Although memory foam mattresses have not been around nearly as long as innerspring mattresses, which we cover elsewhere in this report, they are rapidly gaining in popularity.
The leading name in memory foam is Tempur-Pedic (Est. $1,700 and up), which easily earns our Best Reviewed nod. Founded in 1992, this company, which is now owned by Sealy, pioneered the production of luxury memory foam mattresses and is generally among the top-rated brands. The line features a wide range of models and, while all conform to the body, some offer surfaces that vary in firmness and cover materials, as the brand aims to address a wide range of consumer preferences, most specifically body temperature since heat retention is the main complaint we see with memory foam.
Tempur-Pedic gets an 81 percent owner-satisfaction rating on SleepLikeTheDead.com, based on more than 1,830 owner comments. Durability and resistance to sagging are among its chief strengths, according to site editors. Many users also find that it's great at isolating motion, so partners don't disturb one another when they change positions during the night, and some find it better than other memory-foam models at contouring to the body.
The line also gets high marks on Viewpoints.com, where more than 1,800 users give it top ratings for comfort, durability and support. In addition, one Tempur-Pedic model, the Cloud Supreme, earns excellent marks for durability in a professional evaluation.
On the downside, in addition to the heat retention issue we mention above, some find fault with the relatively high price of Tempur-Pedic mattresses. If cost is an issue, several lesser-known brands offer memory foam mattresses that are significantly less expensive than Tempur-Pedic. The best rated of these is Bed in a Box (Est. $950 and up). This line is sold online, and earns a satisfaction rating of 86 percent on SleepLikeTheDead.com, based on its analysis of nearly 340 owner comments. Owners give it high marks for comfort, value and customer service, but the brand scores slightly below Tempur-Pedic for durability. Users also say it gives off a bad odor when new, though that is a common complaint with all memory foam mattresses.
A big handicap for Bed in a Box is that, because the mattresses aren't sold in stores, you can't test one before making a commitment. However, the company offers a full money-back guarantee with return shipping costs covered -- provided that owners give the mattress a full 60 days to get used to it before deciding it's not right for them.
Mattresses are expensive, there's no getting around that fact, and memory foam tends to be one of the more expensive options. However, it does not have to be that way. The 12-inch Memory Foam Mattress and Frame Set (Est. $600) by Best Price Mattress gets stellar reviews from dozens of owners for its incredible value. For your $600 you get a king-sized mattress, a bed frame, and a fitted bed skirt that allows you to hide the bed frame while creating hidden, underbed storage.
While 12 inches is a fairly thin mattress, user reviews don't reflect issues with that at all; rather, they say this memory foam mattress is extremely comfortable and seems very sturdy and durable. We saw reports from owners who have had this mattress for two years or more and say it's still as good as new. It also gets very good ratings from those who say it even provides great support to heavier people without that sinking feeling that some get from memory foam.
At an even lower price point, but with equally stellar reviews, the Signature Sleep 8-Inch Memory Foam Mattress (Est. $150 and up) does not come with a foundation, but thousands of very satisfied customers give it high ratings for comfort, value and durability. Some say that it seems overly firm at first, but softens up with use and as it warms to body temperature -- not an unusual occurrence with memory foam. Some add a mattress topper, which we cover in a separate report, to adjust the firmness level or to add thickness to the mattress. If you'd really like to move into memory foam, but can't justify the high prices of the name brands, either of these two very affordable mattresses are a good place to start.
Elsewhere in this report: