Updated March 12, 2021Since its premiere through NASA in the 1970s, memory foam has changed the way we sleep, offering comfortable, cloud-like softness combined with healthy support. Compared with the previous spring-only options, memory foam opened up a new frontier of sleeping expectations. The memory foam craze has only continued to build as mattress brands release new models.Over the years, memory foam technology has evolved, offering nuanced mattresses for every preference. A wide variety of memory foams are available, like plant-based and gel memory foam along with different layering methods to further comfort and support the sleeper.Our complete guide to memory foam mattresses includes a list of our favorite brands plus a comprehensive guide on what to look for in the best memory foam mattress.Best Memory Foam Mattress for Side SleepersBest Mattress for Side Sleepers with Hip Pain: Amerisleep AS4Best Cooling Memory Foam Mattress: Zoma MattressBest Memory Foam Mattresses for Side SleepersMattressHighlightPriceAmerisleep AS4Plant-based Bio-Pur® relieves pressure points with excellent motion isolation.$1259ZomaEco-friendly Triangulex™ offers a 5-zone support system topped with gel.$750BearGraphite-infused gel foam pulls heat away from the body.$840Original Purple®The Purple Grid™ adjusts to each sleep position for consistent comfort and support.$10001. Amerisleep AS4Our editors like the Amerisleep AS4 memory foam mattress for many reasons. The 12-inch profile offers versatile support and allows the sleeper to change positions throughout the night without waking others thanks to its excellent motion isolation.Within the Amerisleep AS4 mattress are three distinct foam layers, each of which plays a significant role in the mattress’s overall performance. 4 inches of Bio-Pur®, a plant-based memory foam, is designed to keep the body cool while relieving pressure points and allow for easy movement.A 1-inch Affinity layer uses HIVE® technology to form a 5-zone support system— hundreds of hexagonal-shaped segments create firmer support for the head, back, and legs, and softer support for the shoulders and hips. The inclusion of HIVE® makes the AS4 an excellent option for sleepers with back pain.Lastly, a sag-free, high-density foam layer of Bio-Core® evenly supports the body and reinforces the top layers.Amerisleep offers a 100-night, risk-free trial period, ensuring you have a chance to adjust to the mattress before deciding if it’s right for you. If it isn’t, Amerisleep will provide a full refund. They do ask you try the mattress for 30 nights before returning it. The mattress is also covered by a 20-year warranty, one of the best in the mattress industry.2. ZomaThe Zoma mattress is perfect for anyone with an active lifestyle, like a busy mom or an athlete, in improving muscle recovery and providing better sleep. This memory foam mattress offers three layers designed for comfort, motion transfer isolation, cooler sleep, and durability.One of Zoma’s best elements is the Triangulex™ technology built into the first layer of memory foam. The 2-inch Triangulex™ layer contains hundreds of triangular-shaped segments strategically placed to form a 5-zone support system— softer support to the shoulders and hips and firmer support for the head, back, and legs. Triangulex™ relieves pain and pressure points while also regulating temperature.2 inches of latex-like Reactiv™ offer a responsive bounce to encourage spinal alignment. 7 inches of Support+ high-density foam supports the body without sagging.When you purchase the Zoma, you’ll receive a 100-night sleep trial to make sure this is the best mattress for your needs.The Zoma mattress comes with a 10-year warranty promising complete replacement of the mattress in case of any manufacturing defects or sagging greater than 0.75 inches.SEE ALSO: Best Memory Foam Mattresses3. BearThe Bear mattress features a graphite gel memory foam that disperses heat to ensure you sleep cooler throughout the night. Because the Bear mattress utilizes CertiPUR-US® certified foams and a water-based bonding solution, it’s both environmentally-friendly and has little to no off-gassing smell.So what’s the secret behind Bear’s success? The Bear Mattress has 3 key layers that each aid in the perfect night’s sleep.The mattress cover uses FDA-determined Celliant® technology, which transforms body heat into infrared energy, ensuring the bed remains cool with little risk of overheating.Underneath, the 2-inch cooling graphite-infused gel memory foam removes unwanted body heat and is supported by a responsive 3-inch layer of transitional foam that offers pressure relief alongside balanced support. And at the base of the mattress, you’ll find a 5-inch layer of high-density support foam created to provide long-lasting durability.Bear includes a 100-night sleep trial to give you plenty of time to ensure the mattress is the right fit for you. Bear requires you to keep the mattress for at least 30 nights prior to initiating a return, should you choose to do so. The mattress also comes with a 10-year warranty to protect against defects and sagging greater than 1 inch.4. Original Purple®At 9.5 inches tall, the Original Purple® mattress is a great choice. The Purple Grid™ automatically adjusts to each sleep position and body type by collapsing under pressure without risk of sagging. The grid system provides air channels throughout the top layer to prevent overheating.The top layer features 2 inches of the Purple Grid™ to relieve pressure points and provide better airflow for optimal cooling. 3.5 inches of poly-foam is designed to align the spine and prevent sagging. Finally, the 5-inch base layer of poly-foam evenly supports the body and reduces motion transfer.The Purple® mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial— Purple® requires its customers to keep the mattress for at least 21 days before issuing any returns. The mattress also includes a 10-year warranty, protecting against manufacturing defects which could cause the foam to crack and sagging greater than 1 inch.SEE ALSO: Mattress Size and Dimensions GuideWhat is Memory Foam?Memory foam, also known as viscoelastic polyurethane foam, is a material commonly found in mattresses, pillows, and mattress toppers. Memory foam changes shape when pressure and heat are applied to it— heat causes the foam to soften, conforming to the natural curves of the body to relieve pressure points. Once pressure is removed, memory foam cools and firms, retaining its original shape.Memory foam is also known for its excellent motion isolation and minimal noise potential— sleepers won’t have to worry about waking from movement.Generally, a memory foam mattress contains a comfort layer of memory foam and a support layer of high-density foam.Types of Memory FoamOne of the biggest concerns with memory foam mattresses is heat retention. Traditional memory foam is known for its dense nature which traps heat, leading to sleep disruptions.To combat this problem, many memory foam manufacturers produce memory foam layers designed to increase airflow from within the mattress to keep sleepers at a cool and comfortable temperature. A popular method is infusing the memory foam with gel beads to absorb and evenly disperse body heat.Other cooling methods alter the structure of traditional memory foam. For example, partially replacing petroleum with plant oil or injecting the foam with air results in breathable, more responsive foam.Traditional Memory FoamTraditional memory foam mattresses are vastly different from innerspring mattresses because they cradle the body. The soft material alleviates pressure points on the body, resulting in a healthier night’s sleep. The foam material also provides excellent motion isolation to lessen the likelihood of waking up when sharing the bed with a sleep partner.Traditional memory foam is antimicrobial, helping to combat the buildup of allergens and bacteria which may cause irritation or exacerbate existing allergies.A drawback to traditional memory foam is its heat retention properties. Customers who want a memory foam mattress should look for cooling memory foams like plant-based or gel memory foam.Plant-Based Memory FoamPlant-based memory foam is designed to reduce emissions by partially replacing petroleum with plant oil. This results in an eco-friendly mattress with more breathability and no chemicals such as formaldehyde, phthalates, and others.Gel Memory FoamCooling gel memory foam has the same properties as traditional memory foam except for its inherent cooling properties.Gel memory foam’s cooling capabilities are due to infusing gel or gel beads or swirling gel into the material. Gel memory foam is often recommended to people looking for additional cooling, like those suffering from physical ailments that interrupt sleep. Consult your doctor to make sure a gel memory foam mattress is right for your treatment plan.What to Look for in a Memory Foam MattressBefore committing to a potential purchase, customers need to look at specific factors, including density and ILD rating, budget, and preferred sleep position. Also, check out what type of sleep trial or return policy is available and the mattress’s warranty.Density and ILD RatingTo determine the quality of the memory foam, potential shoppers should look at the foam density and ILD rating.DensityDensity refers to the level of support memory foam offers. Density measures the number of pounds found within a cubic foot of foam, determining the weight, or how well the memory foam supports the body. Low-density foams are less durable than higher density foams because they have less material and are more likely to break down over time.Low: 2.5 to 3.9Medium: 4.0 to 5.4High: 5.5 and higherILD RatingILD, or Impression Load Deflection, determines the firmness of the memory foam by measuring how much pressure it takes to make a 4-inch indentation on the sleep surface. The higher the ILD rating, the firmer the foam, and the lower the ILD rating, the softer the foam.Extremely soft: 8 to 10Very soft: 11 to 15Soft: 16 to 21BudgetMemory foam mattresses cost anywhere between $300 to over $2000 for high-end models. High-quality memory foam mattresses cost an average of $1045, an affordable price for any quality mattress.Collect as much information on each mattress as you can from the store, online, and from mattress reviews. Once you’ve done your research on the brands you’re interested in, check to see if there are any current sales or discounts available. Online mattress companies are a good choice because they offer high-quality materials at low prices by cutting out the middleman. Also, since customers don’t usually have the opportunity to try out the mattress in person before buying it, online mattress companies provide extended sleep trials.BodyweightBodyweight has a huge impact on the type of mattress you purchase. Choosing a mattress based on body weight and favorite sleeping position ensures you receive the best mattress for your needs.Bodyweight is broken into three categories— lightweight, average weight, and heavyweight. Each body type requires a specific firmness to balance comfort and support without misaligning the spine.Lightweight: weighing 130 pounds and lessLightweight sleepers need a soft to medium-soft mattress to allow the body to slightly sink into the mattress, cushioning the body and relieving pressure points.Average weight: weighing between 130 and 230 poundsAverage weight sleepers need a medium-soft to medium-firm mattress to align the spine and relieve pressure points.Heavyweight: weighing 230 pounds and moreHeavyweight sleepers need a medium-firm to firm mattress to provide support without the risk of sagging.Sleeping PositionYour preferred sleep position has a tremendous impact on the kind of memory foam mattress you choose. Memory foam is available in various firmness levels— each sleep position needs a specific level with the right amount of comfort and support to keep the spine in neutral alignment.Side SleepingSide sleeping is one of the healthiest and most common sleep positions. Lying on the side allows for better breathing and reduces acid reflux and pressure on vital organs.The best memory foam mattresses for side sleepers are soft to medium in firmness because they contour to the body and release pressure from the hips and shoulders.Back SleepingBack sleeping is the second healthiest sleep position. Back sleepers are able to naturally align their spine because of the back’s direct contact with the mattress surface.Back sleepers are most comfortable on mattresses with a medium to firm feel— firm enough to provide support but soft enough to relieve pressure points. The hips should sink slightly to align the spine.Stomach SleepingStomach sleeping is one of the unhealthiest sleep positions, because of the high risk of neck strain and lower back pain. Twisting the head at an unnatural angle to breathe causes neck pain. Lower back pain results from gravity forcing the spine’s natural curve to straighten.Memory foam mattresses with a medium-firm to firm feel are the best for stomach sleepers. Stomach sleepers need a firm mattress to keep the body on top of the mattress with minimal pressure relief to prevent misaligning the spine.Sleep Trials, Warranties, and Return PoliciesMattress manufacturers provide sleep trials, warranties, and return policies to assure the customer of a sound purchase. Always read the fine print of each policy.Sleep TrialSleep trials allow customers to try out a new mattress in the comfort of their own home— these are especially common with bed in a box brands since the customer typically isn’t able to try out the mattress before buying. These trial periods last between 90 to 120 nights. If the customer isn’t happy with the mattress, most companies will issue a full refund.WarrantyA warranty protects the mattress against, manufacturing defects (such as cracked or bunched foam) and sagging greater than 1 inch (the measurement varies depending on the brand). Most mattresses come with a standard 10-year warranty.Return PolicyIn case a sleep trial isn’t available, the next best thing is to look at the return policy. Most return policies last 30 days— about the same amount of time it takes to adjust to a new mattress. If the customer isn’t satisfied with the bed, they can return it for a full refund.Other Things to ConsiderHow long do memory foam mattresses last?The lifespan of a memory foam mattress often depends on how well it’s cared for and the quality of the materials. A well-cared-for memory foam mattress is likely to last between 8-10 years.Another way to extend the life of your mattress is by purchasing a mattress protector. Mattress protectors guard against spills and stains, preventing damage.Are memory foam mattress toppers worth it?A mattress topper alters the feel of the sleep surface, transforming your current mattress into a more comfortable bed. These are certainly worth the investment if you’d like to modify the feel of your bed. Toppers can either add softness to a too firm mattress or more support to a too-soft surface. Please note: a mattress topper won’t correct a sagging mattress— they are only meant to change up the feel of mattresses without sags or indentations.Are soft or firm mattresses better for side sleepers with hip pain?Medium or medium-firm mattresses are best for side sleepers with hip pain because they can alleviate pressure under the hips while still preventing them from sinking too far in the bed. Your hips are heavier than other parts of your body, so they’re more susceptible to sinkage. That said, they also need good pressure relief. Usually, medium mattresses offer that perfect balance of comfort and support to ease pains and promote healthy alignment.How do I know if my mattress is too firm?Side sleepers can usually tell their mattress is too firm because they’ll wake up with aches and pains under their shoulders and hips. Waking up with a stiff back is also a tell-tale sign that your mattress isn’t supporting you right. Also, it’s common for side sleepers to experience numbness and tingling in their arms when sleeping on a too-firm bed.How can I fix a sagging memory foam mattress?Mattress toppers are often thought of as a solution for a sagging bed, but that’s not necessarily the case. If the surface of your mattress has sagged, the topper will sag in those same areas when placed on top of the bed. Toppers may make your mattress a bit more comfortable for a short time, but you’ll ultimately find that they aren’t enough to fix a sagging mattress.To prolong the life of your bed, you can supplement toppers with solid, flat foundations and mattress helpers, but beds with very deep sags and indentations need to be replaced.ConclusionMemory foam mattresses are an excellent choice for potential buyers looking for a bed with optimal pressure relief. Traditional memory foam retains heat, which is why choosing a memory foam mattress with cooling properties is the best choice. Plant-based foam or gel memory foam provides better sleep without the risk of overheating.About the author Andrea Strand CERTIFIED SLEEP COACH Andrea Strand is a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Brigham Young University-Idaho where she studied English with an emphasis in Technical Writing. Since 2019, Andrea has written over 90 blog posts and guides on sleep health, sleep hygiene, and product reviews. Find more articles by Andrea Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.