Memory Foam Mattress Buying Guide

Memory foam mattresses have been around for several decades now.  Early adopters spent thousands of dollars on Tempurpedic mattresses because of the many benefits that memory foam offers to you, but now there are plenty of Tempurpedic alternatives that are much more affordable and similar in quality.

These “new” mattresses are known to be some of the best mattresses for lower back pain that can give you a much more restful sleep.

About Memory Foam

Memory foam itself was created by NASA engineers.  They did not create the material with the idea of creating a mattress, but rather as a new seat cushion for planes. They invented this in the 1970′s to provide more comfort as well as safety in a crash landing.  The product then was known as “temper foam” and was not released to the public until 1980. - Top 10 NASA Inventions – Memory Foam

Memory Foam Benefits

Memory foam will have give and mold under pressure and heat, but only in localized areas.  This means that the mattress will soften under specific pressure points that your body has on the bed, relieving stress and therefore decreasing pains and discomforts while you are lying down.

Benefits that have been associated with sleeping on a memory foam mattress include:

  • Decreased back pain
  • Less sleep needed
  • More energy during the day
  • Awakening less in your sleep
  • Undisturbed sleep when sharing a bed


These mattresses are always graded with different “memory foam densities.”  Density is basically how much memory foam is condensed into each square inch of mattress.  Lower density memory foam mattresses will have a lot more give than higher density.  Too high of a density and the mattress will be stiff and uncomfortable.

Guidelines for choosing memory foam density:

  • 4lb and under – Too soft
  • 5.3lb – Good
  • 8lb. – Best
  • Over 9lb – Too stiff

Memory Foam vs. Coil Spring Mattresses

Coil mattresses are the oldest form of mattress currently sold in a mattress store.  These inner spring mattresses are built with metal coils throughout the middle of the mattress that give a springy feeling and allows some give while you lay on the mattress.  These beds are the cheapest available, but don’t provide the support or benefits of memory foam.  The only benefit of innerspring mattresses over memory foam would be the bounce, if that is what you like.

See our inner spring mattress buying guide.

Memory Foam vs. Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses are a newer form of bedding that is gaining popularity quickly.  They provide a lot of the same benefits as memory foam (decreased back pain, better sleep, more daytime energy, etc.)  When shopping for a latex mattress, be wary about the smell.  They often have a chemical smell (it is latex!).  There are green latex mattresses made of eco friendly materials that don’t smell though, but these are more expensive.  Latex mattresses are also heavier than memory foam on most occasions.  They provide a “bouncier” feel, but not the bounce of a coil mattress.

See our Latex mattress buying guide.


If you are looking for a memory foam mattress, you should immediately check out testimonials on the companies’ websites that you visit.  You want to be sure that other people that were looking for a mattress with similar needs had their needs met.  You also want to check to make sure there are no problems with the mattresses that any particular company has to offer.  After you check out the website testimonials, head to the Better Business Bureau for more objective views.


Spring mattresses needed to have a box spring, or a foundation with them.  Most people are used to getting these with their mattresses, but they aren’t necessary for a memory foam mattress. There is nothing specific that you need for your mattress, so long as it can support the bed.  You can use an old box spring, platform bed, plywood or even just lay it on the floor.

Sleep Test Trial

You never really know how a bed will work out for you unless you really try it out.  Simply lying on a bed in a store like Sleepy’s is not going to be enough for you.  It takes more than a few minutes of sampling a mattress to know how you will sleep on it.  Actually, it will take you several nights.

Make sure that whatever company you go with, you are offered a sleep trial.  Also, make sure you give the sleep trial enough time to make sure that the mattress works for you.  Many people will take a week or two to adjust to a new mattress.  That means you shouldn’t give up after a few days of bad rest.  Give it the full trial and then judge it from there.

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