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Memory foam mattresses


Nicky P.

Last updated: 11.05.2021 10 Min.

Memory foam mattresses - also commonly referred to as Visco or visco-elastic mattresses - are some of the best on the market.

They're characterised by their so-called 'memory imprint', which gives them the ability to optimally adapt to the contours of your body.

This provides great pressure relief and comfort.

We'll guide you through the best Visco or memory foam mattresses available in the UK in the article below and share some of our top recommendations with you.

Emma Original Visco Mattress
  • Overview
  • Definition
  • Suitability
  • Key criteria
  • Sizes
  • Frame
  • Off-gassing
  • Alternatives
  • Conclusion


  • Great pressure relief
  • Adapts well to the contours of the body
  • Great to help with orthopaedic concerns
  • Superior comfort
  • Good support
  • Provides a warmer sleeping climate, which is great for sleepers who easily feel cold at night
  • Great for calmer sleepers
  • Low motion transfer makes it great for couples


  • Can often be quite expensive
  • May be too hot for warm sleepers or heavy sweaters
  • The material is very temperature-sensitive, meaning it hardens with it is cold and becomes softer when it's warm
  • Not suitable for restless sleepers - moving on a memory foam mattress can be quite cumbersome
  • Off-gassing may occur

Our top recommendations

Emma Original Mattress

Emma Original
Price from £ 269 (449 )

Emma Original

The Emma Original is an award-winning mattress that's universally suitable for all types of people and sleeping positions.

This bestselling mattress by the award-winning Emma brand offers 3 layers of premium foam and soft comfort, with sufficient support and stability.

All about the Emma Original

Emma Original

The Emma Original is a best-selling memory foam mattress.

It has been designed to be suitable for most people, sleeping positions, and sleeping preferences.

Made up of 3 different types of foam, it offers soft-to-medium support that's particularly suitable for side sleepers.

The Emma Original is delivered free of charge and comes with a risk-free 200-nigh trial period. 

Emma Original side handles


Our favourite
Nectar memory foam mattress

Price from £ 344 (469 )


The Nectar Mattress is a luxurious memory foam mattress that comes with 2 free pillows and a 365-day trial period.

This luxurious memory foam mattress is suitable for most people and sleeping positions and comes with a revolutionary 365-day trial period.

All about the Nectar

Nectar memory foam mattress

The Nectar memory foam mattress features 3 layers of high-quality foam for optimal spinal alignment, pressure relief, and comfort.

It has 7 contour zones to enhance its ergonomic design and keep your body in a healthy sleeping position.

The Nectar mattress also has a removable, breathable cover to provide for a cool & comfortable sleep.

It comes with free delivery & returns, a revolutionary 365-day trial period, and a 'forever warranty'.

Nectar memory foam mattress



Eve Premium Mattress

Eve Premium
Price from £ 758 (948 )

Eve Premium

The Eve Premium is a four-layered luxury memory foam mattress that offers superior comfort.

Made up of 4 different layers of high-quality foam, this luxury mattress guarantees comfort and support for the best night's sleep.

All about the Eve Premium

Eve Premium

The Eve Premium is a high-quality mattress featuring four layers of premium foam for optimal comfort and support.

I​​​​t's suitable for all body types and best recommended for those requiring a medium-firm sleeping surface.

The high quality of the Eve Premium mattress cover is also worth mentioning.

It has been woven with silver threads that allow it to be naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial.

The Eve Premium comes with free delivery & returns and a risk-free trial period.

Eve Premium Mattress


What exactly is memory foam?

Memory foam mattresses - also often referred to as Visco mattresses or visco-elastic mattresses - are made up of PUR foam, which is made from polyurethane.

Its special feature is the so-called "memory effect" or "memory imprint". This means that an imprint left by part of the body will remain visible for a few seconds.

This memory effect means that memory foam mattresses have very high point elasticity and adapt remarkably well to the body.

For this reason, memory foam mattresses are often recommended for people with orthopaedic problems.

Most memory foam mattresses don't consist of 100% memory foam.

They usually consist of an upper layer of visco-elastic foam and a bottom layer of cold foam. This is required to add more support and stability to an otherwise too-soft mattress.

Many mattresses the Sleep Hero team has tested also have two or three different layers underneath the memory foam layer for superior comfort and support.

memory foam imprint

visco foam

Is a memory foam mattress the right mattress for you?

Memory foam mattresses are a good choice for a wide variety of sleepers.

You can sleep comfortably on a memory foam mattress regardless of your age, body size, or preferred sleeping position.

Suitable for: Less suitable for:
  • All body types and sleeping positions
  • Particularly great for calm sleepers
  • Great for people who easily feel cold at night
  • Good for orthopaedic concerns
  • Great for couples
  • Heavy sweaters
  • Very restless sleepers

Great for calmer sleepers

Memory foam is enormously comfortable but, since the foam adapts so well to the body, moving around on the mattress can be quite difficult.

This makes it unsuitable for very restless sleepers.

A good choice for people who easily feel cold at night

Memory foam retains more heat than other types of foam, which results in a warmer sleeping climate.

This is great for anyone who easily feels cold at night but makes memory foam mattresses unsuitable for very hot sleepers or heavy sweaters.

A great choice for orthopaedic concerns

Memory foam is the recommended choice for anyone with orthopaedic concerns.

Due to the memory effect, this foam adapts optimally to the contours of the body and effectively relieves pressure and offers adequate comfort and support.

This helps prevent and relieve back and neck pains.

Good for couples

Due to their low motion transfer, memory foam mattresses are also great for couples.

Motion transfer refers to the ability of motion to travel through the mattress.

If a mattress has low motion transfer, movement won't be carried far - or at all. This means that you won't be disturbed by your partner's movements at night.

Criteria to consider when purchasing a memory foam mattress

There are numerous factors to consider when purchasing a visco-elastic memory foam mattress.

1. High density

The most important quality feature of a memory foam mattress is its density.

Density is measured in units indicating how heavy a cubic metre of PUR foam is.

In other words: how much polyurethane foam was used for one cubic metre.

The rule of thumb here is that the higher the density, the higher the quality of the mattress.

A higher density mattress also results in a longer lifespan.

If you're purchasing a new mattress, you may as well invest in a product that will last you a long time.

You can use the below table as a rough guideline to density and lifespan.

Density in kg/m³ Quality indicator Expected lifespan
Under 30 Inferior quality Up to 3 years
30-40 Average quality 3 - 6 years
40-50 Good quality 6 - 8 years
50-60 Very good quality 8 - 10 years
Over 60 Excellent quality 10 years and more

2. What other materials are used?

Most memory foam mattresses consist of several layers.

The upper layer is usually made of visco-elastic memory foam.

The lower layers are often made from cold foam. These give the mattress more stability and support.

Pay attention to the quality of these other foam layers as well. As with memory foam, the higher the density, the higher the quality.

3. Right degree of firmness

Memory foam mattresses can often be quite soft but the degree of firmness does depend quite significantly on the other layers of foam in the mattress.

While firmness is often a matter of personal preference, your body weight and sleeping position can affect which firmness is optimal.

For example, if you sleep on your side, you're likely to need a slightly softer mattress to allow your body to sink in at necessary points.

And if you're slightly heavier, it's likely that you'll need a firmer mattress to provide enough stability and support.

We also recommend choosing a mattress that comes with a risk-free trial period so you can test if the degree of firmness works for you.

4. Risk-free trial period

While we can certainly help guide in finding the best mattress, the only way to really see if a mattress is right for you is to try it out yourself.

This is why we always recommend purchasing a mattress that offers free delivery, a risk-free trial period, and free returns for full refunds.

With free delivery and returns, your mattress purchase is a no-risk investment.

Try it out for the available trial period and see if it's as comfortable as you hoped it would be.

And if it isn't, simply send it back and get a full refund.

Remember that it may take your body up to 3 weeks to get used to a new mattress.

Emma original mattress in packaging

Emma Original folded up

Choosing the right memory foam mattress size

Memory foam mattresses are available in most standard UK sizes.

These include:

The right size for you depends on your personal preference, whether you're sharing your bed with a partner, your budget, and the size of your room.


UK mattress sizes

Box spring or slatted frame for your memory foam mattress?

You can place your memory foam mattress on a box spring or a slatted frame.

While a box spring is the easiest choice, slatted frames can also be great.

Pay attention to the following:

Height-adjustable slatted frames

Memory foam mattresses are very adaptable, so you can easily choose a height-adjustable slatted frame.

Adjustable head and foot sections not only increase flexibility and comfort but can also improve blood circulation and make breathing easier, particularly for elderly people.

Of course, you can also use a rigid slatted frame.

Small slat distance

Ensure that the slats aren't too far apart.

A maximum distance of 5 cm between slats is optimal.

Our recommended bed frames

Take a look at some of our recommended bed frames below.

What is off-gassing?

If you've purchased a memory foam mattress, then you're likely to have experienced off-gassing.

This is an initial chemical smell that you may encounter when you first unpack your memory foam mattress.

Off-gassing is completely normal.

It's merely a side effect of the production process and is completely harmless and non-toxic.

The smell can be a little uncomfortable, though, so we'd always advise unpacking your new mattress in a well-ventilated room and letting it breathe.

The smell should disappear quite quickly - a few days at most.

Memory foam mattress toppers

Memory foam mattress toppers are great for adding a layer of softness and comfort to an otherwise firm mattress.

We've listed our top recommendations below.

Alternatives to memory foam mattresses

If you don't think a memory foam mattress is right for you, then consider these alternatives.

Innerspring mattresses

If you are looking for a firmer model with more stability and elasticity, you should choose an innerspring mattress.

In addition to the usual layers of foam, this mattress has springs in its core, which can carry loads individually.

This means that innerspring mattresses adapt to the body in a point-elastic manner.

The gaps between the springs also provide natural ventilation channels, providing a cooler sleeping climate.

Make sure that the innerspring mattress is of high quality.

Inferior spring mattresses wear out quickly and form dents. This can create or worsen back pain.

High-quality innerspring mattress models are pocket spring mattresses or barrel pocket spring mattresses.

Eve pocket springs

pocket springs

Cold foam mattresses

Cold foam mattresses have similar properties to memory foam mattresses.

They also have high adaptability and are therefore used for orthopaedic purposes.

Special comfort zones are regularly designated in order to improve ergonomic properties.

These are also better-suited for restless sleepers.

cold foam mattress

cold foam

Gel foam mattresses

Gel foam mattresses have high point elasticity and are very comfortable.

They provide a very cuddly feel and are particularly suited to restless sleepers.

They also have very good ventilation, providing a better sleeping climate.

Gel foam is most commonly found as an upper comfort layer in a combination foam mattress, used together with more adaptable and/or stable and firmer base foams.

gel foam

gel foam mattress

Latex mattresses

Latex mattresses also have a high point elasticity and offer very high comfort.

High-quality natural latex mattresses have very good ventilation and offer a cooler sleeping climate.

They're also a good organic mattress choice.

Latex mattresses are also more suitable for restless sleepers.

latex foam

latex foam composition

Hybrid mattresses

Hybrid mattresses are a great choice as well.

They usually combine high-quality memory foam with a core of pocket springs.

This results in a mattress that offers the exceptional adaptability and comfort of memory foam with the increased support, stability, and breathability of springs.

different mattress materials


A memory foam mattress is an excellent choice for a wide variety of people and prefered sleeping positions.

Memory foam can be especially recommended for:

  • Couples
  • Orthopaedic concerns
  • People who easily feel cold at night.

They're less suitable for heavy sweaters or restless sleepers.

Nicky P.

My mum calls me "bear" because I like to sleep so much. I never knew that, one day, that would be a very useful skill. Can you tell that I've found my calling? 

Try these

We can highly recommend these best-selling mattresses.

Emma Original
Emma Original Emma Original Mattress
Emma Price from £ 269 (£ 449 )

Get 40% off the Emma Original, an award-winning soft & comfortable mattress that's suitable for all.

Simba Hybrid
Simba Hybrid Simba Hybrid Mattress
Simba Price from £ 456 (£ 609 )

Get 25% off the Simba Hybrid mattress, a high-quality pocket sprung memory foam mattress with Simbatex synthetic latex layer.

Current mattress discounts:
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We're a team of sleep enthusiasts and experts. We test hundreds of sleep products - mattresses, pillows, toppers, bed frames, and more! - to provide you with the best reviews. Our mission is to help you make the right choice for your sleep. Read more about us