How Real Homes tests mattresses

We reveal our mattress review process, from start to Zzz

Emma CliMax Hybrid mattress
(Image credit: Future / Helen McCue)

If you're in the market for a new mattress, you'll be well aware that this investment buy deserves a fair amount of thought and research before you make that final decision. Because finding a mattress that fits your budget and comfort needs, but that also aligns with your living situation and even eco-stance, is no easy feat. As dedicated good sleep advocates, we understand this better than anyone else, and that is why we thoroughly review all of the mattresses we recommend in our best mattress guide.

Everyone deserves a decent eight hours of sleep, every night, so we've tried and tested a whopping 41 mattresses in total (and counting) at Real Homes to help narrow down your options. These include mattresses that are sold exclusively in the UK, some that are only available in the US, plus, some globally-renowned picks too.

Here's a deep dive into our testing procedure to help you find your perfect mattress asap.

Why are we telling you this?

When it comes to testing, there are certain criteria that we check each mattress will fulfil. Gone are the days of spending an entire day in a department store on the weekend; moving from mattress to mattress, awkwardly laying on something that's too hard — then perhaps too soft — or finding the right one only to realize that it's way out of budget (that's where our cheap mattresses guide comes in, anyway).

We've been (happily) spending our time sleeping on mattresses all over the globe, from Greater London to Georgia, testing them with our own luxury bedding sets on top or using our own approved mattress protectors and our favorite pillows, too.

This way, you can buy online, safe in the knowledge that you'll be making investing in something recommended by our in-house experts and not just from testing it in a store for ten minutes or so, or after reading a couple of non-descript reviews.

When we've flagged a new mattress to review, we will think about a range of factors before it comes to selecting someone to review it. For our mattress reviews, we do these both in-house and using freelancers, to split the load. Because some of us have flatmates or a landlord who won't let us change our mattresses, while others have a spare bedroom they can store their old mattress while they test and compare a new one.

We will always give a mattress to someone who we think fits best in with their lifestyle. For example, we will always give a firmer mattress to someone who sleeps on their front. Equally enough, for anyone who is eco-conscious, we would let them try out an organic one.

If someone has reviewed a number of mattresses for us, they'll always compare these mattresses within a section of their review, so that if you happen to be choosing between those two mattresses yourself, we can help make your decision easier.

Our full mattress testing process

Unboxing your mattress

Emma CliMax Hybrid mattress review in process

Emma CliMax Hybrid mattress review in process  - mattress in box in bedroom

(Image credit: Future / Helen McCue)

First thing first: the unboxing and delivery of your mattress. The majority of the mattresses we test will arrive in a box for convenience, but for those that don't, we're always sure to record how easy they were to get through our front door or up our staircase (if we live in an apartment). The ones that do arrive in a box are super easy to navigate through an entryway, but depending on their weight and the distance to your bedroom, you might need more than one person to help you.

Some mattresses come with a cutter to remove their plastic packaging safely, without needing to use scissors as this can potentially ruin your mattress if you end up cutting it. The first thing we do after unboxing and taking photos of the mattress we are reviewing is to pop it on our bed the right side up. By this, we mean that once it is cut open, it will unroll itself on the right side and at the right end of the bed. 

Then, we go ahead and open the mattress and arrange it onto our bed frame, leaving it for however long we are told in the instructions. This is usually around four hours — or until it looks like it has fully inflated. Do note that your mattress will take a couple of days to get to its proper fullness.

Here, we snap a couple of photos to show progress.

Our standard testing procedure

Emma CliMax Hybrid mattress

Emma CliMax Hybrid mattress in review

(Image credit: Future / Helen McCue)

After rolling out our new mattress and letting it get some air, we sleep on it for the first night using our existing pillows, bedding, and whatever else we usually sleep with. We don't really like to change too much so if we dislike the mattress, we can pin it on just the mattress and not our new pillow or whatever else.

We're always sure to note our initial thoughts on our new mattress, however, this will (nine times out of 10) change as the weeks go by. Initially, a mattress will be uncomfortable whilst you get used to its new filling and firmness.

Essentially, we sleep on this mattress for a couple of weeks before really doing anything. We make notes of things we discover that we like or dislike, and we compare our new mattress with our previous mattress when it comes to breathability, comfort, and motion transfer.

Emma CliMax Hybrid mattress review in process

Emma CliMax Hybrid mattress firmness test

(Image credit: Future / Helen McCue)

We'll first answer what the mattress is like to sleep on, in a nutshell. Here we note what our second sleeper (if our reviewer shares their bed) thought of it too, as they will more than likely sleep in a different position to our main reviewer.

We talk about motion transfer and how each reviewer was impacted by this. This is particularly noticeable when there's a second reviewer, but if there isn't one then our reviewer will ask a friend to contribute to their review and help them come to a verdict on this. Essentially, our reviewer will lie down on the mattress facing the wall and the other person will repeatedly get in and out of the bed on the other side. If our reviewer is bouncing around it shows that the mattress hasn't got good motion transfer.

We'll then talk about the mattress's firmness and who it's best suited for based on this. We delve into how far we sink into the mattress when sleeping and we ask friends and family to lay down on the mattress to back up our verdict. To come to a verdict we try to ask a range of different people (friends and family) to lay down on this mattress and we get them to rate it out of 10 — with 10 being rock solid.

We'll do our weight test so long as our reviewer has a weight to hand. So that you can see how firm the mattress is, we place something heavy in the middle of the mattress and we'll lay a tape measure across the mattress so that you can see how far the mattress dips. This should give you an indication of how soft the mattress is, but remember that this weight isn't anything in comparison to body weight, and firmness will feel slightly different depending on your body weight too. This is just a rough indication.

To test the edge-to-edge support, we will again use a weight and place it close to the edge of our mattress. We'll note whether it rolls off or stays put, as this is a good indication of whether the mattress is supportive. We can also do this test just by sitting on the corner of the mattress (like you do to put your socks on!) and noting how supported we feel — and whether we're sliding off onto the floor, basically.

posture test for casper mattress

Posture test for the Casper Mattress

(Image credit: Linda Clayton)

Next up we're talking about posture. Some of our reviewers will have the gadgets to actually measure their (or their partner's) posture whilst laying on the mattress. In this case, they draw dots on their spine and get them to lie down. And using a laser they will highlight a line on their back which will show where their spine should be sitting when they are on their side. You want to avoid any dips, around the hips or shoulders as this will add pressure to these body parts.

Should our reviewer not have this equipment, we will try and gauge the information without it, and note how our posture feels when sleeping on our side. It's also worth us noting that not everyone sleeps on their side, so in the case that a mattress isn't recommended for a side sleeper we will avoid doing the above thorough test.

Emma CliMax Hybrid mattress review in process

Emma CliMax Hybrid mattress cover

(Image credit: Future / Helen McCue)

What about breathability? The only way we can really test this factor is by comparing it with our old mattress. Usually, our mattress reviews are done within a six-week turnaround so we don't get the chance to report on how we felt sleeping on the mattress throughout all of the seasons. However, this is why we update our reviews so that we can add new verdicts and thoughts after prolonged use. This is an easier thing to test if one of our reviewers is a particularly hot sleeper.

In some cases, mattresses we review have a removable cover that we can wash and report back on to note how it washed and back up any claims like whether it's really moisture-wicking, or not.

We then will start diving into the specs of the mattress, specifically focusing on what it's filled with. We take a look at other reviews and we talk about whether we think it's worth the money — and why. 

Emma CliMax Hybrid mattress review in process

Emma CliMax Hybrid mattress filling

(Image credit: Future / Helen McCue)

Our mattress reviewers

As we've already mentioned, the job of reviewing mattresses is split around the team. This way, we're not biased by having only one person test all of our mattresses. As we all know that what works for one person might really not work for another. This is also how we ensure that our mattresses are tested by different types of sleepers.

Here's who has tested what when it comes to mattresses, and we've listed our reviewers starting with Real Homes team members, and in order of who has reviewed the most mattresses:

From the Real Homes team:

UK
Jennifer Oksien illustration
UK
Jennifer (Jen) Oksien

If there's ever a reviews expert out there, it's Jen. She's previously tested a bunch of mattresses, vacuums and other appliances for Real Homes and now works as the homes editor at Tech Radar. She tested four mattresses in total whilst working at Real Homes.

"I've been fortunate enough to put many award-winning mattresses to the test, to bring you the low down on just how good they actually are. My husband has been by my side most nights during the time we've had the mattress which creates a balanced view on our different sleeping positions, temperatures, and motion transfer."

Jen's sleep stats: Mattress review count: 4 • Sleep position: Side • Insomnia: None • Sleep problems: Sleep thief (toddler) • Average sleep time:  7 hours

US
Jaclyn Turner illustration
US
Jaclyn Turner

Jaclyn lives in Georgia and was previously sleep editor across the homes titles at Future, including Real Homes, where she specialized in a variety of topics ranging from mattresses to bedding. She's now ecommerce editor at Homes & Gardens, our sister brand.

Jaclyn's sleep stats: • Mattress review count: 2 • Sleep position: Back • Insomnia: No • Sleep problems: Trouble getting out of bed in the morning • Average sleep time: At least 8 hours

UK
Amy Lockwood illustration
UK
Amy Lockwood

Amy is based in the north of England and was previously our ecommerce editor and looked after all things furniture. Now, she writes for our sister brand Ideal Home. Amy put the environmentally-conscious Millbrook Bed Company Nemo mattress to the test and gave it four out of five stars.

Amy's sleep stats: • Mattress review count: 1 • Sleep position: Side or front • Insomnia: No • Sleep problems: Prone to overheating • Average sleep time: 7-8 hours

Freelance mattress reviewers:

UK
Linda Clayton head shot
UK
Linda Clayton

Linda and her husband have been snoozing away on mattresses, reviewing them in the UK for Real Homes since 2018.

"I've been sleeping on a vast range of mattresses and putting them through their paces to bring you a true picture of how comfortable each one is and how much support it provides. I've also roped in my husband Nick to create a balanced view of what each mattress is like for women (so often the purchasers) and men, persuaded friends and family to try them out, and have conducted some semi-scientific testing so that you can buy your mattress online with confidence."

Linda's sleep stats: • Mattress count: 24

US
alex temblador real homes contributor
US
Alex Temblador

Alex is one of Real Homes' mattress experts — which is a good role for someone who needs over 8.5 hours of sleep each night. The Dallas-based freelance writer has covered home, design, architecture, and art in publications like Real Homes, Dwell, Architectural Digest, Artsy, Neighborhoods.com, and Culture Trip, among many others. She recently bought her first home, a green Sears & Roebuck house that's over 100 years old, sits on half an acre of land, and features a stunning wraparound porch, original hardwood floors, pocket doors, and a butler pantry.

Alex's sleep stats: • Mattress review count: 6 • Sleep position: Flexi (front, back, and side) Insomnia: Not usually • Sleep problems: Difficulty getting a deep rest with someone else in the bed. Can't sleep on a mattress that is too soft.  Average sleep time: 8-9 hours

US
kaitlin madden
US
Kaitlin Madden

Kaitlin used to be the editor-in-chief at Real Homes a few years ago, but now she is one of our freelance reviewers who tests products for us, which includes mattresses. She's also written for Architectural Digest, Martha Stewart Living, Refinery29, Modern Luxury Interiors, Wayfair, The Design Network, and lots more. She graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in journalism and currently lives in Connecticut with her husband, two sons, and black lab. She reviewed the all-natural Birch Mattress for us and loved it.

Kaitlin's sleep stats: • Mattress review count: 1

UK
Helen McCue headshot
UK
Helen McCue

Helen can usually be found in the kitchen reviewing anything from air fryers to mattresses and blenders. She’s been reviewing household appliances as well as all sorts of other things for around 15 years since she learned her skills at the Good Housekeeping Institute. So far, Helen has only tested the Emma CliMax mattress for us, but there's more to come.

Helen's sleep stats: • Mattress review count: 1 • Sleep position: Side • Insomnia: None • Sleep problems: On/off back pain • Average sleep time: 7-8 hours

US
Courtney Irwin wearing a black top and white jeans
US
Courtney Irwin

Midwestern freelancer Courtney is a working mom of three who loves nothing more than a good deal. Equal parts entrepreneur and family-gal, she believes hard work deserves to be celebrated. She's currently reviewed two mattresses for us, the Helix Midnight Luxe and the Nolah Natural 11" mattress.

Courtney's sleep stats: • Mattress review count: 2 • Sleep position: Side with one knee hiked up, arms up above head • Insomnia: No trouble falling asleep, but once awake that's it • Sleep problems: Sweaty-Betty and tossing and turning • Average sleep time: 6–8 hours

US
US
Kaleigh Glaza

Kaleigh is a freelance writer living in Chicago. So far, she's only reviewed one mattress for us, the Tuft & Needle Mint Mattress which she gave five stars, but we've got more to come. 

Kaleigh's sleep stats: • Mattress review count: 1

US
US
Lisa M Maloney

Lisa has written an extensive collection of buying guides and product reviews for publications including Wirecutter, ConsumerSearch, ShopSmart magazine, Cheapism, Last Frontier magazine and Alaska magazine. She reviewed the Awara Organic mattress for us and gave it 4.5 stars.

Lisa's sleep stats: • Mattress review count: 1 • Sleep position: Side with one knee hiked up, arms up above head • Insomnia: No trouble falling asleep, but once awake that's i • Sleep problems: Sweaty-Betty and tossing and turning • Average sleep time: 6–8 hours

US
Rebecca Hastings author image
US
Rebecca Hastings

Rebecca is a wife and mom of three who loves being cozy in her bed. She is an author and speaker living in her hometown in Connecticut. You can often find her typing words, driving her kids to various places, or to wherever there is chocolate. She reviewed the affordable Siena Memory Foam Mattress for us and loved it, having rated it 4.5-stars out of five.

Kaleigh's sleep stats: • Mattress review count: 1

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All of the mattresses we've tested

In total, we've reviewed 41 mattresses at Real Homes. Some of these mattresses are only available in the US, others are only sold in the UK and some are global mattresses. Here's a list of all of the mattresses we've reviewed so far, and what we rated them.

Global:

US:

UK:

Annie Collyer
Head Ecommerce Editor

Hi! I'm Annie, and I'm the Head Ecommerce Editor at Real Homes. I've been part of the Real Homes team since 2018, when I joined as Deals Editor. Along with covering major sales events — from Black Friday to Amazon Prime Day — I review home must-haves so that you can buy with peace of mind. Mostly focusing on home fragrance and sleep, as well as a few vacuum cleaners, I've tested pretty much every item you can think of that you need in your home. I live on the outskirts of the city in a two-bed apartment with my husband and my pug, Doug. So I am always searching for compact alternatives and ways to save floor space. What about when I am not typing away? Well, you'll find me enjoying an iced coffee (no matter the season) and trying out the latest brunch spots the city has to offer, or booking my next holiday. Where else can you find my words? Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home, Gardeningetc, and Woman & Home.

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