It’s hard to think about the best mattresses in the market without memory foam coming into the picture. This material, also known as viscoelastic foam, is synonymous with great sleep, thanks to the way it works.
If you are lucky to get the best memory foam mattress, lying on its comfort layer causes it to sort of melt due to your body heat and pressure and slowly mold to your unique body shape. Resultantly, it cocoons you in a comfortable cradle that distributes your weight evenly across the sleeping surface. This triggers pressure points relief and soothes joints and muscles, leading to a night full of rest.
Memory foam mattresses aren’t made equal, though. They differ a lot in foam density, thickness, and firmness level. Also, while a good number of mattress brands use the traditional memory foam, others have incorporated new technologies to curb most issues that affect this material, including heat retention and the quicksand feeling. All of these differences suggest that no two mattresses behave the same.
In this post, we’re going to explain everything that you need to understand when choosing a quality mattress from the sea of options in the market. Our review team has also identified 5 of the best memory foam mattresses to buy in 2020.
Disclaimer: While SleepSharp endeavors to recommend the best products, we edited this post to offer general information only. As such, the content of this article can’t replace professional and expert advice and recommendation.
Quick Links: 5 Top Rated Memory Foam Mattresses in 2020
- Best Memory Foam Mattress: Layla
- Best Affordable Memory Foam Mattress: Nectar
- Best Memory Foam Mattress for Side Sleepers: Loom and Leaf
- Best Memory Foam Mattress for Back Pain: Lull
- Best Memory Foam Mattress for Heavy People – Amerisleep AS1
Best Memory Foam Mattress – Layla
Why we like it:
- It’s flippable
- Offers 2 firmness levels
- It is fantastically comfortable
- Firmness: soft side up 4, firm side up 7
- Thickness: 10″
- Construction materials: copper-infused memory foam, poly foam, and polyester blend fabric
You might like the Layla mattress if you:
- Weigh less than 230 lbs– in our Layla mattress review, this bed seems ideal for lightweight and average-weight individuals.
- Prefer the classic hug of memory foam– the soft side of this mattress has a slow-responding foam that lets you sink into the bed.
- Overheat when sleeping– while memory foam mattresses generally sleep hot, that’s not an issue with the Layla as its cover and comfort and transition layers are designed to boost heat dissipation.
The Layla mattress is commonly touted as the most comfortable mattress in 2020, and we can’t agree more. This is a 10-inch mattress with a couple of twists on the design of traditional memory foam.
One of its major highlights is its flippable design that reveals two firmness levels as marked on the cover. With the soft side up, you’ll be sleeping directly on a 3-inch 10 ILD memory foam layer. This layer is soft and has a firmness rating of 4. It offers plenty of sinkage and hug, both of which are necessary for quality sleep full of rest and relaxation, especially for side sleepers.
With the firm side up, your comfort layer becomes a 1-inch 10 ILD memory foam block. Although this layer has a little bit of contour, it lets you sink through and experience the optimum support of the 36 ILD base core. This layer has a firm feeling of around 7 on the firmness scale and offers tons of support for back sleepers and lightweight stomach sleepers.
Interestingly, each of these two sides is infused with copper. Although it’s a relatively new technology, copper-infusion in mattresses has a multitude of benefits, including cooling the bed and alleviating muscle cramps. Also, its ability to minimize joint damage and improve circulation makes the Layla a recommendable option if you’re struggling with joint and muscle pains.
The Layla mattress comes with a 120-day trial period. You’ll also get a lifetime non-prorated warranty deal that covers the mattress, cover, and zip.
Best Affordable Memory Foam Mattress – Nectar
Why we like it:
- Costs below average
- Despite its lower price tag, it has the thickest layer of memory foam
- Balances comfort and support
- Firmness: Medium-firm (6)
- Thickness: 11″
- Construction materials: memory foam, poly foam, and Tencel-cotton blend fabric
You might like the Nectar if you:
- Want an affordable memory foam mattress– with this bed, Nectar proves to the market that it’s possible to get generous with memory foam while still maintaining an affordable price tag for all.
- Are a hardcore fan of memory foam– this is a unique mattress in that its first three layers are dominated by memory foam. So, it has the attributes of this material in plenty.
- Are looking for the best mattress for pressure relief– Nectar delivers the pressure-relieving feeling of memory foam by letting you sink slightly for in-the-bed comfort.
No list of the best memory foam mattresses reviews would be complete without the Nectar. This is not only because of its affordability but because of its overall construction too.
One thing that stands out in this mattress is the actual amount of memory foam that goes in it. You see, while all other mattresses in these reviews are sold as memory foams, the actual amount of this material in most of these beds is utmost 3 inches. In most instances, close to 80% of these beds constitute poly foam.
Nectar takes a step in the opposite direction by using memory foam for this mattress’s first three layers. Of its 11-inch thickness, memory foam makes 5.75-inches, thereby making this a value buy compared to others. These three memory foam layers cultivate a medium-firm feeling of around 6 on the firmness scale. As such, we expect it to make a good mattress for individuals who carry more weight. With its gentle top, this bed should offer a balanced and comfortable sleeping surface for most side sleepers and back snoozers.
Lightweight stomach sleepers might also enjoy it, but those on the heavier side of the spectrum might wish for a little more support around the lumbar.
As a solution to those who sleep hot, this mattress features a gel-infused comfort layer and a quilted cover made from a blend of cotton and Tencel. These two offer incredible performance in boosting breathability and moisture management.
Find out more about this bed in our Nectar mattress review
Best Memory Foam Mattress for Side Sleepers – Loom and Leaf
Why we like it:
- It’s not a bed in a box
- It’s seemingly durable
- It’s comfortable
- Firmness: Medium-firm (6.5)
- Thickness: 12″
- Construction materials: organic cotton cover, convoluted memory foam, and poly foam
You might like the Loom and Leaf if you:
- Weigh between 150 lbs and 300 lbs– the Loom and Leaf Relaxed Firm mattress tends to have enough contour for average and medium-weight individuals.
- Are a combo sleeper– thanks to its tightly knit pillow-top cover, this mattress is able to accommodate all the three sleeping positions.
- Value memory foam but not the classic stuck-in-bed feeling– the pillow-top design of this mattress makes it a breeze to move across the sleeping surface without feeling stuck.
When buying a quality mattress online, the Loom and Leaf is a bed that you’re likely to come across a lot. This bed tops our other list of the best mattresses for arthritis reviews. While it’s a little on the pricier end, that’s probably because this is not your typical all-foam bed.
The Loom and Leaf is a premium 12-inch mattress that is available in two versions. The first and the model that we’ll review here is the Relaxed Firm mattress that has a medium-firm rating of 6.5/10. We recommend this to petite and average-weight individuals in the range of 150 lbs and 300 lbs. The second version is slightly firmer and falls at 8 on the firmness scale. This will be a much better option for heftier stomach and back sleepers.
The Relaxed Firm mattress has a pillow-top consisting of foam quilted in an organic cotton cover. This top offers you the initial soothing comfort besides eliminating the stuck-in-bed feeling that you’d experience on this mattress otherwise.
The comfort layer is a 4-pound two-inch memory foam layer with gel-swirl construction technology. This medium-density layer distributes your weight evenly across the sleeping surface for pressure relief and it also creates a soothing sensation.
At the top center, this comfort layer has an additional layer dubbed cooling gel spinal panel. This panel offers a targeted cooling zone to your lumbar region as this is where most heat retention occurs.
Something else that you might like about the Loom and Leaf is that it does not come compressed in a box. Instead, this mattress comes fully ‘inflated’ and the delivery personnel will set it up for you.
Best Memory Foam Mattress for Back Pain – Lull
Why we like it:
- It’s somewhat bouncier
- It sleeps cool
- Has a lot of support that people with back pain look for
- Firmness: Medium-firm (6.5)
- Thickness: 10″
- Construction materials: gel-infused memory, proprietary foam, and poly foam
You might like the Lull mattress if you:
- Want a memory foam mattress that is easy to move on– this mattress’s transition layer is a proprietary blend of poly foam and synthetic latex. This blend successfully eliminates the quicksand feeling of the comfort layer on top, thereby making moving on this mattress effortless.
- Can’t seem to get the best mattress for couples– the Lull is among a few other beds that tend to support different people and multiple sleeping positions.
- Weigh 130 lbs to 230 lbs– although some petite and heavier folks will still benefit from this bed, it tends to offer the best pressure point and back pain relief to average-weight individuals.
Another top rated mattress in 2020, the Lull is a 10-inch bed that, in our experience, is a perfect match for people looking for the best memory foam mattress for back pain. This bed has a 1.5-inch memory foam layer followed by a 1.5-inch specialty foam transition zone, and a 7-inch poly foam core.
The proprietary foam used on this mattress’s transition layer is what makes all the difference. This foam is a blend of poly foam and synthetic latex. This mix gives it a unique firmness and springiness that helps a lot in eliminating most of the quicksand feeling that the memory foam comfort layer would cause.
Besides making it easy to move on top of the bed, this added springiness promotes continuous support, which is paramount for people with back issues.
The Lull has a medium firmness level of around 6.5. Its memory foam comfort layer will take your body’s shape for excellent pressure relief, especially when complemented with the best pillow for back pain. The gel-infusion, on the other hand, takes heat away from you, thereby promoting a deep sleep that is necessary for adequate recovery.
This mattress’s cover features a blend of polyester and rayon and this gives it a fantastic degree of durability and breathability. If you’re fond of taking breakfast in bed, you’re in luck because you can either spot-clean this cover or remove it altogether for machine-washing in case of a mess.
Best Memory Foam Mattress for Heavy People – Amerisleep AS1
Why we like it:
- It offers tons of support
- Comes at a reasonable price
- It still has the comfort of memory foam
- Firmness: Firm (8)
- Thickness: 10″
- Construction materials: memory foam, bio-based foam, and polyester, Spandex, and Celliant blend fabric.
You might like the Amerisleep AS1 if you:
- Can’t get a memory foam bed that’s firm enough to carry your heavy weight– this mattress has a firmness level of 8 but still has the coveted soothing comfort of memory foam.
- Weigh 230 lbs and above– firm mattresses tend to accommodate heavier individuals better. Lightweight people don’t have the required force to activate enough sinkage on the firm layer.
- Mostly sleep on your back or stomach– at its firmness level, this mattress pretty much has all the support that stomach and back sleepers need.
Amerisleep- one of the most popular American mattress brands is known for its AS line of five mattresses. Of these mattresses, the AS1 is the firmest and falls at 8 on the soft-firm scale. Such a bed offers the extra support that heftier stomach and black sleepers look for when choosing the best memory foam to buy.
This mattress consists of two layers. The first is a 2-inch block of memory foam followed by an 8-inch layer of higher density poly foam. If you carry more weight, this relatively thin comfort layer will offer some contouring for a bit of pressure relief. However, you’ll sink through to feel the optimum support of the firm base underneath.
If you’ll be sharing your bed with a partner, this could be the mattress for you. This is because it excels in almost all the fronts that matter when purchasing the best memory foam mattress for couples, including motion isolation, noise reduction, and temperature neutrality. Considering its firmness level, it’s not surprising that the Amerisleep also rates highly in terms of edge support.
Firm memory foam mattresses like the AS1 rarely sleep hot thanks to their minimal conformity. This mattress boosts this performance even further by using open-cell foam and a specialized breathable cover made from a soft blend of polyester, Spandex, and Celliant.
Keep in mind that this mattress won’t have the best comfort for individuals weighing less than 230 lbs. For this group, we recommend checking out the Amerisleep AS3. This is a 12-inch medium-firm mattress with a firmness level of 5.5. We’d recommend it to average-weight individuals looking for a memory foam bed with an awesome balance of plushiness and support. Check out whether it’s the mattress for you in this Amerisleep AS3 review.
Memory Foam Mattress Buying Guide
What is memory foam?
Memory foam is a special type of foam that was originally invented by NASA for use as a cushion on its aircrafts’ seats. This material is also known as viscoelastic in that it responds to heat and pressure by becoming runnier (Visco) and also regains its original shape later (elastic).
When you lie on a memory foam mattress, its comfort layer will react to your body heat and pressure to mold to your body shape. As such, it’s able to offer remarkable support and comfort as needed by your different body parts.
Once you get up from the bed, the mattress remains with an indentation of your body shape before slowly bouncing back to its original shape. That’s why it’s called ‘memory foam.’
The Revolution of Memory Foam
When memory foam was first released for public use by NASA in the 1980s, it greatly suffered from heat retention as its foam had no way of dissipating heat.
However, over the years, manufacturers have tweaked this material in a whole lot of ways in a bid to curb this issue. The modern memory foam material has open-cell structure or what’s called reticulated foam. These open cells promote air circulation, thereby allowing body heat to dissipate away from the sleeping surface.
Another popular memory foam cooling technology that you’ll come across a lot is gel-infusion. Gel is a semi-liquid substance that, when infused into memory foam, absorbs heat at a much slower rate. As such, it’s able to sleep cooler for a longer time.
There’s a catch, though. Since gel does not evaporate, there’s only so much body heat that it can absorb during a night’s sleep. When it reaches its limit, it becomes a sort of a heat reservoir, so your mattress starts sleeping hotter.
4 Main Types of Memory Foam
Traditional memory foam
This is the material that was used in the early memory foam mattresses. This foam is still made from petroleum-based products and has the traditional quicksand feeling (the feeling of being stuck in bed).
Mattresses made from traditional memory foam come at a relatively lower price tag. However, most of them suffer from heat retention. Although this additional warmth may be beneficial to people with achy joints by helping decrease the pain, it may be a bother to others, especially those who sleep hot.
Another distinct aspect of traditional memory foam is that it bounces back to its original shape much more slowly than modern memory foam.
Open-cell memory foam
Open-cell memory foam is traditional memory foam but with a slightly different foam structure. This material has wider spaces between its cells that promote better air movement. This allows hot air to move away from the sleeping surface, thereby leading to a more comfortable sleep.
Gel memory foam
This is memory foam that has been infused with gel. It still has the signature feel of traditional memory foam. The major difference, however, is that it tends to sleep cooler than non-gel memory foam, thereby promoting a more restful sleep with minimal disturbance. Another difference between memory foam and gel memory foam is that the latter offers more balanced support in that it prevents you from sinking too far into the mattress.
Plant-based memory foam
In your search of the best memory foam mattresses reviews, you’ll come across beds that replace a part of their petroleum-based construction materials with plant-based products. Green tea extract, soya, activated charcoal, and aloe vera have all been combined with memory foam to increase its springiness and reduce its carbon footprint.
Pros of Memory Foam Mattresses
It provides a true body fit
The most significant advantage that memory foam has over, let’s say, innerspring mattresses is how it contours perfectly to your body shape. The polyurethane foam of this mattress works by becoming soft as a result of your body heat and pressure and molding around your body shape. The mattress ends up holding you in a comfortable cradle without pushing against you or aggravating pressure points as an innerspring mattress would do.
Memory foam promotes pressure points and joint pain relief
Memory foam is viscoelastic meaning that it responds to your body heat and pressure by softening and expanding. Pressure points and achy joints have a slightly higher temperature than other parts of the body. Therefore, memory foam is going to expand more around these areas and, thus, mold accordingly to offer the required amount of support.
It absorbs motion
Motion isolation is one of the areas that memory foam beats coil-based beds. This refers to the ability of the mattress to absorb movement energy from a partner on the other side of the bed, thereby preventing it from reaching the opposite side and causing disturbance. This is a critical attribute, especially for individuals who share the bed with another person or pet. Again, it makes a lot of sense for light sleepers who tend to get distracted from their slumber by the lightest movement.
Memory foam is allergy resistant
If you’re looking for the best mattress for allergies, memory foam should be at the top of your list. Memory foam is naturally resistant to dust mites because unlike in fiberfill, dust mites can’t burrow easily in a block of foam. This means that these dreaded allergens will not have a place to grow and thrive.
Cons of Memory Foam Mattresses
It tends to sleep hot
Although manufacturers have come up with ways of minimizing this issue, there are still reports of some memory foam beds sleeping hot. We have to acknowledge, however, that gel-infusion and the use of breathable covers helps a lot in minimizing heat retention.
Memory foam mattresses are generally heavy due to the dense foam used in them. The overall weight of the mattress comes from the memory foam layers as well as the core support, which is mainly poly foam. For the majority of the mattress’s lifespan, you won’t need to worry about its weight. However, it becomes an issue when there’s a need to rotate, flip, or move the mattress. These mattresses weigh between 40 lbs and 60 lbs for a twin, and 120-160 lbs for a queen-size bed.
It has chemical smell
As memory foam mattresses are made of chemicals, they emit some chemical odor when you first remove them from the packaging. This new mattress smell is caused by the break-down of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and it airs out completely after a few days. While memory foam off-gassing may be irritating to some people, it is not toxic or harmful.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Memory Foam Mattress
In this part of this memory foam mattress buying guide, let’s talk about the meat and potatoes of choosing a good mattress for your needs.
We’ve already discussed the different types of memory foam; traditional, open-cell, gel-infused, and plant-based. Your choice between either of these will highly depend on personal preference. If you prefer a bed with the classic memory foam feeling of being glued in bed, a mattress made of traditional memory foam is going to make a suitable choice. If you are a hot sleeper and you’d prefer a bed that sleeps cooler, you’ll want to consider either open-cell or gel-infused memory foam. On the other hand, if you are a fan of memory foam but you’d like to minimize your carbon footprint, mattresses made with a portion of plant-based materials are going to interest you the most.
Density and Firmness of the mattress
These two are among the most important aspects to consider when buying a memory foam mattress. Notably, they are also the most confusing terms in memory foam jargon. If you think that a high-density mattress is firm and vice-versa, you are wrong, but you’re not alone.
So, what is the difference between density and firmness level in memory foam mattresses?
Density refers to the amount of foam in one cubic foot of a particular mattress. For instance, when we say that a bed has a density of 3 lbs, what we mean is that one cubic foot block of that mattress would weigh 3 pounds. The higher the number, the denser the mattress.
Density in memory foam beds mainly talks about the durability of the mattress. A high-density mattress will be much more durable than another one with lower-density.
If you were to take a closer look at the construction of these two foams, you’d realize that a lower-density foam has larger air spaces than a higher-density one. That is how the latter is able to compact more foam within a given area.
Here is a breakdown of the 3 different densities in memory foam mattresses;
- Low density (3 lbs and below) – these are the most affordable, but they tend to break down faster.
- Medium density (4-5 lbs) – this is the most common density level among manufacturers as its price range tends to suit most people’s budgets. It also tends to last much longer than low-density foam.
- High-density (6 lbs and above) – expect to pay top dollar for a mattress with this density level. High-density memory foam is mainly used for orthopedic mattresses. Although they are expensive, they also tend to offer the best durability.
What else does density affect in a mattress?
Besides durability and the price of the mattress, density also affects;
Contouring and pain relief– when it comes to hugging your body, a high-density mattress is regarded as the best as there’s more material to contour around the body and offer more support. That’s why high-density mattresses are popular with people seeking for pressure point and back pain relief.
Foam response time– this refers to the amount of time that the foam takes to spring back to its original shape after being compressed. Lower density foams bounce back much faster because they have more air pockets between the foam cells. As such, these foams will be a little easier to move on too compared to high density foams.
Weight– it’s not surprising that a high-density mattress is going to weigh more. The weight of the mattress is usually a major issue if you’re transporting the bed from a bricks-and-mortar store to your house. Of course, the concept of bed-in-a-box coupled with free shipping has made this a non-issue. However, you’ll still need some help to rotate or flip it, especially if you have back or posture problems that restrict any heavy lifting.
Does density affect firmness in a memory foam bed?
With the knowledge that a high density foam has more material compacted in a small space, it’s easy to think that it will be firmer than a low-density foam. It works the other way, though. Low density beds feel firmer because the manufacturer places a thin comfort layer on top of firmer supportive layers. As such, the firmness comes from the layers underneath. With a high density bed, the foam is thicker and, therefore, has a more contouring, which comes out as soft.
Firmness is a measure of how hard or soft a mattress feels. There are two ways of looking at it. The first method involves considering each layer’s Indentation Load Deflection (ILD). The second method is considering the mattress’s rating on the firmness scale. Let’s look at both.
Determining mattress firmness using ILD
The official definition of ILD is: the amount of force in pounds that is required to indent a 4-inch block of foam by 25%. For instance, if a particular layer of foam has an ILD of 25, what this means is that you’ll require 25 lbs of force to decompress it so that it is 25% shorter. As a rule of thumb, firmer mattresses require more force to indent.
Although it’s easy to get a mattress with almost any ILD rating, most mattresses today have an ILD range of between 19 and 36, where:
- Soft mattresses have ILD of 19, 20, and 21
- Medium-soft mattresses fall in the range of ILD 22 and 23
- Medium mattresses rate between ILD 24 and 26
- Medium-firm mattresses fall at between ILD 27 and 31
- Firm mattresses have an ILD value of between 31 and 36
Because memory foam mattresses have several layers of foam each with a different ILD rating, this method may not always be the best way to determine the firmness level of the bed.
Determining mattress firmness using the firmness scale
The second method of determining mattress firmness is much easier as it considers the mattress as a whole. In this method, the mattress is given a rating of between 1 and 10, where 1 is softest, and 10 is firmest. Here is detailed information regarding these values;
- Soft mattresses (1-3) – these mattresses have a super plush feeling and a generous amount of contour. However, since these beds have minimal support, they tend to work well with lightweight people weighing less than 130 lbs.
- Medium-firm mattresses (4-6) – these mattresses offer a middle ground in terms of comfort and support. They provide a good amount of comfortable contour without causing uncomfortable sinkage. These mattresses make a good choice for most average-weight individuals weighing 130-230 lbs.
- Firm mattresses (7-10) – these mattresses are more about support and offer minimal sink. Although they don’t have lots of contouring, these beds often have enough cushioning to curb issues of pressure points. They tend to make the best memory foam mattresses for heavy people weighing above 230 lbs.
Thickness- does it matter?
Yes, it does. When shopping for a new mattress, it’s common for most people to ask, “What’s the best thickness for a memory foam mattress?” “Is a 12-inch mattress good?”
Mattress thickness is an important aspect that can make or break the quality of your sleep. Most people tend to go with 10”-12” mattresses as they balance support and comfort without making it harder to climb on and off the bed. If you prefer a luxurious bed, you’ll need to consider mattresses that are 14” thick and above. We believe this is a perfect height range if you prefer putting your mattress on the floor too. However, it’s good to mention that thicker memory foam mattresses generally tend to feel softer while thinner beds feel firm.
This is one of the most underrated components of a memory foam mattress. At SleepSharp, we believe a good mattress is only as good as its cover. While there are tons of things to consider about the cover depending on your preference, perhaps the most important is the type of materials used to make it.
A good cover should allow you to experience the comfort and support of the bed while promoting breathability. It should also be tightly knit, so it does not shift uncomfortably beneath you.
A removable cover will also come in handy as it allows deep cleaning. If there’s no option to remove it, at least it should be easy to spot-clean it.
When it comes to a restful sleep, the best memory foam mattresses have a way of hitting just the right buttons. These beds are super comfortable, and they don’t compromise support, that is, if you’re keen to get a bed that matches your weight, sleeping position, and preferences. While there are lots of options out there, we hope that our best memory foam mattresses reviews and buying guide will put you in the right direction.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are memory foam mattresses safe?
Because memory foam mattresses are full of chemicals, there are fears that some of these beds contain harmful components that could irritate the skin or lead to respiratory issues, such as asthma, among other problems. While these fears are valid, EPA says that finished polyurethane foam does not have any known toxins.
So, yes, memory foam mattresses are safe to sleep on. If you’re worried about what goes into your mattress, a good option is to consider mattresses made in the USA or the UK as they follow very strict regulations regarding the use of chemicals. For mattresses from other countries, especially China, ensure that they are CertiPUR-US certified.
Can bed bugs live inside a memory foam mattress?
Although memory foam is still susceptible to bedbugs invasion, bugs can’t burrow into the foam. As such, they are more likely to remain either on top or on the underside of the mattress.
Do memory foam mattresses sleep hot?
Well, considering the way memory foam molds to your body, it’s bound to trap some heat. However, it’s good to mention that manufacturers today have come up with ways to minimize this, including the use of gel and convoluted layers. Also, most mattresses today employ breathable covers that further minimize heat retention.