The Best Mattress
We asked, “Can you love a mattress you never tested?"
The days of pretending to sleep on a bunch of mattresses in a showroom, then haggling down the price are over. Big Mattress is quickly being replaced with online-only retailers that boast risk-free trial periods, free shipping, and a much smaller selection for about half the price. And the sleep doctors, body-alignment specialists, and bedding experts we spoke with say that’s for the best: Most people will be happy with a neutral mattress and about 30 days to give it a real-life try. These four mattresses were universally approved by our testers, and they each have generous trial periods and easy enough returns that there’s no way to go wrong.
Our Overwhelming Favorite: If you’re after a hotel-like feel, you’ll want a pillowtop like this. Its layered foam design is both supportive and immediately comfortable. Even better: a queen-size is a totally reasonable $1,098.
Most Luxurious: The plushest — and, at $1,699, the most expensive — of the finalists. It’s serenely squishy, but you’ll pay a few hundred bucks more for it.
Best Cheap Mattress: This $600 no-frills foam mattress blew its competition, the twice-the-price Casper, out of the water.
We Liked It, But Didn’t Love It: At $1,150, it's more expensive than the Tuft & Needle, but no more amazing.
BedInABox discontinued our previous top pick for Most Luxurious, the Natural Silk Elegance GEL Memory Foam Mattress. We called and its customer service recommends two of its new models: the Serenity and the Silk Symphony. Both have the exact same innards as our original pick. The Serenity ($1,899) is surrounded by a temperature-regulating (and therefore pricier) outer shell. If you don’t sleep hot, go for the Silk Symphony ($1,599) — the “medium-feel” side of this double-sided mattress has a two-and-a-half layer quilted pillow top that mimics the plushness of the Silk Elegance. BedInABox’s extra-long 120-day trial period remains the same.
Up until two years ago, if you wanted a new mattress, there was really only one way to do it: in person. You headed to a mattress store, bounced around on a couple (or a couple dozen), and negotiated the price of the one you liked best with the salesperson working the floor. That’s right: negotiated. The traditional mattress industry — Big Mattress — operates like car dealerships do. Each shop’s owner can arbitrarily decide what they want to charge you for one of their models, and the markups are dramatic, in the range of 30–50 percent.
It’s an incredibly confusing retail consumer space and it’s made that way on purpose.
It’s not a great experience, and savvy marketers saw an opportunity. Starting in late 2013, mattress disrupters, including Casper and Tuft & Needle, arrived on the scene and began a marketing blitz. Rather than peddling a sea of confusingly named prototypes (How would one even begin to choose among Serta’s ProEnergy Super Pillow Top Elite, its equally deluxe-sounding Private Luxury Euro Top, and its future-is-now iComfort Foresight?), these online mattress brands offered just one or two models that promised to make any sleeper satisfied. Since then, there’s been an explosion in the space, with dozens of companies offering a one-size-fits-all mattress available for purchase on the internet.
We loved the online experience as soon as we tried it out, and the experts confirmed our feelings: There’s no better way to know if you love a mattress than to actually sleep on it, in real-life, for weeks, not minutes on a showroom floor. We found the “lack of choice” was awesome, too — we’d happily sleep on any of our four finalists, and comparing them almost seemed to over-complicate the issue.
If we were to rank them though, one of the most well-known disrupters was our least favorite: The Casper (there’s only one model, so it’s either love it or don’t) was a little too squishy for the Goldilocks among us, and some testers felt like it was about to bottom out. The Tuft & Needle was better: At half the price, it comfortably accommodates twice the body weight and its sides don’t collapse quite so much. (The Casper’s extra squish can be traced back to its top layer of open-cell latex that feels more rubbery than the Tuft & Needle’s top layer of poly foam.)
Tuft & Needle is the cheapest of the four, but doesn’t deliver that luxurious floating feel you get from most hotel mattresses. To get that hotel feel, you’ll want to go with the hotel-industry standard: a pillow top. Pillow tops aren’t pure marketing mumbo jumbo. It’s an additional layer of quilted foam that really does make a difference: Non-pillow-top mattresses, though usually cheaper, feel utilitarian and pillow tops feel truly pillowy.
Our favorite pillow top is the Loom & Leaf by Saatva in Relaxed Firm. All but two of our 15 testers ranked it first, and the brand ties for second place in owner satisfaction on review site Sleep Like The Dead. None of the mattresses we tested were firm, but Loom & Leaf felt the sturdiest — its few inches of pillow top keep it from feeling simply “firm.” It hits the sweet spot in a Venn diagram of luxury, comfort, and support, and is designed to accommodate 300 lbs. per side for a combined weight of 600 lbs.
Loom & Leaf’s pillow top is sewn into the mattress, unlike BedInABox, which has a removable pillow top cover. Between the two, Loom & Leaf’s pillow top feels both immediately comfortable and supportive. Our testers reported that the plusher BedInABox, our pick for hotel-like luxuriousness, first feels like you’re sinking and then the support kicks in.
Loom & Leaf is our top pick, but when we asked our 15 testers if they would have been equally satisfied with one of the other three mattresses had they not tested the Loom & Leaf, they unanimously said yes.
Can You Really Buy a Mattress You'll Love Online?
Even as the world goes from bricks to clicks, many people are still wary of purchasing a mattress online. In a survey we conducted of nearly 550 Americans, 79 percent reported that buying a mattress online without testing it first was “too risky.”
Our recruiter, Katie Power, fell into this category — she was interested in Tuft & Needle, but didn’t feel comfortable hitting the buy button. “The hassle of ordering a mattress that more than likely has a delivery fee, not liking it, and having to set up a return and try another one — that was very daunting,” she explained.
Yet herein lies the secret weapon in the mattress disrupter arsenal: notoriously generous refund policies, not to mention free deliveries and pickups. And that’s the game changer: When we asked our same survey participants about buying a mattress sight unseen online, but this time specifically from a company that offers a full refund and 30-day trial period, more than half said they would consider it.
Still, 44 percent of participants, weren’t so ready. We set out to find the best mattresses sold online — models even the most stalwart traditionalist couldn’t help but love, without the haggling or parsing through meaningless cloud-themed monikers.
Our Picks for the Best Mattress
No matter what Casper, Tuft & Needle, and their co-disrupters claim, a single mattress isn’t going to solve the sleeping woes of every individual. For better or worse, it all comes back to personal preference, which can change as you age. But rest easy. After talking with sleep experts, chiropractors, and even some hoteliers, we discovered that most people are absolutely satisfied with relatively few options. (It’s not like you get to pick out your mattress when you stay at a hotel — and who doesn’t like a good hotel mattress?)
Most people do well with the “Three Little Bears” approach to mattresses: neither too firm nor too mushy. “In the hotel world, we try to provide guests with a mattress that will be the most neutral — not too hard, not too soft, but still have a high-quality feel to it,” said Gregg Hilker, the general manager of the JB Duke Hotel on the campus of Duke University. In the hotel industry, that high-quality feel often comes from the plushness of a pillow top.
Grant Schilling, vice president of sales, marketing, and business development for Distrikt Hotel Group in NYC said, “We placed a lot of focus in making a bed that not only looked comfortable, but one that a guest would sink into and immediately feel relaxed. We ended up choosing a pillow top mattress that would provide that layer of plushness.”
To make our top picks, we scrutinized the shopping experiences of various online mattress retailers, examined ratings on Consumer Reports and mattress review sites like Sleep Like The Dead, and had four of the best shipped to our office to test out. We had our testers try the Loom and Leaf by Saatva in Relaxed Firm, BedInABox’s Natural Silk Elegance GEL Memory Foam Mattress (now discontinued, but similar to BedInABox’s Silk Symphony and Serenity models), and the signature models from both Casper and Tuft & Needle.
The good news? They’re all supremely comfortable — even our least favorite, The Casper — and you really can’t go wrong. Of the four mattresses we tested, two had pillow tops, and that proved to be the most notable differentiator of all. Lying down, these pillow tops are plush and you definitely feel like you’re sinking in, but compared to the non-pillow-top mattresses we tested from Casper and Tuft & Needle, you will feel a little more propped up. You’re lying on a pillow top mattress, not in it. Our testers reported back that both pillow top models were instantly luxurious, whereas the ones without were perfectly comfortable but more utilitarian — like they were just mattresses, and nothing more. If you’re someone who thinks hotel beds are the epitome of comfort, you’ll definitely prefer a pillow top.
The bad news is the returns every online mattress retailer promises aren’t as painless as advertised. They all require some version of submitting a return request, waiting up to 48 hours for a reply, and scheduling a pickup (Tuft & Needle’s first available pickup wasn’t for another 30 days!). It’s not effortless, but it’s not any worse than trying to figure out if you like a mattress in a showroom, bartering to get a price you like, carting it home, realizing it’s not the one for you, and then figuring out how to get rid of it. That said, our testing pool all had an overwhelming favorite: the Loom & Leaf by Saatva in Relaxed Firm. As of this writing, not a single one of them would have sent it back. (As we sleep on it more, we’ll let you know if that changes!)
The Saatva Loom & Leaf mattress stood out for a few reasons. It’s the only one that didn’t come vacuum sealed inside a box. It’s the only one that has handles sewn in (more important than you’d think!). It’s the mattress the Pope sleeps on when he’s in the US. And it’s the one that all but two of our 15 testers picked as their favorite.
We discovered Saatva because the brand ties for second place in owner satisfaction on Sleep Like The Dead. The company made its name with innerspring mattresses before launching a memory foam offshoot, Loom & Leaf, and we chose its most-popular Relaxed Firm model to test (Loom & Leaf also has a Firm option). It’s constructed with four layers of “plant-based” foam: a high-density support core with two inches of “transition layer,” followed by 5-pound memory foam, then topped off in a squishier, 4-pound foam swirled with gel and laminated with a medical-grade cooling gel. Everything is wrapped in a quilted organic cotton cover. Got all that?
Yeah, we didn’t really either.
Parsing through the construction and design of various models is one of the most challenging aspects of mattress shopping — always has been, always will be. Is 5-pound foam better than 4-pound foam? Are lots of layers better than one? Does gel make a difference? Loom & Leaf does an admirable job trying to lay it all out. Its website has diagrams as well as a pop-out Layer By Layer Guide that explains what each layer is made of and what it’s supposed to do. In fact, all our top mattress picks do this to a certain extent. Part of the disruption game is radical transparency, with mattress brands exposing the guts of their models as opposed to relying solely on phrases like “innovative cooling features” (Tempur-Pedic) or “superior soft conforming foam” (King Koil). BedInABox, Tuft & Needle, and Casper go so far as to include zippers on their covers so you can just open them on up and see for yourself.
The Loom & Leaf website details the layers and components that make up its signature mattress.
And while we sought out this level of transparency for all our top picks — the more you know, the less you’re putting your trust in vague marketing language — even a full explanation of the insides of a mattress isn’t going to make you any more ready to hit “buy.” What you need to know is what it feels like. So here goes.
At first bounce, the Loom & Leaf is the firmest-feeling of all the models we tested — although two of our testers who prefer really firm mattresses scoffed at that description. (If you’re a firm-or-bust sleeper, skip the Relaxed Firm model we tested and head straight to plain old “Firm.”) One tester said this mattress felt the sturdiest of the four we looked at; another described it as “dense.” If the ultra-pillowy BedInABox we tested was so lush it felt like a marshmallow, the Loom & Leaf is closer to pound cake.
Loom & Leaf looks the most like a traditional mattress out of the four. It’s all stitched together, unlike the other models we tested with zip-off covers, and has microsuede around the edges and built-in handles on the two long sides — the only mattress to include them. We suspect this is because the Loom & Leaf doesn’t come vacuum-sealed in a box, and the handles help with transport. But anyone who has ever moved will confirm how useful mattress handles are; it’s not like you can re-box up the Casper, and even if it’s only 71 pounds to Loom & Leaf’s 93, it’s no one-man project.
The queen-size Loom & Leaf retails for $999, and there’s an extra $99 delivery and setup fee, bringing the total to just under $1,100. Loom & Leaf is the only brand we tested that had any sort of delivery or shipping fees, but even with the extra charge, it fell smack in the middle of the pack price-wise: $400 more than Tuft & Needle, $500 less than BedInABox, and within $200 of the Casper after taxes. It has a 75-day home trial; if you’re unsatisfied in that time, you can schedule a pickup return for a full refund — minus the delivery fee.
It really surprised us that Loom & Leaf doesn’t refund that $99 delivery fee. It’s the only mattress we looked at that didn’t refund every penny in the event of an unsatisfied customer. Even though the 100 percent money-back guarantee is de rigueur among online disrupters, we still liked Loom & Leaf the best — it was so universally loved among our testers we think $99 is a risk worth taking.
One last downside: Loom & Leaf doesn’t have particularly speedy service either. For our mattress to be delivered in Seattle, we were prepared to wait between nine and 18 days for delivery; a customer service rep says it can take even longer if you’re farther away from a local delivery hub. Saatva hand-crafts all its mattresses (in the US), which likely contributes to the time lag, but all the other mattresses we tested had one-week-max shipping times. You can even buy Casper and Tuft & Needle via Amazon Prime with two-day shipping. It’s up to you if the slower ship time or $99 fee is a deal breaker — we don’t think it is.
If you’re looking for luxury, you want BedInABox — although you wouldn’t know it from the state our BedInABox test model arrived in. The box was decrepit and covered in oily stains, but once unveiled, it started raking up superlatives: the plushest and the most satisfied customers on Sleep Like the Dead, and the most expensive too. Two of our 15 testers ranked BedInABox their favorite: They liked the “squooshiness” of this pillow top over Loom & Leaf’s, but thought it felt more supportive than either Tuft & Needle or Casper. The test model we tried was the BedInABox Silk Elegance GEL; it’s since been replaced by two new models. At $1,599, the Silk Symphony is most similar in price and feel — it’s got the same innards as our test model with a quilted top. One step up is the Serenity — a pricey $1,899. The $300 difference is a temperature-regulating CoolRest outer layer. If you don’t sleep hot, save $300 and choose the Silk Symphony.
Construction-wise, BedInABox is more streamlined than its pillow-topped counterpart — just a fat layer of support foam, topped by a few inches of gel-infused memory foam, and two and a half layers of quilted foam more inches of thick pillow top covered in a silk blend. BedInABox has nothing to hide. Its cover unzips to reveal it all, whereas Tuft & Needle and Casper unzip, but keep everything wrapped in gauze. It’s pretty obvious why most mattress companies don’t prefer to show off their innards: Exposed, even the best mattress looks pretty humble. But we love this level of transparency, and appreciate BedInABox all the more for it.
BedInABox offers five mattress models, or really, five different covers to the same core mattress. The cheapest model ($849 for a queen) is just the core: the support foam topped with the super squishy gel-infused foam, wrapped in a thin cover. Unzip the pillow top on the Silk Symphony, and there it is. We preferred the addition of the pillow top. Without it, you sink quite deep into the foam — if you’re looking for a non-pillow-top mattress, we prefer Tuft & Needle, which has more bounce and keeps you elevated.
Be forewarned, the BedInABox has a distinct “off-gassing,” a chemical odor that is common in memory foam mattresses, which was present for all four of our finalists. BedInABox’s has lingered the longest: going on seven days as of this writing. Additionally, BedInABox customer service reps were the least knowledgeable. When we inquired what weight our mattress could accommodate, the reply was essentially “any and all weights!” — which we can assume just isn’t true.
At 120 days, BedInABox has the longest at-home trial time of any brand we tested; even more interesting is that it requires you to keep it for at least 60 days before submitting a return. If you know you don’t want it after month one, you’ll have to find a place to stash it before you can schedule a time for someone to come pick it up.
Tuft & Needle is a top pick on Consumer Reports, garnered 4.5 out of 5 stars from nearly 5,000 reviews on Amazon, and ranks in the top five brands on Sleep Like The Dead. A queen-size mattress will only set you back $600 — it’s one of the cheapest mattresses on the market. Consider us impressed.
Its most obvious comparison is the Casper, our other non-pillow-top model. All 15 testers ranked the Casper as their least favorite, saying it felt too squishy and like quicksand. One tester, who was seven months pregnant, said she had the hardest time getting up out of it; another complained that he was going to “bottom out” if he sat or kneeled instead of lying flat.
This feedback was surprising, because although Consumer Reports recommends Tuft & Needle over the Casper as a “Best Buy,” it ranks the Casper slightly superior in both side- and back-sleeping support. (The two mattresses tie everywhere else, including durability and stability.)
We Liked It, Just Not As Much
The Casper Mattress More expensive than its foam competitor, Tuft & Needle, and ranked least comfortable of our four finalists by every tester. But, if it were the only one to arrive, we’d all have been happy with it.
The Tuft & Needle doesn’t have many layers — there are just two: a “supportive base layer” and a top layer made of a proprietary foam that claims to offer a gradient support. The more pressure you apply, the more support you receive. Do we believe in this “revolutionary technology”? Maybe a little. Tuft & Needle is firmer than the memory-foam Casper (although Consumer Reports measures both as medium), and our testers said they felt more supported. Tuft & Needle claims to be able to support a whopping 500 pounds per side, the most of any mattress we looked at. Surprisingly, it’s also one of the lightest mattress we looked at, weighing in at just over 70 pounds. (The Casper, which weighs about the same, can only handle 250 pounds per side.)
One thing is certain of any foam mattress: The closer you get to the edge, the less supportive it will be. On both the Tuft & Needle and the Casper, you can collapse the edge of the mattress all the way down to the ground if you press hard enough. If you are sharing a bed, are heavier than average, and/or need a lot of space, upgrading to a king-size mattress may be your best bet.
One of our editors (weighing in at 175 pounds) tested the compression of our four finalists, with the Loom & Leaf (top left) and BedInABox (top right) faring much better than the Tuft & Needle (bottom left) and the Casper (bottom right).
Tuft & Needle offers a 100-night trial period, and will arrange to have your mattress picked up by a local charity if you choose to return it. With that, though, you’re on the charity’s time — when we called to coordinate our donation, Seattle’s Salvation Army wouldn’t be able to schedule a pickup for more than a month. If you can donate your mattress without a pickup, you can send a photo of your receipt and receive your money back that way.
Mattress Reviews at a Glance
Loom & Leaf by Saatva
Tuft & Needle
Best Cheap Mattress
Our Least Favorite
Minimum 60 days, maximum 120 days
300 lbs. per side
Unknown. “Any and all weights!”
500 lbs. per side
250 lbs. per side
48-hr return processing, then schedule donation pickup
Call to return and schedule donation pickup
Donate and email receipt; or call to coordinate donation pickup. (It can take a month!)
Courier pickup in NYC; call to coordinate donation pickup elsewhere
*For a queen-size mattress, including taxes, shipping, and fees
What We Looked For
Many of the online mattress retailers we examined offer just one, or a handful, of models. By comparison, in the traditional mattress retail industry, “there is far too much choice,” says Dr. Breus. “If you walk into a mattress store, there’s gonna be 30-40 mattresses on the floor. They’re fluffy white rectangles. You’re relying on the salesperson to educate you.”
We often think that having a plethora of options when making a decision is a good thing — but in fact, too many options can actually make us miserable. According to research done by psychologist Barry Schwartz, increased choice can lead to decreased well-being; would-be purchasers become consumed with product comparison and the quest to select the “perfect” item. He called this phenomenon “the tyranny of choice.”
This was an issue even with the four mattresses we looked at. Sure, we had a favorite, but when we considered each mattress on its own, we wouldn’t have sent any of them back.
No Hard Sell
To get a refresher on what the average person experiences shopping for a mattress, we sent one of our testers to a Mattress Firm in suburban Chicago. She counted 36 mattresses on the showroom floor, each branded with a confusing jumble of descriptors like “Advanced Pocketed Coil® Technology” and “Micro Diamond™ Memory Foam.” The store had just one salesman, and he was tied up with another customer when she walked in. As a result, he promised he’d “throw some additional savings her way” for making her wait. He immediately suggested she lie down on some of the more expensive Tempur-Pedic mattresses — conveniently located closest to the door — and informed her as she moved to the cheaper models in the back of the store that she’d be sacrificing quality and comfort. The whole thing was stereotypically (if not a little charmingly) salesy, and she left unconvinced by anything he had said.
Besides a few live chat boxes that pop up mid-browse asking if you have any questions, the online mattress shopping experience is completely hands-off. To test how peddling a single model translated to a live sales experience, we had a tester visit the Casper showroom in Los Angeles. She reported back it was like performing a live-action version of online shopping: The salesperson was on standby for questions, but she was ultimately encouraged to just buy the mattress and try it out at home for 100 days, risk free.
We mentioned the insane 30–50 percent mattress markup that you’ll find in traditional retail stores. Online mattresses offer their model at one set price (often cheaper than retail stores), no haggling required. Perhaps even more striking: Price affects quality less than you would think. According to Consumer Reports, when it comes to shelling out extra cash for a mattress, “Generally speaking, you get more of the same, maybe six inches of cushioning instead of four, more coils, heavier wire, fancier fabric, and extra support around the edge or lumbar region. A lot of the niceties are overkill for many people.”
Identical mattresses are often christened with different names from store to store, making it impossible for the consumer to do any sort of comparison shopping. For example, the same Simmons Beautyrest mattress is known as Mona Firm Tight Top at Macy’s and Hartfield Luxury Firm at Mattress Firm. Thankfully, there was none of that at our online retailers.
“Mattresses are one of the biggest consumer purchases that everybody makes after a house and a car. It’s a big investment. And if you think about what you get at the mattress store, it’s a black box and you don’t know what’s inside of it.”
If a mattress manufacturer has nothing to hide, the company should disclose every single material that goes inside that big, white fluff box — what materials, how much of each, and where they come from. “If anybody refuses to give specs to you, you have a disreputable company,” said Dr. Breus.
The Ability to Purchase Online
This seems like an obvious one, but it’s a major perk. It’s 2017. Any brand not playing in the online space is needlessly behind the times. A couple big-name brands lost out big here: Kingsdown, Sealy Posturepedic, Simmons Beautyrest, and The Original Mattress Factory only offer in-store purchasing. We looked into 10 disrupters before landing on our top picks, and all of them offered mattresses strictly online, although Casper does have showrooms in Los Angeles and New York City.
Still, 77 percent of the consumers we surveyed cling to the notion that they must visit a traditional retail store and test out a few models before purchasing. But according to The Mattress Buyer’s Guide, what matters is testing out the mattress in your own home, while actually sleeping. Our experts agree. “You can’t really know what you’re going to like in a mattress store sitting on it for 15 minutes,” said Dr. Weiniger.
The best way to see if a mattress works for you is to actually catch some shut-eye on it. Which brings us to our next point…
A Robust Return Policy
We were only interested in mattresses that offered at least a 30-night trial period. According to our sleep experts, you need at least a month to determine if a mattress is right for you. So it follows that you should be allowed to sleep on a mattress, risk-free, for at least that long before you have to commit to it for a decade.
Several disrupters offered top-notch return policies. BedInABox offers a 120-night return policy with no shipping charges or restocking fees; Casper does 100 nights with free pickup. The most impressive return policy by far came from Yogabed, which allows its customers one full year to try out a mattress and decide if it’s for them.
Contrast that with a more traditional retail brand: The Serta iComfort Expertise Super Pillow Top makes its customers pay a 15 percent return and disposal fee, plus $200 for shipping and handling. One of the worst return policies belongs to Zinus Foam, which makes its customers return the mattress in “the original or a sturdy box,” before 30 days have expired. Really?
Did You Know?
Sleep position doesn’t matter as much as mattress companies tell you.
Traditional retail mattress stores continue to promote the narrative that you should pick a mattress based on your sleep position. Our experts disagree. “At the end of the day, the kind of mattress you sleep on is really personal preference. As long as it has good support, it doesn’t matter what type it is,” said Dr. Darren K. Pollack, DC, Director of Medical Services and “independent client provider” for DASHA®.
In other words, you don’t need to run out and buy a specific mattress that caters to how you specifically sleep.
But our experts still had some sleep position recommendations.
According to the experts we spoke with, it’s a toss-up between side and back sleeping as the preferred position for proper alignment. Dr. Chris Mabry, a chiropractor at Ability Chiropractic in Ohio, would like his clients to sleep on their backs. “But most people find this uncomfortable and literally lose sleep over trying to make this transition,” he told us.
There was something that all five chiropractors we interviewed unanimously agreed upon: Sleeping on your stomach is doing awful things to your spine. “Sleeping on your belly is the absolute worst because it causes hyperextension issues with your neck and back,” explained Dr. Pollack. “Sleeping on your stomach is not a smart idea,” echoed Dr. Weiniger. “In order to breathe, you need your head to be turned all the way to the left or the right. Stomach sleepers are not moving their body with any symmetry.”
Depending on your bed frame, you might need to purchase a box spring.
No matter what, you need a good support system for your mattress, whether that comes in the form of the floor, a box spring, or a platform bed. Without proper support, even the best mattress will eventually start sagging under the weight of a sleeping body. A box spring — or foundation as it’s commonly called — rests on top of your bed frame beneath your mattress.
Some newer beds (and most European-style beds) have a platform for the mattress to rest upon. The platform can be a solid piece of wood or a row of sturdy slats, spaced no more than two inches apart. (This type of bed is super common at Ikea.) If you have one, you can skip the box spring.
And be prepared: Traditional mattress salespeople will often try to upsell you on a specific brand of box spring. Ignore them. Shop around and try to get a good price — plenty of big-box retailers like Wal-Mart, Macy’s, and West Elm offer great options for $60–$110.
Mattress warranties — like all warranties — come with a lot of fine print.
Most warranties only cover manufacturing defects, such as flaws in the materials or construction of the mattress; they don’t cover normal wear and tear. Warranty failures, like a broken spring or open seam, often pop up in the first few years after purchase, and that’s when your warranty is most effective. But some companies offer 10- or 20-year warranties, and often prorate them, which means a (sometimes sizable) amount of money will be subtracted for the time you used your mattress and your warranty likely won’t cover the full replacement value of the mattress.
Even worse: There are seemingly innocuous things that can void a warranty altogether. If your mattress is stained, improperly supported, or missing certain tags, you may not get a penny.
The Bottom Line
Rejoice! You no longer have to haggle your way through the traditional box-store mattress buying experience. Online retailers offer a curated selection of quality choices at affordable prices, and the best ones offer a full money-back guarantee if you don’t like your mattress — even after actually sleeping on it for a month or more.
Try your new mattress for at least 30 nights. Pay attention to how you feel when you wake up in the morning. Are you sore, particularly in the neck or lower back? Did you toss and turn all night? Did you sweat much more than you usually do? These are all signs that the mattress isn’t gonna cut it.
Keep it clean. “The weight of your mattress can double in 10 years after accumulating dust mites and dirt,” says Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a sleep expert and co-author of Sleep for Success! To clean your mattress, sprinkle baking soda across the bare top and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to deodorize. When you vacuum up the baking soda, you’ll also suck up dust mites and dead skin cells.
Replace your mattress every five to 10 years. If your mattress looks lumpier than the moguls on a ski run, it’s obviously time to get a new one. But over the span of a decade, even mattresses that appear to be in working condition can break down internally, providing less-than-ideal back support and a poor night’s sleep. To extend the life of your mattress, Consumer Reports advises deep-cleaning it twice per year and rotating it every two months.