May be good for side sleepers
May be too soft
Felt warm at times
Limited edge support
Nectar changed the cover fabric and appearance of this mattress since we tested, and modified the foam used such that the overall mattress height increased by 1 inch. Those alterations likely do not affect our review, as a company rep told us, "Our product redesign process is diligent in ensuring that performance is unchanged."
What is the Nectar mattress?
Nectar is an immensely popular mattress-in-a-box company. As such, I was surprised to learn that it’s a relative newcomer to the scene. It started selling its mattress online in 2016 and has amassed what can only be described as a cult following since. Its baseline model has just shy of 30,000 reviews and an average rating of 4.8 stars (yes, that’s out of 5). It's moderately priced, at $1,198 for a queen. With the company’s frequent sales, you can usually score a queen for about $800.
This bed is advertised as having five distinct layers, but only if you include the quilted top tencel fabric (a.k.a. the ticking) and bottom cover. Inside, it has three layers of foam. The uppermost is a gel memory foam layer that claims to distribute weight and disperse body heat so you don’t sleep hot. Beneath it is a responsive and adaptive layer that is designed to help prevent that quicksand feeling you get with some memory foam mattresses. These rest atop a base layer of “stable memory foam,” which is the firmest layer that aims to give the bed in a box support and a foundation.
What’s it like to unbox the Nectar mattress?
There’s not much to say here. Of course, unboxing mattresses is routine for me, but seeing as you’re probably not unpacking a new bed every month, I’ll give you the details I can.
Freeing the mattress from its plastic entrapment was easy enough, even without enlisting help from someone else. It emitted a chemical odor initially, but the scent largely dissipated within a day. Foam mattresses can be difficult to move due to their lack of structure as they’re not built with an internal metal frame like an innerspring mattress. The Nectar was no more difficult to maneuver it into place on my bed frame than other all-foam options, and possibly easier, given its lighter-than-most weight, of just shy of 75 pounds.
How did we test the Nectar mattress?
Here at Reviewed, mattress testing is a well-oiled machine. All products undergo two types of testing: in-home testing and lab testing. We focus on the home tests, as there’s no better way to see what a mattress is like than by using it. I slept on the Nectar for 30 days, taking note of its overall comfort, the support it provided, whether it worked for every sleep position, its propensity for heat retention, its bounciness and motion isolation, and how well the edges held weight.
We also turned it over to our senior scientist, Julia MacDougall, for additional testing. She checked mattresses for some of the same criteria, but standardized things because, you know, science. Julia looked at Nectar’s edge support by balancing a bowling ball on its periphery and observing if the bed is able to support it or if it rolls off. She also assessed heat retention by warming the mattress with an electric blanket and watching how well its foam diffuses heat as the blanket is cycled on and off.
What’s great about the Nectar mattress?
This mattress has some serious surface plushness. It never felt as though I was sinking all the way through the mattress, so it's not quicksand-like, but it was not as firm as some of the better-performing mattresses we tested, including the Tuft & Needle. It’s likely great for side sleeping, where uncomfortable pressure points are more prone to reveal themselves, but it might prove too soft for stomach and back sleepers.
It absorbs but quickly dissipates heat
The Nectar is interesting, because while it felt hot underneath me at times during the home sleep test, it was able to rapidly diffuse heat. After sitting in the same spot for about 10 minutes, and moving off the spot for just a couple more, I was surprised to find the previously toasty spot felt completely cool. It’s not the coolest mattress we’ve tested, but I think it does a reasonably good job at keeping you from overheating at night, especially for an all-foam mattress, which don't often allow air to easily circulate through their dense materials. In our lab testing for heat retention, the Nectar fared far better than most of the other foam ones we’ve tested, making it promising for those who sleep hot but prefer foam to, say, innerspring or hybrid mattresses, which purport to offer better air circulation.
What’s not great about the Nectar mattress?
My biggest complaint has to do with its supportiveness. When I first got the mattress into my apartment and sat on it after making the bed, I remember thinking how squishy it felt. After my first fitful night sleeping on it, I thought maybe I just needed to acclimate to the bed—after all, I’d just switched from the very firm Dreamcloud mattress.
But in the month I slept on Nectar, I never came around to enjoying its soft texture. I found that its surface was just too forgiving for my comfort. I was sick during some of the time the Nectar was under my purview, so I spent a lot of time on the bed. It was fine for shorter stints, but after lying on it for longer than an hour or so, I wound up fidgeting and shifting positions, trying to find something comfortable. I couldn’t sleep on my stomach at all, as I could feel my lumbar spine arching as my pelvis sunk down and sagged without proper support. Granted, the forgiving surface could be great for some sleep positions—side sleepers, in particular, may find the it provides reprieve for aching pressure points on the shoulders and hips. (When I laid in this position, I was comfortable—though to be honest, I never have problems with pressure points as a side sleeper on any mattress). But overall, the Nectar just wasn’t great for me.
It lacks edge support
In keeping with its overall texture, the sides are so pliable that they completely collapsed beneath me any time I sat on the edge of the bed. This may not sound like a huge issue, but I’d advise folks who like to sleep right on the edge of the bed to steer clear of this one—otherwise they may find themselves steering into the floor in the middle of the night. Indeed, in our lab test where we observe a bowling ball perched on the edges and corner of a mattress, the bowling ball slowly rolled off during every trial. It was not the worst we've tested, but enough to give us pause.
The customer service isn’t great
Many shoppers adore the mattress itself, but those who are less satisfied have found the company’s customer service lackluster (to say the least). The company has faced more than 1,000 complaints in the last year according to its Better Business Bureau page. Unfortunately it’s not a recent development. According to the BBB, complaints started rolling in during the spring of 2017, shortly after the company’s launch. The pattern of complaint relates to difficulty in receiving the product: “According to consumer’s disputes, it has been alleged that The Nectar Mattress does not provide the products the consumers are paying for;” as well as its customer service representatives being “unresponsive, rude, or difficult.”
A reader wrote to us at Reviewed in summer 2020 to alert us of his negative customer service experience with the company and its poor BBB ranking and performance. When we raised these issues with our contact at Nectar, she said the company "had some shipping delays as our online sales have increased and FedEx couldn't handle the volume of orders or send enough trucks to us to ship out product, and we are working diligently to fix the problem and have several solutions in place.” While the statement made it sound as though the issues were COVID-related, the longer record of complaints at the BBB begs to differ. Even now, months after we initially asked, the company’s performance and BBB ranking haven't changed much if at all.
What are Nectar’s trial, warranty, and return policies?
The mattress can be placed on box springs, divans, adjustable bases, and platforms at no risk of voiding the warranty. It can be used on slats as well and, unlike many other online mattress companies, Nectar doesn’t specify a maximum distance between slats. (Though a customer service rep told us that if you’re using slats more than 6 inches apart, you should check if the mattress is sagging between each one.)
Nectar offers a more generous sleep trial period than many mattress-in-a-box companies: A full year. If you find it's too soft for your liking (or you aren’t a fan for any other reason), you can return it—with a couple of atypical caveats. First, you must open the mattress you receive or it’s ineligible for returns. Secondly, you can’t return it until more than 30 days have elapsed since its delivery. (Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels the Nectar may take some getting used to.)
Beyond that, it’s a seemingly easy process, assuming you experience no issues with customer service. You reach out to the company to initiate the return, and it arranges for the mattress to be picked up at no cost to you.
What are current owners saying?
Plenty of folks love this bed. “My old mattress was 10 years or more old and had become uncomfortable for me,” a self-proclaimed side sleeper wrote. “It arrived on time and it is definitely the best sleep I've had in years. I wake up with no back pain and well rested.” Numerous other reviewers claim they slept better on their new mattress than they had in months or years.
Others noticed the same softness I did while testing the bed, and found it excessive for their comfort. “It lets my hips sink in too far and hurts my back,” one wrote. In addition, some reviewers highlighted issues with customer service that aligned with the BBB warning, with many pointing specifically to issues with shipping delays, and a lack of communication about where their purchase actually was. “My mattress shipped six days late and arrived two weeks late,” one reviewer said. “We got no updates about the delays and slept on the floor [while we waited].”
Is the Nectar mattress worth it?
The dethroning of the Nectar mattress as our top pick could have been a dramatic fall from grace, but it wasn’t. Another round of testing revealed it’s still a good mattress, but we’re not convinced that it’s the best overall mattress for any and every sleeper. Its softness is its greatest strength and weakness. Given that it’s easier to soften a firm mattress by adding a pillow topper or foam pad, than it is to firm-up a soft one (by… yeah, not much you can do), I think the Nectar will best suit people who know that they love a squishy foam sleep surface.
Of course, if you get it, you have a whole year to return it if you find that it’s not right for you—the company’s return policy has you covered (again, presuming you don’t run into issues with customer service).
The Nectar mattress has a lot to offer, especially for its mid-tier price. Was I absolutely disgruntled with this mattress? I would not go that far. But I felt neither here nor there when it came time to say goodbye and goodnight to it for good. I recognize that it could have its place in some people’s hearts, and bed frames—just not mine.
What to Consider When Buying a Mattress in a Box
Can you try the mattress in a store before you buy? While Purple and Tuft & Needle are online-only retailers, Casper has a handful of brick-and-mortar stores where you can feel the mattresses in person—just like a traditional store. Other companies partner with specific retailers. Leesa, for example, teamed up with West Elm and Pottery Barn, so you can buy the mattress straight from these vendors and visit some of their physical locations to test it out.
What level of firmness do you want? Mattresses range from extra firm to medium-firm and soft and squishy. Finding the right firmness level for you is essential to getting a good night’s rest. If you’re not sure what you want, you can always visit a showroom to get a sense of your preferences before buying online.
What fabrication are you looking for? Boxed mattresses come in myriad materials. You can choose among memory foam, traditional coiled springs, hybrid mattresses (which combine foam and coils), or something off the beaten path, such as Purple’s unique polymer. Each type has benefits and drawbacks. Memory foam, for example, contours well to your body under the pressure of your weight, but can feel too enveloping to some people and retain heat. Coils can provide more support, but will also feel bouncier and may transfer more motion, say, from a restless partner.
Do you want more edge support? If you’re an active sleeper, or your bed is home to a party of more than one, edge support can help prevent you, a partner, the kids, and even pets from rolling overboard, which can be an issue with some memory foam mattresses. Or if you like to sit on the edge of the bed as you put on shoes or socks, you might not want to feel the mattress sloping down or collapsing underneath you. Coil and some hybrid mattresses have an encasement around the bed to help provide support around the edges.
Does the mattress require a box spring or a foundation? Many newer mattresses work fine without a box spring (a fabric-covered wood frame that contains springs to increase bed buoyancy and boosts up the mattress for additional height), as long as you have a platform bed or adequate slats to provide support and/or the height you’d like your bed to be. Just be sure to check the mattress specifications before it shows up at your door. If you do need a base, these companies sell them to match their mattresses.
Does the mattress require special accessories? Some mattresses, such as the extra-thick Saatva, may not work well with standard sheets or bed frames. That might mean you need to replace your favorite bed sheets with a deep-pocket set or, if your bed frame isn't compatible, new furniture, which can get expensive.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
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.
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