Invented by NASA back in 1981, memory foam was designed to improve crash protection for airplane passengers. Initially called Temper Foam, it was an innovation used to pad the seats of the aircraft. Providing safety as well as comfort, it wasn’t long before memory foam caught the eye of other keen manufacturers.
Fast forward to now and memory foam is everywhere, starting with shoes and ending with beds.
But what exactly is memory foam?
Memory foam is polyurethane foam (often shortened to poly-foam) with viscoelastic properties. Viscoelasticity means being able to briefly deform and then slowly return to the original shape.
However, it’s important to mention that although all memory foam is poly-foam, not all poly-foam is memory foam. It’s specifically those viscoelastic properties that make a memory foam what is it. Without it, you are only left with a foam, which does not adapt or contour to weight and shape.
In a rush? Skip to the part that interests you most:
- Different Types of Memory Foam
- Memory Foam vs Other Materials
- Is a Memory Foam Mattress Right For You?
- Top 6 Memory Foam Mattresses for 2019
Different Types of Memory Foam
When memory foam mattresses were first released, some people said they slept too hot while others complained about the slow response. This response encouraged manufacturers to upgrade memory foam into a better alternative, which is how four different types of memory foam were born.
Traditional Memory Foam
Traditional memory foam is made from petroleum-based materials; this makes it harsh on the environment and increases the risk of off-gassing and heat retention. However, traditional memory foam is cost-effective to make and buy, making traditional memory foam mattresses the most budget-friendly option.
Gel-Infused Memory Foam
Gel memory foam is a relatively new invention, and it has quickly increased in popularity. As soon as it hit the mattress market, gel memory foam took the top spots of the “best mattress” lists.
Gel memory foam is made using two methods. The first method is to inject tiny beads of gel into the foam during manufacturing, making sure it spreads throughout. The second method involves injecting liquid gel into, or on top of, the mattress to ensure it covers the foam through and through.
Whichever method is used, gel memory foam mattresses are a cooler alternative to traditional memory foam. The composition of the gel is designed to attract heat and then disperse it away from the body; this makes the heat retention in gel mattresses lower than traditional memory foam and open-cell memory foam.
However, this newer enhanced version of memory foam is also much more expensive.
Plant-Based Memory Foam
Plant-based memory foam is the most recent and most successful invention when it comes to memory foam mattresses. This manufacturing process removes a large portion of petroleum and replaces it with plant-based materials. This not only lowers the carbon footprint left on our planet but typically also improves the quality of the mattress.
Plant-based memory foam does not produce the strong unpleasant smells memory foam is known for, because these mattresses are produced with virtually zero emissions and contain no toxic VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Therefore, there is never any off-gassing or bad odors.
Lastly, this type of memory foam is known to be up to five times more breathable than traditional memory foam due to the larger open-cell structure of plant-based memory foam.
Memory Foam vs Other Materials
Now that we discussed the four different types of memory foam available, we can take a look at how it compares to other categories of mattresses.
Memory Foam vs Innerspring
When it comes to comfort, memory foam is more universal compared to innerspring.
Memory foam provides a cradling effect. It contours the sleeper’s body, has a slower response rate, and helps maintain healthy spine alignment; this could be a huge plus for someone who enjoys feeling “cuddled” by their bed. However, it can also be a minus due to the difficulty of changing positions in your sleep.
Innerspring is much bouncier when compared to memory foam. This allows you to change positions with ease, whilst still providing good support and comfort for your body. However, innerspring mattresses have much higher motion transfer. Meaning, if you toss and turn, your partner will not sleep well.
All in all, memory foam suits most sleepers’ preferences better, but it all comes down to your personal choice.
Pressure Point Relief
By using different memory foam layers with various density levels, most quality memory foam mattresses are adapted to provide more advanced pressure point relief. Some memory foams even have a targeted support design that places focus on the pressure points.
Innerspring mattresses offer limited pressure point relief; instead of giving you more support when it’s needed, it often pushes up against you and causes discomfort.
When it comes to temperature control, memory foam is not known for being the most breathable material. Companies have taken that into account and have developed new innovative memory foam designs that allow great airflow and temperature control, often acting even better than most other types of materials.
Traditional memory foam has bad breathability and tends to trap and retain heat.
Gel memory foam gets much better results when it comes to temperature control.
Plant-based memory foam works great at dissipating heat and provides impressive temperature control. It’s larger open-cell structure and plant-based design allow for impressive airflow.
Innerspring mattresses are known for their excellent breathability. They have lots of open space, no matter the quality or age. All in all, if there is one thing innerspring mattresses can be sure to provide, it’s good airflow.
The durability of memory foam or innerspring mattress depends on the quality of materials used. If memory foam is made from cheap petroleum-based materials, chances are it won’t last very long. Same goes for innerspring— if it is made from cheap coils, most likely it will only hold you a couple of years; this is why it is crucial to invest a little more in order to get a high-quality, long-lasting product.
Memory foam mattresses typically cost more when compared to innerspring mattresses. This is mainly due to the cost of manufacturing and the materials used.
Memory Foam vs Latex
The biggest difference between memory foam and latex it the way it hugs and contours the body.
Memory foam has a slower bounce-back rate and is known for providing a “sinking” feeling, as it fully contours the body.
Latex (synthetic or natural) has more bounce, and this does not necessarily provide more or less comfort. Instead, it all comes down to personal preference.
Pressure Point Relief
Both memory foam and latex mattresses work to have excellent pressure point relief. However, memory foam gives in, whereas latex pushes back more.
The breathability and temperature control of latex depends if it is made out of natural latex or synthetic latex. Natural latex is cooler because it naturally captures less ambient heat. Synthetic latex, although less breathable, usually has pin holes to control the temperature and remove heat.
As for comparing latex to memory foam, it is very hard to say which one has better temperature control. For example, traditional memory foam will be much hotter than natural latex. However, plant-based memory foam sleeps cooler than synthetic latex. It greatly depends on the materials used; they can be terrible heat trappers while they also have the potential to offer superb breathability.
As with breathability, the durability of a memory foam or latex mattress depends on the quality of materials. High quality materials can last decades, whereas low-quality materials usually last only a few years.
The price for both types of mattress materials depends on their quality. Traditional memory foam mattresses are budget-friendly, while plant-based materials cost more.
Same goes for latex mattresses; synthetic latex is cheaper while natural latex is probably the most expensive material on the market.
Memory Foam vs Hybrid
Both memory foam and hybrid mattresses have a top layer of memory foam. They have different supporting layers, though.
The bottom half of the hybrid mattress uses innerspring coils designed to provide more bounce and breathability when compared to memory foam. But, like a standard innerspring mattress, this can cause painful pressure points.
A mattress made completely from memory foam provides more relief from pressure points, and it does a better job at isolating and not transferring motion, too.
Pressure Point Relief
Memory foam and hybrid mattresses provide different levels of pressure point relief. Memory foam works by using the “sinking” of the mattress, which relieves and supports the pressure points of the body. That, added to the zoned support design most all-foam mattresses have, provides great pressure point relief.
While hybrid mattresses use a much thinner foam layer on top of the coils to try and achieve a similar effect. However, it does not match the effectiveness of memory foam.
Because the bottom half of the mattress is made from coils, hybrid beds usually offer slightly better airflow.
However, memory foam is not far behind. After all, temperature control depends on the exact type of memory foam that the mattress is made from.
Petroleum-based memory foam has a higher chance of trapping heat while plant-based memory foam may be as breathable as a hybrid.
Hybrid mattresses tend to wear out faster than memory foam mattresses. Additionally, because of their innerspring coils, hybrid mattresses tend to have a less competitive warranty.
Because of their breathability and more advanced design, hybrid mattresses usually have a higher price tag.
Is a Memory Foam Mattress Right For You?
As we see in the section above, each type of mattress holds its own pros and cons. To help you understand whether a memory foam mattress is the right choice for you, we need to discuss what it offers.
You need better pressure point relief and correct spine alignment. If you find most mattresses don’t provide enough pressure point relief, a memory foam mattress might just hit the target. Known to work wonders when it comes to spine alignment, memory foam naturally provides support where your body needs it most.
You are a side sleeper. Because memory foam has the ability to adapt and contour the body, it is an excellent choice for side sleepers. When sleeping on your side, putting too much pressure on your hips and shoulders is common. The softness of memory foam helps the shoulders and hips sink into the mattress, ensuring there is no extra pressure on those parts of your body.
You are, or you share the bed with, a restless sleeper. Memory foam offers great motion isolation, no matter the density or quality. By absorbing all movement into the mattress, memory foam can leave your sleep undisturbed.
Top 6 Memory Foam Mattresses
The Amerisleep AS3 Mattress
The AS3 is the most popular mattress model Amerisleep offers. Due to the materials and manufacturing methods, the AS3 mattress produces virtually no off-gassing.
The Amerisleep AS3 mattress consists of:
- An FDA-determined Celliant® cover designed using 13 thermo-reactive minerals— these help wick away the excess heat from your body.
- The first layer is Bio-Pur® material. It’s partially made from plant-based materials, which is five times more breathable than ordinary memory foam.
- The second layer of this mattress consists of HIVE® technology- a five-zoned design that provides excellent pressure point relief for your feet, back, shoulders, neck, and head.
- The final layer is the Bio-Core® base, designed to provide stability, longevity, and support to the mattress.
The Amerisleep AS3 mattress is rated as medium on its official website – a perfect balance between soft and firm.
The AS3 mattress is designed to tackle the heat issues that are so popular with all-foam mattresses in several ways. First, the cover helps to regulate the body temperature by increasing local blood flow. Second, the rest of the layers provide natural cooling and breathability.
Overall, we could say the AS3 mattress does the most to provide the best temperature control out of all the mattresses on our list.
The Amerisleep AS3’s partially plant-based design greatly reduces your chances of experiencing off-gassing with this mattress.
The AS3 mattress comes at 12 inches in height, a great height for finding sheets and adjustable beds or foundations.
Sleep Trial & Warranty Information
Amerisleep offers a 100-night sleep trial to decide if their mattress suits your needs. Then, if you decide that it does, Amerisleep will provide a lengthy 20-year warranty.
The AS3 mattress in queen size costs $1199.
When it comes to their mattress, Novosbed aims to provide the custom-fit firmness to their customers. When purchasing this mattress, you can choose your firmness from soft, medium, and firm.
If you are still not convinced its firmness is ideal for you, Novosbed will send you their Comfort+ Kit. You can use this to adjust the mattress and get the exact firmness you are looking for.
The Novosbed Mattress consists of:
- A washable Tencel® cover designed to wick away moisture and provide you with a dry and cool night’s sleep.
- Below the Tencel® cover is the InterLock Blue™Core cover— another safeguard from moisture to provide coolness and dryness.
- Below is a layer of 2-inch high-density Airflow gel foam for comfort and heat control.
- The next layer is 2-inch high-density memory foam that provides comfort and pressure point relief.
- The core layer is 7-inch Premium Support foam which is designed to eliminate motion transfer.
The Novosbed mattress comes in three levels of firmness:
- Soft – recommended for side and back sleepers.
- Medium – suitable for any position.
- Firm – recommended for back and stomach sleepers.
The Novosbed mattress does quite well with temperature control. However, there have been some report of trapped heat.
Alongside the trapped heat, the Novosbed mattress does have some off-gassing too.
The Novosbed mattress comes at 11 inches tall. Slightly on the smaller side, it can fit almost any bedroom setting.
Sleep Trial & Warranty Information
Novosbed offers a 120-night sleep trial so you can make sure their mattress is right for you. If you decide to keep it, you’ll be protected by a 15-year warranty.
The Novosbed mattress in queen size comes at $999.
The TEMPUR – Flex® Supreme Breeze
The TEMPUR – Flex® Supreme Breeze is the one of two hybrid mattresses we decided to include in our list; this mattress is made from gel memory foam and pocketed coils. These two materials are designed to relieve pressure points and provide great motion isolation.
The TEMPUR – Flex® Supreme Breeze mattress has five layers:
- Their Cooling Cover, designed to combat memory foam that may sleep hot, creates a cool sleeping surface for your body.
- The first layer is their gel memory foam TEMPUR-ES® material, infused with their PureCool™ technology— this layer aims to further reduce body heat by drawing it away.
- The second layer is TEMPUR-Response™, designed to provide support and balance to the body. It works as a transitional layer between the gel memory foam and the pocketed coils.
- The third layer is their Dynamic Support layer, and is made from pocketed coils that deliver bounce and support.
- The base layer of this mattress holds its shape and claims to draw away excess heat.
On its official website the TEMPUR – Flex® Supreme Breeze mattress is described as a medium firmness – a great level of firmness for back, stomach, and combination sleepers.
Containing Tempur-Pedic’s PureCool™ technology, this model is designed to sleep cool.
Although the TEMPUR – Flex® Supreme Breeze is a luxury mattress, it still has some off-gassing when it’s first unpacked.
The TEMPUR – Flex® Supreme Breeze mattress comes at 11.5 inches tall, a good and adaptable size.
Sleep Trial & Warranty Information
Tempur-Pedic offers a 90-night sleep trial, a shorter trial than most competitors offer. They also offer a 10-year warranty on their products which protects the customer from, among other things, a ¾-inch or greater sag in the mattress.
A queen-size TEMPUR – Flex® Supreme Breeze mattress costs $3249.
The Wright W1.27 Mattress
Although the Wright W1.27 mattress is offered in six different sizes, it comes only in one firmness – medium-firm. However, Wright explains this is the optimal firmness for sleeping, based on their real sleep tracking data study.
The Wright W1.27 mattress is made out of four layers:
- The top layer is made from gel-infused memory foam which is called 3Below. It is designed to sleep 3 degrees lower than an ordinary memory foam mattress.
- The second layer is ZeroG foam. It’s a heat-interactive response layer that offers support and temperature control.
- The third layer is also ZeroG foam, except smaller and denser to provide better support and pressure point relief.
- The final layer is 6 inches of support foam.
Being a medium-firm mattress, the Wright W1.27 suits most types of sleeping positions. But, it’s especially good for stomach and back sleepers.
The Wright W1.27 mattress offers great temperature control. Its gel-infused layers provide effective cooling.
The Wright W1.27 mattress does produce some initial smell when it’s first unpacked, but this smell dissipates within hours.
This mattress comes at 11 inches tall.
Sleep Trial & Warranty Information
Wright offers 120 nights of sleep trial. Then, if you keep the mattress, you get a 15-year warranty.
The Wright W1.27 mattress comes with a price tag of $1435 for a queen size.
The Loom & Leaf
The Loom & Leaf mattress is made out of plant-based materials, same as Amerisleep AS3. Therefore, it also leaves a smaller carbon footprint on our planet.
The Loom & Leaf mattress consists of:
- A breathable organic cotton cover.
- The first layer is made from Spinal Zone Gel, a medical-grade gel used in hospitals’ burn units. It effectively provides cooling to the sleeper’s body.
- The second layer is made from plant-based memory foam designed to provide pressure point relief. With its specifically designed airways, the Loom & Leaf mattress promotes breathability.
- The bottom layer of this mattress is made from poly foam, made to offer support and stability to the layers above.
The Loom & Leaf mattress comes in two levels of firmness:
- Relaxed firm – rated at 6 out of 10.
- Firm – rated at 8 out of 10.
The Spinal Zone Gel found in the Loom & Leaf mattress provides very effective cooling. Added to the open-cell, plant-based memory foam layer, this mattress has very good temperature control.
Due to its partial plant-based design, the Loom & Leaf mattress has practically no off-gassing.
At 12 inches thick, this mattress fits just about any type of bed frame.
Sleep Trial & Warranty Information
You get 120 nights of free sleep trial to try out the Loom & Leaf. If you decide to keep it, it’s backed by a 15-year warranty.
A queen-size Loom & Leaf mattress comes at $1299.
The Dreamcloud mattress is the second of the two hybrid mattresses on our list. At 15 inches in height, the Dreamcloud mattress is a unique concoction of different materials including latex, traditional memory foam, gel memory foam, and coils. All of these materials combined creates a mattress that has a luxurious look and feel.
Dreamcloud consists of:
- The cover is a TrueTufted™ cashmere polyester, designed to provide breathability and softness.
- Dreamcloud uses gel-infused memory foam as the first layer to provide a cooling effect and support for the body.
- The second layer of this mattress is quilted memory foam.
- The third layer is Supreme Natural Latex. This layer provides the mattress with more contouring and bounce.
- The fourth layer is high-density memory foam, which provides even more support and contour to the body.
- The fifth layer of this mattress is another layer of dense memory foam.
- The sixth layer is the five-zoned “BestRest” pocketed micro-coil system.
- The final layer of this mattress is another high-density memory foam that functions as the base of the mattress.
On its official website, the Dreamcloud mattress is rated as 6.5 out of 10, making it a medium-firm mattress.
The significant amount of memory foam used in this mattress poses a high risk for sleeping hot.
Just as other memory foam mattresses, the Dreamcloud mattress produces some off-gassing, but it should dissipate after only a few days.
The Dreamcloud mattress comes at a whopping 15 inches in height. At this height, you will want to make sure the sheets you enjoy can work with it, and it won’t be too high on your bed frame.
Sleep Trial & Warranty Information
Dreamcloud gives you a whole year to try out their bed. If you decide to keep their mattress, it comes with a lifetime warranty. For the first 10 years of the warranty, Dreamcloud will replace your mattress for covered defects. After 10 years, it becomes a repair-only warranty. Any sags or indentations occuring in the bed must be 1.5-inch or greater to meet warranty standards and qualify for a replacement.
A queen-size Dreamcloud mattress costs $1299.
Editor’s Choice for The Best Memory Foam Mattress – The Amerisleep AS3
Looking at the top memory foam mattresses on the market in 2019, What’s The Best Bed recommends the Amerisleep AS3. We chose this bed for a few reasons:
- Excellent pressure point relief: The Amerisleep AS3 mattress’s HIVE® technology is FDA-determined to promote better sleep.
- Durability: We said before that the best quality foam, that offers the most durability, is between of 3.00 PCF and 4.00PCF. The Amerisleep AS3’s memory foam is at the top of that range, measuring 4.00PCF.
- Ideal thickness: At 12 inches tall, it stands right in the middle when compared to the other memory foam mattresses on our list.
- Eco-friendly: The Amerisleep AS3 mattress is as eco-friendly as a memory foam mattresses can get. Amerisleep harnesses the Variable Pressure Foaming (VPF) method and plant-based materials. This leaves practically no carbon footprint on our planet.
- Great customer reviews: The Amerisleep AS3 mattress is definitely loved by its owners.
- Great price: Selling at $1199 for a queen size, the Amerisleep AS3 mattress offers a great deal at a great price.
Memory Foam is Not the Only Option
Now that you know what memory foam mattress we recommend, you can make your decision. Or, if you are still having mixed feelings, check out our other guides to find the best mattress to meet all your sleep needs.