There seem to be a lot of different types of memory foam these days. For example, one retailer may advertise their SureSleepTemp memory foam while another has their SureTempSleep foam. Both of these will likely have a little trademark™ to add legitimacy, but this still leaves a huge question.
Is there really a difference between types of memory foam? If so, how do I tell?
The quick and short answer is that most memory foam is very similar. This is in both structure and material because it’s almost all visco-elastic memory foam. That said, there are some differences that can affect the quality, comfort, and cost of a mattress.
One good explanation that we found was over at Sleep Full Nights, a store that sells memory foam mattresses. They call the memory foam layer the “money layer,” because it is both the most expensive part of the mattress and the part that is most important. The money layer is affected by two main factors, density and thickness. The density is measured in pounds per cubic foot of material and the thickness is in inches. This is what we refer to when we say Money Layer:
Money Layer Density
The density of memory foam is hugely important for a number of reasons. It determines the comfort, cost, and longevity of the mattress more than any other component. The higher density of the material, the more support and higher level of comfort it can provide. Conversely, lower density memory foam will have more airflow. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different density ranges:
1. Low-density memory foam (1.8 – 2.7 lbs./cubic foot) is the cheaper end of the spectrum. It has more space between the foam material and allows for more airflow, which can allow it to sleep cooler. The flip side of this less dense material is that it isn’t as resilient as higher density foams. This means that over the long run, the foam won’t return to form as completely after you get up off of it.
2. Medium-density memory foam (3.0 – 4.5 lbs./cubic foot) is mid-level foam. It combines some of the breathability of lower density foam while also having some of the resiliency and longevity of high-density memory foam.
3. High-density memory foam (4.5 + lbs./cubic foot) is the luxury, high cost end of the spectrum. This is the foam that goes into top of the line mattresses. Although it doesn’t have the breathability and airflow of lower density foams, it tends to be more resilient, last longer, and provide better support to the sleeper.
4. Over 6.5 lbs./cubic foot starts to feel like you’re sleeping in pudding. It can lead to the mattress working like an incubator and making it hard to get out of bed (in a bad way).
Thickness: Money Layer thickness affects the longevity of a mattress. Generally, thickness can range anywhere from 1-6 inches or more. A rough rule of thumb is that you’ll get 3-5 years of optimal performance per inch of Money Layer. Keep in mind that this can vary with usage and that the resiliency is affected by the density of the memory foam.
Is Base Foam memory foam?
No. Base foam refers to a different type of foam. Polyurethane foam is a more rigid and firm type of foam that has a lower density than almost all memory foam. It doesn’t change the price of a mattress much while providing the rest of the mattress volume to get it to the right 8, 10, 12, or more inches tall.
What’s the deal with Gel Memory Foam?
Gel memory foam is one of the most popular new technologies. The memory foam is infused with billions of micro-gel beads during the foam pouring process. This creates a combination of cooling features because it’s generally a lower density material that allows for more airflow and the micro-gel beads have been shown to improve the temperature regulation of sleepers, helping them to stay cooler.
What else is good to know?
The main things to consider, as stated above, are the density and thickness of the Money Layer because most of the other advertised features are fluff. Organic memory foam may have a nice sound to it, but it won’t have any affect on how well the memory foam supports your body while sleeping. Same thing with all natural memory foam. Nice to know. Doesn’t affect the quality of sleep much.
Also beware of specially branded names of memory foam. DormiPureTech Memory foam likely isn’t anything special beyond a name. In fact, some less than honest retailers may use a fancy trademarked™ foam name to try and justify higher prices. Keep your eyes out for this and be sure to focus on what’s important: the density and thickness of the Money Layer.