Buying Memory Foam Mattress – A Guide

With the advent of online mattress brands and the high rates of competition, consumers are getting higher quality and improved convenience at affordable costs. As a consumer, it is an exciting time to be in the market for mattresses. There are different types of foam taking over the mattress space – memory foam being the most popular one. Memory foam is viscoelastic, which makes contour the curves of the body. This was designed to provide support and increase circulation and relieve the stress on joints. In this piece, we discuss the right way of buying a memory foam mattress.

Who Invented the Memory Foam Mattress?

It might surprise you to know that NASA developed the memory foam in 1970 to provide adequate support and cushioning for the pilots and passengers. Now, you can find memory foam in your mattresses, pillows and even seat cushions.

memory foam mattress

Many mattress manufacturers combine several layers of different materials to combine into a mattress that provides different levels of support and comfort. Most types of memory foams available offer similar features when it comes to comfort, such as contouring the body and reducing pressure points, minimizing decreased breathability and level if sinking into the mattress, responding to pressure and bouncing back to original form on the removal of pressure, etc.

Buying a Memory Foam Mattress

How to choose the best memory foam mattress option for you:

Firmness and Durability​

One of the first things to look at while choosing a mattress is the level of firmness. Contrary to popular beliefs, extra soft mattresses may not be the epitome of comfort and luxury. While firmness preference is a subjective choice, it contributes to health, lumbar support and uninterrupted sleep.

So How Do You Pick the Right Firmness for You?

High-density mattresses provide maximum firmness and are the most durable. Those about five and six pounds (2.27-2.72) kilos are considered to be high in density while buying a memory foam mattress. Although very firm initially, it will adjust itself with your body with use, and relieve pressure points. Even though they are expensive, they will also last for up to 10 years, making them some of the most durable mattresses.

If you prefer a really soft feel to your mattress, then the better option for you may be a low-density one of about two to three pounds (0.91-1.36 kilos). You will get the feeling of really sinking into these mattresses. These mattresses will be far less costly than the higher density ones, but also less durable. These may not last you longer than around 6 years.

A Girl sleeping on a memory foam mattress


To settle for a less costly option, you may choose a mattress with mid-density foam. Being four to five pounds (1.81-2.27 kilos), they may be almost as comfortable as the high-density ones, at the same time a little cheaper than them. These also last for up to 8 years or more, if they are made of high-quality foam. 

ILD Rating

Every piece of research about memory foam mattress would mention ILD rating at least once. Checking the ILD ratings of each layer of your mattress is also important, as it indicates the level of firmness. Higher ILDs will make the mattress firm and resistant, providing support for your body, while the low ILD ones will feel softer to you.

But What Is ILD Rating?

ILD rating (Indentation Load Deflection rating) or IFD (Impression Force Deflection) is the pressure needed to indent the foam by 25% or 4 inches. Usually mattress ILDs can range anywhere between 6-40. Most people prefer an ILD rating of 25-35 ILD. It is advisable to go for higher ILDs of 20-40 at the bottom layers and lower ILDs of 10-11 for the top layers. Thus you will get a softer feel to sleep on while having firmer support.


Brands are working tirelessly to create a unique differentiating point to their mattresses. Often, the differentiating agent lies in the layers. Usually, a memory foam mattress is not only made of foam. This would be too soft for the sleeper. Instead, brands add layers and each layer adds to the feature of the mattress. Cooling gels, latex foam, breathable fabrics and so on play an important role in the sleeping experience of the user.


Unfortunately, chemicals are a reality of the world we live in. Harmful chemicals can be found in everything from our foods to the mattresses we sleep on. Some memory foam mattresses have chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and naphthalene. Some manufacturers have also added isocyanates to the mattresses that can lead to asthma. Harmful flame retardants in the mattresses have also contributed to the ill-effects on the user’s health.

Can we say for sure?

Of course, there are many checks that are put in place to regulate harmful chemicals used by manufacturers. However, since every person is different, every mattress manufacturing process is different and every reaction is different, it can get difficult to pinpoint the blame on the industry. However, certifications like the CertiPUR-US exist to ensure that you are not being sold anything that is harmful to your body. However, these certified mattresses aren’t available in India.


When you are buying a memory foam mattress, choose one that has foam that is easy to clean. It is important to keep your sleeping surface clean and free of dust, mites and other harmful pollutants. So choosing one that is easy to clean will stand you in good stead. In addition, mattress protectors can further keep your sleeping environment clean.

Using simple tools like a hand-held vacuum cleaner when you change the sheets will prevent dust and debris from setting in. With tougher stains, you can use baking soda and thorough scrub. This can also help with urine smells and stains that can go unnoticeable at first.


Measure your bed or cot and choose a mattress that will it well on it as well as can be supported by the wooden or metal frame of your bed. Both of these are important, as it may cause your mattress more wear and tear if it is placed on the wrong kind of support. You can read about picking the right mattress size here.

Online Purchase Options

Even if you are looking for mattresses online, it will be a good idea to go to a physical store once to check out the actual feel and comfort of what you have picked. What you read may not match your expectations when it comes to reality. Spend 20-30 minutes on each choice before finalizing on one, and then you may go ahead and order it online if that is the better option for you. Online mattress brands now offer lengthy trial periods so you can make the right choice without losing out on your money. 


Last but not least, read up reviews from actual customers, and see what they have written. Also, look at the reputation of the company and outlet you have chosen. These go a long way into giving you an insight into what you may be spending a lot of your resting time on.

When Is Memory Foam NOT the Perfect Choice?

  1. Memory foam mattresses tend to run hot as the high density traps the heat within the cot. If you are a hot sleeper or sensitive to heat, you might want to choose a memory foam mattress that inculcate a cooling technology in their foam. This way you don’t end up increasing your body heat at night. 

  2. Memory foam mattresses, though soft, is not the softest mattress around. Soft mattresses tend to have adverse effects on spinal and lumbar support. The medium firmness of memory foam is what makes it ideal for those suffering from back pain. However, if you are looking for an extra plush bed that sinks in as soon as you lie in it, memory foam might not be the ideal choice for you.

Mattresses are a long-term investment and taking time to consider all of the points mentioned above will be useful in making sure you are not making a dud investment or one that will run out on you sooner than you have planned. 

Fact-Checking: Our Process

The Mattressguides editorial team is dedicated to providing content that meets the highest standards for accuracy and objectivity. Our editors and medical experts rigorously evaluate every article and guide to ensure the information is factual, up-to-date, and free of bias.

The Mattressguides fact-checking guidelines are as follows: