The time has finally come: Your old, lumpy bed is on its last legs, and you need to buy a new one. You’ve already decided that you’d like to get the best memory foam mattress, but how can you find the very best one to meet your needs?
First, know you’re making a great choice. Memory foam’s ability to conform to your body’s unique shape makes it one of the most comfortable sleep surfaces for most people. (It’s almost like having a bed custom-made just for you.) Regardless of your sleep position, it can relieve — and even help prevent — pain in your shoulders, neck, and back.
Second, all the options available can make it tough to figure out which bed is the best one for you. However, weeding out the good from the bad doesn’t have to be complicated. To learn more about finding the best option, just keep reading.
EDITORS’ CHOICE: Amerisleep AS3
There are many options when it comes to memory foam mattresses. One that consistently stands out is Amerisleep. This online-based brand offers high-quality beds at an affordable price.
Amerisleep sells five different mattresses, the AS1, AS2, AS3, AS4, and AS5. The higher the number, the softer the mattress. Unlike other mattress companies, Amerisleep does not operate on a “good, better, or best” model. Instead, Amerisleep makes their mattresses to accommodate different types of sleepers. The AS1 and AS2 are recommended for stomach and back sleepers (Business Insider listed the AS2 as the best mattress for back pain). The AS4 is for side sleepers, while the AS5 is for side and back sleepers. The AS3, which is made to work with the majority of sleepers, is our recommendation for #1 memory foam mattress. The AS3 was also listed as one of the best mattress to buy online by Allure. It has an average customer feedback rating of 4.7 out of 5 from more than 2,500 verified buyers.
Learn about the AS3’s unparalleled design:
Amerisleep AS3 Features
Every Amerisleep uses Celliant® in their cover. Celliant® is FDA-determined to promote more restful sleep. It recycles your natural body heat into infrared light, temporarily increasing local blood flow.
Every Amerisleep mattress uses Bio-Pur® foam. Bio-Pur® is Amerisleep’s proprietary plant-based memory foam. Bio-Pur® has an advanced open-cell structure which helps it retain its shape and bounce back ten times faster than traditional memory foam. The AS3 has three inches of Bio-Pur® as the first layer, allowing it to provide immediate pressure relief and comfort.
Beneath the AS3’s layer of Bio-Pur® is Amerisleep’s HIVE® technology. HIVE® technology uses 5 sections of zoned support, providing you with comfort where you want it and support where you need it. HIVE® has been clinically proven to reduce pressure points up to nearly 49%.
The base of Amerisleep’s AS3 is their Bio-Core® layer. Bio-Core® is designed to provide a stable foundation for the first two layers of the mattress. This durable core layer could explain why Amerisleep offers a 20-year warranty on their mattresses.
Amerisleep is eco-friendly in two specific ways. First, when making their Bio-Pur® foam, they replace a significant amount of petroleum found in memory foam with castor oil. Second, all Amerisleep foams are manufactured through Variable Pressure Foaming (VPF). The VPF process creates virtually zero emissions, trapping pollutants in its carbon filters. VPF is the only foam making method to exceed the standards of the Federal Clean Air Act.
What Is Memory Foam?
Sometimes referred to as viscoelastic polyurethane foam, memory foam is a type of foam that adapts to your weight and shape and temperature. It molds to you, retaining a “memory” of your body impression. The time it takes for the foam to retain its shape after removing your weight is referred to as response time. Memory foam with slower response times can lead to a “sinking in” feeling and could also lead to an increased risk of sleeping hot.
Keep in mind the mattress you choose is unlikely to be entirely memory foam. Memory foam is more expensive to make and is best used near the top of the mattress, where it can provide pressure relief and comfort. The interior core of a mattress will almost always be sturdier foam, such as polyurethane foam (polyfoam), or another material such as innerspring coils.
As for what it’s made of? That depends on the type of mattress you buy. Usually, these sleep surfaces are made of viscoelastic polyurethane foam, a type that’s dense, viscous, and highly cushiony.
But many new-generation models are made from plant-based foams, which are derived from ingredients like soybeans. They tend to be just as comfortable, and they come with some other big perks. (More about those in a bit.)
Why So Many People Love Memory Foam
Here are some of the top reasons why memory foam is often chosen over basic spring beds.
- It relieves pressure points. Laying in the same position for hours can leave you pretty uncomfortable. The pressure of downward-pulling gravity and upward resistance in bedding materials can impact your circulation and cause damage to soft tissues. Conforming to your shape means minimizing this discomfort by easing pressure on your body.
- It keeps your back and spine aligned. Unlike spring models, these beds don’t sag. Instead, they distribute your weight across the bed evenly to contour to your body’s natural curves. This helps your back and spine stay in a neutral position while you sleep, so it doesn’t contort and make you uncomfortable.
- It works for any sleeping position. Because it’s moldable, it can cradle and support every part of your body while you snooze. That’s true whether you sleep on your back, side, stomach, or a combination of all three.
- Motion doesn’t matter. Beds made from this special material absorb motion instead of distributing it. If your partner shifts positions or gets out of bed, you are less likely to notice their movement. You can’t say that about a spring mattress.
- It’s hypoallergenic. If you suffer from allergies foam may be the right choice for you. The materials and density help minimize the formation of dust mites, which are the leading cause of indoor allergies. That same density can also help repel other common allergens like mold and pet dander.
- It’s a great fit for adjustable beds. Some of the best adjustable beds have been growing in popularity over the past few years, and memory foam mattresses remain one of their most compatible partners. That’s because they readily flex with the adjustable base and contour to the base’s different positions without compromising durability. You’ll be comfortably supported whether you sleep flat or at an angle.
- Upkeep is easy. Because it isn’t prone to sagging or lumpy spots, there’s no need to bother with rotating or flipping your mattress every month to keep it uniformly comfortable. It’s nice to have one less chore to check off your list, isn’t it?
- It’ll last longer. Because they absorb less mold, dust mites, and other gunk, a foam-based model can last longer when compared to an innerspring model. High-quality foam mattresses can stay comfortable for 10 years or more.
Types to Know About
Now that you know more about why so many people think these types of beds are superior, it’s time to dive a bit deeper. In all, there are three different types that you’ll find on the market. Here’s the lowdown on each one.
Made from viscoelastic polyurethane foam, this is the conventional, temperature-sensitive material that uses heat to mold to your body’s shape. It’s known for providing good contouring and pressure relief, especially at medium and high densities.
The scientific term viscoelasticity refers to materials that behave, in some instances, like fluids but that are technically solids. The cause of this property is long, flexible fiber-like particles. Because of their shape, these particles can temporarily connect, creating a solid surface, but in other instances, they are very flexible and can slide along each other, simulating fluid-like properties.
Viscoelastic polyurethane foam then is a type of synthetic foam that has a mix of fluid and solid properties. The foam conforms to objects or people who put pressure on the surface and returns to its original shape very slowly after the pressure or weight has been removed. This gradual recovery has lent memory foam an alternate nickname: slow recovery foam.
This type of foam is also renowned for its ability to dampen vibrations and absorb shocks, meaning that you and your partner can comfortably sleep on a memory foam mattress, and your movements in the night will not wake each other up. Performance tests have long shown this to be a property of viscoelastic polyurethane foam. In a ball bounce test, there was 20% less ball rebound, or bounce, in viscoelastic foam compared to other surfaces. Some types of traditional memory foam can even absorb 90% of movements.
However, there are also some downsides to consider. Traditional memory foam tends to trap heat more efficiently, so some people find it sleeps too hot for their comfort. It also recovers its shape at a slower rate, making changing positions in the middle of the night difficult.
The other big factor? Viscoelastic polyurethane foam is petroleum-based. This type may contain more synthetic chemicals and emit more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than plant-based models, which we’ll talk about below.
Still, there’s no evidence showing traditional memory foam models are unsafe. The Polyurethane Foam Association, an industry group, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency both say that finished material is inert and does not represent a health hazard.
Introduced in 2011 the original gel memory foam mattress was designed to retain less body heat. The first gel and memory foam combination mattresses used a layer of gel to disperse body heat. More modern approaches to memory foam include a top gel layer, a layer beneath other upholstery or memory foam padding, or gel mixed into the memory foam itself.
If you’re concerned a traditional model would sleep too hot, consider gel foam. It involves gel particles or liquid gel mixed into the foam to create a cooler sensation. Because the gel stays room temperature, the idea is that it absorbs body heat to help you feel more comfortable, sort of like ice packs.
Unfortunately, there’s not much scientific evidence showing that gel mattresses sleep cooler than their traditional counterparts. Independent tests and reviews suggest that they might not live up to their claims. Tests conducted by Consumer Reports have found that gel and non-gel beds don’t differ much concerning breathability. Sleep Like The Dead says there is a small difference (2%), but primarily only for beds with more than 2 inches of gel foam at the surface of the bed.
You won’t often find this type in your average big-box mattress store, but it may still be worth seeking out for a number of reasons.
Plant-based foams rely on botanical ingredients like soybeans and castor oil to replace a portion of the petroleum-based ones found in both traditional and gel models. For many shoppers, that eases any safety concerns they might have about the material. The manufacturing process is less toxic, and the mattress itself will outgas fewer chemical vapors. Most plant-based foam mattresses are certified free from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), formaldehyde, phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
But that’s not the only benefit. Plant-based options tend to be temperature neutral because they are lighter than traditional or gem memory foams, so they’re more breathable. Instead of relying on body heat to mold to your body’s shape, plant-based types rely more on pressure. As a result, there’s a good chance that you’ll sleep cooler and more comfortable.
One of the most popular plant-based materials for foam mattresses is latex. Although there are synthetic versions of latex, it is becoming easier and less expensive to get a mattress made from natural latex. These mattresses may feature all-natural cotton or wool upholstery for added comfort, but it is not necessary.
They are also naturally hypoallergenic, repelling bacteria, mold, fungus, and dust mites. There are few chemicals used in the manufacturing process, so you can feel good about how the mattress was created.
Pick a safe sleep surface.
Density: What It Is and Why It’s Important
Density is one of the most important things to consider before you shell out for a new mattress.
What is it exactly? In scientific terms, density is weight divided by volume — in other words, how heavy an object is relative to how much space it takes up. A small object that’s heavy, like a rock, is very dense, but a large object that’s light, like a roll of bubble wrap, is not.
Memory foam is grouped into low-density, medium-density, and high-density models. All three types serve a purpose.
High-Density foams tend to be considered the highest quality. Higher density equals more support. It also means that your bed may last longer than one of a lower density.
High-density options have their drawbacks. For starters, they tend to be considerably more expensive since they require more material to produce. More density may also mean more heat retention since air circulation and breathability are reduced.
On the other end of the spectrum is low density. As you might’ve guessed, low-density options use less material. It provides a lighter level of support and isn’t as durable as their high-density counterparts.
On the upside, they tend to be less expensive. They also sleep cooler.
Medium-density models tend to fall somewhere in the middle. They offer a moderate amount of support and pressure relief, and they tend to rate satisfactory with regards to both heat retention and odor. Moreover, they’re priced to match, being less expensive than high-density options but more expensive than low-density options.
The Bounce-Back Rate
Memory foam is renowned for its ability to conform to your body’s curves and support your pressure points. It’s a key feature, but it can come at a cost.
That cost is the bounce-back rate or the amount of time it takes for the foam to regain its original shape. Remember, traditional models rely on body heat to conform to a sleeper’s curves, but these surfaces also tend to retain warmth. Even after you roll over or change positions, the residual heat stays in the foam, so the mattress stays molded. Once the heat dissipates, it goes back to a flat shape. In other words, it bounces back.
In traditional foams, this whole process takes about a minute. In the meantime, whatever impression you left in your mattress before you changed positions will still be there. That can cause some users to feel like they’re sinking or rolling back into the impression.
Not all models bounce back so slowly. Plant-based ones tend to regain their shape much faster — within just a couple of seconds. That’s because plant-based options rely more on pressure rather than heat to conform around you. Once you remove the pressure by changing positions or rolling over, the surface bounces back quickly since it’s not retaining any heat. Brands like Amerisleep, for instance, manufacture their eco-friendly foam using Variable Pressure Foaming (VPF), which helps make the bounce-back rate even faster.
The Qualities of the Best Memory Foam Mattress
How a mattress is layered can tell you a lot about whether it will be the best option for you. It’ll also help you figure out questions of durability. After all, a supremely comfortable bed is only worth it if it stands the test of time.
What should you know about foam layers? A retailer should be able to provide information about each layer and how dense they are, so you can judge whether their product will be a good fit for you.
Here are the basics you should pay attention to when shopping.
Any mattress worth its salt should have memory foam in the uppermost layer. Having this near the top will provide the most pressure relief. If you see poly foam or fiber batting, there’s a good chance that you’re dealing with a low-quality product.
Thickness is important here since the amount will determine how supported you feel. People who are on the smaller side, or who sleep on their back or stomach, will most likely feel comfortable with 2 to 3 inches of memory foam. More than that could feel overwhelming.
Larger people or those who sleep on their sides will need more support. In that case, 3 to 4 inches will likely be needed to provide enough cushioning and pressure point support.
The layers at the center play an essential role in both support and durability, so don’t skimp here. At the minimum, a quality mattress will have a core that’s at least 6 inches thick. But if you’re bigger or you sleep on your side, 7 to 8 inches will deliver even more support.
These might not seem that important, but the cover material can affect your overall comfort since different ones have different levels of breathability. Breathable fabrics like cotton, wool, and rayon allow air to flow in and out, making them the best choice. Look for something with some stretch, too. Rigid options won’t let your mattress fully contour to your body.
Another option worth considering is Celliant®, an advanced fabric made with breathable, thermos-reactive yarn. It’s determined by the FDA to temporarily promote increased blood flow at the site of application by safely converting body heat to infrared energy. This may be helpful for increasing comfort and promoting more restful sleep. You won’t find it everywhere, however. Among the models available, Amerisleep is one of the few manufacturers that employ this comfort technology.
Weighing Your Options
We’ve taken a close look at the factors that go into making a comfortable, durable, high-quality bed. Now, we’ll put it all together to figure out how you can find the very best mattress.
Find Your Right Density
Do you want high, medium, or low? If you’re larger or you sleep on your side, you may need more support than other sleepers. In that case, a high-density model may be the one for you. On the other hand, you’ll need a bit less support if you’re petite or you sleep on your back or stomach. In those cases, a lower-density model might be just right.
Of course, both high-density and low-density models come with some downsides. If you’d rather steer clear of those, a medium-density model might be best. It’ll strike a satisfactory balance between being supportive and durable while not sleeping too hot or causing odor issues. Moreover, the price will be more affordable.
Heat and Odor
These are two of the most common issues that people tend to have when they buy a new bed. Often, they complain that their sleep surface isn’t cool enough, causing them to feel sweaty and uncomfortable throughout the night. The other big problem is that the surface smells funny like they’re breathing in chemicals.
In general, these problems tend to crop up most often in traditional, high-density foams. If you tend to sleep hot or you find that you’re sensitive to odors, plant-based options that are of medium-density or low-density will likely be a better choice. These options have a more open design, allowing for maximum air circulation and breathability. That means less trapped body heat and odors, and more comfort.
Mattresses aren’t exactly cheap. No matter which type you buy, you want your mattress to last for as long as possible.
When considering durability, pay attention to density. Though a low-density material can come with upsides for some shoppers, it tends to be the least durable. If longevity is an important factor, you might want to think about picking a model with a medium density or greater.
EDITORS’ CHOICE FOR MOST HEAT-RESISTANT MATTRESS: Amerisleep AS5
When sleeping cool is a top priority, one of the best options out there is Amerisleep AS5. Engineered with extreme open-cell technology and a Celliant-infused mattress cover, it excels at keeping heat and sweat at bay.
The key is in Bio-Pur®, Amerisleep’s revolutionary plant-based foam. It has an advanced open-cell design, promoting for breathability. Air can move around freely while you sleep, preventing heat from building up. Beneath the layer of Bio-Pur® is a light, breathable layer of Active Flex which helps promote a cool night’s sleep.
The Celliant® mattress cover has an impact, too. Remember, this smart fabric is determined by the FDA to increase local blood flow at the site of the application in healthy individuals. That could help regulate body temperature further.
Is Memory Foam Toxic?
When deciding on memory foam versus other types of mattresses, many people run across concerns that the manufacturing process involved in creating this type of foam soaks toxic chemicals into the item, which leads to a chemical smell in new mattresses and may be hazardous. Rumors are that memory foam is made with dangerous flame-retardant chemicals, and formaldehyde or other toxic glue may be used to hold layers of foam together.
While it is possible your new foam mattress has some odor, you can guarantee that the chemicals used in the process are safe if the mattress features a certification from CertiPUR-US. Mattresses that have been approved by this organization do not contain ozone-depleting chemicals, mercury, lead, heavy metals, or formaldehyde, so you do not have to worry about inhaling or absorbing toxic substances while you sleep.
If you are still concerned about off-gassing of toxic chemicals from your new mattress, the Sleep Products Safety Council (SPSC) recommends allowing the new mattress to air out for a full 24 hours before you sleep on it. Your body heat helps the mattress conform to your body, but that may also change some of the chemicals on the mattress, leading to the emission of strange chemical odors. By airing the mattress out, any remaining chemical smell will waft away. Safety experts note that there have been no reported negative reactions to new memory foam mattresses.
Other Smart Guidelines
There may be other factors that are worth considering, too. As you weigh your options, you’ll also want to ask yourself these questions:
Is This a Good Value?
Don’t automatically opt for the cheapest bed you can find or discount one because it’s at the top of your price range. Instead, think about value. Will the bed deliver superior comfort for the money? Does it seem like it will last for a long time? More expensive mattresses aren’t always the best option but sometimes paying a little bit more can be worth it.
What Do the Reviews Say?
Reviews can be valuable, especially when you’re buying online. But they’re only helpful if they come from legitimate sources. For a brand’s review to be trustworthy, they should come from a verified third-party reviewer/verified buyer system. Steer clear of cherry-picked “testimonial” reviews. Often, these only highlight the most positive reviews and don’t give you a balanced view of the product.
What’s the Guarantee?
Higher-quality beds tend to be backed by more generous guarantee policies while lower-quality models may have guarantee policies that are stingy or even nonexistent. If a manufacturer believes that their product is legit, they’ll be willing to stand by it and make things right if you aren’t satisfied.
Ideally, you should look for 10 years of full replacement coverage. Also, check the manufacturer’s return policy, especially if you plan to buy online. It can take at least a few weeks to get a feel for how comfortable (or uncomfortable) a mattress is. That’s why it’s in your best interest to buy from a store or manufacturer that offers a trial period of 90 days or longer.
Best Memory Foam Mattress Models
We took a deep dive into what makes for a high-quality sleep surface and how those factors can play into your buying decision. So now, the big question is: Which mattresses make the cut?
Our recommendation for best memory foam mattress is Amerisleep’s AS3. For further reading check out our post on the best mattress reviews plus which beds to avoid.
Here’s a look at how this model stacked up against the other most popular picks.
|Mattress||Average Owner Satisfaction Rate||Price, Queen||Issues reported||Warranty||Trial Period
|Amerisleep AS3||98%||$1,199||3% (heat)
|2% (durability)||20 years||100 days
|Sealy Optimum Elation Gold||76%||$2,124||11% (heat)
|18% (durability)||10 years||Depends on retailer
|Serta iComfort Prodigy III||74%||$2,074||6% (heat)
|20% (durability)||10 years||120 days
|Tempurpedic TEMPUR-Cloud Luxe||81%||$3,699||13% (heat)
|6% (durability)||10 years||90 days
Now, It’s Time to Make Your Decision
You’ve armed yourself with all of the facts you need to make an informed purchase that you’ll love. Now, it’s time to make your pick. Of course, you’ll need to consider the factors that are the most important to you—including your sleep style and budget.
But the reviews suggest that you can’t go wrong with Amerisleep’s AS3, which has a breathable, plant-based material and offers a medium firmness that’s suitable for most sleeping styles. And if you’d prefer something softer, Amerisleep’s AS4 is another solid choice worth considering. Both meet all the criteria for a great memory foam mattress and have a track record of delivering solid, long-lasting comfort.
What Is Viscoelasticity? Viscoelasticity: All About Viscoelasticity of Plastics in Solid and Molten Phase.
Viscoelastic (Memory) Foam. (2016). In.Touch: Published by the Polyurethane Foam Association.
Open Cell vs. Closed Cell Foam. The Sleep Judge.
Visco Elastic Memory Foam: What Is Visco Elastic Memory Foam? US-Mattress.
Do Gel Mattresses Deliver? (April 16, 2013). Best Mattress Brand.
How Does Plant-Based Memory Foam Compare to Traditional? Sleep Junkie.
Is Memory Foam Bad for Your Health? (October 19, 2015). 4Sleep.
Memory Foam: Pros and Cons. (February 8, 2010). WebMD.
Latex Mattresses – History, Construction, Allergy Concerns. Purple.