Why Is Memory Foam The Top-Rated Mattress Type?

Why Is Memory Foam The Top-Rated Mattress Type?

See why memory foam tops consumer ratings.

Memory foam mattresses are relative newcomers on the bedding scene, but they’ve quickly carved out the top spot in consumer ratings. See why memory foam is the top-rated mattress type amongst consumers and how different brands stack up.

Consumer Satisfaction & Mattress Types

On average, memory foam mattresses have a consumer satisfaction rating of around 81%, according to review analysis website SleepLikeTheDead.com. That means 81 out of 100 owners report being satisfied or better with their beds.

How does this compare with other types? Innerspring mattresses, the most popular type, have an average satisfaction rating of only 63%, nearly 20% lower. Other specialty beds fare a little better;  waterbeds earn 79%, and latex mattresses earn 80%.

This trend has developed over the past 10 years as memory foam beds earn a larger share of the market and as technologies have improved. Several factors appear to be influencing memory foam’s top-rated status and these differences can be helpful to know when mattress shopping.

The Perks of Sleeping on Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses aren’t arbitrarily earning high consumer ratings; there are several trends and factors creating an advantage in reviews. From comfort to durability,  these are the areas where memory foam excels, and the reasons the category has the highest satisfaction scores:

  • Good Support & Pain Relief. Memory foam contours better than any other bedding material. It conforms to your body rather than forcing your body to adopt the shape of the bed, providing full-body support. The material also spreads body weight over its surface, reducing pressure points as well.
  • Excellent Motion Isolation. Memory foam excels at absorbing motion rather than transferring it across the surface of the mattress like spring and water beds. This means that when one person moves or gets out bed, their partner is less likely to be disturbed.
  • No Noise. Foam mattresses do not have any components that make noise, whereas coils can squeak and creak and waterbeds can slosh.
  • Good Durablity. The average memory foam beds lasts 7-8 years, versus 6-7 years for innersprings. Beds with higher density cores and comfort layers can last even longer, in the 9-10 year range.
  • Can Be Affordable. The average price people pay for a memory foam bed ($1610) is only about $20 higher than the average price paid for a spring bed ($1590). It is also cheaper than the median prices latex beds ($1870). There are also several brands with better than average ratings and mattress models under $1000.
  • Easy to Find. These types of mattresses are widely available in local stores and online, making them fairly easy to shop for, whereas latex and waterbeds can be more difficult to find.
  • Better Warranties. Warranties on memory foam beds tend to be stronger than those on spring beds in similar price ranges. Mid-range brands typically offer 10 years of full-coverage and up to 15 years of prorated coverage, and may warrant impressions as little as 0.75” deep.

The only areas where memory foam lags behind the other types is usually in odor and heat. About 15% of people find that their mattresses have strong chemical odors when new (especially high-density foams), and about 8% of people find they sleep hot. As a contrast, innersprings have odors for about 8% of people and sleep hot for about 4-5% as well.  Individual brands can differ significantly in these areas though, with some showing heat and odor complaints below average even compared to spring beds.

Comparing Top Memory Foam Mattress Brands

Memory foam mattress brands can differ in their individual satisfaction ratings depending on quality, materials, design, service and other aspects. Some brands do rate better than others, but even some of the lower-rated memory foam lines still top some of the better innerspring brands! Here’s an overview of several of the leading brands in America, listed alphabetically:

BrandMemory Foam TypeAverage SatisfactionQueen Price Range
Med to High Density
Bed In A BoxTraditional & Gel
Low Density
Comfort Dreams Traditional & Gel
Low to Med Density
NovosbedTraditional & Gel
Low to Med Density
Sealy OptimumTraditional & Gel
Med Density
Serta iComfortTraditional & Gel
Low to Med Density
Simmons ComforPedicTraditional & Gel
Low to High Densit
Sleep InnovationsTraditional & Gel
Low Density
Spa SensationsTraditional & Gel
Low Density
Low to High Density

Data drawn from SleepLikeTheDead.com, retailer websites, and third-party consumer review websites.

Choosing the Best Memory Foam Mattress

Which mattress model and brand is best for you depends on several factors. One of the primary ways memory foam is categorized is by the foam density. Low, medium and high-density foams all have similar satisfaction, but unique properties that will appeal to different people.

  • Low Density (<3.5lbs): Cheaper, less odorous, less likely to sleep hot, and less prone to “trapped” sensation; however, less durable, and less effective at contouring and relieving pressure points.
  • Medium Density (3.5-5.0lbs): Moderates between the extremes of the low and high in terms of price, odor, heat, ease of movement, durability and contouring abilities.
  • High Density (>5.0lbs): More durable, more effective pressure relief and contouring, and more buoyant; however, most expensive and more difficult to move on, more prone to odor, sleeping hot.

In addition to density, the construction of the bed also matters. Back sleepers and petite individuals often feel comfortable with 2”-4” of memory foam at the surface, and comfort layers that are too thick could affect support. However, side sleepers and heavier individuals need more memory foam to experience the pressure relieving benefits, and may feel most comfortable on a bed with 3”-6” at the surface.

There are also a few differences amongst the different types of foams on the market. Traditional temperature-sensitive memory foams soften with heat and become firmer when cool, creating the floating or sinking sensation. The effect of having softer memory near your body with the surrounding foam being cooler and firmer can create the sensation of being “stuck in hole”, especially among denser memory foams. Room temperatures can also affect how they feel.

Memory foams that are temperature neutral soften with pressure rather than heat, remain consistent with room temperature fluctuations, and respond to movements quicker. Plant-based memory foams are making waves in this category, and according to one research firm, this category is expected to grow the fastest in the next few years.

Gel foams are also making splash, with brands advertising cooler sleep and added pressure relief. The idea is that the gel beads or infusions will take heat away from the sleeper more effectively. However, like an ice pack, the gel will eventually match body temperature. According to ratings, gel memory foam mattresses offer only marginal differences in cooling compared to traditional foams, and perhaps little difference at all compared to temperature-neutral foams.

Ultimately, memory foam mattresses are a great option for almost any kind of sleeper. More people are happy with this mattress type than with any other, likely due to factors like excellent support, pain relief, and good durability. As a category, memory foam is also becoming much more widely available and in some cases can be even more affordable than spring mattresses of similar quality. If you are shopping for a new mattress, you owe it to yourself to take a look at memory foam and see why consumers rate it as the best mattress type.

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