The best memory foam mattresses contour to your shape, providing more consistent support across the whole of your body than pocket sprung mattresses, which tend to put pressure on particular areas. There's evidence that they last longer than sprung mattresses too. But all memory foam mattresses are not created equal, and with so many different brands and models on the market, how do you choose the best mattress for you?
In this article, we've done the work so you don't have to. Read on and you'll find a carefully curated selection of the best memory foam mattresses available today, in a range of styles and to suit every budget. First, though, you might be wondering exactly what is memory foam, and how one made from it differs from a traditional spring mattress...
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What is a memory foam mattress?
Memory foam might sound new, but it’s actually been around for almost 30 years. This pressure-absorbing material was originally used by NASA to cushion astronauts' seats. Then in 1991, mattress company Tempur started using it to create a new kind of support for sleepers. That's because memory foam harnesses the heat of your own body to soften and mould to your shape.
While the first mattresses of this type were basically just a block of foam, we've moved on a long way since then. The best memory foam mattresses today are constructed of multiple layers to help support specific areas of the body, making them an excellent choice for sufferers of back and joint pain. Still confused? Head to our memory foam vs spring mattress breakdown.
Memory foam has also given rise to a generation of 'bed-in-a-box' mattresses. Because memory foam compresses down easily, a memory foam mattress can be reduced in size and sent in the mail, either in a box or a plastic bag. When opened at the other end, they naturally return to full size, although this process may take up to 48 hours to complete. These mattresses are usually sold online only, so you can’t pre-test them. However, most companies offer lengthy trials, usually around 100 days, and allow you to return them if you're not satisfied.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best memory foam mattresses for comfort, support and a great night's sleep. Whether you’re looking for a double, single, king or more, read on to discover the right one for you.
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There’s not much we didn’t rate about this UK-made memory foam mattress in a box, and it seems we’re not alone. The Emma Original was a Which? 2018 Best Buy and performed admirably in their tough tests. Online customer reviews back up their findings too, with a sturdy four stars overall at Amazon. So what, exactly, makes the Emma Original our pick for the best memory foam mattress you can buy?
Firstly, its extremely comfortable. Underneath the cover (which is soft, breathable and – big plus point – washable at 60˚C) is a three-layer foam construction. It includes an Airgocell foam layer, which Emma’s maker claims helps to make the mattress stay cool. This was definitely true for our testers, but if you’re a particularly sweaty sleeper, memory foam might not be the best choice anyway.
Below this sits a 25mm memory foam layer, which distributes weight evenly, providing pressure relief for joints, while the foam base provides support for troublesome areas such as shoulders and particularly the lower back. It’s a combination that we found most satisfying when testing, and one that provided a great night’s kip for both a restless side sleeper and an ‘out-like-a-light’ back snoozer. Price-wise, it's usually at the higher end of the mid-range memory foam mattress bracket, but there are often deals to be had.
One problem with memory foam is that if you’re already a warm sleeper, the material’s heat-retaining properties can result in sweaty nights. Not so with the , which boasts a soft quilted cooling cover that adapts to your body heat, helping keep those with a tendency to overheat cool all night. Three layers of memory foam below the outer cover err on the firmer side of medium, making this mattress a good option for front and back sleepers, but probably not best for heavy side sleepers, or those who prefer a soft, enveloping bed.
Which? rated it a Best Buy, and declared that it gave great, all-round support, although some Amazon reviews mention a lingering chemical smell – which we can confirm, although it did dissipate fairly quickly. Another common Amazon gripe is that sometimes the mattresses doesn't expand properly, but ours was fine. Overall, this is a fantastic-value memory foam mattress.
If you struggle to get comfortable at night, either due to aching joints or simply because you're a light sleeper, this mattress could be just what you need to sleep soundly. As with all boxed mattresses, it's simple to get upstairs, unpack and unroll, and takes just a few hours to fill out to its full depth. We did have to open a window to dissipate a slight chemical smell that’s often part-and-parcel of memory foam mattresses, but it soon wore off and was unnoticeable a few hours later.
Importantly for sleepers subject to overheating at night, the Casper is made with an open-cell comfort layer, which keeps this mattress breathable. That means you stay cool throughout the night, helping you to sleep more comfortably – something borne out in the scores of Amazon reviews online.
Usually preferring a firmer mattress, one of our testers was concerned that it would be too marshmallow-like, but woke up in the morning professing to have had one of the best night’s sleep in recent memory, with no sign of previously aching knees. A brilliant investment for anyone looking for a better night's sleep.
Struggle to find a comfortable position on your existing mattress? Then you may find that the Eve Original memory foam mattress provides just the right level of comfort to allow you to settle into a position that’s right for you. It's made up of several layers, with the top one being a moisture-wicking material that will keep you cool – great for those who regularly overheat. Below that is a layer of pressure-absorbing memory foam, and under that a base layer that features seven ribbed support zones for specific trouble areas such as shoulders, lower spine and hips.
It’s another Which? Best Buy, and many buyers have been impressed with how it helped their back and neck pain, with restless sleepers reporting they slept through rather than tossing and turning all night. We definitely experienced a reduction in morning aches and pains, and although the top layer initially felt softer than our usual mattress, it was still pretty supportive. And actually, after a few nights we felt the dense base layer meant it erred on the firmer side. You've got 100 nights to test it out for yourself, in any case – the company will collect it for free if you don’t like it.
Since it brought memory foam to our bedrooms back in 1991, Tempur has launched a number of luxury mattresses. Like all of them, the CoolTouch Sensation Elite is a considered buy, costing a great deal more than most of its bed-in-a-box rivals. Is it worth the extra expense? Well, a staggering 4.8-star review average at Dreams would suggest it is, and we were certainly wowed by its luxurious feel, super soft exterior and quality finish.
If you’re a standard sleeper with no significant muscle pain or spinal issues, then you might be better served choosing a cheaper model like the Emma or Casper above. However, the almost complete lack of motion transfer and gently enveloping yet supportive structure means that if you suffer from back and shoulder pain, or you’re a particularly restless sleeper, this luxury memory foam mattress will be an investment you won’t regret.
We found its gently cushioning base and soft top layer, which stays cool and wicks away moisture, meant it feels more like a spring mattress, making it a good choice if you prefer something more traditional. If you can justify the spend, the CoolTouch Sensation Elite is an outstanding memory foam mattress.
Delivered in an easy-to-transport roll with Velcro carry handles rather than a box, the IKEA Morgedal memory foam mattress is the cheapest we tried. And if we're honest, we didn’t quite know what to expect. IKEA recommends three days for it to fill out to its 18cm depth, but we didn’t want to wait that long and felt it was OK to try after just 24 hours. It is thin compared to other mattresses (the average is around 25cm) but despite this it was actually one of the firmest mattresses we tried, which may be due to its no-nonsense, one solid layer construction.
This meant, as online reviews suggest, it's the least comfortable of all those we tried for side sleepers, but was absolutely fine for back sleepers who prefer a firmer mattress. The Morgedal did give off a slight chemical smell for the first day or two, but this dissipated after a while. Because of its price, it’s a good choice for those experimenting with memory foam for the first time, or looking for a guest room mattress. It was also one of the few memory foam mattresses we tested that can actually be tried in-store. That said, IKEA still offers a 90-day return period in case you’re not happy.
If you’re looking for the ultimate in comfort, Tempur is always a strong choice. We've already highlighted its CoolTouch Sensation Elite mattress, at number 3 on our list. But Tempur's Original Mattress is also well worth checking out.
This high-end, luxury mattress is available in three depths: the 21cm Supreme, the 25cm Elite and the 30cm Luxe. And you're spoilt for choice when it comes to sizes: not just Single, Double, King and Super King, but also Small Single, Long Single, and four custom sizes. In terms of firmness, it's on the softer side of medium, which means its best suited to those who like to sleep on their side. When you lie on it the foam adapts almost instantly to your position, keeping motion transfer to a minimum, so it's a great choice for restless sleepers too.
This mattress is certainly at the more expensive end, but you get a 100-night trial period to see if it's right for you. And if it's not, pickup is free, assuming you accept TEMPUR's offered collection date.
A fairly new entry to the bed-in-a-box market charts, the stand-out feature of the Sid memory foam mattress – aside from an ad campaign that’s all rock-star chic – is that the jeans-inspired denim or black outer cover is specifically designed to be shown off, not covered up. That’s all very well if you’ve got a New York-style loft apartment where you can show it off in style, but perhaps not perfect for a semi in Nuneaton. Anyway, we digress. The changeable covers aren’t the only story for this memory foam mattress.
Four layers – one of which features Graphyx, a proprietary technology harnessing the properties of graphite to cool and ventilate – combine to create a comfortable, sweat-free night. It’s fairly heavy, but easy to get into place and has a cutter to help remove the plastic without nicking the fabric.
While the deep, luxurious topper-style first layer softly envelops you, the firmer memory foam base layers below ensure it doesn’t stifle. It was still firm enough for our back sleeper, while our side sleeper felt it was one of the most comfortable they tried. That, coupled with the sweat-free sleep experience, and the fact the comfort layer cover can be machine washed, makes the Sid memory foam mattress a top choice despite the price.
Although the bed-in-a-box is a wonderful invention, getting rid of the cardboard afterwards can be an issue. So we were happy to see that this UK-made mattress was delivered in a vacuum-packed roll, rather than in a box. Dragging the Silentnight 3 Zone Memory Foam up the stairs, it felt the lightest of the mattresses we tried, so if you don’t want to be heavy lifting when changing sheets, this makes for a good choice.
The top cover is washable, but as it’s zipped only partially, it’s a little awkward to slip off and on again. At 18cm it’s also not as deep as many of the more expensive models we tried. But it’s a Which? Best Buy – and reviews on Amazon are mostly positive, although some buyers feel durability is an issue, claiming it sagged in the middle after less than a year.
The Silentnight 3 Zone Memory Foam is made up of just a single layer of foam, so it didn’t feel quite as robust at the sides as some of the others to us. At first it felt quite soft with lots of give. But while the three-zoned support does provide a sleep experience that’s softer in the shoulder area, it’s definitely firmer for hips and lower back, helping keep the spine aligned. It’s also treated to reduce moisture and dust-mite allergens to create a drier, fresher and all-round healthier mattress. If you're on a lower budget, this memory foam mattress is a decent buy.
If you're on a tight budget, then another good choice is the Tuft & Needle Original Mattress. This medium-firm mattress-in-a-box does a good job of providing balanced support across your body, and the inclusion of heat-absorbing graphite and cooling gel beads help wick away heat on hot nights.
It's best suited for back sleepers, while side sleepers and stomach sleeper might prefer something a little softer. And overall, remember this is cheap for a reason: It's only 10 inches thick and is on the whole a pretty basic mattress. The no-frills construction is based on two foam layers, and don't expect any luxurious touches or high-end features like edge support or a removable cover, which you might find on more expensive mattresses.
That said, for the money you're paying, this mattress offers excellent value, particularly given the efforts it makes to prevent overheating at night. And you get a 100-night trial too, so if you end up not liking it, you won't have lost anything overall.