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The 8 Best Mattresses We Tested So You Can Sleep Better

The Editors
Photo credit: Amy Wolff

From Popular Mechanics

You’ve seen the stats, or know them intuitively: You spend close to a third of your time alive in bed. And the quality of your mattress directly affects your sleep. How well you rest plays an important role in your mental and physical help, says the National Institute of Health; conversely sleep deficiency can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes, not to mention how well you feel and function throughout the day.


You need a comfortable, supportive mattress that helps you fall asleep easily and aids your body and brain as it recovers and recharges throughout the night. Finding the perfect model for you has in some ways become easier, thanks to the huge number of brands that sell online.

How to Buy a Mattress Online

For this review, we tested mattresses you can primarily buy online—though some options like Tempur-Pedic are available in stores at mattress retailers. Many of the direct-to consumer brands (Casper, Mint, Bedgear, Avocado, Bloom, and Purple in this review) are best known for their memory-foam mattresses, which often get delivered to your door compressed in a box about the size of a dishwasher. That makes them incredibly easy to order, have shipped, and even carry up stairs and around tight corners into the bedroom.

Photo credit: Amy Wolff

Even brands that sell through stores offer online ordering, and often use freight services to deliver their products. These are typically higher-priced mattresses and some of the brands, like Tempur and Saatva will carry away your old mattress (free or for a charge). When comparing mattress prices, definitely check to see if there is a delivery or disposal fee.

Many brands can have mattresses at your door in a few days or less. Some like Saatva and Avocado manufacture your mattress only after you order it; delivery of those can take between two to three weeks. That’s something to consider if you need your new bed in a hurry.

Also, during the Covid pandemic, most brands offering hands-off delivery, so you can receive your new mattress without any personal contact.




Types of Mattresses

You have basically three choices when it comes to your next mattress: Foam, innerspring, or a hybrid.

Foam

Usually made with multiple layers of forgiving foam, these mattresses promise high-levels of even support. They may feel less soft than other types, and the dense foam can limit air circulation, making them feel hotter. Many of the latest options, however, incorporate tech to aid cooling.

Innerspring

This classic style uses metal springs to support your weight. The metal coils typically are wrapped with some foam and often a softer cushioning on top. These mattresses can feel very plush, and offer good air movement so they don’t retain heat like some foam mattresses. But they can feel bouncy and may not distribute pressure as well as foam.

Hybrid

Just like it sounds, these models, which are gaining some popularity, combine springs with a larger slab of foam on top, offering the support of a foam, with the cushioning and cooling of a traditional spring mattress.

No matter which type you go with, you’ll likely be able to choose your firmness level. Which is right for you will depend on personal preference and how you sleep. Most experts we spoke with agree that side and back sleepers should go with a firmer matters. Stomach sleepers (the few of you out there) are usually better with a softer option.

Photo credit: Amy Wolff


How We Tested

We began by consulting mattress experts to identify the best options available right now. We considered the technology, current trends, consumer reviews, and our past experience testing similar mattresses. We looked closely at how easy it is to order from each brand, the delivery process (and times) as well as their return policy and warranty. Then we tested 10 of the top options, sleeping on them from 60 to 90 days (one that arrived late had a shorter test period). We evaluated the condition in which they arrived, set up, whether there were any smells, and whether there was a break-in period. We scored them on their construction, support, comfort, and value. We’re confident one of the mattresses here will meet your needs.

—BEST OVERALL—

Tempur-Pedic LUXEbreeze

With incredible cooling tech and support, the latest Tempur-Pedic feels almost icy to the touch, purportedly 8 degrees cooler than the brand’s other foam options. The ventilated foam feels firm at first, but compresses to provide support that makes you feel weightless—not surprising, given that the Tempur material was first developed by the anti-gravity geniuses at NASA. This one impressed with its incredible support, and high-quality construction. Tempur-Pedic also makes it exceptionally easy to order and the delivery service was excellent. You pay a premium price for this, but the gains are real. Our tester reported falling asleep faster and having more restful slumbers throughout the test.

—BEST FOR ACTIVE PEOPLE—

Bedgear M3


This unique hybrid design allows you to customize the level of firmness you want; selecting softer or firmer coils, which sit into the frame of the mattress. Layers of techy foam sit on top, boosting comfort and aiding air movement and moisture management. That makes it great for athletes, bedmates who desire different firmness levels, or anyone who wants a supportive, cool sleep. This one takes more effort to assemble (it comes in four boxes) and like the Tempur-Pedic, is on the firmer side. Its quality, high level of support and overall value received top marks from our testers; one of them even called it the best mattress he’s ever slept on. “There’s very little sinking in, but just enough so it’s not like sleeping on carpeted concrete,” said another tester. “Like, you wake up, and your neck isn’t stiff.”

—BEST VALUE—

Bloom Essential

Bloom is the newer mattress line from Brooklyn Bedding. The Essential hybrid has a foundation of coils, layers of foam cushioning on top, including an upper slab of latex rubber that adds some buoyancy and breathes better than standard foam. Unlike a lot of hybrid mattresses, this one comes in a smallish box, making it easy to bring into your room. It’s also a great value—it’s one of the least expensive hybrid options, and it has that latex layer and an organic wool top cover. “The mattress’s design and material feels a bit more luxurious than a sub-$500 bed-in-a-box should,” said our tester. At this price, it’s not as supportive as some of the other options here, but it is a good lower-cost option with some impressive features for the price—especially the cooling tech.

—BEST HYBRID—

Casper Wave Hybrid

One of several new models from Casper, this hybrid features multiple layers of the company’s new foam tech, called Airscape, which it says is cooler and allows better airflow, though we didn’t perceive a huge cooling effect here. This one also features Casper’s new Zoned Support system. The design increases support in areas you need it most (under the shoulders and hips for example) and relaxes it in others. It boosts that support with gel pods in key areas. Our test editor said she felt real benefits. “It is definitely noticeable. The zone at the head of the mattress is firmer, while the middle zone compresses further to cradle your midsection while aiding in spinal alignment,” she said. Compared to Casper’s standard foam mattress, the Wave Hybrid offers a little more support—ideal with people who need extra relief or who are very active and want a mattress to aid in muscle recovery. It’s firm, yet supportive and delivers a good night’s sleep right away with little break-in period.

—MOST ECO-FRIENDLY—

Avocado Green

This is impressive mattress that looks great and has a ton of environmentally friendly features, making it a great choice for anyone who wants a more sustainable option. It’s tufted with buttons on all the sides with a nice dark green trim. The mattress is made from latex, wool, and cotton (all organically certified) in combination with pocketed support coils. No polyester, polyurethane foams, or fire retardants are used. The pillow top is made from organic latex. While you can also get a vegan version of the mattress without the wool, the wool helps make the mattress naturally fire-resistant, regulate temperature, wick moisture, and prevent dust mites. It definitely is a firm mattress—something to consider for petite side sleepers like our tester, or anyone who wants a squishy marshmallow feel. But you can add a two-inch foam pillow top, that makes it feel more plush and luxurious. While Avocado doesn’t include any specific cooling tech, the wool fibers do allow decent air movement and the mattress does not feel as hot as some traditional memory foam options.

—MOST LUXURIOUS—

Saatva Classic

A true hybrid with coils, the Classic actually has six parts: an organic cotton Euro pillow top with antimicrobial fabric treatment, a memory foam layer to reduce stress on your lower back, coils beneath the pillow top to promote airflow, a wire Lumbar Zone for more back support, another layer of steel coils to prevent sagging over time and promote air breathability, and a foam edge support system to keep the edges from drooping. That quality allows Saatva to offer one of the longer warrantees of any mattress here, 15 years. The pillow top gives a plush feel, but the coils and memory foam prevent you from sinking too far. Even the mid-level Luxury Firm model we tested offers lots of support. Our tester reported a reduction in back and neck pain after just a few nights sleep. “You hop on and think you’re going to sink in farther than you do,” she said. It’s soft at first, but that’s where it ends. It seems to almost adjust to your weight and stay just firm enough.”

—BEST MEMORY FOAM—

Tuft and Needle Mint

Another excellent value, the Mint is the latest model from popular online brand Tuft & Needle. Upgraded materials make this one softer than the original, yet it still retains a firmer, supportive feel (if you want something even softer, check out Tuft &Needle's Hybrid model). This mattress looks and feels like a luxury product. The outer fabric is very soft and durable and the soft cushioning of the memory foam does not feel as spongey as some cheaper mattresses. The Mint has gel pads and graphite fibers to help regulate temperature. Like the Casper, it does a fair job of this, but not to the level as more expensive models. Still, the plush feel, high-quality construction, and ease of ordering make this a great value.

—BEST TECH—

Purple Hybrid Queen

One of the more interesting mattresses we tested, the Purple uses a polymer grid under your body that is both soft and supportive. That makes this the softest feeling mattress of the bunch. For sleepers who like a firm mattress, however, it may be too soft. Yet, there’s still plenty of support. And the grid leaves plenty of room for air to move, making this one feel cooler than some memory foam options. “There’s a definite softness to the grid, which you feel when you press down or first lie down to sleep,” said our tester. “But it doesn’t sleep super soft; I felt like my body was supported head to toe.” The mattress also impressed with its high-quality construction. It’s heavy, thick, with sturdy seams. Overall, it’s a great option for anyone who wants a softer-feeling foam mattress.

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