If you’re waking up with back, neck, shoulder, or hip pain – then your worn out spring mattress could well be the problem.
And whilst investing in a high quality memory foam mattress could be the key to the deep and refreshing night’s sleep that you’re craving for – it could also backfire on you.
Because when I started sleeping on a memory foam mattress for the first few times, my back would begin to hurt after around 20 minutes and I couldn’t figure out why.
I now know that this was because the memory foam firmness wasn’t right for my body type and sleeping position.
So, if you’d like to know how to buy a memory foam mattress without making things worse – be sure to read this memory foam mattress buying guide in full.
What is a Memory Foam Mattress?
A memory foam mattress is designed to hug the contours of your body to provide more support and comfort than a traditional spring mattress.
Memory foam mattresses work by absorbing your body heat to give the material the plasticity it needs to be able to adjust to your body shape. For example, if you press down on a memory foam mattress, you’ll see how the material remains in the shape of your hand for a few seconds and then returns to its original state.
Technically speaking, memory foam consists mainly of polyurethane and other chemicals that increase the viscosity and density. This ‘viscoelastic’ material creates a matrix of open cells that allows air to pass through it and facilitate the foam’s elastic properties.
Memory foam mattresses are typically layered with other materials to provide support – since a mattress made from 100% memory foam would sag too much.
I’ll explain what the apparent benefits of memory foam confers in just a moment.
What are the Different Types of Memory Foam?
There are basically three different types of memory foam as follows:
Traditional Memory Foam
Traditional memory foam behaves in the way described above and adjusts to your body to provide a more comfortable night’s sleep.
Cooling Open Cell Memory Foam
One of the most common complaints about normal memory foam mattresses is that they retain too much heat and can make you ‘sleep hot’.
Memory foam with cooling properties is designed to solve this problem by using an open cell design to allow better airflow and transfer heat away from your body as you sleep.
For example, Amerisleep use plant-based Bio-Pur® memory foam to supposedly prevent heat build up and give you a better night’s sleep.
Amerisleep claim that the Bio-Pur™ material makes their mattresses 5x more breathable than traditional memory foam.
Gel Memory Foam
Gel memory foam mattresses are also designed to reduce heat build up.
However, because gel beads are used, this can potentially increase the density and support that the gel mattress provides.
What’s the Difference Between Latex and Memory Foam?
Latex is not the same as memory foam.
In fact, the major difference between memory foam and latex is that latex has a faster response time and more bounce. This means that if you move around in the night a lot (‘combo sleeper’) a latex foam mattress could be a better option because the material will spring back to its original shape faster.
This can prevent the feeling of getting ‘stuck’ in the mattress.
A latex mattress might be a better option for you if you want a lighter feel – so that you don’t feel like you’re sinking too far into the mattress.
Alternatively, if you’re a combo sleeper, you might want to check out Amerisleep’s AS mattress range – since their Bio-Pur® material is supposedly 10x more responsive than normal memory foam to stop you getting trapped in the mattress.
What are the Benefits of a Memory Foam Mattress?
It’s important to note that ‘a good night’s sleep’ is highly individual and down to many factors such as your health, body weight, sleeping position, and routines.
So the benefits of a memory foam mattress will likely vary from person-to-person – even if they bought the exact same mattress.
Furthermore, the exact benefits of a memory foam mattress will depend on if you decide to choose a cooling or gel memory foam mattresses over traditional memory foam.
But generally speaking, here are some of the possible benefits of buying a memory foam mattress:
One of the problems with normal spring mattresses is that as they begin to wear out, the springs can push into your body more and cause pain.
Memory foam avoids this.
Furthermore, certain mattresses like the Amerisleep AS2 have been reported by some customers to provide relief from back pain. Whilst the AS4 is best suited to side sleepers because it can supposedly reduce pressure in key areas such as the shoulders and hips. And Amerisleep’s HIVE® technology has apparently been proven in clinical trials to reduce pain-causing pressure points by up to 49%.
And in a general sense, these pressure relieving qualities are possible because memory foam allows you to ‘sink in’ to the mattress more – thus dissipating the pressure.
Avoid Getting Woken Up By Your Partner
Are you fed up of being woken up by your partner tossing and turning during the night?
Then the increased density and motion isolation properties of a memory foam mattress could stop this.
Because unlike traditional spring mattresses, you won’t have to experience that really annoying shaking feeling that you get when your other half turns over.
So if you’re a light sleeper with an acrobatic bed partner, then a memory foam mattress could really be of some help.
Can Reduce Allergy Symptoms
I have pretty bad allergies that are triggered by both dust and pollen.
And I’ve found in the past that sleeping in a memory foam mattress has helped because it reduces the amount of allergens that are trapped in the material.
This is quite a big claim, but the Celliant® technology used by Amerisleep has also apparently been determined to increase circulation.
Which could help you if you have injuries, are an athlete, or have poor blood flow in your extremities.
What are the Cons of a Memory Foam Mattress?
The biggest drawback with memory foam mattresses is becoming too hot due to the heat trapping qualities of the foam.
However, as I said, you can get around this by going for a gel or open cell mattress.
Another problem is getting the wrong foam density relative to your sleeping position – which can actually result in aches and pains.
I’ll explain how to avoid this in step 1 in the next section.
Other issues with memory foam mattresses may include a strong smell, not being waterproof, and being quite difficult to move around due to their weight.
How Long Does a Memory Foam Mattress Last?
A memory foam mattress will typically last between 7 and 10 years if well looked after.
You may wish to invest in a liquid resistant mattress protector to avoid spills and stains that could affect the warranty.
Talking of warranties, Amerisleep offer 20 year warranties on their memory foam mattresses – with the first 10 years being a full replacement warranty, and the last 10 years covering 50% of the costs required to replace your mattress.
What is a Memory Foam Mattress Topper?
A memory foam mattress topper is an additional piece of removable viscoelastic memory foam bedding that can be added to a mattress to provide extra support and comfort.
Mattress toppers can provide some of the additional benefits of a memory foam mattress such as pressure point relief and motion isolation, as well as possibly being able to extend the life of the mattress.
There are other types of mattress toppers available such as egg crate mattress toppers and wool or fleece mattress toppers – but I won’t go into those here.
Who Makes the Best Memory Foam Mattresses?
There are plenty of memory foam mattresses available to buy from different brands.
But I’ve been mentioning Amerisleep and their AS range throughout this article so far and it’s with good reason.
Because not only do they provide 5 different mattresses that are designed for different types of sleepers and sleeping requirements, the materials that they use can provide cooling properties, reduce back pain, provide motion isolation, and they come with a 20 year warranty and 100 night sleep trial.
How to Buy a Memory Foam Mattress in 5 Steps
Ok, so now that I’ve answered the main questions pertaining to memory foam mattresses, actually buying your mattress should now be a whole lot easier.
Here are the 5 steps that I would personally use to find my ideal memory foam mattress in the fastest possible time.
1: Pick the Right Firmness
You can’t just expect to buy any old memory foam mattress and be happy with it.
Memory foam mattresses come in firm, medium-firm, medium, medium-soft, and soft.
Getting the right firmness can be tricky because how you’ll feel in the mattress will also depend on your body weight.
As a general rule, firmer mattresses are better for people who sleep on their front or back because they tend to keep the hips in a more elevated position and thus avoid causing back pain; plus you won’t sink into the mattress too far on your front – which can be suffocating. If you weigh more than 200 lbs, you might also prefer a firmer mattress because you’ll naturally find yourself sinking into the mattress more.
Softer memory foam mattresses are generally better for side sleepers and pressure relief because they allow for the shoulders to sink into the mattress more and thus provide better spinal alignment whilst easing the pressure on the more angular regions.
Medium mattresses like the AS3 are better for ‘combo sleepers’ because if you’re changing position in the night frequently, the responsiveness of the material combined with the moderate firmness should prevent you from feeling ‘stuck’ in the mattress.
2: Consider the Durability
You’re going to want to buy a mattress that’s going to last.
But durability can be tricky to fathom – even if you’ve tried the bed out first hand.
However, one indicator is the density of the foam.
Denser memory foam tends to be more durable. To identify a dense memory foam mattress, you’ll need to know the density rating.
Anything over 5 lbs./ft³ density is going to be pretty durable on the whole and cain potentially retain its integrity for around 8-12 years.
You can expect to pay more for denser memory foam, but the added longevity may well be worth it.
3: Look for a Sleep Trial Period
Here’s the thing with memory foam.
It can take up to 30 nights for your body to become adjusted to the material.
So if a memory foam mattress feels uncomfortable – or even comfortable – initially, this could change with time.
Because of this I recommend buying a mattress that allows you to return it if it’s not right for you for an extended period.
4: Read Real Customer Reviews
Even if a mattress sounds great on paper – I would go and check out the customer reviews to find out what other people think.
Now, it’s worth keeping in mind that people will often only leave a review when something is wrong and do nothing when they’re happy.
So rather than focus on one-off complaints that may pertain to delivery or something that could be down to the customer making a mistake – look for common themes that pertain to the quality of the product.
For example, if a mattress sleeps ‘too hot’, any strong odours created by the material, or other integrity-based complaints.
5: Buy Your Memory Foam Mattress
When it comes to buying your mattress – you can either go to a store or order online.
Going through a store may have the advantage of being able to test it out first-hand to see how comfortable it is.
However, you may end up paying more than if you were to shop online.
If possible, you might be able to try in store first, then find that same mattress online for cheaper if you’re prepared to go to some extra lengths.
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
Through in-depth research and analysis, Dan’s goal with this website is to help others avoid such pitfalls by creating the best online resource for helping you find your ideal mattress, bedding, and bedroom furniture.
Dan is a qualified NVQ Level 2 Fitness Instructor with 6 years’ experience helping clients improve their health through diet, exercise, and proper sleep hygiene.
He also holds several college and university-level qualifications in health sciences, psychology, mathematics, art, and digital media creation – which helps him to publish well researched and informative product reviews as well as articles on sleep, health, wellbeing, and home decor.
Dan also has direct personal experience with insomnia, anxiety, misophonia (hypersensitivity to sounds), and pain from both acute and long-standing sporting injuries – he enjoys writing insightful articles around these subjects to help fellow sufferers of such conditions.
Learn more about Dan here.