Learn what to look for to find a great mattress and buy the most comfortable bed for you
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 that you’re making a great choice. The material’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 to prevent—pain in your shoulders, neck, and back.
Of course, all of the options and features make it tough to figure out which bed is the best one for you. But weeding out the good from the bad doesn’t have to be complicated. To learn more about finding the best option, just keep reading.
The #1 Best Memory Foam Mattress: Amerisleep AS3
There are a lot of options out there when it comes to manufacturers offering this popular material. But the one that consistently stands out from the pack is Amerisleep. This online-based brand has broken through thanks to its proprietary plant-based foam known for its superior comfort and durability. Since they’re based online, the brand is able to offer their high-quality beds at a lower price–giving customers an excellent value.
All of Amerisleep’s beds have earned excellent feedback from thousands of customers. In fact, the brand’s AS3 model won out as the best bed of 2018—outperforming other beds that cost twice as much. Touted as one of the best options for back pain, it’s a medium-firm option that many customers say offers unparalleled support for a truly comfortable night’s sleep. It’s received an average customer feedback rating of 4.7 out of 5 from more than 2,500 verified buyers. And it’s more affordable than many of the other options out there.
Of course, Amerisleep prides itself on delivering the most comfortable option for all sleepers. So the brand offers a range of options designed to meet the needs of a range of different sleep types. For those looking for something softer, the AS4 is another top pick. This medium-soft model is equipped with more plush cushioning, making it an outstanding choice for side sleepers. And like the AS3, it’s a terrific value with a highly competitive price point. But don’t just take our word for it: Consider the 4.7 out of 5 star rating the bed has earned from nearly 700 satisfied customers.
Learn about Amerisleep’s unparalleled design:
What is memory foam?
What makes this type of bed different from traditional spring models? That’s a good question. Memory foam is a soft, moldable material. Heat and pressure from your body cause it to conform to your body’s curves while ensuring that your body weight stays evenly distributed.
It’s this personalized moldability–memory foam’s ability to shape itself around you–that leads to maximum comfort. That’s why it’s a great choice for relieving and preventing pain—and helping you get the quality sleep you need.
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
Still, is it really that superior? The fact is, many people swear by these beds. Here are some of the top reasons why they’re 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 individual shape means that it can minimize 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 its 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. So if your partner shifts positions or gets out of bed, you won’t notice their movement. Can’t say that about a spring mattress can you?
- It’s hypoallergenic. If you suffer from allergies, foam may be the right choice for you. The materials and density help to 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. And you’ll be comfortably supported whether you sleep flat or at an angle.
- It’s easy to take care of. 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 dust mites, mold, and other gunk, a foam-based model can stay comfortable and clean for longer than a spring one. In fact, high quality ones 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 regular, 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.
But there are also some downsides to know about. This type tends to trap heat more efficiently, so some people find that it sleeps too hot for their comfort. It also recovers its shape at a slower rate, which could make changing positions in the middle of the night difficult.
The other big factor? Viscoelastic polyurethane foam is petroleum-based. So 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 that 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. In the end, whether you decide to use it or not is really a matter of personal preference.
If you’re concerned that a traditional model would simply sleep too hot, this type is another option to consider. 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.
That’s the theory, anyway. Unfortunately, there’s not much scientific evidence showing that gel mattresses actually sleep cooler than their traditional counterparts. But 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 in terms of breathability. Sleep Like The Dead says there is a small difference (2%), but primarily only for beds with 2”+ 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.
Why? Plant-based foams rely on botanical ingredients like soybeans to replace a portion of the petroleum-based ones found in both traditional and gel models. For many shoppers, that eases any safety concerns that they might have about the material.
But that’s not the only benefit. Plant-based options tend to be temperature neutral, so they’re more breathable and less heat-trapping than traditional as well as gel models. Instead of relying on body heat to mold to your body’s shape, plant-based types rely more on pressure. So there’s a good chance that you’ll sleep cooler and more comfortably.
Pick a safe sleep surface.
Density: What it is and why it’s important
Next to type, density is one of the most important things to consider before you shell out for a new mattress.
So 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.
Polyurethane foams are classified by their density. Memory foam is grouped into low, medium, or high density models. All three types can be comfortable. It just depends on what you’re looking for.
Higher density foams tend to be considered the highest quality. More density means that the core of your mattress will provide a greater level of firmness, and therefore, support. It’ll also be sturdier and more durable, which means that your bed may last longer than one of a lower density.
Higher density options have their drawbacks, though. 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 greater density reduces air circulation and breathability. It could make odor more of an issue as well.
On the other end of the spectrum is low density. As you might’ve guessed, low density options use less material. So they provide a lighter level of support and aren’t as durable as their high-density counterparts.
On the up side? They tend to be less expensive. They also sleep cooler and are less susceptible to odor.
Medium density models tend to fall somewhere in the middle. They offer a moderate amount of support and pressure relief, and tend to rate satisfactory with regards to both heat retention and odor. And they’re priced to match—with options being less expensive than high density but more expensive than low density.
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 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 a lot of warmth. So 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 unmolds and 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, though. 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.
How the best memory foam mattresses are made
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.
So 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 that 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” of 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 6” will likely be needed to provide enough cushioning and pressure point support.
The layers at the center play an important role in both support and durability—so don’t skimp here. At minimum, a quality mattress will have a core that’s at least 6” thick. But if you’re bigger or you sleep on your side, 8” to 9” will help 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 are 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, thermoreactive yarn. It’s designated by the FDA to temporarily promote increased blood flow at the site of application to safely convert body heat to infrared energy. This may be helpful for increasing comfort and promoting more restful sleep. You won’t find it everywhere, though. 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 if you sleep on your back or stomach. In those cases, a lower density model might be just right.
Of course, both high 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. And 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 some kind of chemical cocktail.
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- or low-density will likely be a better choice. These options have a more open design, which allows for maximum air circulation and breathability. That means less trapped body heat and odors—and more comfort.
Mattresses aren’t exactly cheap. So no matter which type you buy, you want it to last for as long as possible.
When considering durability, pay attention to density. Though a low-density material can come with up sides for some shoppers, it tends to be the least durable. So if longevity is an important factor, you might want to think about picking a model with a medium density or greater.
The #1 Most Heat-Resistant Mattress: Amerisleep AS4
When sleeping cool is a top priority, one of the best options out there is Amerisleep’s AS4. 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 extreme open-cell design, which allows for breathability. Air can move around freely while you sleep, preventing heat from building up. The Celliant-infused mattress cover has an impact, too. Remember, this smart fabric is designated by the FDA to increase local blood flow at the site of the application in healthy individuals. That could help regulate body temperature further.
Of course, no mattress is perfect. But hundreds of happy customers can’t be wrong. Among the nearly 500 verified reviews, this bed earned a 4.7 out of 5 stars overall.
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 are the reviews like?
Reviews can be valuable, especially when you’re buying online. But they’re only helpful if they come from legitimate sources. In order for a brand’s review to be trustworthy, they should come from a third-party verified 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 policy?
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 really 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.
The 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?
Earlier this year, Mattress Inquirer conducted an in-depth review and comparison of the best and worst models of 2018. Among the four highest-rated brands, it concluded that Amerisleep’s AS3 offered the most satisfaction and the greatest value.
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)|
|20 years||100 days|
|Sealy Optimum Elation Gold||76%||$2,124||11% (heat)|
|10 years||Depends on retailer|
|Serta iComfort Prodigy III||74%||$2,074||6% (heat)|
|10 years||120 days|
|Tempurpedic TEMPUR-Cloud Luxe||81%||$3,699||13% (heat)|
|10 years||90 days|
Want to learn even more?
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.