Memory Foam Mattresses Versus Memory Foam Mattress Toppers

Posted by Sarah Harris - Head of Design & Development on 11th Aug 2022

Memory Foam Mattresses Versus Memory Foam Mattress Toppers

Made to mould to your body shape and to give the bedtime support you crave, it’s clear to see why memory foam mattresses are so popular.

But what if you could simply throw a memory foam mattress topper on top of your current mattress and enjoy the same benefits?

“What if” indeed…

And if not – why not?

We answer these questions, and many more, in this Bensons for Beds Big Debate – Which is better, a memory foam mattress or a mattress topper made from memory foam?

Tempur Cloud Luxe Mattress

Tempur Cloud Luxe Mattress

What is memory foam?

One small step for man, one giant leap…Into bed! *

It’s hard to imagine that the NASA-funded researchers responsible for inventing memory foam envisaged their creation being so widely available back on Earth. (1) Yes, you read that right, we have those mega minds at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to thank for contributing to the invention of memory foam mattresses, and such a comfortable night’s sleep.

Memory foam was designed to cushion test pilots during flights, and today it cushions sleepers all across the globe as they drift off to Dreamland.

Memory foam mattresses and memory foam mattress toppers are created using a high-density foam, and it’s this design that helps the mattress mould to the shape of your body. By providing such individualised support, a memory foam mattress can help to relieve pressure in certain parts of your back hips and neck, giving you the great night’s sleep you’ve been craving.

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How is memory foam used in mattresses?

Memory foam is mostly made of polyurethane along with other components that make it dense but also viscoelastic. This term means that its shape changes when pressure is applied and similarly to elastic it returns to its original state, albeit, more slowly. Many memory foam mattresses also react to body heat, which helps the foam adapt to the shape of your body.

How does memory foam work?

The Sleep Foundation explains how memory foam mattresses are designed to evenly distribute pressure by slowly moulding to an individuals’ body when they place their weight and pressure on the memory foam mattress (2). Once this weight and pressure is removed from the memory foam mattress surface, the mattress will slowly return to its original shape.

a memory foam mattress with an imprint of a hand with hand and partial arm retreating from mattress.

Why is memory foam such a great material for mattresses?

As memory foam mattresses are made of a dense material that is both viscous and elastic, these mattresses provide many benefits:

  • Memory foam absorbs the force of impact which can provide pressure relief:

As a NASA funded product, memory foam was created to be used in space shuttles as part of cushioning for seats and seatbelts. The material needed to be able to protect pilots and astronauts during flights as they moved at high speeds. It was therefore important that the material used could protect and cushion against any sudden impact. How does this relate to memory foam mattresses you may well ask? After all, surely the point is to discourage the kids (and adults) from throwing themselves onto beds from great heights, not give them excuses as to why it’s a great idea? The fact is that this impact-absorbing material cushions the body but then adapts to the weight of your body as you lie on the bed and move during the night. The memory foam changes its form only to curve around parts of your body to provide the support required.

  • Memory foam mattresses can help with spinal alignment

As memory foam responds to your body’s shape and weight, it provides individual support and therefore plenty of comfort as you sleep. It’s this level of comfort that can stop you changing positions during the night, keeping your spine in a position that is supported and you suitably rested.

  • Memory foam mattresses can be great for people with allergies.

As the composition of memory foam is so dense, it isn’t as attractive a home for dust mites and mould, which are common triggers for people with allergies. But you do need to be careful that the memory foam mattress you buy doesn’t also contain potential allergens such as animal hair or other animal products.

  • Memory foam returns to its original state.

Once the weight has been lifted from the memory foam, the material slowly returns to its original state. As it does this, energy from the impact of your body while you were lying down is absorbed by the memory foam and dispersed. It also does this as you lie on the memory foam which helps to remove pressure as you sleep. By returning to its original state, the memory foam can then, again, provide the support you need when you return to bed.

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Are memory foam mattresses good for bad backs?

As memory foam adapts to the shape of your body, and offers support in areas that need it, it’s fair to presume that a memory foam mattress could do wonders for a bad back. Although no mattress can claim to be a wonder cure for all aches and pains, The Sleep Foundation does report that memory foam mattresses help with spine alignment and can prevent waking with back pain. As with any prolonged aches and pains, it’s advisable to see your GP or other medical professional for advice.

What about hybrid memory foam mattresses?

Memory foam is often used in mattresses that are created using other materials. These hybrid mattresses use a combination of layers to form a mattress that is both comfortable and supportive. The Slumberland Rollo mattress is a great example of this. The Rollo mattress not only uses memory foam, but also includes pocket springs, Ortho foam support, and a quilted soft touch sleep surface to create a mattress.

Slumberland Rollo Hybrid Rolled Up Mattress

Slumberland Rollo Hybrid Rolled Up Mattress

Are memory foam mattresses environmentally friendly?

Funny you should ask that because I was just going to mention how the Rollo mattress:

Is Green Seal Certified (3) – For over three decades, Green Seal has given its stamp of approval to products and services that meet their high standards for health, sustainability, and product performance. We are delighted to have received Green Seal certification for the Rollo

Received the Good Housekeeping Getting Greener Award for its sustainable packaging.

Has chemical free fabric covers.

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Can I use a memory foam topper instead of a memory foam mattress?

Why buy an entirely new mattress when you can chuck on a mattress topper for comfort?

Well, first, let’s establish what a mattress topper actually is.

What does a mattress topper do?

Mattress toppers, sometimes called mattress pads, are placed on top of your mattress. Toppers are sometimes used when your mattress has seen better days and you want to eke out a little more life from your tired old mattress.

They are also used when your mattress has changed in firmness, perhaps going from a firmer mattress to a much softer one.

A memory foam mattress may be used by those that want the benefits of a memory foam mattress without paying for a new mattress.

In short, a mattress topper can paint over those cracks, so to speak, before you invest in a new mattress.

This all sounds great in theory, so why buy a new memory foam mattress when you can just buy a memory foam mattress topper?

I’ll tell you why:

Memory foam mattress toppers don’t offer the same benefits as a memory foam mattress:

Hybrid memory foam mattresses provide a whole host of benefits such as extra support in the form of pocket springs and an edge support system. If your mattress is worse for wear, then it isn’t going to provide the same support as a new mattress with memory foam layers.

Memory foam mattress toppers can be expensive: (4)

A denser memory foam mattress topper can provide better support than thinner options, but these tend to be more expensive. If you’re going to spend a relatively large amount of money on a memory foam mattress topper, then surely isn’t it better to invest in a memory foam mattress that will last longer?

Which brings us to my final point:

Mattress toppers don’t last as long as mattresses:

According to, mattress toppers last around 3 or 4 years before they will need to be replaced and this is not considering the lower quality mattress toppers (5). On the other hand, it’s recommended that mattresses should be replaced every 7 years. (6)

Are memory foam mattress toppers worth buying?

Memory foam mattress toppers can be used to protect your mattress and can even prevent wear and tear for some time. However, it’s clear that a mattress topper alone can’t provide the same support as a brand-new mattress. You could see a memory foam mattress topper as a quick fix, or you could invest in a memory foam mattress for a longer lasting solution.

Find your perfect memory foam mattress at Bensons for Beds

You’ll find a whole range of memory foam mattresses in store and online. Choose from medium comfort, firm comfort, and soft comfort memory foam mattresses in a variety of styles and compositions. If you’d like more information about our memory foam mattresses, take a look at our entire collection or get in touch with one of our friendly team today. You can contact us on 0808 144 6160, via email at, or by visiting us at your local store.

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(1)Memory Foam | NASA

(2)What is Memory Foam? | Sleep Foundation

(3)Get Certified or Find Certified Products & Services - Green Seal

(4)Mattress Pads and Topper Reviews | Sleep Foundation

(5)How Long Do Mattress Toppers Last? (And Are They Worth It?) (

(6)Mattresses - How Often Should You Change Your Mattress? (

authors profile
Sarah Harris
Head of Design and Development
Sarah has worked at Bensons for Beds for 16 years. As Head of Design & Development, Sarah uses her wealth of experience in design to ensure that Bensons for Beds' products use the latest innovation in technologies to deliver maximum quality products that really help customers' everyday sleep issues.
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