Memory Foam Mattress Buying Guide

What is Memory Foam?

Memory Foam is a fantastic product. Switching to a foam mattress can make an unbelievable difference in a person's sleep. But before going out and buying a memory foam mattress, you should learn about what memory foam is, and whether it is for you. Memory Foam has been on the retail market for about 15 years now.

Memory foam, also known as visco-foam, is a temperature sensitive foam that resists change and slowly returns to its original shape when forced to change. Where conventional polyurethane foam has a quick recovery (think of the bouncy feeling), memory foam is slow reacting and conforms to irregularities in shape, such as those of the back, instead of fighting them. The three major factors that are going to determine the feel of the mattress are Density, Firmness, and the thickness of the memory foam layer.

The health benefits of memory foam are wide ranging, and of all the different sleep surfaces on the market today, memory foam is most beneficial to the average person's health. What you should understand though, is memory foam is not a bouncy surface. If you like this effect, then memory foam isn't for you.

Choose the Right Density

You may be asking, what is the difference between the memory foam beds seen on TV for $4000, and those seen in Costco for $400.

The answer is our next topic: Density. Density is measured in pounds per cubic feet. Memory foam is produced that is as low as 1.5lb density, and as high Bib density. Generally speaking, the higher the density, the higher the pressure relief and the more expensive the foam will be. Much of memory foam found at discounters is 3.0lb density or less, so make sure you ask before you buy. You will not notice much "memory" in memory foam that is less than 4.0lb in density.

For a mattress, we don't recommend going below 3lb in density. 3lb density memory foam is not overly expensive anymore, but will last a LOT longer than lesser dense foams, plus it will relieve pressure better and provide you more comfort. Both Tempurpedic and Select Foam use 5.3 Ib memory in their beds, and this seems to be where the entire industry will end up in the next few years.

Recently, denser foams up to 8lb have been produced. These are very expensive, and are recommended for those people that need the extra pressure relief, like those suffering with back or hip problems. Generally these higher density memory foams are used as a top comfort layer, and are supported by lower density foam layer beneath. Often you might find these as memory foam mattress pads and toppers.

Recently we've been hearing stories of Asian factories adding clay particles to their memory foam to increase its density for marketing purposes. This adds no value to the customer experience, and actually makes the foam break down quicker over time in addition to making it hotter sleeping. We recommend staying away from the brands carried in the Big Box stores for this reason.
Choose the Right Firmness

Firmness is the second major component to how a memory foam mattress will feel. Firmness is measured in ILD. Because memory foam is temperature sensitive, the ILD will vary depending on the temperature of the room.

Normally though, a good ILD range is between 10 and 14. Temperpedic's memory foam, for example, has an ILD in the 12-14 range. Stay away from anything below 8 ILD, or over 16 ILD, as the memory foam effect can be greatly diminished.

Memory Foam Thickness

The thickness of the memory foam layer will have a big effect on how comfortable the mattress is. Do not focus on the overall height of the mattress, but rather the thickness of the memory foam within the mattress. We recommend going with mattresses or memory foam toppers that have more than 2.5" of memory foam and recommend users stay away from toppers or mattresses with more than 6" of memory foam. Too little memory foam and the mattress will be too firm and cause you to bottom out the memory foam; too thick of memory foam may cause improper spinal alignment. The sweet spot tends to be 3" to 5" for most people.

There are a lot of companies out there selling 12" memory foam mattresses with only 2" of memory foam inside. Do not fall for this. You'd be better off going with a 6" mattress with 3" of memory foam inside.

At the end of the day, if you follow our recommendations for Density, Firmness, and Thickness, you should be very happy with your purchase.

How to Spot a Scam?

How to Spot a Scam. It is a shame that we even have to include a section like this in our memory foam buying guide, but unfortunately many retailers AND manufacturers have done things to cheapen up or misrepresent products in order to make a bigger profit.

First of all, anyone you purchase a mattress or topper from should offer a free trial period of some sort. Our trial period, for example, is 90 days long. Memory foam is one of those products that very rarely gets returned, so if a company is not offering a free trial period, they may be offering a very low quality product.

Watch out for Asian made memory foam. While there are some reputable Asian foam pourers, most are adding clay to increase the density from a 3lb to a 5lb. This damages the integrity and performance of the memory foam, and will cause the foam to develop depressions.

If it seems too good to be true, it often is. Much of the stuff on ebay, for example, is grossly misrepresented, and we recommend staying away from there.

Do your homework, search for reviews on the internet, and call the companies and speak to the people on the phone. Check to see if a company has been in the press much. Take a look at the website and see if it looks professional or not. Paying attention to these little things can make a big difference at the end of the day.

If you have further questions, feel free to call our staff 24 hours a day.

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