The Best Memory Foam Mattress
What is the best memory foam mattress on the market? That would be a foolish question for any of us to try and answer seeing as how there are so many variables. Of course, that doesn't stop mattress manufacturers from all claiming their product is better than everyone else's. But the truth remains that mattress comfort is far too personal for any one mattress brand to be declared better than all the rest. Finding out which one is best for you is only possible when you're willing to do the research and test out a few options.
A Little Bit about Memory Foam
Memory foam is a synthetic foam product that was originally invented in the 1960s by NASA scientists. At that time the government space agency was looking for a foam product that would be durable enough to stand up to space travel while still being heat sensitive so it would conform to the bodies of astronauts. After trying several different formulas they accidentally hit on the one that would eventually become modern memory foam. When they released the formula to the public debate in the 1980s the memory foam mattress was born.
The key to memory foam is the fact that it is both dense and porous at the same time. This quality allows it to conform to the user's body and spring back to its natural state quickly and reliably. If you've ever seen or tried a memory foam mattress, you know that no other mattress compares in terms of these two properties. Memory foam does have both pros and cons which need to be carefully considered when purchasing a mattress.
Memory foam mattresses come in a variety of thicknesses and construction types. Beginning with the latter, you can find them constructed entirely of memory foam or as hybrid products. A hybrid product might have a latex foam core with outer shell of memory foam, or simply two layers of foam with latex underneath and memory foam on top. The important thing about construction is the thickness of the top layer of memory foam. It is this top layer which will provide most of your support and comfort.
Up to about 200 pounds or so a thickness of 3"- 4" should be sufficient. If you weigh more than 200 pounds your best bet is to look for a mattress with a thickness of 4.5"-5". You will need the extra thickness to support your weight when you roll over in your sleep. Without a mattress that's thick enough you might "bottom out" during a rollover and wake yourself up. And by the way, since there's very little energy transfer with memory foam we're not talking about a total weight of 200+ pounds; we're talking about 200+ pounds per individual.
If bottoming out is a concern because of your weight, the memory foam mattress with a latex core is the best solution. The latex foam core provides extra rigidity and energy transfer which helps prevent the likelihood of bottoming out. But make sure the core is not substantially thicker than the memory foam, or you'll lose many of the benefits memory foam provides.
Memory Foam Formula
Memory foam made based on NASA's original formula is a polyurethane product with several chemicals added to give it its viscosity and density. Manufacturers based in North America and Europe generally are held to stringent requirements that ensure only good quality memory foam is made. However, manufacturers in places like China and India have no such standards. Therefore, it's not uncommon for some of them to add fillers to their memory foam as a means of keeping costs down.
It's not even unheard of to find so-called memory foam with absolutely no polyurethane in it at all, coming from far eastern manufacturers. Such fakes are sometimes sold at discount bedding outlets offering rock-bottom prices that seem too good to be true.
We recommend you only purchase memory foam made by a North American or European manufacturer. If that's not possible, check the labels of any mattresses you're considering to make sure they are all polyurethane products. If the composition of the foam includes anything other than polyurethane or latex, you're taking a risk in buying it.
One of the biggest complaints of memory foam is that it "sleeps hot.” By this we mean that the bed doesn't do a very good job of dispersing body heat. That increases the likelihood that you will feel a bit warmer with memory foam than you would with a coil spring, latex, or air mattress. Manufacturers have come up with a couple of different methods of dealing with this problem.
The most common solution is a mattress topper which absorbs and disperses the heat across its entire surface. These types of mattress toppers are also used with latex foam and air mattresses that might have similar heat issues. They are pretty inexpensive and easy to use.
The second method is to insert gel beads into the foam during the manufacturing process. The gel beads provide similar relief in that they absorb body heat and disperse it through the entire mattress. The second option is a little more expensive but it tends to be more reliable and will be good for the life of the mattress. With the mattress topper method, you may have to replace the topper two or three times during the 20-year life of your mattress.
The Sleep Test
Now that you know all about memory foam mattresses, the most important thing you can do in finding the right one for you is to test a few out. Visit some local furniture and bedding stores that offer memory foam, making the point of lying down on several different mattresses and staying there for 15 to 20 minutes each. You can also visit some online sites that offer free, in-home trials as well. Either way, before you settle on your mattress you want to make sure to lie on it long enough to get a feel for its firmness, support, and heat dispersal.