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Best Mattress of 2021

Bed in a box mattresses became hugely popular around 2014 when mattress companies such as Casper and Tuft & Needle rose to prominence. By rolling up, compressing, and packaging a bed into a box, companies were able to make selling mattresses online a lot more viable. These days, bed in a box mattresses are getting closer and closer to becoming the industry standard, and are commonly sold both online and at brick and mortar stores.

In this comprehensive guide, we've utilized in-house testing, customer experiences and insider knowledge to determine our top picks from the best bed in a box mattress brands. Additionally, we've written an in-depth buyers guide that should answer any questions you have about how to buy a good bed in a box mattress.

If you're looking for more specific mattress picks and guides, check out the following pages:

Our Top Picks

Nectar – Best Overall
  • Mattress Type: Foam
  • Firmness Level: Medium Firm (6)
  • Price: $1,198

 

Layla Hybrid – Best Dual-Firmness
  • Mattress Type: Hybrid
  • Firmness Level: Reversible: Medium Soft (4) or Firm (7)
  • Price: $1,599

 

Helix Midnight Luxe - Best Luxury Hybrid
  • Mattress Type: Hybrid
  • Firmness Level: Medium Firm (6)
  • Price: $1,799

 

Plushbeds Botanical Bliss - Best Latex
  • Mattress Type: Latex
  • Firmness Level: 2 options: Medium (5) and Firm (7)
  • Price: $2,999

 

Brooklyn Bedding Aurora - Best Hybrid
  • Mattress Type: Hybrid
  • Firmness Level: 3 options: Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7.5)
  • Price: $1,699
Nolah Signature 12 - Best Flippable
  • Mattress Type: Foam
  • Firmness Level: Reversible: Medium Soft (4) or Firm (7)
  • Price: $1,599

 

Tuft & Needle T&N Original - Best Value All-Foam
  • Mattress Type: Foam
  • Firmness Level: Medium Firm (6)
  • Price: $595

 

Avocado Green - Best Organic
  • Mattress Type: Hybrid
  • Firmness Level: 2 options: Medium Firm (6), Firm (7)
  • Price: $1,399 (standard), $1,799 (pillow-top)

 

Luma Mattress - Best Latex Hybrid
  • Mattress Type: Hybrid
  • Firmness Level: 3 options: Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7.5)
  • Price: $1,200

 

Amerisleep AS3 - Most Comfortable
  • Mattress Type: Foam
  • Firmness Level: Medium (5)
  • Price: $1,499

Nectar - Best Overall

 

Price: $699

Height: 11"

Firmness: Medium Firm (6)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5

Sleeps Cool: 2/5

Motion Isolation: 4/5

Edge Support: 3/5

Durability: 3/5

Ease of Movement: 3/5

Sex: 3/5

Off-Gassing: 3/5

 

nectar-mattress

Highlights:

  • Thick comfort system with multiple layers of memory foam
  • Medium Firm (6) feel and dense polyfoam base prevent excess sink
  • Affordable price point
  • 365-night sleep trial and lifetime warranty

Ideal For:

  • Side sleepers
  • People looking for a memory foam mattress
  • Shoppers who want a long sleep trial (365 nights)

Our best overall mattress of 2021 is the Nectar, a memory foam mattress with a thoughtful design and competitive price point.

The comfort system of the Nectar features an impressive total of five inches of memory foam across three layers. The top two layers are gel-infused to reduce heat retention, and the third is Nectar’s Adaptive Hi Core memory foam that contributes a touch of responsiveness. This tri-layer comfort system provides substantial contouring, pressure point relief, and motion isolation.

A strong base, made with polyfoam that has a density of 2.2 pounds per cubic foot (PCF), makes the Nectar sturdy and keeps sleepers from feeling like they are stuck in the mattress. A breathable Tencel cover is soft and cool to the touch.

With a Medium Firm (6) that suits most people and solid motion isolation, the Nectar is a strong option for couples. It’s also quite popular among side sleepers as well as many back and stomach sleepers below 230 pounds.

Offered at an affordable price relative to other memory foam mattresses, the Nectar is a great value, and the deal gets even better when considering Nectar’s extended 365-night sleep trial and lifetime warranty coverage.

Read Our Full Nectar Mattress Review


Layla Hybrid - Best Dual-Firmness

 

Price:  $1,599

Height: 13"

Firmness: Reversible - Medium Soft (4) and Firm (7)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5 (Medium Soft side), 3/5 (Firm side)

Sleeps Cool: 3/5 (Medium Soft side), 4/5 (Firm side)

Motion Isolation: 4/5 (Medium Soft side), 3/5 (Firm side)

Edge Support: 4/5 (Medium Soft side), 4/5 (Firm side)

Durability: 3/5 (Medium Soft side), 3/5 (Firm side)

Ease of Movement: 3/5 (Medium Soft side), 4/5 (Firm side)

Sex: 3/5 (Medium Soft side), 4/5 (Firm side)

Off-Gassing: 3/5

Highlights:

  • Reversible design with firmness flexibility
  • Copper-infused memory foam on each side
  • Robust hybrid construction generates stability and bounce

Ideal For:

  • Sleepers who want a 2-in-1 firmness design
  • People who like the contouring of memory foam and the bounce of an innerspring
  • Shoppers who value the antimicrobial properties of copper

The Layla Hybrid takes home our award for the best flippable mattress. While most mattresses today are built to have a designated top side with a fixed firmness level, the Layla can be used on either side, giving customers a degree of choice that stands in stark contrast to the norm.

One side of the Layla Hybrid is Medium Soft (4) and appeals primarily to side sleepers. The other side is Firm (7) and that works better for back and stomach sleepers. The ability to switch between them is especially valuable to anyone who isn’t sure of their ideal firmness. It also suits adolescents and teenagers whose firmness needs may change as they grow.

Regardless of which side is being used, sleepers experience the benefits of a memory foam layer that relieves pressure points and enhances spinal alignment. This foam is infused with copper to fight both bacteria buildup and heat retention. The bounce and edge support from the coil-based support core is notable on both sides as well. Zoned transition polyfoam with Surface Modification Technology (SMT) around the coils increases tailoring to the body.

The Layla Hybrid comes with a risk-free sleep trial of 120 nights as well as a 10-year, non-prorated warranty that covers potential defects.


Helix Midnight Luxe - Best Luxury Hybrid

 

Price: $1,799

Height: 14"

Firmness: Medium Firm (6)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5

Sleeps Cool: 3/5

Motion Isolation: 4/5

Edge Support: 3/5

Durability: 3/5

Ease of Movement: 3/5

Sex: 3/5

Off-Gassing: 3/5

Highlights:

  • Sleek pillow-top design
  • Dual layers of memory foam in the pressure-relieving comfort system
  • Sturdy support core of pocketed innerspring coils

Ideal For:

  • People who want a taller mattress
  • Sleepers needing tailored support
  • Shoppers looking for a memory foam hybrid

The Helix Midnight Luxe has a regal appearance and a performance to match. With added features that go above and beyond the standard Helix mattresses, the Midnight Luxe is our top pick for the best luxury hybrid.

As in all the Luxe mattresses from Helix, the support core is made of zoned, individually wrapped coils. By reinforcing the coils under the heaviest parts of the body, the Midnight Luxe can better accommodate the body, preventing higher-weight areas from sagging too deeply into the bed. These coils create solid edge support and bounce while facilitating cooling airflow through the bed.

Above the support core are three layers of foam, including memory foam in the two topmost layers. The memory foam contours to match the body’s needs, eliminating pain points and reducing motion transfer. A thin layer of transition polyfoam sits between the memory foam and the coils for extra stability and durability.

This mattress measures in at 14 inches tall and employs an elegant pillow-top design. Its cover is made with moisture-wicking Tencel fabric, and the comfort feel is Medium Firm (6), meeting the needs of the majority of sleepers.

The Midnight Luxe comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 15-year warranty from Helix.

Read Our Full Helix Mattress Review


Plushbeds Botanical Bliss - Best Latex

 

Price: $2,999

Height: 10” (9” and 12” also available)

Firmness: Medium (5), Firm (7)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5 (Medium), 4/5 (Firm)

Sleeps Cool: 4/5 (Medium), 4/5 (Firm)

Motion Isolation: 3/5 (Medium), 3/5 (Firm)

Edge Support: 4/5 (Medium), 4/5 (Firm)

Durability: 4/5 (Medium), 4/5 (Firm)

Ease of Movement: 4/5 (Medium), 4/5 (Firm)

Sex: 5/5 (Medium), 5/5 (Firm)

Off-Gassing: 4/5

Highlights:

  • Organic, eco-friendly materials
  • Bouncy and durable all-latex design
  • Natural materials provide pressure relief without heat buildup
  • Choice of two firmness options

Ideal For:

  • Environment-focused shoppers
  • Hot sleepers
  • People who want significant bounce and responsiveness

Our choice for the best latex mattress, the PlushBeds Botanical Bliss, performs admirably when it comes to spinal support and bounce, but it’s not just those characteristics that make this mattress our top pick. Above and beyond its performance, this mattress demonstrates real dedication to sustainability through its use of natural and organic materials.

All of the interior layers of the Botanical Bliss are made with Dunlop latex that has been certified to meet the requirements of the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS). This organic latex, organized into three layers in the 10-inch model, serves the best interests of the environment and your health thanks to its chemical-free composition.

Surrounding the latex is a half-inch layer of wool that is breathable and helps to naturally regulate the bed’s temperature. The cover is made with quality cotton that brings an added element of moisture-wicking and softness. Both the wool and cotton are certified organic according to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).

This latex construction excels at providing bounce, a major selling point for people who want a great mattress for sex. At the same time, it lightly conforms to cushion the body’s more pronounced pressure points. It is extremely durable and avoids heat collection, making this a top choice for hot sleepers.

Read Our Full PlushBeds Botanical Bliss Mattress Review


Brooklyn Bedding Aurora - Best Hybrid

 

Price: $1,699

Height: 13.5”

Firmness: Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7.5)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Medium Firm), 4/5 (Firm)

Sleeps Cool: 3/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Medium Firm), 4/5 (Firm)

Motion Isolation: 4/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Medium Firm), 3/5 (Firm)

Edge Support: 3/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Medium Firm), 4/5 (Firm)

Durability: 4/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Medium Firm), 4/5 (Firm)

Ease of Movement: 3/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Medium Firm), 4/5 (Firm)

Sex: 3/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Medium Firm), 4/5 (Firm)

Off-Gassing: 4/5

Highlights:

  • Three firmness options to accommodate different body types and sleep positions
  • Phase-change material woven into cover for added cooling
  • Comfortable balance of body-contouring and support

Ideal For:

  • Hot sleepers
  • Couples
  • Shoppers who prefer to choose between different firmness levels

The Brooklyn Bedding Aurora is a standout hybrid model available in three firmness levels: medium soft (4), medium firm (6), and firm (7.5). Side sleepers and those who weigh less than 130 pounds will probably gravitate toward the medium soft model, while the firmer beds are better suited to people who weigh 130 pounds or more – back and stomach sleepers in particular.

The mattress is constructed with a top comfort layer of adaptive polyfoam, a secondary comfort layer of latex-like polyfoam, and a memory foam transitional layer. These materials cushion and contour to the body for even weight distribution and pressure relief. The top layer is also infused with copper, which has cooling and antimicrobial properties, and the cover contains phase-change material for added temperature regulation.

The support core features 8-inch pocketed coils that deliver sturdy reinforcement and stability for the entire mattress, especially along the perimeter. The coils also provide responsiveness to help you move across the surface without sinking too much. Measuring 13.5 inches thick, the Aurora is a great pick for sleepers who prefer taller mattresses.

Brooklyn Bedding ships for free anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The Aurora is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

Read Our Full Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Mattress Review


Nolah Signature 12 - Best Flippable

 

Price: $1,599

Height: 12"

Firmness: Reversible: Medium Soft (4) or Firm (7)

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Pressure Point Relief: 2/5 (Firm), 4/5 (Medium Soft)

Sleeps Cool: 2/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Firm)

Motion Isolation: 2/5 (Firm), 4/5 (Medium Soft)

Edge Support: 2/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Firm)

Durability: 3/5 (Medium Firm), 3/5 (Firm)

Ease of Movement: 2/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Firm)

Sex: 2/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Firm)

Off-Gassing: 4/5

Nolah Signature 12 Mattress

Highlights:

  • Flippable design offers a distinct feel on each side of the mattress
  • Adaptive polyfoam provides even contouring and alleviates pressure
  • Lightweight and easy to rotate as needed

Ideal For:

  • Sleepers whose firmness preferences fluctuate from night to night
  • Couples
  • Animal-conscious shoppers

The flippable, all-foam Nolah Signature 12 is designed with a distinct feel on each side. One side is medium soft (4). This surface contains a thick layer of adaptive polyfoam that contours closely to the body. The opposite side has a firm feel and a thinner polyfoam layer, resulting in less conforming and more overall support.

Each side offers certain advantages for sleepers. The medium soft feel cushions the shoulders and hips, ensuring even spinal alignment and less pressure for most side sleepers. This side also isolates more motion to reduce sleep disruptions for couples.

The firm side is better suited to people who weigh at least 130 pounds – especially back and stomach sleepers. This surface also provides stronger edge support and sinks less in the middle, allowing you to sleep cooler.

Nolah offers free shipping within the contiguous U.S. The mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty. With each purchase, the company also adopts an animal belonging to an endangered species group and donates money on behalf of the Defenders of Wildlife program.


Tuft & Needle T&N Original – Best Value All-Foam

 

Price: $595

Height: 10"

Firmness: Medium Firm (6)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5

Sleeps Cool: 4/5

Motion Isolation: 4/5

Edge Support: 2/5

Durability: 3/5

Ease of Movement: 4/5

Sex: 3/5

Off-Gassing: 3/5

Highlights:

  • Well-rounded performance from Adaptive Foam comfort layer
  • No-frills design at an excellent price
  • Proven track record of customer satisfaction

Ideal For:

  • Sleepers who want a balance of bounce and pressure relief
  • Hot sleepers who want an all-foam bed
  • Budget shoppers

Few companies have thrived in the online mattress industry like Tuft & Needle. The company’s flagship mattress, the Tuft & Needle Original, has a demonstrated track record of performance made up of thousands of customers who appreciate its excellent ratio of price-to-value.

The Tuft & Needle Original isn’t packed with features; instead, it has a simple-but-effective design with just two layers. The three-inch top layer features Tuft & Needle’s claim to fame: Adaptive Foam. This proprietary polyfoam strikes a balance between latex and memory foam, providing modest conforming, meaningful bounce, and reduced heat retention thanks to graphite and gel infusions. When combined with a Medium Firm (6) feel, these characteristics give the Tuft & Needle wide appeal to all kinds of sleepers.

The second layer of foam is a dense base polyfoam that gives the mattress a sturdy feel and hedges against sagging or sinking too far into the mattress. A soft and smooth cover is also moisture-wicking to further advance the bed’s temperature neutrality.

With an affordable price point and solid design, the Tuft & Needle leapfrogs the competition to claim the top spot for the best value all-foam mattress. It comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

Read Our Full Tuft & Needle Mattress Review


Avocado Green - Best Organic

 

Price: $1,399 (standard), $1,799 (pillow-top)

Height: 11" or 13"

Firmness: Medium Firm (6), Firm (7)

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Pressure Point Relief: 3/5 (Firm), 4/5 (Medium Firm)

Sleeps Cool: 4/5 (Medium Firm), 5/5 (Firm)

Motion Isolation: 3/5 (Firm), 4/5 (Medium Firm)

Edge Support: 3/5 (Medium Firm), 4/5 (Firm)

Durability: 5/5 (Medium Firm), 5/5 (Firm)

Ease of Movement: 4/5 (Medium Firm), 4/5 (Firm)

Sex: 4/5 (Medium Firm), 5/5 (Firm)

Off-Gassing: 4/5

Avocado-Green-Mattress

Highlights:

  • Durable latex and strong coils ensure a long lifespan
  • Exceptional temperature regulation thanks to breathable components
  • Available in standard and pillow-top designs

Ideal For:

  • Sleepers who prefer a very responsive mattress
  • Hot sleepers
  • Eco-conscious shoppers

The Avocado Green is one of the most environmentally friendly mattresses on the market today. The comfort layer is composed of organic latex that has been certified by the Global Organic Latex Standard. The cover is also composed of organic cotton, and a thin layer of organic wool serves as the bed's fire barrier. In addition to being eco-friendly, these materials are also highly breathable. As a result, the Avocado Green is an excellent choice for hot sleepers.

The bed's support core consists of sturdy 8-inch pocketed coils and an additional base layer of organic latex for added reinforcement. These layers provide great overall stability and contribute to the firm (7) feel of this mattress.

If you prefer a softer sleep surface, Avocado offers a pillow-top model with an additional 2 inches of soft latex sewn into the cover. This mattress has a medium firm (6) feel and is better suited to people who weigh less than 130 pounds.

For customers who don't wish to purchase animal products, Avocado also offers a vegan version of the mattress that substitutes a synthetic fire barrier for the organic wool component. The company's one-year sleep trial is one of the longest in the industry, and the Avocado Green is backed with a lifetime warranty to protect against defects once the trial period expires. Shipping is free to all 50 states.

Read Our Full Avocado Mattress Review


Luma Mattress - Best Latex Hybrid

 

Price: $1,200

Height: 11”

Firmness: Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7.5)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Medium Firm), 4/5 (Firm)

Sleeps Cool: 4/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Medium Firm), 4/5 (Firm)

Motion Isolation: 3/5 (Medium Soft), 3/5 (Medium Firm), 3/5 (Firm)

Edge Support: 3/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Medium Firm), 4/5 (Firm)

Durability: 4/5 (Medium Soft), 4/5 (Medium Firm), 4/5 (Firm)

Ease of Movement: 4/5 (Medium Soft), 5/5 (Medium Firm), 5/5 (Firm)

Sex: 4/5 (Medium Soft), 5/5 (Medium Firm), 5/5 (Firm)

Off-Gassing: 4/5

Highlights:

  • Three firmness options to accommodate most body types and sleep positions
  • Very good temperature neutrality thanks to ventilated latex comfort layer
  • Zoned pocketed coils ensure sturdy edge support

Ideal For:

  • People who prefer very responsive mattresses
  • Hot sleepers
  • Shoppers looking for a relatively inexpensive latex hybrid

The Luma Mattress is a standout hybrid that provides an exceptionally responsive feel. The comfort layer is composed of ventilated latex, a naturally springy and durable material, while the support core contains 8-inch pocketed coils. The mattress is ideal for sleepers and couples who prefer a bouncy surface, as well as people who have a hard time moving across other mattresses due to sinkage and lack of support.

Hot sleepers should also feel quite comfortable on the Luma Mattress. The latex is ventilated with small holes to push airflow near the surface, while the coils promote added air circulation to keep the interior cool. The support core is zoned with thicker coils along the perimeter, so edge support is another strength of this mattress.

Customers can choose from three different firmness levels. The medium soft (4) option is a good pick for side and back sleepers who weigh up to 230 pounds, while the medium firm (6) and firm (7.5) feels are best suited to back and stomach sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds. In addition to the hybrid, Luma offers another version of this mattress that swaps out the coils for a latex support core.

Compared to other latex hybrids, the Luma Mattress carries a sticker price that is well below average. Luma also offers free ground shipping within the contiguous U.S. The mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.


Amerisleep AS3 - Most Comfortable

 

Price: $1,499

Height: 12"

Firmness: Medium (5)

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Pressure Point Relief: 4/5

Sleeps Cool: 3/5

Motion Isolation: 4/5

Edge Support: 2/5

Durability: 4/5

Ease of Movement: 3/5

Sex: 3/5

Off-Gassing: 3/5

Highlights:

  • Dense memory foam provides excellent contouring and even weight distribution
  • Very good motion isolation for couples
  • Above-average durability thanks to high-quality construction and materials

Ideal For:

  • Sleepers who enjoy the "body-hugging" feel of memory foam
  • Couples
  • People with lower back and hip pain

Amerisleep offers five memory foam mattresses, each with a distinct firmness level. We've selected the AS3 as the standout due to its balanced medium feel. The mattress contains a comfort layer of dense memory foam that contours closely without sinking too much, while high-density polyfoam transitional and support layers reinforce the sleep surface for added reinforcement. The mattress is particularly well-suited for side and back sleepers who weigh 230 pounds or less.

Since the memory foam is relatively dense, the AS3 also excels at motion isolation. You'll notice little to no transfer across the surface when your partner moves, even when they're getting on and off of the mattress. Additionally, the mattress is completely silent.

The cover is composed of Celliant textile, a material designed to sleep relatively cool and help your body recover during the night. The memory foam may trap some body heat but the cover offsets bothersome heat retention to a noticeable extent.

If you are not satisfied with the feel of the AS3, Amerisleep allows mattress exchanges during the 100-night sleep trial. The AS1 and AS2 are firmer, while the AS4 and AS5 offer a plusher feel. The company also provides free shipping within the contiguous U.S. and backs the AS3 (and other mattresses) with a 20-year warranty.

Read Our Full Amerisleep Mattress Review


How to Find Your Perfect Mattress

If you’re getting ready to buy a new mattress, it’s natural to want to make the most of your purchase. The right mattress at a great price is truly the perfect combination, but many shoppers don’t know how to identify that ideal pairing.

Our picks for the best mattresses of 2021 are a quick and easy way to select a top option, but we know that many shoppers want to take a more hands-on approach and do their own research. Online shopping provides the luxury of time to browse and compare, and armed with the right background knowledge, this diligent shopping strategy can pay dividends.

What Type of Mattresses Are Available?

A good jumping off point for new mattress shopping is thinking about mattress types, which are determined based on the bed’s internal construction. There are five main mattress types -- all-foam, hybrid, latex, innerspring, and airbed -- and each has certain pros and cons.

All-Foam Hybrid Latex Innerspring Airbed
Comfort System Size Significant Significant Medium to Significant None or Minimal Minimal to Significant
Comfort System Material Memory foam, polyfoam, latex, and/or fabrics Micro-coils, memory foam, polyfoam, latex, and/or fabrics Latex Fabrics or polyfoam Memory foam, polyfoam, latex, and/or fabrics
Support Core Base Polyfoam Innerspring Coils Latex Innerspring Coils Air Chambers
Typical Longevity 6 to 8 years 6 to 8 years 6 to 10 years 5 years 6 to 8 years
General Price Range $900-1,300 $1,500-2,000 $1,600-2,000 $300-1,100 $2,000-2,400
Most Common Strengths Pressure relief, motion isolation, quiet performance, affordability Ease of movement, sturdiness, edge support, temperature control Ease of movement, temperature control, durability Low price point, ease of movement, temperature control Adjustable firmness, advanced designs
Most Common Weaknesses Reduced ease of movement, heat retention, off-gassing Insufficient pressure relief, motion transfer, noise, higher average price Insufficient pressure relief, motion transfer, heavy/bulky, higher average price Insufficient pressure relief, motion transfer, reduced durability, noise High price point, insufficient pressure relief, noise, smaller selection of brands and models

It’s important to remember that not every mattress fits perfectly with the normal characteristics of its type. In addition, some types, such as hybrids, encompass a broader range of designs, meaning that, even within this category, there’s more potential variation from one model to the next. Nevertheless, understanding the basics about mattress types provides a useful introduction to your shopping and may help focus on a style that is most intriguing to you.

How Do You Pick the Right Firmness Level?

Firmness is essential to comfort, so finding your perfect mattress means choosing the right firmness level. We use a scale of 1-10 to evaluate firmness, with 1 being the softest possible mattress. To help you settle on an ideal firmness level, consider three key factors: comfort preference, sleeping position, and body weight.

What’s Your Comfort Preference?

Whether it’s soft as a cloud, stiff as a board, or somewhere in-between, some people just want their bed to feel a particular way. This subjective preference should be your starting point when choosing firmness. If you know you love a hard mattress, for example, don’t waste your time considering beds that are plush.

Not sure about your preferred firmness level? We suggest a few steps:

  • Think about your current bed. Do you wish it was clearly harder or softer? If so, consider that a solid data point about your firmness preference.
  • Reflect on recent hotel stays. Most hotel beds are Medium (5) or Medium Firm (6), so you can use that as a barometer for what might be best for you.
  • Visit a mattress showroom. If all else fails, you can drop into a furniture store and lie on some mattresses to get an idea of what appeals to you. Just remember to spend at least 10-15 minutes on a mattress so that you have time to get past your first impression of how it feels.

How Does Sleeping Position Affect Mattress Firmness Needs?

The body’s weight is distributed differently in each major sleeping position and can affect which firmness level is most comfortable and supportive.

Side sleepers normally need a Medium Soft (4) to Medium Firm (6) mattress that can lighten the impact at their hips and shoulders without causing those areas to sink too deeply into the bed.

Back sleepers typically do best with a Medium (5) to Firm (7) mattress that caters to the curve in the lower back without allowing the midsection to sink and pull the whole body into a tension-creating U-shape.

Stomach sleepers frequently prefer a Medium Firm (6) to Firm (8) mattress that keeps them from feeling suffocated by the mattress and that securely holds up the abdomen to keep the body from contorting into a U-position and putting strain on the lumbar spine.

How Does Body Weight Affect Mattress Firmness Needs?

For virtually any mattress, the more weight that is applied to it, the greater it will compress, which means that body weight can play a meaningful role in choosing the optimal firmness level.

People under 130 pounds don’t sink far into most mattresses, so they are less likely to obtain the pressure-relieving benefits of a bed’s compression. In order to avoid this problem, people in this weight category should normally opt for slightly softer mattresses than a higher-weight person who sleeps in the same position.

People over 230 pounds are prone to sinking too deeply into a mattress, especially in heavier zones of the body, risking spinal alignment. As a result, people of this weight can usually get better support and comfort with a mattress that trends toward the higher end of the firmness range for their sleeping position.

Putting It All Together

Absent a personal comfort preference, the following chart shows a general outline of the optimal mattress firmness range based on sleeping position and body weight.

Less Than 130 Pounds 130 to 230 Pounds More Than 230 Pounds
Side Sleepers Soft (3) to Medium (5) Medium Soft (4) to Medium Firm (6) Medium (5) to Firm (7)
Back Sleepers Medium Soft (4) to Medium Firm (6) Medium (5) to Firm (7) Medium Firm (6) to Firm (8)
Stomach Sleepers Medium Soft (4) to Medium Firm (6) Medium Firm (6) to Firm (7) Medium Firm (6) to Extra Firm (8)

What is Firmness Flexibility?

If you’re wary about settling on just one firmness level, there are options that provide flexibility to modify the firmness feel after you’ve purchased a new mattress.

  • Reversible construction: Some mattresses are flippable and have a different firmness on each side, so changing the feel is as easy as turning the mattress over.
  • Adjustable comfort layers: A mattress with a removable cover may allow you to rearrange the top layers to switch up the feel. When this is possible, the mattress company’s customer service team will often walk you through how to make this adjustment.
  • Airbeds: It’s easy to make real-time changes to the firmness level of an airbed using a smartphone app or a remote. By adding or decreasing the amount of air in the support core, you can switch up the feel in an instant.
  • Mattress toppers: Another approach to altering the firmness is to buy a mattress topper, which is like an extra comfort layer that goes above the mattress and under your fitted sheet.

What Are The Most Important Things to Look For When Mattress Shopping?

Mattress type and firmness play a huge part in finding a perfect mattress, but other factors are important to think through as well.

Not all of these considerations will be critical for you, but deciding which are your highest priorities can help direct you toward your most suitable mattress options.

  • Price: Cost is a driving factor for many shoppers, but there are great values to be found for shoppers of almost any budget. Always look for sales or promotions because few online mattresses are sold at their full sticker price; it’s the norm to receive a discount, even on higher-priced and luxury beds.
  • Durability: Any time you invest in a product for your home, you want it to last. For your mattress, that’s especially important because a sagging bed won’t give your spine the support it needs. Quality materials and design can make all the difference for mattress longevity, so look for a well-built bed.
  • Pressure Relief: To prevent pain and promote spinal health, a mattress should be able to accommodate high-pressure parts of the body. Materials that can conform and tailor to the body are often effective in relieving pressure, but too much sink or hug can exacerbate pressure points for some sleepers. A well-designed comfort system strikes the right balance in delivering excellent support for the whole body.
  • Temperature Control: Overheating is a contributor to sleeping problems for many people, and it is often attributable to their mattress. If air can’t circulate around the body because of excess hug, the body can get too hot. If the mattress materials themselves retain heat, it can cause a person to warm up too much along with it. Latex and hybrid mattresses tend to sleep cooler than foam beds, especially those that use memory foam.
  • Motion Isolation: If a mattress can contain the vibration from a person’s movement to just one side of the bed, it can prevent a bed partner on the other side from being bothered and awoken. This is known as motion isolation, and it’s most important for couples. Memory foam has the top reputation for motion isolation while bouncier beds may permit more motion transfer.
  • Ease of Movement: Even people who like a plush mattress usually don’t want to feel stuck in their bed. Unfortunately, some materials can feel like quicksand, making it hard to change your sleeping posture or to get out of bed at all. Responsive materials like latex and coils tend to promote the easiest movement while deep-contouring foams are more likely to complicate it.
  • Sex: If you have plans to use your mattress for sex, there are certain mattress types and materials that will better serve those plans. A mattress with bounce that can facilitate rapid movement, such as a latex or coil-based bed, is generally best for an active sex life.
  • Edge Support: Integrity of the mattress across its entire surface is important for being able to utilize your whole bed and to feel stable no matter what part of the bed you’re on. Hybrids usually have sturdier edges that are frequently reinforced. On the other hand, foam beds tend to compress more near the edge, making them weaker in this category.
  • Off-gassing: A “new mattress smell” may hang in the air for a few hours or up to a few days after you install a bed-in-a-box mattress. The smell comes from compounds produced during manufacturing -- known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) -- that have a light odor but no negative health effects. Off-gassing tends to be greatest in mattresses with considerable layers of foam, although it occurs less with higher-quality foams.

How Do You Get Quality Information When Researching Mattresses?

Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s important to address how you can find trustworthy information about your mattress options.

Mattress Company Websites

In-depth information about most mattresses can be found on the website of the mattress manufacturer; however, you’ll want to keep an eye out for exaggerated marketing buzz. Try to focus on the more tangible descriptions like the mattress materials and specifications.

Customer Reviews

Many mattress companies post customer reviews on their sites so that you can get a sense of how others have reacted to the mattress. Reviews can be a useful resource, but you’ll get the most out of them by keeping a few tips in mind:

  • Focus on reviews that come from actual verified customers.
  • Make sure there is a large enough sample size of reviews to draw conclusions and identify trends.
  • Take a peek at the total review score, usually on a scale of 1-5 stars, but don’t treat it as the final word.
  • Read the actual text of reviews since this can give far more detail than the aggregate review score.

Third-Party Review Sites

Third-party review sites like ours can be a great source of detailed breakdowns of mattress construction and performance. Drawing on extensive experience in the industry, our reviews, guides, and comparisons are a one-stop source where you can gather all the information you need to choose a leading mattress.

What Are the Logistics of Buying a New Mattress?

Regardless of whether this is your first mattress purchase or if you’re a veteran of bed shopping, brushing up on the logistical ins-and-outs of buying a mattress can help you make the most of your purchase and prevent unwanted surprises down the line.

Can I Buy a Mattress Online?

You can absolutely buy a mattress online. In fact, online mattress shopping is rapidly expanding and drawing more and more customers away from traditional showrooms. With a bigger selection, excellent prices, and the ability to browse pressure-free and at your own pace, it’s no surprise that most people who buy online are incredibly satisfied with their shopping experience.

How Does Mattress Shipping Work for Online Mattress?

Standard shipping is almost always free when you buy a mattress online. To prepare the mattress for delivery, it is tightly compressed, sealed in plastic, and placed in a medium-sized box that gets shipped to your door. Installation is simple; you bring the box to your bedroom and remove the packaging so that the mattress springs back to its full size. The most challenging part is just lifting the box, which normally requires two or three people.

White-Glove delivery is an option offered by some online mattress companies. With a White-Glove option, a delivery team brings the bed to your home and sets it up for you. They usually can take away an old mattress as well. In-home delivery services normally carry an extra charge but may be included with some purchases. Not every mattress manufacturer offers White-Glove delivery, and it may not be available in all geographic areas.

Can I Return a Mattress Bought Online?

You will almost always have an option to return a mattress bought online, and the majority of the time, the company will pick up the bed and give you a full refund if you aren’t happy with it.

This generous return policy is known as a sleep trial, and it’s designed to let you try out a mattress for a period of weeks or months rather than for just a couple of minutes in a retail showroom. The normal sleep trial is around 100 nights, but the exact length varies by manufacturer.

With some sleep trials, you are required to try the mattress for up to 30 nights before asking for a return. In rare cases, there may be charges for return shipping that are subtracted from the refund, but the norm is for sleep trials to be totally risk-free.

How Do Mattress Warranties Work?

If some part of a mattress breaks down prematurely, the company may repair or replace the mattress as part of a warranty against defects. That said, a warranty won’t cover accidental damage (think pet accidents or spills) or normal, expected wear-and-tear that happens gradually over time.

When looking at a mattress warranty, consider these key components:

  • The term, which is how long the warranty lasts.
  • Whether it’s prorated or non-prorated. A prorated warranty has terms that change based on how long you’ve owned the mattress.
  • Whether there are any customer costs. Some warranties stipulate that you have to pay a portion of the repair costs or for shipping. In a prorated warranty, these costs may go up over time.

Do I Need Anything Besides the Mattress?

If you want to make your bedroom a cozy haven where you can get the best sleep possible, it’s worth thinking about the accessories that complement a mattress.

A quality bed frame serves as a dependable foundation for your mattress, and choosing a frame that meets certain requirements may be necessary in order to keep your warranty valid. A frame can add a sense of style to your bedroom and boost the height of your mattress if you want underbed storage or an easier process of getting in and out of bed.

Pillows work with your mattress to keep your neck, and thus your spine, supported. Choosing quality pillows with the right material and level of loft can therefore be a vital addition to a proper bed setup.

Last, don’t forget your bedding. If you’re changing your mattress size, you’ll need all new sheets and blankets. Even if there’s no size difference, you might consider top-flight bedding that can help keep you comfortable and cool all night long.