Best mattress 2021: 10 of the best mattresses to sleep well this year, and beyond

On the hunt for the best mattress of 2021? We did the heavy research for you and included our top tips when choosing a new bed.

Best mattress
(Image credit: Avocado)

A supportive and comfortable mattress is the necessary foundation for a great night's sleep. In that case, you'll want the best mattress (your) money can buy. A good night's sleep is vital when it comes to our health and overall wellbeing. And one major factor that decides both is not so surprisingly the mattress we turn to at the end of each day. 

However, finding the best mattress for your needs isn't as easy as it once was. That once-simple trip to the local mattress store to spend a few hours assuming your favorite sleep position on their inventory has turned into a much more intense process. Now, the process has turned digital, with an influx of direct-to-consumer mattress companies in addition to the stalwart mattress brands we grew up with to consider. Brands like Casper and Purple will ship options straight to your door (often neatly wrapped up in a box) and eliminate our traditional trip. As if there wasn't enough competition in the mattress sphere, one estimate from CNBC claims that there are nearly 200 mattress companies to have cropped up in the last ten years. Talk about overwhelming! 

To help narrow down the process, we took it upon ourselves to try out, test, and research the best mattresses on the market. Personally, it was quite an enjoyable experience for us, and we thoroughly loved the idea that it would make things easier on your end, too. So, to make this as streamlined as possible we've gone ahead and curated this Real Homes' buying guide to assemble all of our best mattresses in one place.

And because we love a good deal, we've been keeping track of the best mattress sales, as well as noting for you which mattresses are offering a promotion.

Below, our top 10 mattresses. Each will have you drifting off to dreamland in no time. Then, be sure to see our in-depth guide of everything you need to consider when choosing your next mattress, and of course, don't forget the very important mattress protector.

  • Not sure you're ready to spring into buying a mattress just yet? A mattress topper can be an effective way to make your current mattress more comfortable. Check out our guide to the best mattress topper for more. 

Best mattress 2021

best mattress saatvaReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Saatva)

1. Saatva Classic

Best mattress, overall

Sizes: Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal king
Depth: 11.5" or 14.5"
Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium
Trial Period: 180 nights
Warranty: 15 years
Reasons to buy
+Choose from three firmness levels and 2 depths+Hybrid combines memory foam and coils+Stays cooler than an all-foam mattress+Made to order of eco-friendly materials+Free White Glove Delivery and Mattress removal
Reasons to avoid
- $99 return fee to cover the labor and transport fee for pickup-11.5" doesn't have side handles

This mattress nabbed our number one spot for several reasons, but to put it simply: this one's got it all. The Saatva Classic mattress is a hybrid, which means it combines both memory foam and classic innerspring technologies, so you're bound to get the best of both mattress worlds. Plus, it's made from top-quality materials like CertiPUR-US foam and organic cotton; and the price point is affordable (though not cheap), especially for a mattress of this quality. Making it a no-brainer that this mattress is worth the investment. 

What is the Saatva mattress like to sleep on? 
Our best comparison is a high-end hotel bed. It's got a cozy, sink-in factor thanks to the pillow top, but the innerspring layer below adds plenty of support for spinal alignment and pressure point elimination. The mattress comes in three firmness levels: Plush Soft, Luxury Firm, and Firm, with most customers finding the medium-rated Luxury Firm version to be ideal. We agree, and think it's a happy medium that'll appease stomach, back, and side sleepers. 

Special features
One reason why we love a hybrid mattress is that it's able to solve some of the pitfalls that are associated with a memory foam mattress. Among the list of things, this hybrid does better than standard memory foam: edge support and airflow. If you've ever sat down on the side of your memory foam bed to put on your shoes, then you'll appreciate that the Saatva mattress offers excellent perimeter edge support thanks to dual-reinforced edges. And coil construction allows airflow that's hard to match from an all-foam mattress.

The top of the mattress is a pillowtop made from CertiPUR-US foam, enveloped in an organic cotton cover. The middle of the mattress features the brand's Spinal Zone active wire support system, designed to maintain spinal alignment. The coils are made from recycled steel. 

Free Delivery and 15-year warranty
The Saatva mattress comes with free White Glove Delivery and in-home setup, plus optional free removal of your old mattress. Plus, you'll get a 180-night in-home sleep trial and a 15-year warranty. However, should you decide you want to return your Saatva mattress, a $99 pick-up and labor fee will apply. 

Real Homes Rated: 4.5 out of 5 stars. Read our full Saatva Classic mattress review

best mattress emmaReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Emma)

2. Emma Original Mattress

Best mattress, runner up

Size: Twin - Cal king
Depth: 10"
Type: Comfort foam/memory foam
Firmness: Firm
Trial Period: 100 nights
Warranty: 10 years
Reasons to buy
+Zoned support+Perfect temperature control+Medium-firm for firmness+Good motion transfer
Reasons to avoid
-Too hard for some side sleepers-May sleep too warm for some

British favorite, the Emma Mattress, only made its way stateside recently. One to keep an eye on, this mattress is comfortable, supportive, and incredibly affordable. (In fact, we're almost certain that the Emma mattress is the reason Europeans supposedly get five hours more sleep per week, on average, than Americans.) 

What is Emma like to sleep on?
Truthfully, we'd go ahead and rate this mattress towards the firmer end of medium. But to be clear: that doesn't mean it's rock solid. Here, users will find this mattress is evenly supportive across the entire surface, so there is plenty of room to spread out comfortably night after night. It uses comfort point-elastic caving that enables an ideal and unique fit for your body that keeps your spine straight while offering you the necessary amount of support and comfort. The Airgocell foam layer seamlessly adapts to pressure while responding to any movement. Which means what exactly? In the event, you're a side or back sleeper, The HRX material will not only provide counter-pressure and alignment to your lower back while simultaneously proving shoulder support, too.

Special features 
We love that the breathable, removable top cover can be washed on a hot cycle in any washing machine to kill dust mites and bacteria. And another reason we love it? Despite its European roots, this American version of the mattress is made in the USA. 

Three layers of foam. The top layer is an elastic foam called Airgocell, which brings you pressure relief. The memory foam layer is next and, like all memory foam, keeps you comfortable in any position. Whereas the base is made from Cold Foam that supports the above layers, as well as you. 

Free shipping and a 10-year warranty
Shipping and returns are both free. Emma offers a 100-night trial period and a 10-year warranty.

Real Homes Rated: 5 out of 5 stars. Read our full Emma Orginal mattress review.

Nectar mattress 2021Real Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Nectar)

3. Nectar Mattress

Best mattress for bad backs

Size: Twin - Cal king
Depth: 12"
Type: Memory foam
Firmness: Medium-firm
Trial Period: 1 year
Warranty: Forever
Reasons to buy
+Medium-firm for firmness+Good motion transfer+Good breathability
Reasons to avoid
-No handles-Too firm for some side sleepers

If you are searching for a trustworthy memory foam mattress that won't lose its firmness (even after a whole year's worth of use), then this Nectar mattress will be your match! Plus, it's top-rated for providing support and comfort to those experiencing back pain.  It's suitable for all sleep types, and 90 percent of sleepers in a survey said it reduced overall aches, stiffness, soreness, and/or discomfort. 

What's the Nectar Mattress like to sleep on? 
Thanks to its memory foam filling, the Nectar Mattress will make your joints feel cushioned from night one. With regards to motion transfer, the Nectar is as good as any memory foam — and if interrupting your other half during the night is a big no? Then, this mattress is the best find for you.

On the firmness front, Nectar is rated 5.5–7.5 on the website, which the company claims is "just right." Users will find this option is not too soft, not too firm, and after all, what could be better than that? No one wants a mattress that is too firm, trust us. 

Adaptive Cooling Cover
It has an Adaptive Cooling Cover designed to draw away heat from your body and circulate fresh air every time you move.

There’s nothing especially unusual about the Nectar’s construction but, as mentioned, it is reassuringly heavy, which is always a sign of quality. It features a decent layer of proper memory foam which is nicely aerated, and then pressure-relieving foam that contours to your body shape. Finally, the seven-zone base foam provides additional contoured support plus depth. 

Free shipping, 1-year trial, and forever warranty
The Nectar comes with an unprecedented 365-night trial period, making it a completely risk-free experience for anyone who wants a decent memory foam mattress at a fair price. And, if that’s not enough for you, it also comes with a Forever Guarantee. 

Real Homes Rated: 5 out of 5 stars. Read our full Nectar mattress review.

  • For a limited time, score $399 worth of freebies (including a sheet set, mattress protector, and pillows) with every Nectar mattress purchase. 

best mattress: casper original mattressReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Casper)

4. The Casper Original Mattress

Best memory foam mattress

Size: Twin - Cal king
Depth: 10"
Type: Comfort foam/memory foam
Firmness: Medium
Trial period: 100 nights
Warranty: 10 years
Reasons to buy
+Cool, comfy foam+Medium firmness+Good for all sleep positions, especially side sleepers+Good for motion transfer+Hybrid option, too
Reasons to avoid
-Usual chemical smell when you unpack it, but it will fade

The Casper Original, an award-winning dual foam mattress, scores big on comfort and coolness and is bound to be beloved by any side sleeper who suffers from joint pain to stomach sleepers who need to keep their spines aligned. 

What is the Casper like to sleep on? 
This Casper mattress is softer than any other memory foam on the market, which makes it a top choice for side sleepers. When used properly, users will notice that their hips and shoulders sink lower than the rest of their torso, to ensure an ergonomically aligned spine. But don't be alarmed, there is little motion transfer, so your partner will never notice any tossing or turning on your end in the wee hours of the night. And best of all? The cooling layer! It's breathable, which again aids in that undisturbed sleep we previously discussed. The majority of Amazon's reviewers thrilled with their purchase, revealing that they love how fresh and revived they wake up each morning. 

Special features
Every mattress offers a top cover that can seamlessly zip on and off when you're looking to give your topper a deep clean. Thanks to its handles, this topper offers full maneuverability, so go ahead and unzip it off and throw it in the washing machine on hot! You'll be amazed just how easy the cleaning process can and will be, thanks to this spectacular feature. And, before you get worried over finding the perfect size, it comes available in a full range of sizes, to easily fit over your current mattress. Oh, and if you are looking for more amazing features? It's important to mention the dog mattresses available, as well.  

This model features a four-layer mattress that is tucked neatly away within a softcover. The top layer is an open-cell foam that provides immediate bounce and cooling properties. Next, there is a high-density memory foam layer that is there to support your pressure points. The Transition Layer deals with even weight distribution, and the final layer acts as a supportive base that helps keep everything stable. 

Free shipping and 10-year warranty included?
When purchasing this mattress, shoppers will receive a 10-year limited warranty, free delivery, and returns, plus stellar customer service.

Real Homes Rated: 5 out of 5 stars. Read our full Casper memory foam mattress review.

best mattress avocado green mattressReal Homes Rated Gold badge

(Image credit: Avocado)

5. Avocado Green Mattress

Best sustainable mattress

Size: Twin - Cal king
Depth: 11"
Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium to Firm
Trial Period: 1 year
Warranty: 25 years
Reasons to buy
+Sustainably harvested latex rubber foam+Best for back and side sleepers+Medium to firm for firmness+No fire retardants+Handmade in Los Angeles
Reasons to avoid
-One of the most expensive mattresses on our list-Can be too firm for some

Looking for the best organic mattress on the market? The Avocado Green mattress takes the title in our books — and for a handful of key reasons. For one, it's an eco-friendly option from top-to-bottom, made with GOTS-certified organic cotton and wool, and sustainably harvested latex foam. It's also handmade in Los Angeles and is uncompromising when it comes to quality. Sure, it might be one of the most expensive mattresses on our list, but it's well worth the price if it's within your budget.

What is the Avocado mattress like to sleep on? 
The Avocado mattress sits on the firmer side of medium, and the brand rates it a seven out of 10 (with 10 being the firmest). It's designed with a soft top layer that's constructed from latex foam to add comfort to its already supportive base — that's made of up to 1,414 individually tuned, tempered steel coils (with the exact number depending on the size of mattress you ordered). Plus, this mattress is divided into five ergonomic "zones" designed to keep comfort at a premium and motion transfer at bay.

Oh, and for those who prefer a softer feel, the mattress is also available with a plush cotton pillow top. 

Side- and back-sleepers, and those with chemical sensitivities or allergies will particularly enjoy this mattress.  The mattress is made without fire retardants, petroleum-based foams, or chemical adhesives so, the off-gassing period typical of other foam mattresses is none existent. 

Special Features
Instead of chemical flame retardants, the Avocado green mattress meets U.S. flammability standards with an all-natural fire retardant: wool. It's also one of only three mattress brands in the world to be MADE SAFE Non-Toxic certified.

The base of this two-layer hybrid mattress is built from fabric-wrapped innerspring coils. Whereas, the top layer is made of latex foam and foam covered in a GOTS-certified organic cotton casing. 

Free shipping, 100-night trial, and 25-year warranty
To ensure this mattress checks all your boxes, the brand offers a 100-night trial period. And after that? There's a 25-year guarantee — which is one of the longest warranties we've ever reviewed. 

Real Homes Rated: 5 out of 5 stars. Read our full Avocado Green mattress review.

best mattress Purple Mattress

(Image credit: Purple Mattress)

6. Purple Mattress

Most innovative mattress

Size: Twin - Cal king
Depth: 10"
Type: Hyper-Elastic Polymer/ foam
Firmness: Medium
Trial Period: 100 nights
Warranty: 10 years
Reasons to buy
+Excellent 'give' for side sleepers+Proprietary Hyper-Elastic Polymer+Soft but supportive+Good for combo sleepers
Reasons to avoid
-May be too firm for strict side  sleepers

If you thought finding the right mattress isn't rocket science, think again! However, here this Purple mattress has it down to a "T". This specific option is designed from a proprietary Hyper-Elastic Polymer which was developed by two brothers — one of whom is a rocket scientist — with years of testing to back it up. 

What is the Purple mattress like to sleep on? 
In a nutshell, the grid construction of this mattress is designed to support your body as you move as you sleep, no matter what position you end up in. It is responsive and molds to your body while also offering an excellent level of support. It's built to accommodate all types of sleeping styles – back, stomach, or side – and there is no "wrong way" to catch some Zzzzzs on this Purple mattress.

Now, how does it rank review-wise? Most reviewers rate this mattress on the firmer side, but many agree this mattress falls at a six or seven out of 10 on the firmness scale. However, when you're looking for a hypoallergenic option that features open-air channels that help neutralize body heat throughout the night? It ranks a 10 out of 10! 

Hyper-elastic Polymers
It's safe to say: there is nothing else on the market quite like this version. You will not find the brand's breathable hyper-elastic polymers anywhere but here. 

From the top: A 2" layer of Hyper-Elastic Polymer material laid in a grid (also called "The Purple Grid.). Next is a 3.5" layer of CertiPUR-US certified polyurethane foam, and the base layer is 4" of slightly denser polyurethane foam. The cover is a soft, breathable combination of viscose, polyester, and Lycra.

Free delivery, 100-night trial, and a 10-year warranty
Free delivery, 100-day free trial, plus a 10-year guarantee and hassle-free returns. We've also seen free sheets with the purchase of a mattress offered on the site periodically.

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(Image credit: Tuft & Needle)

7. Tuft & Needle Original Mattress

Best value mattress

Size: Twin - Cal king
Depth: 10"
Type: Foam
Firmness: Medium
Reasons to buy
+Suitable for all sleep positions+Cooling gel-infused foam+Comes in a box – easy transporting+Well-priced+Greenguard Gold Certified
Reasons to avoid
-Reviewers report some initial off-gassing-May take up to 7 days to fully expand-Could be too firm for some

Say hello to your happy medium: the Tuft & Needle original mattress. This option is a not-too-hard, not-too-soft foam mattress that is perfect for all sleeping positions. In addition to that, according to the company, 95 percent of customers keep and love their Tuft & Needle original mattress. . It's suitable for side-sleepers, those who suffer from Goldilock's Syndrom (and looking for a mattress that is not too soft, nor too hard), or just anyone who wants continuous comfort night after night. And the only thing better than that? This mattress falls in the middle of the road when it comes to prices. 

What is the Tuft & Needle original mattress like to sleep on?
The Tuft & Needle original mattress is equal parts support and softness. Most favorably, this mattress is created from something called "T&N Adaptive Foam," which is engineered primarily off of customer feedback when it comes to improvements.

Now aside from that, while the mattress is made from foam, it's important to be clear: this isn't memory foam. Instead, it's built with a denser bottom layer of open-cell foam and a soft, breathable top layer that makes all the difference. Here, this version is easier to move around on, and we're why we're highly recommending it to any fussy sleepers, or individuals who've found themselves tossing and turning often a night. Or, anyone who tends to sweat, too. Thanks to the layer of cooling gel, this mattress has those users covered, as well. 

Environmental Certifications
In addition to being Greenguard Gold certified, this mattress is also certified low-VOC by CertiPUR-US and has been awarded Intertek's Clean Air Certification for meeting LEED indoor air quality standards. Now, given its low-VOC and PBDE-free status, this mattress is an excellent choice for children and those with chemical sensitivities. 

The bottom of the mattress is a 7" layer of open-cell support foam that creates a breathable base. On top? A 3" softer layer of T&N adaptive foam, which is infused with heat-wicking graphite and cooling gel beads and designed to provide flexible support to the spine. 

Free shipping, 100-night trial and 10-year warranty
Buyers will receive free delivery, a 100-night sleep trial, and a 10-year limited warranty. Plus, first responders and members of the military can receive an additional 15% off every day. 

Real Homes Rated: 4.8 out of 5. Read our full Tuft & Needle Original Mattress review

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(Image credit: Leesa)

8. Leesa Original Mattress

Best mattress for side sleepers

Size: Twin - Cal king
Depth: 10"
Type: Comfort foam/ memory foam
Firmness: Medium
Trial Period: 100 nights
Warranty: 10 years
Reasons to buy
+Medium firmness+Good breathability for sweaty sleepers+Good motion transfer+B-Corp certified company
Reasons to avoid
-Sponge-clean only

Hoping for your best night's sleep? This luxuriously thick memory foam mattress will soon have everyone sleeping like a baby. It's ideal for all sleep positions, but it's even better for those side-sleeper or ones who get hot throughout the night (thanks to its top cooling layer). 

Who will the Leesa mattress suit? 
This Leesa original mattress is bound to rank high with any risk-averse shoppers who are looking for a safe bet when it comes to sleeping soundly at night. With a rating of 5-7 on the firmness scale (which 10 being the most firm), this mattress is supportive but still soft enough to sink into. In other words, it is a fantastic choice for those side-sleepers we mentioned before.

What is the Leesa mattress like to sleep on? 
With a rating of 5-7 on the firmness scale (which 10 being the most firm), this mattress is supportive but still soft enough to sink into, making it a fantastic choice for those side-sleepers. At first glance, however, you may l notice that this Leesa is initially quite firm. It easily softens as it warms to your body, but fear not, this is not to say that you sleep warmly. Actually, on the contrary, this mattress has carefully considered foam layers that were been specifically engineered to regulate temperature and prevent overheating. 

Plus, it performs well in the motion category, too. Sleepers can expect medium firmness (which is again ideal for side-sleepers.) And, how does it rank amongst the rest? The majority of (the many) online reviews went ahead and rated this option between four and five stars (five being the top spot), which is always reassuring. 

As a certified B-corp., we love Leesa’s ethical values, which include donating one mattress to a child in need for every ten sold. Better than that? It's also made in the USA. 

This mattress has three foam layers – a 2" thick Avena foam, which is a latex-like comfort foam, a 2" thick memory foam for weightlessness, and a 6" thick base foam for overall support. To give everyone supreme comfort, all night long.

Real Homes Rated: 4.5 out of 5. Read our full Leesa Original Mattress review

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(Image credit: Awara)

9. Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress

Best latex mattress

Size: Twin - Cal. king
Depth: 13"
Type: Latex hybrid
Firmness: Medium
Reasons to buy
+Made from all-natural Sri Lanka latex+Great airflow+Certified organic+Non-toxic
Reasons to avoid
-Some motion transfer with the extra bounce 

Find yourself looking for an all-natural alternative to memory foam? A latex mattress is your best bet. We love the Awara mattress for its purity and comfort. It's all-natural, organic, and non-toxic. In this design, organic latex and innerspring coils create a cool, natural night's sleep.

What is the Awara mattress like to sleep on? 
The Awara mattress is a medium firmness mattress and provides more "give" than other latex hybrids on the market. And why is that? It's a direct result of its 4" layer of latex at the top (the thickest of any latex hybrid on the market). As a result, it makes an excellent pick for any side and stomach sleepers, as well as an excellent choice for lighter-weight back sleepers (or anyone under 200 lbs).

Plus, since it's a hybrid, the motion transfer won't be as good as a memory foam mattress, but you'll make up for it with extra bounce and edge support. 

While latex is known to be more breathable than memory foam, the coil spring base promotes even more airflow, which will soothe hot sleepers.

A certified-organic cotton cover is filled with a naturally fire-retardant wool comfort layer, a pressure-relief Dunlop latex layer, and a support layer made of individually wrapped steel coils. It is free of chemical flame retardants, formaldehyde, and polyurethane-based foams.

Free shipping, 1-year trial, and lifetime warranty
The Awara mattress comes with free shipping, a 365-night sleep trial, and a lifetime warranty.

Real Homes Rated: 4.5 out of 5. Read our full Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress review

Zinus 8 Inch Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress

(Image credit: Zinus)

10. Zinus 8 Inch Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress

Best Amazon Mattress

Size: Twin - King
Depth: 8"
Type: Foam
Firmness: Medium
Trial Period: 30 nights
Warranty: 10 years
Reasons to buy
+Relieves pressure on your shoulders and hips+Medium firmness+4 different depth options ranging from 6"-12"+Best for back and side sleepers
Reasons to avoid
-Short sleep trial, follows Amazon's return policy-Odor after unboxing-Weak edge support-Certain sizes and depths may be temporarily out of stock

If Amazon is your go-to for purchases big and small, Zinus is the de-facto number, one seller, when it comes to mattresses. The Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress has over 70,000 five-star ratings, meaning plenty of happy buyers getting a great night's sleep. And don't be miffed by its cheap price tag, it's actually extremely comfortable. 

The mattress is available in a range of thicknesses, and the price increases as you go thicker. You have the option of 6", 8", 10" or 12", where the mattress gets much plusher the thicker you choose. We would recommend options that are at least eight inches or deeper. The 6" and 8" models are recommended for back sleepers and those of average weight, the 10" and 12"mattresses are recommended for side sleepers of petite to average weight. However, we have noticed some inventory shortages and price fluctuations, so you'll want to check Amazon directly for the latest stock updates. 

What's the Zinus Green Tea memory foam mattress like to sleep on? 
Overall, like sleeping on a cloud. Featuring a combination of conforming memory foam, soft, airflow enhancing comfort foam, and durable, high-density base support foam, the Zinus offers that conforming, sinking feeling that cradles your body, while offering necessary spinal support. This memory foam design is ideal for those who suffer from aches and pains and are looking for pressure relief.  However, while we've found the mattress to be very comfortable, edge support could be better. 

During unboxing, some users have reported an odor, and that it takes up to 72 hours for the mattress to fully expand.  

Infused with Green Tea and Charcoal
The gel foam is infused with green tea that neutralizes odor and keeps your mattress feeling fresh and moisture-absorbing ActivCharcoal. 

What materials are used? 
Foam, foam, and of course, more foam, wrapped in a jacquard-knit cotton cover. It's all CertiPUR-US Certified. 

Prime shipping, 30-day trial, and 10-year warranty
Buyers will receive a 30-day trial period that follows Amazon's typical policy, as well as a 10-year warranty guarantee.  With Amazon Prime, it can arrive in as little as two days, making it a top option for someone in need of a good mattress fast and affordably. 

How we review our mattresses

The majority of the mattresses on our best lists have been personally reviewed by members of our team, who take into account value for the money, construction, comfort, and support, with various tests in place to consider factors like edge support, motion transfer, and spinal alignment. 

All our reviews are based on the real-life experience of using these products at home. The products are given to us free of charge and we test them for as long as possible before sending them back to the brand unless we are able to keep them. This means that we can continue to use the product which gives us the opportunity to return to our reviews for updating, so you can keep up-to-date with how it's fared over a period of time.

In the event that we have not yet had personal experiences with the mattress, we go off of online customer reviews from various retailers and as well word of mouth from those that we interact with.  

How to Choose the Best Mattress

Considering a new mattress? If you haven't replaced yours in seven (or more) years, or if you’re at the point where you are waking up in the morning feeling achy or uncomfortable, now is the time for an upgrade. Follow our comprehensive guide on how to choose a mattress for a better, more restful night's sleep.

1. Key points to consider when buying a new mattress

  • Work out your sleep position: if you're a side sleeper, you'll need a softer mattress (think memory foam or hybrid) than back or front sleepers
  • Are you heavy or light? Heavier people tend to find firmer mattresses comfortable; lighter people need a softer mattress they can sink into a little;
  • Tend to toss and turn, or have a partner who does? "Good motion transfer" is the phrase you're looking for in a mattress – most of those above have that (memory foam or hybrid mattresses usually more so than traditional spring mattresses);
  • Experiencing back pain? Look at memory foam or a hybrid (which is foam over springs); 
  • Allergy sufferer? Consider latex as a filling (although memory foam/hybrids will be good for you too, as well as money-saving best mattress protectors); 
  • Sweaty sleeper? Find a mattress made of breathable materials: most of those above have this type of filling.
  • Materials and certifications: Eco-friendly materials include latex, and organic cotton, and wool. Or, look for labels like Certi-Pur US, a certification program for foam products, ensuring their durability and manufactured with non-toxic materials.
  • Budget: not everyone can splurge on a mattress, which is why we've included a range of models to suit all budgets; PLUS our clever widgets (seen throughout the article) displays the best prices every day.

2. Use a free trial to test your new mattress

We'd never advise anyone to buy a mattress without trying it first. But back in the day, that meant going shopping and lying on mattresses in-store; but honestly, the days of buying a mattress in-store are far behind us. Now, you can safely shop online and take advantage of the free trial with hassle-free returns. As the majority of the mattresses, we've reviewed come with super handy 100-night+ sleep trials and/or lengthy warranties, you're sure to find an option that has you covered.

3. Buy the best mattress to accommodate your sleep position

Are you a back sleeper, a side sleeper, or a stomach sleeper? Purchase your next mattress to suit how you sleep, and you'll be pain and ache-free in no time. 

Side sleepers can experience achy joints, especially around the hips and shoulders. Opting for a softer mattress you can sink into is the way to go, with medium-soft the most recommended comfort grade. We suggest the Emma mattress and the Casper Original for side sleepers. Both are foam mattresses.

Stomach sleepers might experience sore pressure points in the ribcage, knees, and elbows, as well as "general spinal discomfort." In order to alleviate this, you will need to find a firm mattress that supports you but also provides support in those sensitive points. Our all-around best bet to do that is the Awara, a medium mattress with a winning spring and latex construction. 

Back sleepers need to go for a middle ground for maximum comfort: not too soft, not too firm. Our favorite for back sleepers is the Nectar mattress it's also a good buy for side sleepers who prefer a slightly firmer sleep surface.

You also need to consider how things like your pillow impact your sleeping position and mattress choice, too. 

Use our guide on how to choose a pillow for your sleep position to get that right.

4. Get the right level of mattress firmness

One of the most important things to think about when purchasing a new mattress is getting the right firmness for you. Often it comes down to personal preference and whether you prefer a soft or firm feel; you just need to be confident that you have the correct support for the way that you like to sleep. Your weight plays a part, too: heavier people will find a harder mattress more comfortable than lighter people, who will usually fare better on a softer mattress. Here's a rough guide to what should suit you:

  • Soft medium: Ideal mattresses for side sleepers, as they let your shoulders and hips sink into the mattress while supporting the rest of your body;
  • Medium: If you sleep on your side but prefer the feel of a firmer mattress, choose medium support;
  • Medium-firm: If you change position from your side to your back this is the best option;
  • Firm: If you prefer to sleep on your back or sleep on your stomach, or a heavier person, choose a firm mattress, which will give you just the right amount of support;
  • Extra-firm: Sometimes called an orthopedic mattress, extra firm mattresses offer a very firm level of support. 

5. How to do a quick mattress comfort test

If you are testing out a mattress in-store, you can check if it might suit you by lying down and sliding a hand beneath the small of your back. If your hand slides in easily, the mattress is too hard; if you can't slide your hand in at all, it’s too soft.

Bear in mind, though, that the base you'll be putting the mattress on will affect how the mattress feels at home. For example, a box spring will make a mattress feel softer than a solid or slatted base. 

Is that rushed showroom test not assuring you that your new mattress is right for you? Or perhaps you're buying a new mattress online? This is where that 100-day, hassle-free return policies pull their weight – so double-check what your retailer is offering when making a decision.

6. Choose the best mattress material for you

There's a mind-boggling array of mattress material choices but it's important to state that no one particular type is better than another; it's much more about what you'll find comfortable. Here's a quick rundown of the mattress types available:

Memory foam molds to your body's shape, and gives plenty of support, making it perfect for side sleepers or anyone with back pain. Newer memory foam mattresses have breathability built-in – so look for this as a feature when buying. It's also good for allergy sufferers. Our top choices are the Casper and the Leesa.

Hybrid mattresses are constructed with a pocket-spring base and a memory foam top layer, so you'll get the responsiveness of springs plus memory foam support. Good for allergy and back pain sufferers. Our favorite is the Saatva Classic mattress.

Latex is durable and breathable; it tends to be on the firmer side and is ideal for allergy sufferers thanks to its anti-microbial properties. It’s also a very durable material and can be expected to support you soundly for years. For a good combination of latex and pocket springs, we like the Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress. 

Innerspring mattresses, made from individual steel springs in pockets of fabric, provide lots of support, whether you prefer a soft or firm sleep surface. They can also come with different levels of support on either side of a double for partners who prefer different levels of firmness. 

Open spring mattresses are cheaper and lightweight, but less supportive and responsive; choose these for guest rooms.

Natural mattresses should not include polyurethane foam; rather, look for only natural fillings such as cotton, wool hemp, and flax, and they should provide an alternative to the chemical fire retardants that are used in other mattresses. A mattress that calls itself natural needn't be low-tech: advances in pocket spring technology mean that the days of squeaky, massive springs are over; new models use thousands of micro-springs that rotate as your body moves, so you should, at least in theory, be as comfortable sleeping on your natural mattress as on foam or hybrid mattress.  

Vegan mattresses will be similar to natural mattresses in that they seek to use natural materials but do not feature any animal byproducts in their production, including wool or feathers. Rather, you'll find a preference for materials such as natural latex, cotton, or hemp. Vegan mattresses are found to be more breathable and naturally resistant to mold, mildew, and other bacteria. Many brands with an organic focus feature a vegan option, such as Avocado or Saatva. 

7. Pick the right mattress size

Most times, your current bed determines which one you're in the market for. However, if you are starting from scratch and looking to get a new bed and mattress, then a good place to start is with the right size. 

If you are sharing a bed with a partner, a queen is usually sufficient, but if you are someone who requires more space or is often disturbed at night, then it may be wise to go up a size (if you have the space, of course). Ideally, your mattress should also be wide enough to allow two of you to lie side by side with your hands behind your heads, without your elbows touching. Our guide to how to buy the best bed is useful in helping you to choose the right option for both your home and your lifestyle. 

As for mattress length, it should be 4" longer than the tallest person sleeping in it. So, if you're a strapping six-footer, you'll be looking at a king-size mattress as a minimum. Those mattresses (on our list) range from 6" to 12" in depth. See how high your bed is and check the overall height of your bed isn't going to be an issue (especially if you have mobility issues and climbing into a high bed is a challenge).

Below are the most common US standard mattress dimensions:

  • Twin: 38" x 75"
  • Twin XL: 38" x 80"
  • Full: 53" x 75"
  • Queen: 60" x 80"
  • King: 76" x 80"
  • California king: 72" x 84"

8. Look at the mattress's additional features

It's useful to consider whether the mattress you're purchasing has any added features such as:

  • A cover that zips off for easy cleaning; 
  • Handles for turning; 
  • Hypoallergenic properties
  • Certifications like Greenguard, CertiPUR-US, or OEKO-TEX.
  • Temperature regulation – see our pick of best mattress cooling pads for more. 

9. Should I buy a mattress in a box?

Mattress in a box? Yes, it's a thing. Where once, we'd decide whether a mattress was right for us by spending just a few minutes on it in a shop (fully clothed, obviously), now you can have yours shipped out to you. 

Why not? It makes sense. Why spend (or, we think, waste) your time trying mattresses in an overheated store when you can order a mattress in a box, have it delivered within days, then use the 100-day free trial that most of the best-boxed mattress companies will give you to decide if it's the right mattress for you? And if it isn't, you can get either an exchange or, in many cases, a full refund with no hassle returns policies. 

Made from innovative materials that can be rolled (usually vacuum-packed) into a surprisingly small box, these mattresses can be easily hauled upstairs and unrolled, and regain their shape after just a few hours. 

Our top choice of all the mattresses in a box is the Casper and the Casper Hybrid. Also in our top 10 mattresses in a box are the Emma Original, Avocado mattress, Purple mattress, Tuft & Needle original mattress, Nectar mattress, Leesa mattress, and Zinus mattress. (We're clearly big fans of the concept!).

Though, we should note that with a mattress in a box, you do lose perks that some traditional retailers and mattress brands offer like White Glove Delivery where it's assembled for you, or removal of your old mattress. Additionally, mattresses from a box typically take time to off-gas and inflate to full depth. 

10. Will the mattress need to be turned or flipped?

Gone are the days when you had to periodically turn (or flip) a mattress – undoing all that good work your mattress has done on your back in the process. Many newer mattresses don’t need turning, so check when you buy. If your new mattress does need turning, take note of whether it has handles or not, which will make maneuvering it much easier.

11. When to replace your mattress

The Better Sleep Council says that after seven-to-10 years your current mattress may not be offering adequate support. This will depend on the quality of the mattress in the first place and how much use it has had, but if your mattress is nearing that age it is time to check if you need a replacement.

If the mattress doesn't spring back to its original shape when you get off; has lumps and bumps; is dirty beyond cleaning, or is in any way uncomfortable it is time for a new one. 

12. When is the best time to save on a new mattress? 

Mattresses sales tend to surge around major US holidays and shopping events like Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and more.  If you can hold out on your mattress purchases until these major shopping events, this is when you'll save the most, and even score some freebies. 

To make life even easier for you, we keep this page up to date all year long so that it feeds the best prices available, for the best mattresses out there on the web right now. And if you're looking for the best deal, we constantly track the best mattress sales too. 

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Jennifer Oksien
Jennifer Oksien

After returning to Future Publishing in February 2020, Jennifer has been working on our appliance and mattress content to showcase the best in class examples which are available to buy for your homes. When she is not scouring the web for deals or reviewing products for your pursuit, she can be found hanging out with our three guinea pigs in her Victorian terraced home which she has lovingly (patiently) been renovating with her husband over the past few years. Jennifer also likes tea and homemade cake, very much.