Tempur-Pedic mattresses are perhaps the best-known memory foam mattress, but they're not the only one. Less expensive offerings from companies like Bergad Isoform are often described by owners as being equally comfortable. Memory foam conforms to the body, a feeling that many people like but others find uncomfortable. Memory foam mattresses can also offer some relief from joint pain. However they impede movement during sleep (especially for heavier people), which can be important for spinal health. Because they isolate motion better than innersprings, they can be a good choice for partners. Memory foam mattresses are more durable than innersprings but are also more expensive. When new, they can produce an odor that many owners find unpleasant. Memory foam is less likely to sag or to harbor allergy-triggering dust mites than innerspring mattresses. One of its drawbacks is how it responds to temperature. Because of the way memory foam responds to absorb body heat, it can feel too warm in summer and too firm in the winter. As with all mattresses, it's important to try out a memory foam mattress before you make the switch from another type.
Most mattress buyer's guides tend to focus on innerspring mattresses, but many include information on memory foam as well, and a few focus specifically on this type of mattress. We found general advice on mattress shopping at ConsumerReports.org, Which? and Choice magazines, along with more detailed information about memory foam mattresses at SleepLikeTheDead.com, WhatsTheBest-Mattress.com and MyFoamMattress.net.
According to this article -- which editors say is based on data from more than 5,600 owners -- about 81 percent of owners are happy with their memory foam mattresses (a higher percentage than for any other mattress type). The most common complaints about memory foam are that it feels too hot and smells bad initially. These problems are more common with higher-density foam.
Review: Memory Foam Mattress Reviews and Ratings, Editors of SleepLikeTheDead.com, Updated Oct. 4, 2010
Daniel Burrows and Liz Hoffman have compiled several pages of information on memory foam mattresses and how they measure up against other types. Although no specific brands are recommended, the site has good information on memory foam densities, temperature sensitivity, types and construction.
Review: Revealing Memory Foam Mattress Findings, Daniel Burrows and Liz Hoffman
3. Choice magazine
This mattress buying guide from Choice, a publication of the Australian Consumers' Association, focuses on innerspring mattresses, but it does provide some useful information about memory foam in the section on alternatives.
Review: Mattress Buying Guide, Tanya Fong, May 20, 2010
4. Which? magazine
This buying guide from the U.K.'s Which? magazine mostly discusses innerspring mattresses, but it does include some useful information about memory foam as well. The information here is targeted toward British consumers but is equally applicable to shoppers in the U.S.
Review: Choosing the Best Type of Mattress, Editors of Which? magazine
5. New York Magazine
Sarah Bernard describes her experiences testing 100 memory foam, latex and hybrid mattresses. Bernard does not care for memory foam in general, saying it feels "like warm quicksand." Of the memory-foam mattresses she tests, her favorite is the Magniflex Geoethic, which has channels cut into the foam to let air circulate.
Review: I Slept on 100 Mattresses, Sarah Bernard, Feb. 8, 2009
Editors poll more than 17,000 subscribers who have purchased mattresses in the past few years to ask about their satisfaction with both the brand they chose and the store where they made the purchase. The results reveal significant differences in consumer satisfaction with both brands and stores, but a majority of buyers in every price range say they are highly satisfied.
Review: Would You Buy That Mattress Again?, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Oct. 2009
7. Choice magazine
In this report, the editors of Choice magazine poll mattress buyers to see how satisfied they are with their purchases. One memory foam mattress, Tempur-Pedic (known simply as Tempur in Australia) is the most highly rated brand overall.
Review: Mattress Survey, Tanya Fong, June 6, 2010
8. What's the Best Mattress
This website as a whole focuses chiefly on innerspring mattresses, but this page offers a brief discussion of memory foam mattresses. It mentions the composition of memory foam, its pros and cons and some tips for choosing a mattress.
Review: Memory Foam Mattresses, Editors of WhatsTheBest-Mattress.com
9. Memory Foam Mattress.org
MemoryFoamMattress.org aims to be a source for shoppers looking for the best foam mattress to fit their needs. There's some good information here about the types of memory foam but little comparative information.
Review: Memory Foam Mattress Reviews and Links, Editors of MemoryFoamMattress.org
This study compares outcomes in 160 patients with chronic lower back pain when sleeping on a hard mattress, a memory foam mattress and a waterbed. The authors conclude that memory foam mattresses and waterbeds are preferable to hard mattresses for back-pain patients.
Review: Better Backs by Better Beds?, Kim Bergholdt, Rasmus N. Fabricius and Tom Bendix, April 1, 2008
Charlene Laino interviews several sleep experts, including orthopedic physicians and a physical therapist, about their mattress recommendations. One physical therapist notes that while foam mattresses can ease joint pain, they are not necessarily the best choice for most people.
Review: The Best Mattress for a Good Night's Sleep, Charlene Laino
Of the more than 200 mattresses at Epinions.com, the two top-rated brands are memory foam mattresses: Bergad Isoform and Bragada Crowne (discontinued). Interestingly, several mattresses in the much pricier Tempur-Pedic line receive large numbers of reviews with only middling overall scores.
Review: Mattresses, Contributors to Epinions.com