The Best Memory Foam Mattress
Last updated: September 13, 2017
Not all memory foam mattresses are created equal.
If you choose a cheap, low-quality memory foam mattress, you’re going to have a bad time. And unlike the 90s where you had only a handful of options, today you have literally hundreds of memory foam mattresses to choose from.
We here at DownToFive understand. That’s why we’ve done all the work for you.
68 Contenders → 5 Best
After weeks of research poring over product reviews and specifications, as well as covertly testing out many mattresses at furniture stores all around the country, we’ve come up with our list of the absolute best memory foam mattresses.
*Price Range: Each $ represents roughly $100
Unless you’ve been asleep for the past 25 years, you’ve most definitely heard of memory foam mattresses. And if you’ve gone mattress shopping within the past decade, then you’ve also probably considered buying one. But maybe a memory foam mattress just never appealed to you.
Maybe you prefer your mattresses to be springy, just like the beds you used to bounce up and down on as a child.
Maybe you’ve heard that memory foam mattresses are hot and stuffy, and will cause you to wake up in the middle of the night in a pool of your own sweat.
Maybe you took one look at the price tag of a memory foam mattress and thought to yourself “No way can a mattress be worth that much!”
We’re here to tell you otherwise.
The best memory foam mattresses are not only comfortable, cooling, and affordable but they can also provide important therapeutic support for your neck, back, and spine.
Yes, it’s true that early models were hot, stuffy, and pricey. Oh, and they usually didn’t smell nice either; unless you liked the smell of industrial chemicals, of course.
That is no longer true today.
Have you heard of open cell structure, gel memory foam, and plant-based memory foam? These are the latest memory foam technologies you can find on the market and they’ve largely solved the heat and smell problems faced by the early generation models. More on these types of memory foam later on!
Trivia: Memory foam was originally developed by NASA in the 70s to improve seat cushioning and crash protection for airline pilots and passengers.
Why Memory Foam?
In a single word – curves.
And while most of us will never have the beautiful curves of the model pictured above, we all have our own natural curves.
Memory foam conforms to your body’s every curve. It provides you with a uniform level of support throughout and prevents pressure points (these points cause discomfort and pain).
Simply put, a high quality memory foam mattress gives you the ideal sleeping posture, and we all know how important posture is when it comes to preventing some of the common maladies of modern life, namely neck and back pain.
And as for comfort? Falling asleep on a good memory foam mattress is like being enveloped in a warm cloud, your body slowly melting into the foam as all the tensions of the day are drained away.
Good sleep is practically guaranteed.
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Cooling. Firmness. Origin.
These are the three primary factors you should look at when deciding on the perfect memory foam mattress. Ideally, the best memory foam mattress for you should be cooling enough that you don’t wake up in the middle of the night sweating, and firm enough that you are free of any back or neck aches, whilst retaining optimal comfort. Of course, you should also consider the origin of the mattress to make sure you’re getting a high quality product.
A memory foam mattress consists of multiple layers. How cooling a mattress feels is affected by the combination of all the layers in it. However, the top layer (a.k.a. memory foam layer or comfort layer) is the most important layer to consider since it is in direct contact with your body. The type of memory foam used in this top layer will significantly affect the cooling factor of the entire mattress. For instance, is it traditional memory foam/closed-cell? Open-cell? Gel? Plant-based?
- Traditional memory foams have a closed-cell structure. This means that each individual cell is walled off from each other, thus preventing airflow. Mattresses that still use traditional memory foam tend to ‘sleep hot’ and cause perspiration at night. Avoid at all costs.
- The majority of current memory foams use an open-cell structure. This makes the mattress more breathable, thus reducing heat retention. This structure also makes the foam bounce back to its initial shape much more quickly.
- Gel memory foams are memory foams that have been infused with gel, making it even more cooling as well as a little firmer. Could be closed-cell or open-cell but most of the newer mattresses are open-cell.
- Plant-based or natural memory foams replace some of the petroleum products used in traditional memory foams with renewable plant oils. Although this type of memory foam supposedly promotes much better breathability (as many “sleep authorities” would have you believe), only a very small percentage of the so-called natural memory foam is actually infused with plant based oil, which makes the effect negligible.
In our experience, open-cell gel memory foam easily outperforms other types when it comes to ventilation and cooling, even over natural or plant-based memory foam. This does not mean that ALL open-cell gel memory foam mattresses have similar cooling abilities however, thanks to the different layer compositions.
To make things easy for you, we’ve come up with a “cooling rating” (1 being the hottest, and 10 being the most cooling) for each mattress in our list so that you can compare and see the differences for yourself.
Just to clear things up, a high “cooling rating” doesn’t mean you’ll sleep cold at night. You’ll still be all warm and snuggly in it. A high “cooling rating” simply means that any excess heat expelled by your body can dissipate away, keeping your body temperature normal. On the other hand, a low “cooling rating” means that your body’s excess heat will be trapped between you and the mattress, causing you to wake up sweating in the middle of the night.
Bottom Line: Avoid traditional memory foam mattresses. Open-cell gel and plant-based memory foams are improved versions, with gel taking the lead. Choose based on our “cooling rating (1-10)”. The higher the “cooling rating” is, the less likely you’ll wake up sweating at night.
Now that we know the importance of a high cooling rating, the next thing to consider is the firmness. The firmness topic is a little more tricky. Why? Because the firmness of a mattress is determined by so many factors:
- Thickness – As a general rule, the thicker the mattress, the softer it feels, the more expensive it will be. So, thicker mattresses may be considered to be premium.
- Density – This is the weight of one cubic foot of memory foam and is a great metric to know. Only one problem – many manufacturers don’t publicly disclose the density of their respective foams.
- Layer composition – Each mattress has its own combination of layers, all of which affect overall firmness.
- Your weight – Heavier people exert more pressure on the mattress and sinks deeper into it. As such, a mattress will feel softer the heavier you are.
- Your sleeping position – Side sleepers require a softer mattress compared to back and stomach sleepers, in order to maintain the body’s natural curves.
Feel like your brain’s about to explode yet?
Don’t worry, we’ve gobbled up all the complexities, digested them and laid it down for you in the simplest form possible: our very own “firmness rating”. A simple 1-10 rating (1 being the softest, and 10 being the firmest). This rating is based on how it feels to the average sleeper, so if you’re on the heavier end (220 lbs+), just dial it down a notch (a medium firm of 5 will feel like a medium soft of 4 to you).
Bottom Line: Pick your ideal mattress based on our “firmness rating (1-10)”. The optimal firmness rating for you will depend on your weight and sleeping position. To be on the safe side, pick mattresses that have a “firmness rating” of 4-6 (4 for a plush feel, 6 for a firmer feel). Heavier people (220+ lbs) should go for thicker mattresses, but not ones that are too soft (a firmness rating of 4 should be the absolute lowest) because of deeper sinkage into the mattress.
So, we’ve determined that a high cooling rating is necessary, and to choose the ideal firmness rating (4-6 to be safe) based on your weight and sleeping position. Now, we look at the last factor: origin.
Origin just refers to where the mattress was manufactured. At DownToFive, we only recommend you the highest quality products, which is why most of the mattresses we recommend are made right here in the USA.
Yes, it’s true that Chinese-made memory foams are much cheaper. And not all Chinese-made products are bad – where do you think your iPhone is made?
Are there memory foam mattresses manufactured in China on our list?
Yes, and we make sure to clearly indicate this so you are 100% aware. Also, we took great care to ensure that all those mattresses are extremely well reviewed with the highest level of quality control.
After all, you spend 8 hours a day asleep; do you really want to spend a third of your life on some low-quality mattress?
Bottom Line: You should know where your mattresses are made. The only Chinese manufactured mattress on our list is of the highest quality. Don’t skimp on sleep quality just to save a few bucks.
As a quick recap, the best memory foam mattress for you should have:
- A high “cooling rating” (the higher, the better);
- An ideal “firmness rating” (4-6 is the safest range. 4 for a plush feel, 6 for a firmer feel);
- A “Made in USA” label, with rare exceptions.
That being said, by no means are all the products on our recommended list expensive – high quality doesn’t necessarily mean high cost!
Value for money is actually a very important consideration we take into account in our reviews – among others.
This will all be addressed in our reviews. Let’s begin.
The bamboo cover and wool sleep surface do more than regulate heat; they also have moisture wicking properties and are naturally anti-microbial.
And if you think great heat regulation is the only thing this mattress is good for; you would be wrong. This mattress is also extremely comfortable, with a nice and plush feel, particularly for the 13-inch model. If you want a slightly firmer feel, opt for the 11-inch model.
For side sleepers and heavier people, the Brentwood 13-inch is one of the best 2 choices available, rivaled closely by Serta’s 14-inch juggernaut. Brentwood still takes the cake though, with the extra cooling functionality and the fact that it’s priced at $550 (a good $60 cheaper than Serta).
And while this may not be the most value-for-money option on our list, make no mistake, this mattress has great value. In fact, if it weren’t for the Dreamfoam mattress having even more value-for-money, then the Brentwood mattress would have been a triple category winner.
When it comes to how fast the ‘new memory foam’ chemical odor dissipates; this one is also at the top. Most users report that the smell disappears after a day, while some report no smell to begin with!
- Cooling Rating 90%
- Firmness Rating – 11-inch (Medium) 50%
- Firmness Rating – 13-inch (Medium Soft) 40%
- Value For Money 80%
- Average Amazon Rating (2,000+ reviews) 88%
- Most cooling and overall best memory foam mattress on our list.
- No chemical odor so you don’t have to worry about bad smells.
- Plush. Great choice, even for heavier people.
- Some people would prefer a firmer mattress.
The company calls its foam ‘Energex’ because even though it’s memory foam, it feels a lot more like latex. This gives it a more of a springy and bouncy feel compared to most memory foam mattresses.
This means that you don’t get that ‘stuck’ or ‘trapped’ feeling that some memory foam mattresses have. So if you’re more used to sleeping on a traditional innerspring mattress, this mattress is a good choice for your transition.
While this mattress is no doubt firm, a 1-inch quilt layer at the very top makes the mattress feel soft and comfy. All while providing great support for your whole body, of course. Choose the thickest 12-inch mattress for the softest feel.
That being said, we have to highlight one drawback with this mattress: it’s not the best for heavier people ( > 220lbs). 3 inches of Energex foam notwithstanding, this mattress will sink much more than usual at those weights.
As the name ‘Arctic Dreams’ implies, you won’t have an issue with heat retention on this one. It was designed to be cool!
Customer satisfaction with this mattress is very high, with many highlighting its unbelievable quality for the price.
Quite frankly, we can’t believe it either, and we hope that Dreamfoam Bedding will stay in business for a long, long time if this is the kind of quality they can deliver at such a low price!
- Cooling Rating 70%
- Firmness Rating – 8-inch (Medium Firm) 60%
- Firmness Rating – 10-inch (Medium) 50%
- Firmness Rating – 12-inch (Medium Soft) 40%
- Value For Money 100%
- Average Amazon Rating (2,000+ reviews) 90%
- Best value for money.
- Soft and plush feel for the thicker models.
- Cooling with barely any heat retention.
- Too soft / insufficient support for heavier people.
If you are someone on a tight budget, then this mattress is for you. It is absolutely the cheapest mattress you can get that is also of decent quality. In fact, it has the highest rated customer reviews on our list (4.6 out of 5 stars from 3700+ users)! That alone should tell you something.
Depending on your chosen thickness, you’ll get 2-3 inches of plant-based memory foam in the top comfort layer followed by another 2-3 inches of pressure relieving comfort foam and finally 4-6 inches of a high density base foam.
This mattress is definitely on the firmer side. However, you could still get a perfect medium firmness with its thickest 12 inch option. In terms of comfort, many people were surprised that the Zinus was just as comfortable as the more expensive memory foam mattresses.
That being said, long term durability is definitely a drawback when it comes to the Zinus.
Overall, if funds are really tight for you, the Zinus is a lifesaver.
- Cooling Rating 60%
- Firmness Rating – 8-inch (Medium Firm) 70%
- Firmness Rating – 10-inch (Medium Firm) 60%
- Firmness Rating – 12-inch (Medium) 50%
- Value For Money 70%
- Average Amazon Rating (3,000+ reviews) 92%
- The #1 budget option.
- Good quality for the price.
Some users have noted that the mattress does not hold up as long as other brands.
This is also the thickest mattress on our list. With a total of 6 inches of memory foam, not including the base foam layer, this mattress perfectly caters to the needs of heavier sleepers.
Despite such thickness, the Serta is not for those who prefer a softer or plusher mattress. On average, the Serta gives a perfect medium firmness feel throughout. We should also note that some users have said that the Serta was actually too firm for their liking.
In terms of value for money, the Serta definitely provides decent value for its price, although again, it is not the best. You should not worry about quality though; Serta is one of the oldest manufacturers in the business, dating all the way back to the 1930s.
- Cooling Rating 80%
- Firmness Rating – 14-inch (Medium) 50%
- Value For Money 60%
- Average Amazon Rating (70+ reviews) 86%
- Optimal blend of comfort and support.
- High cooling rating due to the gel memory foam layer and ActivAir foam layer.
- 4 layers of memory foam.
Some users have noted issues with slight permanent indentations in the mattress after use.
Alternative Mattress For Heavier People
Sleep Innovations Shiloh
What makes this mattress so great for the heavier person? Well, let’s take a look at its construction. This 12 inch mattress comprises 2.5 inches of SureTemp memory foam and 9.5 inches of support foam!
However, if you are looking for a firmer mattress, then Sleep Innovations is not for you. The designers had aimed for a ‘cradling comfort’ feeling, which means that the mattress will tend to envelop you a little, especially if you are on the heavier side.
If you want something even softer, then you always have the option of purchasing a mattress topper.
Heat regulation, while not the best on our list, was also pretty decent. Only a very small minority of users had issues with the Sleep Innovations sleeping too hot.
Chemical odor is no issue with this mattress; at the most it should take only a couple of days for this mattress to air out and lose its smell completely.
When it comes to quality, make no mistake; this is a high quality mattress. And for the price you pay, its value is outstanding.
The only drawback we have with this mattress is that it is only two-layer and is designed for heavier people. Because of that, the top layer of the mattress tends to get slightly more compressed with long term use. Again, you can mitigate this by purchasing a mattress topper.
- Cooling Rating 60%
- Firmness Rating – 12-inch (Medium) 50%
- Value For Money 70%
- Average Amazon Rating (3,500+ reviews) 86%
- High level of comfort and support for heavier people.
- Good value for money.
Some users have noted that the mattress becomes firmer after long-term use.
If you want the absolute best memory foam mattress that feels both plush and cooling, with no regard for budget, then Brentwood is the ultimate luxury choice (at about $550). Serta is an alternative to Brentwood when it comes to the most cooling mattresses, but still underperforms it despite being priced higher (at $660, a hefty $70 more expensive).
Side sleepers would do great with either Brentwood or Serta, just make sure you pick the thicker models. Same goes for heavier people (220 lbs+). Both Brentwood and Serta would serve you best, as long as you go for the thicker options. If for some reason you need a third alternative, Sleep Innovations is a fairly good choice too, but with Brentwood having a similar price, it’s a no-brainer.
If it’s the best value-for-money memory foam mattress you are looking for, nothing comes close to Dreamfoam Bedding ($280 for its thickest 12-inch model), which rivals China-made mattresses in terms of prices, despite being made here in the US.
For the ultimate budget memory foam mattress, Zinus is easily the best choice. At rock-bottom prices, Zinus still offers decent quality. Just be forewarned that it’s made in China, and durability might be an issue. Plus, it only makes sense to choose Zinus if you’re going for the absolute thinnest model available (8-inch at $150). Prices of Zinus increase substantially (and somewhat disproportionately) with the thicker models ($230 for 10-inch and $280 for 12-inch). If you prefer, say a 10-inch or 12-inch mattress, we highly recommend paying the extra $20 – $30 for the upgrade to Dreamfoam Bedding.