Memory Foam Mattresses 2021: How A Memory Foam Mattress Relieves Pain And Pressure, And Where To Buy

I’ve designed dozens of memory foam mattress options through the years for my own web sites. Now that I’m strictly helping shoppers narrow down the options, my list of the best memory foam mattresses is a handful of super comfy choices you’ll love. I’m Marc Anderson, and I have been a mattress designer and CEO for 25 years.

Memory foam, technically known as visco-elastic foam, has been hugely popular since its meteoric rise in the 1990’s, and is still included as a key ingredient in the most comfortable mattresses you can find. Nothing is better than relieving pressure, and, if you choose carefully, you can own a bed that supports your back, feels inviting, sumptuous, and as soft as a panda’s belly.

The most popular memory foam mattresses sold on the web include at least a 2” layer of memory foam in their “cake recipe”, and is often paired with a layer of latex foam as well, which adds back some bounce to the “melting in” sensation offered by a good quality slice of memory foam.

We’ll discuss a little back story about memory foam, how it works, our suggested list of internet dealers, and how to avoid junk memory foam mattresses that mash down and even crack and split over time.

If you’ve heard about memory foam, you may wonder if it can improve the quality of your sleep, reduce pain and inflammation, and even help with spine alignment. 

The classic visual depiction of how memory foam works shows that the body immerses slightly into it, much like placing your hand in pizza dough and spreading it sideways across the pan – the best practical description of how it reduces pressure.

Some people can sleep on nothing else, others are a tad less enthusiastic. Its most loyal followers, though, by memory foam pillows, slippers, automobile seat cushions, and office chairs with memory foam built in.

So, what exactly is memory foam? And what are its features and benefits, and what could be the downside. Here’s information to help you decide whether a memory foam mattress is worth it. 

So, what exactly is memory foam? And what are its features and benefits, and what could be the downside. Here’s information to help you decide whether a memory foam mattress is worth it. 

Some people can sleep on nothing else, others are a tad less enthusiastic. Its most loyal followers, though, by memory foam pillows, slippers, automobile seat cushions, and office chairs with memory foam built in.

If you like, you can jump down to our curated list of the best memory foam mattresses on the web. We’ve throughly vetted these retailers and the models they sell. We look for quality of materials used, including density and thickness (and also where these retailers source their memory foam as inferior imported material will split and crack if mishandled during shipment) their price points, warranties, trial periods, and even actual owner feedback.

What Is Memory Foam?

First created in the mid-1960s for NASA fighter jet seats, memory foam is made from a urethane based extruded foam called visco-elastic material. It is both highly energy absorbent and soft, feels strangely like holding a wad of cotton candy, as it compresses easily, and then only slowly resumes its original shape and volume. 

When I first held a piece in my hand way back in 1994, I was literally freaked out by it, and then immediately thought how amazing it would feel if I were lying down on it.

What’s really cool about it is that memory foam responds to changes in temperature, which actually is both good and bad. On extremely freezing cold nights, memory foam can be rock hard, and requires some body heat to warm it up to make it soft again. 

On a hot summers night, it’s exceedingly soft and squishy, which some people absolutely love, especially if you like a mattress that hugs you and molds up around your body in an embracing fashion.

Memory foam molds to the body in response to pressure as well, evenly distributing body weight and pushing pressure to the sides, as if you were pushing on a pizza pan, moving the dough to the side. It then returns to its original shape once you remove the pressure. Many hardcore memory foam fans describe it as feeling like a “panda’s belly”, soft, inviting, infinitely pleasing.

A test pilot is sitting on a memory foam flight cushion, also located behind his head, to absorb the G forces of supersonic flight and rapid deceleration.
Memory foam allows your body to uniformly settle into your mattress, and accommodates each section of the body based on pressure applied. Shoulders and hips for example, push more memory foam off to the side, removing pressure

Memory foam was quickly developed for use in mattresses in the early 1990’s, largely by company called Tempur-Pedic. Today, hundreds of different formulations dominate the bedding marketplace.

In addition to protecting against impact in a fighter jet, these characteristics make memory foam very comfortable and thus the perfect material for wither the top “comfort layers” of a mattress, or even as the entire thing, depending upon the density.

After being used by NASA to eliminate G-forces during flight, memory foam started showing up in a variety of applications. For example, it was used as cushioning in sports helmets, inserts for shoes, even as an underlayment for high end carpeting. 

The medical community incorporated it into prosthetics and products to prevent pressure bed sores such as seating pads for people who are severely disabled and confined to wheelchairs or bedding for long periods of time.

Once it started being used in medical bedding, it didn’t take long for the mattress industry to understand the commercial appeal- a frenzy- about just how cool memory foam was in a residential mattress design.

Gel infused memory foam, shown in the middle, is the most popular kind of memory foam variant used in mattresses today.

What Are the Features and Benefits of Memory Foam?

Many popular bed in a box mattress brands use memory foam as the core ingredient in their mattress lineups, and even sleep specialists and chiropractors report that their patients who use a memory foam mattress find both pain relief and deeper, more restful sleep.

Because memory foam immerses ever so slightly, it’s good for restless sleepers, and is highly effective at motion dampening effects. People who toss and turn often have to move to separate bedrooms from their partners, and memory foam can often help with that issue. 

Kathy R. Gromer, MD, a sleep specialist with the Minnesota Sleep Institute in Minneapolis, states that memory foam may improve sleep. “It can, if it relieves painful pressure points,” she says. But Gromer adds that memory foam doesn’t do anything for sleep apnea or other sleep-breathing disorders.

”When you lie on the memory foam, the heat from your body softens it in appropriate points,” Arand says, “so this helps to support your body along the curves and natural lines of the body.” Some memory foam manufacturers claim this helps relieve pain and thereby promotes more restful sleep.

And, though consumers often believe that very firm mattresses are best, more “giving” mattresses like these may lead to better sleep in people with back pain, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Although there aren’t scientific data to support the hypothesis, Arand wonders whether memory foam sleep surfaces might be especially helpful for older people. For them, minimizing extra movement could reduce the number of times they awaken during the night.

Being less aware of a bed partner’s movements might be an extra benefit, she adds. “Without the coiled springs, you feel your sleep partner’s movement less, and that might help, too.”

benefits of Memory Foam: Bullet Points

  • Offers body hugging comfort

  • Ideal for all sleeping positions, especially good for sidesteppers as memory foam will fill void areas and relieve pressure at shoulders and hips where weight is concentrated

  • Limited motion transfer is another key advantage of today’s memory foam beds. The ability to absorb energy and minimize the effects of movement make memory foam an excellent choice for couples. When one partner rolls over or flops around, the other doesn’t feel a thing.

  • Less back and neck pain as memory foam promotes a neutral spinal alignment, which in turn encourages you to sleep in a position that is both comfortable and supportive. This ultimately helps reduce problems with chronic neck pain and back pain.

  • Hypo-allergenic components since polyurethane foams repel mold, mildew and is resistant to dust mites and pet dander. And when combined with latex in a memory foam mattress, this effect is even further amplified.

  • Excellent pressure relief

  • Customized support: advanced models improve airflow, sleep cooler at night and offer a customized level of support.

  • Sag free and no sink factor. Unlike conventional foam layers or heavily layered cotton or wool quilted toppers, memory foam pushes weight sideways, not downwards.

The latest generation of memory foam beds are made from high-grade adaptive materials that offer just the right blend of “not too soft and not too firm.” You can rest assured there will be no sagging for the life of the mattress, thanks to its open cell design. To achieve the open cell design that allows air to move slowly from cell to cell, foam chemists had to create specialized techniques to form these unique signature “bubbles”.

I’ve included a handful of memory foam mattresses that I’ve reviewed thoroughly- from studying the components used in their designs, to customer reviews and comments, where the mattresses are made, warranties, trial periods, and my overall impression of the company. I also factor in innovation and design- whether the company is thinking outside the box.

 

Take a look at my recommendations for Best Memory Foam Mattresses for 2021!

the idle gel memory foam mattress: $695 in queen- lifetime warranty, 18 month trial period

Unlike typical memory foam beds, The Idle Gel Memory Foam Mattress eliminates sink holes, night time sweating, and hot spots. Owners like the cooling technology in the fabric covering as well, something not often found in a memory foam mattress

Most moderately priced memory foam mattresses are typically 10” thick and don’t really give you enough memory foam material to float you, and often, you tend to sink and bottom out into harder layers.

The Idle Memory Foam Mattress is 12” thick, 2″ taller than comparable brands. This gives you more support and less pressure relief and better weight distribution. The foam layer for the base is also a denser material meaning longer lifespan.

The Idle offers 5 levels of contoured support and adaptive gel-fused layers for comfortable, cool sleep, and it’s just $695 in queen, along with 2 free memory foam pillows.

I like the 18 month no questions asked trial period- the longest in the mattress industry. The Idle Mattress conforms to your body, no weird melting in sensation. I felt more buoyant and it was easier to turn on this mattress compared to other brands, too.

By giving you a couple additional inches of memory foam material for the same price as other brands, you’ll never find yourself bottoming out- often a real problem.

A Self Described Revolution In Memory Foam, And I Have To Agree!

Back when I designed my own memory foam mattresses, one of the issues we tried to defeat in our designs was heat, caused by the density of the foam layers available at the time. Memory foam was notoriously hot, and many folks just didn’t do well with it.

What Idle does that’s different is to provide transition layers between moire open celled gel infused memory foam that ventilates air and passively moves it away from your body.

The brand leads the memory foam mattress category by giving you 12″ of both gel memory foam and transitional comfort layers to deliver a “cloud like” sensation that you won’t get from other memory foam beds that wrap around you like a restrictive cocoon.

Added Bonus: Idle sells a really great adjustable base that you can either buy along with your Idle Gel Memory Foam Mattress, or you can purchase for a mattress you already own. Priced at just $599 in queen with free shipping!
With an Idle Gel Memory Foam Mattress, you’ll get 12” of supportive, yielding- yet buoyant- comfort between you and the bottom of the bed.
  • Naturally Based Fiber Cover : A good mattress should feel nice on the skin so we only use Tier-1 450GSM+ fibre coverings and have placed it on a higher weighted and quality foam. Other brands make excessive profits from using lower grade and uncomfortable textile substitutes.

  • Unbeatable 18-Month Trial: Try Idle in your home with the world’s longest 100% risk free sleep trial.

  • Warranty Without End: Their warranty lasts a lifetime and even covers body impressions, unheard of in the industry!

  • Easy & Free Returns: If things don’t work out, Idle makes it easy on you-returns are easy and free. No questions asked.

  • Durability: To add extra durability to our mattresses, the company uses a 2.4lb density base layer of support foam, compared to the industry standard of 1.8lb., but I like to see companies putting more money into underlying foundation layers you can’t see- but need to be there for longer lifespan.


the nolah 10” original memory foam mattress:$899 in queen

One of the most popular brands that I recommend is the Nolah Mattress lineup. particularly their Nolah Original 10” Model. Though Nolah does not like to refer to their proprietary “Air Foam” layer which behaves much like memory foam, it is super comfortable, distributes pressure, reduces pain, and is beloved by many thousands of loyal owners who rate it a consistent 4.7 out of 5 stars for comfort, and for the company’s warranty and customer service.

The Nolah 10” Original Mattress is one of the best values for a memory foam mattress that also includes a latex like layer for added bounce and liveliness, even while cradling and supporting your body.

Nolah offers another mattress called their Signature 12” Mattress, which is reversible, offering you the option to flip from a softer side to the reverse, firmer side.

The Nolah 10” Original Mattress is even voted #1 side sleeper mattress by other prominent mattress review sites. At just $899 in queen, it might be the best value for a memory foam mattress I’ve seen. It’s not very firm, and has a sumptuous, inviting, cloud like feel.

I also like the fact that this mattress is made entirely in the USA, and you get a 120 night no questions asked free trial period, and a lifetime warranty agains manufacturers defects or failure.

What sets this mattress apart? I like the feel of their proprietary AirFoam, which is a specialized memory foam that floats your body so that you don’t sink to the bottom of it. An excellent option for anyone with back pain, especially in the lumbar area as it fills in those void areas.


the ghostbed classic memory foam and latex mattress: $907 in queen

Obviously there are dozens of memory foam mattress options that you can buy online for $500, even less. I’ve tested and reviewed almost all of them and wouldn’t recommend most because of of the poor quality of both memory foam layers and the underlying substrate high density foam.

I recommend only a handful of memory foam mattresses, and the Ghostbed Classic Memory Foam mattress is a little different, both in component quality, and the fact that you get not only memory foam, but also a layer of natural latex foam as well.

Combining natural latex and memory foam gives you firmer comfort and support that effectively distributes weight horizontally rather than downward, which caused pinpoint pain and is terrible for back, shoulders and hips. Sleeping on latex and memory foam when combined increases the buoyancy and pressure relief tremendously.

More advanced memory foam mattress models, like the GhostBed 3d Matrix Mattress that we recommend, a memory foam mattress I really like to recommend, has stretched (no pun intended) the benefits of memory foam technology to the extreme, by designing a mattress with multiple layers of specialized gel and memory foam layers, and combining them with latex like material to increase the pressure effects, will also increasing lift, to make it easier to change positions, get in and out of bed, and reducing pain on inflamed areas of the body like hips and shoulders.

The GhostBed Classic Memory Foam Mattress is one of the most beloved memory foam mattresses on the market, with a huge fanbase of actual users that have often tried other brands first.

First off, I’d like to say that The Ghostbed Classic Memory Foam Mattress is made in the USA using higher grade components that are also sourced in the USA- an important consideration to keep in mind.

Because of the way that it’s made, GhostBed’s high-density foam core, contouring gel memory foam and aerated latex (breathable and non-allergenic) top layer, you get a super-relaxing blend of support ​and​ bounce

Check this out: this mattress is one of the most heavily reviewed mattress on the web, with over 12,500 Google reviews, garnishing a 4.7 out of 5 star rating.

I’m not going to sugarcoat this mattress with plushy panda tummy descriptions: it’s firmer, about 7 out of 10, 10 being very firm, with little or immersion.

It feels comfortably supportive, and you will not sink deeply into the mattress. Being firmer, turning is easier, and so is getting in and out of bed, too.

Simple design, a breathable outer cover. And the benefit of BOTH breathable latex and gel memory foam, which gives you the best pressure relief, pushing load out the edges of the mattress, not downward. The GhostBed Classic Mattress is priced at $907 in queen, and you get two GhostBed Luxury Pillows with your purchase.

From the top down, you will get a breathable plush-knit cover (durable and the fabric feels nice- not coarse), a latex layer that is ventilated and will not sleep hot,

GhostBed’s proprietary gel memory foam that cradles and gently supports.

I felt that though the mattress is firmer, up top you get the soothing and nest like feel that everyone wants, without crashing through it. At 11″ tall, The Ghostbed Classic Memory Foam Mattress doesn’t skimp on thickness and quality.


combining memory foam with other layers for even more support, comfort, pain and pressure relief

Through the years, I’ve designed dozens of my own mattresses for my online e-commerce platforms, or for clients developing their own line of mattresses. You often build 5-6 variations using different densities, thicknesses, and combinations with other materials, and send them out as samples to test subjects.

Not surprisingly, most people respond really well to the pressure relieving qualities of memory foam, but I found that when you combine memory foam with other layers of flexible materials, you can amplify the pressure relieving benefits even more. I’ve used softer, gel foams and polyurethane foams, and even latex to make a memory foam mattress super comfortable.

In fact, the overwhelming response I received in prototypes that I developed using both memory foam and latex was a driving force in creating a variety of memory foam and latex combinations. 

Since latex is bouncier, and has a lively, buoyant, uplifting yet yielding sensation without much sinking, it responds instantly when you turn or change position. You’ll get excellent pressure relief and a floating sensation at the same time. The combination of memory foam and latex is what I would say the closest experience you’ll have to a levitating sensation on a mattress.

Of course, it also depends upon the support foam underneath, though most manufacturers, like this we feature below, use a high density polyurethane foam base that has some flex while supporting and cradling your body minimize any trapped feeling. 

Below, you will find some more options from my curated list of the best memory foam mattresses on the web. All of the dealers I recommend offer a great mattress option with superior ingredients that I’ve checked out, hefty no questions asked trial periods, decent warranties, and fair pricing.

 I’ve included some details about these additional brands in the description and why they are big sellers on the web.


 

The BEAR original MATTRESS

The Bear Mattress is priced right considering the forward tech components. Their memory foam is graphite infused, which keeps the bed cooled down at night. If you are a hot sleeper, and still want to enjoy the memory foam immersive experience, this is your best option.

A memory foam mattress that offers a medium firm level of support. 10” finished height, 100 night trial, 10 year warranty, $640 for a queen. Free shipping.

Marc’s comments: High tech infrared reflecting outer fabric, carbon infused foam, sleeps cool and cozy. Excellent edge support and resilient base layer.

I like the quality of the memory foam they use. It’s a 4 lb. density, which means they didn’t skimp, and although they have two other higher priced options, the Bear Original Mattress is their big seller, with thousands of stellar reviews.


THE NECTAR MATTRESS

The Nectar Mattress incorporates a 2” memory foam layer beneath its sumptuous quilted top. Beneath that are two additional layers of support foam.

A memory foam mattress that employs several innovative gel and memory foam technologies. The result is sumptuous, supportive, yet yielding sleep without deep sinking. 11” finished height, 365 night period, lifetime warranty, $799 for a queen.

Free shipping. Marc’s comments: A warranty that lasts forever? Right, it’s true, and they get away with it by using components that last. One of the most popular mattresses in the industry.

And, it’s one of the most popular brands on the web, with thousands of reliable reviews.

The mattress has a firmness of 6.5, which means it has a medium-firm feel. However, at just 11 inches high, the Nectar mattress may not be suitable for larger sleepers.

Heavier people, especially those who also prefer a softer feel, often benefit from a mattress that has thicker comfort layers. Opt out if you are over 225 lbs.


the NOVOS BED: a whopping 4” of premium memory foam

You can choose between three firmness options as you order. for the money, the Novos Bed can’t be beat in my book!

The Novos Bed is a gel and memory foam hybrid mattress that offers a medium to medium firm level of support. 11” finished height, 120 night trial period, 15 year warranty, $999 for a queen. Free shipping.

Marc’s comments: One of few memory foam bed with a generous 4” of gel/memory foam. If you love that melt in sensation, and need to be cuddled, reviewers claims it “makes love to you”. Go for it. Definitely not firm, offers “hugged” sensation.

For the money, the Novos Bed is my overall favorite candidate for best memory foam mattress on the web. At $999 for a queen, you’re getting twice the amount of memory foam most mattresses found online in the $599-899 range. If you have pressure point issues, and like to sink in, dive into one today