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The Best Mattresses in a Box of 2018 Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Best Mattresses in a Box of 2022

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The Best Mattresses in a Box of 2018 Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

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Reviewed's mission is to help you buy the best stuff and get the most out of what you already own. Our team of product experts thoroughly vet every product we recommend to help you cut through the clutter and find what you need.

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Editor's Choice Product image of Leesa Hybrid
Best Upgrade Mattress

Leesa Hybrid

You can't go wrong with the Leesa Hybrid. It provides enough softness that lets it contour to the body while you sleep. Read More

Pros

  • Comfortable for all sleep positions
  • Balances firm and soft
  • Luxury feel

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Strong initial odor
  • Heavy
Editor's Choice Product image of Lull Original
Best Firm Mattress, Best Foam Mattress

Lull Original

The Lull Original has a firm sleep surface, great edge support, and sleeps cool—all around, it's a great option for most. Read More

Pros

  • Firm sleep surface
  • Good edge support
  • Sleeps cool

Cons

  • May be too firm for some
Editor's Choice Product image of Tuft & Needle Original Mattress
Best Affordable Mattress

Tuft & Needle Original Mattress

The Tuft & Needle Original is a firm foam mattress that offers a supportive sleep surface we think most people will like. Read More

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Comfortable
  • Supportive

Cons

  • May be too firm for some
  • Some heat retention
Editor's Choice Product image of Avocado Green Mattress
Best Organic Mattress

Avocado Green Mattress

The Avocado Green Mattress is a solid choice for side and back sleepers, and its coolness is ideal for people who sleep hot. Read More

Pros

  • Cool
  • Comfortable
  • Eco-conscious

Cons

  • Bad for stomach sleepers
  • May be too springy for some
  • Hard to move
Editor's Choice Product image of Saatva Mattress
Most Like a Traditional Mattress

Saatva Mattress

The Saatva Classic has three firmness options, great edge support, and feels like a traditional mattress. Read More

Pros

  • Multiple firmness levels
  • Comfortable
  • Great edge support

Cons

  • Returns aren't free

Finding the right mattress can be challenging, especially when shopping for mattresses online. How can you feel confident you’re buying the best mattress in a box without ever touching it yourself?

Here at Reviewed, we’ve tested the most popular boxed mattresses, using both scientific tests and personal experiences to determine which ones offer the perfect blend of comfort and support.

After extensive testing, we found the Leesa Hybrid (available at Leesa) to be the best mattress in a box. This luxury mattress combines memory foam with supportive, responsive springs for a top-shelf sleep experience.

For those looking to spend less, our favorite affordable mattress is the Tuft & Needle Original (available at Tuft & Needle). Its firm surface manages support and is supple at an incredible value.

These are the best mattresses in a box we tested:

  • Best Upgrade: Leesa Hybrid
  • Best Firm/ Best Foam: Lull Original
  • Most Like a Traditional Mattress: Saatva Classic
  • Best Affordable: Tuft & Needle Original
  • Best Organic: Avocado
  • Purple
  • Awara
  • DreamCloud
  • Serta Perfect Sleeper
  • Bear
  • Nectar
Leesa Hybrid
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

We think everyone will love the Leesa Hybrid, and that it's worth every penny.

Best Upgrade Mattress
Leesa Hybrid
  • Mattress: A top comfort layer designed with holes for breathability, with a memory foam layer underneath that provides contouring. The two foam layers sit above a pocket-spring base.
  • Sleep trial: 100 nights
  • Delivery details: Front-door delivery. A queen arrives in a 121-pound box that measures 45 x 16 x 16 inches.
  • Return protocol: Leesa will coordinate mattress pickup and donation to charity

It’s not a budget pick, but it’s hard to beat the Leesa Hybrid if you can afford it.

Two layers of foam provide softness and give, and allow it to contour to the body. As a hybrid mattress, the foam sits atop pocket springs, coils individually wrapped in quilted fabric. This gives the bed a sturdy yet buoyant base.

This adaptable support won’t leave a stomach sleeper’s back sagging or a side sleeper’s shoulder or hip aching. In short, the bed is a pressure-relieving crowd-pleaser that’s amazing to sleep on in any position.

Our tester felt the responsive support of its inner workings as soon as she plopped down. She also appreciated the super-soft and aesthetically pleasing cover. This doesn't affect performance, but it’s another place where the Leesa Hybrid Mattress shines.

The mattress did retain heat in our lab testing, but our tester, who sleeps hot, didn’t find herself switching sides of the bed to find a cooler spot.

Pros

  • Comfortable for all sleep positions

  • Balances firm and soft

  • Luxury feel

Cons

  • Pricey

  • Strong initial odor

  • Heavy

A person on their phone lying on a Lull Original mattress
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Lull Original is surprisingly firm and provides great edge support for an all-foam mattress.

Best Firm Mattress, Best Foam Mattress
Lull Original
  • Mattress: The Lull Original has three layers of foam. The uppermost layer is a 1.5-inch piece of gel-infused memory foam designed to have cooling properties. The second layer is another 1.5-inch piece of foam that provides support, and the base is a 7-inch layer of polyurethane.
  • Sleep trial: 365 nights
  • Delivery details: Front-door delivery. A queen arrives in a 80-pound box that measures 19 x 19 x 43 inches.
  • Return protocol: Contact the company, which makes "every effort possible" to donate mattresses to charity or organizations in need.

The Lull Original mattress caught us by surprise. Our tester discovered the bed in a TikTok ad of all places, and was floored by its performance in our home and lab tests. We even named it the best firm mattress and best foam mattress.

From her first night on the Lull Original, our tester was impressed. It’s a cool mattress, firm for a foam offering, with excellent edge support. But what our tester liked most about the Lull Original was its great surface sensation.

The bed strikes the perfect balance between cushy and firm. It’s got just enough of a sink-in factor that you feel slightly cradled—yet it was comfortable enough for our tester to sleep on her stomach and side. It offers something for everyone—though some may find it veers on the edge of too firm.

Lab tests confirmed that the mattress is great at diffusing heat and has stellar edge support. (Foam mattresses often struggle with this metric.) When we rolled a heavyweight bag to the edge of the bed, it was well past its halfway point when the bed finally gave and the bag tipped off.

We can’t say enough nice things about this mattress. Plus, it’s reasonably priced—the evergreen sale cost is not too far off from that of the Tuft & Needle Original, our best affordable mattress.

Pros

  • Firm sleep surface

  • Good edge support

  • Sleeps cool

Cons

  • May be too firm for some

a woman sits on her phone on the Tuft & Needle Original mattress
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Tuft & Needle's Original Mattress offers a lot of bang for your buck.

Best Affordable Mattress
Tuft & Needle Original
  • Mattress type: On top, a soft layer of foam infused with cooling gel and graphite. Beneath, a thicker layer of foam provides support.
  • Sleep trial: 100 nights
  • Delivery details: Front-door delivery. A queen arrives in a 72-pound box that measures 44 x 16 x 16 inches.
  • Return protocol: Tuft & Needle coordinates pickup with a local charity or nonprofit.

Our tester adored the Tuft & Needle Original mattress. In fact, it’s one of only two mattresses that she felt deeply sad to see toted away after month-long sleep tests. (The other, unsurprisingly, is our Upgrade Pick, the Leesa Hybrid).

This mattress is on the firm side, but within minutes of lying down, it softens and adapts to the pressure of body weight. It had just enough give to cushion pressure points, particularly when our tester was on her side.

Stomach and back sleepers—who are generally more prone to spinal woes—will likely find they can sleep in their preferred position without any soreness. Our tester loves sleeping on her stomach, so she’s all too familiar with lower back strain. Yet it was never an issue with the Tuft & Needle Original.

The product’s edges are more supportive than many other foam beds. They still compressed when our tester sat on the corner, but when laying close to the edge, she didn’t feel like she’d imminently fall off the bed.

If you’re looking for the sink-in sensation of memory foam, the Tuft & Needle Original isn’t the mattress for you. Indeed, some sleepers may find it too firm. Also, it retained some heat in lab testing.

While the Tuft & Needle’s its price has since increased, the MSRP is on the lower end. And while the site’s sales aren’t as substantial as other retailers, you’ll often come across 10% or 15% discounts.

This incredible bed balances supportiveness with just enough surface give. Our tester was comfortable in all sleep positions. She says: “If I had to buy a mattress tomorrow, given my current budget, I would hands-down go for the Tuft & Needle.”

Read more about the best affordable mattresses we tested and reviewed.

Pros

  • Affordable

  • Comfortable

  • Supportive

Cons

  • May be too firm for some

  • Some heat retention

the avocado mattress on a brown bed frame
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

We tested the Avocado Green Mattress at home and in our Cambridge labs.

Best Organic Mattress
Avocado Green Mattress
  • Mattress type: Two layers of organic latex rubber foam sandwich pocketed coils and are covered in organic fabric.
  • Sleep trial: 365 nights
  • Delivery details: Front-door delivery. (Avocado’s delivery takes longer than many mattress-in-a-box companies because its products are handmade.)
  • Return protocol: Avocado verifies the mattress’ condition with customer photos before coordinating with a local charity to pick it up.

While well-rounded, the Avocado Green Mattress doesn’t quite cater to everyone. It gives sleepers a cozy feel that our tester enjoyed, but it’s not the same comfort offered by the Leesa and other top picks.

The mattress was consistently cool, even on hot summer nights, and our tester never woke up overbaked. Lab testing confirmed that it’s among the coolest mattresses we’ve tested.

This hybrid mattress has hundreds of coils sandwiched between two layers of latex. Its springy, responsive surface responds quickly to pressure or weight. Latex tends to be cooler than memory foam and doesn’t yield a sinking, molding, or cradling sensation.

While it has some plushness, there’s less give than you'd expect, and it won't compact beneath body weight. The springiness might be too much for some, but it’s an excellent option for people who prefer the feeling of coils and don’t want to sacrifice plushness completely.

It isn’t versatile in terms of the sleep positions it accommodates. Side and back sleepers will enjoy it, but our tester found that her lumbar spine was unsupported when she slept on her stomach for more than one night.

The mattress was also two inches short of a standard queen in width and length. This may not be a problem for everyone, but those joined by a partner, kids, or large pets should take note.

The Avocado Green Mattress holds more certifications than any other we've tested. Its roster includes three certifications for organic materials and components; one for forest management and sustainability; and four for safe ingredients and limited off-gassing, including Greenguard, which is known for its strict criteria. Avocado is also a Certified B Corporation, meaning its business practices meet certain environmental, social, and community guidelines.

Pros

  • Cool

  • Comfortable

  • Eco-conscious

Cons

  • Bad for stomach sleepers

  • May be too springy for some

  • Hard to move

a person sits on the edge of the Saatva classic mattress
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Saatva Classic has unbeatable edge support.

Most Like a Traditional Mattress
Saatva Classic
  • Mattress type: The Saatva Classic pairs a 3-inch piece of foam with coils. The mattress also has a piece of support foam that’s a fraction of an inch tall in the middle of the bed.
  • Delivery details: Saatva will deliver and set up the mattress.
  • Sleep trial: 365 days
  • Return protocol: Contact the company to facilitate. There's a $99 processing fee.

The Saatva Classic in Luxury Firm is a delight. Our tester loved the firm sleep surface that allowed her to snooze comfortably on her stomach and side. Softer mattresses make it difficult for stomach sleepers to avoid strain in the lumbar spine.

The Saatva also has unsurpassed edge support. The springs are the same across Saatva’s three firmness levels. However, the foam layer varies in density across the firm, luxury firm, and plush options. This helps you get the mattress that will best fit your needs.

Saatva has a number of showrooms across the country if you’d like to check out its mattresses. Also, when mattresses are shipped, they arrive unfurled. Plus, the company does all of the heavy lifting for you: The price includes white-glove delivery.

Pros

  • Multiple firmness levels

  • Comfortable

  • Great edge support

Cons

  • Returns aren't free


Other Mattresses in a Box We Tested

Product image of The Original Purple Mattress
Purple Mattress
  • Mattress: A 2-inch layer of Purple’s proprietary grid sits atop two layers of “high density foam.”
  • Delivery details: Front-door delivery.
  • Sleep trial: 100 nights (21-night minimum)
  • Return protocol: Contact the company and it will arrange for the mattress to be picked up.

The Purple mattress impressed our tester with its ultra-comfortable sleep surface. She was initially skeptical about the company’s hype around its unique polymer. The fact that the bed is difficult to move and the super squishy surface also didn’t instill much confidence. But when she laid down on it for the first time, it was a different story.

The mattress had a surprisingly firm surface that was supportive but bouncy, with a little bit of cushioning. She loved sleeping on the bed, and was especially impressed by how well it diffused heat. It was one of just a handful of mattresses she truly felt lived up to the company’s claims.

What’s more, despite its foam build, the mattress had reasonable edge support. In our lab test, the heavyweight bag tipped toward the edge, but it remained supported after it was overhanging the edge of the mattress by several inches.

The biggest downside in our book? The cost. Purple doesn’t offer many sales, and when it does, the discounts aren’t substantial. But if it’s in your budget, it’s worth a serious look.

Pros

  • Firm

  • Sleeps cool

  • Limited motion transfer

Cons

  • Hard to move

Product image of Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress
Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress
  • Mattress: Four layers of cotton, latex foam, coils, and wool.
  • Delivery details: Front-door drop-off. A queen arrives in a box that weighs 129 pounds.
  • Sleep trial: 365 nights
  • Return protocol: Contact Awara to donate or dispose of the mattress locally.

The Awara organic luxury hybrid mattress is heavy—129 pounds for a queen size, per the manufacturer—and also difficult to unbox and get on the bed frame.

However, the mattress had no odor when opened, and the product felt extra supportive. Its coils also gave a pleasant amount of bounce, offering a similar feel to a luxe traditional innerspring mattress.

Our tester usually sleeps on her side and back, and felt comfortable during the sleep tests. However, side sleepers with a propensity for aggravated pressure points may be better off with a softer mattress.

Its dense interior offered great motion isolation. That makes it a good choice for light sleepers who find a partner or pet’s movements disturbing. It also had great edge support, with a firmer ledge that resisted collapsing from sitting or lying on the edge of the bed.

Both our tester and lab tests confirm the Awara doesn’t retain much heat. All in all, it feels more like a conventional mattress than other boxed offerings.

Awara also makes a concerted effort in its organic and health-conscious practices. It holds three materials certifications for its latex and the fabric in its ticking. It also has a health and low off-gassing certification from Greenguard. Finally, they earned the Rainforest Alliance Seal, which demonstrates the latex meets certain environmental, social, and economic sustainability benchmarks.

Bottom line: The Awara is really, really heavy and pricier than many. But it has great heat dispersion. And if you want something that feels like a classic mattress—with a lot of support and a little bit of bounce—it could be right for you.

One final note: Awara’s parent company, Resident Home, has a track record of poor customer service. It has also faced multiple FTC charges for falsely claiming it used materials made in the United States and assembled products in the U.S.

Pros

  • Supportive

  • Good edge support

  • No off-gassing odor

Cons

  • Heavy and difficult to unbox

  • May be too firm for some

Product image of DreamCloud
DreamCloud Standard
  • Mattress: A soft cashmere cover wraps two layers of foam, a platform of individually wrapped springs, and a base.
  • Delivery details: The mattress arrives in a 85-pound box that measures 43 x 18.5 x 18.5 inches.
  • Sleep trial: 365 nights
  • Return protocol: DreamCloud asks that you donate the mattress to a local charity or organization. Customers must pay any moving costs incurred.

The DreamCloud mattress is firm, supportive, and works well for most sleep positions. Even when our tester woke up on her back (a position she generally avoids), she never noticed the typical discomfort she feels in that position.

The firm surface makes it well-suited to stomach sleeping, as well. That said, side sleepers and others who prefer a softer surface will likely find another bed more comfortable. This mattress also isn’t prone to heat retention—our tester always woke feeling cool and comfortable, and lab tests corroborated her experience.

Even so, it has some issues, particularly when you free the mattress from its shipping confines. The DreamCloud’s corners lagged behind the center when expanding—it puffed up like a peculiarly-shaped baked good in the oven.

What’s more, the foot of the bed didn’t rise to its full height until about three weeks into our testing. While the sagging foot didn’t bother our 5-foot-9-inch tester, the slow expansion could leave taller folks’ calves and feet unsupported.

Most mattresses take a few days to air out fully. The DreamCloud, however, reeked even after 24 hours in a decently ventilated room. And it didn’t smell for just a couple of days—the smell was noticeable every night for over two weeks.

Beyond that, its parent company, Resident Home, has a track record of poor customer service. It has also faced multiple FTC charges for falsely claiming it used materials made in the United States and assembled its products in the U.S.

Pros

  • Firm and supportive

  • Comfortable for different sleep positions

  • Cool overnight

Cons

  • Bad odor for weeks

  • May be too firm for some

  • Slow to take shape after unwrapping

Product image of Serta Perfect Sleeper "Nestled Night" Mattress-in-a-Box
Serta Perfect Sleeper
  • Mattress: It is composed of three layers—Serta’s exclusive gel memory foam on top of a gel-infused foam layer with a foam core as the base.
  • Delivery details: Front-door drop-off. The mattress arrives in a box measuring 29 x 19 x 19 inches.
  • Sleep trial: 120 days when purchased on Serta.com. If you buy the mattress through another website, check its return policy.
  • Return protocol: Serta will arrange front door collection of the unwanted mattress.

The Perfect Sleeper is a good value for its price. It’s especially ideal for people who want a balance between firmness and softness. The material was buoyant and responsive enough that our tester didn’t feel mired by that sink-in sensation some other foam mattresses have.

Its edge support also held up in the lab, tying with the Lull Original for the highest score. Plus, it performed solidly in the middle of the pack when it came to diffusing heat.

Our tester liked the mattress enough to seriously consider buying her own Serta. However, she had some concerns about longevity. The mattresses’ outer layer felt thin, and the stitching appeared untidy. That left her with a feeling that it wouldn’t last as long as some of the others she tested for Reviewed.

Serta says that while the bulk of the mattress’ growth will happen in the first minute it is opened, it will keep growing and expanding its last few inches for up to 72 hours. However, it took the mattress a full week to expand.

It has its flaws, but if you’re looking for a medium-firm, all-foam mattress, the Perfect Sleeper Nestled Night could be your dream bed.

Pros

  • Good balance of support

  • Good edge support

  • Doesn't sleep hot

Cons

  • Took a long time to expand

  • Some untidy stitching

Product image of Bear Hybrid
Bear
  • Mattress: Under a moisture-wicking cover is a layer of copper-infused memory foam. That’s followed by comfort foam, a layer of encased coils, and a base layer of dense support foam.
  • Delivery details: Front door delivery. A queen arrives in a 110-pound box that measures 45 x 20.5 x 20.5 inches.
  • Sleep trial: 365 nights (30-night minimum)
  • Return protocol: Bear will collect the unwanted mattress.

Our tester put the Bear Hybrid in the same league as the Awara—another mattress she loved. The Bear is made of unique materials that the company claims helps people, including athletes, recover from intense exercise.

In our testing, it stood out for its firm sleep surface. Our tester was especially complimentary about its cushioning upper layer. “I really liked its plush topper, it made it feel luxurious and like I wouldn’t ever need an additional topper,” she explained.

The Bear Hybrid fell flat when it came to edge support. In our labs, its edge wasn’t nearly as supportive as the bed's surface. Our heavyweight bag rolled off after passing the mattress’s periphery by a few inches.

Our tester also noticed it was more prone to motion transfer than others during her at-home trial. That’s worth considering for those who share a bed with a partner, kids, or pets.

It’s a solid choice, but we wouldn’t choose it based entirely on the company’s claims about recovery. Their claims are hard to verify and may not mean much. The mattress could be great for those looking for traditional mattress feel, but it’s on the pricier side compared to others we’ve tried.

Pros

  • Comfortable

  • Cool

Cons

  • Noticeable motion transfer

  • Potential durability concerns

Product image of Nectar Mattress
The Nectar Mattress
  • Mattress: Its three layers of foam include a one-inch “fast-recovery” gel memory foam, a three-inch layer of memory foam with “medical-grade” cooling, and a high-density base for support.
  • Delivery details: Front-door delivery. A queen arrives in a 65-pound box that measures 44 x 16 x 16 inches.
  • Sleep trial: 365 nights
  • Return protocol: Nectar helps you coordinate donation or local disposal.

Previously our top pick, Nectar slipped in our rankings. We no longer recommend it as the best mattress for most people. The main reason? Our tester felt its ultra-soft surface wasn’t sufficiently supportive.

Our first tester relied almost exclusively on anecdotal experience and found the Nectar mattress balanced firmness and softness. However, more recent tests indicate that it’s too squishy to suit a wide number of sleepers.

While never uncomfortable for our new tester, Nectar wasn’t very supportive. While awake, she couldn’t lie or sit on the bed without frequently shifting positions. Her lower back felt a little strain whenever she tried to sleep on her stomach.

Its uber-plush, compressive surface felt better when she slept on her side. It allowed her shoulder and hip to sink in without any uncomfortable pressure points. The marshmallow-like texture also means that it’s harder to roll around on the mattress without feeling mired. Since most people aren’t stationary all night, this could disrupt sleep.

The Nectar mattress was great at dissipating heat in lab testing. However, it felt warm to our tester some of the nights she slept on it (during wintertime in her heated bedroom).

The Nectar mattress also lacks edge support. While it has better structure than some foam mattresses, it tends to cave under pressure. This makes it less than ideal for folks who sleep near the edge of the bed, especially if they thrash around.

If you’re a side sleeper who likes softer mattresses, this could be the bed for you. But since experts recommend erring on the side of firmer mattresses, there are some better options out there.

Something else to keep in mind: Nectar’s parent company, Resident Home, has a track record of poor customer service. It has also faced multiple FTC charges for falsely claiming it used materials made in the United States and assembled its products in the U.S.

Pros

  • Cradles body

  • Stays cool

  • May be good for side sleepers

Cons

  • May be too soft

  • Felt warm at times

  • Limited edge support

Mattresses We Reviewed That Didn’t Make the Cut

  • The Helix Midnight (available at Helix) has a medium-firm sleep surface, a sensation of deep support, and limited heat retention. The mattress didn’t perform as well when it came to delivery, plus it smelled for about a week.

  • The PlushBeds EcoBliss (available at Plushbeds) is one of a handful on this list that comes from a company with eco-friendly claims. Its medium-firm sleep surface doesn’t envelop you like some of the other mattresses we’ve tested.

  • Tempur-Pedic’s first mattress in a box, the Tempur-Cloud (available at Tempur-Pedic) is great for side sleeping, but our tester had a sore lumbar spine after sleeping on her stomach.

  • The Allswell Supreme (available at Allswell) is a reasonable mattress, though its edge support tanked its overall score. The side of the mattress developed a depression that never bounced back during our testing.

  • The Casper Original mattress (available at Casper) left a lot to be desired. Our tester hated sleeping on it, and scarcely slept well in the month she had it.

  • The Zinus Green Tea Mattress (available at Zinus) was excessively soft, and it had insufficient support.

  • The Layla mattress (available at Layla) lacks structure and support. Its two sides offer a firm or soft sleep surface, which manifests as a soft and a too soft sleep surface.

How We Tested Mattresses in a Box

hands catch a bowling ball that's about to roll off the edge of the bed
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

We test mattresses for a range of criteria—from heat retention to edge support—at our labs in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Testers

I’m Lindsey Vickers, the sleep writer here at Reviewed. I joined the team in 2020, so earlier versions of this guide pre-date my time at Reviewed.

Several testers contributed to this comprehensive list, including editor Sara Hendricks and former editors Jessica Teich and Samantha Gordon.

We all have an extra-special place in our hearts for naps, sleeping in on weekends, and all things sleep-related. Consumer preferences change over time. Our testing methods have evolved with them. We’re here to provide you with the information you need to pick the mattress that’s right for your life and sleep style.

The Tests

our tester places weights on a barbell on a mattress to test it
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

We use a barbell in lab tests to assess how well a mattress does (or doesn't) curve up under pressure.

Mattress testing here at Reviewed is usually two-pronged. We perform lab tests for scientific data gathering and home tests. The latter are just what they sound like: Someone literally sleeps on the thing for at least 30 nights.

Our mattress tests are extensive, so we won’t bore you with every last detail. Instead, here’s a smattering of the criteria:

Comfort: While subjective, this is maybe the most important factor in a mattress. Testers consider how supported their bodies feel throughout the night in different sleep positions, staying mindful of their own sleep habits. They even consider whether or not they find themselves rolling around at night to find a cooler spot on the bed.

Motion transfer and bounciness: Light sleepers can benefit from a mattress that minimizes the movement of a tossing-and-turning partner. We ask our testers to have another person (or pet) join them, and we double-check their motion isolation assessment. We place a phone with an accelerometer mobile app on the bed, while, someone bounces on the opposite side. The higher the number, the more motion passes through the mattress.

Edge support: This refers to whether the mattress’s edges are sturdy enough to withstand weight and pressure. Most mattresses in a box rely on foam and lack the wire cage of traditional innerspring beds. This can limit the edge’s load-bearing ability. Too little support can make it difficult to sit on the edge of the bed to do things like put on your shoes.

Heat retention: If a mattress cannot disperse heat quickly enough, you might be in for a warm sleep experience. While this could work for those who sleep cold, hot sleepers may end up sweaty and miserable. We take our tester’s subjective opinion, but also lab-test this by microwaving silicone bead-filled bags and placing them on the mattress for several hours as we monitor the temperature.

Support: You know your body’s needs best, but we give a rough idea of the amount of support a mattress provides. Our testers lie on their backs, sides, and stomachs, checking for gaps between their lower back and the top of the mattress. We also attach pressure sensors to a weighted barbell that loosely represents the human form. This detects pressure at different points like the shoulders and hips, which take more weight and pressure than, say, the legs.

Memory: Some people want a mattress to perfectly conform to the contours of their body. Typically, memory foam retains the imprint of a person’s body longer than a coil-constructed mattress. We check whether a mattress immediately springs back to its original shape after being weighed down with a heavy weight bag filled with sand.

Moving and unboxing: Mattresses-in-a-box are a beast to unpack and move once they’ve opened to their full size. Testers describe how difficult it is to remove the mattress from its packaging and how feasible it would be for an individual to move it once it fully expands.

Odor: Foam mattresses aren’t known for smelling like daisies, especially when first unpacked. The manufacturing and packaging process can trap smelly chemicals. Once the plastic is opened, these VOCs are released into the air. Testers note the smell when they first open the mattress, and again 24 hours later. (24 is how long many companies recommend letting a mattress off-gas before sleeping on it).

Customer experience: We ask testers to answer questions related to the experience of ordering and receiving the mattress, because you sleep better when you aren’t stressed.

How to Find the Best Bed-in-a-Box

Buying a mattress online can be challenging. Here are some things to consider when shopping for a mattress online.

Price

Yes, mattresses are expensive. Most last you a decade—and you don’t want to be stuck sleeping on an uncomfortable bed for 10 years. You want to stay comfortable and make sure you get your money’s worth. But where do you even start?

First, do your research. Given how much time you spend in bed, and the impact that sleep has on our waking hours, it’s a critical decision. A bad night's rest can be a literal pain in the neck or back that affects your mood, memory, and productivity.

As comfort is subjective and personal, we recommend researching multiple products. Keep your own preferences in mind.

Types of sleeper

Finding the right mattress is essential to a good night’s rest. Visiting a showroom can help you learn your preferences before buying online. It also helps knowing what kind of sleeper you are, because the different sleep styles impact spinal alignment.

  • Side sleepers: People who sleep on their sides should look for a mattress that allows their pressure points, namely the hips and shoulders, to sink in a bit, without leaving their spine sagging.

  • Stomach sleepers: People who sleep on their stomachs should generally opt for a firmer mattress to support their spine.

  • Back sleepers: Like stomach sleepers, people who sleep on the backs should look for a firmer mattress.

  • Combination sleepers: People who have more than one sleep style should look for a mattress that best meets the needs of their dominant position. For instance, someone who mostly sleeps on their side and sometimes sleeps on their stomach should look for a mattress for a side sleeper.

Types of mattresses

There are four main types of mattresses to choose from, based on what they're made of: foam, coil (or innerspring), hybrid, and latex.

  • Foam mattresses: These beds are made of memory foam and other foams. Foam mattresses do a good job distributing weight evenly. They can be a good choice for side sleepers because they provide sufficient support for the spine.

However, foam has a tendency to absorb heat rather than dissipate it. Some companies have designed mattresses that claim to mitigate this with perforated or cooling foam, or fabric encasements made from materials that wick. Also, foam mattresses often go through a process called “off-gassing” after opening, during which they release chemicals that create a noticeable odor that could take a few days to dissipate.

  • Innerspring mattresses: Spring mattresses provide a buoyancy that some may prefer to the sink-in feeling of foam, and their construction is thought to help keep you cool by improving air circulation at night. Plus they don’t tend to off-gas like foam mattresses.

However, innerspring mattresses generally don’t isolate motion well. Some may also find these mattresses feel too firm. A pillow top can add softness to a mattress that otherwise would be too.

  • Hybrid mattresses: These mattresses try to bring the best of both worlds by resting foam layers atop a base of innerspring coils. The coils are thought to give them more structure, supportiveness, “rebound,” and offer better air circulation for keeping you cool. The foam top layer provides cushion to cradle you just enough, without letting you totally sink in.

Hybrids tend to cost more than either foam or coil mattresses. Off-gassing, because they have foam, is something else to watch out for.

  • Latex: These mattresses are made of either natural and synthetic latex. Natural latex is derived from rubber trees, but the material can be synthetically mimicked. The material is thought to be cooler than foam, but it doesn’t tend to isolate motion as well. Latex also tends to run on the pricier side as compared to other materials.

Trial periods

Most bed-in-a-box companies offer a trial period so that you can literally sleep on your decision, but you should still be aware of a company’s return policy. Some make it super-easy by retrieving the mattress free of cost. Others require you to coordinate the return, donation, or disposal of the mattress to receive a full refund.


Meet the tester

Lindsey Vickers

Lindsey Vickers

Senior Staff Writer, Sleep

@lindseyvix

Lindsey writes about sleep, lifestyle, and more for Reviewed. In her waking hours, she likes to spend time outside, read, cook, and bake. She holds a master’s in journalism from Boston University and bachelors' degrees in English Literature and Anthropology from the University of Utah.

See all of Lindsey Vickers's reviews

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