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THE GOOD: Memory foam mattresses overall rate at least as well as other mattress types in owner satisfaction. Conforming ability and motion isolation are often well above average. Many highly rated brands / models are under $700.
THE BAD: Compared to other mattress types, memory foam mattresses overall are more likely to off gas, retain heat, restrict body movement, lack bounce, and have extended break-in periods.
THE MATTRESSES: A memory foam mattress usually consists of at least two inches of memory foam over at least six inches of transition / support foam.
Memory Foam Mattress Ratings: As a Group
Brand Ratings and Comparison
What Makes Memory Foam Different
Prices and Value
Lifespan / Durability
Initial Off Gassing Odor
Sleeping Hot / Heat Retention
Reasons For Price Differences
Suitability for Sex
Break-in Period Length
Mold / Mildew Development
Electric Blanket / Pad Use
Mattress Protector Use
Memory Foam Mattresses vs Toppers
Memory Foam Density
Proper Memory Foam Bed Foundation & Frame
Our ratings and research findings are based on at least 7,150 memory foam bed consumer reviews / experiences gathered using an unbiased, accurate methodology.
The ratings show how memory foam mattresses compare against the average mattress based on consumer experiences. For ratings on specific brands, see the following section.
|Owner satisfaction||b||Memory foam mattresses overall have 80% owner satisfaction. The various brands and models rate mostly similar.|
|Affordable||C+||The average price of a queen memory foam mattress is about $1,370 not including a foundation. Prices range $100 to $3,500+.|
|Lifespan / durability||b-||Longevity can vary significantly, but memory foam mattresses have on average about a 7-year lifespan. See lifespan analysis.|
|Support||C+||Overall, neither a clear strength nor clear weakness. Other bed types, namely air and innerspring as well as hybrid, often have better support.|
|Minimizes pressure points||B+||Memory foam tends to significantly conform and contour to a person's body resulting in even weight distribution. This often minimizes pressure points. More.|
|Reduced (back) pain||b||The at least fair degree of support combined with effective conforming ability often result in above-average potential for back pain relief. (See mattresses and pain relief for general analysis.)|
|Easy to move on / get up off||D+||Memory foam (high density especially) provides some resistance to a person's movement due to its conforming properties and to the fact that people sink into the foam somewhat (especially heavy people). As a result, changing positions and getting up may require some extra effort.|
|Motion isolation||A-||The mattresses almost always isolate movement which allows a person to move on and get up off the bed without causing much if any disturbance to their partner. More.|
|Edge support||C-||Few memory foam mattresses have dedicated edge support. This means that support near the mattress edges may be inadequate for sleeping or sitting, especially for heavy people.|
|No initial odor||d||12%+ of owners (1 in 8) report significant off gassing odor, especially owners of high-density models. Analysis: memory foam off gassing.|
|No sleeping hot||D+||About 9% of owners (1 in 11) report a significant problem with their mattress retaining heat. See memory foam & heat retention for details.|
|Good for sex||c-||Opinions vary but lack of bounce is the top complaint. See sex and mattresses for details.|
|Avg-sized person friendly||B||Overall, people 130 to 230 pounds have the highest potential to be satisfied. They tend to exert enough pressure on the memory foam comfort layer(s) to benefit from its conforming ability without weighing too much to possibly feel the firmer base foam layer.|
|Heavy person friendly||b-||People over 230 pounds are generally satisfied if the mattress has adequate specifications for their needs. More.|
|Light person friendly||c-||People under 130 pounds may not exert enough pressure on the foam to benefit from its conforming ability. More.|
|Weak, sick, elderly friendly||C-||Due to the conforming ability of the beds and that sleepers tend to lie fairly low in them, people lacking physical strength may find moving and getting up to be difficult. The mattresses can, however, help minimize potential for bed sores for the bedridden by reducing pressure points.|
|No topper needed||B-||About 7% of memory foam mattress owners (1 in 14) need to add a topper to their mattress to improve comfort.|
|No noise||a||Memory foam mattresses are often totally silent under all conditions. More.|
|Short break in||D+||Break-in – especially for higher-density models – appears to be at least 30% longer than that of the average mattress. More.|
|Easy to maintain||B-||Nearly all models are no-flip. Rotating the mattress (head to foot) one to three times annually may help to maintain comfort and support. Their weight is often heavy enough to keep them in place on their base thereby requiring little regular adjustment.|
|Easy to handle, lift, move||c||Mattress weight ranges 30-200+ pounds depending on model / size with average being about 98 lbs. Thicker, higher-density models weigh more than thinner, lower-density ones. Handles / grips are not common.|
The table below includes many popular memory foam beds arranged alphabetically. Select a mattress for a full ratings report based on consumer experiences.
||# of Memory Foam Models
|Memory Foam Thick-
|Memory Foam Density (lbs/ft)
||Distinctive Advantage or Trait||SLTD Rating of Com- pany
||In Stores and or Online
||Return Policy Length/Fees
|5||10- 14"||2-4"||4||med-soft to firm||Celliant cover||C+||online||100 max, 30 min / no||20 yrs|
|BED IN A BOX||83%
|6||9-14"||3"||2.5, 3||med-soft to firm||strong reputation||A-||online||120 max, 60 min / no||10-20 yrs|
|2+||11", 14"||1-6"||2.5, 3, 4||soft to firm||at Overstock .com||no rating||online||no returns||5 yrs|
|1||10"||1-3"||3.5||med-soft / firm||2 sided / 2 firmness||B-||online||120 max, 14 min / no||life time|
|LOOM & LEAF||81%
|$750- $1500||2||12"||4.5"||4, 5||med-firm or firm||gel cooling panel||B-||online||120 days, 0 min / yes||15 yrs|
|$500- $900||1||10"||1.5"||3.5 (est)||med-firm to firm||limited initial odor||B-||online||100 days, 0 min / no||10 yrs|
|$400- $800||1||11"||3.5"||3.5, 4||med-firm||Tencel cover||D+||online||365 days, 0 min / no||life time|
|3||11"||4-5"||3.7-5||med-soft to firm||comfort adj. system||B||online||120 max, 60 min / no||15 yrs|
|SEALY MEMORY FOAM||76%
|8+||9.5- 13.5"||1.5-7"||4*||med to firm||top to bottom gel foam||C+||stores, online||varies by retailer||10 yrs|
|2-5"||3, 4, 5*||soft to firm||TempurPedic competitor||C+||stores, online||120 max, 30 min / varies||10 yrs|
|4+||6-12"||1.5- 3.5"||3*||med-firm to firm||value||C+||online||30-90 max, 0 min / yes||1 yr|
|6+||10-14"||2-3"||3 - 3.5||med-firm to firm||good war- ranty for $||B||online||varies by retailer||20 yrs|
|6+||8-14.5"||3-6.6"||3, 5, 7||med or med-firm||at Costco.com||B+||mostly online||90+ max, 0 min / no||20 yrs|
|$1300- $5300+||13||10-15"||3-7.2"||3-7*||x-soft to x-firm||often widely available||C+||stores, online||often 90+ max, 30 min / yes||10 yrs|
|6+||6-14"||1-3.5"||3||med or med-firm||ultra value||B-||mostly online||varies by retailer||10-15 yrs|
Two characteristics most distinguish memory foam mattresses from other mattress types: conforming ability and motion isolation.
Memory foam mattresses perform significantly better than the average mattress in regard to conforming ability. A conforming mattress molds and contours to one's body, minimizing or eliminating gaps between the person and the mattress.
Conforming ability has pros and cons:
|Conforming Ability PROS||Conforming Ability CONS|
|A person's weight is distributed about equally on the mattress (especially for average and large sized people) which often results in minimized pressure points.
A cradling, cloud-like sensation is more likely to be experienced on a conforming mattress.
A person's lower back tends to receive relatively high support thereby minimizing or preventing back pain.
|A person often sleeps comparatively low on memory foam because its conforming ability allows the sleeper to sink in to some extent.
This can result in less airflow which for some people contributes to an uncomfortable amount of heat retention.
Sleeping low will also tend to provide at least some resistance to movement (changing positions, getting up).
Not all memory foam mattresses have the same conforming ability. Higher-density models tend to conform more strongly than lower-density models especially in cold room temperature – see the density comparison. Also, know that using a mattress protector may significantly reduce conforming ability.
More analysis: mattress pain relief.
Memory foam mattresses tend to perform at least somewhat better than other mattress types in regard to motion isolation. A mattress with good motion isolation absorbs movement as opposed to transferring it across the bed.
Motion isolation has pros and cons:
|Motion Isolation PRO||Motion Isolation CON|
|Tossing, turning, getting in and out of bed does not disturb another person allowing the mattress to be couple friendly in this regard.||Good motion isolation tends to limit if not eliminate bounce / repeated rebounding. For some people, this negatively affects a bed's sex suitability.|
More analysis: mattress motion isolation.
Memory foam mattresses compare favorably to other mattress types in owner satisfaction. (See the mattress type comparison for more on how memory foam compares to other mattress types.)
Memory foam mattress owner satisfaction can differ somewhat depending on a person's size.
Memory foam mattresses are best suited for the average sized, that is, people 130-230 pounds. Those with a body mass index of above 20 appear most likely to be satisfied.
Most owners 230+ pounds report suitable support and comfort. Memory foam mattress models with at least three inches of memory foam and at least 10 inches of total thickness appear to perform best for heavier people. (See mattress guide for large people.)
People under 130 pounds – especially side sleepers with a body mass index of 20 or lower – tend to be least satisfied with memory foam mattresses. This is especially true if the mattress is firm or the memory foam high density, that is, 4 lb/ft or higher. Light people may not exert enough pressure on the foam for it to contour adequately to the curves of their bodies; excessive pressure points and or back pain may result. (See mattress guide for small people.)
Prices for memory foam mattresses vary greatly – $155 to $4000+ (queen) for several reasons. The average queen is about $1370. Paying more for a memory foam mattress does not necessarily result in higher satisfaction as it tends to be similar across the price range.
High owner satisfaction combined with prices overall being no higher than average results in memory foam mattresses receiving "bang for the buck" praise from owners. (Tempur-Pedic is the most notable exception as it tends to receive fair to poor value ratings.)
The lifespan of a memory foam mattress is on average about seven years with everyday use.
Length of Time Owners Keep Their Memory Foam Mattress
* partial estimate.
Memory foam gets its name from its ability to "remember" its original form and slowly return to it after being compressed. As the foam ages and wears, it will lose at least some of this resiliency or "memory." This can result in sagging and body impression development which are capable of undermining support and comfort.
Memory foam mattresses overall have fewer sagging / body impression complaints than most other mattress types, especially innerspring mattresses.
* estimated to be at least 1.5" depth
** partial estimate
Memory foam mattresses – especially firmer models – may become softer as they age and wear. Excessive softening can cause both a lack of support and comfort. Also, softening is often not well covered by memory foam mattress warranties.
* partial estimate
Memory foam mattress lifespan somewhat correlates with price. However, as the chart below shows, for every additional $1000 spent there is only an increase in lifespan on average of about 1.5 years.
Warranties for memory foam mattresses often have lengths of 5, 10 or 20 years. The more expensive memory foam mattresses do not necessarily come with longer / better warranties.
Owner experience data shows that with regular everyday use, mattresses generally do not last the length of their warranties.
Non-prorated means there is no cost to the consumer to repair or replace a defective mattress, not including transport. For 5- and 10-year warranties, the entire period is often non-prorated, while the 20-year warranties often have only the first 10 years non-prorated.
"Sagging depth" refers to how much (in inches) a mattress must compress / sag before warranty coverage engages; the smaller the number, the better the coverage. Most memory foam beds have similar sagging coverage.
As memory foam mattresses age and wear, they will tend to soften to some degree. This is considered normal and is not covered under warranty. Memory foam mattress warranties, however, may cover an abnormal increase in softening. But unlike sagging, such softening is not defined which appears to result in few claims related to softening being approved. This is a potential weakness of the warranties as softening can be just as common and troublesome as sagging.
Prices for memory foam mattresses can range from $100 to $3500+. Below are the main reasons why the mattresses can vary widely in price.
– Overall Mattress Thickness: On average, high-priced memory foam mattresses are at least 75% thicker than low-priced ones. Thicker mattresses are often for people who prefer a tall mattress profile or for people of above-average weight; a mattress that is too thin for a person's weight may bottom out especially for sitting and be excessively firm.
– Memory Foam Layer Thickness: Memory foam beds are not made entirely of memory foam. They consist of 20-50% memory foam; this memory foam lies over one or more base / support layer of high-density regular foam. High-priced memory foam beds tend to have at least two times more memory foam than those low-priced. For heavier people especially, more memory foam tends to provide somewhat increased comfort, contouring support and, perhaps, mattress longevity.
– Base Layer Thickness / Density: The base layer of a memory foam bed consists of relatively inexpensive foam which often makes up 50-80% of overall mattress thickness. The base layer of low-priced memory foam beds tends to make up a greater portion of overall mattress thickness compared to high-priced memory foam beds.
|Overall Mattress Thickness||Memory Foam Layer Thickness||Base Layer Thickness|
|High Priced ($2500+)||12-15"||4-7"||6-9"|
The table shows what tends to be true; thickness for a particular mattress model may differ somewhat.
– Other Factors: In addition to the above reasons, other factors affecting price include:
Memory foam mattresses (or any mattress that contains a significant amount of memory foam) tend to off gas more often and more strongly than other mattress types. Off gassing (or out gassing) refers to a chemical-like or musty odor or gas that a mattress may give off when it is new due to its composition and packaging.
About 12% of memory foam mattress owners report significant off gassing. And as many as 2% of owners return their mattress due to off gassing odor concerns. Overall, however, memory foam off gassing is a problem that is becoming less common.
Off Gassing Odor Reported by Memory Foam Mattress Owners
Length of Off Gassing Period Reported by Memory Foam Mattress Owners
Some owners report walking (safely) on their new memory foam bed to speed up the off gassing process. Or people sometimes deal with off gassing by putting the mattress in a spare room, covered patio or garage until the odor has mostly diminished.
Off gassing is usually just an annoying odor to those who notice it.
Some owners, however, report feeling ill from it. Reports of headaches, nausea, eye and throat irritation, sweating, sleeplessness and asthma resulting from off gassing occur in about 1.5% of owner experiences. The illness diminishes when the off gassing diminishes or when the person avoids being in the same room with the mattress during the off gassing period.
In regard to off gassing being a long-term health threat, such as a cancer risk, there is currently no credible study or evidence showing this to be the case.
Mattresses that have at least two inches of memory foam are more likely to off gas than those with two inches or less of the material.
Many consumers believe that American-made memory foam off gasses less (and is therefore safer / healthier) than imported foam, namely foam from China. Our research based on actual consumer experiences shows the opposite: Domestically made memory foam has more off gassing reports than foreign-made foam.
The fact that U.S. made memory foam has more off gassing reports than foreign-made foam may possibly be explained, at least in part, by foam density. Higher density foam usually off gasses more than less dense foam. And higher density foam tends to be produced domestically, while less dense foam is often foreign made.
About 9% of memory foam bed owners say that their bed significantly retains heat and, as a result, sleeps hot. The problem can result in sweating, restlessness and poor sleep quality.
An additional 15% of owners report that their mattress sleeps warm, but usually not to an uncomfortable extent. Put positively, most memory foam bed owners most of the time experience no heat-related problems.
Many memory foam mattresses to have at least one layer of gel memory foam – foam that is infused with tiny gel beads. This material is touted to sleep cool longer than regular memory foam of similar density.
And based on our collected consumer experience data it does reduce sleeping hot complaints by about one-third. Some consumers, however, report no meaningful heat relief from gel foam.
The amount and placement of gel foam in a mattress also seems to be a factor. Beds with two inches or more of gel foam, especially at the top of the mattress, tend to sleep cool longer than those beds with less than two inches.
Density can and often does differ by memory foam mattress brand or model. Those with higher density foam tend to have at least twice the number of sleeping hot complaints than those with lower-density foam.
High foam density may restrict air circulation due to its higher density which can cause the mattress to heat trap. Also, higher density foam is often more sensitive to temperature and weight than is lower density foam. This can mean that a person sinks somewhat more into higher density foam resulting in less air circulation around one's body.
Memory foam mattresses with soft firmness tend to be more likely to sleep hot than firmer varieties. This appears to be due to the fact that a person sinks in more to a soft mattress and therefore has less air circulation to cool them. Heavy people tend to sink in the furthest.
More analysis: mattress heat retention.
Memory foam tends to be firmer (more viscous) in cooler temperatures and softer (more elastic) in warmer temperatures.
|Memory Foam Characteristic||Result|
|Cool room temperature (below 68º)||Mattress will feel firm and solid. As body heat warms the foam it will soften under your body and you will slowly sink in. The surrounding foam not in contact with your body will remain at least somewhat firm.||Changing positions and getting up off the bed can be somewhat difficult.|
|Warm room temperature (above 80º)||Mattress will feel at least somewhat soft and squishy. Your body will quickly and easily sink into the foam, perhaps far into it.||Getting up off the bed may be somewhat difficult.|
|Normal room temperature (68-80º)||You will not tend to be surrounded by firm foam (as in colder temperature) or sink far into the foam (as in hotter temperature).||The mattress will tend to feel more conventional.|
Keep in mind that low-density memory foam is often less temperature sensitive than high-density memory foam. As a result, low-density memory foam retains a more consistent feel and firmness regardless of temperature than high density. (Learn more about high- vs low-density memory foam.)
Memory foam is the most temperature sensitive type of mattress.
Memory foam mattresses – especially those that are high density such as several Tempur-Pedic models – may have a longer than average break-in period. Side sleepers tend to report the most break-in related discomfort.
Some owners use a soft topper until their mattress breaks in. And others report walking (safely) on their mattress to speed up the break-in process.
Opinions vary, but most memory foam mattress owners say their bed is acceptable for romance. On this issue, comfort is the reported top advantage of memory foam, while lack of bounce is the main disadvantage. Learn more: Sex and mattresses comparison.
Mold and mildew development on memory foam mattresses is an issue that receives significant publicity. Our collected owner experience data shows, however, that no more than .3% of memory foam mattress owners report a mold / mildew problem.
It should be noted that mold / mildew does not always make its presence easily known. Consequently, a number of owners may unknowingly have a mattress with mold / mildew.
Mold / mildew development is more likely to occur in high humidity climates. Owner experience data suggests that development often takes place underneath the mattress especially if a foundation is used that provides limited ventilation, such as a platform. A slat foundation, by contrast, allows more airflow which perhaps reduces potential for development. In addition, a waterproof mattress protector is effective at keeping the mattress dry and mold / mildew free.
Using an electric blanket or electric mattress pad with a memory foam bed can reduce the bed's comfort and pain-relief potential. Due to the temperature sensitivity of memory foam, having a heat source on the bed other than your body can undermine the foam's ability to react to your body and conform to its shape.
If an electric blanket or heating pad are used, then heating should be limited to when you first get into bed. And the setting should be on low or medium heat, not high.
Some claim that the heat produced by electric blankets and electric pads can damage memory foam. We have found no owner experience data to confirm this.
A mattress protector can protect a memory foam mattress against dust mites, bacteria, sweat, urine and fluids. Using a protector can be wise because the dirtying / soiling of a mattress will often void its warranty or its eligibility to be returned.
The use of a protector, however, often reduces the ability of memory foam to conform to one's body and minimize pressure points.
A memory foam topper placed on an existing mattress can provide some of the benefits and downsides of a memory foam mattress. See memory foam topper ratings based on 29,000+ consumer experiences.
|Memory Foam Mattresses||Memory Foam Toppers|
|Price||$$ to $$$$$||$ to $$|
|Motion Isolation||high||low to medium|
|Conforming Ability||medium to high||medium|
|Heat Trap Potential||medium to high||medium|
|Off Gassing Potential||medium to high||medium|
|Easy To Move On||mostly fair||good to fair|
Memory foam is available in different densities. Foam density often determines many mattress characteristics. See memory foam density: higher vs lower for a complete analysis and comparison based on actual consumer experiences.
The use of a proper foundation and frame can make a difference in both the comfort and lifespan of a mattresses. Also, be aware of the foundation and frame requirements of the specific memory foam mattress that you purchase because an improper foundation and or frame can void the mattress warranty.
Foundation: Most memory foam mattresses are designed to work on a firm, solid-surface, non-spring foundation with no surface irregularities. A box spring (springs contained in a box-like frame) may not properly support the mattress and thus undermine the contouring and molding ability of the foam as well as motion isolation. A medium-density fiberboard (MDF) foundation, platform bed, or slat foundation is often preferred.
Frame: A proper bed frame – one with center support and six or more legs – provides sturdy support for both the mattress and foundation.
Ratings are based on over 7,100 memory foam mattress owner experiences collected from hundreds of diverse sources.
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