Memory foam is an extremely popular mattress option. If you have slept on one before you already know why so many people love memory foam beds. If you are new to memory foam it is definitely worth considering. The support and comfort they can provide is second to none. Here is our list of the best memory foam mattresses and a helpful guide to purchasing your next memory foam mattress.
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What is Memory Foam?
Traditional memory foam is a synthetic material made mostly of polyurethane. There are also other chemicals added to help increase viscosity and density. Because of this you may also see memory foam being referred to as viscoelastic polyurethane foam.
A high density memory foam mattress might feel stiff at first but it will soften in just a few minutes due to your body heat. Once the heat and pressure from your body is taken from the mattress it recovers back to its original form.
Memory foams have evolved since NASA invented it in the 1960’s. It has become more popular and cheaper to produce. Newer memory foams are more advanced and are able to recover their shape more quickly and new materials also allow it to circulate air more easily.
Types of Memory Foam Mattresses
As you are looking for the best memory foam mattress it’s important to understand the different types. The three most common types of memory foam mattresses that you will find will normally fall into one of three categories.
- Traditional Memory Foam Mattress
- First used in mattresses in the early 1990’s
- Lack of air circulation can leave many feeling as though they are sleeping hot
- Depending on quality of foam can lead to excess sinking and feeling stuck in the mattress
- Decreases pressure points while sleeping
- Open Cell Memory Foam Mattress
- Second generation memory foam to address heat retention issues with traditional memory foam
- Open cell structure allows for more airflow through the mattress
- The downfall is that the material is less dense. The consequence of this is that the material is lower quality with more air pockets and does not retain its shape and supportive properties long term
- Gel Memory Foam Mattress
- Consists of gel particles fused with memory foam
- Helps reduce and dissipate body heat
- Gives the mattress a softer feel while also helping it to spring back to original form quicker
What Type of Sleeper is Memory Foam Good For?
Memory foam mattresses have greatly increased in popularity over the past 20 years and for good reason. Manufacturers have continued to evolve and improve on their designs to make them even more comfortable and durable.
The argument can be made that the best memory foam mattresses are suited for all types of sleepers. It is comfortable and supportive so whatever type of sleeper you are you can find a memory foam mattress that suits your needs.
If you are a back sleeper the memory foam contours your spine so you can sleep with proper spinal alignment with adequate support. A good memory foam mattress will support your hips and shoulders if you are a side sleeper and it won’t let your lower back sink in too much if you sleep on your stomach.
Combo sleepers(like many of us) are people who sleep in two or more positions throughout the night. This is another area where the best memory foam mattress delivers. Whatever sleeping position you find yourself in you are sure to find the comfort and support you need for a good night of sleep.
Drawbacks of a Memory Foam Mattresses
Nothing in this life is perfect and that holds true in the world of mattresses. Memory foam mattresses are a great option but even they have their negatives.
Cooling – This is an area where many people have reservations about a memory foam mattress. With technology and different materials there have been improvements made in the ability of memory foam to circulate air. But it is not as good as some other mattress types in this regard.
Sinking/Feeling Stuck – This is the other major area that causes some to steer away from memory foam. As your body heats up the foam it gets softer and you can end up feeling like you are sinking into the mattress. Some people like it and others do not. This effect can be lessened because the best memory foam mattresses have denser foam that does not cave as much.
Smell – Memory foam is a synthetic material so there are various chemicals used in the process of making this foam. It makes for a very comfortable mattress but it also produces a smell that some are not fond of. This smell will go away! It may last for a few days once you get your mattress but it’s not permanent.
Price – Memory foam mattresses have traditionally been expensive. This was especially true early on when the material was newer to the market. If you are set on the most prestigious and well known memory foam mattress brands then expect to pay top dollar. There are other mattress brands who can and do compete with the best memory foam mattress brands. These beds are not inferior but they do not always carry the prestigious name you are used to seeing on TV.
Reasons to Buy a Memory Foam Mattress
We’ve looked at some of the drawbacks. Now let’s take a look at some reasons why so many people love a memory foam mattress.
Relieve Pressure Points – Think about it this way…when you lay on a hard floor you can feel pressure on certain parts of your body. Some more than others depending on how you are laying.
The best memory foam mattress all but eliminates that pressure on your body. The perfect mattress will contour to the curves of your body and basically supports all parts with very similar pressure. It makes for an amazing sleeping experience.
This is also why we have seen the widespread use of memory foam in things such as hospital beds. When someone is confined to their bed without being able to move it can lead to things such as pressure ulcers. Memory foam helps to greatly reduce that risk for patients.
Helps with Spinal Alignment – To be fair, having a proper pillow plays an important role in spinal alignment as well. But the best memory foam mattresses do a fantastic job of helping you maintain proper spinal alignment while you are sleeping. That’s because regardless of what position you sleep in the mattress can contour to your body.
Good for All Sleeping Positions – I know we have already touched on this a few times but it’s worth repeating. A memory foam mattress is suited for any and all types of sleeping positions. Back, side, stomach or combo it really does not matter.
How to Choose the Best Memory Foam Mattress
When looking for the best memory foam mattress you are going to be confronted with a lot of choices. Here are some things to keep an eye out and to take into consideration while doing your research.
Firmness and Foam Density – This is important to understand when looking at memory foam. Manufacturers will list the density of the foam they use. We recommend something in the 4-5 range for normal people. The higher the number the denser and more firm the foam will be. A large, heavy person should look on the high side and a small, light person can go towards the lower side if they want it softer. One thing to keep in mind is that foam will feel softer over time so we have found we like to err on the side of being more firm and let it break in over time.
Durability and Warranty – Mattresses are expensive investments so you want one that is going to last. This is where a denser, firmer foam is going to help as well. A foam with a higher density will last you longer. We figure the best memory foam mattresses will offer the feel and support you want for around 8-10 years.
Warranty is an important part and something you should pay close attention to. We recommend that you read the fine print before purchasing the mattress so you know exactly what is and what is not covered under this warranty.
Trial Period – When it comes to buying a memory foam mattress online a trial period is very important! Many manufacturers will offer a 100 night trial period. Sometimes longer and sometimes shorter. We highly recommend you take advantage of this offer. If you are going to spend all of that money it’s nice to buy from a manufacturer who stands behind their products enough to offer you a risk free sleep trial to make sure it’s right for you.
Price – We all know that a memory foam mattress is a large investment. Sometimes money is difficult to come by so we understand the need to be cost conscious.
To find the best memory foam mattress we would start by setting a budget. Figure out what size mattress you need and do some research on the top brands and mattresses. Once you have narrowed it down to a handful of the best see where they fall within your budget. Any that are over your budget we would exclude from your short list.
Then make a decision based on specific features that we have talked about as well as your individual needs.
Is Memory Foam Safe to Sleep On?
As evidenced by the millions of mattresses sold each year there are a lot of people who have no issue with their memory foam mattress. Memory foam mattresses are synthetic materials that do contain chemicals. It does emit gases called Volatile Organic Compounds(VOCs).
Studies have shown that the amount of VOCs is small and does not impact most people. However, some do recommend that memory foam mattresses not be used for children or infants because of these VOCs.
If you are concerned about the safety of memory foam we recommend looking for some with alternate materials and those that hold certifications such as from Oeko-Tex and Greenguard. This will help to give you peace of mind that they are safe for both you and your loved ones.
Searching for the right mattress can be an exhausting task. Finding the best memory foam mattress can feel like finding a needle in a haystack with all of the available options. Just stay calm and take it one step at a time. We have given you some great tips on where to start and how to evaluate and we hope that you find them helpful in your search for the best memory foam mattress.