Best Memory Foam Mattresses 2019

Our research is supported by our readers. We may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site.

Updated: September 10, 2019

Shopping for Memory Foam Mattresses

Shopping for a memory foam mattress can be daunting. There are dozens of companies all claiming to promise a better night’s sleep than your current mattress can offer. While a new mattress is almost always an improvement compared to a used mattress there are a lot of other things to consider. Ultimately, your memory foam mattress search depends on your sleeping position, weight, sleep temperature, budget, and what retailer you’re comfortable doing business with: 

  1. Sleep Position - Generally, memory foam mattresses are best suited for side sleeping. One of the main reasons memory foam became popular is because of its ability to reduce pressure points, and contour to the curves of your body. This is a critical characteristic for side sleepers, especially if you have struggled with traditional innerspring mattresses. Back, stomach and combination sleepers can also benefit from a memory foam mattress, you may just want to go firmer than most mainstream/one-firmness-for-all mattress options. 
  2. Weight - Your weight also is a factor in mattress selection that is often overlooked. Your weight will determine how much your body will depress the mattress. A heavy person will struggle to find comfort on a soft mattress while a light person on a firm mattress may be equality uncomfortable.
  3. Sleep Temperature - If you sleep hot you may want to avoid conventional memory foam mattresses as they are known to trap heat and poorly circulate air around your body. Memory foam is a dense material that doesn’t allow heat to move through it easily. 
  4. Budget - When it comes to budget there is a mattress for nearly every price point ranging from $150 for a conventional off-brand memory foam mattress all the way to over $2,000 for cutting edge organically produced mattresses. Spending more on your mattress may be important if you’ve had trouble finding a quality mattress in the past, are sensitive to sleeping hot, or suffering from back, neck or general joint pain.
  5. Where to buy - If you’re someone that needs to lay on your mattress before you buy it you may want to visit a retail store in person. Keep in mind that many mattresses are cheaper online due to the reduced costs of shipping from a warehouse directly.

Ideal Sleep with Memory Foam

How your mattress and pillow positions your body in your sleep position is extremely important. The goal is to have your spine in a neutral position free of bends, twists, and tension from muscles.

  • Neck - your neck is a common trouble spot for most people. While your pillow is most critical in getting your neck position right, your mattress can also cause issues, especially if it’s too soft or unsupportive.
  • Lower Back - Your lower back or lumbar area is one of the most vulnerable areas in all sleeping positions. Memory foam mattresses are better than most other mattress types at supporting this area.
  • Hips - Both back and side sleepers have to contend with the position of their hips. Frequently your hips will want to rock side to side(side sleeping) or roll forward towards your feet (back sleeping). This often stresses and pulls on your lower back.
  • Leg and Arm Position - it’s important that the position of your arms and legs aren’t causing any undue stress on your spine. At the time you fall asleep your position may be comfortable but it’s remaining in that position for hours that can provoke joint and muscle pain.

Pros and Cons of Memory Foam

Pros

  • Contouring - contouring is the ability of a mattress to match the shape of your body. Memory foam is the best when it comes to this as it can take on a variety of shapes better than latex or innerspring mattresses
  • Motion Transfer - Motion transfer is often important for couples that don’t want to disturb each other by their sleeping movements or getting in and out of bed while the other is sleeping. Memory foam is also above the rest when it comes to motion transfer.
  • Pressure Point Relief - particularly important for side sleepers, pressure point relief is the ability of your mattress to compress near your shoulders and hips. Reducing the pressure in these areas helps distribute the weight of your body throughout the mattress. Memory foam excels at pressure point relief.
  • Cost  - Back when NASA developed the initial memory foam concept it was extremely expensive to make. Since then there have been many innovations in producing memory foam that has now made it one of the least expensive mattresses types you can buy.

    Cons

    • Heat - Memory foam is known to trap heat, which can reduce sleep quality and comfort for some people. Newer generations of Memory improve on this by using an open-cell foam design as well as infusing other colling materials such as copper, gel, and graphite. 
    • Initial odor - Off-gassing occurs when a new memory foam mattress is unwrapped. This odor can be strong and pungent. 
    • Weight - Memory foam due to its density can be very heavy which may be a consideration if you plan on moving, or need to carry the mattress up or downstairs. We suggest getting help from someone, especially if you’re buying a Queen or above.

      What to Look for in a Memory Foam Mattress

      There are many features to look for and consider when shopping for a memory foam mattress.

      • Thickness - many memory foam mattresses are available in a variety of thicknesses. Generally the thicker the mattress the softer it will be. However, each mattress company should be able to recommend a thickness that is right for you. For example, they may recommend a specific thickness based on your weight or sleeping position.
      • Cooling - Cooling is usually top of mind if you’re looking for a memory foam mattress. Most recently developed memory foam mattresses from top companies like Nectar, Tuft and Needle, Layla, Leesa, Bear, and Casper have all taken steps to improve the cooling abilities of their mattresses over conventional memory foam. Some leave air pockets to improve circulation while others infuse heat-conducting materials to allow trapped heat to escape.
      • Double-Sided - Double-sided mattresses fall into two main categories:
        • Same firmness on both sides - this essentially doubles the life of the mattress allowing you to flip it over when one side has worn.
        • Different firmness on each side - These are great choices if you’re not sure about what firmness you need, especially when buying online. You can try the mattress for a few days on either side and see what works best for you.

      Matching Memory Foam to Your Sleep Position

      Memory foam is extremely versatile and can be adapted to meet the needs of any sleep position and bodyweight however many of the memory foam mattresses out there are best suited for side sleeping. Here's how to match your sleep position with the right memory foam mattress.

      • Side Sleeping - Side sleepers are in luck, most popular memory foam mattresses are a great fit for side sleeping. They are typically medium in firmness and offer great contouring and pressure point relief that is critical for side sleepers.
      • Back - Back sleepers need to be a little more careful with memory foam as some popular memory foam options are just too soft. Back sleepers will often need at minimum a medium-firm to a firm mattress to avoid their torso sinking into the mattress creating a sight u-shape bending at your lower back.
      • Stomach - While stomach sleeping isn’t advised by any Doctor, Chiropractor or Physical Therapist, for some it’s the only way we can sleep. A firm memory foam mattress is a good pair with stomach sleeping but getting your spine into a neutral position also requires a thin or no pillow at all and adding a pillow below your hips
      • Combination - If you frequently sleep on your back and side, a medium-firm mattress is a good match. If you frequently sleep on your back or your stomach (not side) stick to a firm mattress.

      Again, adjust these recommendations based on your weight. The heavier you are the more firmness is required to support your body. A heavy side sleeper can really benefit from a firm memory foam mattress, while a light side sleeper may want a medium mattress firmness.

      Where to Buy a Memory Foam Mattress

      There are three main types of retailers to buy a memory foam mattress. In the past, you often had to visit an actual store and deal with a salesman in order to buy a mattress. This usually led to a frustrating experience and leaving with an expensive, poor quality innerspring mattress. These days, it’s much easier, cheaper and less expensive to buy a mattress online.

      Amazon or Other Online Retailers

      Buying through Amazon is a great option for a lot of people. Being the largest online market place many mattress companies choose to sell their products exclusively through Amazon vs having their own website. Amazon has a great return policy, prime two-day shipping and since you likely already have an account, it’s one less company you have to give your personal information out to. Amazon carries most of the major mattress brands but is also known for having budget-focused mattresses you can’t really find anywhere else. If you’re on a tight budget or looking for a mattress for a guest room, there’s no cheaper place to buy.

      Direct From the Mattress Company’s Website

      Almost all the major mattress companies have their own websites where you can buy direct. Sometimes this may be the least expensive route to go, as they would prefer to sell directly to you, the customer vs cutting Amazon or other retailers in on your business. Buying direct from a mattress company has a few other benefits as well:

      • Promotional Freebies - buying directly usually includes some kind of freebies like a pillow, bedding or even a discount on the retail price of the mattress. When you buy through a retailer, you usually don’t get these.
      • Stronger Warranty/Trail - Since changing a mattress can be somewhat a hassle, mattress companies are trying very hard to make it as risk-free as possible to try their mattress. Sometimes the warranty and trial offered on their site are the best available.
      • You can chat and ask questions - We highly recommend chatting. You can ask specific questions about your sleeping position, the firmness of the mattress or the materials it’s made from. It’s also a great place to ask specifics about the trial period, return process and warranty

      At a Mattress Retail Store

      Lastly, you may need to visit an actual mattress store if you’re apprehensive about buying a mattress you’ve never personally felt or tried out. One thing we recommend is doing your research online, finding a place that carries the mattress you want and goes try it out in person. You can then buy it online to get the best price+shipping combination knowing you’re going to love the mattress.

      Shipping, Warranties, Trials, and Returns

      Back in the early 2010s Tuft and Needle, quickly followed by Casper popularized buying a mattress online and quickly turned into huge companies. The secret was a technology that allowed mattress manufacturers to compress their mattresses into a box that could be shipped through normal parcel carriers like USPS, UPS, FedEx and DHL. Today, most mattresses are sold online and you may be wondering about how that impacts, shipping, warranties, and returns:

      Shipping

      Shipping is almost always included in the price of an online mattress. It’s such a competitive market that mattress companies are always finding ways to roll shipping into the pricing of their products.

      Warranties and Trial Periods

      When it comes to standing by their products, top mattress companies don’t mess around commonly offering a warranty of 10 years or more, sometimes 20 years and in a few cases offering a lifetime warranty on the mattress.

      The trial periods offered by mattress companies are equally impressive. Most companies will give you a truly risk-free experience with their mattress for at least 100 days, and sometimes up to a full year to ensure you’re totally in love with the mattress.

      Returns

      You may be wondering, okay they ship the mattress in a box, but how do I send it back if I don’t love it? Fortunately, most mattress companies do not require the mattress to be sent back to them. In most cases, the manufacturer will facilitate donating the mattress to a charity or homeless shelter of your choice. This keeps the mattress out of a landfill and helps good causes in need. 

      To learn more on mattress disposal, read our guide on how to properly dispose of a mattress which includes donating it and other alternatives to throwing it away. In some unfortunate cases, the mattress company will arrange a trash removal service to pick up the mattress and take it to a landfill. This is becoming less and less common and is usually only reserved for well-used mattresses or mattresses with major defects or damage preventing it from being donated and used again.

      Best Memory Foam Mattresses

      We’ve invested around 46 hours of research on creating this guide on memory foam mattresses and how to pair them with your sleeping position. We've also supplemented our research with an in-depth interview with a chiropractor who frequently helps patients with their sleeping positions and sleep-related back and neck pain. You can learn more about our review process here

      Best Value

      • Nectar is a great combination of quality and cost with its three-layer gel memory foam design.
      • Best warranty and trial period out there, giving you a truly risk-free way to try out their mattress with a lifetime warranty and 365 day trial period
      • Medium firmness great for all sleeping positions if you’re an average weight
      • Breathable quilted outer cover

        Zinus Green Tea 6"

        Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress - Best Memory Foam Mattresses

        Best Budget

        • While the 6” Zinus will be firm, the price of ~$150 is nearly unbeatable when it comes to memory foam.
        • Available in 4 thicknesses, simply size up for more softness
        • Naturally Infused with Green Tea Extract and Seed Oil
        • 10-year warranty

          Tuft & Needle Original

          Tuft and Needle Original Memory Foam Mattress - Best Memory Foam Mattresses

          Best For Back Sleepers

          • Back sleeping requires a medium-firm mattress for average-sized sleepers and the original mattress from T&N is just that. 
          • Less likely to sag in the middle causing your spine to fall out of neutral alignment.
          • Competitive price point from a reputable brand with proprietary graphite foam
          • 10-year warranty and 100-day trial period

            Best for Side Sleepers

            • Recently redesigned to address the needs of side sleepers the Leesa is a cool sleeping memory foam mattress with great pressure relief and contouring abilities.
            • 3 Layer Foam Construction
            • 10-year warranty
            • USA made with in-home delivery and setup services available

              Best Cooling

              • Recently redesigned to address the needs of side sleepers the Leesa is a cool sleeping memory foam mattress with great pressure relief and contouring abilities.
              • 3 Layer Foam Construction
              • 10-year warranty
              • USA made with in-home delivery and setup services available

                Top Memory Foam Mattress Companies

                • Tuft and Needle - Tuft and Needle were one of the first mattress companies to truly popularize buying a mattress online, shipped in a box. They currently offer two memory foam mattresses, their original and the newer Mint mattress. For a queen mattress, you can expect to pay between $600 and $1,000. Sometimes they are discounted with periodic sales and promotions.
                • Casper - started in 2014 Casper is one of the biggest mattress companies out there that exploded in growth from early on. They now offer a variety of foam mattresses for any budget, including pillows and other sleep products. For a queen mattress, you can expect to pay between $540 and $2,300. Sometimes they are discounted with periodic sales and promotions.
                • Zinus - Zinus was originally started as a tent company then moving into bedding products in 2004. They are actually responsible for the SmartBase, a bed frame, and box spring in one that works great with memory foam mattresses. Today Zinus offers some of the most competitively priced memory foam hybrid beds around and they are commonly one of our best budget recommendations on many of our sleep guides. For a queen mattress, you can expect to pay between $150 and $400. Sometimes they are discounted with periodic sales and promotions.
                • Nectar - Nectar is a new company but part of Resident Brands, which saw an opportunity to sell a memory foam mattress at a great combination of value for money. Nectar mattress has a great combination of quality and cost, backed by the best warranty in the business. For a queen mattress, you can expect to pay around $700. Sometimes the Nectar mattress is discounted with periodic sales and promotions.
                • Layla - Layla is a premium memory foam mattress company that uses copper in the outer layer of their beds to improve the cooling ability of memory foam, something they claim is the most common complaint of memory foam mattress customers. They also have a unique double-sided mattress with two firmness options essentially giving you two beds in one. We love the Layla mattress because it reduces the risk that you’ll get a bed that is too firm or too soft for you. Their queen mattress is ~$1,000 but it’s frequently discounted on their site.
                • Leesa - Leesa is a mattress company that gives back. They donate 1 mattress for every 10 they sell, volunteer, plant trees among other philanthropic initiatives. The Lessa memory foam mattress is a three-layer mattress that has been recently revised for side sleeping. Their queen memory foam mattress is around $1,000 but is frequently discounted by $100 or $150.
                • Serta - We all know the Serta brand from the decades of an advertisement featuring sheep. They have been known for making great innerspring mattresses and have even started to feature some memory foam options featuring gel-infused foam. Their queen memory foam mattresses start around $500 and go up to $900.
                • Tempur Pedic - Formerly Tempur World, TempurPedic was one of the first companies to sell a memory foam mattress when NASA released the technology into the public domain for anyone to use. Today they offer a variety of bedding and high-end mattresses available in multiple firmness options and cooling features. Their least expensive queen mattress starts around $2,000 and ranges up to over $4,000 for their highest-end bed.
                • Ashley Furniture - Ashley furniture has been a big player in the furniture industry for decades. They operate many storefronts and even deliver to your home using their own service. They also sell online and make some very affordable memory foam mattresses in all types from traditional innerspring, to memory from and many hybrid combinations. They make mattresses for any budget from queen’s starting below $200 up to $1500 for their iComfort Mattress.
                • Linenspa - While the name may not be familiar, Linenspa has been helping people sleep better and save money since 2003. They make some of the least expensive mattresses around and are currently the #1 mattress seller on amazon. What makes them unique is their inexpensive hybrid memory foam/innerspring mattresses. Linenspa’s queen memory foam hybrid is ~$175 and sold through Amazon.

                Chemicals and Hazards Associated With Memory Foam Mattresses

                Volatile Organic compounds known by the abbreviation of VOCs is a common term used when discussing memory foam. VOCs is a group of compounds commonly associated with the manufacturing process of many household items from mattresses to pillows, paint, furniture, carpeting among other items. The word “volatile” can be misleading. Volatile in this case means unstable and having the ability to easily turn into a gas or vapor. The best example is paint. When you paint a wall, there will be a strong and hazardous odor. Being exposed to it for a short period of time isn’t a problem, it’s long term exposure that can be hazardous.

                According to a study done in Isreal, some of the compounds associated with memory foam mattresses are: 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene, 1,4-Dichlorobenzene, 2-Ethylhexanoic acid, 2,6-Di-tert-butyl-1,4-benzoquinone, Acetaldehyde, Alpha pinene, Benzene, Butylated hydroxytoluene, Decamethyl Cyclopentasiloxane, Ethylbenzene, Formaldehyde, Hexanal, Hexane, Nonanal, Octametyl Cyclopentasiloxane, P-xylene, Toluene, Tris(1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate. The study aimed to understand the presence of these compounds during sleep as well as any increased risk of inhalation during sleep (being in close proximity to the mattress itself) and the impact on body heat in releasing the VOCs. The study found the levels of tested VOCs could be harmful to children and infants but not at a level harmful to adults. They also found that both close proximity to the mattress and the impact of body heat on the mattress increase the exposure to VOCs measured in the study.

                Overall while there is more research being done on the topic, there is a limited claim to any adverse health impact on adults. However, if you’re shopping for a mattress for a child or infant, you may want to skip memory foam options or buy a natural memory foam alternative like Latex.

                Flame Retardants was once used by many mattress companies as a way to comply with laws requiring household items to be resistant to open flame to a certain degree. In 2010 these laws were adjusted due to the potential hazards posed by sleeping on a mattress with toxic flame retardants present.

                Lastly, the vast majority of memory foam mattresses are made from polyurethane foam and all mattresses sold in the US require a label stating the materials used in the mattress. You may be familiar with this tag as it oddly requires you not to remove it “under penalty of law.” This tag was a way for state governments to prevent unethical behaviors by mattress companies about 100 years ago from using odd, disgusting or used materials in mattresses they sold new. The tag cannot be removed by the manufacturer but as the end customer, you can remove it without fear of the law.

                What is Memory Foam Exactly?

                The vast majority of memory foam mattresses are made from polyurethane or PU foam. This foam can be manufactured with a variety of different characteristics such as different densities and viscosities. These two characteristics have an impact on support, firmness, weight and the overall feel of the mattress. 

                Many Memory foam mattresses are at least two layers with a rigid low-density layer of foam on the bottom topped with at least one high-density outer layer. Beyond the composition of the memory foam itself, the combination of two or more layers can lead to a great variety of feel and support from one mattress to another. However, many popular memory foam mattresses are designed to appeal to the most common types of sleepers, so many best selling mattresses tend to be a similar medium-firm firmness. 

                History of Memory Foam

                Memory foam was originally developed by NASA in 1966 as a potential safety improvement for aircraft seating. The original memory foam design was a closed-cell polyurethane, but subsequent generations and improvements led to open cell foams and memory foam infused with other materials.

                After Memory foam’s application to aircraft seating, NASA released the technology into the public domain. This gave way to many businesses finding ways to make new innovative products and make the manufacturing process cheaper. The original Tempur-Pedic mattress was one of the first memory foam mattresses offered back in 1991.  

                The medical industry found a use for it improving situations where patients were required to lay for extended periods of time. The pressure-relieving characteristics of memory foam enabled blood flow improvements that bedridden patients would frequently have issues with.

                Alternatives to Buying a new Mattress

                While mattresses are getting less and less expensive, buying a new mattress isn’t always need. Here are a few ideas you can try before pulling the trigger on a new mattress:

                • Try a mattress topper - mattress toppers are mini mattresses so to speak that lay on top of your existing mattress. They come in a variety of designs and materials and can be used to both soften a firm mattress or firm up a soft mattress. Mattress toppers are often less than $100 and can dramatically change the feel of your existing mattress.
                • Add a piece of plywood  - If you’re looking to firm up a soft mattress one way is adding a piece of plywood between the bed frame for boxspring and the bottom of the mattress. The change may be subtle but it’s a good cost-effective way to firm up your mattress. You’ll want to undersize the plywood piece slightly to add firmness in the middle of the bed where you sleep. 
                • Identify issues with your pillow - your pillow is almost as important as your mattress when it comes to getting a good night's sleep. Take the time to read our guide on pillows and how to properly size your pillow to your sleeping position.

                Memory Foam FAQs

                Are memory foam mattresses toxic?

                Whether you consider memory foam toxic or not is based on your definition of what toxic is. Memory foam mattresses are subject to off-gassing. This is a process that many household items go through when newly manufactured. This off-gassing process releases Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs into the air. A study referenced in the Hazards section of this page found that memory foam off-gassing is only risky for infants and small children. The exposure to these compounds isn’t a risk for Adults, even when you consider the close proximity to the mattress and the impact of body heat on releasing the VOCs.

                Is memory foam bad for your back?

                Any mattress that isn’t a good match to your sleeping position and weight is potentially a bad choice for your back, neck, and general joint and muscle pain. If your pillow or mattress isn’t a good match, it's easy for your body to be over or under-supported, especially in your lower back. Most popular memory foam mattresses are medium firmness and great for side sleeping. Back sleepers may need to up the firmness to a medium-firm mattress to prevent your torso from sinking into the mattress. Again if you’re lighter or heavier than average you may need to go softer (if you’re light) or firmer (if you’re heavy) to get a good match between your mattress and your body weight.

                Which is Better Innerspring or Memory Foam?

                Which is better for you is a question only you can answer. Sleep is something very specific to each of us. Generally, back sleepers can find a lot of comfort on a traditional innerspring mattress where the shape of your back is relatively flat and doesn’t require a lot of contouring to support you. Side sleepers usually struggle with innerspring mattresses because the springs can only adapt to a certain degree of shape. If you’re on the fence you may want to look into a hybrid innerspring/memory foam mattress.

                What Thickness Memory Foam is Best?

                Memory foam mattresses are commonly available in different thicknesses to provide different firmness and feel. Of the mattresses that come in different thicknesses, generally the thinner mattresses are more firm and thicker mattresses are softer.

                Leave a Comment