Best mattress 2019: How to choose between memory foam, pocket-sprung and hybrid mattresses
Sleep easy on a dreamily comfortable, built-to-last bed
If you’re struggling to get enough sleep, it may be time for a new mattress.
According to the Sleep Council, you should change your mattress every seven years, or when you start waking up with stiffness or aches and pains.
Other tell-tale signs include not sleeping as well as you did a year ago, or noticing that you sleep better in other beds. It’s also worth checking your mattress for wear and tear, although be warned the signs that you need a new one aren’t always visible.
Traditionally, the most popular type of mattress was pocket sprung, in which the springs are sewn into individual fabric pockets. But the new generation of bed-in-a-box, vacuum-packed mattresses, usually made of foam, latex or a mixture, are taking off big time – as are hybrids between the two.
As most are available online, you can’t try them out first as you can with pocket sprung, but most manufacturers offer a trial period – usually of about 100 nights, but sometimes more – during which you can send the mattress back and ask for a refund.
If you’re a side sleeper, look for a soft or medium level of firmness in your mattress – it will give you the correct level of cushioning and mould to your body’s natural curve. If you sleep on your front, go for a firm mattress, while back sleepers should go for a firm or medium firm mattress.
Remember that the mattress and frame need to work in tandem, so you should also check which kinds of mattresses will work well with your bed base. The filling is also important as these offer different properties, comfort and warmth options – and don’t forget to look into the thickness and tensions, which can vary greatly.
According to the Sleep Council, a bed with the correct support, comfort and space will ensure you wake less, move around less, are less disturbed by your partner and are less likely to wake up feeling tired or aching. Here are our favourite mattresses that promise just that.
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Emma original mattress: £649 for a double, Emma
Despite the name, this is the second version of this popular German-made three-layer foam mattress, which uses a different kind of foam to the likes of Eve, Simba, Casper and Leesa that the manufacturer claims is longer-lasting. Also exclusive to Emma is the exceptionally breathable top layer. We found it more instantly comfortable than other bed-in-a-box mattresses we tried, it has significantly more bounce and is easier to turn over on – with no chance of disturbing your partner when you do.
There isn’t a body shape or type of sleeper that it wouldn’t suit, making it a great all-rounder, and it doesn't need turning, although there are handles if you need to move it. There’s also a washable cover. The icing on the cake is that there’s no minimum time-frame to request a return, and if you do decide to send it back (we doubt you will), you don’t have to repackage it. This is as good as it gets.
Eve the premium mattress: £849 for a double, Eve Sleep
This has only just launched, joining the existing original, hybrid and light mattresses from Eve, and we love it. It literally feels like your floating, and while at first we worried it might be a bit too soft and spongy, it only takes one night’s sleep to appreciate how supportive it is, especially around the hips and shoulders. It’s all thanks to the unique top layer of foam that they call "floatfoam", while the other three layers of foam provide the scaffolding. There’s no dipping in the centre and the material moulds to your shape as you move.
We also like the quilted washable top cover with anti-bacterial properties, and the fact that they deliver the box right to your room and take away the packaging. It’s cooler than most, though, so not for those who get chilly at night. Their well-made bed and silky-soft bed linen are worth checking out, too.
The Nectar mattress: £599 for a double, Nectar Sleep
The USP on this bed-in-a-box mattress is the 365-night trial, meaning you have an entire year to decide whether it’s right for you, and if you do keep it there’s a lifetime warranty. Nectar Sleep also stand out for being the first and only mattress company in the UK to be climate neutral – all emissions are offset by various global schemes, including an Amazon forest protection programme.
Comprising of three layers of foam, the mattress is slightly firmer than most and particularly good for front and back sleepers, as well as smaller and lighter people. The fourth layer, the soft quilted adaptive cooling cover, means you won’t feel hot, and we also like the seven zoned layer which attends to all your support needs.
Casper the essential mattress: £400 for a double, Casper
Casper is probably the best-known name in the world of bed-in-a-boxes. For a long time, you could only get their flagship mattress over here, while in the states they started offering newer versions. But we’re catching up, with both the hybrid (also reviewed here) and the essential model, which is a great option for those who want all the benefits of a stable, comfortable and long-lasting mattress, without the hefty price-tag.
We couldn’t fault this three-layer foam mattress when it comes to breathability, which stops you getting too hot, and you can move around without much effort or disturbing your partner. All this and yet it supports you in all the right places, even if you sleep on your back (which usually makes finding the right mattress extra tricky). But stick to the Casper original if you’re heavier and/or want a thicker mattress, and the hybrid if you want an ultra-squishy one. We like their bedding, too.
Dormeo s plus memory foam mattress: From £299.99, Dormeo (after 2 July, price goes back to £599)
If you and your sleeping partner have different ideas about whether a firm or softer mattress is preferable, then read on. This mattress – which arrives rolled and vacuumed - has two separate cores, which can be rotated and flipped independently so you get a firmer or softer feel, and not just overall but for different area of your body. In other words, it’s incredibly personalised – and you get no gap or slippage between the two cores. We also like the S shape of the core that mirrors the natural curve of the spine to support you in all the right places (head, shoulders, hips and legs) no matter what position you sleep in and even when you rotate it.
It’s surprisingly lightweight (handy for rotating and flipping – there are handles for this too) and it stays cool, thanks to a number of factors including the "climalite" cover being infused with silver to keep moisture from soaking into the mattress. For back pain on a budget or flexibility without forking out loads, this is a great buy although you’ll need to put some time aside to watch the video and figure out how it works and we think there was more scope for the firm to be firmer and soft to be softer.
Casper hybrid mattress: £800 for a double, Casper
Casper’s latest offering to the UK market – and its most expensive yet – has already proven a hit in America. Combining its now legendry foams with a base layer of springs, you get instant sumptuousness (from the moulding of the four foam layers around your body) coupled with added bounce and airflow (from the pocket coil springs). We were impressed before we even got it out of its vacuum pack – how can those springs be so compressible? (Nearly five years of research, is the answer from Casper.) But that was nothing compared to our excitement over the immediate comfort. The fact that it’s noticeably softer than other Casper mattresses might not be for everyone, though, and made us surprised that Casper claims it’s the brand’s “most supportive mattress yet”. You should also be aware the extra bounce means your partner is more likely to feel it when you turn than with a pure foam mattress. But neither put us off this mattress that feels as indulgent as – if not more than – others two or more times its price.
Leesa mattress: £650 for a double, Leesa
This has a simpler construction than most mattresses that come rolled and vacuum packed, with a 15cm base layer of support foam, a 5cm pressure relieving memory foam layer and finally a 5cm temperature regulating foam layer. It moulds well to the shape of your body and has a unique sensation of softness, yet the spinal support is impressive, making it a good option for those with back pain. It also stands out for restless sleepers too, as it’s so stable that no other part of the bed moves when you do.
Leesa claim that you’ll get a good night’s kip regardless of how you sleep and how heavy you are, although we think it’s ever so slightly better for lighter people. Both the breathability and longevity are second-to-none and the company makes a donation to charity for each mattress sold. Plus they’ve donated over 30,0000 mattresses via their own charity programme since its launch in 2014. But it is awkward to move – we need handles please!
OTTY hybrid mattress: £499.99 for a double, otty.com
With this firmer mattress, you can literally feel it adapting to your body shape as you move, giving it a feel unlike any other bed-in-a-box mattress we tested. It’s particularly supportive for your spine and brilliant for those who sleep on their back. It’s got good temperature control too, thanks to a cool blue gel layer at the top, while the remaining four layers – including pocket springs and memory foam – have great longevity with no sagging or softening even years later.
You do have to rotate it once a month for the first six months – no mean feat with no handles – and it’s probably not the best for those who toss and turn, as your partner may feel some of that movement on the other side of the bed. Also be warned this mattress takes getting used to, but only a night or two and it’s well worth it.
Dormeo memory plus mattress: £249 for a double, Dormeo
This is a great price for a memory-foam mattress with such a floaty feel. We found it springy yet supportive, especially for anyone who is average weight or lighter, including children. It’s just a smidgen firmer than average, and the high breathability factor of the "ecocell" foam layer that sits on top of the other two layers of memory means it doesn’t get damp if you sweat. Your partner can roll over to their heart’s content without you feeling a thing and it’s treated with anti-bacterial, anti-dust mite and anti-fungal protection.
The box is smaller and lighter than others, making it easier to get up the stairs, but while delivery is free, be warned collection costs are chargeable if you find you don’t like it.
Simba hybrid mattress: £599 for a double, Simba
Another vacuum-packed mattress, this medium-firm hybrid is an upgrade from Simba’s original model. Comprising of a foam core (16cm), with an outer layer of memory foam (3cm), followed by a final layer of 2,500 micro-pocket springs (4cm), this mattress also boasts a 3D woven structure which stops creasing in the cover, as well as a new cloud-like sleep surface with a hidden zip, so you can take it out to wash it.
We found it squidgy yet responsive and very good at keeping sweat at bay. Best for side and back sleepers, it’s also as robust as they come, so you won’t need to replace it for years. This gets a big thumbs up from us for stability and the level of edge-to-edge support – meaning it’s just as comfy even if you lie right at the edge, where other mattresses often become harder or softer. For ultimate comfort, try their bedding and bed linen too. Again, our only bugbear with this was that it doesn't come with handles.
Tweak Slumber nrem mattress: £895 for a double, Tweak Slumber
This is our top choice for people with back pain. Forget memory foam – this has reactive foam that responds to movement, so there is never a moment when the mattress isn’t completely moulded to your body. The second stand-out point is that it comes with multiple inserts, with different densities, that you can tailor to target specific pressure points. You can even buy extra ones if ever you need them.
Our tester had been at his wit’s end with back ache, despite having tried other expensive mattresses that promised to work wonders. With the Nrem, he reported that the support is phenomenal, with no need to compromise on comfort. And if your partner does have restless night, you won’t feel a thing. There’s initially a bit of a chemical pong, but it goes after a couple of weeks.
Sealy hybrid fusion geltex 1400 pocket mattress: £749.95 for a double, Mattresses Online
This hi-tech mattress – which is handmade in the UK from ordinary springs, pocket springs and Geltex (a more breathable type of foam than memory foam) – has been designed with spinal alignment in mind. There are seven zones of foam to relieve pressure points and 1400 springs, both of which combine to give impressive body support, although it’s not the best for bigger people or back sleepers.
The Purotex fibres included are endorsed from Allergy UK, making it an excellent choice for allergy sufferers, and the patented design means it won’t sag over time. But it’s not as easy to turn over on this mattress as some others, so restless sleepers may want to avoid it.
Swoon Lyndhurst 2000 mattress: £699 for a double, Swoon
Unusually for a pocket sprung mattress, this handcrafted one comes with a 100-night sleep trial. It’s two-sided, with a core on both sides of luxurious natural fillings including wool, cashmere, cotton and silk. We think it’s best for those who like a firm, supportive feel but with a soft padded top layer, making it a great all-rounder but especially comfy for back sleepers – not an easy group to please when it comes to mattresses.
There’s no sagging over time and it keeps you dry at night, even if you’re prone to waking up feeling sticky. They deliver it directly to your bedroom, but you’ll need to rotate and turn this mattress weekly for the first four months then once a month – a heavy job, but helped by the handles.
Tweak Slumber duo mattress: £795 for a double, Tweak Slumber
This customisable mattress is a great idea for couples who need different levels of support when sleeping. You simply select the bed size and the level of firmness needed on each side of the mattress (pick from soft, medium or firm) and you’ll be sent your unique design. Firmness is determined by three different inserts that can easily be removed and swapped if your requirements change.
Built with a mixture of pocket springs and foam, the inserts are extremely comfy and supportive. Our testers loved how little movement you could feel from your partner during the night, and during the 100-night trial, which is standard for most bed-in-a-box mattresses, you can swap inserts. Don’t be put off by the price in comparison to other mattresses reviewed here, where prices quoted are for a single – this one is only available in double and bigger.
Made the memory one mattress: £499 for a double, made.com
Another supportive bed-in-a-box foam mattress that’s easy to turn on, breathable and long-lasting, this one stands out for providing good support all the way up the spine and feeling nice and warm when you lie on it – great for those who feel the cold at night. You'll find as you go to sleep your body gradually sinks into the mattress, but never too far, so you get the ideal mix of comfort and support.
Made from three layers of foam, it’s on the softer side which is strange, as the manufacturer calls it firm. The downside with this is that you have to pay for delivery, but don’t be put off the lack of handles, as you don’t have to turn or rotate it. We wouldn’t recommend it for those on the larger side and prone to sleeping on their back, but otherwise this is well worth the dosh.
Herdy Sleep mattress: £849 for a double, Barker and Stonehouse
This is on the pricey side for bed-in-a-box mattresses, but it’s next level in terms of durability and number of layers that give an instant cloud-like feel. The two layers of foam, followed by three made from mini pocket springs, provide the scaffolding, while the key ingredients are the deluxe top layers of natural fillings including wool, cotton and cashmere that are sourced from farms in the Lake District.
It’s supportive for all types of sleepers and people of all different weights, which is unusual, and it’s one of the most breathable mattress we tried. You won’t struggle to turn over on this mattress, although your partner may feel it when you do, and we wouldn’t recommend it for people who like their sleeping area to remain cool, although that’s not to say you’ll overheat.
Silentnight eco comfort breathe 2000: £599 for a double, Silentnight
Eco warriors, rejoice. The fibres within this completely foam and chemical-free mattress are made from recycled plastic bottles. The mattress came about after Silentnight decided to try and offer a solution to foam mattresses that can make you feel too warm. So they brought in a company called Awake, who work with the likes of pilots and the Department of Transport, to explore how pressure, movement, heat and moisture each affect the performance of a mattress.
The result is this three-layered polyester mattress that proved a big hit in trials with menopausal women who are prone to poor sleep and overheating. The first layer wicks away moisture from the body and the second has vertically layered fibres that act like drainpipes, leading to the third one which pulls down moisture. Available in soft, medium and medium firm, we tested the medium and it’s restful and supportive right up to the edges.
IKEA hidrasund mattress: £650 for a double, IKEA
This is on the pricey side for an IKEA mattress, but you’ll notice a difference as soon as you lie on it and that goes for all body shapes and sizes. The pocket sprung mattress also has an extra layer of mini pocket springs, oodles of natural fillings including wool, latex and coconut fibre, plus a layer of natural latex. This combination is highly supportive, including on your key pressure points, but it’s also soft and snug, as well as breathable.
You don’t need to flip this mattress, although rotating it once in a while is a good idea, and unlike many pocket mattresses sagging over time is minimal. Maybe not the best for restless sleepers, though, as turning over a lot may disturb your partner more than with other mattresses we tested.
Hypnos stellar pillow top: mattress £1,309 for a double, Best Price Beds
If ever you’ve taken a sneaky peak at a mattress you’ve loved in a posh hotel, there’s a good chance you’ll have discovered it’s a Hypnos. This hand crafted, hand-stitched, hypo-allergenic pocket sprung mattress is their latest offering and is made entirely from sustainably resourced materials. It has a plush top layer of cotton, wool, natural latex and a material called Solotex, which gives it the ultra-soft feel.
Each pocket spring is designed to sense the shape of your body and flex accordingly, which makes for outstanding weight distribution, comfort and support. It’s good at regulating body temperature too. You can choose your own firmness – we went for medium, which was just the ticket for average weight and build.
Woolroom Oxford 9000 wool mattress: £1,439.20 for a double, Woolroom
Drifting off to sleep will be a breeze when you sink into Woolroom’s bestselling sumptuous pocket-sprung mattress, made purely from British wool. Whereas 99 per cent of mattresses in the UK contain chemicals, wool is naturally flame retardant, so there is no need for any at all. You’ll probably enjoy an uninterrupted night’s sleep with no morning aches and pains too, thanks to excellent support that results from the 9000 mini pocket springs (in kingsize), and there’s a British grown hemp core layer for extra support.
There are two tension options available and we’d recommend buying their mattress protector or topper too for ultimate comfort. It’s mighty heavy for turning, though.
The verdict: Mattresses
The Emma original mattress is our favourite of the new-generation bed-in-a-boxes, the options of which seem to be growing by the day. A three-layered sleep system, it’s very breathable, instantly comfy and has noticeably more bounce, taking you to the land of nod in record time.
For a pocket sprung mattress, the Hypnos Stellar pillow top mattress is soft, sumptuous and yet supportive, albeit quite high. And if money is tight, our recommendation goes to Casper’s the essential mattress.
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