Choosing the best memory foam mattress 2017 can be difficult to say the least. There are hundreds of brands and many different types to confuse you all the more. Who would think that buying a mattress could be so complex? There are so many factors to consider such as overall thickness, layer height, IFD rating, plant based or gel formulation; the list goes on. Also, since the price of one can vary from a small amount to large, it’s important you make the right choice when investing your hard earned cash. Luckily, our memory foam mattress reviews and buying guide are here to help you; in this article we have summarized all you need to know.
What Is a Memory Foam Mattress?
Most people looking to buy have probably asked themselves this question before. In its simplest and common form, most memory foam mattresses for sale are generally manufactured using viscoelastic foam and consists of a three layered design.
The topmost “Comfort Layer” is made of special materials which molds to the body shape when it comes into contact with body heat. By molding to the body shape, the downward pressure and stress on joints created by gravity are eliminated. When the foam cools down, or if parts of the body are not in contact, the surface will turn to its original horizontal form.
The second platform is usually referred to as the “Support Layer.” It’s designed to be more rigid so the overall shape of the mattress is retained, and offers support to the softer and thinner comfort layer.
Then you have the “Base Layer” which is the bottom platform of the design. The base supports the top two and is usually the thickest and most rigid of the three. Each layer mentioned can have sub-layers depending on manufacturer, design and innovation, but generally that’s how it is made up.
Things To Consider When Buying
The most common sizes or names in the U.S are Twin, Twin XL, Full, Full XL, Queen, King and California King. In the UK and other countries sometimes the sizes are referred to as different names like Double Sized, Single, King Size and Super King. Aside from the various mattress sizes, the most common feature you’ll see advertised when buying memory foam mattresses are their thickness. Each can range anything between 7 inches all the way up to 16 inches thick, and sometimes possibly more. Thickness is an important factor for some people for multiple reasons, for example, depending on your type of bed, you may want something relatively thin and flexible (for an adjustable bed perhaps), or something tall and thick (to raise the height of a low bed). Generally the thicker ones are more expensive as they offer more than the conventional 3 layers. For example there may be an extra ventilation layer, or an extra comfort layer. There are generally 3 platforms which make up the design. Each one is generally different in thickness and serves its own purpose. One thing to note though is that just because its thicker overall doesn’t always mean its better quality. Be sure to check the thickness of each layer, and to check what combination, materials and foam type have been included in its design.
Foam Type: Viscoelastic
First on the scene, since 1992 the visco elastic memory foam mattress has probably become the most established and the most popular. You may see this type referred to as Standard, Traditional Polyurethane, or Petroleum Based. As the name suggests this type uses petroleum-based polyurethane foam and was invented by NASA, and was originally commercially released for bedding purposes. Sometimes you may see the Traditional also referred to as Tempurpedic but it’s important to remember that this is the brand, not the technology. It’s also worth noting that almost all memory foam pillows are made of this type as opposed to those variants listed further below.
Pros – The viscoelastic is great for motion isolation, silent usage, joint aches and back pain relief, durability, and availability. Being one of the most popular technologies adopted by entry level and expert manufacturers makes this type of mattress widely available in almost every local showroom and online retailer. Due to the extensive ranges available there is something available for everyone; prices range from very low for a cheap memory foam mattress all the way up to thousands for a top end product; so depending on your budget you can have exactly whatever suits your needs. In terms of durability you generally get what you pay for, but should expect your new mattress to last over 7 years even for a budget brand. The great motion isolation derives from temperature reactive technology; this means your partner may be 3 inches away but can be tossing and turning without disturbing your side of the bed.
Cons – Although the viscoelastic type has been a consumer favorite for decades and is far better than innerspring or pocket coil, it has stiff competition now with alternate designs such as gel-infused or natural plant based models. The main issues of concern are complaints of toxic off-gassing, voc’s, heat retention, slow response times and sleeping hot. Viscoelastic foam reacts with temperature which means body heat will mold the shape around contours of your body, however this technology often excessively retains heat and can lead to the sleeper feeling uncomfortably hot throughout the night, which isn’t great for hotter climates but can be a bonus for colder ones. As well as sleeping hot due to heat retention, slow response times from the mattress when moving around are common due to slower reactions to the temperature. The most common complaint however is the toxic off-gassing (also known as out gassing) which is the release of odor that can last anything from a few days to a few weeks. Off-gassing is the process of a chemical release which occurs in a new mattress due to its chemical composition and packaging. Recent surveys show that 15% of people complain of off-gassing.
Foam Type: Gel-Infused
The gel memory foam mattress is the latest addition of the three types. Essentially this is the traditional viscoelastic foam version but infused with millions of gel beads. The idea behind this technology is the gel will not trap heat like its predecessor; trapped heat can lead to poor response times when someone moves around and can also increase the body temperature. Big brands such as Serta and Brentwood have established a foothold online and in showrooms with popular models of the gel mattress.
Pros – They tend to sleep cooler and dissipate heat at a faster rate, which leads to faster response times when moving around throughout the night. There is also minimal motion transfer which means you can move around freely without disturbing your partner. Also, because this is the latest hype many manufacturers have begun to utilize this technology, so buying a gel memory foam mattress is very easy in terms of availability.
Cons – Although generally the gel mattress sleeps cooler to begin with, if two people are sharing, throughout the course of the night the gel can tend to warm up. Also, like the traditional memory foam mattresses the gel models also let off VOC’s and so the “new odor” is quite common, however this shouldn’t last more than a few days.