Sleep Better on a Memory Foam Mattress

Errr...sleep bed-er.

The earliest humans probably slept in trees to stay out of reach of predators, but once Homo erectus figured out how to use fire, sleeping became a ground-level thing. But the oldest mattress ever found by archaeologists was probably used by our very own species, Homo sapiens. That inch-thick pad of reeds and rushes had a clever secret: insect-repellant plants tucked inside.

Humans have come a long way since that time, including the introduction of memory foam (a.k.a. viscoelastic polyurethane foam). This ground-breaking material was invented by NASA in the 1970s, but wouldn’t become an actual mattress until 1991. It quickly became a super popular sleeping option because memory foam is easy on people with allergies and doesn’t readily transfer motion. (This is handy if your bedmate is a flailer. Or a toddler. Or a flailing toddler.)

Stretch Knit Cover

This bed combines high density material with aerated cooling components for temperature regulation. Classic Brands

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You have three basic options in memory foam: traditional, open cell, and gel. Traditional memory foam is exactly like that original NASA product. It’s great for people who want to decrease pressure on their joints—but it can hold onto the sleeper’s body heat. Open cell memory foam bounces back a bit quicker than traditional foam when you mash it down (which helps if you don’t like the trapped-in-my-mattress-cocoon feeling) and also regulates heat a bit better. Gel memory foam combines layers of foam infused with gel that pulls heat away from the sleeper.

Cooling Gel Layer

This option is hypoallergenic and resists mold, bacteria, and dust mites. Ashley

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A memory foam mattress’ firmness and longevity both come from its density—and its indentation load deflection (ILD). This is basically how well the foam holds up to being compressed by a machine (or your body). Mattresses listed as firm will have a higher ILD while those labeled plush will have a lower ILD. Sleepers can adjust the feel of a mattress by combining a firmer mattress with a plush mattress topper.

Medium Firmness

This option ships compressed and rolled up for easy transport and setup. Vibe

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One simple thing to check out is a certification from legit testing organizations like CertiPUR-US. These products are guaranteed to be free of formaldehyde, mercury, lead, and certain flame retardants—all of which are bad for the environment and your health when you let the mattress air out before purchasing.