First developed by NASA in the 1970s for use on spacecraft, memory foam is now one of the most popular mattress materials around. And for good reason! It’s plush, gentle, pressure-relieving, and super cozy, working to alleviate tension across the body and keep the sleeper cradled in a cushiony embrace.
These days, the material’s incorporated into a ton of different mattresses, but which one’s right for you? Stick around for my round-up of the best memory foam mattresses of 2021 to find out!
Keep reading below for a full breakdown of my favorite memory foam beds. At the end, I’ll also go into the material’s biggest draws (and drawbacks) and provide you with some helpful information for finding the kind of memory foam mattress that’s going to be perfect for your specific sleep needs!
Best Memory Foam Mattresses
- Best Luxury Memory Foam – Loom & Leaf
- Best Cooling Memory Foam Mattress – Layla
- Best Cheap Memory Foam Mattress – Nectar
- Best for Back Sleepers – Bear
- Best for Combination Sleepers – GhostBed
- Best Memory Foam Mattress for Side Sleepers – WinkBeds MemoryLux
- Best Gel Memory Foam – Idle Sleep Gel Foam
- Best Memory Foam Mattress for Couples – Amerisleep AS3
- Best Memory Foam Alternative – Nolah
- Best for Back Pain – Casper
How I Picked These Mattresses
Before I dive into my selections, I just want to acknowledge that all of these picks are based on my personal preference. Everybody and every body is different, so I suggest using these as a starting off point for your own search!
I will say that I endeavored to only include options that feature high-quality memory foam, which, in my opinion, is dense, thick, and usually modified with either a cooling infusion or open-cell structure. These modifications are important because they help to mitigate the overheating tendencies of traditional memory foam, which can cause some sleepers discomfort in the night.
But enough chat! Let’s get on with the picks.
Best Luxury Memory Foam Mattress
Loom & Leaf
When compared to other popular mattress materials, memory foam is known for its plush, luxurious feel. So, if you’re in the market for a true luxury memory foam mattress, I’d recommend checking out the Loom & Leaf.
I think folks after a slightly more luxurious vibe might dig this bed for a few reasons. Number one, the construction kicks off with two thick layers of memory foam, which provide ample space for deep body-contouring and pressure relief. Number two, the top section of memory foam is infused with gel, which helps to actively cool the sleeper. And number three, the Loom & Leaf is fairly firm, which means there’s consistent support from the center all the way to the sides of the mattress. Long story short, this is a high-quality mattress sure to satisfy all your luxury sleeping needs.
For more on this bed, visit my full Loom & Leaf mattress review.
Enjoy the cozy comfort of this ultra-plush mattress!
Best Cooling Memory Foam Mattress
Memory foam is perhaps best known for its body-contouring capabilities, which allow sleepers to sink into the material for pressure relief at the shoulders and hips. While this deep sinkage can do wonders for aches and pains, it can also pose a pesky problem — overheating. But not all memory foam mattresses sleep hot! In fact, some, like the all-foam Layla mattress, sleep unbelievably cool.
Layla manages to beat the heat by infusing its memory foam with copper, a material that works to actively dissipate body heat throughout the structure. Another neat feature of this mattress is that’s flippable with both a Firm and Soft side. Personally, I like the Firm side for back sleepers and the Soft side for side sleepers, but I suggest trying out both to see which one works best for you. No matter which side you choose, you’ll enjoy plenty of cushiony (and cool!) copper-infused memory foam.
Read more about the Layla at my full Layla mattress review!
A flippable design makes the Layla mattress a truly customizable bedroom accessory.
Best Cheap Memory Foam Mattress
Though memory foam can be slightly expensive, budget-conscious shoppers will be pleased to know that not every memory foam mattress has to break the bank. The Nectar, for example, is an excellent value option that epitomizes the best aspects of the material without costing a fortune.
Here, you’ll find a whopping 5” of memory foam up top, which sets an irresistibly soft tone for the structure. Most sleepers will sink deeply into these memory foam comfort layers, experiencing plenty of pressure relief at the shoulders and hips. Therefore, I normally recommend the Nectar for strict side sleepers or those in need of cushiony support at sensitive spots along the body. But overall, if you’re looking for a great deal on a classic memory foam feel, you can’t beat the Nectar mattress.
Get all the details at my full Nectar mattress review!
Sleepers will sink deep into the Nectar mattress for some soothing pressure relief, something that side sleepers will particularly appreciate! Click here to get $399 of free accessories with every mattress purchase!
Best Memory Foam Mattress for Side Sleepers
If you’re a side sleeper in need of pressure relief at the shoulders and hips, you may want to consider the WinkBed GravityLux mattress. This luxurious bed is built with thick top layers of memory foam, which provide ample space for deep body-contouring and sinkage.
Though this much memory foam would normally result in a major overheating problem, WinkBeds has managed to mitigate the worst of these effects by infusing its memory foam with gel. The bed is also wrapped in a cover of Tencel, an eco-friendly material that’s exceedingly breathable. All in all, a fantastic pick for folks looking to take advantage of the pressure-relieving capabilities of this classic mattress material.
The WinkBedsGravityLux has thick layers of memory foam to provide great pressure relief and the classic contouring feel of sinking into bed.
Best for Combination Sleepers
Combination sleepers can be wary of a memory foam mattress because people oftentimes think of being more “in the mattress” than “on top of a mattress. The Ghostbed is an exception to this fear. While it still has the pressure-relieving qualities and the soft feel that people love about memory foam, I found that it still is firm enough to move around on. I found that the predominant feeling was one of support and bounce, making it great for combination sleepers.
Now we need to dive into what position you spend most of your time in at night. If you spend most of your time on your back this mattress is an amazing option. You can count on your neck and spine staying in line and your lower back being filled in by the foams. Lighter sleepers who spend a lot of time on their back and stomach may also like this mattress, but heavier sleepers who primarily sleep in those positions may find it does not support them enough.
Read my full GhostBed Mattress review to learn more.
- Sleeps cool
- Medium firmness
- Good value
Best Memory Foam Mattress for Back Sleepers
If you’re a back sleeper looking to snag a memory foam mattress that’ll alleviate tension at your lumbar region, I highly recommend checking out the Bear mattress. Unlike other memory foam models you’ll see on the market, this bed is actually quite supportive, working to align the spine all the way from the shoulders to the hips.
Bear pulls this off by bolstering its gentle memory foam top layer with firmer sections of high-density poly foam, striking a satisfying balance between pressure relief and support. I should also mention that the memory foam is infused with graphite for extra cooling and that the whole structure is wrapped in a Celliant cover, which some studies suggest could help with athletic recovery. All in all, a fantastic pick for those looking to soothe aches and pains in the night.
The cover of the Bear mattress uses celliant, which some studies suggest may help those with active lifestyles recover faster!
Best Gel Memory Foam Mattress
Idle Sleep Gel Plush
The Idle Gel Plush is an affordable memory foam bed that uses Cooling Buoyancy foam, making this an excellent choice for hot sleepers, excellent choice for side sleepers, and for anyone looking for a great value memory foam mattress. It is a medium-firm mattress that is made of 5 layers and is 14” tall.
The gel-infused layers of this bed give it a different feel than most memory foam beds. You will still sink down into the mattress quite a bit, but you’re unlikely to overheat. I really like this mattress for side sleepers. Some heavier back sleepers may like the way this mattress feels.
Read our Idle Gel plush review to learn more!
- All-foam mattress
- Nice bounce
- Tall profile
Best Memory Foam Mattress for Couples
Couples looking to enjoy the contouring benefits of memory foam could find a lot to love in the Amerisleep line of mattresses. The brand boasts five different models, which range from the ultra-firm AS1 to the luxuriously soft AS5. Though these beds differ in terms of pressure relief and support, they all feature gentle top layers of memory foam.
While you can of course choose the firmness that’s right for you, I’d suggest couples consider either the AS2 or AS3 models. Both have a pleasant, medium firm feel that’s likely to please a range of sleepers. These mattresses also performed really well on our motion transfer tests, meaning you’re not likely to feel your partner tossing and turning or getting up out of bed at night. It’s also worth noting that the memory foam used across the line features an open-cell design to encourage breathability and cooling.
To learn more about the Amerisleep line, check out my Amerisleep Comparison.
With a true medium-firm feel, the AS3 is ideal for combo sleepers. Get 30% off with code SLEEPOPOLIS.
Best Memory Foam Alternative
Though memory foam has many wonderful attributes (such as cuddly sinkage, body-contouring, and deep pressure relief), it does have one major drawback: Overheating. So, if you like the idea of memory foam, but don’t want to deal with that pesky problem, you may want to consider a memory foam alternative like the Nolah mattress.
Instead of memory foam, Nolah employs a proprietary AirFoam™ material in its comfort layers. This material has a similar feel to memory foam in that it’s deeply pressure-relieving and soft, but is also denser and altogether more breathable. Therefore, it sleeps cooler than traditional memory foam would, which could be a great sign for hot sleepers. Additionally, the density of the AirFoam™ material allows it to absorb and dissipate motion exceedingly well, which means you shouldn’t be too disturbed by your bed mate’s movements in the night.
For more on this bed, take a peek at my full Nolah mattress review.
A soft, supportive construction makes the Nolah mattress especially good for side sleepers.
Best for Back Pain
The Casper mattress is made with three layers of foam that work together to cushion where needed and support where necessary, making it an excellent option for those with back pains concerns. It is between medium-firm and firm on the scale (7/10) so it is soft enough to keep most sleeper’s spines aligned throughout the night.
If you do suffer from back pain, I definitely recommend sleeping on your back, a position which the Casper excels at supporting. If you prefer another sleeping position it depends on where you spend most of your time. Combination sleepers should be fine on this bed because it is easy to get comfortable in for a short period of time, but strict side sleepers will start to feel a lot of pressure in the hips and shoulders.
See my full Casper review to learn more.
- Great for combo sleepers
- Zoned support
- Balanced foam feel
Memory Foam Characteristics
Now that we’ve gone over all my favorite memory foam mattresses on the market, let’s take a second to recap the material’s most striking characteristics.
As you likely gathered from my descriptions above, body-contouring is a big selling point of the material. But what does this term actually mean? For me, it describes the sensation I experience as memory foam molds and conforms to the unique curves of my body. That contouring feel is not only comfortable, but also helps to alleviate tension at sensitive spots such as the shoulders, hips, and lower back.
Another hallmark characteristic of memory foam is its deep sinkage, which allows sleepers to feel as though they’re being enveloped in a cushiony embrace. While sinkage amounts vary from bed to bed, a true memory foam mattress will typically feature its fare share of the stuff.
Though some may say this results in a “stuck-in-the-bed” feel that makes it difficult to move around, others will find the sinkage helps to soothe achy joint pain.
And finally, memory foam is a highly adaptable material, often described as viscoelastic. Viscoelastic foams have a very unique and recognizable feel — the more pressure that’s 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.
FAQQ: What is memory foam used for? A: This cushiony material is used predominantly in mattresses, but can also be spotted in pillows, seat cushions, blankets, and even shoe insoles!
Memory Foam Complaints
But of course, no material is without its drawbacks, so let’s go ahead and explore a few of memory foam’s most notable pitfalls.
As we discussed, memory foam has a bit of a reputation for overheating at night, mostly because the material’s so dense that it has a tendency to trap any and all body heat. This can be highly uncomfortable for some sleepers, particularly those who already run hot.
Thankfully, many brands nowadays mitigate this annoying attribute by either infusing their memory foam layers with a cooling agent (usually gel, sometimes copper or graphite) or employing an open-cell design (which will go over a little bit later).
Though memory foam’s slow response to pressure can be a big plus for some sleepers, it can be a real drag for others, especially those who like to move around and change positions in the night. Any material that has a slow response to pressure is going to produce a quasi-stuck feeling, which limits a sleeper’s overall mobility.
You can avoid this problem by snagging a memory foam mattress that also utilizes latex, a much bouncier material known for lifting sleepers up and out of bed.
FAQQ: Are memory foam mattresses good for you? A: Memory foam mattresses can be great products for those in search of gentle pressure relief. However, they may not be the best fit for those who like to change positions in the night or prefer a firmer feel.
What Makes the Best Memory Foam?
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 in a bed’s overall comfort level.
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 four inches ensures a smooth transitional support. Having a comfort layer that is less than four inches can increase the likelihood of encountering a “support wall” type of feel that’ll minimize the beneficial effects of memory foam, especially if combined with a poly foam, latex, or other non-memory foam.
Different Types of Memory Foam
Pros and cons aside, let’s wrap up this guide by briefly touching on the most popular types of memory foam. While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the memory foam variations available online, it does highlight the ones you’re most likely to run into.
Traditional Memory Foam
When people think of “memory foam,” this is usually what they envision. A classic or more traditional type of memory foam is usually going to be less responsive (taking several seconds to adapt to your changes in movement), thereby offering a deeper and more pronounced hug and contour. This type is also notably denser than either of the other options listed in this section and is the main culprit for the “overheating” rep memory foam often gets.
Infused Memory Foam
Infused memory foams take the pressure-relieving goodness of traditional memory foam and amp it up with a little added cooling. Gel-infused is the most popular variant of this type, though more and more brands are experimenting with different elements, such as graphite and copper.
Typically, infused memory foam is going to be slightly less dense than traditional memory foam as the infusions work to open up the tight structure of the material.
Open-Cell Memory Foam
Open-cell memory foam has a similar feel to traditional memory foam, but has been manufactured with tiny air pockets for added breathability. This results in a material that has a faster response time and overall better air circulation, which helps with temperature regulation throughout the night.
Though not as popular as either of the aforementioned memory foams, open-cell designs are seen in a number of mattresses on the market.
FAQQ: How long does a memory foam mattress last? A: This question really comes down to the density of the material. Low-density memory foams will typically only last between 5-6 years, while high-density memory foams can last upwards of 10 years.
Well folks, that about does it for this guide! Hopefully you found the memory foam mattress of your dreams, but if you didn’t, feel free to shoot me a message on Facebook or Twitter and I’ll help you find the bed that’s going to be 100% right for you.
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Is a memory foam mattress good?
Memory foam mattresses can be great for those in need of pressure relief! The material is well known for its body-contouring hug, which allows sleepers to sink deeply into the bed for relief at the shoulders and hips.
Do you need a boxspring with a memory foam mattress?
Totally up to you! You don’t need a box spring for any of the mattresses mentioned in this video, but if you prefer the feel of a box spring to that of a traditional bed frame, feel free to go with it.
Can you flip a memory foam mattress?
It depends on the bed. Some memory foam mattresses (like the Layla mentioned here) are flippable, so will work regardless of how you orient them. Others, however, aren’t designed to be flipped at all as they only feature memory foam on one side of the bed.
Is a memory foam mattress good for back pain?
It really depends on how you sleep! Though most memory foam mattresses will probably be too soft for strict back sleepers, side sleepers with aches and pains in the lower back may find that a memory foam mattress is able to alleviate tension along the spine.
The Best Memory Foam Mattresses of 2021
|Mattress||Best For||Price (Queen)||Coupon||Review|
|Loom & Leaf||Luxury||$1,699||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Layla||Cooling||$1,049||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Nectar||Budget||$1,198||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|WinkBeds Memory Lux||Side Sleepers||$1,599||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|GhostBed||Combo Sleepers||$1,140||See Current Offer|
|Bear||Back Sleepers||$800||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Idle Sleep Gel Foam||Gel Foam||$949||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Amerisleep AS3||Couples||$1,499||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Nolah||Foam Alternative||$1,049||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
|Casper||Back Pain||$1,095||See Current Offer||Read My Review!|
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