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2015 Update: The Best Memory Foam Mattresses Compared

2015 Update The Best Memory Foam Mattresses ComparedWith the hundreds of different types and brands available on the market, choosing the right memory foam mattress is confusing at best. If you haven’t been shopping for a bed recently, you might be surprised by how complicated the decision-making process can be. You have to consider many different factors, including IFD rating, height of layers, thickness overall, gel vs. plant-based composition, and so on. Prices vary wildly too, ranging from a budget mattress at 300 dollars to a Tempur-Pedic costing over 10 thousand. Clearly this is a big cash investment, so it’s important for you to choose wisely. Fortunately we’re here to help you with our buying guide and mattress reviews, in which we’ve summarized all of the important points.

Top 6 Comparison Table

Brand & ModelThicknessFoam TypeDensityRatingPrice
Sleep Innovations – SureTemp 1212″Traditional3 lbs4.5 / 5$
DreamFoam – Ultimate Dreams 1313″Gel4 lbs4.5 / 5$$
LUCID – Plush 1414″PlantTBA4/55 / 5$$
DynastyMattress – Luxury Grand 1515″Traditional5 lbs4 / 5$$$
Brentwood Home – Bamboo Gel 1313″GelTBA4 / 5$$
Amerisleep – Revere12″Plant4.5 lbs4 / 5$$

Memory Foam Mattresses Defined

You’ve probably wondered what exactly a memory foam mattress is, if you’ve ever considered buying one. In its most basic form, a memory foam mattress is usually made of viscoelastic foam and contains three different layers.

A typical 4 tier design

The top “comfort” layer is composed of a special foam that conforms to the shape of your body by reacting to body heat on contact. This molding to your exact shape eliminates the joint stress and pressure caused by gravity. This foam layer returns to its original flat shape when it cools down or when nobody is resting on it.

The next layer is there for support. This support layer is more rigid, helping the mattress as a whole retain its basic shape and providing structural support for the thinner and softer comfort layer.

The bottom, or “base layer” of the mattress is generally the most rigid and thickest of the layers, providing support for the other layers. Each of these three layers may also contain sub-layers whose design varies depending on make and model, but this is the basic structure.

What to Keep in Mind While Shopping

Size and Thickness

Memory foam mattresses come in the same standard US sizes as other types of mattress: King, California King, Queen, Full, Full XL, Twin and Twin XL. Mattresses in other countries, such as the UK, may be called Single, Double Sized, King, and Super King.

Apart from size, the next feature you’re sure to see advertised is thickness. A memory foam mattress can be as thin as 7 inches or as thick as 16 inches or sometimes even more. Generally speaking, the thicker the mattress the higher the price, and the thicker ones have more than just the three basic layers. There may be an additional comfort layer, for example, or a ventilation layer. These layers are still contained within the three platforms, each of which serves a different purpose. It’s important to be aware of the fact that a thicker mattress is not necessarily better quality than a thinner mattress. Look into how thick each layer is, and check out which type of foam and other materials are used in the construction.

Viscoelastic Foam

Visco elastic memory foam was the first type to be developed, appearing on the market in 1992. It is the most established type and still the most popular with consumers. It is also sometimes known as Traditional Polyurethane, Petroleum Based, or Standard. As you can probably tell from the names, visco elastic foam is made using polyurethane petroleum-based foam. It was first invented by NASA, and the Tempur-Pedic company was the first to use it commercially in mattresses. Some people call this foam type Tempurpedic, but this is actually a brand name rather than the name of the technology itself.

Advantages

This type of foam is silent, isolates motion, relieves aching joints and back pain, is durable and is widely available. Because this popular foam type was the first on the market and is used by both high-end and low-end manufacturers, you will have no trouble finding this type of foam almost everywhere that sells memory foam mattresses. There is something for every budget from a couple of hundred dollars up to more than 10 thousand dollars. Generally speaking, the more expensive mattresses are more durable than the cheaper ones, but even a lower-end visco elastic foam mattress should last for at least 7 years. This type of foam excels at motion isolation because it is so reactive to temperature: your spouse may only be a few inches away from you, but you will not be disturbed if he or she tosses and turns.

Disadvantages

This is a very popular product with consumers and has been for decades, but the competition is catching up with products such as plant-based natural foam and gel-infused foam. The biggest areas of concern with traditional memory foam are the off-gassing of toxic substances, retention of heat, VOCs, sleeping hot, and slow response time. Viscoelastic memory foam uses your body heat to contour itself to the shape of your body, but it can also hold on to so much heat that you end up feeling too hot to sleep comfortably at night. This can be a disadvantage in a warm climate, but if you live somewhere with a cold climate it can actually be a selling point. Some people also complain that this type of memory foam responds slowly when you change your sleeping position throughout the night, because the heat reaction is slow. But by far the biggest complaint about viscoelastic foam is about toxic out-gassing or off-gassing. This manifests as an unpleasant or irritating smell that may last for a few days or as long as se
veral weeks. This happens as chemicals are released from a new mattress because of its packaging and chemical components. According to recent surveys, about 15 percent of customers complain about off-gassing.

Gel-Infused Foam

This type of memory foam is the most recent innovation amongst the three main types. This type of foam consists of the traditional memory foam infused throughout with millions of tiny gel beads. The reason for this innovation is that gel doesn’t capture as much heat as viscoelastic foam, improving the response time and reducing the discomfort of sleeping hot. Big names such as Brentwood and Serta have established themselves in showrooms and online using gel-infused memory foam in some of their popular models.

Advantages

You will feel cooler sleeping on a gel-infused foam mattress, because the gel helps to dissipate heat more quickly. The response time of the foam is also quicker when you change position. This type of foam is also good at minimizing motion transfer, allowing you to move freely without your partner being disturbed. Because this type of foam has been the subject of a lot of hype, lots of manufacturers are now using it in their products. This means that there are plenty of gel-infused foam mattresses to choose from.

Disadvantages

Although you may notice that a gel-infused mattress starts off cooler, if you are sharing a bed with someone you may find that the heat starts to build up over the night. Just like with traditional foam, you may notice the off-gassing of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) for the first few days after you get your new mattress.

Natural/Plant-based Foam

This type of memory foam is also sometimes called natural or eco foam, and it’s rapidly gaining popularity with consumers. Plant-based formulations substitute plant extracts for some portion of the petroleum or gel ingredients used in traditional memory foam. Plant ingredients include aloe very, soya, bamboo and tea, and every manufacturer has their own formulation of plant ingredients that they usually disclose in the mattress specifications.

Advantages

Plant-based products usually offer similar benefits to the older types of foam regarding support, relief of joint pain, and overall comfort. But they far outstrip the competition when it comes to dissipating heat, isolating motion, offering joint support, relieving back pain, eliminating off-gassing, and being health conscious and eco-friendly. Because the open-cell technology of plant-based foam dissipates heat ten times faster than other foams, you will feel cooler when you sleep. Because they use natural products which don’t contain irritating chemicals, these mattresses are the most highly recommended if you have allergies and skin sensitivities. They contain no VOCs and are manufactured with no emissions, unlike the petroleum-based foams. As a result, you won’t have to deal with the unpleasant smell of toxic off-gassing when you take this type of mattress home.

Disadvantages

Because this is a newer technology, it’s not surprising that it generally costs more than the older types. If you have sensitivities or allergies, you probably know that you have to pay more for a natural product. It may be harder for you to find these mattresses in local showrooms, although you can get around this problem by shopping at online sites such as Amazon, where you will find plenty to choose from.

Firmness/Density

One of the big factors you should take into account is how hard or soft the molding of the mattress is. This refers to the firmness of the mattress and how it reacts to pressure and weight as it adjusts to your body contours, and whether the platform this molding produces is comfortable, even, soft or firm. A lower density foam will allow you to sink more deeply into the plush surface, while a higher density foam will still have some sensation of sinking in, but the bed will feel padded and firmer. Both of these are good, and which one is right for you comes down to individual needs and preferences.

Density is generally measured in pounds, and abbreviated as “lbs.” Most mattresses have a density of 2 to 5 lbs, with anything over 5 considered a high quality mattress. Keep in mind that if you want a plush, soft mattress you should look for a lower density. High density mattresses offer firm support, which is generally recommended for back pain sufferers and side sleepers.

Another way to identify the firmness or softness of a mattress is by its IFD rating. The softest mattresses are rated IFD 10 and the most rigid are IFD 120. Most mattresses fall around IFD 12 to 16. You’ll find that this unit of measurement is less common than density in pounds when you’re shopping for mattresses, but it’s still good to be familiar with the term.

Reviews of Memory Foam Mattresses

Amerisleep – RevereAmerisleep: Revere

You’re not likely to find a natural memory foam mattress that’s more eco-friendly than this one. Its overall thickness is 12 inches, including a 3-inch premium comfort layer that gives medium firm support at a density of 4.5 lbs. This mattress is made from a unique and innovative material called Bio-Pur, a plant-based product.

DreamFoam – Ultimate Dreams 13DreamFoam: Ultimate Dreams 13

This is another American made product that offers great value. This gel-infused foam mattress is 13 inches thick and has a 3 inch comfort layer with a density of 4 lbs. The 2-inch support layer is 5 lbs, and the high density base is 8 inches thick. This is a highly popular mattress with a really good design.

LUCID – Plush 14LUCID: Plush 14

We think this memory foam mattress is among the best available in terms of what you get for your money. This best selling mattress, a bamboo charcoal plant-infused design featuring 4 layers, has been available for some time now and has a good reputation amongst those who value their comfort. The hypoallergenic bamboo charcoal is perfect if you have skin sensitivities, and the foam is certified 100 percent Certi PUR-US. What’s more, the mattress is covered by a warranty for 25 years!

DynastyMattress – Luxury Grand 15Dynasty Mattress: Luxury Grand 15

This model is a relative newcomer, but it’s rapidly growing in popularity with consumers. This polyurethane traditional foam mattress is 15 inches thick and features a side fabric of rich brown suede and a top cover of stretch knit. At 5 lbs, this mattress has a medium-soft comfort rating. This mattress is backed by a 20 year warranty and an in-home trial period of 12o days!

Sleep Innovations – SureTemp 12Sleep Innovations: SureTemp 12

If your budget is tight, this foam mattress may be the right one for you. This 12 inch visco memory foam mattress has 2 layers: a 9.5 inch support base, and a 2.5 inch polyurethane comfort layer. The density is rated at 3 lbs, making this a plush and comfortable mattress, but it still offers plenty of orthopedic and therapeutic support. This mattress is vacuum packed for shipping and includes a 20 year limited manufacturer’s warranty.

Brentwood Home – Bamboo Gel 13

This mattress is another multi-layered, innovative, smart design by the all American Brentwood Home. The 13″ gel mattress (medium density) comprises of 4 levels of different materials that combine to make a comfortable and cool sleeping surface. It’s available in all the common sizes, proudly manufactured in LA, California. The natural bamboo cover is removable and washable. This is a recommended and safe buy with an above average warranty period.

Conclusion

You will never find a single “best” or “worst” memory foam mattress that everyone can agree on. Which mattress is best for you comes down to individual requirements, preference and budget considerations. But because a memory foam mattress is something that may easily be with you for more than a decade, and given the money involved, it’s a good idea to take your time before you buy and make the best possible choice. A memory foam mattress is an investment both for your comfort and your health.

We would recommend that you spend a bit more to get a natural plant-based mattress. Although these mattresses cost more than gel or traditional foam, there are good reasons for this higher price.

Of all the memory foam mattresses we talked about in this article, our favorite was the Amerisleep Revere 12. Although at 12 inches it isn’t as thick as some of the others, this should not discourage you because the quality of the natural components more than makes up for it. The 3-inch comfort layer with the 4.5 lb rating gives the medium-firm support that most people need for both comfort and health. The open-cell, breathable Bio-Pur technology helps you feel cool while you sleep. If you are a “combo” sleeper – if you sleep on your side or your back – this mattress will give you the maximum support. Unlike many major brands, it’s guaranteed to be made in America rather than China, so you know that it adheres to strict environmental and manufacturing guidelines. And the 20-year warranty with 10 years full replacement will also help you sleep easier! If you’re still not sure, the mattress comes with a 90-day trial period; you can return it if you aren’t satisfied with it.

The verified owner reviews available on Amazon.com back us up in our choice of the overall best mattress. Take a look at them yourself to see if you reach the same conclusion.

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