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The best mattress 2021: top options for all budgets

best mattress 2021: Nectar Memory Foam
(Image credit: Nectar)

Choosing the best mattress for your sleep and budget is easier than ever and that’s because there are so many good mattresses to pick from now. We know this because we have spent hundreds of hours reviewing the latest models, including tried and tested classics that still stand the test of time. We have slept on them and have analyzed feedback from thousands of user reviews, leading us to rank the very top mattresses here to help you find your dream pick.

Our expert best mattress guide contains everything you need to help you make a good choice, with mattresses to suit all budgets, from cheap and cheerful to hotel luxury in your own bedroom. If you need constant pressure relief or are dealing with back pain, look at the memory foam mattresses featured below. Hybrids are a good choice too, as these combine the body-cradling magic of foam with the support of coils. We’ve also found reliable cooling mattresses for hot sleepers, plus organic models that are non-toxic and allergy friendly. Proper spinal support and full body comfort are our main criteria, so expect that from each mattress below.

All of the models in our best mattress guide are available to buy online and because these brands don’t have the cost of bricks and mortar stores, they are priced much cheaper. Some manufacturers will also give you free bedding with your purchase, offering more value for money. In just a few clicks you can have a new mattress delivered to your front door… or your bedroom if you choose a brand that offers white glove delivery service. And if you change your mind, the company will collect it and refund you.

Our best tip is to choose a mattress maker that offers a risk-free trial of at least 30 nights (all our top picks come with at least 100 nights). Why? Because it can take your body around three weeks to get used to a new mattress. We also recommend looking for a discount before buying.

Most of the picks in our best mattress guide are usually on offer, and to help you save we’ve rounded-up the latest mattress deals on our top foam, hybrid and latex models.

The best mattress in 2021 - as rated by experts

best mattress: Nectar Memory Foam

(Image credit: Nectar)

1. Nectar Memory Foam Mattress

The best mattress overall - it's exceptional value for money

Type: mattress in a box
Firmness (1-10): 6.5
Material: memory foam
Height: 12 inches
Availability: online and some retailers
Trial length: 365 days
Warranty: lifetime
Best for: all sleepers
MSRP: $798 - $1,398
Reasons to buy
+Very comfortable and supportive+Outstanding value for money+Huge trial and forever warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Not as bouncy as a spring mattress

The popular Nectar Memory Foam mattress is tough to beat when it comes to sheer value for money. This all-foam, medium-firm, mattress in a box delivers superb comfort and support - and for a lot less than the competition. We tested it for two months and loved sleeping on it. The five layers of foam contour to your body, providing excellent pressure relief around your shoulders, hips and back, while also helping align your spine. We also found temperature regulation to be very good for a memory foam mattress. We didn’t overheat once at night, even during the hot summer months. 

This mattress is a very good choice for couples. It absorbs motion well, so you won’t be disturbed by a restless partner. We found the edge support to be good too. We could sleep comfortably right up to the perimeter, which made it feel wider. 

Where the Nectar Memory Foam mattress really stands out, of course, is value. Thanks to a permanent $400 discount on most sizes, it’s dramatically cheaper than the competition, undercutting Casper and Purple by a few hundred dollars - and comes with $399-worth of free gifts too. There’s also an industry-leading year-long trial, free shipping and returns, and a lifetime warranty, all of which makes it a very compelling proposition indeed.

Memory foam isn’t for everyone, so if you like the sound of the Nectar mattress (and want the free gifts) but prefer to sleep on top of your mattress rather than sinking into it, we'd recommend the hybrid DreamCloud at number seven. And if you have a bigger budget to play with, the luxury innerspring Saatva Classic mattress at number two is outstanding. But Nectar beats them all on value for money: if you’re looking for an extremely comfortable mattress and want the most bang for your buck, it's easily the best mattress around.

Nectar Memory Foam mattress: Save $400 + $399 of free gifts
From $499 - While this is roughly the same offer Nectar runs each month, it’s still the best mattress deal you’ll come across. It offers a big discount on the popular Nectar Memory Foam Mattress and gives you three free sleep gifts, including pillows and soft sheets, worth $399. Fantastic value.
View Deal

Best mattress: Saatva ClassicTop Pick

(Image credit: Saatva)

2. Saatva Classic mattress

The best luxury mattress - hotel comfort for less than its rivals

Type: traditional
Firmness (1-10): 3, 5.5, or 8
Material: hybrid (coils and foam)
Height: 11.5 or 14.5 inches
Availability: online
Trial length: 180 days
Best for: all sleepers
Warranty: 15-year limited
MSRP: $849 - $2,099
Reasons to buy
+Can customize firmness and height+More affordable than luxury rivals +Free white glove delivery
Reasons to avoid
-$99 fee to refund or exchange 

The flagship Saatva Classic is a premium, hotel-quality mattress from luxury online brand Saatva. On quality alone, it’s the best mattress we’ve tested so far - the only reason it doesn’t take the top spot in our guide is the $1,000-plus price tag. But if you have the budget, this high-end hybrid innerspring is a sound investment and delivers a stunning night’s sleep.

One big selling point is how customizable it is. The Saatva Classic comes in soft, medium and firm versions, and your choice of height: 11.5 or 14.5 inches. We tested the 11.5-inch luxury firm option and were impressed: premium, eco-friendly foams and a plush pillow top provide soft cushioning, while a super-durable, dual steel coil system delivers exceptional support for your lower back. The Saatva Classic has been awarded a Seal of Approval from the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations, and the luxury firm option is a great choice for anyone suffering from back pain. 

We love how buoyant this mattress is: you won’t sink into it while you sleep, which is good news for anyone who tends to overheat at night - we consistently slept cool. (If you do want the ‘hugging’ sensation that comes with memory foam, you’ll be better off with the Nectar above, or the Cocoon Chill at number six.) It's also durable. Some of our reviewers are one year in now, and their mattress is still performing well. Edge support, in particular, is as firm as it was 12 months ago, and we'd recommend it for anyone who struggles to get in and out of bed.

All this quality comes at a cost, of course. The Saatva Classic isn’t the cheapest option in our best mattress guide - but it is very good value for a premium mattress, undercutting its luxury hybrid rivals by up to a few hundred dollars. Plus it comes with free white glove delivery to the room of your choice, and a 180-night trial. If you're looking for pure luxury at an affordable price, this is it.

Saatva Classic mattress: save up to $400 on mattresses
From $887 - Saatva's Black Friday in October Sale saves you up to $400 on your order, depending on the total value. For example, you'll get $100 off orders worth $1,000 to $1,499, $250 off orders worth $2,000 to $2,4999, and $400 off orders worth $3,500 or more. You could use the bigger discount to buy a mattress and a matching base for less if you are looking to upgrade both. A queen size Saatva Classic now costs $1,595 (last month it was $1,574), which is the highest price we've seen on it yet. So if you don’t need it urgently, perhaps wait to see if prices drop. But if you do need it now, this is still a good deal on an excellent mattress.View Deal

best mattress: Tuft & Needle

(Image credit: Tuft & Needle)

3. Tuft & Needle Original Mattress

The best mattress for smaller budgets

Type: mattress in a box
Firmness (1-10): 6
Material: foam
Height: 10 inches
Availability: online and retail showrooms
Trial length: 100 days
Warranty: 10-year limited
Best for: all sleepers
MSRP: $350 - $750
Reasons to buy
+Customers rave about the service+Good for overall pressure relief+Experienced company
Reasons to avoid
-Edge support isn't great

The Tuft & Needle Original mattress is a very good budget mattress. It isn’t the cheapest in our guide - that’s the Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam mattress at number 10 - but when it comes to balancing performance with price, this no-frills mattress has a lot to offer. 

Made from two layers of foam, the Tuft & Needle Original is a surprisingly supportive medium-firm mattress. There’s no memory foam here, so you don’t get the contouring you’d expect from the other options in our best mattress guide, but we found T&N’s adaptive foam to be responsive, with good cushioning and pressure relief for back and side sleeping. 

Stomach sleeping wasn’t quite as comfortable, however - we’d have liked a little more support. Also, it’s worth noting that despite the mattress’s various cooling features (graphite and cooling gel), we woke up in a sweat a few times. If you're prone to overheating and need a budget mattress, we'd recommend a hybrid instead, such as the Allswell mattress at number nine.

Still, despite a few complaints about indents appearing after a year or so of use, the Tuft & Needle Original mattress has racked up over 40,000 positive user reviews across the T&N site, Amazon, Google and Yelp. And that’s because it's good at the basics. If you can do without the bells and whistles of more premium options, it’s a top choice for a budget mattress.

Tuft & Needle Original mattress: save 10% on the Original
From $580.50 - This is a decent discount on a mattress that's already good value for money. While it doesn't come with free gifts like the Nectar, this 10% saving reduces the price of the queen size Tuft & Needle Original to $805.50 (was $895). Last month's discount was better at 15% off, reducing the price of a queen size to $760.75. Still, with 10% off this is a low price for a high-rated foam mattress designed to be more breathable than standard models. There's a bigger 15% discount on bedding bundles.View Deal

best mattress: Purple

(Image credit: Purple)

4. The Purple Mattress

The best mattress for hot sleepers

Type: mattress in a box
Firmness (1-10): 6
Material: foam
Height: 9.25 inches
Availability: online and some stores
Trial length: 100 days
Warranty: 10 years
Best for: All sleepers
MSRP: $649 - $1,449
Reasons to buy
+Super responsive+Excellent temperature regulation +Ultra durable 
Reasons to avoid
-Cover not machine washable 

The cooling Purple mattress offers a premium night’s sleep at a mid-range price. Made by one of the most innovative mattress brands in the US, it stands out thanks to its unique ‘Purple grid’ technology. This patented material is a dynamic, hyper-elastic gel-like foam that instantly adapts and flexes under your body to deliver tailored support right where you need it.

We gave the Purple mattress high marks across the board when we reviewed it. It was easy to order, and when it arrived it was fairly simple for two people to unpack and unroll, with no off gassing or plastic smell. It does feel different to other foam mattresses: the gel grid instantly responds to movement, cradling pressure points and aligning your spine, and springing back into place when you adjust your position. We felt like we were floating, cushioned by the soft, plush top, while also being supported by the surprisingly firm durable base layers.

The Purple mattress is a particularly good choice for couples - the grid does an excellent job of isolating movement, so you won’t be disturbed by tossing and turning. It’s also a great option for anyone who overheats at night. There are over 2,800 open air channels to allow cooling throughout the mattress, plus breathable foams and a soft flex cover help prevent heat from building up. Not everyone gets on with the Purple grid - some people report that the unique soft but supportive feel takes a while to get used to. We say it’s totally worth the wait.

Purple Mattress: save 10% on the Purple Original
From $629 - Thanks to this 10% discount you can save up to $180 on Purple's most popular cheap mattress. It's a great pick for all types of sleepers, and because it's designed with Purple Grid Technology it will keep you cool during sleep while relieving pressure on your back, hips and neck. It will also distribute your body weight evenly across the mattress, ensuring no sore points. We have seen better deals on this model, especially offers that include a free gift and money off, but even so this is a good price on one of the best mattresses in America.View Deal

best mattress: The Helix Midnight

(Image credit: Helix)

5. The Helix Midnight

The best mattress for side sleepers

Type: mattress in a box
Firmness (1-10): 6
Material: Hybrid (foam and coils)
Height: 12 inches
Availability: online
Trial length: 100 days
Warranty: 10 years
Best for: Side sleepers
MSRP: $600 - $1,249
Reasons to buy
+Very good for couples+Great edge support+Sleeps cool
Reasons to avoid
-Some reviewers found it too firm

While all the top picks in our best mattress guide are well-suited to side sleepers, only one has been specifically designed for people who prefer this sleeping position: the Helix Midnight. This medium-firm hybrid is the brand’s most popular mattress, with five layers that are designed to support your body’s contours and cushion your shoulders and hips while you're sleeping on your side. Soothing memory foam and dynamic polyfoam hug your body and relieve pressure, while hundreds of individual coils cradle your body, provide extra support, and limit motion transfer.

We particularly like Helix as a brand because aside from making brilliant mattresses, the company also has one of the best websites for buying a mattress online. If you’re doing this for the first time, you’ll find a handy sleep quiz on the site that will help you decide whether the Helix Midnight is the best mattress for your sleeping style and preferences, or whether you (and your partner) might be better suited to another model from Helix’s excellent range.

Helix mattress sale: save up to $200 + 2 free pillows
From $599
- This discount is $50 less than the maximum $200 saving we saw for Labor Day, but it’s still a generous saving on a top-rated mattress for all sleepers. Plus, you get two free Dream Pillows to boost your in-bed comfort. Spend $1,750 to get $150 off. All smaller sizes qualify for a $100 discount, with a Queen now costing $999 (was $1,099). View Deal

best mattress: Cocoon by Sealy Chill

(Image credit: Cocoon by Sealy)

6. Cocoon Chill Memory Foam mattress

The best budget cooling mattress

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: $730 - $1,310
Reasons to buy
+Great temperature-regulation+Luxury contouring+Fully supportive
Reasons to avoid
-Some may find too soft

The Cocoon Chill Memory Foam is a 10-inch deep memory foam mattress made by industry giant and household name Sealy. Designed to adapt to your body to provide tailored support all over, this medium-firm mattress has three different foam layers, with 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. 

But where the Cocoon Chill Memory Foam mattress really stands out is its high-end stretch-knit cooling cover. It’s infused with phase-change material, which absorbs and dissipates heat from your body and helps you stay sweat free all night. During the entire period in which we tested the Cocoon Chill, we didn’t overheat once - even our hot-sleeping reviewer didn’t wake up in a sweat. This feature, alone, elevates this mattress above its all-foam rivals. 

The Cocoon Chill Memory Foam mattress should be well-suited to most body types and sleeping positions. We found it especially comfortable for side sleeping, and it's a particularly good option for hot sleepers who want the 'hug' of memory foam. 

Edge support could be better, as is often the case with foam mattresses. But overall we highly recommend the Cocoon Chill Memory Foam, with top marks for its comfort and cooling abilities, and superior marks for its motion isolation and lack of sound. The price, too, is very appealing: it's permanently sold with a 35% discount - making it extremely competitive. If you're looking for an affordable, medium-firm memory foam mattress, there's a lot to like about the Cocoon Chill.

Cocoon by Sealy mattress sale: save 35% + free pillows and sheets
From $499
-  Like Saatva above, Cocoon by Sealy has extended its fall sale and it’s great value for mattress shoppers on a budget. With it you’ll save 35% on the Cocoon Chill Memory Foam mattress (a superb budget cooling mattress), and you’ll get two free pillows and a bed sheet set worth up to $199.View Deal

best mattress: The DreamCloud

(Image credit: DreamCloud)

7. The DreamCloud mattress

A brilliant hybrid alternative to the all-foam Nectar mattress

Type: mattress in a box
Firmness (1-10): 6.5
Material: hybrid (foam and coils)
Height: 14 inches
Availability: online
Trial length: 365 days
Warranty: lifetime
Best for: all sleepers
MSRP: $799 - $1,299
Reasons to buy
+Sleeps cool+Hotel-quality comfort+Responsive, innerspring feel
Reasons to avoid
-Some may it find too tall

If you liked the sound of the Nectar mattress at number one but don’t want an all-foam option, we highly recommend trying the DreamCloud. This popular, luxury hybrid mattress is sold at a lower-mid-range price: it isn't quite as plush as the premium Saatva Classic, but it's a few hundred dollars cheaper and comes with free pillows (plus free sheets and a mattress protector in the current sale too). 

At 14 inches, this medium-firm mattress is one of the tallest in our guide, and it comes packed with five generous layers that offer firm, responsive support as well as deep, soft cushioning. 

The core of the mattress consists of a layer of individually wrapped coils. These provide custom relief by adapting to your body shape, and give the DreamCloud a traditional innerspring mattress feel, with more bounce than you’ll get from an all-foam option. The springs also boost airflow, helping dissipate heat during the night. Above these sit a gel memory foam layer, which is designed to contour to your body, cradling your shoulders, hips and other pressure points. There’s also a cooling, quilted cashmere cover on top. 

Existing users love it: the DreamCloud averages a full five stars from almost 3,000 reviews on the DreamCloud website, and 4.2 out of 5 on independent review site TrustPilot, from a smaller pool of 800 users. The majority of reviewers comment on how comfortable the mattress is, how much better they sleep now, and how good the customer service is at DreamCloud. A few users say that edge support could be a little better for sitting on the side of the bed. 

Bear in mind that the DreamCloud is heavier than some other mattresses (a queen size weighs 85lbs compared to Nectar’s 74lbs, while a king size weighs 107lbs) so you’ll want two people to move it. Alternatively, in non-covid times you can pay an extra $149 for white glove delivery. We love that the DreamCloud comes with a huge 365-night trial and forever warranty. Shipping and returns are also free, which makes testing this mattress at home incredibly easy. 

DreamCloud sale: $200 off + $399 of free gifts
From $699
- The latest DreamCloud sale will net you $599 in savings, made up of $200 off the mattress, plus $399 worth of free bedding including a cooling pillow. It’s nearly as good value as the Nectar, making this luxury hybrid mattress tempting. With a year's trial and Forever Warranty, it's hard to beat.View Deal

best mattress: Avocado Green Mattress

(Image credit: Avocado)

8. Avocado Green Mattress

The best mattress for those who want to go organic

Type: mattress in a box
Firmness (1-10): 5.5
Material: hybrid (natural latex and springs)
Height: 11 inches, or 13 with pillow top
Availability: online
Trial length: 365 days
Warranty: 25 years
Best for: eco-conscious users
MSRP: $899 - $1,799
Reasons to buy
+Made with non-toxic materials+Doesn't get too hot+Very durable
Reasons to avoid
-Some motion transfer

The Avocado Green mattress is the best organic mattress you can buy. Made from non-toxic, eco-friendly materials, this high-quality hybrid mattress offers a luxurious, gentle-but-firm sleeping environment, and has outstanding green credentials. 

Customers certainly love it. The Avocado Green mattress boasts an average score of 4.7 out of 5 from over 12,000 reviews on the Avocado website. Many people praise how comfortable it is - and some say their back pain has disappeared. There are two different versions to choose between: standard, which is 11 inches deep; or pillow top, which adds an extra two inches of luxury support. 

Both are made from premium, natural materials, including ethically sourced GOLS organic certified latex, wool, and cotton (GOLS is a global textile processing standard for organic fibers). There are also 1,414 pocketed coils to distribute your weight more evenly. And it’s incredibly resilient: this is one of the most durable mattresses you can buy. If you're looking for a comfortable, supportive, and sustainably produced mattress with no chemicals, you won't find better.

Avocado sale: save $100 with code AUTUMN
From $999
- Avocado is offering $100 off its latex mattresses in the brand's Autumn sale, which is less than the $150 discount we saw last month. The Avocado Green Mattress has also increased in price again this month to the highest we have seen yet, with a queen costing $1,599 – in July it was $1,399, and in September it cost $1,449. We’d recommend holding off to see if prices drop ahead of Black Friday. But if you need a new mattress sooner and want one of the best organic options, this one is stunning.View Deal

Best mattress: Allswell Hybrid Mattress

(Image credit: Allswell)

9. The Allswell Mattress

A great-value budget hybrid mattress

Type: mattress in a box
Firmness (1-10): 5
Material: hybrid (foam and coils)
Height: 10 inches
Availability: online
Trial length: 100 days
Warranty: 10 years
Best for: lower budgets
MSRP: $265 - $475
Reasons to buy
+Good value for money +Great for kids' or guest rooms
Reasons to avoid
-Firmer than some people expected-No machine-washable cover

The Allswell is a hybrid bed-in-a-box mattress made from memory foam and coils. Backed by Walmart, it aims to deliver ‘luxury’ at a budget price - and while it doesn’t compare to mattresses that cost more, many reviewers say it does a good job for the money.

Inside, a generous layer of individually wrapped coils help reduce motion transfer, making it a good choice for couples. On top, cooling, breathable memory foam provides cushioning and extra support, while also preventing you from overheating. Allswell classifies the mattress as medium-firm.

Like the Nectar, The Allswell is a bed in a box. It'll be shipped for free and arrive at your door rolled-up in a conveniently sized box, ready to sleep on within 24-48 hours. It also comes with a 100-night trial and 10-year warranty. 

Bear in mind that some premium features have been sacrificed to achieve the budget price tag. It doesn't have a removable cover, for example. There also isn't a discount on this one in Allswell's holiday sale. Nevertheless, The Allswell mattress offers good value for money. If you're looking for a quality, budget option, it's one of the best mattresses you can buy. 

best mattress: Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam

(Image credit: Zinus)

10. Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam mattress

The best mattress under $300 - cheap and cheerful

Type: mattress in a box
Firmness (1-10): 6
Material: foam
Height: 6-12 inches
Availability: online and retail showrooms
Trial length: 100 days
Warranty: 10 years
Best for: tight budgets
MSRP: $151 - $464
Reasons to buy
+Amazon best seller+Different thickness options
Reasons to avoid
-Thicker options cost more-Some find too warm

The Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam isn’t the best mattress you can buy - let’s clear that up straight away. As you’ll have seen in this guide, there are plenty of higher-end options with luxury materials and more advanced features. But if you’re on a tight budget, or looking to furnish a spare room without breaking the bank, this Amazon best-seller is very good indeed and well worth considering. 

The Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam is an all-foam mattress. As the name suggests, it features green tea-infused memory foam, plus purified charcoal particles, which aim to neutralize odors and absorb moisture. It comes in a range of different thickness options: 6, 8, 10 and 12 inches, and the price increases with depth. 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…)

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. It's also racked up a ridiculous amount of positive user reviews on Amazon - over 100,000 (May 2021), with an impressive average score of 4.4 out of 5. 

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 all in all, we think the Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam mattress is popular for good reason. If you’re looking for affordable support and comfort, or want to give memory foam a try for the first time, it’s a top choice for the money.

How to choose the best mattress

When to change your mattress: couple sleeping in a bed facing different directions

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The only way to truly know whether a mattress is right for you is to sleep on it. That's why all the options in our best mattress guide come with a long risk-free trial - if you don't like one, you can send it back and try another. However, there are some key things to know that will help you choose the right mattress. 

Here, we'll answer some common questions people ask when buying a new mattress, and explain some key considerations to make. We'll also share our pro tips and tricks for choosing the best mattress for your budget, and recap the best-rated mattresses at the moment. 

Which is the best type of mattress?

The short answer is that there isn't a single best type of mattress. Why? Because everyone is different, so the right type for you depends on your body, your health and your sleep style. Secondly, it's because the differences between each type of mattress are increasingly negligible. Materials have advanced so much over the last five years alone that it can be difficult to notice any perceptible difference when you're sleeping on them. 

That's good news for you: it means you should be able to pick any of the options in our best mattress guide and be extremely happy with your choice - regardless of whether it's made from copper-infused memory foam, coils, cooling latex, or a cutting edge combination of all-natural materials.

However, it can be helpful to know what each mattress type is before you make your final choice. With that in mind, here we walk you though the main options, highlighting the key differences between each...

Memory foam mattresses

best mattress 2021: Nectar Memory Foam

The Nectar Memory Foam mattress has three-inches of gel memory foam (Image credit: Nectar)

Memory foam is a great option for anyone who likes to feel 'hugged' by their mattress. This material contours to your body, providing better pressure relief than spring-based options, and is excellent at absorbing motion. That last benefit alone makes it a top choice for anyone who shares a bed with a restless partner (but not the best option if you prefer some bounce in your mattress - you'll want an innerspring or hybrid instead).

One key feature of memory foam is that you sink into it - that is what provides the above-average cushioning. As with any all-foam mattress, such dense material can feel warmer at night than other options. That said, the best memory foam mattresses now come packed with special cooling materials designed to regulate your temperature while you sleep. 

If you seriously overheat at night, you may still prefer to avoid an all-foam mattress. But if you love the cushioning feel of memory foam, there are plenty of 'cooling' memory foam mattresses that are worth trying. These range in price from the budget-friendly Cocoon Chill Memory Foam mattress (from $499) to the ultra-premium Tempur-Breeze (starts at over $3,000).

Innerspring mattresses

best mattress: The Saatva Classic mattress photographed outside against a deep blue sea

Saatva's flagship innerspring mattress, the Saatva Classic, comes in three different firmness levels (Image credit: Saatva)

Innerspring mattress use a coil-based support system to provide comfort and structure. The quantity, height and design of the coils vary, and while traditionally innerspring mattresses were made with interconnected coils, the term is increasingly used to describe pocket spring mattresses. 

These feature individually wrapped coils that sit inside their own fabric pocket and can move independently - providing better pressure relief, greater comfort and more effective motion isolation. Generally speaking, the more pocket springs in a mattress the better the support. You can also use one of the best mattress toppers to instantly add an extra layer of support and comfort.

One key difference between innerspring mattresses and all-foam options is that they're buoyant: you sleep on top of them, rather than sinking into them. That's good news for hot sleepers, as it means your body heat is less likely to be trapped by the mattress, plus the springs allow more air to circulate than dense foam. Innerspring mattresses also have more bounce than all-foam options, and can be cheaper.

Hybrid mattresses

Helix Midnight mattress review

The Helix Midnight mattress marries memory foam with supportive polyfoam and a layer of wrapped coils (Image credit: Helix)

Hybrids bring you the best of both worlds: you benefit from the tailored support of memory foam, gel or latex, while also getting the subtle bounce and increased airflow of springs. The coils in hybrid mattresses are usually smaller though, and you'll often (but not always) have a thinner memory foam layer. 

Many of the best mattresses are hybrid models. They're a flexible option that make a good compromise for couples with different sleep preferences, and they're also a good choice for hot sleepers who love the cushioned feel of foam.

Latex mattresses

Avocado mattress with a clothed couple lying on it, reading books

The Avocado Green Mattress is made from GOLS organic-certified latex from the company's co-owned farmers' collectives (Image credit: Avocado)

Latex mattresses use a super durable latex foam made from natural materials, rather than synthetic materials (which memory foam mattresses are made from). If you're looking for an organic, sustainable mattress, latex is the best mattress material for you. 

It isn't as dense as memory foam, which makes latex mattresses less prone to overheating. Latex also provides good contouring and bounce. On top of that, the superb durability makes latex a fantastic investment if you want your mattress to really last, but it doesn't come cheap! 

How do I know the right mattress size?

One golden rule for choosing the right size of mattress is to make sure it's 10cm longer than the tallest person sleeping on it. Width-wise, if you're sharing a bed, you and your partner should be able to put your hands under your head without your elbows touching. If you sleep alone, you'll have the right size mattress if you can put your hands under your head without touching the edges of the mattress. So measure that distance and as long as you choose a mattress that's wider than that, you're good. 

Most of the options listed in our best mattress guide are available in twin, twin XL, full, queen, king and California king sizes. Some come in split options too, which enable you to choose a different mattress firmness to your partner. You can also find mattresses with a different level of firmness on each side (soft on one side, firm on the other).

Generally speaking, the bigger and deeper the mattress, the higher the price. Most twin mattresses cost a few hundred dollars less than the queen size, while the king and California king sizes average around $200 more than the queen size. Hybrid mattresses, luxury and premier versions generally cost a lot more than the basic/original mattress prices listed.

A woman with dark curly hair sleeps on a plush mattress and pillows

(Image credit: Getty)

How do I know the right mattress firmness?

Medium firm is consistently the most popular mattress choice - that's why most flagship mattresses fall within a range of 5-7 on the firmness scale (10 is the firmness). 

However, mattresses are subjective. Firmness and comfort depend on a wide range of factors, including your weight, height, body shape, sleeping style, temperature, and whether you experience any pain, such as in your back or hips. This means that one person's experience of a mattress is likely to be completely different to that of another person; and whether you prefer a softer or firmer mattress will be down to your individual taste. 

(That's why we use a range of different people to test our mattresses - and it's also why we look through thousands of user reviews. Keep this in mind when noting our 'firmness gauge', which ranges from 1 to 10, with 10 being the firmest - you may find a mattress to be slightly softer or firmer than we've found it.)

Nevertheless, there is some broad advice for deciding which level of mattress firmness you might be best-suited to...

1. Consider your preferred sleeping position
Back sleepers
often benefit from a medium-firm mattress. This gives the best of both worlds, providing neutral spine alignment while supporting the hips and shoulders, but without putting too much pressure on them. If a mattress is too soft, back sleepers may find their spine forming an uncomfortable 'U' shape, which creates strain.If it's too firm, the natural 'S' curve of your spine won't be supported properly. 

Side sleepers need good pressure relief on their shoulders and hips, and for their body contours to be supported. A medium to medium-soft mattress is usually a good choice. If it's too soft, though, the spine won't align properly with the shoulders and hips. Memory foam is often the best mattress choice for side sleepers due to its above-average contouring properties. 

Front sleepers tend to fare better with a firmer mattress. This helps lift the hips up so that they're in alignment with the spine, and prevents the spine from forming a 'U' shape. If it's too firm, it'll be uncomfortable - particularly for women - and won't allow the spine to curve naturally. Too soft and it can feel almost suffocating. Innerspring and hybrid mattresses can be a better choice than foam for front sleepers.

Combination sleepers should choose according to their dominant sleep position (the position you normally fall asleep in). If you don't have one, a medium firm mattress will dish out the best support and comfort across most sleeping positions.

2. Consider your body weight
Lighter sleepers who weigh below 130lbs don't sink as far into a mattress and can be well-suited to softer options as a result - between 2 and 4 on the firmness scale. However, a medium-firm mattress would also be a good choice.

People weighing between 130-230lbs are often better-suited to medium and medium-firm mattresses, between 5-7 on the firmness scale. 

Heavier sleepers who weigh above 230lbs can be well-suited to firmer mattresses, between an 8-10 rating, which prevent them sinking through the various comfort levels.

3. Use the risk-free sleep trial
It can take up to three weeks for your body to adjust to a new mattress. That's especially true if your old mattress wasn't supporting you properly, so don't assume that if you initially wake up sore it's because a new mattress is wrong - it could be your body getting used to better support. Most mattress trials specify a minimum of 21 days for exactly this reason.

Aside from how a mattress feels, there's a quick trick you can use to check whether it's the right firmness for you. Lie down and place your hand in the small of your back: if there's a big gap, it's too firm; if there's no gap, the mattress is too soft.

A woman with dark hair sleeps on a white pillow

(Image credit: Getty)

How long does it take to break in a new mattress?

This depends on which type of mattress you are buying and its firmness level, but generally speaking it can take anywhere from 30 days to three months to get used to the new levels of support and comfort. That’s why some mattress makers ask you to sleep on your new mattress for at least 30 nights before they’ll arrange a collection if you still don’t like it.

If you’re choosing a very different type of mattress to your old one – for example, you used to sleep on an all-foam model but you want to buy a hybrid mattress – you will notice the difference for a little while longer. To help you break in your new mattress, make sure you give it the time it needs to fully decompress. If you do this, the mattress will be able to offer you its maximum support and comfort from the start. It can take anywhere from a few hours to 72 hours for this process to happen, so be patient.

Relax on different parts of your new mattress (so don’t just lounge in the same spot) and keep sleeping on it to help it ‘bed in’ faster. Try to resist sleeping in another bed (if you have one) or on the sofa, as the faster you break in your new mattress, the sooner you will be enjoying every single moment of sleeping in it.

What is the best mattress in 2021?

We still think the Nectar Memory Foam is the best mattress you can buy because it offers superb value for money. It’s comfortable and supportive, and extremely competitively priced. A queen size usually costs $799, down from $1,198 - and all sizes are sold at Nectar with a permanent $400 discount plus $399-worth of free accessories. That's incredible value on its own. However, the Nectar Memory Foam also comes with a huge 365-night trial and a forever warranty, and the returns policy is clear and fair.

Alternatively, if you have a little more to spend, or prefer a mattress with a little more bounce, we recommend the luxury hybrid innerspring Saatva Classic mattress. It costs around $1,300 for a queen - there's usually a $200 discount to be found - and if you're looking for premium hotel-style comfort, this is the one. It’s also been approved by the American Chiropractic Association, making it a good choice if you have back pain.

Another perk to buying from Saatva is the brand’s free White Glove Delivery service. As part of this, Saatva's experts will set up your new mattress in your bedroom of choice, and remove your old one if you arrange it in advance. 

So if you want the best value for money, choose the Nectar. If you want hotel-luxury snoozing, and you have more to spend, give the Saatva a whirl.

What are the best-rated mattresses in 2021?

Nectar and Saatva aren't the only top-rated mattresses - the following options all excel in different areas too. You'll find more information about each one in our guide. Just hit the jump-link and it'll take you to the appropriate section of our guide.

A young family of four lie on a king size mattress together

(Image credit: Getty)

When is the best time to buy a new mattress?

There are cheap mattress deals all year round - leading mattress maker Nectar, for example, has been running its best-ever mattress offer for over a year now. However, certain months to tend to have bigger discounts than others.

The lowest prices of the year generally appear in November, in the form of Black Friday mattress deals and Cyber Monday mattress deals, and in February, during the Presidents Day mattress sales. The latter is when people slowly start spending again following the January lull, and retailers look to stoke interest with strong offers and prices that are often as low as Black Friday.

The Memorial Day mattress sales are another key time to buy a new mattress, as retailers look to make way for newer models launching over the summer by discounting older stock. For the sheer volume and variety of discounted mattresses, it's as good as Black Friday - but we've noticed prices don't always dip quite as low. You might see the same discount advertised - $200 off, say - but the price may have quietly gone up by $100, so while the mattress is still cheaper than its previous full price, you'd have saved more if you bought it in November or February.

The same can be said of the July 4th mattress sales and Labor Day mattress sales: discounts typically match those offered during other major holidays, but many of the actual prices aren't quite the lowest of the year. They're generally still good deals though, and worth grabbing if you need a new mattress. 

Here's when you shouldn't buy a new mattress, if you can help it: over the summer. This is the most expensive time of the year, with prices generally at their maximum. You might see similar discounts advertised, once again, but prices can be as much as $200 more than at other times of the year.  

Mattress jargon buster: key terms explained

If there’s one thing mattress manufacturers love, it’s jargon. From motion isolation to reinforced edge support, you’ll see specific terms and phrases pop up across multiple brands, but what does they all mean? Let’s break it all down… 

Adjustable base compatibility – the degree to which a mattress can be elevated (top, bottom or simultaneously) or bent into an upright position on top of an adjustable bed base.

Antimicrobial materials – usually cotton, fiber or foam that has been treated to prevent the growth of dust mites, bacteria and fungi.

Certified organic – applies to mattress materials that are organic and Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) certified.

Coils / coil springs – wires, formed in the shape of spirals, usually found in the support layer of an innerspring or hybrid mattress. 

Comfort layers – these live at the top of the mattress and are responsible for how comfy the mattress feels when you lie on it.

Cushioning depth – this measures how far you sink into the mattress and how much it conforms to your body.

Ease of repositioning – how well the mattress supports you when you’re moving into a new sleeping position.

Firmness – used to describe the compression resistance of a mattress, and also how soft or hard the surface is when you lie on it.

Hypoallergenic – mattresses made from materials that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. You’ll see this term used a lot on natural and organic mattresses.

Motion isolation – how much movement can be felt on either side of the mattress. If you share with a restless sleeper, motion isolation is important so that you aren’t disturbed by your partner's movements.

Off-gassing – the smell that accompanies some mattresses when they are unboxed. This is normal and the smell is caused by certain chemicals evaporating into the air. We cover this in more detail in our feature: what is mattress off-gassing

Pressure relief – all the best mattresses offer this. Pressure relief refers to how much a mattress minimizes pressure points on your body when you’re lying down. Common points of pressure are the shoulders, hips and back. Without good pressure relief, you could be dealing with soreness, loss of circulation, and restlessness due to in-bed discomfort.

Recovery time – the speed with the mattress returns to its normal shape after being compressed.

Reinforced edge support – keeps your mattress stable and supportive by creating a solid structure around it, and ensures you can sleep up to the edge of your mattress. Edge support is achieved with materials such as foam, steel rods or thick coils.

Sagging – refers to dipping or a loss of support in specific areas of the mattress. Sagging occurs mainly in older mattresses. For more, see our guide to: how often should you replace your mattress guide.

Warranty – the manufacturer’s policy outlining what it will and won’t cover in terms of repairing or replacing the product if faults occur within a specific period of time. Learn more in our how do mattress warranties work feature.

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Julia Sagar

Julia is editor-in-chief of retail at Future, where she works across a wide range of leading consumer tech and lifestyle brands, including TechRadar, Tom's Guide, T3, Woman & Home and more. A former editor of global design website Creative Bloq, she has over 15 years’ experience in online and print journalism, and was part of the team that launched TechRadar (way back in the day). When she isn't reviewing mattresses, she can usually be found writing about anything from green energy to graphic design.