Reflex foam vs memory foam
There’s no mattress on the market that uses only one material in its construction. Even memory foam mattresses use other types of foam, and reflex foam is the most common support foam found in all mattress types.
Confusion over memory foam and reflex foam mattresses can lead to buying the wrong mattress, but the differences are very simple.
Memory foam contours to your body and springs back slowly, while reflex foam contours to your body and springs back immediately.
In mattresses that use both foams, reflex foam is layered below memory foam because it springs back, making the bed feel responsive without sacrificing the squishiness of memory foam that so many people love.
What is reflex foam?
Reflex foam is a polyurethane foam available in several grades ranging from medium-soft to very firm. Firmer grades are denser and heavier.
Reflex foam is usually used as a response and comfort layer in mattresses. In sprung mattresses, it acts as a response layer below fibre or memory foam comfort layers, and in foam mattresses, it can comprise the comfort and response layers.
Reflex foam characteristics
Reflex foam springs back immediately when you press on it, which is why it’s also used in sofas and chairs. This springiness increases the responsiveness of a mattress, making it feel bouncier and making it easier to toss and turn. The foam also contours with your body, but it doesn’t hold its shape like memory foam.
What is memory foam?
Memory foam is a viscoelastic polyurethane foam, and like reflex foam, it’s available in a few grades that determine its firmness and feel.
Memory foam is used as a support layer in some pure foam mattresses, but its main purpose is as a comfort layer in all mattress types. It is more expensive than reflex foam and offers greater body contouring with less response.
Memory foam characteristics
Memory foam is denser than standard polyurethane foam and conforms to the shape of your body. It is called ‘memory’ foam because it doesn’t spring back immediately – it holds the shape you left on it. Memory foam offers the best pressure relief of any foam type and is the gold standard for squishy comfort layers.
Which is best – memory foam or reflex foam?
Memory foam is more comfortable than reflex foam because it’s squishy and holds an impression, but reflex foam is more responsive because it springs back immediately. The truth is that both foams are best for different things.
Memory foam and reflex foam serve different purposes (comfort with memory foam, support with reflex foam). When a mattress uses both, it will layer reflex foam below memory foam layers.
In terms of cost, reflex foam is cheaper than memory foam, so it is found in higher quantities in cheaper mattresses. For example, a pure foam mattress that uses reflex and soft foams will be cheaper than a memory foam mattress.
What does all this mean for choosing a mattress?
If you are considering a sprung mattress, these are available with memory foam or without, and in any case, they will probably use some reflex foam. The advantage of a memory foam layer is you will enjoy body contouring.
Memory foam is considered the best option in pure foam mattresses because it provides greater comfort. Reflex foam will make up the support layers beneath the memory foam in cheaper mattresses and less so with expensive mattresses.
Which is best for you? If it comes down to a mattress with memory foam or reflex foam, memory foam is best if you want to squish into the bed, and reflex foam is best if you want the mattress to spring back and respond immediately.
Overall, both types of foams have pros and cons.