The best memory foam mattresses in 2021

Memory foam is one of the most widely known mattress materials — thanks partly to a ’90s TV infommercial that featured an undisturbed glass of wine on top of a memory foam mattress as people jumped up and down on the bed, demonstrating its motion isolation.

In my experience as a mattress tester, I’ve found that not all memory foam beds are alike. Some foams feel firm and heavy, while others are plush and light. I like to compare foam density to freezer-stored Cool Whip versus the light whipped cream that you get from an aerosol can: One is more airy than the other, but both are tasty.

Because there are so many mattress brand options on the market, it can be hard to find the best memory foam mattress out there, especially if until now you’ve been sleeping on an innerspring mattress and you’re not sure which memory foam mattress reviews to trust. On top of that, it’s not easy to figure out the difference between gel foam, comfort foam, polyurethane foam and what they all mean for your sleep experience. It’s a lot!

There is an upside to having lots of options, however. It means that there’s a foam mattress for pretty much every sleep preference, from those looking for a firm mattress to others seeking a super soft mattress. And I’m here to help you find which memory foam works best for you. I slept on a significant number of memory foam beds to find the best-of-the-best. (It turned out to be a pretty nice gig.) The memory foam beds listed below stood out to me as the most comfortable, most accommodating or the most affordable. Here is my list of the best memory foam beds that the internet has to offer.

Note that prices below are the manufacturer-suggested retail prices for the queen-size models and are subject to change with (frequent) sales and discounts.

Lindsay Boyers/CNET

Most people just want a comfy bed that’ll keep their body supported, and if you’re a memory foam lover, the Nectar Premier delivers. It kind of reminds me of a TempurPedic mattress because it has that signature memory foam feel, but you won’t have to fork out nearly as much cash for it. 

It has a dense, slow, sink-in memory foam feel that takes a few seconds to activate. But once it does, the gel infused memory foam starts to hug your body, and offers a relieving feel around pressure points like your hips and shoulders. This gel memory foam mattress is reminiscent of an expensive memory foam bed, without the intense luxury price tag. 

The Nectar Premier is about 13 inches tall and features what the brand calls “ActiveCool HD” in the center of the bed’s top layer where most of your body heat collects. It also has a textured cooling cover for extra heat prevention. I wouldn’t say it sleeps cold because of these features, but it does make the Nectar Premier a temperature-neutral memory foam bed. This is in contrast to traditional or poor-quality memory foam beds that are known for heat retention. 

If you have an average body type between 150 and 230 pounds, the mattress firmness level will feel in between a medium to medium-firm. I think it offers a solid balance of support with pressure relief, and it’s most comfortable when I’m on my back, side, or a combination. I don’t recommend it, however, to heavy sleepers. Unless you’re really itching for a foam bed, a hybrid mattress with a coil base will be more supportive and durable in the long-run. 

The Nectar Premier is available in sizes twin to California king, and retail prices range from $1,297 to $2,097. It’s worth mentioning, though, that Nectar is usually running a nice promotion that brings the price down around $500 or so. 

Layla Sleep

The hexagonal, honeycomb-like design and split colors of the flippable Layla mattress caught my attention right away — it seems the mattress company paid a lot of attention to detail when it came to designing the cover. You also won’t have to play a guessing game to figure out which side is which; the soft side is labeled and colored light gray, while the firm side is charcoal and black. If you find you don’t think one side fits your sleeping style, all you have to do is flip this bad boy around to get a softer or firmer mattress feel. 

The soft side feels plush and pressure-relieving, so it’s great if you’re a sleeper who favors your side. The flip side doesn’t have a true firm profile, but it does keep my back and spine supported when I sleep on my stomach and back. I’d say it’s a hair firmer than a medium. Though, keep in mind, if you weigh around 145 pounds or under, both sides of the Layla will feel firmer to you because you exert less pressure on the mattress. 

Unlike the Nectar, both sides of the Layla mattress feel light and airy. It’s a soft memory foam that doesn’t provide resistance when you try to switch positions. It’s slightly more bouncy than other memory foams, which slowly morph back to shape after a few seconds. It’s one of those mattresses that might even appeal to avid memory foam haters because it doesn’t give you that “stuck” feel that some people dislike. 

The original Layla mattress is 10 inches thick, so I primarily recommend it to people who weigh under 230 pounds. If you have a heavier body type and love the sound of the Layla, I recommend you look at its hybrid mattress, which will be more supportive because it features pocketed coils in the base layer. 

This bed’s final major highlight is its removable cover. Its care instructions suggest it’s dry clean-only, but compared to other memory foam beds, this feature is actually quite nice. Otherwise, if a cover isn’t removable, you have to tackle spills and stains by hand with warm water and bleach-free detergent. 

The Layla mattress is available in sizes twin to Cal king, and retail prices range from $899 to $1,349 at full price. 

Amerisleep

The AS2 mattress has two ideal characteristics most back and stomach sleepers look for: firmness and comfort. Beds with firm mattress profiles tend to be a sleep haven for back and stomach sleepers, because they keep the spine from sagging into the mattress, which is a recipe for lower back pain once you wake up in the morning. 

When I tested out the AS2, my back stayed flat and in a comfortable alignment. My body also stayed more on top of the mattress, as opposed to sinking into the layers like you do with soft memory foam beds. I’d say it has a dense feel similar to the Nectar Lush, but firmer. I would rate the AS2 hybrid around a medium firmness level, or around an 8 on a scale from 1 to 10. Though, keep in mind, it will probably feel softer if you have a larger body type and even firmer for those who weigh under 150 pounds. 

Aside from its memory foam feel and supportive 12-inch design, the icing on top is quite literally the top of the mattress. You can remove the cover from the AS2 once it gets dirty and throw it in the washing machine for an easy clean. Stains on a mattress are almost inevitable, considering the fact that the average person sleeps on the same bed for around 10 years. Since I’m an impatient spot-cleaner, this was a big plus for me. 

The AS2 Hybrid is available in sizes twin to split king, and its retail prices range from $1,049 to $2,198.

GhostBed

Aside from the fact the GhostBed Luxe mattress features an adorable ghost in the brand’s logo, I liked this bed for a number of reasons. For one, it has a comfortable memory foam feel similar to the Nectar and the Amerisleep in that it takes a few moments to respond to pressure being applied. Once it gives, however, it slowly hugs your body. 

The second best thing about this mattress is how cool it sleeps. I usually sleep warm and have to blast the AC during the night, unless it’s winter. The GhostBed Luxe, on the other hand, has half an inch of cooling fabric within the cover and physically feels cool when I touch it. After looking into its construction, you can also find a thin layer of “Ghost Ice” on the top layer underneath the cover, which also contributes to the bed’s overall cool-sleeping feel. It’s the brand’s own unique phase-change cooling technology, and actively works to clear away excess body heat. 

The GhostBed Luxe isn’t a hybrid mattress, but it’s a thick foam bed similar to the Nectar Lush. In fact, It’s even thicker, measuring 13 inches in height. This makes it an accommodating mattress for most body types, including individuals with large body frames. I also think it will suit every sleeper type, whether back, side, stomach or combination. It’s not a firm mattress, but it’s not super plush and soft either. I’d rate its firmness level right in the middle. 

The GhostBed Luxe is available in sizes twin to split king, and its retail prices range from $1,495 to $3,500.

Saatva

Some people just want a mattress that’ll keep them feeling comfy throughout the night. Others want the same mattress they tried that one time on vacation at the Four Seasons. If you’re the latter, the Saatva Loom & Leaf literally looks like a five-star hotel mattress. But it doesn’t just look the part. It’s also really comfortable and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. 

It has a dense memory foam feel with an extra fluff component thanks to the bed’s Euro mattress topper. I tried the “Relaxed Firm” model, which is still on the medium-firm end of the scale, so I imagine the “Firm” model is a true firm mattress. The memory foam and plush Euro top does make the mattress pressure-relieving, but not enough that it’s a good mattress for side sleepers. It was just a little too firm when I slept on my side. 

Another highlight of the Loom & Leaf is its special cooling tech. You won’t be able to see it from the outside of your mattress, but on the inside, the top gel foam layer features a cooling gel mattress pad to help regulate temperature. It’s supposedly made from the same material doctors use to treat burn victims in hospitals, so I think it’s pretty legitimate. While the bed isn’t cold, I think it helps keep the memory foam from retaining heat. 

You’ll notice the words organic cotton written sporadically across the cover. It makes the bed a bit more eco-friendly since organic cotton is farmed and manufactured more sustainably than standard cotton. Not to mention, it’s soft to the touch and gives the bed a premium finish.

The Loom & Leaf mattress is available in sizes twin to split Cal king, and its retail prices range from $899 to $2,476.

Bear Mattress

I was surprised to find out how affordable the Bear Original Mattress was when I first tested it out. It reminded me of the more popular bed-in-a-box mattresses like the Casper mattress or Puffy mattress, but retails for several hundred dollars less. 

It’s about 10 inches thick and made with three different foam layers. It has a slow-responding feel that appeals to memory foam lovers far and wide, but it’s topped with a cover that’s pretty unusual. I’ve only seen it on a handful of other beds from the hundreds that are out there. It’s Celliant-infused, which is a special fabric that absorbs your body heat and returns it back to you as infrared energy. You can’t see it or feel the material itself, but it’s supposed to improve blood circulation, and in turn, promote muscle recovery and boost energy levels. 

I’m not going to lie, you probably won’t be waking up in the morning feeling like Superman. It does provide a phenomenal sleep, however, and the FDA has officially recognized it as a medical device. For that tech to be in the cover of an affordable bed-in-a-box foam mattress, I think earns the Bear Mattress a spot on this list. 

Aside from the cover, it also has a supportive medium to medium-firm feel, or around a 6 out of 10, with 10 being the firmest. It works great when I’m on my back and stomach, but I could use a softer mattress when I lay on my side. In that case, I’d opt for the Layla or the Puffy Lux. Otherwise, I think it’s great for back, stomach and combination sleepers. 

Bear mattresses are available in sizes twin to Cal king, and retail prices range from $695 to $1,095. 

Puffy

The majority of individuals who sleep on their side are coziest on a soft, plush mattress. One of my favorite soft memory foam mattresses is the Puffy Lux, which gives off a light and fluffy vibe just by looking at it. Not only is it big and white like a cloud, but there are quite literally little clouds printed along the cover; a great added touch. 

A majority of the beds on this best memory foam mattress list feel dense, but the Puffy Lux is much more airy and light thanks to Puffy’s special “Cooling Cloud Foam” in its top layer. I think it has qualities of polyurethane foam, which is a bit more aerated and light than memory foam. I felt like it was easier to switch positions on this mattress than it was on high density foam mattress beds like the Nectar or the Amerisleep.

It’s definitely more on the soft side of the firmness spectrum. I think it feels like a medium-soft, or around 3-4 on a scale of 10. If you’re a side sleeper, I think this bed was meant for you. Though, if you weigh under 150 pounds, you might want to seek out an even softer mattress for extra pressure relief. 

Like the Nectar Lush and Amerisleep, this bed has a 12-inch thickness and will be more suitable for larger bodies than your regular 10-inch foam mattress. Circling back to the cute cloud cover I mentioned, it’s also removable and machine washable like the cover on the Amerisleep. Puffy advertises it as stain-resistant, but I don’t recommend you challenge that claim unless you’re in the mood to deep clean your mattress. 

Puffy Lux mattresses are available in sizes twin to Cal king, and retail prices range from $1,445 to $1,995. 

More mattress advice 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.



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