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Memory Foam Ild Comparison Essay

There is nothing quite like a good night's rest. Unfortunately this level of beauty sleep often comes with a price. Although Tempur-Pedic mattresses have a reputation for being among the priciest solutions to a good night's sleep, over 7 million people have made that choice and are resting easy, content with their memory foam beds. But before you consider this expense, here's the lowdown on Tempur-Pedic reviews, materials, prices, and user satisfaction.

Know Your Memory Foam Mattress

Unlike conventional innerspring mattresses, Tempur-Pedic mattresses are made of memory foam. This foam is derived from visco-elastic polyurethane that promises to provide support to sleepers' heads, shoulders, hips, knees, and feet while keeping spines in proper alignment. Resting in a comfortable position all night long promotes sound sleep, and ensures that people wake rested and without aches and pain.

However, it's hard to draw precise price comparisons between Tempur-Pedics and other mattresses on the market. For one, innerspring mattress vendors make different mattresses for different stores, so it's hard to choose just one to compare. Secondly, not all memory foam is the same. Some manufacturers measure mattresses by indentation load deflection units (ILD): the higher the number, the denser the foam. Tempur-Pedic products usually clock in at 14-15 ILD. The Signature Sleep Memoir 8" Memory Foam Mattress in Full ($199 with free shipping, a low by $100) has a 9 ILD.

Unfortunately, this density measurement isn't usually noted in advertising. Tempur-Pedic competitors such as the Novaform Serafina Gel Queen Memory Foam Mattress ($979.49 with free shipping, a low by $1) may not be dense enough to provide proper support, especially for the above-average sized American. However, more dense memory foam does not necessarily result in greater customer satisfaction: around 80% of memory foam bed users are satisfied with their product, whether sleeping on a high-end mattress like Tempur-Pedic or a cheaper knockoff.

Consumers should also be aware that a memory foam mattress isn't all memory foam. Usually, there are at least two layers: the top or comfort layer is memory foam. Beneath that there's a support layer that typically has some spring to it. For example, some 12" mattresses may have only 2" of memory foam.

A Mattress That Costs the Same as Your Daily Coffee for 10 Years

A general rule of thumb is: the more memory foam, the more money. The top-of-the-line Tempur Grandbed Queen mattress sells for $7,499, while the more reasonably priced line of Tempur-Weightless Supreme in Queen runs $2,399; others cost less. The company also offers a new, affordable line of mattresses to compete with models from vendors such as Ikea and Costco; the Tempur-Simplicity Queen costs $1,099. Yes, these mattresses are pricey, but if we assume an average life of 10 years, the Weightless Supreme only costs $0.65 a night — less than the cost of a morning paper and way less than a wake-up latte.

Memory Foam Pros and Cons

However all is not perfect with memory foam mattresses. The most common consumer complaint is heat retention: 10% to 14% of respondents reported that their memory foam beds retained an uncomfortable amount of body heat. Only 3% to 4% of those who slept on inner-spring mattresses complained of such an issue. As a result, the industry has begun tackling this problem by innovating. Tempur-Pedic competitors such as Serta have incorporated support gel to help mattresses breathe better. Yet Tempur-Pedic has not added gel to its mattresses.

Speaking of heat, a number of Tempur-Pedic users found their mattress to be more firm than expected upon first use, though the foam softened and became comfortable as it absorbed body heat. Remember this when test-driving such a mattress. And even once you've found a comfortable mattress, pay heed to its weight. Foam mattresses tend to be heavier than their inner-spring counterparts, meaning they're harder to flip and rotate, though sagging seems to be less of a concern for memory foam owners. While Tempur-Pedic beds do tend to soften with age, only 8% to 12% of users report premature sagging.

Besides not sagging, another advantage to memory foam beds is how quiet they are: they don't creak and whine every time a sleeper rolls on his side. They also tend to isolate motion, so a wave action initiated on one side doesn't flip the other sleeper out of bed.

Tempur-Pedic Offers Fantastic Warranties

When it comes to warranties, Tempur-Pedic leads the market. The company offers 25 years of coverage, with the last 15 pro-rated. It also offers a 90-day trial period on beds bought directly from the company, though it excludes ancillary products like bed frames, cushions, and pillows, and the customer is responsible for return shipping. In fact, buyers can truly rest assured that Tempur-Pedic will be around to live up to its warranty.

Are Tempur-Pedic Mattresses the Best Memory Foam Mattress?

Given that customer satisfaction is fairly evenly distributed among memory foam sleepers regardless of brand, it's hard to substantiate the claim that Tempur-Pedic provides a better night's sleep than some of its less expensive competitors. However, those who own a Tempur-Pedic mattress tend to be very loyal to the brand.

In light of price point, it seems reasonable to suggest testing out a less expensive memory foam mattress from Ikea or Costco to start. Both offer more affordable memory foam beds. From there, check out the new offerings from Serta. And if a Tempur-Pedic is a must-have, it's smart to give the less expensive Simplicity line a try first.

This feature has been updated since it was originally published last year.

Tom Barlow is a contributing editor to, where this article first appeared. 

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Memory Foam Mattress Density: Low vs Medium vs High

Unbiased Comparison Based on 7,142 Consumer Experiences

December 16, 2016

What You Need To Know

The density of memory foam often determines many mattress characteristics. In other words, you can often learn much about a memory foam mattress simply by knowing its density. (To learn the density of many foam mattresses, see memory foam mattress ratings.)

High density memory foam often has potential for both strong positives and strong negatives. Low density memory foam, by contrast, often performs evenly without strong positives or strong negatives. And medium density often performs in between.

What is memory foam density?

Density indicates how much the foam weighs. For example, a cubic foot of four lbs/ft density foam weighs four pounds.

Memory Foam Density Comparison: Summary

The findings below are based on 7,100+ memory foam bed owner experiences. The findings are true for memory foam mattresses as a group; findings for individual brands / models may differ. Refer to the comparisons below this table for detailed analysis.

Owner Satisfaction

Memory foam mattresses, regardless of their density (low, medium or high), have about the same owner satisfaction rate – around 80%. Nevertheless, mattresses of different density often have fairly different strengths, weaknesses and characteristics.


The price of a memory foam mattress often depends to an extent on its density. All other things being equal, the more dense the memory foam is the more expensive the mattress usually is.

Higher-priced brands will tend to use higher-density memory foam (5 lbs/ft or greater in significant quantity); medium-priced brands will tend to use mostly medium density (4.0 lbs./ft); and lower-priced brands will tend to use mostly lower density (2.5 - 3.0 lbs./ft).

Durability / Longevity

On average, the higher the memory foam density is, the better the durability / longevity of the mattress. Mattresses with high-density foam can generally be expected on average to remain supportive and comfortable for close to eight years. This is only an average, however; the longevity of a particular mattress can vary considerably.

Memory foam mattresses with low and medium density tend to have a shorter lifespan, often in the 6-7 year range. Again, this is only an average, and the longevity of a particular mattress can vary significantly.

Back Pain Relief

All memory foam mattresses, regardless of density, rate well in regard to pain relief, including relief of back, shoulder and hip pain.

However, higher-density foam often provides better pain relief in most cases, especially back pain relief. This is because higher-density foam tends to strongly conform to the contours of a person's body which can result in effective support, including optimal spinal alignment.

Initial Odor / Off Gassing

Owner experience data suggests that, generally speaking, the more dense a memory foam mattress is the longer and / or more strongly it will give off an initial chemical-like odor or gas. More information: memory foam mattress off gassing.

Motion Isolation

A mattress with good motion isolation absorbs the movement of one person so that it does not transfer across the bed to disturb the other person.

In other words, a mattress with good motion isolation tends to be friendly for couples. All memory foam densities perform well on this issue, but higher density foam often isolates movement almost entirely.

Sleeping Hot

"Sleeping hot" is a somewhat common complaint for memory foam mattresses. Most heat trap complaints, however, are for mattresses with medium- and especially high-density foam.

Only about 5% of low-density bed owners report a heat trap problem, while about 8% of medium-density bed owners report a problem. And about 12% of high-density bed owners (especially owners of Tempur-Pedic non-Breeze Contour models) report a problem.

Memory foam of any density that is infused with tiny gel beads tends to have fewer heat-related complaints than non-infused memory foam (of similar density) assuming that at least two inches of the material is present.

Response Time

Upon being compressed and then released, lower-density memory foam tends to respond – return to its original shape – faster than higher-density foam. A faster responding foam is easier to move on and get up off, but it may not mold and contour as strongly to one's body.

Conforming / Temperature Sensitivity

A conforming mattress is one that strongly molds and contours to a person's body. Higher-density memory foam is often the most conforming because it is the most temperature sensitive. "Temperature sensitive" means that the mattress is firmer in lower temperatures and softer in higher temperatures or when in contact with a person's body heat.

A person tends to sink into or "melt" into a higher density mattress because the foam under the person's body becomes softer but the surrounding foam stays firmer. This can result in good support and a highly conforming or contouring-to-the-body feeling.

Most owners of higher-density mattresses appreciate the temperature sensitivity or at least learn to. About 15% of owners, however, do not like it and say that the sinking-in effect causes them to feel like they are sleeping in "mud" or "quicksand."

Less-dense foam mattresses, by contrast, are less temperature sensitive and conforming and consequently feel more conventional.

Ease of Movement

Owners of high-density memory foam mattresses usually report that they sink into the foam significantly and that it contours strongly to their body. (See the temperature sensitivity comparison above for why this is so.)

While this can provide good support and pain relief, it also can result in the mattress being at least somewhat difficult to move on and get up off. Consequently, people who are physically weak, such as the elderly or the sick and disabled, may want to avoid higher-density foam.

Less dense memory foam, by contrast, tends to have more conventional characteristics and is easier to move on and get up off.

Floating, Cloud-like Feel

The higher the density of foam, the more of a floating and cloud-like sensation a person tends to experience when lying on the mattress. This is due to the fact that the foam tends to envelop and contour strongly to a person's body resulting in equal weight distribution.

Suitability by Person Size

Average-Sized Person

All memory foam densities tend to be suitable for the average-sized person (130-230 pounds).

Large / Heavy Person

All densities tend to be suitable for a person 230+ pounds. However, large people may find that higher density foam allows them to sink too far into the foam. And this combined with the foam's ability to contour strongly to the body can undermining ease of movement.

Small / Light Person

People under 130 pounds tend to not sink far into memory foam, especially high density foam. This means that they may not benefit from the contouring and molding properties of the foam, with the result being excessive pressure points especially for side sleep.

Break-In Time

High-density memory foam beds tend to require the most break-in time. In other words, they often require the most use before they reach the level of firmness and support that they will provide for the long term.

Lightweight – Ease of Lifting, Handling, Moving

The more dense the memory foam is, the more it will weigh. Virtually all memory foam mattresses, however, regardless of density, are heavy enough to make moving them, transporting them, and changing their linens at least fairly difficult, especially for one person. High-density foam beds are especially difficult in this way.

Sex Friendly

The properties of memory foam, regardless of density, can provide certain pros and cons in regard to sex. Owner experience data suggests that lower density memory foam tends to be more suitable overall for it than higher density foam, namely because lower density foam is easier to move on and has less of a "sinking in" feeling. See the sex and mattresses comparison for more information.

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About our Memory foam density comparison

The comparison findings are based on the experiences of 7,100+ actual memory foam mattress owners. The mattress owner experience data was collected from diverse and credible sources.


– Memory foam mattresses, regardless of density, typically have similar owner satisfaction rates, about 80 percent. Nevertheless, memory foam mattresses of different density often have different strengths, weaknesses and characteristics.

– Most heat trap or sleeping hot complaints are for memory foam beds with medium- to high-density foam.

– High-density memory foam is often at least somewhat difficult to move on and get up off, while lower-density foam tends to not have a significant problem in this area.

At Amazon: A Top-Rated Memory Foam Topper