We haven’t picked one overall memory foam mattress winner – because we can’t! There’s not one mattress that will suit every sleeper. Different sizes, shapes and sleeping preferences means mattresses are as individual as you are. Add in a market of literally thousands of mattress options and it can be hard to choose the best mattress for you.
Instead, we’ve focused on helping you understand what a memory foam mattress is to help you decide if it could be right for you. By arming you with impartial information and showcasing the top mattresses you can buy online, we’re narrowing your choices and making your next mattress choice simple and stress-free.
What is a memory foam mattress?
Memory foam mattresses have not-so-humble beginnings – memory foam is from the minds of NASA. It was developed to absorb shock and offer improved protection and comfort in NASA’s airplane seats. It remained NASA’s property until the 1980s and wasn’t used in mattresses until the early 1990s.
A typical memory foam mattress consists of an outer (normally removeable and washable) and inner cover and layers of memory foam. The foam used will have different purposes to meet different needs. These layers can include plush foam, ventilated cool foam, soft pressure relief foam and high-density foam.
As you’d expect, memory foam mattresses contour to your body, providing relief from pressure points and easing back pain. Memory foam is anti-dust mite and anti-microbial for a healthier sleep environment, especially useful if you suffer from allergies. It reduces motion transfer, helping to minimise partner disturbance, and it’s also very durable.
Memory foam mattresses can provide extra warmth, which isn’t ideal for hot Aussie nights but there are options to help combat heat retention. AirCool memory foam and gel memory foam both aim to retain less heat. AirCool through an open-celled structure that allows better airflow, and gel memory foam through a gel infusion.
How to choose a memory foam mattress
When choosing a mattress, it’s good to be armed with plenty of helpful information. Here are 7 questions to ask before buying a memory foam mattress.
1. What type of foam is it?
There isn’t just one type of memory foam – you can choose from multiple types: traditional, AirCool and gel. Traditional foam supports the body, minimising pressure points and increasing circulation for a sound night’s sleep. If you get hot when you sleep, AirCool foam can help reduce heat retention, keeping you cool. Gel foam is denser, offering more support and reducing discomfort.
2. What density is it?
You can choose high, medium or low-density memory foam mattresses, depending on your needs. If you’re after a durable mattress, high-density is recommended. If you sleep with a partner who tosses and turns, disrupting your sleep, medium-density is best for minimising partner disturbance. If you want to adjust quickly to your new mattress, low-density foam is easier to break in.
3. How hypoallergenic is it?
All memory foam mattresses are antimicrobial, but certain types are better than others at reducing dust mites and other allergens. Gel memory foam is highly resistant to dust mites, traditional high-density foam can help reduce allergens, and latex foam is considered truly hypoallergenic.
4. What’s your favourite sleeping position?
Because of the way foam conforms to your body, plus its overall thickness, some memory foam mattresses are better for side sleepers than others. If you’re a side sleeper, choose a foam mattress with a thickness between 20-35cm. The foam is thicker, providing extra support to your knees, hips and shoulders when you sleep on your side.
5. How hot do you sleep?
If you find it hard to sleep – and stay asleep – when it’s a hot night, consider a AirCool or gel foam mattress. They’re both more effective than traditional foam at reducing heat retention and keeping you cool overnight.
6. How thick is it?
Memory foam mattresses range in size from 15-35cm. Although the thickness of the mattress doesn’t impact on the overall comfort of the mattress, thicker mattresses are softer than thin ones. The base foam is the main support structure and comfort-provider. Additional layers – and thickness – adds extra softness. So, if you like a soft mattress, go for a thick mattress. If you prefer a firm mattress, a thin mattress could be better for you.
7. Is it petroleum- or plant-based?
Memory foam is usually made with oil-based additives, either petroleum- or plant-based. Plant-based materials are environmentally friendly and more sustainable than petroleum. They can also sleep cooler and reduce heat retention better than their petroleum counterparts.