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 in to 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.
TOP 10 MEMORY FOAM MATTRESSES
Like any other top picks, these best 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 my top 10 memory foam mattresses for a variety of sleepers:
- Budget Option — Nectar Mattress
- Side Sleepers — Nolah Mattress
- Soft Feel — Layla Mattress
- Firm Feel — Novosbed Mattress
- Sleeps Cool — Amerisleep Mattress
- Durable — Nest Bedding Alexander Signature Mattress
- Great Edge Support — Tempurpedic Tempur-Flex Supreme Mattress
- Medium Firmness — Bear Mattress
- Plant Based — Loom & Leaf Mattress
- Luxury Option — Wright Mattress
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.
Budget Option — Nectar 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 relieve 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.
Side Sleepers — Nolah Mattress
The Nolah Mattress was actually designed with side sleepers in mind, meaning its entire construction is optimized for their needs and positioning. That means it’s on the softer side, allowing sleepers to sink in enough for good pressure relief while on their side. Nolah actually uses a proprietary AirFoam, which has a memory foam-like feel even though it’s not a traditional material.
Check out our Nolah Mattress Review here.
Soft Feel — Layla Mattress
The Layla Mattress is one of several on the market that features a flippable 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 here.
Firm Feel — Novosbed Mattress
The Novosbed Mattress might be considered on the medium firm side of memory foam mattresses. While all 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 here.
Sleeps Cool — Amerisleep Mattress
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 models here.
Durable — 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.
Great 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 and 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.
Medium Firmness — Bear 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.
Plant Based — 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 who 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.
Luxury Option — Wright Mattress
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 depending 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, 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.
Additionally, 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 Cooling & Response
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 change and adapt to your changes in movement. The very nature of memory foam’s viscoelastic properties mean 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, however, 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 friends or go test a few mattresses in store. This will help to ensure 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, of the course of the last nearly 30 years memory foam has made great strides in this area.
Most memory foam is still going to be warmer than a latex, coil, or hybrid mattresses, however, 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 that 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″ 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″ of comfort memory foams. Bear in mind, it 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″ ensure a smooth transitional support. Having a comfort layer that is less than 4″ can increase the likelihood of encountering a “support wall” type of a feel and / or may minimize the memory foam feel, especially if combined with a poly foam, latex, or other non-memory foam.
Types of Memory Foam
When many people hear the phrase “memory foam” they tend to think in terms of a single material. However, that could not be further from the true. Memory foam is category for a type of foam; that is, polyurethane foam with visco elastic properties.
As a result, 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.
Below, we’ll look at a few of the most notable derivations of memory foam. However, it’s important to note 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 form” this is usually what they envision. A more classic or traditional type of memory foam is usually going to be less responsive (takes 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 on foam is measured in pounds per cubic foot (PCF). It is a measure of the foams 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.
Gel Memory Foam
Gel memory foam mattresses and gel infused memory foam are one of the most common variations on memory foam you’ll see. Gel can be included within a memory foam mattress in a couple 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.
One of the biggest benefits of a gel memory foam mattress is the cooling that was lacking in traditional memory foam. This is due, in part, to the composition in 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.
With the slower response time of a memory foam mattress, it is even more critical that heat not be retained in the mattress.
A quality gel memory foam mattress will sleep cooler than a quality or low-quality traditional memory foam. However, the type of gel, type of memory foam, fire sock, foam density, layer design, and/or mattress covers all factor in to 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 mattress 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.
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 beds.
- 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 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.
Ready to start shopping? Here are some top recommendations for the best memory foam mattresses:
|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!|
|Nolah||Side Sleepers||The Nolah mattress uses their proprietary AirFoam to provide a memory foam like contour and pressure relief, without the heat trapping and stuck feeling that memory foam is sometimes known for. It's a softer mattress that is designed with side sleepers in mind.||$949||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 utilize gel, latex, or other cooling foam can offer great cooling benefits.
MORE: Best hybrid mattresses
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 utilize 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.