Best Memory Foam Mattress: Which Is Right for You?
Memory foam was first created in the 1970s by NASA. However, it wasn’t until the 1990s that memory foam mattresses began to grow in popularity. Memory foam is known for its deep compression support, pressure relief, and body-contouring properties. Today, memory foam mattresses come in many varieties, constructions, and feels. Many include several layers and different types and combinations of foam, which I’ll go into a little more at the bottom of this article.
It can be tough to find the right fit for you in a market with many solid options. Don’t worry, because Sleepopolis has outlined our top memory foam mattress picks below, with options for almost every sleeping preference. I want to note that the information below is comprised of my opinions, reflecting my own preferences and biases, so use it as a starting point.
Continue reading to get the full breakdown of the best memory foam mattress, or click here to skip ahead to the summary where we’ve got our full list of memory foam mattress reviews for all of the top choices.
And make sure to check out our full mattress review series to find the best models for all types of sleepers.
What Is the Best Memory Foam Mattress?
Like any other top picks, these top-quality memory foam mattress picks are reflective of my own personal preferences, so just use them as a starting point! Some include multiple types of foam and can even use hybrid mattress construction. I’ve broken down my picks based on criteria I hope will be helpful in your own mattress search. Now, on to my top 10 memory foam mattresses for a variety of sleepers:
Thick layers of memory foam make the Nectar a cushiony mattress ideal for side sleepers. Get $125 off your purchase with code SLEEPOPOLIS125!
A flippable design makes the Layla mattress as firm as it is ultra-soft. Get $110 off your purchase using code SLEEPOPOLIS.
The Novosbed Mattress offers a classic memory foam feel, but also features three different firmness levels for sleepers still experimenting with their support needs!
Amerisleep AS4 Mattress
Amerisleep AS4 Mattress
On the softer side, the AS4 could be a great pick for those in need of a little extra cushion! Get $250 off your AS4 purchase just by clicking this link!
Nest Bedding Alexander Signature Mattress
Nest Bedding Alexander Signature Mattress
A thin layer of memory foam makes the Nest Bedding Signature mattress ideal for those in need of some serious pressure relief. Save 8% on your Nest purchase with the code SLEEPOP8!
Great Edge Support
Tempurpedic Flex Supreme Breeze Mattress
Tempurpedic Flex Supreme Breeze Mattress
Layers of memory foam and coils come together to make this hybrid mattress great for combo sleepers! Enjoy a special discount by using our link!
Designed with active recovery in mind, the Bear mattress pulls off an excellently medium firm feel. Get $75 off your order using code SLEEPOPOLIS!
Loom & Leaf Mattress
Loom & Leaf Mattress
Enjoy the cozy comfort of this ultra-plush mattress made with organic materials, and earn a $75 gift card with your Loom & Leaf purchase!
Wright Bedding Mattress
Wright Bedding Mattress
Soft, moisture-wicking fabric covers ultra-breathable memory foam making the Wright Mattress ideal for those in search of a luxurious feel Save $200 on your purchase with our exclusive code SLEEPOPOLIS200!
Read on for why I chose these mattress brands! Toward the bottom, I’ve also included more in-depth information on what I look for when reviewing memory foam mattresses. These bottom sections will aim to explain the benefits of memory foam and some of the different types of memory foam used in mattress construction.
Best Memory Foam Mattresses: Top Choices Detailed
Below, I have listed my favorite memory foam mattresses based on different factors and criteria, as well as my personal experiences and thoughts. I’ll continue to update this list as I test and review new mattresses.
Best Budget Mattress
The Nectar Mattress is an all-around great-quality memory foam mattress for a very competitive price. It gives sleepers what I tend to call a “true” memory foam feel, using multiple layers of foam and an inch of foam quilted right into the cover. It performs well on pressure relief and also features a layer of gel memory foam to help keep the sleeper cool. This is a good feature and is definitely something to keep in mind when shopping for a memory foam mattress, as memory foam has a reputation for sleeping hot, though manufacturers like Nectar use several techniques to regulate temperature.
Read our full Nectar Mattress Review here.
Best Soft Feel
The Layla Mattress is one of several on the market that features a flipable design, meaning you can experience two different feels and firmnesses by simply flipping the mattress over. The softer side of the Layla mattress does a great job of contouring to the body. This lets the sleeper “sink in” just slightly in basically every sleeping position. The firmer side of the Layla mattress also exhibits great pressure relief.
Check out our Layla Mattress Review.
A flippable design makes the Layla mattress a truly customizable bedroom accessory. Get $110 off your purchase using code SLEEPOPOLIS.
Best Firm Feel
The Novosbed Mattress might be considered on the medium-firm side of memory foam mattresses. While all of their firmness levels keep sleepers from sinking too far into the mattress, there was another thing I especially liked about the Novosbed: The Comfort+ Kit. This is a special series of foam inserts that fit under the cover of the Novosbed to customize firmness to your preferences. The Comfort+ Kit comes at no extra charge to Novosbed customers and allows you to customize the mattress to become basically however firm you need.
Read our full Novosbed Mattress review.
The Novosbed Mattress offers a classic memory foam feel, but also features three different firmness levels for sleepers still experimenting with their support needs! Click the link to save $100 on your Novosbed purchase!
Best Mattress for Sleeping Cool
Amerisleep Mattresses come in five firmness levels, all of which feature cooling Celliant® and Bio-Pur™ foam technology. These design elements help facilitate air flow through the mattress and also transfer heat away from the cover, where body heat can sometimes accumulate during sleep. I found Amerisleep mattresses to provide excellent pressure relief without trapping heat like some memory foam models tend to do.
Read our review of all Amerisleep mattress models.
Nest Bedding Alexander Signature Mattress
Nest Bedding’s Alexander Signature Mattress is built with comfort and durability in mind. It features four layers of foam, with a luxurious 4-inch layer of gel memory foam at the top and high-density poly foam on the bottom. Two transition layers in the center promote comfort and help add durability so the mattress will resist compressing over time. Its construction should hold up well to nightly use, even for couples, and Nest also offers a lifetime warranty on all of their mattresses.
Read our full review of Nest Bedding’s Alexander Mattress here.
This mattress is offered in three different firmness levels so that sleepers can be sure to pick the one that's just right. Save 8% on your Nest purchase with the code SLEEPOP8!
Best Edge Support
Tempurpedic Tempur-Flex Supreme Mattress
The Tempurpedic Tempur-Flex Supreme Mattress is a relatively recent offering from memory foam giant Tempurpedic. The Tempur-Flex Supreme is actually a hybrid mattress, meaning it combines memory foam with innerspring construction. I found this mattress to have fantastic edge support due to the hybrid construction and special poly foam edge support, which surrounds the coils and reinforces the bed at the sides.
Read our full review of the Tempur-Flex Supreme here.
Layers of memory foam and coils come together to make this hybrid mattress great for combo sleepers!
Best Medium Firm Mattress
The Bear Mattress is specifically marketed toward individuals with active lifestyles. I found it to be a solid choice for sleepers who prefer a medium level of firmness and also want a memory foam mattress. Bear uses graphite-gel-infused memory foam, a breathable Celliant cover, two middle polyfoam layers, and a high-density polyfoam base to give a mid-range level of support I think many people will like. For sleepers who want a medium feel with a touch of memory foam pressure relief, this could be a very good choice.
Read our full review of the Bear Mattress here.
Best Plant Based Memory Foam
Loom & Leaf Mattress
The Loom & Leaf Mattress is manufactured by Saatva, one of the most successful online mattress companies in the United States. Loom & Leaf mattresses are manufactured with an eye toward a smaller environmental footprint, and the foams used are from suppliers that have reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Loom & Leaf covers are made using organic cotton, and natural thistle is used as a flame retardant.
Read our full review of the Loom & Leaf Mattress here.
Enjoy the cozy comfort of this ultra-plush mattress, and earn a $75 gift card with your Lime & Leaf purchase!
Best Luxury Memory Foam
The Wright Mattress aims to provide a luxury bed in a box foam mattress targeted toward the luxury consumer. It has a breathable, multi-layer construction where layers start out very soft and transition to firmer foams down below. I found the Wright Mattress to be on the slightly softer side, and its thick comfort layer gives it a plush feel in multiple sleeping positions. The Wright Mattress also performs very well when it comes to reducing motion transfer.
Read our full Wright Mattress Review here.
Memory Foam Feel
A memory foam mattress starts out like many other comparative foam mattresses, with a thick layer of support poly foam. This establishes the solid foundation for all of the other top foam and comfort layers.
The specific type of memory foam on top of the poly foam can vary, but one characteristic remains consistent: viscoelasticity.
Viscoelastic foams have a very unique and recognizable feel. The more pressure that is applied to the foam, the deeper compression and hug you feel. This type of compression doesn’t happen in an instant but over the course of several seconds (the duration depends on the specific foam). In this time, the mattress will respond to the weight of your body and adjust density accordingly.
Perhaps the most notable attribute of memory foam is the way it contours and hugs your body. The viscoelastic properties of memory foam allow your body to sink into the material, with the foam slowly contouring to your unique shape. This type of action creates excellent pressure relief and support. It cradles sleepers in a way that coil or latex mattresses cannot.
One important clarifying note regarding memory foam vs. poly foam: All memory foam is poly foam, but not all poly foam is memory foam. It is the viscoelastic properties that make a memory foam. Polyurethane foam without viscoelastic properties is not a memory foam.
Memory Foam Drawbacks: Cooling and Responsiveness
There are two primary negatives that can impact many memory foams: Slow responsiveness and heat retention.
A memory foam’s level of response means how quickly it is able to adapt to your changes in movement. The very nature of memory foam’s viscoelastic properties means that it generally takes several seconds for a memory foam to fully change its molded contour when pressures on the foam change. However, it is this type of contour and hug that also makes memory foam so desirable for many people.
The slow responsiveness is seen as a negative by many sleepers, but there are just as many who enjoy that type of a feel. If you haven’t tried a memory foam mattress before, it may be a good idea to try a friend’s or go test a few mattresses in store. This will help to ensure that you’re comfortable with a slower-responding foam.
Next, we have heat retention. The earliest versions of memory foam were especially plagued by hot spots and heat retention in the mattress. However, over the course of the past 30 years, memory foam has made great strides in this area.
Most memory foam is still going to be warmer than latex, coil, or hybrid mattresses, but they aren’t the heat traps that they were originally. Advanced foam design, improvements in manufacturing, special covers, gel, open-cell structure, and other advancements have helped reduce the heat retention issues. That said, if you are the type of sleeper who sleeps very warm, memory foam might not be the right choice for you.
What Makes the Best Memory Foam?
We’ve talked quite a bit about the feel characteristics of memory foam above, but now, let’s get into some of the important technical differences. What is it that actually makes a memory foam better or worse?
The density of a foam is a measure of its weight. Essentially, it’s how much actual foam material is built into the layer. It’s important to remember that foam thickness is not an indication of density. A 3-inch layer of memory foam can range widely in density.
As a general rule, the higher the density of a foam, the greater lifespan that foam is likely to have. However, the higher the density of a foam, the warmer it’s generally going to sleep. The sweet spot for memory foam density is in the 3.0-5.0 PCF (pounds per cubic foot) range, in my opinion. This provides enough longevity and durability without being so dense that you create serious heat-retention issues.
The thickness of a memory foam layer (or any foam layer, for that matter) will play an important role. This has more to do with the mattress as a whole.
Memory foam works best when there is at least 4 inches of comfort memory foams. Bear in mind that this can be split into multiple layers. Varying densities and firmnesses are often layered together to create the right comfort and support dynamic.
Having at least 4 inches ensures a smooth transitional support. Having a comfort layer that is less than 4 inches can increase the likelihood of encountering a “support wall” type of feel and/or minimize the memory foam feel, especially if combined with a poly foam, latex, or other non-memory foam.
What Is the Difference Between a Gel and Memory Foam Mattress?
Gel foam is only one type of memory foam. When many people hear the phrase “memory foam,” they tend to think in terms of a single material, but that could not be further from the truth. Memory foam is a category of foam: polyurethane foam with viscoelastic properties.
There are numerous types of memory foam. Companies put their own twist on memory foam through different formulations that can change the foams’ responsiveness, contour, hug, cooling, firmness, sinkage, durability, and other factors. Memory foams can include gel, open-cell designs, cooling pads, special layer designs, aeration holes, and other enhancements that can improve the performance in one or more ways. For example, if you like the feel of memory foam but want something with a little more response, a more open-cell memory foam will create faster response.
What Are the Different Types of Memory Foam?
Below, we’ll look at a few of the most notable derivations of memory foam. However, it’s important to note that these are just a handful of the potential types of memory foam you will see used in various mattresses.
Traditional Memory Foam
When people think of “memory foam,” this is usually what they envision. A more classic or traditional type of memory foam is usually going to be less responsive (taking several seconds to adapt to your changes in movement) and offer a deeper and more pronounced hug and contour. The more traditional memory foam also usually has a high density.
Density of foam is measured in pounds per cubic foot (PCF). It is a measure of the foam’s weight. Foams with higher density usually will yield a longer life. Most traditional memory foams will use a density of 4.0-7.0 PCF.
Open-Cell Memory Foam
Traditional memory foam uses a closed-cell manufacturing process that creates a more dense but less responsive foam. Traditional memory foam has a slower response time, deep compression, and great pressure relief. One struggle for traditional memory foam is heat retention. Some sleepers complain about “sleeping hot” or “feeling stuck.”
Open-cell memory foam has a similar feel to traditional memory foam. During the manufacturing process, tiny air pockets are injected into the foam. This results in a foam that has a faster response time and better air circulation than traditional (closed-cell) memory foam.
Is Gel Memory Foam Cooler?
Gel memory foam mattresses and gel-infused memory foam are some of the most common variations on memory foam you’ll see. One of the biggest benefits of a gel memory foam mattress is the cooling that is lacking in traditional memory foam. A quality gel memory foam mattress will sleep cooler than a quality or low-quality traditional memory foam.
Gel can be included within a memory foam mattress in a couple of different ways. The first method incorporates the gel as tiny beads, which are evenly dispersed into the foam during fabrication. The gel can also be added to the foam in a liquid state during manufacturing. Both ways integrate the gel in the early stages of fabrication to make sure that the gel is cohesively spread throughout the foam.
The cooling ability of a gel-infused foam comes from two factors. One is the composition of the gel, which is designed to absorb and disperse heat. Additionally, having a gel component infused within the foam helps to further disperse the polyurethane material, which is responsible for most of the heat retention. This helps to better disperse heat from your body, preventing hot spots and heat retention.
However, the type of gel, type of memory foam, fire sock, foam density, layer design, and/or mattress covers all factor into the level of cooling that a mattress is capable of. Just because it uses gel doesn’t mean it sleeps cool. On the other hand, just because it’s traditional memory foam doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to sleep warm.
See our best cooling mattress guide for a deep dive on all things cooling-related.
Your specific cooling needs in combination with the other factors listed above will determine whether or not the mattress has the level of cooling best suited for you.
Gel Memory Foam Mattress Buying Guide
Use the following checklist when shopping for a gel memory foam mattress:
- Is the mattress made from a gel swirl/gel beads, or is it made from liquid gel that penetrates the entirety of the foam? Does it have a gel pad affixed to the top layers? Liquid gel that penetrates the entire foam layer or solid gel pads offer better cooling than gel swirl/gel beads.
- Does the mattress use a thin cover or a thick, quilted, and/or padded cover? Thin covers are generally able to breathe better and have better airflow.
- What is the density (PCF = pounds per cubic foot) of the foam? If it’s less than 3.0 PCF, it’s probably not what you want. There are a few exceptions for transitional layers, but most viscoelastic gel memory foam should be at least 3.0 PCF. Higher densities create better mattress longevity.
- Where was the foam poured, and who is the mattress manufacturer? This information isn’t always readily available, but knowing it can help.
Memory Foam Mattress Reviews
Memory foam is extremely popular in mattresses today, and for good reason. The deep compression, hug, contouring, and pressure relief in a memory foam mattress make it a great choice for many sleepers.
However, bear in mind that if sleeping cool is your top priority, memory foam may not be for you. Although there are cooler memory foams out there, like open-cell memory foam or gel memory foam, it is very hard to totally overcome the heat retention that these foams have historically been known for.
Top Recommendations for the Best Affordable Memory Foam Mattress: Reviews and Prices
|Mattress||Best For||Mattress Brand||Description||Price (Queen)||Coupon||Review|
|Nectar||Budget||The Nectar uses 3 layers of memory foam, including one quilted into the cover, to provide pressure relief and contouring to the body. The Tencel cover and gel memory foam comfort layer are meant to help with temperature regulation and cooling.||$795||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Layla||Soft||The Layla is an all foam mattress consisting of four different layers. It is a double sided mattress which allows the sleeper to choose between a firm or soft feel depending on their preference.||$899||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Novosbed||Firm||The Novosbed uses two layers of memory foam totaling 4 inches in height to allow the sleeper to sink in, providing a contoured feeling and pressure relief. The comfort layer is aeratred for improved airflow and cooling.||$1,099||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Amerisleep||Sleeps Cool||The Amerisleep line includes five mattresses of differing constructions. The line goes from the firmest mattress, the AS1, to the softest, the AS5. While the feels of these mattresses range quite a bit, they all have a comfort layer of Amerisleep's proprietary memory foam.||$999 - $1,899*||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Nest Bedding Alexander Signature||Durable||All foam construction uses a thick gel memory foam comfort layer to provide comfort. Available in two firmness levels and will provide a contouring feeling as you sink infor pressure relief.||$899||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Tempurpedic Tempur-Flex Supreme||Edge Support||A hybrid mattress construction that uses a mix of memory foam and pocketed coils for a mix of support and comfort. The Tempur-Flex Supreme also has high density poly foam edge support to allow you to sleep all the way to the side of the mattress without worrying about collapsing the side.||$2,799||No Current Offers||Read My Review!|
|Bear||Medium Firm||The Bear mattress uses a graphite infused gel memory foam comfort layer to provide the classic memory foam feel, while helping to dissipate body heat to help sleep a bit cooler. The mattress uses a celliant blend in its cover, which is a material that some studies suggest can help with recovery.||$840||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Loom and Leaf||Plant Based||This is the Saatva company's memory foam model. The Loom & Leaf uses an all foam construction, including a memory foam comfort layer, to provide pressure relief with the classic contouring feeling.||$1,099||No Current Offers||Read My Review!|
|Wright||Luxury||The Wright mattress uses 5 inches of memory foam to provide a soft and luxurious feel. The mattress allows you to sink deep into the layers for pressure relief, which is especially nice for side sleepers.||$1,795||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
Memory Foam vs. Other Types of Foam
Latex Mattresses: In many cases, latex sleeps as cool or cooler than most memory foams (even gel memory foam). This is because latex is not heat-activated. It has faster response and more bounce as well. Latex has a very different feel than memory foam. For those sleepers who want the classic memory foam hug, latex probably isn’t the best fit. However, if you prefer a more balanced hug with exceptional cooling, latex can offer better performance than memory foam.
Need more information? See our comprehensive side-by-side comparison of latex vs. memory foam.
Hybrid Mattresses: These types of mattresses usually combine foam layers with coil layers. The coil layers are able to create better breathability than an all-memory-foam mattress. Hybrid designs that use gel, latex, or other cooling foam can offer great cooling benefits.
Coil Mattresses: They go by many names, including coil, pocketed coil, coil on coil, innerspring, and spring, but they are very similar from a cooling perspective. Just like with a hybrid design, the coils allow for more airflow. Some coil mattresses will incorporate foam in the top layers, similar to a hybrid design, or they may use pillow tops that are stuffed with foam (sometimes even memory foam). The combination of improved airflow from the coils and cooler foams in the top layers can result in great cooling.
Custom Foams: Just like with memory foam, other custom foams come in a wide variety of styles. These types of foams usually have a polyurethane base.
Advanced Memory Foam: Some advanced memory foams are created using special pouring techniques, which produce an extremely high level of airflow and breathability in the mattress. The most high-end memory foams can achieve an impressive level of cooling. The cooling is achieved through air circulation, aided by a well-designed mattress, mattress cover, and fire sock.