough for people who prefer medium- or high-profile beds.

Best for Heavyweight SleepersGravityLux by Winkbeds

Best for Heavyweight Sleepers – GravityLux by Winkbeds

Highlights

  • Multiple firmness options (4, 5, 7)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Exceptional durability
  • Good temperature neutrality
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Best for Heavyweight SleepersGravityLux by Winkbeds

winkbeds.com

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For years, Winkbeds mattresses have exemplified luxury and exceptional quality in the innerspring and hybrid types and this GravityLux is no exception. Given that history and the quality of this new memory foam offering, we’ve chosen the GravityLux as the ‘Best Luxury’ pick for memory foam mattresses sold today. The GravityLux is a 12-inch all-foam bed with a memory foam comfort layer and a high-density foam support core. It’s available in three firmness settings: medium soft (4), medium (5), and firm (7) settings. This selection ensures most sleepers will find a mattress that aligns with their firmness and conforming preferences.

Temperature neutrality is another key strength. Between the breathable cover components and the use of more breathable engineered foams in its comfort layers, the GravityLux doesn’t trap quite as much body heat as a traditional memory foam mattress. Other benefits include great motion isolation and no noise when bearing weight.

Though it comes with a slightly higher price tag, the GravityLux is not as expensive as similarly constructed mattresses which can retail for more than double. Winkbeds offers White Glove delivery for a small fee – including in-home assembly and old mattress removal – and also stands by the GravityLux with a 120-night sleep trial and lifetime warranty.

The Bottom Line.

It’s rare to experience this kind of pressure-relieving comfort, and still enjoy a relatively cool sleep surface. For those who want to experience memory foam without the heat, the GravityLux price tag is well worth it.

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination). High-quality, responsive foams react and contour to the sleeper’s body, providing targeted relief to the areas of the body that need it most.
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy). With multiple firmness settings to choose from, sleepers can find the best GravityLux model for their needs.
  • Those who tend to sleep hot. Thanks to gel-infused and open-cell memory foams in the comfort layers, along with a Tencel lyocell cover, the GravityLux is made from more breathable materials that sleep cooler than the average all-foam bed.
  • Couples. Excellent motion isolation makes for a nearly silent sleep surface when bearing weight.

Not Recommended for:

  • Sleepers on a budget. While the GravityLux is priced competitively given the quality of its construction, it does carry a higher price tag than the average foam mattress.
  • Sleepers who want to be able to return their mattress quickly. The 120-night sleep trial requires a 30-night break-in period.

Memory Foam Mattress Buyer's Guide

Below, we share everything sleepers need to consider when buying a memory foam mattress, along with our best tips for buying a new mattress.

What You Need to Know about Sleeping on a Memory Foam Mattress

Initially developed by NASA researchers in the 1970s, memory foam is one of the most popular comfort layer materials on the market today. In addition to mattresses, memory foam is also commonly found in pillows and mattress toppers.

An important characteristic of memory foam is that it is viscoelastic, meaning that it changes shape when pressure is applied, and then returns to its original form once the pressure is released. Memory foam is also designed to respond to temperature. When you are lying on memory foam, your body heat causes the foam to become softer, which allows the material to conform to your figure. After you get up, the memory foam will cool down and return to its original, firmer shape.

Because the material is so soft, a ‘memory foam mattress’ is not entirely made of memory foam. Rather, the comfort layer (usually 25% to 40% of the mattress) is made of memory foam, while the larger support core is constructed from a sturdier material — usually high-density polyfoam — to prevent you from completely sinking into the mattress.

The Feel of Memory Foam

The popularity of memory foam is largely due to its ‘customized’ feel. Let’s explore some key qualities of memory foam mattresses:

  • Conforming: Memory foam will conform closely to a sleeper’s body. This creates a contoured impression in the sleep surface that provides even body support and helps maintain spinal alignment. As a result, memory foam sleepers often experience high levels of pain and pressure relief.
  • Sinking: Memory foam tends to be softer than other mattress materials. This may be ideal for people who are average weight or lighter than average, but those who weigh more than 230 pounds may experience excessive sinking. This can undermine support and lead to added aches and pains.
  • Motion isolation: As memory foam conforms to a sleeper’s body, it absorbs motion transfer whenever he or she shifts positions in bed. This helps minimize disruptions in other areas of the mattress, and can be beneficial for couples who share a bed — particularly if they are restless sleepers.
  • No noise: Most memory foam mattresses are virtually silent when bearing weight.

Who Sleeps Best on a Memory Foam Mattress?

Memory foam mattresses are ideal for certain types of sleepers, especially side sleepers, those with chronic pain, and couples.

  • Side sleepers benefit from an exceptionally soft comfort layer because it allows their hips and shoulders to sink into the mattress properly. Side sleeping on a mattress that is too firm can lead to aches and pains caused by spinal misalignment.
  • Memory foam can also help sleepers with chronic back or shoulder pain. The material is designed to conform to your figure and alleviate pressure points, leading to a comfortable, relatively painless night’s sleep.
  • Couples also appreciate memory foam mattresses for their low motion transfer. Memory foam is engineered to absorb and isolate motion, making it ideal for light sleepers who easily awaken when their partner moves or shifts positions.

Pros and Cons of Memory Foam

  • The material conforms closely to align the sleeper’s spine and evenly distributes their weight
  • Memory foam sleepers report above-average pain and pressure relief
  • Foam isolates and absorbs motion transfer to help couples reduce nighttime disruptions
  • Memory foam mattresses produce little to no noise
  • The mattresses are usually compressed for shipping, allowing customers to order them online without a truck

Cons

  • Memory foam tends to retain a fair amount of body heat from sleepers, causing the mattress to sleep excessively warm for some
  • Some sleepers — particularly heavier individuals — report uncomfortable sinking and inadequate mattress support
  • Memory foam mattresses are not very bouncy, and some couples say they are not responsive enough for sex
  • Off-gassing potential is high for memory foam beds, and some mattresses emit odors for weeks after they are removed from their packaging.

Choosing the Best Memory Foam Mattress

There are a lot of quality memory foam mattresses on the market today. To find the foam mattress that’s uniquely right for you, you’ll have a few questions to answer. What firmness setting do you prefer? How enveloped do you want to feel by your mattress? Do you tend to sleep hot or cool?

To answer these questions, you need to know the density and ILD ratings of the foams used in your mattress. Let’s start by understanding what these terms mean.

Density and ILD

Two important considerations regarding memory foam mattresses are density and indentation load-deflection (ILD).

Density is measured in pounds per cubic foot, and is used to indicate how well the mattress will support your body weight. Most memory foam comfort layers range in density from 2.5 pounds per cubic foot to 8 pounds per cubic foot (abbreviated as PCF). A common industry benchmark for a high-quality memory foam mattress is a density of 4-5 pounds per cubic foot.

Density is used to categorize memory foam into three grades: low, medium and high. The table below features a detailed breakdown of memory foam density.

Grade Density (pounds per cubic foot) Characteristics
Low 2.5 to 3.9 lbs/ft3 Retains original shape very quickly; offers good motion isolation and some contouring
Medium 4.0 to 5.9 lbs/ft3 Retains original shape somewhat slowly; offers very good motion isolation and good contouring
High 5.5 lbs/ft3 and higher Retains shape very slowly; offers excellent motion isolation and contouring

You may have noticed a trend in the table above. The higher the density, the slower the foam recovers its original shape. Thanks to this quality, higher-density foams excel at providing support and conform to the body very closely. However, this also means they have a higher tendency to trap heat, which can be an issue for hot sleepers.

Lower-density foams, on the other hand, recover their shape quickly and are less likely to retain heat. Because they’re so responsive, however, lower-density foams don’t isolate motion as well as higher-density foams. They are also less durable than high-density foams and provide less support.

Generally, memory foam mattresses contain a mix of both foams, as they each have their pros and cons.

How do you use this knowledge to your advantage? Think about what’s most important to you as a mattress shopper. If staying cool is of paramount importance, you may prefer a mattress with medium- or low-density foams. If you are most concerned with support and durability, you’ll want to look for a mattress with a higher ratio of high-density foams. A mattress made of more high-density foams also tends to isolate motion better, so couples may prefer these mattresses.

Selecting Your Firmness Level

While density measures the supportiveness of memory foam, ILD is used to gauge the firmness of a mattress. ILD (indentation load-deflection) indicates how much pressure is required to make a four-inch indentation on the top surface of a mattress. The higher the ILD number, the firmer the mattress. Some mattresses carry an ILD range, rather than a single number, because the firmness may be influenced by other factors, such as room temperature.

Most memory foam mattresses on the market have a comfort layer with an ILD number that falls between 8 and 20; as a general rule, you’ll want to look for memory foam mattresses with an ILD of at least 10 to ensure adequate support. The table below explores ILD numbers in-depth.

ILD Rating Category Characteristics
8-10 Extremely Soft Most sleepers experience significant sinking
11-15 Very Soft Most sleepers find this to be the ideal softness/firmness level for a memory foam mattress
16-21 Soft Minimal sinking, and less contouring than mattresses with lower ILD ratings

In addition to the ILD range for the bed, a mattress manufacturer may share the ILD ratings for the individual memory foam comfort layers. Exceptionally soft memory foam will conform to your body more easily, but may also create a ‘sinking’ feeling that some sleepers find uncomfortable. On the other hand, ultra-firm memory foam provides a more stable sleep surface but is not as effective at alleviating pressure points.

Finally, a mattress will have a firmness rating that’s separate from these ILD ratings. Firmness descriptions vary from Soft to Very Firm, and typically correlate with a 1-to-10 scale. When selecting your mattress firmness level, your goal is to find whichever firmness setting supports good spinal alignment while you sleep. To do this, you’ll want to keep your body weight and sleep position in mind.

  • Lightweight sleepers require a softer mattress than heavier sleepers, in order to enjoy sufficient contouring and pressure point relief.
  • Heavier sleepers, on the other hand, require a firmer mattress to prevent their body from sinking too deeply into the mattress.
  • Average weight sleepers, unsurprisingly, typically sleep best on a middle-of-the-road mattress firmness rating.

Your sleep position is the next thing to consider after body weight. Side sleepers often find softer mattresses to be more comfortable, as these allow their pressure points (like the hips and shoulders) to sink deeper into the mattress surface and keep their spine aligned. Stomach sleepers need a firmer mattress, in order to avoid the pelvis from sinking out of alignment with the rest of the spine. Back sleepers also tend to be more comfortable on firmer mattresses.

Weight Group Below-average (less than 130 lbs.) Average (130 to 230 lbs.) Above-average (more than 230 lbs.)
Ideal Firmness for Side Sleeping 3 (Soft) to 4.5 (Medium Soft) 5 (Medium) to 6.5 (Medium Firm) 6.5 (Medium Firm) to 8 (Firm)
Ideal Firmness for Back Sleeping 4 (Medium Soft) to 5.5 (Medium) 5 (Medium) to 6.5 (Medium Firm) 6 (Medium Firm) to 8 (Firm)
Ideal Firmness for Stomach Sleeping 3 (Soft) to 4.5 (Medium Soft) 4 (Medium Soft) to 5.5 (Medium) 6 (Medium Firm) to 7.5 (Firm)

Types of Memory Foam Mattresses

The name “memory foam mattress” is a bit of a misnomer. Because memory foam is so soft, mattresses are never made entirely from memory foam. If they were, the mattress wouldn’t be able to provide support! Typically, memory foam mattresses are constructed with at least one layer of memory foam in the comfort system; the support core is almost always made of high-density polyfoam.

Today’s memory foam models feature several varieties of memory foam. Some of the most popular materials include:

  • Traditional (or viscoelastic) memory foam is the most widely available variety of the material. It is polyurethane-based, and categorized as a type of polyfoam. This material softens when it comes into contact with body heat, and then retains its original shape once it cools.
  • Plant-based memory foam is manufactured using a combination of petrochemicals and botanical ingredients. Plant-based foam layers are designed in an open-cell configuration, making them more breathable and cooler for sleeping than standard memory foams.
  • Gel-infused memory foam is a relatively new material, and is not as widely available as other memory foam types. The addition of cooling gel helps reduce heat and keep you sleeping comfortably. The shape retention of gel-infused memory foam is comparable to traditional memory foam. Of our top picks, Nectar Mattress, Loom & Leaf, and the Plank Mattress all feature comfort layers of gel-infused memory foam.
  • Copper-infused memory foam, another relatively new version of the material, features beads lined with thin copper wire placed throughout the foam. Like gel, the copper components will help you sleep cooler throughout the night. This material is also designed to help sleepers with joint pain and stiffness, since copper is known to aid with blood circulation.

Other Considerations for Sleepers Interested in a Memory Foam Mattress

In addition to the density, ILD number and mattress construction, there are several other factors to consider when shopping for the right memory foam mattress.

  • Do You Tend to Sleep Hot?

    Due to the contouring effects of memory foam, many people find that these mattresses sleep warm to the point of discomfort. Cooling components (like the gel and copper-infused foams mentioned above) are designed to reduce this effect. The Nectar, the Loom & Leaf, and the Plank Mattress all incorporate gel-infused foams in their comfort layers, but the Plank takes it a step further with its optional temperature-regulating PCM cover (available for an additional price).

    Also, pay attention to the thickness of the mattress cover, as well as the material used to make it. Covers that are thicker or constructed from less breathable materials may cause you to sleep hot, and also may affect the responsiveness of the memory layer.

  • What Is Your Body Weight?

    Memory foam mattresses offer varying amounts of thickness in their comfort layers. A thicker top layer may provide added support for certain sleepers, such as heavier people who feel they need extra cushioning and support.

  • What Is Your Sleep Position?

    Depending on your sleep position, you may want more or less cushion from your comfort layers. Side sleepers can benefit from several inches of memory foam, in order to allow maximum pressure relief. Stomach sleepers may find thinner comfort layers preferable, as these don’t provide too much sinkage. Back sleepers need varying extents of cushioning in different areas of their body. Mattresses featuring zoned polyfoams in the transitional layers, like The Casper and MemoryLux mattresses, can be especially comfortable for these sleepers.

  • Do You Have Chronic Pain?

    Memory foam provides some of the best relief for sleepers with chronic pain. However, it’s important to pick a mattress that can reliably provide this relief for some time, without sagging. Lower-quality foams break down faster, so look for mattresses made from higher-density foams. From our picks, the Nectar, Leesa, and Loom & Leaf mattresses all rate well among sleepers with chronic pain.

Memory Foam Mattress FAQ

  • How Long Do Memory Foam Mattresses Last?

    The lifespan of a memory foam mattress will depend largely on the foam’s density grade. Low-density memory foam will retain its shape quickly, but the material degrades at a faster rate and has the lowest amount of motion isolation. High-density memory foam, on the other hand, offers superior body-conforming and low motion transfer — although this material is slower to retain its shape after each sleep. Medium-density memory foam provides a compromise between low- and high-density foam in terms of cost, shape retention, motion isolation and other key factors.

    Most memory foam mattresses are designed to last for at least five years of regular use. In order to maximize the lifespan of your memory foam mattress, you’ll need to look carefully at the material composition of the mattress — in particular, the ratio of memory foam to cheaper types of polyfoam in the comfort layer and the support core. Also take time to inspect other aspects of the mattress, such as the type of stitching found on the cover and seams.

  • What’s the Difference Between Polyfoam and Memory Foam?

    Though memory foam is technically considered a type of polyfoam, they’re talked about as different things in the mattress world.

    Polyfoam, technically called polyurethane foam, is an umbrella term that refers to any foam that is synthesized using polyol and diisocyanate. This includes all non-latex foams found in mattresses, including memory foam. That being said, polyfoam is generally used to refer to any of these foams except for memory foam. Lower-density polyfoam is often used in the comfort layers of a mattress, whereas higher-density foam is used in the support core.

    Memory foam, called visco-elastic foam, is a high-density polyfoam with additional chemicals added to give it its low resilience. Memory foam responds to pressure a lot slower than other polyfoams, taking a longer time to retain its shape after being compressed.

    Memory foam tends to conform closer than polyfoam, whereas polyfoam is a bit more responsive and bouncy. Consequently, memory foam offers better pressure relief and polyfoam offers better temperature neutrality and ease of movement.

  • How Can You Make a Memory Foam Mattress Sleep Cooler?

    One of the biggest downfalls of memory foam is that it traps a lot of body heat. This leads to a sweaty and uncomfortable night for those who run on the hotter side. Luckily, there’re a couple ways to partially mitigate this.

    The first step is to make sure everything else your body is coming into contact with is cool and breathable. This includes your sheets, comforter, pillows, pillowcases, and sleepwear. How breathable these things are mostly depends on the material they’re made of. Linen and bamboo viscose tend to be the coolest materials, whereas cotton is somewhat breathable.  If you’re a hot sleeper, avoid materials such as polyester and flannel, which tend to trap heat.

    If this doesn’t cut it, you may consider purchasing a mattress pad or topper of another material and placing it on top of your memory foam mattress. Mattress pads made of the above-mentioned materials should be fairly effective in cooling down your mattress. Additionally, a latex mattress topper will provide a cooler experience, but it will significantly change the feel of the mattress.

  • What’s Covered Under the Mattress Warranty?

    Any memory foam mattress of quality will come with a robust warranty. Although the warranty length is key, you should also understand what the warranty covers. For example, the best memory foam mattress warranties should cover sagging, one of the most common issues associated with memory foam. The warranty should also discuss in clear terms how the manufacturer handles warranty claims, turnaround time, shipping costs and mattress replacement. For more information about warranties, please visit our guide to Understanding Mattress Warranties.

  • Is There a Sleep Trial?

    Because there’s nothing quite like trying your mattress at home, most mattresses come with a sleep trial. Sleep trials for mattresses bought in-store typically run about 30 nights, while online mattresses offer significantly longer sleep trials, usually 100 nights or more. All of the best memory foam mattresses we’ve reviewed here offer sleep trials of at least 100 nights, although the Nectar stands out for offering an extensive 365 nights.

  • How Much Does a Memory Foam Mattress Cost?

    Memory foam mattresses will vary considerably when it comes to price point. Some models cost as little as $300 to $400, while high-end and luxury memory foam mattresses will cost upwards of $3,000. Foam density is one factor that affects price; low-density foam will be the cheapest, while high-density foam is usually the most expensive. Plant-based memory foam, as well as gel- and copper-infused foam, will typically cost more than standard viscoelastic memory foam mattresses.

    According to our findings, the average Queen-size memory foam mattress costs $1,044.

Match Your Pillows & Bedding

Often, when people purchase a new mattress, it’s common for their old pillows to no longer provide the support they need. Pillows work in tandem with your mattress to provide a comfortable night’s sleep, ensuring proper spinal alignment all the way through the neck and head.

How to Buy a Pillow for Your Memory Foam Mattress

The traditional advice for pillows is simple: you should buy your pillow based on your sleep position. Side sleepers need pillows with the highest lofts. Ideally, the loft matches the distance between the tip of the shoulder and the nape of the neck. Back sleepers find mid- or high-loft pillows most comfortable, while stomach sleepers sleep best with low-loft pillows, or no pillow at all.

When buying a pillow for your memory foam mattress, remember that you’ll sink more than you may have with your former mattress (this is especially true if this is your first memory foam mattress). So, you’ll need to adjust the traditional pillow buying advice accordingly. Typically, this simply means that you’ll need a slightly lower loft than before. Stomach sleepers, for example, may be able to go without a pillow at all, since the mattress surface itself is so conforming.

Do You Need a Mattress Topper?

Your comfort preferences may change. If this happens before your mattress reaches its lifespan, you’ll be happy to hear you can easily adjust the firmness using a mattress topper. Mattress toppers can soften the surface of a firmer mattress, or increase the support of an older mattress. They can also be a good option for couples with different comfort needs. Learn more in our Guide to Mattress Toppers.

Finally, although memory foam is a very popular mattress choice, this material may not be the best option for you. Be sure to check out the following guides on Tuck.com:

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