The Best Memory Foam Mattress
The sleep doctors and body-alignment specialists we talked to all agreed: Most people will be very happy with any quality, medium-firm memory foam mattress. That's why we skipped over discussions on sleep position and soft vs. firm. We found the biggest differentiator in the best memory foam mattresses was whether or not they have pillow tops. (More pillow, more hotel-bed feel, and usually more expensive.) We also examined the "no-risk," at-home trial periods and return policies of over 150 popular models, and ordered four top contenders to try out ourselves.
A plush, pillow top memory foam mattress that is as plush and supportive as any hotel bed. Plus, it's a reasonable $1,098 — about $400 cheaper than our other pilow top contender from BedInABox.
Comfortable, supportive, and only $600. This no-frills mattress doesn't have the floating feeling of a pillow top, but our 15 testers ranked it higher than its closest competitor, Casper ($932).
You spend about one-third of your life in bed, so it better be a comfortable place to land. Memory foam mattresses help with that, forming a supportive cloud that contours to your body’s unique shape, easing pressure on your joints. All of the top picks from our best mattress review are made of memory foam, and for good reason: They’re the most comfortable for most people, and because of online mattress disrupters, are cheaper and easier to buy than what Big Mattress traditionally has to offer.
Our overwhelming favorite is the Loom & Leaf by Saatva. Its pillow top is plush, while still feeling firm and sturdy. Thirteen of our 15 testers ranked it best out of four top contenders, beating out industry heavyweights Tuft & Needle, BedInABox, and Casper. Its got Tempur-Pedic’s luxury vibes, but for less than half the price — just $999 for a queen-size, plus a $99 non-refundable delivery fee. That fee is disappointing (most online retailers are fee-free), but the mattress was so universally approved by our test group, we still recommend it.
For almost half that price, the Tuft & Needle is a great, no-frills memory foam mattress that all of our testers gave high marks — just not as high as the pillowy Loom & Leaf. (Turns out, when you compare them side-by-side, most people prefer pillow top.) The company offers an impressive 100-night trial period, and if you’re not satisfied with your purchase, you can arrange to have it picked up by a local charity for a full refund.
How We Found the Best Memory Foam Mattresses
We started with a list of 152 of the most popular memory foam mattresses, culled from interviews with sleep experts, as well as independent review sites like Sleep Like The Dead, Goodbed, and Consumer Reports. We had several attributes we wanted to see in any top pick.
If we couldn’t purchase online, we weren’t interested. Online shopping makes your mattress delivery, at-home trial, and return (if you need to) simple. No bouncing around from mattress to mattress at a store. No pushy sales people.
Fewer choices was a good thing. We found choosing a favorite among just four models from four different brands challenging. Add in, say, Serta’s indistinguishable ProEnergy Super Pillow Top Elite, its Private Luxury Euro Top, and its iComfort Foresight (and that multiplied across every traditional mattress brand), and the challenge becomes overwhelming. We also learned, it’s unnecessary.
Every expert we spoke with said most people would be perfectly satisfied with pretty much any medium-firm memory foam mattress.
And that’s what makes mattress disrupters really shine: Most make your decision easy by having just one or two signature models, guaranteed to please.
A minimum 30-night trial period was a must. When we talked to Dr. Steven Weiniger, a posture expert, chiropractor, and author of Stand Taller, Live Longer, he told us “you won’t be able to tell if it’s right for you, bouncing on a mattress up and down, sitting on your butt.” All of the other experts we consulted agreed with him: You need to clock at least 30 nights of shut-eye on a new mattress before deciding if it’s right for you.
Then we tried out four of the best for ourselves.
We ordered four top-rated memory foam mattresses and had them delivered to our Seattle offices. Our contenders: The Casper, the Loom & Leaf by Saatva in Relaxed Firm, BedInABox’s Natural Silk Elegance GEL Memory Foam Mattress (a model that’s been replaced by the extremely similar Silk Symphony), and the signature model from Tuft & Needle.
We had 15 testers (one was even seven months pregnant) record their first impressions, and took notes on how easy it was to move each one around, their out-of-the-box odor, and squish factor. Then we went through the process of returning each one to see if they lived up to their “painless returns” claims.
Our 15 testers unanimously agreed that they would be happy owning any of these mattresses.
Full disclosure: We liked all of these mattresses. A lot. In fact, one of our testers bought our fourth favorite, the Casper, and is totally pleased, four months later. “I love it,” she says. “I don’t miss my old [innerspring] mattress at all. And I don’t wonder what I’m missing out on with other mattresses.”
The standout differences among the four: pillow top.
Memory foam mattresses are, at their cores, pretty similar. Each one is made up of comfort layers and support layers, typically a mix of memory foams and/or latex to achieve a balance of sink and bounce. Some add an extra squishy layer of quilted foam; that’s the pillow top. If you’re after that hotel-bed feel, you’ll be most satisfied with a pillow top.
“We placed a lot of of focus in making a bed that not only looked comfortable, but one that guests would sink into and immediately feel relaxed,” Grant Schilling, vice president of sales, marketing, and business development for Distrikt Hotel Group in NYC, told us. “We ended up choosing a pillow top mattress that would provide that layer of plushness.” Non-pillow top mattresses, while just as supportive, don’t deliver that floating-on-a-cloud feeling. On the plus side, they’re typically cheaper.
Our Picks for the Best Memory Foam Mattresses
Our testers all reported that the the Loom & Leaf by Saatva was instantly luxurious. Hotel-feel: achieved. (Coincidentally, Pope Francis slept on this mattress during a visit to Philly). It was also described as “feeling like a Tempur-Pedic” mattress, which costs over $2,000 for a similar model. The Loom & Leaf is only $999, plus a $99 set-up and delivery fee.
Handcrafted in the US, the 93 lb. Loom & Leaf was the only one of our top picks that didn’t come vacuum-sealed in a box. It was delivered, complete with sewn-in carrying handles, ready to sleep on. This is likely why, of the four models we tested, it felt the sturdiest, with strong walls that didn’t squish down as much as the others. Its pillow top and organic cotton cover are sewn into the mattress itself, which is constructed with four layers of 4-pound and 5-pound “plant-based” foam. Of the four mattresses we tested, all of which we’d classify as “medium-firm,” the Loom & Leaf felt the firmest.
One of our editors (175 pounds) testing the collapsability of our four contenders. Clockwise from top left: Loom & Leaf, BedInABox, Casper, Tuft & Needle.
With a 75-night, no-risk sleep trial, you have plenty of time to test it out and make sure it’s the right mattress for you. If you’re unsatisfied, Saatva will come pick it up and you’ll get a full refund — minus the delivery fee.
And that’s the big downside of the Loom & Leaf. We were surprised it wouldn’t refund every penny. All of our other top contenders would waive the delivery fee, so this was a major drawback. It also took a long time for the mattress to be delivered to our Seattle office, which isn’t “near” one of the company’s delivery hubs. (It took almost a month.) Still, the Loom & Leaf was so unquestionably loved by all of our testers, we decided that the wait and the $99 non-refundable delivery fee is a risk worth taking — because you’re not going to want to return it.
The no-frills, non-pillow top Tuft & Needle has garnered top billing on Consumer Reports, earned 4.5 out of 5 stars on more than 6,500 Amazon reviews, and is rated as one of the top five mattress brands on Sleep Like The Dead. A queen-size mattress is also only $600, almost half the price of the other non-pillow top finalist, Casper ($932), and the Loom & Leaf by Saatva.
It’s a relatively light, 70 lb. mattress, composed of two layers: a supportive, extra-firm base layer and a top layer made of a proprietary memory foam. Our testers all agreed that it’s a downgrade in luxurious comfort from the two pillow top mattresses we tested, but that they felt more supported than by its closest competitor, Casper. Another win for Tuft & Needle: it’s rated to support 500 pounds per side, which is the most of any we looked at. Casper, by comparison, can only accommodate 250 pounds per side.
Clockwise from top: BedInABox, Tuft & Needle, Loom & Leaf by Saatva, Casper.
You’ll have 100 nights to test out your Tuft & Needle mattress. If you decide it’s not for you, you can arrange to have a local charity pick it up (the company can help you find local options). The one downside is that you’re on the charity’s schedule as far as pick-ups are concerned. For us, that meant waiting more than a month for Seattle’s Salvation Army to come with a truck. Otherwise, you can donate the mattress yourself, send a photo of your receipt, and get a full refund.
Other Memory Foam Mattresses to Consider
Two of our 15 testers selected BedInABox as their favorite. Though our test model arrived in a state of disarray (its cardboard box ripped and covered in oily stains), the BedInABox mattress quickly revealed its charms. BedInABox’s customers are the “most satisfied” on Sleep Like The Dead, and we could immediately see why. Our testers noted that the mattress was firm enough, while still being “luxuriously cushy” — of the four we tested it’s the most supple and you really sink in.
We tested the older Natural Silk Elegance GEL Memory Foam Mattress model; it had the exact same two-layer foam mattress as its replacement, the Silk Symphony, which trades in the plush-as-all-get-out memory foam pillow top for two-and-a-half layers of quilted pillow top. Want the exact same memory foam top, too? Upgrade to the Serenity model. It’s wrapped in a temperature-regulating CoolRest shell, which adds $300 to the price tag. Even BedInABox’s customer service agents agree, if you don’t sleep hot, go with the Silk Symphony. It’s just as plush as the old Natural Silk Elegance GEL.
With a 120-night trial period, you have a long time to figure out if you love it, too. One thing to note: You must keep it at least 60 days before the company will schedule a pick-up and issue a refund. If you sleep on it for our recommended 30 days and decide it’s not for you, you’ll still have to hang onto it for another month.
At $1,599 for a queen, the Silk Symphony is by far the most expensive of our four contenders. And while we like it, we don’t think it’s $500 better than the Loom & Leaf.
On its own, all of our testers would have been perfectly content sleeping on the Casper mattress, which offers a generous 100-day trial period, including a full money-back guarantee. During hands-on testing, they all said it offered firm-but-comfortable support, ranking it just below the Tuft & Needle.
Unfortunately, it’s $332 more expensive than the Tuft & Needle — the biggest reason it lost out as our pick for best non-pillow top. Regardless, we don’t think anyone getting this mattress will regret their purchase.
Loom & Leaf by Saatva
Tuft & Needle
Minimum 60 days, maximum 120 days
300 lbs. per side
Unknown. “Any and all weights!”
500 lbs. per side
250 lbs. per side
48-hr return processing, then schedule donation pickup
Call to return and schedule donation pickup
Donate and email receipt; or call to coordinate donation pickup. (It can take a month!)
Courier pickup in NYC; call to coordinate donation pickup elsewhere
*For a queen-size mattress, including taxes, shipping, and fees
Did You Know?
Memory foam was invented by NASA.
Memory foam was invented in 1966 by NASA scientists trying to improve the safety of airplane cushions. It’s made of a synthetic material called visco-elastic polyurethane foam. If you were to look at it beneath a microscope, you’d see millions of spherical-shaped, open cells, like bubbles. The more open the cell structure, the lighter the memory foam, which allows more airflow through the material; a more closed cell structure creates denser foam. This density is measured in pounds (remember the four-pound and five-pound foam in the Loom & Leaf).
Memory foam mattresses and mobility issues don’t mix. “Memory foam can have a ‘stuck in the mattress’ feeling, making it more difficult to move around,” said Joe Auer, the editor-in-chief of the site MattressClarity. That doesn’t make it a good fit for those with mobility issues, even if they’re seeking joint pain relief. An innersprings is still likely the way to go.
The idea was to make the material “responsive,” which means that if you make an impression by placing your weight on it, it literally forms a “memory” in the mattress. The imprint can take seconds, or even minutes to disappear. Because of this, memory foam excels at motion isolation, which is a fancy way of saying that if your partner spends the night tossing and turning, you’ll feel very little disturbance on your side of the bed. It also means that it will conform to your body’s unique shape, exactly, every time — no matter what your body position. It’s this conformability and motion isolation that sets memory foam mattresses apart from other types of mattresses, like innerspring or waterbeds.
There’s a difference between memory foam and latex.
Memory foam mattresses are often confused (or used interchangeably) with latex mattresses. Sometimes, companies even combine the two materials. (Casper, for example, incorporates a 1.5-inch layer of latex into its design.) This is largely because there’s no immediately noticeable difference between them, at least as far as initial feel is concerned. They’re both a type of memory foam — that is to say, the materials have memory and conform to your body shape. Latex is just a natural material made from the sap of rubber trees, whereas memory foam is a synthetic material.
This does create a few slight usability differences, however. Latex will generally be heavier and more expensive than memory foam, but it also has slightly more spring. It can breathe slightly better, too, so it doesn’t “sleep as hot.” Memory foam, on the other hand, actually conforms to your body better, making it the smarter option if pressure relief on joints or motion isolation is your top priority.
The Subtle Differences Between Memory Foam and Latex
Memory Foam Mattresses
|A more springy / bouncy feeling|
|Better for pressure relief on joints|
|Tends to sleep hot|
|Better for motion isolation|
|100% all-natural options available|
|Tends to be more expensive|
|Tends to be heavier and harder to move|
Some people “sleep hot” on memory foam.
Memory foam is temperature-sensitive. In cooler temperatures, it may firm up. When it warms up — like when heated by your cocooned body — it becomes softer. Most memory foam does retain body heat, which helps it mold to your sleeping body. Although it’s not a problem for everyone, some users report that memory foam mattresses “sleep hot,” which can lead to excessive sweating, restlessness, and poor sleep quality.
When you sink into a memory foam mattress, you restrict the airflow and trap body heat around you. It can perpetuate a vicious cycle in which the sleeper releases body heat that in turn heats up the memory foam, which causes the sleeper to become even hotter. Heavier people tend to sleep hotter than lighter people, because they sink more into the material. Mattresses made of high-foam density also tend to sleep hotter, because there is less open space in the cell structure of the material for air to flow through.
Some memory foam mattresses, like our top pick, the Saatva Loom & Leaf, tout their gel-infused foam (which is essentially memory foam infused with millions of tiny gel beads) as a way to help customers sleep cooler. This does seem to reduce heat complaints for some people, according to the online user reviews we found on sites like Sleep Like The Dead; however, there is a dearth of scientific evidence proving any of these features actually work.
The only thing that we know of that is proven to be effective (somewhat) are mattress covers that excel at wicking away sweat, such as Coolmax or Outlast. They won’t actually lower your temperature, but they will absorb sweat better than cotton.