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The best mattress in a box 2022: top bed-in-a-box brands reviewed

best mattress in a box: The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress on a light wooden bed frame and dressed with a white comforter and pillows
(Image credit: Nectar Sleep)

A mattress in a box is often the same quality as mattresses sold in store, but they are compressed with heavy weights and rolled into boxes for shipping. They are normally much cheaper than traditional beds, so if you want the best mattress for your budget and one you can buy online without any fuss, a bed-in-a-box is a great option. We regularly review the latest boxed mattresses from leading sleep brands such as Nectar, Purple and Casper, and only the best make it into this guide.

We sleep on each mattress in a box for at least three weeks, testing them in terms of comfort, support, temperature regulation, pressure relief and motion isolation. 

How we test mattresses

Our mattress testing process is editorially independent and we decide which mattresses to research, test and include in this guide. We test each mattress in a box for three weeks, rating it across key areas including comfort, pressure relief and support. Read our mattress methodology for more.

We also look at the length of trial offered, as this is a vital aspect of boosting your confidence when buying a new bed online. That’s why the best mattress in a box brands offer trials of at least 100 nights, giving you ample time to make sure you’ve made the right choice.

Thanks to innovative packaging methods, a bed-in-a-box is compressed with a heavy weight then rolled and wrapped in tough plastic before being packed into a reinforced cardboard box. This makes it easier to ship, so all you have to do is unbox the mattress and let it decompress for a few hours before sleeping on it.

In this guide, you'll find the top-rated mattress in a box options for all budgets, with prices starting from under $200 - we've searched the mattress sales to bring you the cheapest prices below, ahead of the Labour Day mattress sales in September.

The best mattress in a box in 2022

best mattress in a box: the Nectar Memory Foam Mattress on a light wooden bed frame

(Image credit: Nectar)
The best mattress in a box for most people - it's incredible value

Specifications

Firmness (1-10): 6.5
Material: Memory foam
Height: 12 inches
Sizes: 6 (twin - Cal king)
Availability: Online, and in 1,500 retailers
Trial length: 365 days
Warranty: Lifetime
Best for: All sleepers
RRP: $898 - $1,598

Reasons to buy

+
Comes with $399 of free gifts
+
Outstanding value for money
+
Comfortable and supportive
+
One-year trial period

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks bounce

Nectar’s incredibly popular five-layer all-foam mattress has nabbed the top spot in our best mattress in a box guide because it’s exceptional value for money, delivering premium materials at an extremely competitive price. 

We tested the medium-firm mattress for two months and loved it. The memory foam offers a fantastic balance of softness and firmness, providing luxury comfort without the feeling of sinking into the mattress. When our reviewers lay down, the mattress contoured to their bodies, providing full, tailored support and helping align their spines, while cushioning pressure points like shoulders and hips. We also noticed good edge support and very little motion transfer - making it a particularly good choice for couples.  

You're unlikely to overheat at night too, because this award-winning mattress has a quilted cooling cover on top, followed by a gel memory foam layer to help you sleep cool. There's then a layer of hi-core memory foam for extra support so you don’t sink into the mattress. Finally, a base layer helps stabilize the sleeper, and a bottom mattress cover keeps it from slipping on your bed frame or floor. 

Where the Nectar Memory Foam mattress really stands out, though, is value for money. It’s often generously discounted, making it considerably cheaper than rivals including Casper and Purple. Right now, there's up to $400 off - and it comes with $399-worth of free sleep accessories too (luxury pillows, a mattress protector and sheets). There's also a generous one-year trial period to decide whether it's right for you, and a lifetime warranty. When it comes to sheer value for money, we think it's the best memory foam mattress (opens in new tab) you can buy. 

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Nectar mattress: Save $100 + get $499 of free gifts (opens in new tab)
This deal knocks $100 off the price of Nectar's Memory Foam Mattress in a box and you'll get up to $499 worth of free bedding thrown in. Choose your mattress size and the discount will be automatically added, with your free cooling pillow, mattress protector and sheets set bundled in.

best mattress in a box: the GhostBed Luxe mattress on a light gray fabric bed base

(Image credit: GhostBed)

2. GhostBed Luxe mattress

The best mattress in a box for couples

Specifications

Firmness (1-10): 5.5
Material: Memory foam
Depth: 13 inches
Sizes: 7 (twin - split king)
Availability: Online
Trial length: 101 days
Warranty: 25 years
Best for: All sleepers
RRP: $1,795 - $3,900

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptionally high quality
+
Superb pressure relief
+
Sleeps cool

Reasons to avoid

-
May be too soft for some 

The GhostBed Luxe mattress is a premium all-foam mattress that's jam-packed with cooling tech, making it one of the best mattress in a box options for anyone who overheats at night. GhostBed call it 'the coolest bed in the world' - and plenty of industry reviewers agree, voting it as the best mattress for hot sleepers. 

The cooling happens in two stages. On top, a luxurious quilted cover is made from cool-to-touch 'Ghost Ice' fabric and cooling fibres, with one-inch of gel memory foam to promote airflow and breathability. Under this, a two-inch layer of thermo-sensitive foam responds to your body temperature and adjusts to keep you cool all night long. The rest of the mattress is made up of responsive, contouring memory foam and supportive foam layers, which soothe pressure points and alleviate back pain, making you feel like you're floating.

According to user reviewers, the Ghostbed Luxe has good edge support, so you can maximize every inch of the mattress, making this bed in a box feel wider than it actually is. Recurring comments include that the mattress feels extremely comfortable and luxurious, has helped with back pain, and is good at reducing motion transfer - so you won't feel a partner moving around.

Bear in mind that the Ghostbed Luxe can take up to 24 hours to fully expand and adjust to your bedroom’s temperature. It's also slightly softer than the original GhostBed, so if you prefer a firmer mattress you may wish to choose that version instead. (Like the sound of this but out of your budget? Try the Cocoon Chill Memory Foam mattress further down the page or check out our best cooling mattress guide.)

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GhostBed Luxe mattress: Save 30% + two free pillows (opens in new tab)
This deal gives you a luxe cooling mattress for 30% off, and like the Nectar offer you’ll get two free pillows (but Nectar offers more free gifts). A queen size GhostBed Luxe now costs $1,677 (was $2,585), saving you $908. You also get a 25-year warranty and a 101-night risk-free trial.

best mattress in a box: the Helix Midnight Luxe boxed mattress with a black base and white top

(Image credit: Helix)

3. Helix Midnight Luxe bed-in-a-box

The best hybrid mattress in a box

Specifications

Material: Memory foam and coils
Firmness (1-10): 5.5
Depth: 14 inches
Sizes: 6 (twin - Cal king
Availability: Online and in show rooms
Trial length: 100 nights
Warranty: 15 years
Best for: Side sleepers
RRP: $1,099 - $2,349

Reasons to buy

+
Zoned coils support hips
+
Great for side sleepers
+
Bouncier than all-foam mattresses

Reasons to avoid

-
Some find it too firm

The Helix Midnight Luxe is a side sleeper mattress, designed to provide pressure relief to shoulders and hips, to help you sleep comfortably throughout the night on your side. (Like most bed-in-a-box mattresses though, it's good for sleeping in all positions.) 

The Helix Midnight Luxe is two inches taller than the company's standard mattresses. It's a medium firmness, with zoned lumbar support for enhanced contouring, and a premium quilted pillow top with an ultra-breathable Tencel cover that aims to help aids airflow, so you sleep cool throughout the night. This hybrid bed-in-a-box mattress also boasts a layer of 1,000 wrapped coils for optimal spinal alignment and increased pressure relief. 

Users like that this top-rated hybrid mattress feels bouncy and balanced, and does a good job of contouring to the body. The Helix Midnight Luxe also gets high marks for its lack of motion transfer, and the extra support makes it a great choice for heavier people too. It isn’t cheap but users report that it is durable, so it should be a good investment. 

Alternatively, if you can't stretch to the Luxe, try the standard version instead. It's almost $400 cheaper and we loved it when we tested it - you can read our Helix Midnight mattress review for more.

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Helix Midnight Luxe: Up to $200 off + two free pillows (opens in new tab)
You can save $200 on the queen size (now $1,849), with $200 off the full ($1,549) in the new Helix mattress sale (opens in new tab). You’ll get two free down-alternative pillows with your order too, but GhostBed is offering the biggest savings so take a second look at that deal if you’re undecided.

best mattress in a box: the Cocoon by Sealy Chill boxed mattress shown with a woman sitting and smiling on top of it

(Image credit: Cocoon by Sealy)
The most affordable cooling mattress in a box

Specifications

Type: mattress in a box
Firmness (1-10): 6
Material: memory foam
Height: 10 inches
Availability: online
Trial length: 100 days
Warranty: 10 years
Best for: all sleepers
MSRP: $769 - $1,539

Reasons to buy

+
Great temperature-regulation
+
Luxury contouring
+
Fully supportive

Reasons to avoid

-
Some may it find too soft

The Cocoon Chill Memory Foam is easily one of the best budget cooling mattresses around. This mattress in a box is made by industry giant and household name Sealy - and it's the perfect option for anyone who liked the sound of the luxury Ghostbed above, but couldn't justify the cost. 

Designed to adapt to your body to provide tailored support all over, this medium-firm mattress has three different foam layers, including luxury memory foam for deep contouring, responsive comfort foam to reduce motion transfer and prevent you sinking into the mattress, and a durable support layer. 

However, the headline feature is Sealy’s advanced phase-change material, which is infused into a high-end, stretch-knit cooling cover. This does an excellent job of regulating temperature throughout the night - we slept on it for two weeks, and even our hot sleeper didn't overheat once - and helps this mattress stand out from similarly priced rivals. Its high performance is also confirmed by many of the over 5,000 customers who have given it five-star reviews on the Cocoon By Sealy website (it averages an impressive score of 4.7 out of 5 from over 9,000 user reviews). 

At 10-inches deep the Cocoon Chill is a decent height, but bear in mind that its memory foam layer is one inch thinner than the Nectar Memory Foam mattress above - if you weigh more than 230lbs you may sink through to the firmer support layers. For most people, though, this won't be an issue. 

Overall, we were impressed with the comfort and cooling abilities of the mattress, and gave it superior marks for motion isolation. There's no denying you get a lot for your money here. If you're looking for an affordable medium-firm memory foam mattress, there's a lot to like about the Cocoon Chill. It's also one of the best budget mattresses for hot sleepers seeking cooling comfort at night.

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Cocoon Chill mattress: save 35% + free bedding (opens in new tab)
Sealy’s new sale is similar to last month’s deal with 35% off all Chill mattresses. You’ll also get two free pillows and a sheets set worth up to $199 thrown in, increasing your overall savings up to $739, depending on the size you buy.

best mattress in a box: the Zinus Pressure Relief Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress in white shown on a dark bed frame

(Image credit: Zinus)
The best cheap mattress in a box for very tight budgets

Specifications

Firmness (1-10): 5.9-6.6
Material: Memory foam
Depth: 6-12 inches
Sizes: 7 (twin - split king)
Availability: Online
Trial length: 100 nights
Warranty: 10 years
Best for: All sleepers
RRP: $151 - $464

Reasons to buy

+
Best-selling mattress on Amazon
+
Charcoal particles minimize odor
+
Four different thickness options
+
Excellent value

Reasons to avoid

-
Some find it too firm

We'll make this clear from the start: the Zinus Green Tea isn't the best mattress in a box in our guide - it has few of the bells and whistles found in the other options here, and there are questions over its long-term durability. However, if you're looking for a budget option, it's one of the best low-cost mattresses out there.

The Zinus Green Tea is the top-rated memory foam mattress on Amazon, with an average score of 4.4 out of 5 from over 100,000 user reviews. It uses green tea-infused memory foam and purified charcoal particles to neutralize odors, and comes in a range of different thickness options: 6, 8, 10 and 12 inches. 

The cheapest is the 6 inch: you could get a queen-size delivered to your front door for around $200. We tested the 10-inch version - which starts from $217 - for three months and found it to be very comfortable and supportive, with good edge support and minimal motion transfer, so you won’t be disturbed by a restless partner. (In case you’re wondering, no, it doesn’t smell of tea…)

There are a few questions about long-term durability: we don’t know how this mattress will perform after a few years of use. It’s not the best choice if you overheat at night, either - a few of our reviewers became uncomfortably warm. But the fantastic price is, of course, where this mattress really stands out. It isn’t often you can buy a quality king size mattress for under $300. If you're looking for a budget mattress in a box, the Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam mattress is worth considering. Before buying, read our how to return a mattress to Amazon guide to get clued up on the returns process so you know what to expect should you change your mind.

best mattress in a box: a woman with curly dark hair sleeps on her side on the The Purple Mattress

(Image credit: Purple)
The most innovative bed-in-a-box mattress in the US

Specifications

Firmness (1-10): 6-7
Material: Foam
Depth: 9.25 inches
Availability: Online and in store
Trial length: 100 days
Warranty: 10 years
Best for: All sleepers
RRP : $699 - $1,798

Reasons to buy

+
Super responsive
+
Excellent temperature regulation 
+
Ultra durable 

Reasons to avoid

-
Cover not machine washable 

The Purple mattress is one of the best-known mattresses in a box. It's extremely popular, thanks to its innovative 'Purple Grid' technology, which is designed to flex under your body’s pressure points, providing tailored support right where you need it most. The Purple grid doesn't just offer high-end support though. This hyper-elastic, gel-like grid (which looks like an empty ice cube tray) has thousands of air channels inside it, helping you sleep cool

Inside the Purple Mattress there's two inches of the Purple grid, followed by a dual-layer comfort base for support. Many users comment that it took them some time to get used to the unique feeling of the Purple mattress - especially if they were previously sleeping on an innerspring mattress. Though it proved very popular as a mattress for side sleepers. Purple itself advises giving the mattress 21 days to get used to it.

Still, the Purple mattress has an excellent average score of 4.4 out of 5 from over 25,000 user reviews on the Purple website. It’s rated similarly on Amazon, with 4.3 out of 5 (from a much smaller user review pool). Many people report that it relieved their pressure points and eased joint pain, and lots of people say that since switching to the Purple mattress they've been sleeping far better than they were before. We think for couples, especially, and anyone who overheats at night, the flagship Purple mattress is one of the best mattress in a box options out there. Read our Nectar vs Purple if you can't choose between the brands.

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Purple Mattress: from $799 $695 at Purple (opens in new tab)
Save up to $503
- This is one of the biggest savings we've seen on the Purple Original mattress this year, making now an excellent time to buy the brand's flagship mattress. A queen size is discounted to $1,095 (was $1,399) in the new Purple mattress sale (opens in new tab), and you'll have 100 nights to trial it.

Best mattress in a box: The Birch Luxe Natural Mattress on a light wooden frame and dressed with white pillows and a green bed throw

(Image credit: Birch Living)

7. Birch Natural Mattress

The best mattress in a box for people with allergies

Specifications

Firmness (1-10): 5-6
Material: : wool, natural latex, cotton, and steel
Depth: 11 inches
Availability: Online and in store
Trial length: 100 days
Warranty: 25 years
Best for: All sleepers
RRP: $1,249 - $1,999

Reasons to buy

+
Natural and organic materials
+
Hypoallergenic
+
Comfy yet supportive

Reasons to avoid

-
Might be too firm for lighter bodies

This eco-friendly hybrid mattress from Birch by Helix sits in our best organic mattress guide and features an organic cotton cover, plus a layer of organic wool and breathable natural Talalay latex to help maintain healthy airflow and keep you cool as you sleep. And with hypoallergenic non-toxic materials, this is a safe surface to sleep on too. 

A layer of hundreds of individual steel coils also work to cradle your body and offer plenty of support for your spine, while also keeping motion transfer to a minimum. The Birch mattress has a luxury medium-firm feel, making it perfect for all sleeping styles. 

Because the Birch is at the higher end of the market, the cost naturally reflects this and prices start at $1,249 for a Twin, but with generous discounts and sales available throughout the year, it’s easy to pick up one of these excellent mattresses for even less.

Handmade in the USA, Birch offers free shipping to US customers as well as a 100-night sleep trial. There is also a 25-year warranty on the mattress – an indication of the brand’s trust in this organic bed in a box.

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Birch Natural Mattress: save $400 + two free pillows (opens in new tab)
Birch by Helix normally offers good savings on its market-leading natural bed-in-a-box, and the current sale saves you up to $550. That's $400 off the mattress, plus two free Eco-Rest premium pillows worth $150. With the saving, a queen size Birch Natural Mattress costs $1,399 (was $1,799).

best mattress in a box: the Amerisleep AS2 shown with a blue base and placed on a light grey fabric bed base

(Image credit: Amerisleep)

8. Amerisleep AS2 mattress

The best mattress in a box for back pain

Specifications

Firmness (1-10): 6.5
Material: Memory foam
Depth: 12 inches
Availability: Online and in store
Trial length: 100 days
Warranty: 20 years
Best for: Back and stomach sleepers
RRP : $1,249 - $2,298

Reasons to buy

+
Very responsive
+
Ultra durable
+
Cooling

Reasons to avoid

-
Side sleepers may prefer the AS3
-
Some say edge support could be better

The AmeriSleep AS2 is our go-to mattress for back pain relief. This 12-inch medium-firm mattress is designed for back and stomach sleepers, and blends targeted, responsive support with contouring comfort to deliver enhanced pressure relief. 

Underneath a soft, ultra-breathable and cooling cover, the AS2 mattress uses a plant-based Bio-Pur foam to relieve pressure points. This open-cell foam is more breathable and responsive than traditional memory foam, so it’ll keep you cooler through the night while it supports your body. Next comes a layer of ‘Hive’ foam - lots of flexible foam hexagons grouped into comfort zones that ease tension and deliver extra support and cushioning under your head, shoulders, back, hips, knees, and lower legs. Finally, a durable base foam is designed to prevent sagging and keep you from sinking in. AmeriSleep puts its money where its mouth is here, with a 20-year warranty. 

The AS2 is highly rated on the Amerisleep site, with an average of 4.7/5 stars from over 3,000 user reviews, and 97% of respondents say they would recommend the mattress to a friend (March 2021). Some customers comment that they no longer have chronic back pain and many agree that it’s a high-quality product. 

If you’re a side-sleeper with back pain, you may find the AS2 doesn't offer quite the right targeted support - we'd recommend the Amerisleep AS3 (opens in new tab) or AS4 (opens in new tab) instead. And if you prefer a softer mattress, the AS2 may be too firm - again, the AS3 will be a better choice. But if you’re a back sleeper, or suffering from back pain, the Amerisleep AS2 could be just what you need.   

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AmeriSleep AS2 mattress: up to $450 off at Amerisleep (opens in new tab)
From $599
- AmeriSleep’s AS2 mattress (all-foam or hybrid version) is up to $450 off when you use the code AS450. This is the biggest discount we've seen on the AS2 boxed mattress for back support and cooler sleep. That reduces the price of a queen size to $849 (was $1,299) - a great price for a medium-firm mattress side and back sleepers.

best mattress in a box: a man and his baby relax on the Avocado Green Mattress

(Image credit: Avocado)

9. Avocado Green Mattress

The best eco-friendly mattress in a box

Specifications

Firmness (1-10): 7
Material: Organic foam and coils
Depth: 11 inches
Availability: Online
Trial length: 365 days
Warranty: 25 years
Best for: All sleepers
RRP : $899 - $1,799

Reasons to buy

+
All natural materials
+
Very little motion transfer

Reasons to avoid

-
Some side sleepers find too firm
-
Expensive materials

If you're looking for an eco-friendly, all-natural mattress, we think the Avocado Green is the best mattress in a box you can buy. The company uses quality, organic ingredients - there's no polyester, polyurethane foams, or toxic fire retardants - to produce a premium mattress that's GreenGuard Gold Certified, which means that it meets high standards for low emissions. 

Made from 100%certified organic latex, wool and cotton, the Avocado Green mattress offers plush cushioning, and ranks highly amongst users for its strong support. A zoned, pressure-point support system gives proper back support, while recycled steel coils help align your back and distribute your weight. Plus, an optional organic wool pillow top version will help regulate your body temperature.

If you've got a higher budget and eco-friendly credentials are particularly important, then Avocado's Latex mattress (opens in new tab) is the company's most sustainable - it isn't just 100% organic certified and non-toxic, but it's biodegradable too. However, it's more expensive (a queen costs $1,799 - that's $300 more), which is why, on balance, we recommend the Avocado Green as the best bed in a box in the all-natural category. The brand also makes the best mattress topper pick for you if you want all-natural bedding.

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Avocado Green Mattress: from $1,399 $1,199 at Avocado Green (opens in new tab)
Save 10% - The Avocado mattress sale (opens in new tab) for summer is offering $200 off its flagship mattress in a box. At the same time, the brand has increased prices on all its mattresses. Last month a queen size was down to $1,529.10 (from $1,699), but this month it costs $1,599 (was $1,799). So there isn't a huge difference in price if you need the mattress urgently, and you'll have a year to trial it at home.

Best mattress in a box: The Layla Mattress in a box placed on a black bed frame and sat next to a wood and fabric chair

(Image credit: Layla Sleep)

10. Layla Memory Foam Mattress

The best mattress in a box for pressure relief

Specifications

Firmness (1-10): 4 and 7
Material: Foam, copper (cover – polyester, viscose, lycra)
Depth: 10.5 inches
Availability: Online
Trial length: 120 days
Warranty: Lifetime
Best for: All sleepers
RRP: $749 - $1,249

Reasons to buy

+
Relieves pressure on hips and back
+
Cooling copper technology
+
Choice of firmness

Reasons to avoid

-
The firm option is very firm

This versatile mattress in a box has twice the value for money with a soft side and a firm side to give you precise levels of comfort. Made in the USA, the Layla Mattress uses copper-gel infused foam to offer variable support as the copper reacts to pressure, delivering support where the body needs it most. The copper is also microbial and helps keep you cool, carrying heat away from your body for sleep that is not only more restful but refreshing too.

At the core of the mattress is a layer of Max AirFlow support foam and 4.5 inches of support foam for superb motion-transfer control and a little bounce too, no matter what side you choose to sleep on. The cover has reactive cooling that responds to your body temperature keeping it at a comfortable level for sleep. The cover is also removable and can be dry-cleaned, so whether you sleep on the firm side or the soft side you can stay feeling fresh. You can also buy replacement covers from Layla.

Layla offers a risk-free 120-night trial so you can try out the mattress on both sides to see which suits you best. Delivery is prompt and free within the lower 48 states. However, shipping charges to Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada may apply at checkout. The Layla Mattress in a box comes with a lifetime warranty.

Find the latest offers on the Layla Sleep coupon codes page. 

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Layla Mattress: from $749 $599 at Layla (opens in new tab)
Save up to $150 + two free pillows - The new Layla mattress sale saves you up to $150 on the original Layla mattress in a box, with prices now starting from $599 (was $749). A queen size costs $949 (was $1,099), and there are bigger savings of over $400 (opens in new tab) on Layla memory foam mattress bundles. You'll also get two free Layla pillows with your purchase.

How we test mattresses

The Tom’s Guide mattress review process is editorially independent and not influenced by any third parties. Our expert mattress testers sleep on each mattress for at least three weeks - that's roughly how long it takes for your body to get used to a new mattress - and spend hours scientifically testing the performance of each product.  

Mattress firmness is subjective, so each lead reviewer also forms a trusted and experienced testing panel made up of people with different sleep needs and body types. We have side sleepers, back sleepers and stomach sleepers, with lighter, average and heavier bodies, who rate each mattress using a specific set of performance criteria. 

Together, these processes enable us to produce accurate, well-balanced and data-backed mattress reviews, to help you easily decide whether the mattress you’re interested in really is the best choice for you. Read our full mattress methodology for more.

Mattress in a box FAQs

How to choose the best mattress in a box

With more and more options available for buying a mattress in a box, it’s now easier than ever to find something that suits your sleeping position, body weight and any particular needs you might have when it comes to getting a restful night’s sleep. 

Things to look out for when buying a bed-in-a-box online include:

Features – If you need extra features from a mattress to help you sleep, then there’ll be something for you, whether you sleep hot, need more pressure relief, or extra support for backache. Plenty of mattresses now come with innovative tech and eco-friendly materials too, so whatever your concerns, it should be covered.

Firmness – just like standard mattresses, beds in a box come in a variety of firmnesses. If you know you will likely need a firmer mattress for instance, check before you buy to ensure you are getting the most comfortable choice for you.

The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress, shown on a light wooden bed frame, is one of the best-selling mattresses in a box

(Image credit: Nectar Sleep)

Trial period and free delivery/returns – many top brands offer mattress trials on their mattresses, giving you the chance to try the mattress out for yourself. It’s always a good idea to take advantage of trial periods, and if you decide the mattress isn’t for you, check that you can get a full refund. 

This takes a lot of the stress out of buying a mattress online, especially if the mattress is expensive. Also check if the company offers free returns so there’ll be no surprises if you do need to send the mattress back.

Reviews – online reviews often give you extra information about the mattress, including feedback after a few weeks’ use and a closer assessment of the feel and comfort for different body weights. If you have decided on a boxed mattress, compare a few user reviews on the brand websites with those elsewhere too.

What is a mattress in a box?

A mattress in a box is a memory foam or hybrid mattress that has been machine-compressed into a smaller size, tightly rolled, then packed into a tough cardboard box for shipping to your home. Shipping times vary by brand, but you can get a boxed mattress as fast as within two working days.

Once that box arrives at your door, your job is to unbox it. Each mattress in a box is covered in a reinforced plastic cover, and many brands give you a tool to slice through that covering more easily. Once the mattress has been fully unpacked, pop it on your bed base where it will begin to regain its full shape. 

While they are the same as regular mattresses once fully decompressed, a mattress in a box takes anywhere from a few hours to a few days to be ready to sleep on. Emma mattresses, for example, are ready to sleep on in a few hours, while Nectar mattresses take up to 72 hours.

You may notice a bit of a smell at first, but this mattress off-gassing is normal. Just open the windows and it should soon pass, leaving you to enjoy your comfy new bed. To care for your new mattress in a box, cover it with one of the best mattress protectors to safeguard against stains.

Casper has been credited with making beds-in-a-box popular since its launch nearly 10 years ago, and now we also have the likes of Purple, Layla, Nectar, Helix and many others. 

In terms of warranty, coverage ranges from 10 years to a Forever Warranty (Nectar and DreamCloud), but we’d advise you to check the small print so that you know what will and won’t be covered. For further guidance, read our feature on how do mattress warranties work.

Are mattresses in a box any good?

Not all boxed mattresses are made equal, and some, such as those featured in our guide, are infinitely better than others. That’s why we put in the hours reviewing the best beds-in-a-box to help you quickly sort the great ones from the ones to avoid. 

It’s easy to look at the cheaper price tags of some mattresses in a box and dismiss them as being too cheap to be supportive or comfortable, but that simply isn’t the case. We have spent hundreds of hours sleeping on some of the top boxed mattresses and find them equally as comfortable as traditional mattresses sold in store. 

Some of them are just as premium too, with luxury materials and innovative technologies packed in to help you stay cool and to relieve pressure in your preferred sleeping position. So whether you’re after the best mattress for side sleepers, or one for back or stomach snoozing, you’ll no doubt come across a mattress in a box that does the job well and for a reasonable price. 

Image shows an Emma mattress packaging tool supplied with each mattress in a box so that you can cut through the plastic easily

(Image credit: Future)

How to open a bed-in-a-box

The best way to unbox your new mattress is to follow the instructions provided by the mattress manufacturer. As these guidelines are similar, we can provide you with some general guidance here. The main difference between brands is how long they recommend that you leave the bed-in-a-box to inflate before you sleep on it. 

For example, Emma Sleep says that its Original memory foam mattress is ready to sleep on within 60 minutes, while the Nectar Mattress can take up to 72 hours to decompress fully. 

Allowing your mattress in a box the time it needs to properly inflate (decompress) means that it will be in the best position to properly support your body. If you use the mattress before the manufacturer says it’s ready to sleep on, you may damage the materials and risk voiding your warranty.

In general, here’s how to open a mattress in a box:

  • Take it through to your bedroom of choice
  • Open the top of the cardboard box and remove any printed instructions or packaging cutting tools (see image above for an example)
  • Now lay the cardboard box on its side
  • Pull the rolled mattress out of the box so that it’s resting on the floor
  • If you have been given a packaging cutting tool, use this to carefully cut through the tough plastic covering the mattress. Some brands, like Avocado Green, wrap their mattresses in paper, which is easy to remove.
  • One the boxed mattress is out of its protective packaging, place it onto your bed frame because it will start inflating (decompressing) immediately.
  • Open a window to let the smell of off-gassing dissipate.
  • Leave the mattress to decompress for the number of minutes or hours stated by the brand you purchased it from.

When is the best time to buy a mattress in a box?

There are definitely key periods throughout the year when it’s better to buy a boxed mattress, and chief among these is the Black Friday mattress deals, where prices are at their lowest and discounts are at their highest. 

These often roll over into Cyber Monday mattress deals, which is the first Monday immediately following Black Friday, and you may even see some higher discounts on Cyber Monday when brand’s mount last-ditch efforts to attract your custom before Christmas.

Beyond that, the Memorial Day mattress sales in May are another key time to buy a mattress in a box for less than normal, with retailers looking to shift older stock before new ranges arrive. 

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Diana is a trained journalist and experienced editor in the health and wellbeing and lifestyle sectors. Diana has created content for a range of leading brands including Real Simple, Bloomberg, Headspace, and WebMD. For Tom’s Guide Diana currently focuses on sleep, mattresses, and fitness equipment. 

With contributions from