How to buy the best mattress
We explain how to find the best mattress without paying thousands of pounds.
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Do you want a good night’s sleep? Deciding which type of mattress to buy is only part of the story. Whether you prefer a pocket-sprung or a memory-foam mattress, our tests have found big differences between the best and worst of each mattress ‘type’.
Make the wrong choices and you risk being lumbered with a needlessly expensive mattress that’s uncomfortable, unsupportive and unable to stand the test of time without sagging and softening.
Thankfully, we’ve explained everything you need to know below to ensure you get the right mattress.
Video: how to buy the best mattress
Watch our video to help you pick the perfect mattress for your sleeping position, body shape and bedroom.
Types of mattress
Pocket-sprung, latex and memory-foam mattresses have all impressed in our tough tests, so the type of mattress you choose really comes down to personal preference and budget.
If you want a traditional mattress with natural fillings, such as wool, you’ll want a pocket-sprung mattress.
With these, each spring is enclosed in its own fabric ‘pocket’ – each reacts to pressure from your body independently. However, these can be pricey and our tests show they can sag significantly over time.
Memory-foam mattresses can be more durable and mould to your body shape but, in some cases, this can increase your body temperature and restrict your movement.
For more information about mattress types, see our guide to choosing the best type of mattress.
How much does a good mattress cost?
A new mattress can cost anywhere between £100 and several thousand. Factors such as brand, size and the types of material used can all have a significant impact on cost.
But, as the graph below shows, our mattress tests have found you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a mattress that will support your spine and last for years to come. Take a look at our list of the best cheap mattresses.
Number of Best Buy mattresses by price
What are the best mattress brands?
Our April 2018 survey of more than 5,000 mattress owners revealed that three in 10 Which? members bought their current mattress because it’s made by a brand they trust. If you’re not sure what the best mattress brands are, we can help.
Check out our guide to the best and worst mattress brands. This reveals what people think of the brand of mattress they own, including how comfortable their mattress is, and covers major brands such as Casper, Ikea, John Lewis, Sealy and Silentnight.
Soft vs firm mattresses
When it comes to firmness, the most important thing is to buy a mattress that you find comfortable.
Don’t buy a mattress that’s firmer than you’d like on the assumption that it will be more supportive. Time and again, our tests have shown you don’t have to buy a firm mattress to get excellent and long-lasting support.
Equally, don’t assume that a firm mattress in one store will feel the same in other shops. Firmness is subjective and manufacturers describe the firmness of their mattresses in a range of different ways.
That’s why we don’t use terms such as soft and firm in our reviews. Instead, we objectively test mattress firmness on a scale of one to 10, where one is the firmest and 10 the softest, so you can easily compare the firmness of different mattresses.
We also measure how supportive each mattress is for a range of different body sizes and sleeping positions.
Use our mattress reviews to arm yourself with a shortlist of supportive mattresses to try out in store.
Best mattresses: features to look out for
As mattresses serve a single basic function – to help us sleep – they don’t come overloaded with jazzy features. But there are still a few things to look out for.
- One-sidedAs the name suggests, only one side of a one-sided mattress is designed to be slept on. Mattresses can be extremely heavy – the heaviest we’ve seen weighs more than 50kg – so you may be relieved not to feel obliged to flip it. You’ll probably still need to rotate it from head to toe, though, so it’s a good idea to check the ease of use rating in our mattress reviews.
- Natural fillingsMany pocket-sprung mattresses also contain layers of synthetic fillings, such as foam. If you’re keen to avoid these, look out for mattresses specifically claim to be made using only natural materials.
- Memory foamSimilarly, just because a mattress contains memory foam doesn’t make it a memory-foam mattress. We only class a mattress as memory foam if it contains more than just a token layer of the body moulding material. See all our memory foam mattress reviews.
Try before you buy
Buying a mattress online may be cheaper and more convenient but, unless you’re buying a bed-in-a-box mattress (see below), it’s always best to try before you buy.
When we asked Which? members about their experience of buying a mattress, more than a third of them told us they feel intimidated trying out a mattress in the shop. A good mattress shop shouldn’t mind you doing this. See our guide on the best mattress shops.
When trying out a mattress in-store:
- Wear comfortable clothing and remove your outdoor gear.
- Lie on a mattress for at least 10 minutes, in positions that you normally sleep in.
- If the bed is for two, go with your partner.
- Don’t shop for beds when you’re tired, as all the mattresses will feel great.
- Don’t let sales assistants influence you – they can’t decide whether the mattress is comfortable for you.
If you’re buying a memory foam mattress, relax in one position, then move into another. Was it easy or did you struggle to move? If the latter, you might find the memory mattress will restrict your movement too much, especially in cold weather when the memory foam will be harder.
Should you buy a mattress online?
If you’re looking for a bargain mattress, one option is to try a few mattresses out in a shop, before going home to search for the best price online. That’s what 5% of Which? members did when they bought their last mattress, according to our 2018 survey of more than 5,000 mattress owners.
But around 14% bought online without trying their mattress first. That sounds risky – especially when we’ve just recommended you try a mattress before you buy – but it’s not if you buy a bed-in-a-box mattress.
These are mattresses that are bought online, vacuum-packed into a box and delivered direct to your door, and there are three reasons you should consider one:
- By cutting out the retailer and selling direct from manufacturer to consumer, many brands claim you’re getting a higher-quality mattress for less.
- Most online-only mattresses offer a sleep trial of at least 10 weeks. During this time you can try the mattress at home and send it back for a full refund if you don’t like it. In most cases, the manufacturer will collect the unwanted mattress from your house for free before recycling it or donating it to charity.
- We’re yet to test a bad one. More than half of the Best Buy mattresses we’ve uncovered can only be bought in a box.
Make sure your mattress fits your bed base
Manufacturers may encourage you to buy a mattress and bed base together, and this is a good idea if you’ve had your old base for many years.
If you buy the mattress and base separately, or are going to keep your old base, measure carefully to make sure they’re a good fit. Dimensions can vary so don’t rely on a new double mattress being exactly the same size as your old one.
Is your mattress going on to a slatted base? Then make sure that the slats are no more than 6cm wide or more than 4cm apart. This ensures sufficient ventilation, while preventing the mattress sagging through between the slats.
For more information, read our guide: What bed size do you need?
Check the guarantee/warranty on your mattress
Make sure you know what your rights are if there’s a problem with your mattress.
Most guarantees for mattresses will not cover gradual wear and tear, which leads to loss of support. So make sure you use our mattress reviews to pick out a durable mattress that will stand the test of time.
Most online-only mattresses offer a sleep trial of at least 10 weeks.
Before you buy your mattress, check whether there’s anything in particular, such as removing labels or using a base other than a recommended one, that would invalidate the guarantee.
Now you know how to go about buying the best mattress for you, check out ourbest mattressrecommendationsto reveal the mattresses that will support your spine and last for years.
The Definitive Guide to Buying a Mattress
Shopping for a mattress has never been easier if you’re armed with this info.
Replacing your mattress can be exhausting. Navigating the stores and websites, debating between foam and springs, and determining how much to spend can leave you feeling like you need a good nap.
Instead, skip the stress and follow these tips from Lexie Sachs, Senior Textiles Analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute, that will help you navigate the world of mattresses.
Where to Shop for a Mattress
Laying down in the store isn’t the only way to go anymore. New mattress-in-a-box companies have won over thousands of customers with convenient shipping and free trial periods. Online mattress buying has seen a serious boom, but it’s not right for everyone. Here’s what you need to know.
Shop in the store if.
Go the traditional route ifyouwant a greater variety and to feel them before buying.In a mattress store, you should never pay full price. Always shop the sales, and don’t be afraid to negotiate with the salesperson. Most stores will also offer removal of your existing mattress. The downside is it can feel overwhelming and it’s harder to compare prices to know if you’re getting a good deal. A big mistake is rushing the decision by quickly lying down on many different mattresses to find the one that feels best. If you’re going to invest in a mattress,take the time to recline for a while (at least 10 minutes)and make sure you don’t feel any pressure or pain.
Shop online if.
This newer route offers agreat alternative if you have trouble making decisions, since there are fewer options. Plus, you can shop from home!These mattresses generally arrive in a box at your doorstep within a few days and include free shipping and a money-back guarantee (even if you simply don’t like the mattress!) so there’s minimal risk. Online, the price is usually final, but it doesn’t include markups for being sold at a physical store. The downsides are that you typically have to set it up yourself and deal with getting rid of your old mattress.
Either way, always ask about the return policy.Not happy with your pick? You may get a partial refund if you bought it in a store, but online companies often arrange to pick it up for a local charity and will give back 100% of your money. Make sure you can test out a new mattress for a month risk-free; that way, you can get used to it before making a decision.
The Best Mattresses You Can Buy Online
The name Casper is synonymous with "mattress-in-a-box." Itsfour foam layers range from soft to firmto offer comfort and support, which our testers loved (especially the under-40 crowd). There’s both a less expensive version (with less layers) and a pricier one (with more).
Tuft & Needle was priced lowest among its competitors, but still stands out as atop mattress on Amazon. This simple model has two layers of foam: a firm, support layer on the bottom and a cushy, cooling layer on top. Our panel particularly liked the friendly customer service.
Unsure if you need a soft or firm option? This foam style gives you both: Justflip the mattress to change the support level. It has copper built-in to help keep you cool and avoid the overheating that is typically associated with memory foam.
Fill out a survey about your sleep habits, andHelix builds a "custom" mattress for youwith layers of foam, latex, and microcoils. They can even personalize each side, so you and your sleeping partner don’t have to fight about which mattress to get.
How to Choose Your Perfect Mattress
There are three common types of mattresses:innerspring, foam, and adjustable. There’s no one "right" material to choose, but in general, side sleepers need a softer mattress, stomach sleepers need a firm one, and back sleepers fall somewhere in between. Beyond the types of mattresses and firmness, you’ll need to think about a few other factors. From sleep style to negotiating with a bedfellow, here’s what to look for based on your needs:
If you like a bed with bounce
Traditional innerspring styleshave that familiar bouncy feel and may be firmer. Interconnected coils are extra-durable, but individual "pocketed" coils, each covered with fabric, reduce the ripple effect that happens when someone on one side of the bed moves.
If you prefer a firmer base
Memory foam optionshave less spring and offer more pressure relief. To determine quality, look at the density and thickness of the foam, which will determine how deep you’ll sink. The newer, online mattresses generally use several different layers of foam, with heavier ones on the bottom for support and lighter, cooler kinds on the top for comfort.
If you want a plush top
Innerspring mattressestypically have either a fiberfill or foam outer layer, covered in quilted ticking. But even if you want an uber-plush feel, don’t be swayed by a thick-looking pillowtop as it can compress over time. It’s often best to choose a firmer, well-quilted mattress, and then cover it with a replaceable mattress topper.
If you like to change it up
Consider anair-filled mattress, like Sleep Number, which has a remote that controls how much air is inside. Two side-by-side chambers allow you and your partner to customize the mattress firmness separately. There are also foam mattresses (like the ones from Layla) with soft and firm sides, so you can just flip it over as needed, and modular designs that let you move around the springs on the inside.
If you sleep on your side
You’ll want a surface that will support your body weight, and conform to your shape.Innerspringsmay have more pressure relief than some foam or latex mattresses, but asoft foam mattressor one with built-in pressure relief points around the shoulders and hips can work for side sleepers, too
If you sleep on your stomach
The last thing a stomach-sleeper probably wants is an enveloping memory foam — it would feel smothering! Instead, a firmer bed will provide the best support. Consider afirm foam, dense innerspring, or air-filled mattress.
If you sleep on your back
You’ll wantsomething in the middle— a surface that supports, but has some give so your spine is kept in a healthy alignment. You’ll find happiness with any of the mattress types, but you should do your best princess-and-the-pea impression to see what feels best to you.
If your partner tosses and turns all night
Consider aninnerspring mattress with pocketed coils, or memory foam, latex, or a dual-chamber air-filled mattress. Medium-firm picks will all have good "motion isolation." But remember, these models could actually be less comfortable on the body of a restless sleeper, as there’s little forgiveness against one’s movements.
If you and your partner’s preferences don’t match
Theair-filled mattresses with dual chamberscan help, or check out the online mattress company Helix. Each person can fill out a questionnaire and have a side customized based on the responses.
If you sleep hot
Manufacturers can get carried away with claims about cooling properties, especially when you consider all the layers (protectors, toppers, sheets, and so on) that go on top of the mattress. That said,foam or latexcan hold in body heat, especially if they’re very soft and a lot of your body sinks in. Newer technology helps alleviate this issue and you can always accessorize your bed with toppers and sheets that offer cooling benefits.
If you have allergies
Foam and latexare both inherently antimicrobial and resistant to dust mites and mold. If you opt for innerspring or air topped with fiberfill, be sure to encase it in an allergen-resistant cover to keep irritants at bay.
If you have back pain
Memory foam and/or latexis best for those with back pain since it molds to your body for support.
If you’re concerned about chemicals
Look forfoams certified by CertiPUR-USas well as certifications for other materials like GOLS for latex or Oeko-Tex for other fabrics to feel more confident about your purchase.
If you can’t decide what matters most
Some savvy manufacturers make ahybrid-style mattressthat combines the buoyancy of an innerspring core with the motion isolation of memory foam. It’s a best-of-both-worlds option that can satisfy many partner disputes and sleeping styles.
How to Pick A Mattress – A Step by Step Guide For Choosing The Perfect One
Firstly you need to know there’s no universal winner in the mattress market. Because you and your sleeping habits are unique you need a mattress that will match your specific list of requirements. Now how do you pick the best one from the list?
Here’s how we’ll help you. This article is designed to make mattress shopping easier. Browse through the information to understand each important factor better. Then use them to vet mattresses and pick the best one for you.
9 Steps to Identifying the Perfect Mattress
Many people think their back pain is because of sports injuries. But is this always the case? You may wake each day with searing pain and think you’ll always have to live with it. It can leave people feeling tired and pessimistic about their days even before morning coffee. That’s what pain can do to you.
Have you considered the effect of sleeping conditions on your body? It’s actually possible to counter back pain just by getting the right mattress. Read on for some insight on the Dreamcloud mattress that could be the solution for you.
Step 1: Consider the Age of Your Current Mattress
Firstly you should gauge whether it’s time for a new mattress, right?
When you look at the warranty periods on mattresses you can see this is a furniture item that’s meant to last you quite a while. Different mattress types also have different lifespans. Pillow tops and innerspring beds are more likely to wear out by the time they’re seven years old. Your memory foam or Latex bed will serve you well for much longer, even up to a decade.
So when do you start shopping for yours?
As a rule of thumb you should start checking your mattress for problems after about eight years:
- Is it sagging?
- Is the stitching still in place?
- Do you get enough support?
Don’t feel forced to purchase a new one however. Each brand is different. A more effective method of gauging when to start shopping is to look for symptoms of low quality sleep. It may not be excess stress that’s keeping you awake at night, but rather your bed that’s worn out:
- Do you wake with pain that you didn’t have before?
- Are you restless at night for no apparent reason?
- How often are you tired when you wake?
You don’t always realize the effect of a mattress on your sleep and health.If these symptoms persist with no other clear cause it could simply be your old lumpy mattress.
So if this is you, let’s help you find the right one to get you back to sleeping soundly.
Step 2: Determine Your Budget
Of course you need to know what you’ll be able to spend. Luckily there are quality mattresses in all price ranges. If you’re shopping on a tight budget it doesn’t mean you’ll have to settle for sub par furniture in the bedroom.
You have a great benefit in shopping for a mattress in the modern world. Why? Because online purchases often lead to better pricing. You don’t have to pay the mark up you’ll have to cover in a brick and mortar store.
Yes, you’re taking a risk shopping online because you can’t test the mattress before you get it. Luckily most companies have consumer friendly return policies and testing periods so it’s usually a safe alternative.
Tips to Consider When Comparing Prices
Of course you’ll find extremely expensive options too. These tips will help you gauge what is value for money:
- Guess what! A high price tag doesn’t prove it’s the best bed around. You should vet all the other features first. You may find a reasonably priced bed with more or less the same characteristics as high end brands.
- Prepare yourself mentally for higher prices if you need a King size or a California King. Make sure the extra space is really necessary.
- Your minimum budget should be higher than $500 in the current 2018 market. If you go lower than that it’s almost guaranteed you’ll face toxicity issues and the mattress won’t last very long. If you need to replace it within two years you’re just wasting money.
- Make sure you get value for money and that you don’t get stuck with a mattress you hate. Quality brands provide you with at least a few weeks—some as long as 100 days or even a year—to test out the mattress. If you realize it will have a negative impact on your health you may return or exchange it.
- Read the fine print on the warrantees. Some brands only cover defects caused by the manufacturers. You may only realize problems after a few months or a year so make sure the warranty is valid for a long enough period. Note that even how you use the mattress could invalidate the warranty so make sure which foundation the brand expects you to use.
On average you should budget for $1000, but let’s help you vet the beds on other aspects too.
Here’s a handy tip: Don’t get pulled into more expenses with sales jargon and end up with unwanted accessories. The mattress covers or pillow tops provided as extras won’t necessarily enhance your sleep and perhaps you can get it cheaper elsewhere. Stay focused when you shop.
How to Choose a Mattress
Updated: November 25, 2019
This article was co-authored by Kathryn Kellogg. Kathryn Kellogg is the founder of goingzerowaste.com, a lifestyle website dedicated to breaking eco-friendly living down into a simple step-by-step process with lots of positivity and love. She’s the author of 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste and spokesperson for plastic-free living for National Geographic.
There are 5 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
Getting a good night’s rest is essential for short and long-term health, so it’s important to choose a mattress that complements your body’s physical needs and sleeping patterns. Other considerations, such as your partner’s preferences and your budget, may also factor in to your decision-making process when you’re mattress shopping. This article provides information on different types of mattresses available, how to choose and buy a mattress from the mattress store, and how to make sure the mattress you buy is right for you before making it a permanent fixture of your bedroom.
Author, 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste
Did You Know?Many mattresses are not necessarily eco-friendly. Memory foam ones, for example, are made out of polyurethane, a plastic, and emit gasses into the atmosphere for approximately 3 years. If you are trying to be eco-friendly, consider buying an organic foam mattress!
Top 12 Tips for Buying a New Mattress
With so many mattress options to choose from, buying a new one can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you have back or neck pain—the right or wrong mattress can make the difference between spending the day feeling good or in pain.
It’s important to have a supportive mattress to ease chronic low back pain.
SeeChoosing the Best Mattress for Lower Back Pain
While choosing a mattress is ultimately a matter of personal preference, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Learn about different mattress materials.
Before you buy, familiarize yourself with the most common mattress types and how they are constructed.
- Innerspringmattresses use coils, which often provide a traditional bounce feel and strong support.
- Latex mattressestypically offer more bounce and responsiveness than innerspring mattresses, and they tend to sleep cooler.
- Memory foammattresses are designed to contour to the body, which may lead to pressure relief. Some users of memory foam report that the material sleeps warm.
- Hybridmattresses combine memory foam or latex layers atop an innerspring mattress, often with the goal of providing a mix of softness and support.
- Air mattressesuse an air pump to inflate the mattress to the desired firmness level. Typically, each side of the bed uses a separate chamber of air to accommodate two sleepers with differing preferences.
Mattresses are also rated based on firmness. In general, a mattress that is too old or too soft may not support the spine well enough.
2. See what your health care provider thinks.
If you have a back or neck condition, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about what he or she recommends. You should aim for the neck and low back to be in a neutral position while lying on the mattress. This promotes good spinal alignment. While doctors are not mattress experts, they know your medical history and may have good advice from that point of view.
3. Visit stores to test out mattresses.
Go to a mattress store and give yourself plenty of time to browse. Take off your shoes and lie down on a few different mattresses for at least 10 minutes each. Don’t worry about feeling self-conscious—this is an important purchase, so take your time.
4. Watch out for gimmicks.
While sellers will label mattresses as "orthopedic" or "medically-approved," there is no medical organization that officially certifies mattresses to carry these labels. Mattresses may have orthopedic-friendly features, but no medical group verifies these claims.
5. Be aware that firm mattresses aren’t always best.
Think twice before buying a hard or firm mattress. Some research has shown that the best mattress for low back pain is a medium firm mattress rather than a firm mattress. 1 There is a difference between firm support and firm feel. You want firm support with a comfortable feel. Comfort will be determined by your personal preference.
6. Read reviews from real customers.
Pay little attention to what mattress companies say about themselves, as they have to market their own products in a positive light. Seek out unbiased reviews from people who have purchased the mattress you are interested in. Read a mix of positive, negative, and middle-of-the-road reviews.
7. Ask for recommendations online.
Announce on your social media accounts that you are looking for a new mattress, and ask friends and family members to post their suggestions. Consider including details about your health condition, as some people might have a similar experience and can give more specific recommendations. You could also visit Spine-health’s Sleep Problems Forum and ask people who are in a similar situation as you.
8. Think about adjustable beds.
If you find you are more comfortable sitting in a recliner than lying down, try an adjustable bed. This option allows you to elevate your head and knees slightly, which may relieve lower back pressure.
9. Look for generous trial periods and return policies.
Many mattress companies have a trial period, guaranteeing free returns within a certain time frame if you are unsatisfied with their product. Make sure you read the fine print and understand all the details.
10. Check the warranty.
Before you buy, verify that there is a warranty for the mattress, in case it breaks down or is defective. Often a good mattress will have a minimum of a 10-year full replacement or non-prorated warranty.
11. Protect your investment.
Don’t forget some kind of waterproof mattress protector. Mattress stains will void your warranty, even if they have nothing to do with a future defect.
12. Remember: higher price does not always equal higher quality.
It is tempting to assume that the more you pay, the better the mattress. But a high price tag does not always guarantee high quality—and it certainly does not guarantee you will personally find the mattress comfortable. Research the materials, and let personal preference be your guide.
A mattress is an important investment that can affect the health of your spine and the quality of your sleep, so take the time to find the mattress that is right for you.