Memory Foam Mattresses- Are They Really The Best Choice For Comfort And Support? - Why They Remain Hugely Popular As The Best Option For Pressure Relief.
The problem with many conventional mattresses is that they just don't conform or fit well to your body's shape and contour. They are either rigid and resist the curves of your shape or they are overly soft and "give way" beneath you, creating a hammock like effect. The unique body molding qualities of memory foam allow your bed to conform to your body's shape, creating a cradling effect. But, if you don’t want to spend $4,000 on the big name brands of memory foam mattresses, what other options might you consider that deliver a premium night’s sleep for, in many cases, a fraction of the price ?
Consumers are shying away from coil mattresses because both natural and advanced foam materials that are far more comfortable and supportive have cast a shadow over these old school, antiquated beds.
Memory foam is a material that molds to the body, offering support and pressure relief where needed, and while popular for the last twenty years or so, is being eclipsed and overshadowed by beds that add other layers along with memory foam to further enhance benefits.
Components like natural latex, gel foams, and more breathable fibers, are becoming hugely popular for more luxurious support and a softer, more yielding feel that reduces pressure and relieves pain, without the sinking sensation and “wet sand” feel that a lot of people who buy an all memory foam mattress complain about.
Developed initially for the space industry, the unique feel and comfort of memory foam is unlike any other material used in the bedding industry. Memory foam has taken off in the bedding industry over the last 20 years or so, for a simple reason – it’s comfortable, and it delivers pressure point relief and pocket filling support. There just isn't any other material that reduces pressure like memory foam. People trying memory foam often report sleeping better, get relief from pain, and experience less tossing and turning.
In the last 4-5 years though, materials like natural latex have become a hugely popular choice for folks looking for excellent back support with immediate spring back, as an alternative to that trapped feel of memory foam that some people complain about, especially if you buy a model that uses really soft memory foam (less than 4lb density, like the 3lb. which is typically used because it is less expensive), making it almost impossible to dig your way out of your mattress.
Latex is typically an all natural material made from the sap of the rubber tree, and is collected, cleaned, and poured into large mattress shaped molds, and solidified. In fact, natural latex mattresses have been around for decades, since the 60’s, and were hugely popular with Sears and other companies because they were fairly inexpensive.
It is an ideal material for providing uplifting, buoyant support, making turning easier, keeping you asleep, and it is luxuriously “spongy” and comfortable- with no sinking feeling at all. It’s not the best at pressure relief, but- what if it were combined with memory foam?
Don’t Underestimate How Beneficial Memory Foam Is...it's still the most popular class of mattress in the bedding industry.
In a study of over 18,000 mattress reviews of all different mattress types, memory foam beds had the highest rating for overall comfort. And you don't have to take my word for it – at one time, the comfort of memory foam had been shown, by analyzing thousands of online reviews, to far exceed the standard innerspring bed, and that of any other category of mattress- but - that is rapidly changing, as the landscape of mattress options has quickly evolved, especially as Hybrid mattresses, beds that combine two or more beneficial ingredients, rapidly eclipse memory foam when used by itself, as well as almost every other category of mattress.
But are other mattresses, like latex, and gel foams, which are gaining intense popularity as they rapidly fill up floor space in mattress stores, the better option than an all memory foam mattress? Should memory foam be combined with other ingredients to enhance its pressure relieving feel?
Memory foam was originally developed for use by NASA engineers, to help pilots and astronauts absorb the shock of g-forces and vibrations. Ultimately, someone in the bedding industry picked up a piece of it, squished and squeezed it, and thought how perfect it would be to sleep on - turns out, they were right.
That “melting” sensation observed with memory foam is created by the way the ingredients are poured and then heated with various polymers to create the cellular configuration which gives it that unique, cradling, melted in, pressure relieving quality.
But, based on what I have learned, one problem is that a mattress built with primarily memory foam often sleeps hot, because the density of the foam causes it to collect heat, and it also can be difficult to turn on, often waking people up. Friends of mine who have sold memory foam beds will often say that a common reason for customers returning their memory foam mattress is that they felt “stuck or trapped” in the mattress, though they agreed it was excellent at managing pressure points. The other overwhelming complaint was that the mattresses sleep excessively hot, because memory foam is very dense.
The Hunt For The Perfect Mattress Seems Confusing, Right?
Do a Google search for “best mattress” and your brain goes into immediate overload with names like Casper, Purple, Leesa, Zenhaven, Simmons, Saatva, Tuft And Needle, and on and on.
Shopping for mattresses these days is worse than shopping for a used car. Every mattress store or site will tell you that their bed is the most amazing thing ever, and you might overlook the fact that they are using lots of ingredients which are given fancy names like “Dream Foam”, ‘Plushfoam”, or “Ultra Foam”.
The fact is that most of these foam layers are often cheap, synthetic high density foam- the same kind of foam you’d use for a boat seat cushion, to wrap your kitchenware with during a move, or even install under your new carpet.
They are often materials that, while they sound really impressive, are not well thought out, and are used simply as filler material. On top of the mattress, you might find a layer of cheaper memory foam that is low density and collapses easily over time, and the price seems right- usually right around $1,000 or maybe a tad less.
Remember this - like anything else in life, you get what you pay for. A mattress that costs $1,000 needs to be filled with fluff for the big boys to be able to sell them. Look at the sites at the top of most internet searches for “best mattress” as an example. It can cost $12 every time someone clicks on one of these ads, so it’s simple math. Believe me, you’re paying for it, and it’s built into the mattress cost, buried somewhere.
So, What Should I Look For If I Want The Benefits Of Memory Foam?
First off, memory foam is still the most sought after component of even the most popular "hybrid" mattresses available today. You see ads all day long for mattresses still relying on memory foam as its primary ingredient. When the recipe is just right, you can create a sleep surface that both relieves pressure and sleeps comfy, but you can also add buoyancy, a lively feel, a cooler environment, and have a reliable product that will not develop ruts and dips over long periods of time, by adding a few different variations of foam into the mattress, such as latex, or graphite infused foam. Just be advised that all of these different kinds of foams are available to manufacturers in different grades and colors and thicknesses, and can be given catchy names to lure you to the shopping cart.
Be wary of web sites or stores that have layers of foam with sketchy names like “Dream Foam” or “Ultra Foam”, which is merely code for cheap filler foams that allows us to make a huge profit.
Today's cutting edge hybrid memory foam mattress may include latex foam, for example. If it's all natural latex, it's amazing stuff. I recommend using pure natural latex as the best partner with memory foam. But, make sure you get 100% plant based latex, and not synthetic latex, which is often substituted for the good stuff. The fact is, synthetic latex behaves more like the cheaper filler foams, being harder, less responsive, and less “cushy” than botanical latex.
Another hugely popular thing about sleeping on latex is that it is naturally antimicrobial, it repels dust mites, it doesn’t off gas VOC fumes, and it simply does not break down over time. The reason it lasts virtually forever without collapsing is because it is not photo-reactive and will not turn brown and dry out, turning into crumbs, like an old couch cushion. Many poor quality foams made using polyurethane and other synthetic materials have this property, and will deteriorate over time with exposure to light.
Also, note that synthetic latex (called SBR, for styrene butadiene rubber, a petrochemical) does not offer the same benefits as natural latex, and tends to be stiffer and less “jiggly”, not having the flexible, elastic feel of the purely botanical version.
With any memory foam mattress, the clear focus should be on the grade of memory foam used in the construction of a bed, and should be what is called 4lb. density memory foam, so that it is supportive and does not bottom out easily, offering the pressure relieving qualities you want whether you are a side sleeper, or a back or belly sleeper. Most companies out there are doing everything they can to pitch you a real pretty mattress with a cool looking covering and fancy box, while skimping on the ingredients. They may use less expensive 3lb density memory foam, which tends to both compress faster, and is known to split or crack over time, as well. I've seen this many time in less expensive memory foam beds found in big box retailers. If you can buy a queen memory foam mattress for $399 somewhere, just be prepared to part with your "disposable" mattress in a year or so.
On my last few trips to bigger retailers, and watching what’s going on in the internet world with mattresses being sold everywhere by hundreds of online stores as well, I began to clearly observe a new phenomenon.
Mattresses made using a combination of 4lb. density memory foam and natural latex vs. other foams by themselves, were just more comfortable, and even the sales people I spoke with say they agree, because it means lower returns and additional benefits to the customer (pressure point reduction, better weight distribution, and a nice cushy, softer yet uplifting ride, thanks to the latex).
Yes, even the big retailers who innovated mattresses made using all memory foam, some costing up to $6,000, are reinventing mattresses by combining their memory foam with lots of other ingredients, from springs, to latex, to their own splashy, flashy specialty foam layers.
Remember, most of it is filler material, designed to absorb their enormous overhead like rent, payroll, huge chunks paid to middlemen, distributors, and insane commissions to sales people (not that the guy on the floor doesn’t deserve it). Bottom line, if you are shopping for a memory foam mattress, and like the squishy, melting in sensation, buy one that primarily includes memory foam, perhaps in a few different densities, so you're not paying for all of the other layers in the cake, so to speak.
Whatever you buy, if you started out thinking memory foam, just be suspicious of the price. The bigger the brand name, typically the higher the price. Shopping will take some time anyway, as there are hundreds of both memory foam mattresses and memory foam hybrids, both on the web, and in retail stores.
The newbies on the block who get all of the press, like Casper, Tuft And Needle, Leesa, and more, have really not been around that long. A couple of guys in a Starbucks and a laptop can put together a mattress site in two days.
Always look for a company that’s been in the trenches for a good ten years, inventing, reinventing. These guys typically have heart, and they are probably still around because they take care of their customers, listen to their feedback, and constantly improve their product. The end result of this is that you’re going to get a better bed. And, because of good, wholesome competition, you’ll get it for under $1,000. If you pay more than that, you’re very likely throwing away your money.
One final important thing to look for- a quality outer covering, made with an organic or clean material that is comprised of as much natural fabric as possible. Look for a mattress that uses a natural fire barrier like wool.
So, here’s a quick summary of what to look for if you want a memory foam mattress, which clearly provide pressure point relief as one of the hallmarks of comfort, not easily found in most other kinds of mattresses. If you've got shoulder pain, hip pain, issues with lower back or shoulders, and have a hard time getting comfortable, it might be time to nestle in on a decent memory foam mattress.
Nothing can compete with the pressure relieving benefit of memory foam
Excellent for side, back, and belly sleepers
Distributes weight laterally, across a broad surface, minimizing pinpoint pressure
Offers a unique melting sensation not found in any other kind of mattress
Industry longevity- one of the most consistently reliable sleep surfaces available.
what we like to look for when hunting for a great memory foam mattress..
General Rule: Look For Smaller Stores, A Strong BBB Rating, And Lots Of A Genuine Reviews (Be Careful About Cherry Picked Reviews Or Completely Fabricated Content Like Those Found On Popular "Review" Sites)
I recommend finding a smaller, boutique style store online to buy from- You will get a really good deal likely because you are not paying for all of the overhead I mentioned. In fact, these online dealers keep things simple and often ship factory direct, saving you hundreds, and you’re probably getting the best possible product, since they are competing with the big boys, who are often forced to use less costly ingredients to save money, as I mentioned.
I also seriously scrutinize the sellers return policy. If it is a long return period, and they really do seem to back it up, then you’re probably both buying a good, well tested product with lots of happy customers (or they wouldn’t be in business), and they are trying to get you to take the leap of faith in an honest fashion.
Make sure any company you are considering has a BBB logo on their site- I say it should be at least an A- rating, because things happen, and as long as you can click on the link and see that the company resolves their issues, that is a good thing. But any company that has a B+ or better has earned it-that much is certain.
Also, reviews are always a good thing, though I am wary and more skeptical of reviews on memory foam mattresses, just because everybody and their brother sells them. Since Hybrid memory foam mattresses are all the rage right now, and I think I’ve explained why they are probably the best choice, the only downside is that these mattresses are new, and you may not find tons of reviews on them - but the individual components used in a memory foam and pure latex mattresses, are well reviewed and studied.
Be careful in general about reviews though,-many of them are cherry picked, or flat out fake- if you are going to rely on them, make sure they are third party reviews, through Power Reviews or a similar engine..you can see them on a seller’s site, but the site providing the review feed should be a separate entity that you can click on and check out.
Who I Recommend For A Memory Foam Mattress And Why...
We've got a few companies that we recommend, based on the kinds of memory foam that are used, the longevity of the material, the overall design of the mattress, as well as the warranty and trial period offered. One of our favorites is a company called HappiBed, which offers a uniquely designed memory foam mattress that includes ingredients that can reduce body heat, eliminate body transfer, and provides serious pressure point reduction. They also offer an outer covering on their mattress that can be removed for washing. Here's a cross section of the the interior of the HappiBed mattress:
A Practical Guide To Getting The Best Memory Foam Mattress And What To Look for
A Brief History Of Memory Foam And Why Not All Memory Foam Created Equal -- Some Memory Foam Just More Comfortable Than Others And Sleeps Cooler
After memory foam was developed as part of a NASA project, some saw the promise of memory foam for use in the medical industry to relieve pressure sores. Over the years, memory foam was shown to be unique in the way it responded to temperature and also in its ability to spread pressure over a greater surface area (and thereby reducing pressure points significantly). While the initial version of the foam developed for NASA (called T-Foam) did have a great deal of promise as a bed topper or wheel chair cushion material, it did have issues with wear over time. This first generation of material wasn't very durable, and would often compress or crack over time.
The first company to realize the potential of memory foam for the consumer market was Tempur-Pedic ®. They had worked on creating their own version of memory foam, and developed foam they called Tempur ®, that was much more durable and still had the pressure reducing benefits of memory foam. Initially, this Tempur ® foam was used in medical settings, but soon they began to hear that patients who used the foam slept better, had less back pain, and felt more refreshed in the morning. A light bulb switched on over someone's head in Sweden, and Tempur-Pedic ® began to sell the products to consumers.
Due to its origin as a medical device, Tempur ® foam was very expensive, and has stayed that way to this day. After a few years on the consumer market, other foam manufacturers saw the potential of memory foam and began to produce their own memory foam product lines. Because these manufacturers came from the consumer foam industry, rather than the medical industry, their cost structure for memory foam was much lower and they priced their products at a fraction of the Tempur ® foam. As the years went by, memory foam became more and more popular, and now manufacturers all over the world are making their versions of memory foam.
Memory Foam Really is Unique, and Has Unique Benefits
While specific types of memory foam do differ in the level of comfort they offer, looking at the broader picture, overall memory foams in general are unique in many ways versus other comfort products used in bedding.
I've looked at many bedding materials, from latex to cotton to wool. And nothing compares to memory foam in the way it conforms to your body and reduces pressure points.
Why is memory foam so different? There are a couple of reasons that memory foam is so unique.
First is the way memory foam cells deform when weight is applied. Unlike standard foams that compress and want to spring back to their original shape immediately, memory foam cells (open cell foam, which means the individual cells in the foam have holes in them) compress fully and spread their air pressure to adjoining cells.
This spreads the pressure through a greater number of cells of the memory foam - which decreases the pressure you feel in the cells of the memory foam that you are laying on. This accounts for the way that memory foam actually reduces pressure points.
This ability of memory foam to deform also allows it to really conform to your body's shape and weight bearing areas, thereby reducing these pressure points. No other material has this ability to shape to your body - this is unique to memory foam.
However while memory foam's characteristics offers unique comfort benefits, you wouldn't want an entire mattress made strictly of memory foam. Memory foam is too soft a material and isn't meant to be supportive. So it works best when layered over a firm, supportive material.
That is why you will mainly find memory foam as a 2" or 3" topper to be used on your existing, firm mattress, or as a 2" or 3" topping layer in a new memory foam mattress.
Second, memory foam is temperature sensitive. Which means that at lower temperatures it is firmer (more viscous), and at higher temperatures it is softer and more conforming (more elastic). This is the reason memory foam is known as visco-elastic memory foam.
This temperature sensitive quality accounts for the melting feeling that you get lying down on memory foam, and also accentuates the custom molding affect of the foam. Certain memory foams, such as Tempur-Pedic's ® Tempur ® foam, are fairly temperature sensitive and can get firm even near room temperature.
The memory foam we have used in our toppers and mattresses, in contrast, have a broader range of temperatures where they stay nice and soft, so they are soft and responsive at common room temps.
Not All Memory Foam Is Created Equal, Though -- Some Are Just More Comfortable Then Others And Sleep Cooler
What you need to remember is that not all memory foams are equal. They differ a great deal in quality - density, hardness or softness, response to temperature, and also durability and longevity.
Just by looking at the technical specs, though, of a particular memory foam, you can't determine the overall comfort of that memory foam. I hear from people all the time that get immersed in the technical details -- they want to know the different densities and ILD (or IFD -- which is a measure of how hard the foam is) -- as though these specs are they keys to buying a memory foam topper or mattress.
And while density and ILD do carry some import -- I've found memory foams 4 lb density and higher offer better support and comfort than less dense memory foams, and having a low ILD means the memory foam has a soft feel -- I've seen in my real world testing that memory foams with identical specs for density and ILD got very different ratings for overall comfort.
That is why it is really important to understand not only the quality issues that go into making a memory foam, but also why I focus so much on our products on real customer reviews to gauge how comfortable a particular type of memory foam or layered memory foam mattress configuration really is.
Just a quick example to illustrate this. In a comparison test I did to pick our latest memory foam mattress (of 6 different memory foam mattresses), there was a gaping difference in comfort ratings by our testers of the lowest rated mattress and the top rated (which is now the mattress we carry).
Again, these mattresses had almost identical specs in terms of density and overall construction, but the lowest had only 75% say they would recommend it to a friend, while our 10" Memory Foam Mattress had 96% saying they would recommend it.
So not all memory foam is created equal -- some really do offer a different level of comfort, and only by looking at real world results, not specs, will you be able to get a feel for the comfort of a particular type of memory foam.
In addition, some memory foam has a much more open cell structure, which allows better airflow so that this latest generation of memory foam sleeps cooler than less expensive, standard memory foams.
With all the different memory foams out there these days, it can get confusing how to sort through the different options and get the right memory foam mattress or topper for you.
While memory foam was hard to find 20 years ago, these days there are lots of options -- both US manufacturers and also worldwide, notably a huge amount of inexpensive memory foam coming in from China.
As I discussed earlier, memory foam is not a commodity, and not all memory foams are created equal. But how are you to sort this all out?
I'm going to share with you how I do it -- the actual criteria I've used for sourcing the memory foam I use in our mattresses and toppers. Hopefully, by explaining what I look it when evaluating memory foams, it will help you sort through the options when you are buying a memory foam mattress or topper
Here's what I look at:
First, I want the memory foam in our mattresses and toppers to be at least 4 lb density.
What does the density of a foam mean? All that a particular density tells you is how much the foam weighs. So, for example, a 5 pound density foam simply means that a cubic foot of this material (a cube of this material measuring one foot in height, length and width) would weigh 5 pounds.
Typically, when you buy memory foam, you will pay more for a denser foam. It simply costs more to make denser foam - more raw materials go into making a denser substance.
And while density isn't the end all or be all for memory foam, I've just found over the years that memory foams below 4 lb density just don't have the cushion and conforming feel that I expect from memory foam.
A lot of the inexpensive memory foam products out there do use lower densities, some a lot lower (the leading brand offers 2.5 lb densities in their most inexpensive line).
Since my goal, however, is to offer the best overall value, not the cheapest, I've stuck with the 4 lb memory foam in our toppers since I believe it offers the best combination of cushion and pressure relief along with a soft feel.
And I've gone with a layer of 4 lb memory foam on top of a layer of 5 lb memory foam in our mattress to offer the soft feel of the 4 lb as you first lay down, and the more supportive feel of the 5 lb as you then sink into the mattress.
Next, I only consider foams made in the US, Canada and Europe. Why? Because I'm comfortable with the quality control of the major foam manufacturers from in these areas.
I don't consider foams made in China, despite their lower price. And the price difference can be really huge -- some of the mattresses using Chinese foam are sold for a few hundred dollars. Which, to give you some idea of how this compares to US, Canadian, or European foam, means their price to the public is much less than the wholesale price I pay for a US foam produced bed.
It isn't that the lower prices aren't seductive, they are, especially since US foam costs have more than doubled since Hurricane Katrina. So why won't I consider Chinese foams?
The reasons I've stuck with the US foams I currently carry is because I don't feel comfortable that the cheaper Chinese foams would have the same quality of ingredients, not use cheap fillers to falsely up their density, or somehow substitute unsafe chemicals in the foams to save costs.
There have just been too many stories I've seen of these sort of quality control issues with all sorts of Chinese products (drywall, lead paint in kids toys, toxic ingredients in toothpaste), so I don't feel comfortable using them.
In addition, I don't believe that these Chinese foams offer the same level of comfort due to these quality issues, but I will address that in the next section.
I understand if you want to go in a less expensive direction. The only thing I would ask, without trying to sound like a sleazy sales guy is, do you really get ahead in the long run saving a bit now on this sort of purchase? Not only because of the comfort and quality of sleep you might be missing out on, but also in having to perhaps spend more in the long run replacing the cheaper mattress much sooner than something using higher quality ingredients.
Ionly consider memory foams that meet Certipur-US® or similar standards for testing of foam for certain chemicals or toxins.It is really important to me that the foam I sell, and people sleep on, have met these strict criteria and testing.
Here is what Certipur-US® standards mean:
CertiPUR-US® approved foams are:
Made without ozone depleters
Made without PBDE flame retardants
Made without mercury, lead and other heavy metals
Made without formaldehyde
Made without phthalates regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission
Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions for indoor air quality (less than 0.5 parts per million)
Next, I focus on the comfort of a particular memory foam.
And while this used to be just my subjective test of different memory foams -- and so explains my big collection of foam I have around the house -- these days I do objective testing.
That is, I get a bunch of folks to try out different memory foam options, and then use their reviews and ratings to see which foam got the highest overall scores.
For my mattress test, this meant getting samples from lots of companies, then testing out 6 different memory foam mattress using a variety of foams, whether made in the US, Canada, or Europe.
Some of the memory foams used in these mattresses also used memory foams that had some portion of their chemicals coming from plant based sources. Which I found appealing from an eco perspective, although overall the actual % used in any memory foam is still pretty small (20 - 30% max)
At that point I let the chips fall where they may, and unfortunately the eco-foams tested much lower for comfort. So while I hope that this will be something that does get better as we go forward, for now these foams just didn't rate as high for comfort as the more traditional memory foam.
As I said before, the memory foam used in our 10" Memory Foam Mattress just got much higher ratings for comfort than the other memory foams I tested.
I know it may not be as easy for you to compare memory foams by this sort of objective tests. But if you can, look for objective reviews on the memory foam mattresses you are considering, and try to get a feel for both the overall ratings for comfort and also people's sense of the feel (firmness and support) offered by that particular memory foam mattress.
Finally, I look at the durability of the foam. I know how important it is to people, given the investment in a good mattress, that it lasts.
In our particular case, since there wasn't a track record for our mattress, I had the manufacturer do extensive tests in the lab to document its durability. And it performed so well the lab said it was in the top 10% of all the mattresses, across all types, it had tested.
When you are looking for a mattress, see if the manufacturer has long term data on its durability. And if not, then has it done these sorts of tests to document its durability.
I hope this detailed look at what I look for when I am researching memory foam products is helpful.
In terms of a general rule of thumb based my research methodology, you should avoid the noticeably inexpensive pads or pillows you will find on the market. They are generally made of either low density memory foam or layered with other, cheaper foam products and ingredients. These inexpensive memory foams just won't give the same comfort as higher quality pads and will wear out relatively fast.
With a mattress, you should look for at least 3 inches of medium to high density memory foam. 3 inches of memory foam gives you a proper amount of material to cushion and conform to your body.
While you could get by with 2 inches of memory foam in a mattress, 3 inches is plusher and a more comfortable feel for most people. It's a nice depth of foam where you wouldn't sink uncomfortably into the bed or lose the support of the base foam.
I've seen memory foam mattresses that offer much thicker memory foam layers and they feel too cushy - you get sucked in, and adjusting from side to side can be a real problem. And you just don't have the same support for your body and back as you would with memory foam mattresses that are 3 inches or so of memory foam depth.
Our 10" Memory Foam Mattress offers 4 inches of memory foam, and we've had a great response from customers on their feel and comfort.
As for densities of memory foam used in a mattress, for a long time I've often heard from customers that they liked the feel of the "less dense memory foams" (memory foams 4 lb density or so, or what I refer to as medium density memory foams) better than that of the high density memory foam of the "leading brand" (memory foam of 5 lb or greater density).
That was because people felt these "medium density memory foams" had a softer, more user friendly feel while the higher density memory foams could feel stiff and could be difficult to move around in.
Lately, I've been seeing some memory foam mattresses coming out with even lower density memory foams in their layering (by this, I mean memory foams of 3 lb density and lower). Personally, I still like the feel of the 4 lb density memory foams over the 3 lb memory foam. And also at these lower densities I think you need to ask about that particular foams durability and comfort.
For A Memory Foam Topper, Look For ...
If you are looking for a memory foam topper pad to put on your mattress, you have many options.
In general, you will pay more for a higher pound density memory foam pad - it just costs more to produce denser memory foam.
Which ones do we recommend? We've looked at many topper pads, and we feel the 4 lb memory foam we decided to use in our Memory Foam Topper Pads just had the nicest feel and get great ratings and reviews from our customers.
Often a 2" pad is sufficient for making a mattress much more comfortable, but we decided to offer a 3" version, as well, for those looking for a plusher feel. We've tested the 5 lb density pads, but decided not to carry them because they really didn't offer any more comfort than our 4 lb pad - in fact, the 4 lb pads were softer and had a nicer feel to them.
We've found that our 4 lb memory foam pads perform very well and really offer a softer feel than denser memory foam pads. In our experience, they really do offer the best value for the money.
Can I Get By with Just a Topper, or Do I Need a Whole New Mattress?
This is a question we get all the time, and not an easy one to answer. In general, though, if your mattress is basically in good shape -- still firm and supportive, no indented areas or dips in the mattress, etc. -- but not as comfortable as you would like (looking for a softer feel, less aches and pains in the morning, etc), then a memory foam mattress topper pad may well do the job.
On the other hand, if your mattress is too soft, rock hard, or has compressed areas, dips or a hammock feel, etc., then you are better off buying a new mattress - a topper pad just can't help with these problems.