Memory Foam Mattresses Buying Guide

You've probably heard of memory foam, which is appearing not only in mattresses but also in sofa cushions, bath mats, even the inner soles of shoes. It's a dense foam that sinks when you depress it with your hand, quickly fills in around your fingers, then returns to its original form when you pull your hand away.

Types of Memory Foam Mattresses

Types of Memory Foam Mattresses

A memory foam mattress is a variation on the standard foam mattress. Chemicals are added to make the foam visco-elastic, which means it responds to pressure (say from a body part) then returns to its original state when the pressure is removed. The additional chemicals that make this possible also make memory foam heavier and denser than regular foam. The advantage to the visco-elastic properties is that the foam contours to the angles and curves of your body, providing continuous and stable support and eliminating pressure spots. Here are the types of memory foam mattresses.


Because of memory foam's popularity, nearly every mattress store now carries a version of a memory foam mattress. Companies make these mattresses using the general memory foam method, which adds certain chemicals to polyurethane foam. Then they construct the mattress using this material and possibly other foam layers. The methods vary a bit from company to company, so you'll want to test out the mattresses as you would standard mattresses to find the one most comfortable for you.


Companies such as the well-known Swedish manufacturer Tempur-Pedic make only their version of memory foam, and the particular methods and chemical constitution is proprietary. The company researches and develops its own techniques, which it does not share with others. You'll experience the same sleep surface from one Tempur-Pedic outlet to another.


Because memory foam mattresses respond to body heat, they grow warmer the longer you sleep on them. To offer an option to customers who find this uncomfortable, companies offer cooling versions, which may mean the mattress is ventilated with air pockets, is wrapped in a breathable cover, includes a gel mat, or is designed with a channeling system to funnel body heat away from the surface.

Depth Variety

Like traditional innerspring mattresses, memory foam mattresses range in depth from 8 inches to as much as 20 inches. The thicker mattresses have more layers of foam and may include a combination of memory foam and regular foam to gain the benefits of each. Anything thinner than 8 inches is considered a topper and is meant to go on top of another mattress.

Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

Memory foam mattresses have been very popular and gained a loyal customer base, but here are a few concerns to bear in mind as you shop.


These beds are expensive and can easily cost more than a luxury pillow-top innerspring mattress. There are bargains out there, but you may not know exactly what kind of memory foam material you are getting with a low-cost version.


Memory foam mattresses are very heavy and unwieldy. As a result, you'll need a bed frame that can hold up to the weight. One advantage to these mattresses is that they don't need box springs. However, they do require a base, which is a rigid support, and you may want to add a platform base to elevate the mattress to a comfortable height. Also, make sure you know how you'll get the mattress into your bedroom and where you'll position it before you purchase it. If possible, have the mattress delivered and set up by professionals.

Hot Sleep Surface

The dense foam pad responds to body heat, and as a result, the surface of the mattress warms as you lie on it. This can result in a hot sleep climate that is uncomfortable for some but an asset to others. The trick is determining if you would prefer it. If not, a mattress with a cooling component or cover may be best.


Some people report an odor from the mattresses; it's stronger when the mattress is new and lessens with time and airing out. The odor is described as similar to that of new paint.

Allergy Aid

Dust mites and microbes cannot survive in the polyurethane material, so the mattresses are good for allergy sufferers.

Hinders Movement

For someone who struggles with mobility or balance, a memory foam mattress may not be the best choice. The denser material makes it slightly more difficult to roll over and shift position (a positive for some sleepers who report sounder sleep this way).


All memory foam mattresses should come with a warranty, but they can vary widely from three years to 25 years. Each warranty will have stipulations, so make sure you read and abide by it. For example, not using a company's approved support platform will void its warranty.

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