Why You Should Trust Us
Our team is committed to helping you find the best sleep products for your needs. Armed with years of experience in the sleep product industry, we provide the information you need to find a new mattress.
We put each mattress through multiple tests to analyze motion isolation, pressure relief, and other performance metrics. Our experienced testers also personally try each mattress to see how it stacks up compared to similar models. The testing team includes individuals of varying body types and preferred sleep positions, giving us a more comprehensive idea of how each mattress works for a wide range of sleepers.
What Is a Memory Foam Mattress?
Memory foam is a type of polyfoam that changes shape in response to pressure and heat. Also known as viscoelastic foam, memory foam was first used in the mattress industry in the 1990s. Among the many materials used in the top layers of a mattress, memory foam is considered one of the best options for relieving pressure due to its ability to conform closely to the body and limit pressure buildup.
How They’re Constructed
A memory foam mattress includes at least one layer of memory foam, usually found in the comfort system near the top of the mattress. This position allows the memory foam to relieve pressure by conforming to your body. Memory foam mattresses may also contain additional layers made of latex, polyfoam, or other materials.
When people talk about memory foam mattresses, they are generally referring to an all-foam model with a high-density polyfoam support core. However, the term may also apply to a hybrid mattress with a memory foam comfort layer and a coil base. In our tests, we’ve found that all-foam memory foam models tend to excel at isolating motion because memory foam absorbs vibrations. However, that also means that all-foam designs often lack the responsiveness common in hybrid and innerspring models.
Our temperature control evaluations often find greater heat retention and sinkage in memory foam mattresses. Because the material hugs the sleeper closely, memory foam can restrict airflow around the body, leading to more heat buildup. Newer kinds of memory foam often use open-cell designs, lower-density foams, or technology such as gel infusions to combat heat retention and give the foam a quicker response to changes in pressure.
Why Should You Sleep on a Memory Foam Mattress?
We generally recommend memory foam models for sleepers with sharp pressure points. Memory foam typically allows sleepers to sink into the bed’s surface, taking pressure off of areas prone to aches and pains.
For side sleepers, memory foam cradles the hips and shoulders to reduce pressure buildup and promote healthy spinal alignment. Back sleepers may benefit from a slightly firmer memory foam mattress that supports the lumbar region to ease pressure in the lower back.
In our tests, memory foam mattresses also tend to perform well with sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds. These individuals don’t exert as much force on the mattress, so they often prefer a mattress that offers more contouring.
Due to its close conforming and slow response to changes in pressure, memory foam effectively absorbs motion. Therefore, memory foam mattresses may also be a good option for couples easily disturbed by their partners’ movements.
Memory Foam Mattresses vs. Hybrid Mattresses vs. Innerspring Mattresses
Whereas memory foam mattresses generally have an all-foam construction, hybrid mattresses combine a substantial comfort system with an innerspring core usually made of pocketed coils. In contrast, innerspring mattresses feature a simple design consisting of steel coils and a thin comfort layer.
While individual models may vary slightly, these mattress types also have some common attributes.