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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 is now easier than it has ever been. We've spent hundreds of hours reviewing the latest models, and have analyzed feedback from thousands of user reviews. You'll find the top-performing mattresses for all budgets in our expert guide - and there's an option for everyone here.

So what's the best mattress? We still think it's the Nectar Memory Foam: it's comfortable, supportive, performed well in our tests, and it's competitively priced, starting from $499. Alternatively, if you have a bigger budget, we highly recommend the hybrid Saatva Classic innerspring: it's luxury hotel-quality and starts from $887

The right mattress for you will depend on your preferences, of course - and you'll find a wide range of mattress types here. If you like to be cushioned while you sleep, need advanced pressure relief or have neck or back pain, we'd advise looking at the memory foam mattresses first. Hybrids also provide good pressure relief, and are a better choice if you prefer a little bounce or tend to overheat at night. Meanwhile, the organic models are great for anyone with allergies (the natural latex ones last much longer than the average mattress too). 

Buying a mattress online is often cheaper than in physical stores because online brands don't have the same running costs. Just make sure you choose a mattress with at least a 30-night risk-free trial (all our top picks have 100 nights or more). That's important because it can take your body up to three weeks to adjust to a new mattress. If after that initial period you decide it isn't right, you'll get a refund and in most cases the company will collect it for you (and usually donate it to charity).

Read on for our pick of the best mattresses for all budgets, and we've scanned the mattress sales to bring you today's lowest prices for each of our top picks too.  

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

Specifications
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 its mid-range rivals, thanks to its competitive pricing and generous $399-worth of free gifts added to every mattress order.  

We tested the Nectar Memory Foam mattress for two months and loved it. It has a classic memory foam feel: you slowly sink into it, and the mattress contours to your body while you sleep, providing excellent pressure relief around your shoulders, hips and back, while helping align your spine. 

Save $100 + $399 of free gifts

Nectar Memory Foam: Save $100 + $399 of free gifts
From $499
- Nectar's latest sale drops the price of its flagship mattress back to its lowest-ever. Not only is there a $100 discount on most sizes, you'll receive up to $399 of free gifts including pillows, sheets and a mattress protector. With a year-long trial and forever warranty, this is superb value for money.

Best mattress: Saatva ClassicTop Pick

(Image credit: Saatva)

2. Saatva Classic mattress

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

Specifications
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. It's 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. 

Saatva Classic: Save up to $250 with our exclusive offer at Saatva

Saatva Classic: Save up to $250 with our exclusive offer at Saatva
From $887
- We've teamed up with Saatva to offer a $250 discount on any Saatva mattress when you spend $1,000 or more at Saatva. This drops the cost of a queen size Classic from $1,595 to $1,345 - that's $100 cheaper than you'll find it in the official Saatva mattress sale on site. 

best mattress: Tuft & Needle

(Image credit: Tuft & Needle)

3. Tuft & Needle Original Mattress

The best mattress for smaller budgets

Specifications
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. 

Tuft & Needle Original mattress: Save 30% on the Original

Tuft & Needle Original mattress: Save 30% on the Original
From $451.50 - This rare 30% discount makes the T&N Original even better value for money than usual. It reduces the price of the queen size Tuft & Needle Original from $895 to $625.50 - that's the cheapest price this year. We don't expect the offer to last long outside of Cyber Week, so grab it while you can.

Best mattress: A woman with dark hair and dressed in lilac coloured pyjamas sits on the edge of the Purple Plus Mattress

(Image credit: Purple)

4. Purple Plus Mattress

The best mattress for hot sleepers

Specifications
Type: mattress in a box
Firmness (1-10): 6 (medium firm), 7.5 (firm)
Material: premium foam; GelFlex Grid
Height: 11 inches
Availability: online and some retailers
Trial length: 100 nights
Warranty: 10 years
Best for: hot sleepers; people with back pain
MSRP: $1,099 - $2,598
Reasons to buy
+Excellent cooling performance+A magic blend of soft and firm+Great lumbar support
Reasons to avoid
-Middling edge support

The relatively new Purple Plus mattress is a luxe upgrade on the Purple Original, with two extra inches of foam, better airflow and enhanced cooling power. These features alone make it the best mattress for hot sleepers, though there’s much more to this memory foam bed to boost the quality and comfort of your sleep. It’s slightly taller than the Purple Original, at 11 inches vs 9.25 inches, and it’s made with the same Purple Grid Technology to deliver exceptional pressure relief. 

When we tested the Purple Plus we were impressed with the cooling performance, especially as we have some very hot sleepers on the team. The mattress has been designed in such a way that it moves heat away from the body quickly, so it won’t build up and overheat you in the night. We also loved the Purple Plus for proper pressure relief.

Purple Plus: Up to $300 off with a mattress bundle at Purple

Purple Plus: Up to $300 off with a mattress bundle at Purple
From $999
- Purple's Cyber Week sale cuts $100 off the price of the Plus - and you can save up to another $200 by adding a sleep bundle to your order (two pillows, sheets and a mattress protector). That's a good option if you need all the extras, but if you're looking to spend the least amount possible, stick with the straight discount.

best mattress: The Helix Midnight

(Image credit: Helix)

5. The Helix Midnight

The best mattress for side sleepers

Specifications
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. Our reviewers found sleeping on their backs and sides to be extremely comfortable - even cozy. 

Helix Midnight mattress:  Save up to $150 + 2 free pillows

Helix Midnight mattress: Save up to $150 + 2 free pillows
From $599
- You can get up to $150 off the Helix Midnight mattress, depending on which size you need, plus two free pillows, in the Cyber Week sale at Helix. That drops the price of a queen to $999, which is a great price for a quality mid-range mattress.

best mattress: Cocoon by Sealy Chill

(Image credit: Cocoon by Sealy)

6. Cocoon Chill Memory Foam mattress

The best budget cooling mattress

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: $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. 

Cocoon by Sealy Chill:  Save 35% + free pillows and sheets

Cocoon by Sealy Chill: Save 35% + free pillows and sheets
From $499
- Cocoon by Sealy's latest sale isn't any different from the company's usual sale - but it is great value for money. With it, you’ll save 35% on the Cocoon Chill Memory Foam mattress, which drops the price of a queen from $1,239 to $799, and comes with two free pillows and a bed sheet set worth up to $199.

best mattress: The DreamCloud

(Image credit: DreamCloud)

7. The DreamCloud mattress

A brilliant hybrid alternative to the all-foam Nectar mattress

Specifications
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 DreamCloud:  $200 off + $399 of free gifts

The DreamCloud: $200 off + $399 of free gifts
From $699
- The new DreamCloud sale will net you $599 in savings: there's $200 off the mattress, plus $399 of free bedding including a cooling pillow. It’s nearly as good value as the Nectar, making this luxury hybrid mattress very tempting indeed. With a year's trial and forever warranty, it's well worth considering.

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

(Image credit: Birch Living)

8. Birch Natural Mattress

The best mattress for those who want to go organic

Specifications
Type: mattress in a box
Firmness (1-10): 6 (medium firm)
Material: wool, latex, coils
Height: 11 inches
Availability: online
Trial length: 100 nights
Warranty: 25 years
Best for: those who want an organic mattress; people with allergies
MSRP: $1,249 - $1,999
Reasons to buy
+Certified organic materials+Naturally breathable mattress+Pressure relief in all positions
Reasons to avoid
-Might be too firm for lighter bodies

The Birch Natural Mattress is relatively affordable for an organic model, and is made with a raft of certified materials including an organic cotton cover, plus organic wool. This hybrid mattress has a medium firm feel, making it well suited to side sleepers of an average to heavier body weight, as well as to stomach and back sleepers who need a comfortable yet firmer sleeping surface to keep their spine aligned in those positions. Because it uses organic wool, the Birch Natural Mattress is also cooling, though we recommend the Purple Plus (number four) if you sleep very hot. 

It’s not common to see a high quality latex mattress at a lower price, and we regularly see the Birch Natural Mattress on sale with a queen size coming in at around $1,299. That puts it at a slight price advantage compared to the luxury innerspring hybrid Saatva Classic (at number two), though the Saatva is the better of the two for back support and a wider choice of firmness levels. 

Birch Natural Mattress: save $400 + two free pillows

Birch Natural Mattress: save $400 + two free pillows
From $1,849 - The Birch by Helix Cyber Week mattress sale saves you $400 on the Natural Mattress and you’ll get two free Eco-Rest Pillows added to your order. This is a big chunk off this top-rated organic bed, and not one we see often. If you want a handmade mattress made with certified organic materials, the Birch should be on your list.

Best mattress: Allswell Hybrid Mattress

(Image credit: Allswell)

9. The Allswell Mattress

A great-value budget hybrid mattress

Specifications
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.

The Allswell Mattress: Save 25% at Allswell

The Allswell Mattress: Save 25% at Allswell
From $198.75 - This quality budget mattress is currently 25% cheaper in the Allswell mattress sale. That's a much bigger saving than usual - normally we see closer to 15% off. It drops the price of a queen from $375 to $281.25, while a twin is less than $200. That's a bargain.

best mattress: Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam

(Image credit: Zinus)

10. Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam mattress

The best mattress under $400 - cheap and cheerful

Specifications
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

Update: The 10-inch Zinus Green Tea Memory Foam mattress has gone up in price since we reviewed it. The twin size, 6-inch version is still a great choice for an older child, but if you're looking for a cheap mattress for an adult, we'd recommend the Allswell instead.

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. 

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 (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 (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  (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 (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.