What Is a Memory Foam Mattress?

memory foam mattress combines a layer of memory foam with springs or support foam. Memory foam uses your body heat to soften and mould to your shape. This provides remarkable support and comfort. Once pressure is removed, memory foam will bounce back very slowly and over time will remember your body shape and optimal sleeping position, hence the name 'memory'.

Memory foam, also known as visco-elastic foam, was first designed by NASA in the mid-1960s. Made from polyurethane, memory foam was developed to counteract the extreme pressure astronauts faced when exiting and entering the Earth's atmosphere. The potential to use memory foam in other products was soon discovered, and is now used in mattresses, pillows and mattress toppers.

Memory foam mattresses are a popular choice for our customers due to the benefits they provide. Read on to find out how a memory foam mattress can help you get a comfortable night's sleep.

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Hand hovering over memory foam that has temporarily moulded to its shape
A memory foam mattress contours to your body to offer high levels of support and comfort

What are the benefits of a memory foam mattress?

Memory foam mattresses feature a range of benefits that set them apart from other mattresses. From pressure relief to personalised support, memory foam mattresses are designed to provide ultimate comfort and care for you as you sleep.

1. Optimal support and comfort

Memory foam contours to the shape of your body for optimal spinal alignment and targeted support. This high level of personalised comfort will make the mattress feel like it was made just for you!

2. Pressure-point relief

A memory foam mattress will evenly distribute your body weight to reduce pressure on the heaviest parts of your body. This helps to relieve aches and pains and promote healthier blood circulation throughout the night.

3. Reduces transfer of movement

Memory foam contours to your body, creating a personal sleep zone. This helps to prevent you from feeling your partner tossing and turning - so a memory foam mattress is a good option if you are often woken up by this during the night.

4. Dust mite resistant

A memory foam mattress features a visco-elastic structure that can't be penetrated by dust mites. This can dramatically reduce allergic symptoms and provides a cleaner, healthier night's sleep.

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Want to know more about the benefits of memory foam? Watch this video from Sealy for more information:

Silentnight also explain the benefits of their unique memory foam in the video below:

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Does a memory foam mattress get warm?

When memory foam mattresses were first invented, the technology to regulate temperature wasn't available. This meant that memory foam mattresses trapped a lot of heat during the night.

Over the years, these mattresses have advanced in terms of how much heat they give off. Most memory foam mattresses now feature technology that helps control temperature throughout the night.

However, factors such as room temperature, duvet thickness, age and medication can also affect how hot you feel in bed. It is helpful to take these factors into account before deciding if a memory foam mattress is right for you.

Luna Memory 2500 Pocket Mattress
The Luna Memory 2500 Pocket Mattress is a memory foam mattress that offers excellent temperature regulation

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How to make your memory foam mattress softer

When compared to your old mattress, it's very common to feel that your new mattress feels a little firmer than you'd like. This is because your old mattress was probably a little past its best, and wasn't providing the correct level of support you need.

When you first get your new memory foam mattress, give it time. It may take your body a few weeks to get used to the improved level of support. Additionally, as you sleep on it over the years to come, it's natural for your mattress to become slightly softer compared with when you first got it.

However, if it still feels a little too firm, you can soften your mattress with a mattress topper. Available in a range of firmness ratings and depths, mattress toppers can provide a little extra comfort and help make your mattress feel softer. The reverse is also true of course - you can get a firmer mattress topper if you feel as though you need a little more support.

Browse our mattress topper collection

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Does a memory foam mattress smell?

At Mattress Online, we place high importance on ensuring all of our mattresses are safe. This is why we ensure our memory foam mattresses have been treated with a fire retardant and are certified as 'low hazard' when it comes to the BS7177: 2008 standard for domestic use.

Applying this fire retardant means that your memory foam mattress may have a slight smell when first delivered, particularly for vacuum-packed mattresses. To reduce any smell, leave your mattress to air in a well-ventilated room and open your windows for 24-48 hours.

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How can I sleep on a memory foam mattress?

A memory foam mattress can suit all types of sleeping positions, whether you sleep on your back, on your side or on your front.

However, it's important to choose the correct firmness level for your sleeping position. The best firmness rating for you also depends on many other factors, too, including your weight and comfort preferences.

Here are the main benefits of memory foam mattresses for each sleeping position:

  • Back sleepers

Memory foam conforms to your spine to offer excellent lumbar support.

  • Side sleepers

Memory foam distributes body weight away from your hips and shoulders while supporting your waist to keep your spine in healthy alignment.

  • Front sleepers

Memory foam helps support the natural curve in your back to reduce pressure on your lower back.

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How long does a memory foam mattress last?

The lifespan of a memory foam mattress can vary depending on the quality of memory foam used and how well you look after your mattress. When it comes to support and durability, a memory foam mattress can outlast the seven-year lifespan suggested by the National Bed Federation.

However, we recommend renewing your memory foam mattress every seven years for hygiene reasons. Whilst dust mites cannot penetrate the structure of a memory foam mattress, over a seven-year period, they will build up on the surface of your mattress. Renewing your mattress every seven years will keep your sleeping environment clean, fresh and hygienic.

To help prolong the life of your mattress and to help keep dust mites at bay, we recommend using a mattress protector.

Check out our range of mattress protectors today

For more information on how to keep your mattress in great condition for longer, take a look at our advice page: how can I clean my mattress?

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How much does a memory foam mattress cost?

Memory foam mattresses are usually slightly higher in price than other types of mattress due to the technology used in the production process. However, this doesn't mean a memory foam mattress is out of your budget. In recent years, the cost of these mattresses has fallen, and they are now a much more affordable option.

We have memory foam mattresses to suit all budgets! Some memory foam mattresses on the market start from around £150 - why not take a look at a few?

Browse our memory foam mattresses today

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Memory foam mattresses: best sellers

Not sure which memory foam mattress to choose? Read on to discover our best-selling memory foam mattresses, all available for Free Next Day Delivery!

Silentnight Essentials Memory Mirapocket 1000 Mattress

1. Silentnight Essentials Memory Mirapocket 1000 Mattress

  • From £274.95
  • Memory foam and 1000 pocket springs
  • Firm and supportive
The Emma Original Mattress on a white background - A Which? Best Buuy June 2021, Good Housekeeping Institute Approved 2021, Mattress Online's Top 10 Recommended Mattresses 2022

2. Emma Original Mattress

  • From £319.95
  • Memory foam
  • Balanced medium firmness
Sleepeezee Memory Comfort 1000 Pocket Mattress on a white background - one of our Top 10 Recommended Mattresses 2023

3. Sleepeezee Memory Comfort 1000 Pocket Pillow Top Mattress

  • From £419.95
  • Memory foam and 1000 pocket springs
  • Medium-firm support
Romantica Bamboo Memory Mattress

4. Romantica Bamboo Memory Mattress

  • From £158.05
  • Memory foam and standard sprung support
  • Soft-medium firmness rating

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Memory foam mattresses remain so popular due to their ability to offer completely personalised comfort, optimal support and pressure relief. Need more advice on memory foam mattresses? Feel free to give us a call! We are happy to offer support and advice to help you find the perfect memory foam mattress.