Innerspring mattresses are the most popular kind of bedding, and there's a model and style for nearly every taste and budget, from basic, unadorned beds to fancy pillow-top mattresses with hand-stitched embroidery. Simmons, Sealy and Serta rule the mattress market, but there are dozens of other brands out there, including Spring Air, Kingsdown and Stearns & Foster (owned by Sealy). To further confuse matters, many innerspring models are exclusive to certain retailers, making it very difficult to comparison shop.
Mattresses that look similar on the outside can have very different internal components. When you shop, look at a cross-section of the mattress to evaluate the type of springs, their gauge (thickness) and other components such as padding and stitching. Basic hourglass-shaped or continuous-coil springs may transmit motion more than pocket springs, which are sewn into their own individual pouches. However, experts say the best way to choose the best mattress for you is to test it out directly by lying on it. One caveat: while pillow-top innerspring mattresses often feel better initially, owners posting reviews to retailer websites often report that the pillow top goes flat long before the mattress itself wears out. (Most innerspring mattresses will last anywhere from five to 10 years with proper care, which makes them less durable on average than foam mattresses.) In the long run, purchasing a separate mattress topper that can be replaced when needed will probably be cheaper. You may also need to buy a box spring if yours is old or worn, or if it is necessary to maintain the warranty on your mattress.
Innerspring mattresses are discussed in detail in most sources that provide a mattress buyer's guide, such as ConsumerReports.org, Which? and Choice magazines. SleepLikeTheDead.com offers detailed statistics for both innerspring mattresses as a whole and for specific brands, and WhatsTheBest-Mattress.com includes buyer's guides, reviews and a mattress discussion forum. We also found useful information about foam mattresses and health at SpineUniverse.com and WebMD.com.
In this report, editors literally take apart 11 firm mattresses from the three top manufacturers -- Sealy, Serta and Simmons -- to see how they compare in terms of construction. Mattresses are also subjected to a "blind rest test," in which 54 staffers evaluate them for comfort. The editors do not recommend any specific brands or models, since comfort is such a personal matter, but they do address common questions about mattresses and provide shopping tips.
Review: Mattresses: We Cut 11 Models Apart to Help You Choose, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, May 2010
2. Choice magazine
This article does not rate individual mattresses, but it does provide overall buying information. It goes into great detail about coil construction and spinal alignment as well as mattress selection for individuals with special health needs. It's an excellent overall primer for the shopper who wants to fully understand mattress construction.
Review: Mattress Buying Guide, Tanya Fong, May 20, 2010
3. Choice magazine
The editors of Choice magazine poll mattress buyers to see how satisfied they are with their purchases. (Some, though not all, of the brands covered in the report are also sold in the United States.) The high-end Tempur-Pedic brand is the most highly rated, but owners also like the budget Sultan brand sold at Ikea. Unlike some other articles we read, this one claims that higher-priced mattresses are always more comfortable than cheaper ones from the same manufacturer.
Review: Mattress Survey, Tanya Fong, June 6, 2010
Editors poll more than 17,000 subscribers who have purchased mattresses in the past few years to ask about their satisfaction with both the brand they chose and the store where they made the purchase. The results reveal significant differences in consumer satisfaction with both brands and stores, but a majority of buyers in every price range say they are highly satisfied.
Review: Would You Buy That Mattress Again?, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Oct. 2009
5. Which? magazine
Though not quite as detailed as ConsumerReports.org's mattress buying guide, this article from the U.K.'s Which? magazine provides an array of practical tips for mattress buyers. It's targeted toward British consumers, but the information here is equally applicable to shoppers in the U.S.
Review: Choosing the Best Type of Mattress, Editors of Which? magazine
This site rates innerspring mattresses using the compiled commentary from more than 2,600 individual user reviews, drawn from a wide variety of sources online. The article reports that 61 percent of owners are happy with their innerspring mattress (a smaller percentage than for other mattress types), and that satisfaction is not linked to price. Ratings for individual brands are also provided.
Review: Innerspring/Coil Mattress Reviews and Ratings, Editors of SleepLikeTheDead.com, Updated Dec. 23, 2010
Alan Hedge a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, offers advice on choosing a mattress based on ergonomic principles and the results of several studies. Richard D. Guyer of the Texas Back Institute adds some practical pointers on the mattress-buying experience.
Review: Mattresses Matter: Ergonomic Guidelines, Alan Hedge, Updated Feb. 10, 2010
Charlene Laino interviews several sleep experts, including orthopedic physicians and a physical therapist, about their mattress recommendations. All agree that the best mattress is a matter of personal preference, but they do provide some useful tips based on clinical experience.
Review: The Best Mattress for a Good Night's Sleep, Charlene Laino
9. Good Morning America
While no specific brands are mentioned or tested, this article on the ABC "Good Morning America" website stresses the importance of shopping for a mattress in person and offers some helpful hints about negotiating the price of a mattress.
Review: Sleep Easy: Discover How to Buy the Best Mattress, Elisabeth Leamy, July 30, 2007
10. The New York Times
Mary Duenwald debunks the myth that a more expensive mattress is necessarily more comfortable -- at least above a certain price point -- and provides advice and commentary from several experts on what to look for when shopping for a mattress, as well as how to tell if your mattress needs replacement.
Review: Rest Easy on Pricey Mattress? Not Always, Mary Duenwald, Nov. 23, 2004
11. What's the Best Mattress
This site offers buyer's guides -- including numerous tips for negotiating a better price on a mattress -- user reviews for specific brands and a mattress discussion forum. Many threads in the forum relate to latex mattresses, but the buyer's guides include plenty of information on innerspring mattresses.
Review: What's the Best Mattress?, Editors of and contributors to WhatsTheBest-Mattress.com