When you think of the best memory foam mattress you probably think of a ‘90s infomercial with someone jumping up and down on one side of the bed while their partner and a full glass of wine sit undisturbed on the other. Memory foam took the mattress game by storm three decades ago, and while the material might feel a bit dated today, that once ubiquitous quicksand-like squishiness ousted by the mattress-in-a-box revolution, the truth is that memory foam never really left us at all. These mattresses just evolved—and they got a lot better.
The problem with the early generations of memory foam mattresses, with their vague promise of space-ready technology (for some reason, the ads always mentioned NASA), was that they were filled with a lot of soft and totally unsupportive junk. Your first night of sleep would be excellent. Sinking into the top of the mattress made you feel enveloped in gooey comfort. But when you woke up, the impression of your sleeping body remained. After a couple of months, that impression started to become a permanent trench. It was a recipe for back pain and bad spinal alignment. Before long, early memory foam converts were longing for their old innerspring mattresses.
It took a while, but the memory foam mattresses of 2021 are far superior. Whether you’re a side sleeper, stomach sleeper, or back sleeper, one of the best memory foam beds can offer you that oh-so-subtle sink and pressure relief which makes them so lovely to sleep on, without any of the longevity issues that plagued their predecessors. Memory foam has gotten so good, in fact, that it’s increasingly being deployed in smaller strategic doses in “hybrid” mattresses. It helps make sure these mattress both have superlative motion isolation—so that your partner won’t be bothered by the way you fight the bear in your sleep—and comfort, without sacrificing support.
Over the past few years, our reviewers have tried over 30 different mattresses from the internet, almost all of which included at least a layer or two of memory foam. Our overall favorites tend to employ the hybrid construction, which means they have an innerspring base and a super soft memory foam top. Chances are, if you think you’re interested in a soft memory foam bed, this supportive combo is actually what you’ll prefer beyond a 100-night trial period, especially in the sub-$500 price range. But if you’re set on an all-foam mattress, the best ones are relatively thick and usually constructed from a few different layers of foam. Make sure you get something with enough density as well, otherwise you’ll quickly find yourself making contact with your bed frame. The best memory foam mattresses, rest assured, will never bottom out.
The All-Around Best Memory Foam Mattress
Leesa Original mattress
The Leesa Original mattress stands above a crowded field of memory foam mattresses from memory foam mattress startups. Like a lot of its most notable competitors, it’s made with more than one layer of foam. The bottom support layer is relatively thick and dense, which makes sure that even after years of use, the mattress won’t bottom out when you lay down. (No one likes their butt hitting their box spring.) The middle recovery layer is the most memory-foamy, and that’s the one that you’ll actually kind of sink into. The top comfort layer is the thinnest, created with more breathable soft foam to make sure you sleep cool. The result is a contouring mattress that’ll gently accommodate your sleeping body without making you feel like you’ve fallen into quicksand. It’s a medium-firm mattress, which means it’s a pretty good mattress for anybody regardless of sleeping position, but might be best for people that prefer side and back sleeping.
The Best Overall Mattress With a Memory Foam Top
Helix Midnight Luxe mattress
If you’ve come to this piece thinking you need a memory foam mattress, but aren’t actually sure, chances are, you might be happier with a hybrid mattress. Hybrid mattresses combine the soft comfy sink of memory foam with the extra support that comes from more traditional innersprings. The top-performing mattress in our ongoing testing and reviewing has been Helix’s Midnight Luxe mattress. Every single one of our testers over the past several years has enjoyed laying down on the mattress, largely thanks to its super plush pillow top. You sink in a little bit, but it feels a little more cloud-like than conventional memory foam. But below the sink are several more supportive layers, including a high-density layer of gel memory foam and a lower layer of innersprings. It’s about twice the price of the Leesa Original, but if you’re looking for the best possible sleep experience you can get, this is probably it.
The Best Affordable Memory Foam Mattress
Casper Element mattress
Just as Tempur-Pedic started the conforming, cushioning mattress revolution, so too did Casper start the bed-in-a-box revolution. The Element is a new mattress the company designed in 2020, and it’s the cheapest mattress Casper has ever sold. Despite its humble cost, it’s actually a really comfy bed. Made from two layers of polyurethane foam, the bottom base layer forms a dense solid base, while the top foam layer is softer and perforated. Those perforations give you a good amount of breathability and airflow, so this foam mattress doesn’t cause overheating like some other less breathable foam mattresses and spring mattresses. It’s solidly constructed for plenty of edge support (you won’t roll off the bed as you sleep). Our tester described the texture as kind of like a hardened gloop of hair gel—medium-firm and supportive, but with just a little bit of give. That pressure-relieving support makes this a comfortable mattress for any kind of sleeper, coffin-style or otherwise. For an affordable mattress, the high-quality Element punches way above its weight.
A Slightly Firmer Affordable Memory Foam Mattress
Tuft and Needle Original mattress
Tuft and Needle
We’ve recommended Tuft & Needle’s Original mattress since we started testing mattresses in earnest over a few years ago. Like the Casper Element, it features a double-layered construction that ensures your body stays supported and cool as you sleep. (Hot sleepers rejoice!) And like the Element, the Original does a good job of accommodating motion transfer—your movement isn’t going to wake your sleeping partner. The difference is that the Tuft and Needle Original is about an inch and a half thicker. That might mean it’s more durable than the Element, but it also means it’s a bit on the firm side. Most people are combination sleepers that alternate between their side and back, so one might reason that most people will find sleeping on the Original just a little bit less comfortable. If you’re a back sleeper, or buying with durability in mind, this alternative is for you.
The Updated OG Memory Foam Mattress
Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Breeze mattress
Tempur-Pedic was the first company to really mainstream the idea of a memory foam mattress. Without its convincing ad campaigns, the mattress in a box revolution might have…happened a few years later than it did. To meet the rest of its competition, Tempur Pedic has spent a lot of energy re-engineering everything and updating its entire line with more sophisticated offerings. The most luxe of these, the Tempur-Breeze mattress, features three distinct foam layers. These layers sit underneath another two layers specifically meant to disperse body heat, so that you don’t sweat through your sheets as you sleep (a common problem with cheaper memory foam mattresses). The company offers this mattress in several firmness levels, from soft to firm, but each one should be plenty supportive for anyone regardless of your preferred sleep position. If you’re the kind of person who needs to use linen sheets, even in the winter, this is your mattress.
The Best Super-Firm Memory Foam Mattress
Brooklyn Bedding Plank mattress
If you’re a back sleeper, you’ve likely struggled to find a mattress that is as supportive as you need as you sleep. Soft mattresses are nice to sit on, but when you’re laying down on their pillow-y tops, they don’t quite let your spine rest exactly where it should. Most back sleepers find that when they opt for firmer mattresses, their problems (and lower back pain) start to melt away, and they find the comfortable sleep they’ve been missing out on after years of sleeping on wonky innersprings. If this resonates at all, you should consider the Plank mattress from Brooklyn Bedding. The mattress features a unique flippable design that unlocks two possible softness-levels, but to be clear, neither could be described as soft.” In fact, sleeping on The Plank is just about as close as one can get to sleeping on concrete. Thanks to its extremely high-density foam, the mattress has basically no sink and no bounce, but that’s exactly what makes it good. Or at least, good for people who like their mattresses extra firm.
The Best Truly Cheap Memory Foam Mattress
Best Price Green Tea mattress
Terrible, inaccurate name aside, the Best Price mattress is a decent memory foam option for people that want something firmer than the Casper. If you’re a side or stomach sleeper, we think you should spend the extra couple hundred dollars on a more supportive option, but if you’re a back sleeper, you can afford the compromise. There is just enough give that when you’re on your back, you’ll get a comfy spinal alignment. Compared to the more expensive mattresses on the list, the foam feels a little cheap, but if you’ve ever spent time in a college dorm, you’ve certainly slept on worse. And unlike a lot of other cheap mattresses, if you end up having a problem with the mattress, Best Price offers a 10-year warranty.