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Best mattress: 7 of the best foam, innerspring and hybrid mattresses

Our best mattress 2021 list examines popular brands, including Saatva and Casper, for everything from comfort to suitability for each sleep position

best mattress nectar lifestyle
(Image credit: Nectar)

Finding the best mattress to meet your sleeping needs is vitally important for your overall wellbeing. It's no secret that when we wake up from a decent night's sleep we feel rested and refreshed and, if you have the right mattress, you could even feel relieved from any aches and pains.

The essential first step to preventing disturbed nights, aching joints and general irritability is by investing in a quality mattress. But with current estimates showing there are hundreds of brands and thousands of different mattresses in this burgeoning market, how do you pick the one that’s going to be your ‘Goldilocks’ bed – not too hard and not too soft but just right – especially a place where you'll spend at least a third of your time, given you get the recommended eight hours of shut eye each night. 

Happily, our research has tackled all of these issues and we highlight who this pick of the best mattresses will suit most in each mini-review. We've even been fortunate enough to try out some of these mattresses for ourselves – such as the Casper Original mattress which offers a wonderful amount of comfort all night long – so you can take it from us that we are confident you'll rest easy after buying one of the mattresses in this guide. You deserve the luxury of a fabulous night's sleep. 

If you need a pillow (or two) to go with your new mattress, check out our best pillow guide for the top buys.

The best mattress for 2021

Best mattress Saatva

(Image credit: Saatva)

1. Saatva Classic Hybrid Mattress

Best overall mattress

Specifications
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Depth: 11.5”
Type: Hybrid memory foam and steel springs
Comfort: Medium, medium-firm, firm
Warranty: 15 years
Reasons to buy
+Available in three firmness levels+Hybrid combines memory foam and coils+Organic cotton cover, CertiPUR-US foam+Stays cooler than an all-foam mattress
Reasons to avoid
-Not for sleepers looking for a super soft surface

A perfect option if you’re unsure whether a pure memory foam mattress is for you, a hybrid combines traditional pocket spring coils with a memory foam layer for comfort and all-round sturdiness. 

Far from a compromise, this mattress provides the best of both worlds. Although it’s certainly not cheap, for a mattress of this quality, it is well priced, with quality features such as an organic cotton cover, recycled steel coils and CertiPUR-US foam. 

While the steel spring layer adds support for aching limbs, the cosy pillow top layer is soft and comfortable. As the mattress comes in three options of firmness – Plus Soft, Luxury Firm and Firm – it’s also suitable for all styles of sleeper. 

Looking at reviews though, most opt for the Luxury Firm, which is actually rated as a medium-firm, and seems to suit side, front and back sleepers alike. 

The coil construction means there’s good air-flow, perfect for those who get hot at night and it also provides stronger side support, so the mattress doesn’t tend to sag at the edges. 

Best mattress Avocado

(Image credit: Avocado)

2. Avocado Green Mattress

Best eco mattress and sustainable buy

Specifications
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Depth: 11"
Type: Hybrid
Comfort: Medium firm
Warranty: 25-year limited
Reasons to buy
+Latex rubber is sustainably harvested +Good for side and back sleepers+No harmful fire retardants+25-year guarantee+Optional plush cotton cover
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

Handmade in LA, the Avocado is the mattress of choice for those searching for one with eco credentials. 

Made with a combination of GOTS-certified cotton and wool, plus latex that has been responsibly and sustainably harvested it is certainly a quality choice, something that’s reflected in its price. 

It is made without fire retardants, chemical adhesives – that’s achieved using wool a natural fire-retardant – or petroleum-based foam layers, so it’s a good choice for those with allergies or sensitivities to certain chemicals. 

As there’s no foam, another benefit is there’s no off-gassing – something prevalent in the memory foam market. So there’s no initial odd smell with this mattress. 

The top latex layer is gently yielding and sits on top of a layer of tempered steel coils, while five zones support different areas of the body to give overall comfort and prevent motion transfer. 

As far as sleeping goes, it’s on the firm side of medium, the company puts it at 7 out of 10 on the scale, so a good option for back and lighter side snoozers as well as front sleepers. 

If you do want a tad more comfort, it’s also available with a soft cotton pillow top. 

Reviewers seem to overwhelmingly love it and note cool nights and relief from aches and pains as key benefits. 

Best mattress CasperH&G gold badge

(Image credit: Casper)

3. Casper Original Foam mattress

Best mattress for gently supporting aching joints

Specifications
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Depth: 10”
Type: Memory foam (four layers)
Comfort: Medium-firm
Warranty: 10 years
Reasons to buy
+Cooling, washable outer cover+Great for all sleep styles+Little or no motion transfer+Comes neatly boxed
Reasons to avoid
-Some chemical smell on unpacking but it does fade

Initially this mattress feels like it has a lot of give but once you’re on board, the four foam layers are surprisingly supportive. In particular, we’d give a high-five to the Zoned Support layer, which is designed to treat different pressure points in specific ways to ensure all-round comfort. 

It’s a combination that’s great for side sleepers, giving added support in the shoulder and hip areas and means there’s not a ‘solid as a rock’ sleep experience evident in some memory foam options. 

There’s also little or no motion transference, ideal if you are a light sleeper who shares a bed with a night-time wriggler.

Delivered in a box, it’s simple to unpack and pop on the bed – it has handles, too, which (trust us) come in very handy when changing and rotating the mattress. 

It takes just a few hours to fill out, although you might need to crack a window open to release some of the initial ‘chemical’ smell that lots of memory foam mattresses are prone to. 

Luckily, most reviewers report that odour dissipates pretty quickly and most don’t have problems sleeping on it just a few hours later. They also wake feeling well rested and without aches and pains in the morning. The top layer has an open-cell structure that increases airflow to stop overheating – perfect if you’re a ‘hot’ sleeper.

Homes & Gardens rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Best mattress NectarH&G gold badge

(Image credit: Nectar)

4. Nectar mattress

Best mattress for back sleepers

Specifications
Sizes: Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king to California king
Depth: 11”
Type: Memory foam
Comfort: Medium-firm to firm
Warranty: Lifetime
Reasons to buy
+Regular price offers+Lifetime guarantee+365 day trial period+Breathable outer layer keeps it cool
Reasons to avoid
-On the firm side so not great for heavy side sleepers

Nectar is so confident about the quality of its mattress, that you have a full year to trial its product – yep, that’s a whole 365 nights to see if you like it and if you decide you don’t, well, just send it back. 

The three layers – memory foam, pressure-relieving foam, and a seven-zone base layer for support – all sit below the outer cooling cover which adapts to body heat keeping night-time temperatures down. 

This means that even the most feverish of sleepers will stay cool all night. It’s slightly on the firmer side of medium-firm – its website claims it ranks from 5.5-7.5 on a firmness scale of 1-10, so is a top choice for front and back sleepers but probably not best for heavy side sleepers or those that prefer a mattress you can really sink into. 

Having said that, the more we slept on it the more comfortable it became, so given time would probably even suit those who want a sleep experience that’s slightly more giving. 

Erring on the side of medium-firm also ensures there’s no pesky motion transfer to speak of. As with some other memory foam mattress, there was a faint, lingering odor. However, it wasn’t at all noticeable by day two and certainly didn’t trouble our sleep. 

We can’t attest to some online comments that claimed the mattresses filled unevenly as we had no problems there. Price reductions seem to be pretty regular – as do special offers for free pillows, toppers, bedding, and duvets – so try not to buy when there isn’t one. 

Homes & Gardens rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Best mattress LeesaH&G gold badge

(Image credit: Leesa)

5. Leesa Original mattress

Best mattress for side sleepers

Specifications
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Depth: 10"
Type: Comfort foam/ memory foam
Comfort: Medium firm
Warranty: 10 years
Reasons to buy
+Medium firmness, suitable for all sleepers+Temperature regulating layers to prevent overheating+Good for partners of restless sleepers+Certified B-Corp 
Reasons to avoid
-Cover is not removable -Only three layers

Leesa has a One-10 program, which promises that for every 10 mattresses sold, it donates one to charities that serve the homeless and those at at-risk. 

Also worth noting, is the company’s partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant one tree for every mattress they sell, with a goal to plant one million trees globally by 2025. 

All well and good but how does the mattress itself stand up to testing? 

It comes well packed in a box, like many of its memory foam competitors, and is super simple to place on the bed and unfurl. The padded cover is gloriously soft and contains three sandwiched foam layers. 

The top Avena foam provides airflow to keep you cool, the pressure-relieving memory foam contours gently to your body and the dense 6” core adds support and durability for joints. Initially, it feels quite firm but becomes more giving as it warms to your body temperature. 

An accusation often leveled at memory foam mattresses is that they can contribute to overheating but most reviewers agree it provides a sweat-free night, probably due to the cooling cover and Avena layer, and it gets a healthy four and five-star rating on many sites. 

There’s free delivery, a 100-day sleep test, and free returns if you’re not 100% happy. It’s also a good idea to keep a lookout for regular promotions with money off the regular price.

Homes & Gardens rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

best mattress stearns & foster reserve hepburn

(Image credit: Stearns & Foster)

6. Stearns & Foster Reserve Hepburn Mattress

Best Premium Innerspring Mattress

Specifications
Sizes: Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King, Split King
Depth: 15"
Type: Innerspring
Comfort: Extra Firm or Extra Plush
Warranty: 10 years
Reasons to buy
+Hand-layered by craftsmens+Premium design details like velvet handles and copper air vents+Indulge Memory Foam, developed by scientists at Tempur-Pedic  offers comfort and pressure relief+IntelliCoil® HD coils offer support+Cooling Tencel cover promotes breathability
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy-No Twin-size version-Requires deep-pocketed sheets

This top of the line Stearns & Foster is definitely not your grandmother's mattress. The legacy mattress maker brings the most immaculate attention to the comfort and support of its mattresses featuring Intelli Coil HD, densely packed stainless steel coils that provide adaptive support for every type of sleeper, Indulge HD Memory foam engineered by Tempur-Pedic scientists for comfort and pressure relief, and a stretch-knit cover made with Tencel to wick away moisture and keep you comfortable. 

A ventilated coil system works with external air vents to increase breathability and promote cool, comfortable, deep slumber throughout the night.

The 15" Reserve Hepburn is available in extra-plush or extra-firm, depending on your personal preference, with the plush version featuring an additional layer of Indulge HD Memory Foam for maximum cushion. 

The exclusive to Stearns & Foster Intelli Coli system features a dual-stage design nestled in a honeycomb pattern where the outer coil extends above the inner coil, with the outer coil providing softness to your curves, and the inner coil gives you the support you need. 

best mattress Eight Sleep Pod Pro

(Image credit: Eight Sleep)

7. Eight Sleep The Pod Pro Mattress

Best Smart Mattress

Specifications
Sizes: Full- Cal king
Depth: 12"
Type: Memory foam
Comfort: Medium
Warranty: 10 years on mattress, 2 years on technology
Reasons to buy
+Provides personalized stats and information about your sleep, heart rate, and more+Control the bed's temperature between 55 and 110°F for maximum cool or warmth+GentleRise for a natural wake-up experience+5 Layers of foam
Reasons to avoid
-External "hub" must be refilled with water-Only available in Continental U.S.-Does not work with adjustable base beds-No "White Glove" delivery or old mattress removal services

If you attest to the belief that sleep is a science, or love to be at the forefront of sleep technology, the Eight Sleep Pod is truly like no other mattress on the market. Whether you sleep hot and are constantly kicking off the blankets - or the complete reverse, the Pod allows you and your sleeping partner to control the bed's temperature from a range of a chilly 55°F  to a toasty 110°F.

The temperature is controlled via a special hydro-cooling technology, that requires the use of an external black rectangular tank filled with water, referred to as the Hub. Here, water flows through the Hub's hydro-engines to the cotton cover known as the Active Grid to keep the bed as warm or cool as you desire. It's designed to fit next to your nightstand and needs to be refilled every two to three months, though the app will notify you when the water level is low.

Amp up the tech faster even further with personalized stats straight to your smartphone about your sleep including sleep tracking including time slept, deep sleep, and REM, as well as HRV monitoring with health reports on respiration, and heart rate. Here, the Active Grid cover also has sensors that tracks your biometrics and surrounding environment, and will adapt temperature accordingly. It's sensitive enough to detect heartbeats and breathing patterns, yet thin enough to remain imperceptible while you sleep.

Another feature, if you detest the blaring nature of an alarm clock, the scheduled GentleRise feature uses a gentle vibration at chest level to wake up without any sound, while gradually cooling or warming the bed minutes before the set wake-up time.

Now, let's talk about the memory foam mattress itself with five layers of cushiony support, including a 1-inch Comfort Blend topper that is integrated into the Active Grid for enhanced comfort and pressure-point relief. Below deck, you'll find an AirFlow top layer, Supportive Air technology layer for pressure relief, a FlexSpring Technology core for cradling support, and a premium base. Interestingly enough, Eight Sleep doesn't mention it's comfort-rating, but we believe the Pod Pro to fall between a medium and a medium-firm level. 

How to buy the best mattress for you

best mattress saatva

(Image credit: Saatva)

What is the best type of mattress? 

Mattresses are generally split into three main types:

  • Traditional innerspring mattresses uses a steel coil support system with natural or man-made fillings and covers. The greater the number of coils, the more points of support and the better the bed can contour and support the sleeper, usually described as springy
  • Foam mattresses, including polyurethane, memory, gel or latex foam, usually to contour to body, and offer different comfort, feel and heat dissipation features
  • Hybrid mattresses are a mix of the first two mattress types

Hot sleepers tend to prefer traditional coil or hybrids while those with specific aches and pains appreciate the levels of support that zoned memory foam can provide. Light sleepers with restless partners will enjoy memory foam which is more efficient at combating motion transfer. 

What mattress firmness do I need?

To find the right level of comfort, you first need to discover what position you sleep in, as that’s key to making the right choice. 

While comfort level is subjective, an industry-wide scale between 1 and 10 is used to determine firmness level, with a 1 being extremely soft and a 10 being extremely firm.

As a general rule, back sleepers and those carrying more weight will find a better level of support with a mattress that errs on the side of firm – around 7-7.5 on the scale. 

Side and stomach sleepers need some support but of a slightly softer kind, so should opt for a medium or medium-firm 5-7 out of 10. Sleep Advisor estimates that 80 percent of adults prefer mattresses categorized as medium. 

Lighter and some stomach sleepers might suit something a little more cloud-like. However, there are very few mattresses out there with a 1-2 rating simply because they are so soft and don't offer enough in the way of support. 

That said, if you have particular issues with muscle aches and joint pains, a mattress that is zoned with varying levels of firmness to help different areas of the body may be the better choice. 

The good thing is that many brands recognize that sleep styles vary and so many offer 100-night trials with free returns to make sure you get the one for you.

To find the right level of comfort, you first need to discover what position you sleep in, as that’s key to making the right choice. 

While comfort level is subjective, an industry-wide scale between 1 and 10 is used to determine firmness level, with a 1 being extremely soft and a 10 being extremely firm.

As a general rule, back sleepers and those carrying more weight will find a better level of support with a mattress that errs on the side of firm – around 7-7.5 on the scale. 

Side and stomach sleepers need some support but of a slightly softer kind, so should opt for a medium or medium-firm 5-7 out of 10. Sleep Advisor estimates that 80 percent of adults prefer mattresses categorized as medium. 

Lighter and some stomach sleepers might suit something a little more cloud-like. However, there are very few mattresses out there with a 1-2 rating simply because they are so soft and don't offer enough in the way of support. 

That said, if you have particular issues with muscle aches and joint pains, a mattress that is zoned with varying levels of firmness to help different areas of the body may be the better choice. 

The good thing is that many brands recognize that sleep styles vary and so many offer 100-night trials with free returns to make sure you get the one for you.

What's the difference between a mattresses' firmness and support?

A mattresses' firmness is referring to the immediate feeling you get when climbing into a bed, while support refers to a mattresses' ability to offer an even surface. A soft bed will feel soft to the touch, and respond to your body as you move, while a firmer one will offer less give and feel harder.  

Meanwhile, depending on your sleep preferences, a soft mattress can offer the same amount of support as a firmer one. For instance, side sleepers will want a softer mattress that can cradle and cushion their side, while back sleepers will seek out a mattress that wouldn't sag as they sleep. 

Casper original mattress

(Image credit: Casper)

Do all mattresses require turning?

Not all mattresses are made equal. Most traditional innerspring mattresses – featuring a core of covered springs surrounded by a comfort layer top and bottom – will need turning to ensure they don’t start to dip and sag where you sleep. 

This should be done around every three months or so, as well as rotating – turning the top of the bed to the bottom. 

Many memory foam mattresses by their very nature should retain their shape and most have a ‘right’ or ‘top’ side as the layers are arranged in a very specific order to give comfort and relieve stress on neck, shoulders and hips. 

Those won’t require turning, just regular rotating will be enough to keep them in tip-top condition.

How much sleep do I need?

Although seven to eight hours are recommended the kind of sleep stages experienced within that is important – there five stages, ranging between REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement). 

Stages one, two and REM are light and dream sleep, while three and four are important levels of restorative deep sleep. With the best mattress you can buy – and that means one that really suits your body rather than one that you buy purely based on price – you can be sure to get the quality of sleep you need.

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