top 10 bed in a box reviews

Best Mattress In A Box Online Reviews

Our list for the top rated bed in a box mattresses that you can buy right now

We’ve tested several dozen online mattresses to date, many of which come in a box. In this list, we boil it all down to which beds we think are most deserving of your attention. After all, you can only choose one. This list will serve as a good starting point in your mattress hunt.
AT A GLANCEPRICINGHEADLINE
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Natural/Organic$150 Off

Code: WINTER

Avocado Green Mattress is a luxurious eco-friendly mattress that looks great, smells great, and is very comfortable, especially for back and stomach sleepers.
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Highly Affordable20% Off

Code: SLUMBERYARD20

Definitely one of the best mattresses available online. Brooklyn offers this in three different firmness levels and each of them have coils for added support and durability.
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Custom$75 Off

Code: SY75

Helix offers hybrid, semi-custom mattresses. As such, we think they’re a great option for couples and people that don’t really know where to start when mattress shopping.
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Soft Foam + Coils$210 Off + Gift

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This is the best mattress that Leesa makes. It’s comfortable, extra-supportive, and sleeps cool at night. If you want a coil mattress with a soft, foam feel, Sapira is a winner.
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Bundle Deal$125 Off + Gift

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Gel memory foam mattress that’s supportive, affordable, and typically comes bundled with two pillows.
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Luxury Memory Foam8% Off

Code: SY8

Luxurious and popular all-foam mattress that provides support and comfort. Comes with a lifetime warranty.
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Great AirflowFree Gift

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The original Purple is a completely unique bed with a patented top layer, which allows for a lot of airflow. It also happens to be responsive, supportive, and comfortable.
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Memory Foam + Coils$100 Off

Code: SY100

This is a hybrid memory foam mattress, which offers ample support and relieves pressure. It also comes in two firmness levels.
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Budget Check Current PriceThe Tuft & Needle is one of the most popular mattress available online, especially on Amazon. It’s comfortable and very affordable.

HOW WE DECIDED

  • Mattresses Considered100+

    Mattresses Considered

  • Brands 40+

    Brands

  • Made the List 10

    Made
    the List

  • Number of Contributors 11

    Number of Contributors

Criteria for Selecting This Mattress List

In recent years, the market for online mattresses has become increasingly crowded. There are so many options out there it can be overwhelming. So, in order to narrow down the possibilities to make this list, we instituted one major requirement that each mattress would have to meet. In order to make this list, each bed has to actually come in a box (or bag). We aren’t considering mattresses that ship with white glove delivery.

Additionally, we tried to keep the queen size mattress at around the $1,000 after discounts. Obviously, this criteria eliminates a lot of great online mattresses, so if you’re not constrained to a budget you may want to check out our Best Luxury Mattress List.

Avocado

BEST FOR:

  • People that want a natural and organic mattress
  • Heavier individuals that require a supportive mattress
  • Back, stomach, and combo sleepers
  • People that sleep hot

NOT BEST FOR:

  • People on a tight budget that can’t afford a relatively pricey online mattress
  • Anyone that wants an all-foam bed
  • Strict side sleepers that require a softer mattress

The Avocado Green mattress is an eco-friendly bed that incorporates natural latex, 100% organic cotton, and New Zealand wool. It’s hypoallergenic and antimicrobial, making it a good option for allergy sufferers and any other sensitive individuals. We like that it doesn’t have an overwhelming new mattress smell and that it offers ample support given that it has coils and latex foam.

avocado mattress back sleeper
Avocado Mattress is on the firm side

The only notable downsides are that the mattress is expensive (especially if you elect to add the topper) and it’s somewhat firm, which might alienate some side sleepers. Beyond that, it sleeps cool, is luxurious, and clearly well-made.

Brooklyn Bedding Signature

BEST FOR:

  • Anyone that wants to choose from three different firmness levels
  • All sleeper types (back, stomach, side, combo)
  • People that care about the fact that Brooklyn Bedding actually owns their manufacturing facility
  • If you just want a comfy, affordable bed

NOT BEST FOR:

  • Hot sleepers (no special cooling features)
  • If you don't want a bouncy mattress
  • Memory foam lovers

The Brooklyn Signature mattress is a hybrid bed-in-a-box  mattress with a quilted top layer. It’s an accommodating bed that will work for any sleeper type (back, stomach, side, combo) and all body types (petite, medium, heavy). We also like that the company doesn’t outsource manufacturing—they actually make their own mattresses in a facility in Phoenix, AZ.

brooklyn bedding mattress
The Brooklyn Signature is available in three different comfort levels

Even so, the bed happens to be really affordable and we think you’re getting a nice mattress for your money. You can also choose between three different firmness levels (Soft, Medium, Firm) to best match your sleep style and comfort preferences.

Helix

BEST FOR:

  • People that want options (you can choose your exact firmness and support level)
  • Couples that want to customize each side of the bed or select a blend that works for both people
  • Anyone that wants an affordable, luxurious bed
  • People that want a little bounce with their mattress

NOT BEST FOR:

  • People working with a very thin budget

Helix Sleep is a unique mattress brand in that they run you through a sleep quiz to identify the best bed for you. Helix is a particularly great option for couples because you have control over the feel and firmness of the mattress and can even personalize the bed by side (or create a blend that works for both partners).

helix mattress review side sleepers
Helix provides plenty of options for sleepers

Despite the fact that the bed is custom, it’s actually quite affordable. A queen size is typically between $900 and $1,000, depending on discounts.

Helix is a great place to start your mattress hunt if you’re really not sure what you’r looking for because they offer a sleep quiz that will match you up with a suitable mattress for your body and sleep preferences.

Leesa Sapira

BEST FOR:

  • Anyone that wants a durable, coil mattress
  • Back, stomach, and combo sleepers
  • Couples that need great edge support
  • Individuals that sleep hot
  • Heavy people that need an extra supportive bed

NOT BEST FOR:

  • Budget shoppers
  • Strict side sleepers
  • People that dislike coils

Leesa Sapira is a hybrid mattress (i.e. uses coils and foam) that’s best suited for back and stomach sleepers, though combination sleepers will fare just fine as well. It’s a bit more expensive, but it’s a premium, supportive, durable mattress that we think is a good value, even for heavier individuals that require a lot of support.

leesa sapira mattress review back and stomach sleepers
Sapira is a great mattress for back (and stomach) sleepers

Sapira also does a nice job of keeping you cool throughout the night, which, clearly is an advantage if you tend to sleep hot. In terms of feel, Sapira is more of a neutral foam with plenty of bounce. It’s a very nice mattress.

Nectar

BEST FOR:

  • Memory foam lovers
  • All sleeper types, as long as you like memory foam
  • Those who want two free pillows with your purchase (Nectar typically runs this promotion throughout the year)
  • Budget-minded shoppers

NOT BEST FOR:

  • Anyone that wants a really cool-sleeping mattress
  • If you want a bed that’s made in the USA
  • People that want coils in their mattress

Nectar is an affordable, all-foam mattress that does a good job of accommodating all types of sleepers. It’s about medium to medium-firm in terms of overall firmness and has a dense memory foam feel. If you don’t like memory foam, you will not like Nectar. Conversely, if you like memory foam, you’re in luck because Nectar has a lot of it. As such, it’s quite slow in terms of responsiveness and therefore has a bit of that stuck-in-the-mud feeling.

nectar mattress review
Dense Memory Foam Feel With Nectar

One nice perk with Nectar—beyond it being pretty affordable—is that they typically run a promotion where they bundle in two free pillows with the order of a mattress. It’s not the best bed in the world, but for the price, it’s certainly a good option for memory foam enthusiasts.

Nest Bedding Alexander Signature

BEST FOR:

  • Memory foam lovers
  • All sleeper types
  • If you want an ultra-premium mattress at an affordable price
  • People that want to be able to choose from three different firmness options
  • Larger individuals (this is a thick, durable mattress)

NOT BEST FOR:

  • Hot sleepers
  • Budget shoppers
  • Anyone that hates memory foam

The Nest Bedding Alexander Signature mattress is an all-foam, luxurious bed with great edge support and a soft, comfy pillow-top. It’s a thick mattress that’s actually a decent option for heavier folks that typically require a coil mattress. Plus, they do offer three different firmness levels, so you have a little more flexibility with softness/firmness. It’s a pricier mattress (by online standards), but it’s also in that luxury tier.

The Nest Alexander Signature comes in three different feels

Also, it has more of a prototypical memory foam feel, so if you don’t like memory foam, don’t get this bed. And while it’s not ideal for hot sleepers, it’ll work great for all sleeper styles (back, stomach, side, combo), especially considering they offer different firmness options.

Original Purple

BEST FOR:

  • Petite and medium size individuals
  • People interested in a unique feeling mattress
  • Anyone who tends to sleep too hot

NOT BEST FOR:

  • People looking for a traditional foam or innerspring feel
  • Anyone on a tight budget
  • Heavy people (look into Purple 2, 3, and 4 instead)

The Purple Mattress has a completely unique feel, mostly because it’s unlike anything else available online. Instead of using foam as its top layer, Purple uses its proprietary Hyper-Elastic Polymer material, which is somewhat like silicone or a gel material. It’s soft, yet supportive and is fantastic for airflow. It also happens to be surprisingly efficient at limiting motion transfer and is really responsive, which means no stuck-in-the-mud feeling.

Purple mattress review
The Original Purple mattress is very responsive

We do think it will be suitable for all types of sleepers (back, stomach, side, combo), but regardless of sleeper type, heavier folks (around 220 lb+) should consider Purple’s new lineup of beds that use coils.

Tomorrow Sleep Hybrid

BEST FOR:

  • Back, stomach, and combo sleepers
  • Anyone who needs the support provided by a coil mattress
  • Memory foam lovers
  • If you want a bed from a mega mattress brand (Tomorrow Sleep is owned by Serta-Simmons)

NOT BEST FOR:

  • People on a tight budget
  • Anyone who doesn't like memory foam
  • Hot sleepers

The Tomorrow Sleep Hybrid is a memory foam bed with pocketed coils as its support system. It does come in two different firmness options, but the Medium-Firm is about a medium to medium-firm in terms of overall feel. As such, it will work for back, stomach, and combo sleepers, but we wouldn’t consider it the best option for strict side sleepers. Check out the Medium-Soft option if you’re mostly a side sleeper (and you love memory foam).

tomorrow sleep mattress review stomach sleepers
If you like memory foam, chances are you’ll like this bed

One other really nice thing about Tomorrow Sleep is that, while you probably haven’t heard of the brand before, it’s actually backed by Serta Simmons, one of the largest and oldest bedding companies in the world.

Tuft & Needle

BEST FOR:

  • If you want a softer foam bed that's extremely affordable
  • All types of sleepers (back, stomach, side, combo)
  • Amazon Prime members (T&N is really popular on Amazon)
  • If you want a bed from Serta-Simmons

NOT BEST FOR:

  • Heavier individuals that should be on a coil mattress
  • Those looking for a luxury bed

The Tuft & Needle original mattress is an affordable, all-foam bed with a softer, neutral feel. It is a budget-tier bed, but happens to be one of the best selling mattresses on Amazon. It’s very comfortable, but doesn’t feel like a prototypical memory foam, latex foam, or innerspring bed. And that’s because it mostly uses polyurethane foam—a material that’s extremely affordable to manufacture—which is clearly how they keep the price of the mattress down.

tuft and needle mattress review back and stomach sleepers
Tuft & Needle is a great choice for back, stomach, and combo sleepers

It is slightly on the firmer side from the get-go, but will soften over time (as is the case with all mattresses). So, while it’s best for back, stomach, and combo sleepers to start, it will eventually be able to accommodate side sleepers, as well. It’s not a glamorous bed, but it definitely gets the job done.

Review Team

Jeff Rizzo

Jeff Rizzo

Combo Sleeper

Kelsie Longerbeam

Stomach Sleeper

carla thrower slumber yard

Carla Thrower

Back Sleeper

Owen

Owen Poole

Side Sleeper

Why You Should Trust The Slumber Yard Team

We have been testing beds for a long time now. That’s what we do. We enjoy sleeping and getting to know the differences between all the beds on the market. We have tested and slept on mattresses from pretty much all the major online brands. In fact, we keep over 50 beds in our office just in case we ever need to compare mattresses or refresh our thoughts. We also stay up to date on the latest trends in the mattress industry and all the different foams and materials that are routinely used in constructing beds. Further, we regularly hold calls with company executives, industry experts, and average consumers to gather their thoughts on new beds and trending topics.

However, perhaps the biggest reason why you should trust us is our independence. We are privately owned and 100% independent. We are not backed by any mattress companies and are not financially invested in the success or failure of any one brand. This is a major sticking point for us. There’s a lot of unethical behavior that transpires in the mattress industry and our commitment is to not partake in any of that funny business. We retain full editorial control over our content and do not accept money from brands to produce a positive review or video. We strive to produce honest, helpful, and concise content to help consumers make purchase decisions. If we think a bed isn’t very good, we’ll tell you. We’re not concerned with what individual brands think of us. We’re only concerned with helping the consumer by always being honest and transparent because at the end of the day that’s how we build a sustainable business. If we recommended a mattress because a brand paid us to and then you purchase the mattress and end up hating it, that ultimately reflects on us . You’ll probably never come back to our website or watch another one of our videos again. That’s why take such an honest and transparent approach—it’s in the best interest for our company and the consumer.

Shipping, Returns, Trial Periods, and Warranties

This is pretty straight forward, but also an area where companies can differ from one another. Pretty much all online mattress companies offer free shipping whether the bed comes in a box, in a protective covering, or via white glove delivery (i.e. an actual person helps you set up the bed). Most online mattress companies also offer free returns as long as it’s still within the trial period, which leads me to the first area where these companies start to differ. All these online mattress companies offer some sort of risk-free trial period so you can try the bed before deciding whether or not to keep it. This is their way of competing with brick-and-mortar mattress stores. The industry average trial period is 100 nights. So if you decide you don’t like the mattress at any point during those first 99 nights, just give the company a call and they will send someone to your house or apartment to pick up the bed and issue you a full refund. However, there are quite a few companies that offer even friendlier trial periods. We’ve seen them range from 100 nights all the way up to 365 nights. That’s right, some companies allow you test out a mattress for a full year.

Another major area where online mattress companies differ is in the warranty period. Most companies offer a 10-year limited warranty, which for the majority of people will work just fine. Let’s face it, the average life of a mattress is about 8-10 years anyway. However, once again, there are several companies that go above and beyond the industry average. We’ve seen the warranties companies offer range from 10 years to a lifetime guarantee. A lot of times, though, there will be certain conditions once you get passed year 10. For example, the company might only repair or re-cover your mattress if any defects are found after year 10. Plus, you might be on the hook for the shipping fee each way for them to repair it.

Some companies offer additional perks, as well. For example, Nest Bedding offers what they call their “Comfort Guarantee,” which is valid for the entire useful life of the bed. Basically, once the trial period runs out, if you decide you want a different Nest mattress or you want to try a softer/firmer model, Nest Bedding allows you purchase that mattress at 50% of its current retail price.

This category doesn’t play a huge role when we sit down to make these lists, but it’s definitely taken into consideration. If two mattresses are tied in our eyes, the trial period and warranty is something that might push one mattress ahead of the other.

Construction

Each bed is constructed differently. Some have coils, some don’t. Some have memory foam, some have latex foam. Some have a pillow top stitched into the cover for added comfort, some have gel infused for airflow purposes. There’s no one size fits all mattress. Each mattress feels different and accommodates different kinds of sleepers. As I mentioned above, we like to sit down and really understand the science behind the construction of each bed before testing. With that said, we generally bucket mattresses into one of two categories—all-foam or spring and hybrid.

As the name implies, all-foam mattresses are constructed entirely of foam. The constructions of these beds can vary quite bit and usually the bed will incorporate several different types of foam. The most common types of foams used in mattresses are memory foam, latex foam, polyurethane foam, and proprietary foams (i.e. some sort of mix companies create).

Memory foam comes in different firmness levels and offers deep pressure relief for your pressure points. Latex foam is lighter, more responsive, and better for airflow than memory foam.

Polyurethane foam offers a lot of support and is generally very affordable. You’ll see a lot of companies use polyurethane foam as their support or transition layer.

Lastly, a lot of companies create their own type of foam. For example, Leesa uses their “Cooling Avena Foam,” which is supposed to take characteristics from both memory foam and latex foam. There’s no foam that’s better than the other. It really just depends on personal preference. For example, a lot of people love the feel of memory foam. They love how soft it is and how it contours to your body. Others hate it. They say they get a stuck-in-the-mud feeling when laying on a memory foam bed. Regardless, most all-foam beds consist of 3-5 layers and range from 8″ to 12″ thick.

The other popular category of mattresses is what we call spring and hybrid mattresses. These mattresses usually have a layer of coils, as well as various layers of foam. The coils can come in a few different forms. There are traditional steel coil innerspring systems. That’s what most people (especially older people) probably think of when they hear coils. That’s the type of bed you probably slept on as a kid. However, as the online mattress industry has exploded in recent years, we’ve also seen more and more beds come out with micro-coils or individually pocketed coils. In general, coils provide much better support than foams and are also more durable over the long haul. Coils give the bed some bi-directional support, meaning the coils compress when you lay down, but also provide a little push-back. Foams, on the other hand, don’t provide much push back—they just compress. As a result, mattresses with coils also tend offer more bounce and better edge support.

Overall, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to mattress construction. Each type of bed has their own pros and cons. Again, it really depends on what type of sleeper you are, your body weight and what you find most comfortable. The construction of each bed doesn’t play a major factor for us when putting together this list. It’s used as more of a starting point for us to better understand each mattress.

Feel

The feel of a mattress is very subjective and personal. Again, there’s no right or wrong (I probably sound like a broken record by this point). Each foam has a different type of feel and will attract different kinds of sleepers. In this section, we’ll discuss what you should expect each type of material to feel like, but will refrain from stating our own opinions because, as you may have guessed, the feel preferences of members on our team vary quite a bit. One of our team members loves memory foam. Another member loves the feel of latex mattresses. Personally, I’m a big fan of hybrid mattresses. You get it by now, the feel of the mattress is personal to each individual.

Memory Foam

This type of foam can have a very dense feel. When you lay down on a memory foam bed, you sort of slowly sink into it. Some people really like that feeling. They say it feels like the mattress is hugging them a little bit. The memory foam contours to your body and offers a ton of pressure relief for your pressure points (i.e. hips, shoulders). Other people say it gives them more of a stuck-in-the-mud feeling. They prefer to feel like they are laying on top of the mattress rather than in it.

Latex Foam

Latex is lighter and airier than memory foam, but also more durable in general. A such, it has more of a neutral, soft foam feel. You won’t slowly sink into the foam like you do with memory foam. It’s much more responsive and bouncy than memory foam. That means latex foam won’t contour to your body as much as memory foam. That said, it typically also stays much cooler than memory foam or poly foam. Latex can also be a natural/organic material in many cases (there is synthetic latex, though it’s less commonly used), whereas poly foam is a petro-chemical product.

Polyurethane Foam

Most companies won’t use polyurethane foam for their top layer so you’ll never really experience the true feel of it. Poly foam is more used for support and transition layers. It tends to be more dense and offer better support than memory foam and latex foam.

Proprietary Foam

A lot of online mattress companies create their own foams. For example, Brooklyn Bedding uses a foam called “TitanFlex Comfort Foam.” Tuft & Needle uses a foam called “T&N Adaptive Foam.” Each foam is different, so it’s hard to pinpoint an exact feel, but they generally have a neutral, soft foam feel.

Innerspring Beds

When we say innerspring, we’re talking about beds that have a traditional steel coil support system. These are the type of beds that most of you grew up on. Typically, innerspring beds are not as soft as all-foam beds. I’ve heard some people compare laying on a traditional innerspring bed to laying on a thick bed of grass (i.e. soft, but you can definitely feel the dense earth below you). Steel coil support systems also give innerspring beds quite a bit of bounce. This means you’ll never get that stuck-in-the-mud feeling and you’ll find it easy to switch between sleeping positions.

Hybrid Beds

We generally consider a bed to be a hybrid if it contains a layer of coils (whether it’s traditional steel coils, individually pocketed coils, or micro-coils) and multiple layers of foam. As you might guess, the feel of hybrid beds can vary quite a bit. As a result of the coils, the beds will be quite responsive and have a little bounce like we talked about above. However, the feel of a hybrid mattress is largely dependent on its top layers. Obviously, hybrid beds like DreamCloud that incorporate memory foam on top will have a soft, dense foam feel. On the other hand, a hybrid bed like the Brooklyn Bedding Signature, which uses a proprietary foam top layer, will have a lighter, neutral-foam feel.

To wrap things up, the feel of a mattress is dependent upon your personal preferences. That’s why it doesn’t play a huge role in determining these lists. We realize everyone is different and will like all different kinds of beds.

Firmness

This is an another area that is very subjective. There are more factors in play than you think when determining softness/firmness. Here at the Slumber Yard we use a five range firmness scale that goes from soft to firm (see below).

mattress firmness
Slumber Yard Firmness Scale Example

It’s very important to keep in mind that we rate these mattresses through the eyes (or body) of an average sized person (150-225 lb). After testing so many mattresses, we have a pretty good idea of where a mattress lands on the scale. Weight is a huge factor, though, when determining how soft or how firm a mattress is. Generally, a lighter person (150 lb or less) will feel like most beds are on the firmer side of the spectrum because they exert less pressure on the bed. Heavier individuals (200 lb or more) will feel like most beds are on the softer side of the spectrum because they exert more force and pressure. It’s a good idea for lighter folks to read up one range when they see the Slumber Yard firmness rating (i.e. if the bed has a medium rating, it means it’s more of a medium-firm for you). If you’re a heavier person, you should read down one range (i.e. if the bed has a medium rating, it means it’s more of a medium-soft for you).

It’s also important to note that firmness and support are not one in the same. It’s entirely possible for a soft bed to provide the necessary support. A mattress that provides good support means it keeps your spine properly aligned in all positions. You never want the heavier parts of your body to sink down too far into the bed. For example, let’s say you’re laying on your back and the area under your hips and trunk sinks down quite a bit to where your lower back is no longer being supported. This is probably a pretty good sign your spine is not properly aligned and you might wake up with lower back pain. Generally, firmer beds will provide good support because you won’t get a lot of sinkage. Still, even if a bed is soft and offers a good amount of pressure relief, that doesn’t mean you’ll experience spinal issues. There’s a lot of beds available that are soft to the touch, yet still offer a solid amount of support.

It’s also important to keep in mind that a lot of companies these days offer mattresses in multiple feels. For example, Tomorrow Sleep offers their flagship mattress in two different feels—Medium Soft and Medium Firm. That way consumers can find the mattress that best suits their preferences.

Firmness definitely plays a role when putting together these types of lists. For a list like this discussing the best overall online mattresses, we like to include mattresses that accommodate a wide variety of sleepers. That means you probably won’t find a mattress that leans too far towards one end of the spectrum. Instead, we try to include mattresses that land more near the middle of the firmness scale or that are available in different firmness levels.

Sleeper Type

People primarily sleep in three different positions—side, back, and stomach (even though those three positions can vary a little). There are also combination sleepers who rotate between all three positions throughout the night. It’s very important to recognize what type of sleeper you are. That can make a big difference when deciding on a mattress.

Back Sleepers

People who spend the majority of time sleeping on their back will generally want a firmer mattress. When you’re on your back, it’s crucial that you get a good amount support. You never want too much sinkage under your hips or trunk. You want to make sure your body is always in-line for the most part.

For more information about back sleepers, check out out Best Mattresses For Back Sleepers list.

Stomach Sleepers

According to a lot of doctors and chiropractors, sleeping on your stomach is not preferable. However, if you do like sleeping on your stomach, you’ll generally want to look for a mattress that is on the firmer side. Similar to back sleepers, you want a mattress that is able to support your mid-section properly. However, it probably is preferable to consider mattresses that are a tad bit softer than the mattresses you’d consider for back sleeping. No one wants a super firm mattress pushing up against their private areas (male and female). The pillow you use is also very important when it comes to stomach sleepers. You’ll want a pillow that is as flat as possible. If your pillow is too tall, your neck will be cranked upwards the entire night, which means your spine is not in proper alignment.

For more information about stomach sleepers, check out out Best Mattresses For Stomach Sleepers list.

Side Sleepers

People who spend a lot of time on their side will generally want to look for a mattress that is on the softer side of the spectrum. Since all your weight will be directed towards two primary areas (your hip and shoulder of the side your’re laying on), it’s crucial those two areas receive a good amount of pressure relief. On firm beds, side sleepers won’t be that comfortable and could potentially start to feel some aches and pains in their hips and shoulders. Again, you don’t want the mattress to be so soft to where you’re sinking in so far your spine is no longer properly aligned. There’s a nice balance that you’ll want to find.

For more information about side sleepers, check out out Best Mattresses For Side Sleepers list.

Combination Sleepers

People who rotate between all three positions throughout the night will want to find a happy medium. You want to find a mattress that provides a good amount of support when you’re on your back or stomach and enough pressure relief for when you switch to your side. That means you’ll probably be looking at a mattress in the medium-soft to medium-firm range on the firmness scale, depending on your percentage split between the different sleeping positions.

Like firmness, sleeper type plays a big role in determining which mattresses belong on this list. We generally try to stay away from mattresses that are only good for one type of sleeper. You’ll find that we include mattresses on this list that offer a nice balance between pressure relief and support.

Temperature Regulation

This is a subject that often goes overlooked when shopping for mattresses. However, keeping cool or at least temperature neutral is key to a good night’s sleep. No one wants to wake up drenched in sweat in the middle of the night. That can lead to a lot of restless nights.

Before we get into how we test temperature regulation, let’s first discuss how mattress construction can affect airflow and coolness. In very general terms, foams are known for retaining heat (especially memory foam). Beds with coils on the other hand tend to promote more airflow. Therefore, hybrid and innerspring beds tend to be a little better than all-foam beds in this department. However, foam mattresses have been around for decades and like most stale industries, mattress companies have come up with innovative ways to correct this issue. Most companies these days incorporate some sort of special material or technology into their foams to help their mattress stay cool. For example, we’ve seen companies infuse gel, graphite, and copper into their foams, all with the idea of eliminating heat retention. Here’s a chart depicting where all the different types of mattress materials fall in terms of temperature.

temperature regulation scale
Slumber Yard Temperature Regulation Scale

Now, when we rate beds in terms of temperature regulation, we give the mattress one of three designations—warm, neutral, or cool. How we determine each rating is two-fold. The first way is not very scientific. It’s based off our individual experience with the bed. After everyone on our testing team has had ample time with the bed, we get together and discuss if any of us felt especially warm or cool. After testing so many beds, sometimes all it takes is one night on a mattress to determine this. The second testing method is a little more scientific. We use an infrared thermometer temperature gun. We’ll measure the temperature of the bed before anyone lays on it. We then have one the members of our testing team lay on the bed for 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes has passed, the person will get up off the bed and we will measure the temperature of the bed again. We will then keep track of how long it takes the mattress to come down to its original starting temperature. This data gives us a good idea of how the mattress heats up and how quickly it disperses heat.

This is an important factor when determining this list. We try to stay away from beds that fall into the warm category. Beds that are considered temperature neutral or cool are preferable for the majority of sleepers.

For more information about temperature regulation, check out our Best Cooling Mattresses list.

Motion Transfer

Chances are you’ve probably heard of motion transfer before. This is largely for people who share a bed. This is when one person turns over or gets up and the other person feels the bed reacting to this change. A lot of times the other person will wake up due to the motion, making for a more restless night of sleep. Therefore, if you share a bed, you’ll want a mattress that is able to deaden movement well.

Before we talk about how we test this, let’s again briefly touch on mattress construction. As we mentioned above, spring and hybrid constructions give the bed a little bounce. Although this is good for responsiveness and support, it’s generally bad in terms of motion transfer. More bounce means more motion. It’s harder for a mattress to deaden bounce. All-foam beds, for the most part, do a better job of deadening movement.

In terms of giving beds grades in how well they limit motion transfer, we use a two category system—either average or good. Now you might be wondering, what about beds that perform poorly? Well, to be honest, in all our time testing mattresses, we’ve never really tested a bed that performs that poorly. Let’s face it, mattresses have been around a long, long time now and most companies have figured out ways to make motion transfer a non-issue, whether that’s through individually foam encased coils or other special materials.

Our testing methods for motion transfer are pretty simple. First, we place a half-full glass of water on one end of the bed and then walk, roll, and jump around the glass to gauge how much the water inside the glass moves around. We can usually tell right away whether the bed belongs in the average or good category just by using this method. Our other method is a little more practical. We’ll have two average sized people lay on each side of the mattress and then take turns getting up off the mattress. This is our way of confirming the results from the first test.

How a mattress performs in regards to deadening movement plays a big part when we put together these lists. Obviously, a large portion of people out there share mattresses so it’s imperative each person can get a good night’s sleep without having to worry about what the other person is doing.

Responsiveness

When we talk about responsiveness, we’re talking about how quickly the mattress pops back to its original form after releasing pressure. Some foams are not very responsive. For example, with memory foam, we previously talked about how it slowly contours to your body. Well, the same is true when you get up off a memory foam bed. You can see the body impression you left behind and it takes 2-3 seconds for the foam to inflate back to its true form. With beds that are responsive, you’ll find it much easier to switch between sleeping positions. With beds that aren’t quite as responsive, you’ll get a little bit of that stuck-in-the-mud feeling and find it requires a little extra effort to switch from your back to your stomach or vice versa, possibly making you more restless throughout the night. Responsiveness can also serve as an indicator as to how durable the mattress will be over the long haul. Sometimes with non-responsive beds, permanent body impressions can form in the mattress.

Like motion transfer, our testing methods for responsiveness are basic, but effective. To start, we push our fists down into the mattress as far as possible and then immediately release them. The time it takes the top layers to pop back is what we measure. You can usually tell right away whether a mattress is responsive or not just by doing this. We’ll also have one of our average sized testing team members switch between sleeping positions without using their hands. With non-responsive beds, it can be difficult to switch between positions without the use of your hands.

Sinkage

This is another important factor for multiple reasons. First, as we previously mentioned, it’s extremely important your spine is properly aligned. If a mattress sinks down too far under the heavier parts of your body, that can be a sign your spine is not in a good position. A bed with a lot of sinkage can also be an early indicator of durability. Sometimes with beds that have a lot of sinkage, permanent body impressions will form quickly, compromising the integrity of the mattress. This topic is especially important for heavier folks (275 lb+). Heavier people place a more stress and pressure on a mattress that can exacerbate sinkage issues even further. We’ve even seen heavier individuals sink down so far they bottom out a mattress. In general, heavier individuals should stick with thick mattresses that provide a good amount of support and minimal sinkage.

We have a pretty simple method to test sinkage. We place an extremely heavy medicine ball in the center of the mattress and then measure from the bottom of the ball to the surface of the mattress. This gives us the necessary data to compare sinkage across all kinds of mattresses.

This is another important topic we take into serious consideration when putting together this list. Obviously, it’s nice if your bed is comfortable and offers pressure relief, but as we have learned, a bed that is too soft or has too much sinkage can be bad news. Generally, we prefer mattresses that are responsive.

Edge Support

This is an area that often goes overlooked when shopping for mattresses, but is very important for couples. A lot of times with partners who share a bed, one person will end up hogging the middle of the bed leaving the other person trapped on one of the edges. As such, it’s extremely important the edges of your mattress are able to support you. However, with a lot of mattresses (especially all-foam mattresses) you’ll get quite a bit of compression near the edges, making you feel like you’re about to roll right off the bed. Obviously, this is not a good thing. A lot of mattress companies in recent years have taken steps to correct this issue. For example, Purple incorporated a dense foam perimeter around all their hybrid mattresses that they introduced in 2018.

We take a very practical approach when testing edge support. First, we will have one of the members of our testing team sit on the edge of the mattress so we can measure the amount of compression (this scenario can be helpful for people who use the edge of the bed to tie their shoes or change clothes). We’ll also have that team member lay down right on the edge (both side and back sleeping positions, keeping their shoulders parallel to the edge). From this position, it’s easy to tell how good the edge support is.

Proper edge support is a very important factor when determining which beds belong on any of our various mattress buyer guides.

There’s No Such Thing As A Perfect Mattress

If you’ve read this far, you probably know where this is going. Shopping for a mattress is very personal. It’s not like shopping for a refrigerator that looks and the feels the same to everyone. The firmness and feel of a mattress is completely subjective. As we’ve laid out, it depends on a multitude of things. It depends on your body type, weight, and preference of materials. Further, how you sleep makes a huge difference, as well. Do you sleep hot? Do you sleep on your side, back, or stomach? Do you sleep with a partner? These are all questions you need to consider when purchasing a mattress. Therefore, there’s no one perfect mattress out there.

Everyone is different and has different needs when it comes to sleep. One person may think the perfect mattress is a memory foam bed that offers a ton of pressure relief. Another person may think the perfect mattress is a hybrid that provides a good amount of support. There are thousands of scenarios and combinations. That’s why you should just use this list as a guide. This list is compiled based on the opinions of the five members on our testing team (as of the date of this post). Yes, we know a lot about mattresses, but we don’t know what bed will suit you the best. That’s why we created our Mattress Finder Tool. If after reading this list, you’re still not sure which mattress to purchase, we recommend giving that tool a try. It’s built to be more custom to each individual.

Let Your Mattress Inflate

This is kind of a minor point, but worth mentioning. The majority of online mattresses arrived compressed in a box or protective covering. Once you move it to your bedroom, you’ll cut the plastic and the mattress will start rapidly inflating. It will usually only a take a minute or two for the mattress to appear ready to go. But a word of warning—you should let most bed-in-a-box mattresses sit and breathe for a good 12-36 hours before you use them. We’ve received countless emails in the past from people complaining about how they just sunk right through the bed after trying the it just minutes after opening it. A couple of them even initiated the return process right then and there. Moral of the story? Let the mattress fully inflate for 12-36 hours to get the true sense of how it feels.

What Type Of Foundation Do You Need?

Generally speaking, most online mattresses will work with your current foundation, whether that’s a solid platform, box spring, bunkie board, or slatted foundation. But if you don’t trust us, you can always check with the company. Most companies will prominently display which types of foundations their mattress is compatible with or you can always check their FAQ section. One thing you might want to do is double check the weight capacity of your current foundation. Some of the newer beds that have coils can get up there in weight. For example, the Purple.4 king size mattress weighs over 200 lb. That’s a load! Once you add yourself and possibly your partner on top of that, total weight might be a concern. This is especially important when it comes to warranties. A lot of online mattress companies stipulate that the bed must have the proper support or else the warranty is void. So double check the weight capacity of your existing foundation.

How To Care For Online Mattresses

The majority of online mattresses have a removable cover. However, we’ve only run across a few that are actually machine washable. If you have an accident or spill something on the mattress, most companies recommend you just spot clean the cover with a mild detergent and some water. Even though the cleaning process is the same for the majority of online beds, having a removable cover is nice because it makes it easier to access certain spots.

Another common question is whether mattresses can be flipped. In short, the vast majority of mattresses should not be flipped (i.e. there’s only one side you should sleep on). You may have noticed I didn’t say “all mattresses” there. That’s because there are a couple mattresses available that are flippable. For example, you can use both sides of the Layla mattress. There’s a Soft side and a Firm side. However, it is a good idea to rotate your mattress every six months or so. This will help protect against sagging and creating any permanent body impressions.

How The Return Process Works For Most Online Mattresses

As we previously stated, pretty much all online mattress companies (even many mattresses under $1,000) offer free returns, but a lot of people have questions about how exactly that process works. First, you need to be within the company’s trial period. If it’s night 101 of a 100-night trial period (trial periods start the date you receive the mattress) when you decide you no longer want the bed, you’re out of luck. If you’re still within the trial period, though, it’s as simple as giving the company a call (most companies will not let you initiate a return via instant chat or email). They want feedback as to why the bed didn’t work out. Once you give the company your feedback, they’ll schedule a third party logistics company to come pick up your mattress. Some companies will issue you a refund right then and there. Others require you email them a picture of your mattress pickup receipt before they return the funds. All in all, the whole process is pretty simple. It might just take a couple days/weeks to schedule the mattress pickup.

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