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by Michael J. Breus, Ph.D. Mattress Contributing Editor

You will spend roughly one-third of your life in bed, so it's important to find a quality mattress that fits your needs and lets you get a good rest. Use our guide to research and find the best mattress company for you — we break down mattress types, firmness levels, sleeping positions and costs.

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Types of mattresses explained

When buying a mattress, the first decision you need to make is which type you want. Mattresses come in a variety of different builds, styles and materials, each with its pros and cons.

mattress type
Innerspring mattresses
Innerspring mattresses, also known as spring mattresses, are likely what you think of when you think of a traditional mattress. For years, the innerspring build was the main mattress style on the market, and it remains one of the most popular options available today.
  • Construction: Innerspring mattresses use coils, typically made of metal, to support your weight. Different coil styles offer varying levels of support and carry different price tags. These options include continuous coils, Bonnell coils, offset coils and Marshall coils.
    • Continuous coils are formed in a hinge from a single piece of wire.
    • Bonnell coils are steel wire coils laced together in an hourglass shape with a knotted top. Bonnell coils are a very simple but common coil type.
    • Offset coils are hourglass coils flattened at the top and bottom. The flattened portions are hinged together with helical wires designed to help the coils better conform to your body.
    • Marshall coils are individually wrapped in fabric. Marshall coils are not wired together, which allows them to provide better motion isolation and bounce. Marshall coils are among the most popular coil types and are also known as wrapped coils, encased coils or pocket springs.
  • Support: The support an innerspring mattress provides comes from the coils. The more coils in a bed, the more support it offers.
  • Pros: Innerspring mattresses are widely available with many affordable options to fit your budget.
  • Cons: Metal coils can irritate pressure points and weaken over time, which means you may need to replace an innerspring mattress more quickly than other mattress types.
  • Best for: Innerspring mattresses support a variety of sleep positions. The individual springs in a Marshall coil design suit side sleepers. Back and stomach sleepers can adapt to different styles but need to pay attention to the firmness levels.
Memory foam mattresses
Memory foam mattresses are known for providing support and pressure relief. Memory foam conforms to your body and provides cushioning where your body exerts the most pressure while maintaining proper support to the rest of your spine.
  • Construction: Memory foam mattresses are commonly made out of polyurethane, but open cell and gel-infused memory foam designs are also popular.
    • Open cell foam is a more breathable type of foam that lets air escape and circulate, which allows the mattress to sleep cooler while still providing the same pressure relief of traditional foam mattresses.
    • Gel-infused memory foam offers another cooling option. Foam mattresses that are gel-infused or contain a layer of gel are often cool to the touch and help regulate your temperature through the night.
  • Pros: Limited motion transfer makes memory foam mattresses ideal for those who sleep with a partner, and the extra support can help sleepers who suffer from back and joint pain.
  • Cons: You sink into the mattress, which some people find uncomfortable. Traditional memory foam mattresses are also known for retaining heat.
  • Best for: Memory foam mattresses are a great choice for side sleepers because they allow your shoulder and hips to sink into the mattress, which cradles and supports them throughout the night in a way spring mattresses can’t.
Latex mattresses
Latex mattresses are manufactured with natural latex made from rubber tree sap instead of synthetic materials. Latex mattresses are designed to relieve pressure points and are known for their durability.
  • Construction: A latex mattress has at least one layer of latex but may contain multiple layers located in the comfort and support layers.
  • Support: Additional foam layers generally complete the core support of the mattress, but some companies manufacture latex-coil hybrid mattresses.
  • Pros: Latex is resistant to mold and dust mites, which makes a latex mattress a naturally allergen-free choice. Because of the use of natural materials, the mattresses don’t contain strong odors or off-gassing common with foam mattresses.
  • Cons: Latex mattresses tend to be more expensive than innerspring and memory foam mattresses.
  • Best for: Anyone concerned with allergens or looking for a durable, eco-friendly option.
Hybrid mattresses
True to the name, hybrid mattresses are a combination of two or more mattress types. The most common is a spring-foam hybrid, which uses traditional coils to provide support but surrounds them by layers of foam for comfort.

If you’re looking into a hybrid mattress, you may also want to consider a pillow top mattress, which is an innerspring mattress with a top layer of padding made of foam, latex, cotton, wool or other fibers.

  • Pros: Hybrid mattresses combine multiple layers to provide superior support and comfort. Hybrid mattresses often run a little cheaper than memory foam mattresses but have similar benefits.
  • Cons: Hybrid mattresses are heavy, which can make them difficult to move.
  • Best for: Side sleepers and budget shoppers.

Mattress type by sleeping position

Proper spinal alignment and pressure point relief is critical to sleeping well, which makes a significant impact on how you feel throughout the day. Your mattress should provide the right support whether you sleep on your side, back or stomach — or toss and turn through the night.

sleep positions
Side sleeper
If you’re a side sleeper, look for a softer mattress that allows your hip and shoulder to sink in to help ensure proper spinal alignment. Memory foam mattresses can be good for this. A medium-soft to medium innerspring mattress also works well for a side sleeper.
Back sleeper
Back sleepers have a slight advantage because they can sleep comfortably on most mattress types. A medium-firm mattress provides the best support to those who sleep on their backs.
Stomach sleeper
Research shows sleeping on your stomach can put extra strain on your body, so look for a firm, supportive mattress to ensure proper alignment and pressure relief. Experts often recommend transitioning to a side or back sleeping position if possible.
If you sleep with a partner, pay careful attention to mattresses that reduce motion transfer (how much the mattress moves if your partner gets up or moves often in their sleep). Memory foam mattresses are often a good choice for couples because of their superior motion isolation. If you’re set on an innerspring mattress, look for one with Marshall coils.

Find the best mattresses for pain and other issues

More than your sleeping position should be considered when choosing the right mattress style and firmness. If you suffer from back pain, joint pain or simply struggle with getting too hot when you sleep, there are a few ways to identify the best mattress to alleviate your concern.

Back pain
If you have chronic back pain, finding the right mattress support is critical. Consider opting for a firm or medium-firm mattress to get the proper support and alignment and wake with fewer aches and pains.
Joint issues and mobility
While a firmer mattress is often recommended for people who suffer from pain, those who suffer from arthritis, inflammation or other joint issues may find that firm mattresses create too much pressure and exacerbate their pain. A mattress that is too soft can cause improper spinal alignment, however. Ideally, those suffering from joint issues should find a mattress somewhere in the middle that strikes the perfect balance of comfort and support.
If you carry extra weight, you may want to try a firmer mattress that lets you avoid sinking too deeply into the mattress and throwing off your alignment, which can lead to back pain in the future. To find the best mattresses for overweight individuals, look for those that fully support you at all times.
If you find yourself kicking off the covers in a sweat in the middle of the night, look for a mattress that includes a cooling layer. Gel mattresses are known for their cooling properties and are good alternatives to traditional memory foam mattresses, which are known to sleep hot. Innerspring mattresses tend to be temperature neutral and can be a good choice when paired with a cooling pillow or a ceiling fan. For more information, read our guide on cooling mattresses for hot sleepers..
Latex mattresses are naturally allergen-free and resist dust mites and mold, which makes them a great choice for those struggling with indoor allergies.

Mattress firmness comparison

Mattresses are frequently described in terms of their firmness, so understanding what this means and how it impacts your sleep helps you narrow down which mattress is right for you. To get the best mattress firmness, you need to consider your preferred sleeping position, body weight, pain issues, physical condition and whether you share the bed with a partner.

  • Soft mattresses: A soft mattress ranks between 1 and 2 on the 10-point mattress firmness scale. A soft mattress sags more than a medium or firm mattress, which causes the sleeper to feel as though they’re sinking into the bed — even with an innerspring mattress. A soft mattress may be a good fit for a lightweight person, as they won’t sink in as deep. Soft mattresses can trigger back pain in many individuals, including stomach sleepers and heavier people. Soft mattresses are often recommended for side sleepers because they allow people’s hips and shoulders to sink in, which helps promote proper alignment. A medium-soft mattress (3 to 4 on the scale) may be a more supportive option, though.
  • Medium mattresses: Sometimes referred to as universal comfort mattresses, medium mattresses, which include medium-soft mattresses and medium-firm mattresses, rank between 3 and 7 on the firmness scale. They’re a popular choice for all sleep types because they combine the plush comfort of a soft mattress with the high-quality support of a firm mattress. A medium-soft mattress is an excellent choice for side sleepers, and a medium-firm mattress is a great choice for couples.
  • Firm mattresses: Rated 8 to 10 on the firmness scale, firm mattresses allow sleepers to truly sleep on top of the mattress and provide little to no sink factor. Firm mattresses are especially recommended for stomach sleepers and heavier individuals.

Mattress firmness Q&A

How firm should a mattress be?
The recommended mattress firmness depends on your sleeping position.
Are firm mattresses good for back pain?
Firm mattresses can provide good support for those with back problems, but a mattress that is too firm can irritate joint pain. Consider medium-firm support instead.
Are soft mattresses bad for your back?
Soft mattresses aren’t recommended for most people. With the exception of side sleepers, soft mattresses don’t provide the proper support for most sleeping types.

Mattress support vs. comfort

Support and comfort are two words that are often incorrectly interchanged. There are comfort layers and support layers in a mattress. The support layer is usually the bottom 6 inches. This is the base that sets the firmness and can be made of foam, coil or air. Depending upon the density or feel the manufacturer wants to produce, it can add additional comfort layers to increase firmness, plushness, cooling factor or anything else it wants to make the mattress appealing to consumers. Typically, the more layers a mattress has, the more expensive it is.

How much is a mattress?

The average cost of a mattress is around $1,000 for a queen. Keep in mind, prices vary significantly depending on the brand, quality and mattress type. A queen mattress can cost anywhere from less than $500 to more than $5,000. No matter what size mattress you’re buying, there are ways to make the mattress-buying process more affordable.

Average mattress price by mattress size

Twin mattress$300+
Full mattress$800+
Queen mattress$1,000+
King mattress$1,200+
Average price for innerspring

Average mattress price by mattress type

Innerspring mattress$1,000
Memory foam mattress$1,000
Hybrid mattress$2,000
Latex mattress$2,000
Average price for queen

How to buy a mattress

Once you have an idea of your ideal mattress, it’s time to go shopping. You need to decide whether you want to buy a mattress online or in person at a retail location. There are pros and cons to each. You may be able to get a better deal online, but you can only test a mattress before you buy it by visiting a store or showroom in person. However, most online mattress brands offer a generous in-home trial period to help give customers confidence in their purchase.

Use these mattress shopping tips to navigate the buying process.

  1. Test it out: The only way to know if you like a mattress is to lie on it. Don’t just lie down and jump back up, either. Be sure to test the mattress in the position you typically sleep in, particularly if you are a side sleeper, and stay in the position for a few minutes. If you have a partner, be sure to bring them along to get an idea of how the mattress handles motion.
  2. Look for a generous mattress trial period: Experts say it can take several weeks to fully adjust to a mattress. That’s why many companies offer at least a 30-night trial period. Some brands, particularly those who sell their mattresses exclusively online, offer 90- to 100-night sleep trials. A longer trial period takes some of the fear out of buying a mattress because you can change your mind and try something else if needed.
  3. Try more than one, but not too many: You should compare and contrast different styles and levels of firmness in person if you have the chance. However, trying too many mattresses can be confusing and ultimately muddle your experience. Try two to three in the style you’re leaning toward, but add in one you might not have considered just to compare.
  4. Negotiate mattress price: Like buying a car, salespeople know you have endless options when buying a mattress. This means they may be willing to offer a discount or rebate, and they may even upgrade you to a nicer mattress for the same price as a less expensive model.
  5. Ask about mattress warranties: Like any major purchase, mattresses often come with a warranty — some warranties extend well beyond the typical lifespan of a mattress. Like the return period, be sure to know what might void a mattress warranty.
  6. Look at thickness and layers: You should also look at mattress thickness when comparing mattresses. Most mattresses range between 8 to 12 inches and usually include two to five layers. The top layers deliver the comfort and cooling properties, while the bottom layers provide the foundation and compression support. In good mattresses, the foundation should be at least half of the mattress’s thickness. Each layer should be at least 2 inches thick to provide superior support and comfort. Increased padding often indicates a higher-quality bed. Plus, the thicker the mattress, the longer it typically lasts. Many 10-inch mattresses include a 10-year warranty, while thicker mattresses offer as much as a 15- or 20-year warranty.

How to buy a mattress online

Buying a mattress online is a very simple process. You just need to know the style of mattress you want in advance, and you have your pick of bed-in-a-box brands that sell directly to consumers and larger retailers with an online presence.

  1. Determine the mattress type you want
  2. Set a budget
  3. Read customer reviews
  4. Look for brands that offer generous in-home trial periods
  5. Select a mattress that offers a minimum 10-year warranty

Mattress FAQ

How long does a mattress last?
The lifespan of your mattress depends on how you use it, your body type and the environment in which you live. The Better Sleep Council recommends disposing of your mattress and replacing it every seven to 10 years, on average. Higher-quality mattresses may last longer due to their superior materials and construction, but even expensive mattresses have an expiration date.
How do you know it’s time to replace your mattress?
Signs that it’s time to replace your mattress include:
  • You wake up with neck or back pain, stiff limbs or feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep
  • You frequently toss and turn or wake up throughout the night
  • There are low spots or visible sagging in your mattress
  • Your mattress has suddenly started creaking
  • Your allergies are growing worse, especially when it isn’t your typical allergy season
  • You’ve found a mattress firmness or style you like more
Which is the most comfortable mattress?
Comfort is a top priority when buying a new mattress, so figure out what type of mattress you like the most. You can choose from multiple styles, including:
  • Memory foam
  • Latex
  • Innerspring
  • Gel
  • Pillow top
  • Adjustable base

If you can’t settle on one type of mattress, consider buying a hybrid version that combines springs and memory foam.

There is no one most comfortable mattress — what’s comfortable for one person may not be the best choice for someone else. We recommend testing mattresses in person, doing your research by reading reviews for common complaints and making side-by-side comparisons of your top mattress choices.

Which mattress is best for back pain?
Health care professionals recommend sleeping on a medium-firm mattress if you suffer from back pain. For more information on what type of mattress is best for your back pain, visit our guide to the best mattresses for back pain.
How do I choose a mattress?
There are a few things to consider when choosing a new mattress:
  • Budget
  • Sleeping position
  • Your weight
  • Type and style of mattress

Your sleeping position and weight are crucial factors to consider when purchasing a new mattress because they determine the level of firmness you need. Taking these factors into consideration helps alleviate any mattress-related sleeping problems.

What should I look for when buying a mattress?
Consider your physical needs when purchasing a new mattress. If you struggle with back pain or joint issues, search for a mattress that’s designed to accommodate your needs.

Make sure your mattress has a return policy that extends at least 30 days after purchase and includes a full refund or credit towards another mattress.

A new mattress is an investment. While you might be tempted to pick a middle-of-the-road, less expensive option, remember that you spend roughly a third of your life on your mattress. It’s essential to invest in one that gives you maximum comfort and support.

Not sure how to choose?

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    Mattress brands reviewed


    Sleepy's is now owned and operated by Mattress Firm, which offers a huge range of mattress options, from memory foam to adjustable beds to pillow-tops. You can visit the retail stores to test out the mattresses in person before deciding.

    Read more about Sleepy's
    Saatva Mattress

    Saatva mattresses are comfortable, durable and handcrafted in the United States with eco-friendly materials. Saatva designed the optional Lumbar Zone technology for optimal spine support. Shop online and get free delivery. Financing is available.

    • Mattress pricing: Queen-size mattresses start at around $1,575.
    • Types of mattresses: Saatva’s hybrid innerspring mattress combines the durability and support of a coil-on-coil innerspring system with memory foam layers for the ultimate in back comfort. Choose from plush soft, luxury firm or extra firm.
    • Trial period: Customers enjoy a 120-night trial period.
    • Warranty: Saatva guarantees its mattresses will be free from defects in quality for 15 years. For the first two years of the warranty, Saatva will replace your mattress with a brand-new one at no charge. In years three to 15, the company will completely repair and re-cover your mattress, charging a $99 transportation fee.
    • Additional products: Saatva also sells adjustable beds, as well as bedding, frames and bases.
    Read 3480 Reviews
    Select Comfort - Sleep Number

    Sleep Number adjustable mattresses adjust the mattress support for each sleeper. Get home delivery and setup when you shop online. Special financing is available.

    Read more about Select Comfort - Sleep Number
    Mattress Firm

    Mattress Firm customers can browse at over 3,000 retail stores or online. Financing options with convenient monthly payments are available. Consumers who don’t want to apply for financing with Mattress Firm can still enjoy a 90-day payment option.

    Read more about Mattress Firm

    US-Mattress carries various manufacturers, including Ameena, Chattam & Wells, Corsicana, Diamond, Restonic, Southerland and Vispring. Purchase online to get free express delivery. Shop online or at store locations in Southeast Michigan.

    • Mattress pricing: Queen-size mattresses start at under $300.
    • Types of mattresses: Select from innerspring, memory foam, gel foam, hybrid and latex foam. Mattresses from extra plush to extra firm are available.
    • Trial period: US-Mattress provides a 120-night sleep trial period. There is a small processing fee on some mattresses.
    • Warranty: Warranties vary by manufacturer.
    • Additional products: Furniture, bedding and linens are also available.
    Read 904 Reviews
    Brentwood Home

    Brentwood Home makes all mattresses in California, using natural materials that keep your bedding chemical-free. It harvests materials like bamboo and cotton for its mattresses to keep environmental impact low. Get free shipping and returns when you shop online. Financing with 0% APR is available.

    Read more about Brentwood Home
    Luma Sleep

    Luma Sleep makes its mattresses in America, focusing on quality materials and superior design. Shop online and get free delivery and returns.

    Read more about Luma Sleep
    Nest Bedding

    Nest Bedding mattresses are handmade in the United States and eco-friendly. Shop online or at showrooms in New York, California and Illinois. The company provides white-glove delivery to your home. Financing is available with 0% APR.

    Read more about Nest Bedding

    CouchBed combines two pieces of furniture in one. CouchBeds feature a multilayer design for ultimate comfort and support. CouchBeds are free of ozone depleters, formaldehyde, mercury, lead or heavy metals and meet CertiPUR-US standards for content, emissions and durability. Shop online and get free shipping in the United States.

    Read more about CouchBed
    Zinus, Inc

    Zinus originally produced comfort-oriented outdoor products, including tents, sleeping bags and portable furniture. The company turned to indoor comfort products in 2003. Its innovative mattresses have pressure-relief and cooling features. Customers can browse online, and financing is available.

    Read more about Zinus, Inc
    Stearns & Foster Bedding

    Stearns & Foster specializes in luxury beds made by certified craftsmen with the highest-quality materials. All mattresses are CPSIA-compliant and made in the United States. Customers can visit one of the many retail stores around the country to test the mattresses before purchasing.

    Read more about Stearns & Foster Bedding
    Sealy Mattress

    Sealy designs its mattresses to work on a firm, solid-surface, nonspring foundation or adjustable bed base.​ Sealy offers beds with a unique cooling gel, which prevents the mattress from absorbing body heat, so it stays cool while you are sleeping. Customers can shop at local retailers or online.

    Read 624 Reviews

    Tempur-Pedic mattresses utilize a specialized kind of memory foam that adapts to your shape, weight and temperature. Tempur-Pedic mattresses are available online and in stores, and shipping includes white-glove delivery service. Financing is available.

    Read 745 Reviews
    Simmons Mattresses

    Simmons has been making mattresses for over 140 years. It offers a wide range of options and has sold over 100 million mattresses. Simmons mattresses are assembled in the United States. Customers can buy online or in stores.

    Read 562 Reviews
    Serta Mattress

    Serta mattresses are designed and built in the United States. The company is committed to environmental responsibility in manufacturing and production. Customers can buy online and receive their mattresses within 14 days.

    • Mattress pricing: Serta mattresses start at around $500.
    • Types of mattresses: Select from innerspring, memory foam and hybrid mattresses. The Serta perfect sleeper is the lower-cost line, which is great for light or occasional use. The higher-end models include the iComfort, iSeries and its mattress in a box.
    • Trial period: Serta provides a 120-night sleep trial period
    • Warranty: Customers enjoy a 10-year limited warranty.
    • Additional products: Serta also offers adjustable bases.
    Read 573 Reviews

    Compare Top Mattress Reviews

    by Michael J. Breus, Ph.D. Mattress Contributing Editor

    Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., known as The Sleep Doctor, is a Clinical Psychologist and both a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He is on the clinical advisory board of The Dr. Oz Show and is a regular contributor on the show. He is also the author of several books, including The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep (Rodale Books; 2011) and Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health (Dutton/Penguin; 2006). Dr. Breus has been featured on several national media outlets, including The Today Show, The CBS Early Show and Psychology Today.