The Best Memory Foam Mattress 2021

Updated on January 27, 2021 While all product recommendations are chosen independently, we may receive compensation for purchases made through our site. Learn more about our affiliate program here.
 

First created in the 1970s, memory foam is a remarkable material. It was originally invented by NASA researchers who needed a material with specialized performance that could be used as padding for astronauts on shuttle missions. Now, this material has wide commercial applications including in mattresses, pillows, mattress toppers, and more.

The defining characteristic of memory foam, also known as viscoelastic foam, is its responsiveness. Its shape compresses to fit the person who is on it, hugging the body according to how weight is applied to the foam. In mattresses, this has allowed memory foam to gain tremendous popularity for its comfort and its ability to properly cushion the body’s main pressure points.

As memory foam has become more and more popular as a mattress material, the number of options on the market using memory foam has exploded. For many shoppers, this can make the process of choosing a mattress intimidating or overwhelming.

In this guide, we make the process simple. We’ve gone through the reviews and mattress specifications to identify the top five memory foam mattresses available today. We’ll introduce those mattresses and discuss why they made our list. In the second part of the guide, we’ll go into detail about the different types of memory foam, the components of a memory foam mattress, and other useful information that can empower you to find the best mattress for your bedroom.

What Are the Best Memory Foam Mattresses?

Memory foam has become such a common material in mattresses that there are a head-spinning number of options that you can find either in-store or online. While the popularity of this material is well-deserved, not all memory foam mattresses are worth your hard-earned dollars.

To help guide you to a great choice, we’ve selected our top 5 best memory foam mattresses. A quick introduction to these mattresses — listed in no particular order — is in the table below.

ManufacturerModelFirmnessPrice (Queen)
Layla2 Sides: Medium (4-5) and Firm (7-8)$1,049
NectarMedium Firm (6)$1,198
Emma OriginalMedium Firm (6)$674
eLuxury eLuxMedium Firm (6)$660
Snuggle-Pedic Deluxe Memory Foam MattressMedium Firm (6)$1,300
PandaZzz Premium Memory Foam MattressMedium Firm (6)$649
Cariloha Classic Bamboo MattressMedium Firm (6)$1,100

Layla

Why we like it:

  • Flippable design features two firmness options in one
  • Copper-infused memory foam has cooling properties
  • Budget-friendly price point
  • Lifetime warranty

New Orange Layla Logo

layla mattress

Layla offers a flippable memory foam mattress that includes two firmness options in one. This dual-sided design provides two distinct sleeping experiences, making this a great option for those torn between a soft and firm memory foam mattress.

One side is rated as medium (4-5 on the firmness scale) while the other side is firm (7-8). The medium side features a comfort layer consisting of a 3-inch layer of copper-infused memory foam and a 2-inch transition layer of convoluted polyfoam. The firm side has a comfort layer of 1 inch of copper-infused memory foam that sits directly on top of the support core of 4.5 inches of high-density polyfoam. The total height of the Layla is 10 inches, and the cover is a polyester blend infused with ThermoGel cooling fabric.

On either side of the mattress, the Layla provides conforming from the memory foam, although the amount of hug and sink will be more pronounced on the medium side. Regardless of your firmness preference, the comfort system on each side can relieve pressure and support a healthy spinal position. The copper infusion works to resist heat buildup, fight the growth of bacteria, and may enhance bodily recovery.

The Layla mattress comes with a 120-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty that protects against any defects in materials or manufacturing. Combined with an affordable price point of $999, the Layla’s innovative design makes it a top pick among memory foam mattresses.

Nectar Mattress

Why we like it:

  • Excellent contouring and support for spinal alignment
  • Minimal heat retention
  • Affordable price point
  • 365-night sleep trial and lifetime warranty

Nectar logo

Nectar Mattress

Though it is among the lowest-priced mattresses on our list, the Nectar delivers a fantastic sleeping experience that provides the kind of conforming and comfort that sleepers have come to expect from memory foam.

This medium firm mattress (a 6 on the typical firmness scale) has four foam layers. The top layer is 1 inch of memory foam quilted into the cover. The second layer is 3 inches of high-density, gel-infused memory foam. The third layer is a transition foam with a thickness of 1.75 inches, and the bottom is 5.25 inches of support polyfoam.

The two memory foam layers that make up the comfort system allow the mattress to contour to the body and keep the spine and neck in alignment. At the same time, the use of gel-infused foam and a breathable cover made with Tencel fabric decrease heat retention and reduce the risk of sleeping hot.

Two other factors make the Nectar mattress especially appealing: its price tag and its sleep trial. This mattress can be purchased for $799 for a Queen, which is significantly less than other top memory foam mattresses. In addition, it comes with a 365-night sleep trial that gives you a full year to test out the mattress and determine if it is the right fit for you. With these extra benefits that differentiate it from many other memory foam options, the Nectar stands out as one of the top 5 best memory foam mattresses.

Emma Original

Why we like it:

  • Balanced, medium firm feel
  • Mixed-foam design offers even contouring without excess sink
  • Convoluted support core helps to keep the mattress cool
  • Very good motion isolation for couples

Emma Logo

Emma Mattress

The Emma Original is an appealing mattress thanks in part to its balanced construction. Measuring 12 inches thick with a medium firm (6) feel, the mattress contours to a noticeable extent without excessive body-hugging or sinkage. A comfort layer of adaptive polyfoam over a memory foam transitional layer, so the feel of this mattress is best described as sleeping “in” and sleeping “on” the surface at the same time. 

The support core is composed of high-density polyfoam that provides good overall stability. This layer is convoluted, creating small air channels that promote circulation to maintain a comfortable temperature for the mattress. Above-average airflow, along with a breathable cover, allow the Emma Original to sleep noticeably cooler than many competing memory foam models.

The mattress is also a great choice for people who lose sleep due to their partner’s movements in bed. The foam layers absorb motion and eliminate most transfer across the surface, leading to fewer disruptions when the other person changes positions or gets out of bed. Like other all-foam beds, the Emma Original is also completely silent.

An approachable price-point makes the Emma Original ideal for shoppers on a budget. All customers in the lower 48 states receive free shipping with their order, as well as a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty against structural defects.  

eLuxury eLux 

Why we like it:

  • Thick memory foam comfort layer for even contouring and weight distribution
  • Medium firm feel balances cushioning and support
  • Absorbs motion and reduces transfer
  • Budget-friendly price-point

The eLuxury eLux is a high-quality memory foam mattress that’s also easy on your budget. The comfort layer consists of gel-infused memory foam measuring 3 inches thick to ensure even body-contouring. That said, the mattress is medium firm (6.5) and excessive sinkage shouldn’t be an issue for side and back sleepers who weigh 130 pounds or more.

The eLux also contains 2 inches of transitional high-density polyfoam to reinforce the comfort layer and prevent you from sinking too deeply, followed by another 5 inches of high-density foam for extra stability. Since the mattress measures 10 inches thick, it should be suitable for anyone who has a hard time getting in and out of taller high-profile beds.

Motion isolation is another strength of the eLux. This can be attributed to its thick comfort layer, which absorbs motion quite well and nearly eliminates disruptive surface-level transfer. As a result, you should be able to sleep soundly regardless of your partner’s movements.

Compared to the average memory foam mattress, the eLux is exceptionally low-priced. Shipping is also free throughout the lower 48 states, and each purchase comes with a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

Snuggle-Pedic Deluxe Memory Foam Mattress

Why we like it:

  • Thick memory foam layer contours and alleviates pressure along the spine
  • Ventilated foam layers help the mattress stay cool
  • Wide size selection
  • 20-year warranty

The Deluxe Memory Foam Mattress from Snuggle-Pedic is a standout memory foam bed thanks in part to its exceptional temperature control. The 3-inch memory foam comfort layer is ventilated with small holes to generate airflow near the surface, while the high-density polyfoam support core is cut with channels for added circulation throughout the mattress core. The cover, made from a breathable blend of rayon from bamboo and polyester, helps with surface cooling. This mattress should be a good fit for anyone who has felt uncomfortably warm on other memory foam beds.

The Deluxe Memory Foam Mattress is medium firm (6) and conforms to a minimal extent, but sleepers should still feel the material molding evenly to the contours of their body. This can improve alignment for side sleepers and reduce pressure points along the spine. Back and stomach sleepers in the range of 130-230 pounds should also be able to rest comfortably without sinking too much around the midsection or waist.

The cover can be unzipped and removed if any of the individual layers need to be replaced. Since the mattress is covered under a 20-year warranty, this means you’ll be able to exchange materials that become saggy or develop indentations over time, ensuring a decent overall lifespan. 

The Deluxe Memory Foam Mattress is available in eight different sizes, including two RV-friendly options for sleepers on the road. All buyers in the contiguous U.S. qualify for free ground shipping, and will receive a sleep trial that allows them to test out the mattress for up to 120 nights. 

PandaZzz Premium Memory Foam Mattress

Why we like it:

  • Dual memory foam layers offer excellent contouring and pressure relief
  • Reduces transfer to reduce disruptions for couples
  • Quilted jacquard cover creates a luxuriously plush feel
  • 2 free pillows with purchase

The PandaZzz Premium Memory Foam Mattress – also known as the Panda Classic – checks a lot of boxes for people who enjoy the signature feel of a memory foam bed. Two individual memory foam layers deliver precise body-contouring and even weight distribution, but the mattress has a medium firm (6) feel so excessive sinkage is unlikely for those who weigh up to 230 pounds.

The cover is another standout feature. The top panel consists of quilted jacquard fabric woven with cooling yarns to create a surface feel that is both plush and comfortably cool. Additionally, a no-slip bottom cover infused with silicon balls helps stabilize the mattress during the night. 

People who tend to wake up when their partner moves around in bed should be able to sleep soundly on the Panda Classic. The foam layers absorb movement and nearly eliminate transfer across the surface, and the mattress is completely silent when in use. 

The price-point for this mattress is quite reasonable given its luxurious design. Every order within the U.S. is free of charge, and you’ll also receive two complimentary pillows with your purchase. The PandaZzz Premium Memory Foam Mattress is backed by a 100-night trial period and a 10-year warranty.

Cariloha Classic Bamboo Mattress

Why we like it:

    Exceptionally breathable, bamboo-infused memory foam
  • Side wedges improve edge support and reduce sinkage
  • Base foam is convoluted for added cooling
  • Ideal for couples and co-sleepers

Cariloha Logo

The Cariloha Classic Bamboo Mattress combines the reliably comfortable feel of a memory foam bed with innovative features meant to enhance your sleeping experience. The comfort layer is constructed from memory foam infused with bamboo charcoal, a very breathable material that helps the mattress sleep cool despite the foam’s heat-absorbing properties. The cover is made of viscose from bamboo for added breathability and a silky-soft surface feel.

Many memory foam beds sag along the edges due to weak edge support. The Classic Bamboo Mattress remedies this issue with high-density foam wedges located on both sides. These wedges provide push-back when you sleep near or sit along the edges, making it easier to get on and off the mattress. The support core is composed of convoluted high-density foam, which also helps to stabilize the mattress.

The Classic Bamboo Mattress is medium firm (6), so it is best suited to side sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds and back sleepers who weigh up to 230 pounds. The memory foam contours slightly yet evenly to alleviate aches, pains, and pressure points in the shoulders, hips, and other sensitive areas along the spine. Like other memory foam models, the Classic Bamboo Mattress also excels at motion isolation to help couples sleep better.

Ground shipping is free for all orders of $100 or more within the contiguous U.S., and Cariloha also offers White Glove delivery for an extra fee. The Classic Bamboo Mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

Memory Foam Mattress Buying Guide

While you can choose a great memory foam bed by selecting one of our top picks, we know that many of our readers want to know the details about memory foam and make an informed choice about whether it’s the right material for their bed. In the following sections, we’ll go in-depth about memory foam mattresses, describing their components, benefits, downsides, and how they compare to other mattress types.

What is Memory Foam?

Memory foam is the name given to a specific material called viscoelastic foam. First produced by NASA, the material was invented to provide proportional cushioning for astronauts in high-stress environments.

Two key features are common to viscoelastic foam. The first is that it is highly responsive, which means that it compresses more in places where more weight is applied. When the weight is removed, it slowly retakes its original shape, giving the sense that it “remembers” the impression left by the body.

A second feature is that the mattress becomes softer when it gets warmer. This means that when foam takes on heat from the body, it can conform even more, offering even deeper hug.

Not all viscoelastic foam is exactly like the foam that was originally developed for NASA. Over time, memory foam formulations have been tweaked to fit specific consumer applications and needs, including in mattresses.

What Are the Types of Memory Foam?

New modifications and innovations have come to the production of memory foam, and you may find a reference to some of these distinct types of memory foam as you shop for a new mattress. These are the most common names for these subtypes of memory foam and what they mean:

  • Traditional memory foam has the fewest differences from the type that has been on the market for decades. It has lots of conforming and motion isolation.
  • Open-cell memory foam follows the same basic idea as traditional memory foam but with a more airy structure to permit greater ventilation.
  • Plant-based memory foam replaces some of the petrochemicals used in making traditional memory foam with plant-based oils. In terms of performance, the plant-based foams are quite similar to traditional and open-cell memory foams.
  • Gel-infused memory foam infuses a gel material into the foam to reduce heat retention. The gel may be swirled throughout the foam or may be placed inside beads that are interspersed in the foam. The gel may use heat-resistant materials like graphite in its composition.
  • Copper-infused memory foam places small amounts of copper material into beads that are spread throughout the foam. Copper can help decrease heat retention and may have positive effects on the body as well.

What is Memory Foam Density and ILD?

Another way that memory foam is described is based on its density and its ILD.

Density is a straightforward measurement of how much a cubic foot of the foam weighs in pounds. The denser the foam, the heavier it is. Higher density tends to equate to a more robust and durable foam. In the comfort system, we usually look for a memory foam to have a density of 3.5 PCF or higher.

Keep in mind, though, that different types of foam will naturally have different density. For example, polyfoam can be durable with a lower PCF than memory foam. As a result, most support cores are made with polyfoam with a density around 1.8 PCF. This is considered high-density for this type of foam, but for memory foam it would be low-density.

Indentation load deflection (ILD) is a measurement of the amount of pressure required to create a specific depth of indentation in a mattress. The higher the ILD, the firmer the mattress.

While ILD can give a rough idea of the firmness of a mattress, remember that it is affected by how thick the memory foam is and the temperature of the foam. For most memory foams, an ILD of 10-12 is soft, 13-15 is medium, and 16 or higher is firm. Keep in mind that the ILD is for one layer, but the feel of the mattress as a whole is determined by the way that the various layers work in conjunction with one another.

What Are the Components of a Memory Foam Mattress?

Most memory foam mattresses are not made entirely of this material. Instead, the memory foam forms one important component of the mattress as a whole. Overall, these mattresses are made up of several parts.

Comfort System

The comfort system is the component that most directly influences your perception of the comfort and support provided by the mattress. The comfort system can be just one layer or may be composed of multiple layers that work in concert.

In a memory foam mattress, memory foam is a principal material in the comfort system. This allows the mattress to take advantage of the responsiveness, pressure relief, and motion isolation of memory foam.

Transition Layer

Not all memory foam mattresses will have a transition layer; however, many include it to add a degree of bounce to the bed. A transition layer, usually made with polyfoam, can, as the name implies, help smooth out the difference in feel between the softer comfort system and sturdier support core.

Support Core

The support core is the base of the mattress. It normally constitutes around half to two-thirds of the mattress and creates a level of stability and sturdiness for the whole bed. In almost all memory foam mattresses, the support core is made with a high-density polyfoam. This polyfoam has very little contouring, so it provides a backstop against too much sinking of the layers above it.

Cover

The cover goes around the exterior of the mattress. Most mattresses have a uniform cover, but some have a different material on the top than on the sides or bottom. Many covers are selected for being breathable materials including cotton, wool, rayon, and certain types of polyester.

What Does it Feel Like to Sleep on a Memory Foam Mattress?

Memory foam mattresses are popular because their superior contour ability makes the mattress feel customized to the sleeper’s body.

Memory foam reacts to the pressure and heat of your body, so regardless of your sleeping position or body weight, it can cushion the body in proportion with how your weight is distributed on the sleeping surface. This helps to keep your spine aligned by offering more support to pressure points and heavier areas of the body.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Memory Foam Mattresses?

Memory foam mattresses come with pros and cons, and knowing these can help you determine whether a memory foam mattress is a good fit for you. Pros Cons Pros

Pros
Cons
Pros
Excellent contour ability

Memory foam beds are the best mattresses at providing deep contouring. They are highly responsive and conform to the body, providing a feeling of hug that feels customized to you.

Comfortable, supportive sleeping surface

Memory foam mattresses provide excellent pressure point relief. They react according to the pressure exerted on them, allowing them to evenly distribute your weight and keep your spine aligned and supported while asleep.

Superior motion isolation

For couples and people who are easily disturbed when sleeping, memory foam offers excellent motion isolation. Virtually no movement on another part of the mattress is transferred to other parts of the bed.

Quiet

Memory foam beds are virtually noiseless and won’t have the squeaks associated with traditional innerspring mattresses.

Cons
Temperature regulation

One of the biggest complaints about memory foam mattresses is their propensity for heat retention. The flip side of their excellent contour ability is that they also wrap and envelop your body, trapping your body heat and blocking airflow that could cool you down. The foam itself builds up heat as well, and as it does so, it gets even softer, hugging the body even more. As a result, people who tend to sleep hot can have significant problems with memory foam beds.

Temperature regulation problems are most significant with traditional memory foam. Open-cell, gel-infused, and copper-infused memory foams all attempt to reduce heat retention through modifications in how the foam is produced. In most cases, these do help to reduce overheating, but some hot sleepers may still find these beds to be too warm.

Too much hug / feeling stuck in the mattress

While the sinking feeling is beloved by memory foam bed aficionados, it can be a drawback for some sleepers. Some people feel as though they are sleeping “in” the mattress or that they are stuck in one place. People with higher body weight (over 230 pounds) tend to find this to be especially problematic, particularly if the mattress is less firm overall. If you want only minimal conforming to the body, a memory foam mattress may not be a good fit.

Lack of bounce can be unsuitable for sex

Memory foam slowly retakes its shape when weight is removed from it, and compared to latex or innerspring mattresses, memory foam beds have minimal bounce. This can have the effect of making it hard to move on top of the mattress, which can pose a barrier to sexual activity.

Initial off-gassing odor

The foam manufacturing process creates volatile organic compound (VOC) particles that get released when the mattress is unwrapped. These are harmless but have a strong odor that many people find unpleasant. Fortunately, this odor goes away within a few hours to a few days. Memory foam mattresses with thick comfort layers have the strongest smell, while plant-based foam beds usually have the least.

Limited edge support

The nature of memory foam and the way it compresses makes these mattresses susceptible to problems with edge support. Foams will always compress the most around the exterior, so with some memory foams, it can feel unstable when sitting or sleeping near the edge of the bed.

How Much Does a Memory Foam Mattress Cost?

The price of a memory foam mattress can vary significantly, but the average for a quality Queen-size memory foam mattress is between $800 and $1,200. The total price for any specific mattress will depend on the size, foam thickness, foam quality, special features, and the composition of other mattress layers.

How Long Does a Memory Foam Mattress Last?

On average, a quality memory foam mattress should last 6-8 years.

Factors that impact the bed’s durability include the types of foam used, the density of the foam, and the thickness of each layer. Higher-density foams have a longer lifespan, especially if they are in thicker layers.

Almost every memory foam mattress will come with a warranty that lasts for 10 years or more. The warranty generally will not cover minor indentations or wear-and-tear, but if the memory foam or another material is defective, there should be a remedy under the warranty.

What Type of Sleeper is Best Suited to a Memory Foam Mattress?

Certain types of sleepers find that memory find is more likely to be a fit for their needs:

  • Lightweight sleepers (under 130 pounds) can benefit from the contouring abilities of a memory foam mattress and usually don’t have issues with feeling stuck in the mattress.
  • Side sleepers, who have major pressure points at the hips and shoulders, tend to appreciate the responsiveness of memory foam and the way it can promote spinal alignment.
  • Stomach and back sleepers can take advantage of the conforming of memory foam but usually, need a firmer comfort feel (7 or higher on the typical firmness scale).
  • Couples tend to love the motion isolation and quiet performance from memory foam. This becomes even more helpful if one or more people are prone to be easily woken up during the night.

Some sleepers generally don’t find memory foam mattresses to be the best option for their needs.

  • Hot sleepers frequently struggle with the way that memory foam can retain heat and reduce airflow around the body, although this problem is less pronounced with some newer types of memory foam.
  • Heavier sleepers (over 230 pounds) can find memory foam to permit too much sink, but if a firmer, denser foam is used in the comfort system, these sleepers may be happy with the support offered by memory foam.

How Does Memory Foam Compare to Other Mattress Types?

To understand whether a memory foam bed is going to be the best for you, it may be helpful to think about how they compare to other types of mattresses.

Memory Foam vs. Latex

Both memory foam and latex are conforming materials that can properly cushion the body’s pressure points, although memory foam tends to have more contour. One of the biggest differences has to do with resilience. Memory foam slowly regains its original form while latex rapidly springs back. This makes latex feel bouncier and makes it less likely to feel like you are sinking into the bed. Because of the nature of the material, memory foam has a greater tendency to retain heat and to inhibit motion (including sex) on top of the mattress. Latex is typically heavier, more expensive, and transfers more motion than memory foam.

Memory Foam vs. Innerspring

Innerspring mattresses are made with a support core of metal coils and are the most traditional style of mattress. Memory foam mattresses tend to get higher customer satisfaction ratings than innersprings. For many consumers, this is because memory foam is considerably better at contouring to the body and relieving pressure points. Innerspring mattresses have more bounce and fewer issues with sleeping hot or with off-gassing, but they do transfer more motion. Innerspring mattresses are usually less expensive, but many have weaker materials that are likely to be less durable than a well-made, high-density memory foam mattress.

Memory Foam vs. Hybrid

Like an innerspring mattress, a hybrid has a support core that is made up of metal coils, but a hybrid has a thicker comfort system above those coils. In some cases, the comfort layer in a hybrid is in fact made with memory foam. The performance of a hybrid is more variable than that of a memory foam mattress precisely because there is more diversity in their design and construction. In general, though, a hybrid will offer more bounce and often more edge support than an all-foam mattress with memory foam. Depending on the thickness of the comfort layer, a memory foam mattress may offer a greater level of contouring and motion isolation.

Memory Foam Mattress FAQ Checklist

The following checklist of questions may be helpful to you as you shop for a memory foam mattress:

  • How thick is the comfort system?
  • What types of foams are used in the mattress?
  • What is the firmness level of the mattress? Is the ILD listed?
  • Are there any design features to help reduce heat retention?
  • Will the amount of contouring and the firmness feel work for my body type and sleeping position?
  • Is motion isolation an important feature for my situation?
  • What is the lifespan of the mattress? Is the foam density listed?
  • Is there a trial period and what is the return policy?
  • How long is the warranty and what is covered?
  • Does the brand have a good reputation for customer service?

Additional Resources

Not sure about a memory foam mattress? Check out our guides to other mattress types:

Top picks

1Layla$1,049
2Nectar$1,198
3Emma Original$674
4eLuxury eLux Mattress$660
5Snuggle-Pedic Deluxe Memory Foam Mattress$1,300
6PandaZzz Premium Memory Foam Mattress$649
7Cariloha Classic Bamboo Mattress$1,100
*Prices without discount/promo applied.
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