Types of Mattresses
Innerspring has been the most popular type of mattress for decades and countless styles, features, and options are available. Models vary greatly in cost, from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Price differences may depend on the number and size of the coils, the amount and type of padding, and details such as fabric and stitching. Compared with other types, innerspring mattresses tend to retain less body heat and come in a wider range of firmness levels. They do tend to transfer more motion, which can be a concern if you share your bed with a partner, but can be a plus during sex. They're also less durable and more prone to sagging than other types of mattresses. Most experts say innerspring mattresses should be replaced after 10 years at most, although six years seems to be the best timing to avoid possible discomfort from sleeping on a saggy mattress.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Made from visco-elastic foam, a type of foam that molds itself to the body, memory foam is most popular with those who like a firmer, highly supportive mattress. While the best-known manufacturer is Tempur-Pedic, quite a few companies offer less expensive versions. Memory foam is also a good choice if you have a restless partner as it minimizes movement transfer. Going from innerspring to memory foam can take some getting used to, but most who give it time say making the switch was worth it. Some people find that memory foam traps heat -- a complaint that many makers have addressed with the development of gel-infused memory foam, which is designed to create a cooler sleeping surface. Alternatively, wool mattress toppers, which are covered in a separate report, can help keep you cool. Another big issue with all memory foam mattress is off-gassing; most have an unpleasant smell when they're first unwrapped or unboxed. This bothers some people more than others, so we don't rate memory foam mattresses by that metric since it seems to be highly subjective.
The foam mattress category covers all mattresses that are made of foam, but don't fall specifically into either the memory foam or latex category (see below). Often a proprietary blend of foams, foam mattresses have shot into the stratosphere of popularity thanks to the proliferation of online-only companies that have created foam mattresses primarily for sale on the internet, though a few can be tried out in person in some locations. Foam tends to trap less heat than memory foam, and tends toward a softer feel, so may be a better choice for those who prefer a softer bed. Most foam mattresses need some time for the initial odor to dissipate, but most experts say the off-gassing is not as bad as with mattresses made solely with memory foam.
Mattresses made of natural latex are eco-friendly, since natural latex is a renewable resource. Latex tends to be springier than memory foam mattresses and doesn't retain as much body heat. They are also resistant to mold and dust mites. Many latex mattresses go for several thousand dollars for a queen set, although some lower-end brands that incorporate synthetic latex and a less expensive processing method, or that use a core made from another foam material, such as polyurethane, can run as low as $300 (for a twin). Natural latex mattresses tend to have fewer issues with off-gassing.
Mattresses for Back Pain
Experts say that adjustable, permanent-use air mattresses may be the best choice for back pain sufferers. Don't confuse them with inflatable, temporary air mattresses though, (which we cover in a separate report); those aren't considered suitable for long-term use. Permanent air mattresses, such as those sold under the Sleep Number Bed label, have air chambers that can be adjusted to provide customized support, and are topped with padding. Some even allow each side of the mattress to be adjusted independently. Permanent air mattresses can be expensive, but tend to be quite durable because, while they rely on mechanical parts that can fail, those parts are usually replaceable.
has shaken up mattress buying
the internet, there are many fewer travel agents,
print magazines, newspapers and brick-and-mortar stores. However, when it comes
to mattresses, the internet has expanded the market --
and online-only mattress sales are exploding.
our last update, we included online-only mattresses with the caveat that most
experts recommend trying a mattress out in person, by lying on it in a store. We
no longer include that caution, because experts now say if you know your sleep
style and your firmness preferences, it probably doesn't matter if you order a
mattress sight-unseen versus lying down on one for a few minutes. A lot of
people aren't really picky sleepers either -- they can snooze just fine on any
surface. For them, we recommend focusing on low prices and desired appearance.
online-only mattress companies are also making it increasingly easy to order a mattress
and to return it you're not happy. Most have a more-than-generous time frame in
which to try them out, too.
mattresses are the ones most commonly bought online, some online-only mattress
companies -- most notably Saatva -- sell innerspring and hybrid
mattresses online. And more traditional mattress companies, such as Sealy and
Simmons are getting into the act by offering online-only collections. The best
news: online-only mattress tend to cost much less than
comparable store-bought mattresses and there's no mystery about the "real"
is that mattress in the window?
In spite of
the recent proliferation of online-only mattress companies, the traditional way
of buying mattresses -- lying down on one in a store -- has not gone the way of
the dodo. Whether it's from a department store or a retailer devoted to just
selling mattresses, there are plenty of brick-and-mortar locations for you to
try out your next bed.
certainly are reasons to want to be sure that you're getting a mattress you
love when you go shopping. People spend a lot of their lives in bed and poor
sleep can detract from your quality of life. Beyond that, mattresses can be
pricey -- in most cases at least $400 for a twin; $1000 or more for a queen or
king -- and those are just the most basic models. Some cost two or three times
as much, and sometimes more, depending upon features and type. And that number
rarely includes the box spring or other foundation, if needed, so you'll also need
to budget for the entire bed set, unless you're replacing a same-sized
mattresses on an existing bed. And don't forget pillows and bed sheets, both of which we discuss in their own reports.
out exactly how much some mattresses cost can be difficult. The larger mattress
companies like Sealy and Simmons have specific lines, as detailed on their
websites, but those aren't the only mattresses they make. Big companies like
that also manufacture hundreds of other mattresses for retailers with their own
model names. That makes it almost impossible to compare apples-to-apples when
trying to price out a mattress from the big names. That goes the same for
standalone stores selling "factory-direct" mattresses. For example,
you can't go to, say Mattress Firm and then to Mattress Depot and find the same
beds (although they might be the same, there's just no way to tell).
price in more detail -- as well as how to get the best deal -- on our buying guide page. We also talk a bit more there about how we expect the
traditional mattress market to change as it confronts the online upstarts.
Finding The Best Mattresses
"Mattress Reviews & Ratings -- Summary"
"The Best Foam Mattresses You Can Buy Online"
the explosion of online-only mattress sales, there's been an explosion in
expert reviews of these mattresses. It's always been hard to rate traditional
mattresses because, as we discuss above, there are too many options in a line
to be sure the various experts are testing the same mattress. That's not the
case with foam mattresses targeted to internet buyers
from makers like Casper, Saatva, Leesa and Tuft & Needle. Since these companies
make only one model of each of their mattresses, it's easy to compare them
against each other. Consumer Reports still reviews traditional mattresses, but
they've also added quite a few of the foam, online-only mattresses to their
testing. Wirecutter tests only foam mattresses. Another important resource for
us -- perhaps the most significant -- is the detailed analysis of consumer
satisfaction feedback at Sleep Like the Dead -- which has compiled more data
about mattress satisfaction than any other site.
we also take into account owner reviews, but, like expert reviews, those can be
limited when it comes to traditional mattresses. That's because there's no real
way to determine if the model reviewed at Macy's is the same model that you see
reviewed at JCPenney -- even if they are both, for example, Sealy innerspring
mattresses. But there's plenty of consumer feedback for the online-only foam
mattresses, so that was extremely helpful in making our picks. Factors
including comfort, value and durability are included in our analysis. The
result of our research is the best mattresses for your best night's sleep.