We spend approximately one third of our lives in bed. Unfortunately, for many of us, those eight nightly hours involve a lot of tossing and turning, waking up sore and exhausted amidst a pile of rumpled sheets.
Best Choice Overall
Eve Memory Foam Mattress
Best on a Budget
Scilent Night Memory Foam
Good quality sleep is vitally important to your health and wellbeing. One of the simplest ways to help ensure your nights are restful is to invest in a new quality memory foam mattress.
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What is Memory Foam?
Memory foam is a soft, viscoelastic (temperature-sensitive), polyurethane material that absorbs energy. It’s a material that responds to pressure and heat, moulding its shape to your body.
It was first developed in 1966 under a NASA contract to create safer and more comfortable aircraft cushions, and has undergone significant changes in the last fifty years.
Today’s memory foam mattresses are cooler, more comfortable, more durable, innovative and feature-filled than ever before.
Benefits of Using a Memory Foam Mattress
Let’s talk about some of the key benefits memory foam has to offer.
People who suffer from painful conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, or general back, neck and joint pain, can find relief from switching to a memory foam mattress.
Because memory foam distributes bodyweight more evenly across the mattress, there’s much less build up of tension and pressure on pain producing pressure points.
Plus, the benefit of having the mattress mould to the shape of your body provides very good back, neck and hip support – relieving tension, pressure and pain.
In fact, a Consumer Reports survey found that people with chronic back pain and joint problems find a memory foam mattress improves their sleep compared to other mattress types.
Hypoallergenic – is a fancy word that simply means “a material less likely to cause an allergic reaction”.
The average mattress contains tens of thousands of dust mites. These are microscopic creatures that live in mattresses and feed off dead skin cells.
… pretty horrifying.
Dust mites produce millions of droppings, and it’s breathing in these droppings that cause allergic symptoms such as wheezing, sneezing, and itchy eyes, and is associated with asthma and eczema.
… even more horrifying.
But the good news is that the dense polyurethane foam that memory foam mattresses are made of prevents dust mites from entering, and settling inside the mattress. A memory foam mattress and memory foam pillow are an ideal bedding choice for allergy sufferers.
Low Motion Transfer
Have you ever been woken by your partner turning or moving in the middle of the night?
Well, memory foam mattresses absorb movements and impacts way better than spring or other mattress types, making them an ideal choice for couples.
When your partner tosses or turns during the night you’ll experience very little movement on your side of the bed. This is one of the great benefits of memory foam as the impact is isolated to one area of the mattress.
If your partner is having a restless night, it doesn’t mean you have to have sleepless one.
No two bodies are exactly alike, which is why memory foam is so highly rated – it adapts to any shape and weight, whereas mattresses made of other materials take a sort of “one size fits all approach”, which can be particularly problematic when sharing a bed with another person!
There exist many types of mattresses, from the simplest cotton-stuffed futon, to the conventional box spring, to exotic wool, latex, water and even horsehair-filled varieties – but memory foam is most consistently rated for comfort.
Because memory foam is temperature-sensitive – as your body warms throughout the night, the foam becomes softer, adapting to the shape of your body and allowing you to sink more deeply into the mattress.
When you first lie down on a memory foam mattress, you may experience a mild sinking feeling, as the memory foam warms, adapts and moulds to the contours of your body.
Users report a relaxing comfort from sleeping on memory foam compared to a common spring mattress.
Unlike other types of foam, which compress under pressure and return immediately to their original shape, memory foam – which contains foam cells filled with many small air holes – compresses and spreads pressure to the surrounding cells. The result is a more comfortable, supportive surface, with far fewer pressure points than on a typical spring mattress, and a reduction in the pain that can come from sleeping on a non-adaptive surface.
Memory Foam Mattress vs Spring Mattress
Pressure Distribution and Comfort
As I mentioned in the section discussing the benefits of memory foam mattresses, one the main advantages they have over spring mattresses is their ability to distribute bodyweight more evenly. This dramatically reduces pain causing pressure points and improves overall comfort.
The image blow shows a pressure map of someone lying on a spring mattress vs a memory foam mattress:
Spring mattresses tend to sag and lose tension in the springs around the area you sleep on the most. This can happen within just a couple of years of buying a brand-new mattress, which starts to create uncomfortable lumps and bumps across the surface.
User data shows that spring mattresses are the most prone to sagging, compared to memory foam which is 30% less likely to sag.
Memory foam has a “memory” affect where by it “remembers” and returns to its original state after long periods of compression. Although over time, a memory foam mattress will lose some if its expanding properties, it exceeds the comfortable lifespan of a spring mattress.
A decent quality memory foam mattress could last around 10 years.
Spring / Coil mattresses provide the perfect location for dust mites to thrive. Their hollow inner cavities allow dust mites, their allergy producing feces and dead skin cells to build up.
Because memory foam mattresses are basically large blocks of foam, they don’t have cavities where dust mites can penetrate and live. Therefore, memory foam is the superior choice for allergy sufferers or those with conditions such as asthma.
Memory Foam Mattress Sizes
Whether you sleep alone or with a partner, nothing cramps your night time style like a mattress that’s too small. If you’re a solo sleeper, simply choose a mattress that allows you to shift up and down and move from side to side without bumping your head against the wall, dangling your feet off the end or rolling onto the floor.
Memory foam mattresses come in the same size ranges as any other mattress – small single, single, small double, double, king size and super king size.
Although some memory foam mattress manufacturers may have limited sizes available. Make sure to get the correct size mattress to fit your bedframe. Always do your homework here, the last thing you want to have to do is send the mattress back because you bought the wrong size.
Take a look at the mattress size chart below. But always double check everything with the retailer / manufacturer before purchase:
Memory Foam Costs
If the price of a new mattress seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Prices can range wildly from as low as £40 to as much as £900. When you invest in a high-quality memory foam mattress, you’re not just buying something comfortable to sleep on, you’re investing in your long-term health, so don’t skimp.
With that said, you can pick up a really good memory foam mattress such as the Silentnight 7-Zone in the mid price range.
If you don’t have enough to buy the best mattress for your needs, then save up for the best memory mattress you can afford. Read plenty of user feedback reviews, thoroughly read through the mattress product details and ask any questions before you buy.
More Buying Considerations
Memory Foam Density
Not all memory foam is created equal.
There’s a fair difference in both feel and price between foam with a density of 2.5 lbs. versus 4 lbs. per cubic foot.
Put simply, denser foam will be more expensive, feel heavier and offer more support than its less-dense counterpart. The higher the density of the foam, the firmer it will be, and vice versa.
Which density is best?
Most people find a density of 3 to 5 lbs. per cubic foot for a mattress ideal.
Low Density: 2 – 3 lbs per cubic foot
Medium Density: 4 – 5 lbs per cubic foot
High Density: 5.5+ lbs per cubic foot
Without meaning to speak badly of all overseas manufacturing, try to steer clear of memory foam produced outside of UK, Europe or North America. Though a cheap Chinese-made mattress may be attractively priced, memory foam produced in a country with more rigorous manufacturing standards and greater accountability is likely to perform better and last longer.
Look for a mattress made of low-VOC (volatile organic compound) foam that’s non-allergenic and free of phthalates, formaldehyde, PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ether) flame retardants, heavy metals and ozone depleting chemicals.
Mattresses which meet Certipur-US® standards or other similar standards will qualify. You spend a third of your life in bed – it’s important that the air you breathe while you sleep is safe!
Your Preferred Sleeping Position
Do you sleep on your side, stomach or back?
As we discussed earlier, most people are comfortable with a foam density of 4 to 5 lbs. per cubic foot – but side-sleepers may prefer a slightly lower density, which allows a mattress to better conform to the shoulders and hips.
Stomach and back sleepers tend to prefer denser memory foam, which offers more support.
It’s also worth mentioning that investing in a memory foam pillow may offer support and relief from those suffering from neck pain or discomfort.
If you share your bed, both you and your partner should be able to lie down beside each other and place your arms behind your heads without bumping elbows. Look for a mattress between 10 and 15 centimetres longer than the tallest partner’s height.
Are There Any Down Sides to Memory Foam?
Memory foam has come a long way. The advancements made in the last five decades mean that a new memory foam mattress may be exactly what you need for a comfortable nights’ sleep, to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day, instead of ready to crawl back into bed.
A memory foam mattress could be the answer to your bad back, hip pain or general sleeping discomfort from your current inferior mattress.
From our research, memory foam mattresses are superior to traditional spring mattresses, in more ways than one. I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, if you read over this guide, you’ll agree that memory foam is simply the better choice.
The only negative I’ve heard people complain about is the smell.
Memory Foam Mattresses sometimes have a chemical smell to them. I found there was a mild smell from my memory foam mattress that filled a small room, but I wouldn’t say it was unpleasant.
In fact, I quite liked the smell, it was like the smell of a brand-new pair of trainers – a small of “newness”, not a foul chemical odder that some report.
The smell does gradually fades over weeks, and is pretty much gone within a few months.
Still Not Sure if Memory Foam is Right for you?
Of course, some people just don’t like the feeling of memory foam and prefer spring, or latex mattresses – it’s a matter of personal preference. However, most people who switch to memory foam report the change as positive.
If you’re still on the fence about buying an expensive double memory foam mattress, we suggest you try a cheaper, middle of the range memory mattress first. These can be picked up quite cheaply for around £60, and will allow you to see what memory foam feels like to sleep on, before investing in a high-end mattress such as the Ghost or Eve.
Look out for Fake Memory Foam Mattresses
Here’s the thing…
When you buy a memory foam mattress you’re not actually buying a mattress made entirely of memory foam. Typically, the mattress has a supporting Reflex foam base with a top layer of memory foam.
If you see a mattress described as just “Reflex Memory Foam”, or the manufacturer doesn’t disclose the depth of the memory foam top layer, walk away.
The memory foam top layer should ideally have a minimum depth of around 2inches. Anything far less than that and you’re not going to experience the full benefits that memory foam has to offer.
Depth ranges for the memory foam top layer vary from around 1 – 7 inches. More doesn’t necessarily mean better. You may find a very think memory foam layer too spongy. Around 3 inches is optimal for best comfort and support.
Do your homework before buying. Make sure that the mattress you’re buying has a genuine top layer of memory foam.
Or, you could just make use of the homework we’ve done and pick from any one of our top two best memory foam mattresses to suit your budget.
Top Mattress Picks
Best Choice Overall
Eve Memory Foam Mattress
Best on a Budget
Scilent Night Memory Foam