Mattress Buying Guide | Consumer Reports

Mattress Buying Guide | Consumer Reports

Mattress companies will
sell you the promise of a perfect night’s
sleep, sometimes for thousands of dollars. Their offerings– hybrid
mattresses, cooling gels, and customized sleep settings–
can be confusing to navigate. To help you pick,
Consumer Reports puts mattresses to the test. This video is interactive,
so click any chapter to skip around. [MUSIC PLAYING] We determine how
well a mattress will support your spine,
whether you sleep on your side or your back. We simulate eight
years of use to see how a mattress keeps its
shape, firmness, and support. We even cut mattresses
open to see what’s inside. This guide will arm you
with expert knowledge to pick the style or model
that best suits your needs. Consumer Reports’
online subscribers can find specific
brand and retailer recommendations as well as
product ratings on our website. While you can find
mattresses that use all sorts of materials, from
foams and latex to mostly air, almost half of those sold
are the classic inner spring. The springs are actually
metal, usually steel coils. In some models, those coils
are individually wrapped. Others are coils within coils. And some even have an
hourglass look to them. Many inner spring manufacturers
are offering hybrid models, adding several inches of
cushioning, foam or padding, and gel-infused foam layers
above the inner springs. Our tests showed
none of these add-ons truly sets one inner spring
mattress apart from another. One way we figure this out is
by measuring the natural curve of a person’s spine
and then monitoring whether those curves are
supported on a mattress. Our tests do find that
inner springs overall are a bit better than
other types of mattresses for side sleepers. Often, inner springs are
easier to move around, compared to memory foam
mattresses, because they offer more bounce. But there’s a downside. Some models can
transmit bounciness. So if you’ve got a restless
co-sleeper, you’ll feel it. We drop a weighted
ball on each mattress to see how well it
resists that bounciness. You can get a sense of this
when you shop in a store by lying down with your partner
and checking whether you feel his or her movements. Memory foam mattresses are
steadily gaining in popularity. They make up 19%
of mattress sales. And a recent Consumer
Reports survey of almost 62,000 subscribers
found 75% of memory foam mattress owners were
completely or very satisfied with their choice. Memory foam is
mostly polyurethane, a durable plastic
substance that response to the heat and
pressure of your body and is supposed
to conform to it. Some memory foam beds
offer dual firmness. That way, you and your partner
can customize how firm or soft you want your side. Memory foam also
does a great job of isolating movement
so you won’t get jostled when your partner tosses and
turns on his or her sleep. But changing positions
on some memory foam requires effort,
because you tend to think into the mattress. Some people also
say it sleeps hot. Many manufacturers are
infusing the foam with gel that they claim will
reduce surface temperature. One of the major downsides of
some memory foam mattresses is the plasticky chemical smell. That’s likely the
polyurethane-based memory foam. But other chemicals, like
flame retardants and fillers, which can be used in
foam and other beds, could also lead to
obnoxious odors. Consumer Reports says be sure
to error out any memory foam mattress for at
least 24 to 48 hours before you cover it with
sheets and sleep on it. If you’re worried
about the smell but still want the
memory foam feel, you might want to opt
for natural latex. Natural latex is
made using serum from rubber trees
that’s processed using one of two methods
whose names you may hear– Dunlop and Talalay. Dunlop produces a
firmer material, while the more expensive Talalay
yields a softer mattress. Many manufacturers will layer
a mattress using both processes to create a customized feel. There are also synthetic
latex mattresses. These tend to be less
expensive than natural latex but are blended with
other chemicals. Adjustable air mattresses allow
you to control the firmness. No, we’re not talking about
the plastic inflatable ones you throw on the floor
for guests or camping. These are mattresses
filled with pockets of air, called air bladders,
surrounded by foam. Many come with other
layers of material, like foam or gel tops,
for added comfort. In our survey of almost
62,000 subscribers, people with arthritis,
back pain, or neck pain are most satisfied sleeping
on an adjustable air mattress. Most adjustable air
mattresses allow you to customize half the bed to
your desired level of firmness anytime you want with a
remote control, usually right from the bed. However, some people find
the foam support that divides the two sides
uncomfortable to roll over, so think about this if you
tend to move around a lot. Try adjusting the firmness
up and down at the store. You want it to respond quickly
and relatively quietly. More companies are selling
mattresses marketed as green, natural, or organic,
partly in response to consumers’ questions about
chemicals in mattresses. For example, there are
concerns with the use of certain fire-retardant
chemicals– in particular, polybrominated
diphenyl ethers, known as PBDEs. PBDEs have been banned in some
states, Canada, and Europe over health issues. Newer flame retardants have
replaced the use of some PBDEs, but there are worries
with those, as well. Some mattresses can also contain
formaldehyde and other fuming chemicals from
certain adhesives, the materials used in
mattress construction. And harmful
pesticides can be used to grow conventional cotton. But natural and organic may
not mean what you think. The term “natural”
isn’t regulated by the government or any third
party, so it’s meaningless. And a mattress can
be labeled organic even if only a portion
of its materials are certified organic. Consumer Reports says there
are two meaningful third-party certifications to look for– the Global Organic
Textile Standard, or GOTS, and the Global Organic
Latex Standard, or GOLS. GOTS requires an organic
mattress contain at least 95% certified organic fiber. And it prohibits the use of
harmful processing materials and chemicals, allergenic dyes,
and many other potentially harmful ingredients. The GOLS label requires
that any latex in a mattress come from a certified
organic source. Natural latex mattresses may
have both the GOLS and GOTS label. There are other labels that
can help lessen your exposure to certain chemicals. The Oeko-Tex Standard
100, the Greenguard Gold, and the Greenguard labels
all test final products for potentially harmful
chemical emissions and set limits on volatile
organic compounds, or VOCs. The Oeko-Tex takes
it a step further and bans the use of
certain flame retardants and dyes containing
carcinogens and allergens. If you’re concerned
about chemicals added to polyurethane, look
for the CertiPUR-US label. It forbids the use of
certain flame retardants and requires testing for
other chemical emissions, such as formaldehyde
in polyurethane foam. Prices for mattresses
with green claims run from as little as
$600 to more than $25,000 for luxury versions. In general, if you’re
looking for certification, expect to pay around
$2,000 or more for a queen-sized mattress. Our Consumer Reports
survey data shows people typically spend
about $500 to $1,750 on a new mattress. And those who successfully
haggled over the price saved a median of around $200. There are upscale
brands charging $30,000 to more than $100,000
for luxury materials like horse hair and cashmere. But our tests find you can
buy a perfectly good mattress for under $1,000. The sweet spot? It’s about $600 to $1,500. And with more online-only
mattress retailers springing up, pricing is
getting more competitive. We tested many mattresses
sold on the internet and recommend several. Consumer Reports says
look for companies that offer at least
a 30-night trial, free shipping on returns, and
full credit on that return. Generally, online manufacturers
don’t rely on sales, so the advertised price
is what you’ll pay. However, at a physical
store, aim to pay 50% or more off of the regular price. That’s sometimes called
the MSRP, or Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. Stores usually list
these prices right along with the sale prices. Skip extended warranties. They usually only cover
manufacturing defects, not normal wear and tear. Consumer Reports
says save your money and buy new sheets instead. When it’s time to give
a mattress a test drive, don’t let sexy sales terms like
“ultra plush,” “super soft,” or even “firm” sway you. Consumer Reports independently
measures firmness by applying a slow, steady
force to each mattress. The mattress’
response to that force is recorded, averaged, and
assigned a value from 1 through 10. 10 represents a very firm
mattress, and 1 is very soft. Our tests consistently
find differences between what manufacturers
claim and our results. So concentrate on whether
it feels right to you. A few tips. First, choose the
firmest mattress that’s still comfortable. You want your mattress
to support your spine but still allow it to
maintain its natural curve. Next, bring your
pillow from home. When lying on your back,
make sure the mattress meets the curve of your lower back. On your side, you don’t
want your shoulders and hips taking on too much
pressure or sinking in too far, which
can throw your spine into an uncomfortable shape. Try to roll into a
different position and note whether it’s easy. After lying on the bed
for at least 15 minutes, if you feel pain at
your heaviest points, the mattress may be too firm. Aches, numbness, or
tingling mean you’re on a mattress that’s too soft. Here are common
sizes you’ll see. The largest mattress is the
king, at 76 by 80 inches. California king’s aren’t as wide
as kings, but they are longer– 72 by 84 inches. A queen is 60 by 80 inches. Fuller double beds are 53
by 75 inches, and twins, 38 by 75 inches. Many companies will craft
a custom size, too– for a price. Now that you’ve got the basics,
visit to subscribe and find our
specific mattress brand ratings based on our in-depth
expert testing. We’re a not-for-profit, and we
pay for all of the items we. test.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. I totallt agree. I took 2 months on the couch while I shopped for the right deal and still don'tknow if I made the right choice to this day 2 years later!lol!!

  2. It seems like mattress sellers and manufacturers are scamming the great public by offering garbage
    Why do I HAVE to look for a good mattress and take a chance of paying hundreds of dollars, finding out soon that I have been scammed?

  3. I slept on hundreds of different beds throughout the years in hotels, ( very high-end ones too) but NOTHING comes close to my Tempur-Pedic "Cloud supreme" no bulshit!! spend the money and don't worry about another bed for 20 years… you spend 1/3 of your life sleeping. invest in it! $700 does not cut it!! Imo of course

  4. I'm on a foam mattress rite now but it has sucken down so much it uncomfortable now I think I want a spring mattress again they are really comfortable now days.

  5. The wife and I were our mattress shopping today and laid on a lot of impressive beds ranging from 1200 to 5200 dollars. Not sure as to what we are going to get as we are also wrangling shopping for bedroom furniture at the same time (not recommended too many variables). We are still undecided as to what mattress we are going to get but I will tell you it won’t be a Sleep Number. We were not impressed with anything that bed system had to offer other than the heated foot area.

  6. bring your own pillow??? to the store" and put it on the bed other people will be testing? are you NOT aware of the bedbug epidemic in this country? If I ever knew a store allowed people to bring pillows from home, I'd walk out, this should never be allowed.

  7. rickw1954
    6 months ago (edited)
    All memory-foam mattresses will compress in time.I don't want memory foam. I don't want to sink down into my mattress

  8. It's somewhat funny that they bring up Formaldehyde at 5:30. I can't believe they won't sleep on it when it's one of the ingredients in the flu shot, along with ethylene glycol (antifreeze).

  9. I got a highly rated FIRM memory foam mattress through Walmart online. It's a hard thing to describe. It is firm as it puts a lot of pressure on my shoulder and hip when I sleep on my side. But, it is difficult to roll around on the mattress because you sink so far into it. And it hurts my back when I lay on my stomach. It must be bending me more than I think. Getting OUT of bed is really tough. I've got to swing my legs to develop momentum in order to sit upright on the edge. I think I'll go back to the old fashioned coil spring mattresses. I'll probably have the same pressure on my shoulders and hips but at least I should be able to roll out of bed without too much difficulty.

  10. Do not look at CR online report. They only reviews are for people who aren't concerned about money. Reviews for the average person who has less than $800 to spend would be great, but not a concern for CR. Also, the top mattresses recommended, who the hell ever heard of these brands?!?!?

  11. I subscribe to CR and even after reading all the information on mattresses, for 2018, I am still totally confused and adrift. On top of that, there are a lot of negative reviews on the CR website for specific mattress "recommendations" and even the best buys. I've also done extensive searches on Google and it is mind boggling. I feel like I know less about mattresses than I did when I started. Westin and Hilton hotels sell their proprietary mattresses by the way, so I am leaning in that direction. Good luck to everyone….you will need it!

  12. Whoever goes for the green ones is being probably doing so out of being an ignorant idiot. No proper mattress manufacturer would allow you to get exposed to DAAANGEROUUUUS 'chemicals'. People should brain up and stop fearing 'chemicals' so much.

  13. Consumer reports!
    I can't find the guide for buying matterss!
    Buying a plane easier than buying a F mattress

  14. Its an imperfect world. Until someone finds a way to reduce gravity to remove pressure points its all just band aides on broken bones. I suggest sleeping on a hard surface for a year, like the floor, and then you’ll be happy with any mattress you can get.

  15. Aside from the comfort of the mattress's, why not show how one has to flip one in order to make fitted bed sheets fit without slipping off during sleep hours? It too 2 strong men to manage to do just such function to my bed. I pity the loner or a couple, hetro or other. I am talking about a Full size bed, can't imagine anyone less an army to flip one of those mattress's for a Queen or KIng size.

  16. They state they are not for profit, but then ask for a $55 subscription fee for access to their info. How is this not for profit again?

  17. We own an historic home with 7 bedrooms. I furnished 4 of the bedrooms with the "reject" mattresses we tried in our master bedroom. We tried a variety of innerspring (4) units over 3 years. The biggest problem we ran across was the first 4 mid range priced ones leaving body impressions that only got worse as we used them. FINALLY, we found "our" bed. We went with the king sized Tempur Pedic in a medium firm construction. What a pain to have to go through this just to get a comfortable nights sleep. The good thing is, all our finished guestrooms have practically brand new king mattresses. So I guess what I found out is this, paying more for a bed with no springs was the answer to a long drawn out problem.

  18. What amazes me is how inconsistent mattress makers can be. My wife and I had a Simmons Beautyrest that lasted 8 years. Minimal body imprinting until the last year. We go out and buy the "equivalent" matress January of this year and it is already shot. I sleep 6" lower than my wife in a pit of a body imprint. I only weight 225 lb and my wife weighs 140 lb. Reading online, it sounds like this early failure mode is 100% normal and that Simmons really does have no warranty plan they stand behind. Extremely frustrating. We are going to buy a latex foam mattress from IKEA soon. A few of my friends have bought these and been really happy.

  19. I have been sleeping on a 14.97 air mattress from Walmart on my box spring while shopping for new mattress, the air mattress is fine for me temporarily. I've been looking for 2wks. Went to places that advertise on kijiji or Facebook marketplace that are way cheaper than usual stores, but they do have good prices and products. If I didn't have the back issue I have I would've bought from one of these places, but they dont have firmness I need. I recently viewed utubes on How to fix sagging mattress, and was shocked by the crap foams that's in a mattress people pay so much for, and the lies that salespeople tell u about cool gel, not to mention it can be buried way beneath other foam, so u won't feel it's cooling effect at all. At Leon's I was told by 2 salespeople full xl size mattresses weren't avail. At their store so they could sell me a queen instead. Today I called and a different person told me they have that size in two brands. Did the 1st. Salesperson lie or what so she could sell me a queen size? Sheesh! LOOK AT ONLINE REVIEWS OF ANY BED U ARE CONSIDERING, Kingston mattresses are bad, Sealy are bad and have crappy warranties. Consumer Reviews are right…do not buy extended warranty and "mandatory mattress cover" , this costs around 100.00 and is not worth it. So…I continue my search, I think I'm going with an air one due to my back. ALSO DON'T BUY IKEA, LESSER QUALITY OF MATERIALS AND SAGGING IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. LOOK AT IKEA REVIEWS BEFORE BUYING. good luck, this is not fun!

  20. Computer mech: in response to your comment: cheap camping air mattresses don't last and are not for bedroom couple activity, unless u want to buy a new one after every time.

  21. CR's Conclusion? Buy the old-style coil-spring mattresses. By the way, the people in this video were disgusting. I'll never sit on a mattress again in a store if this is what they do — dirty feet, sloughing off Ed Asner-like body hair, wet diapers, complete BO, and all the excessive farting into the mattresses — was it really necessary to show people hiking their legs up before breaking wind? Also, NEVER recommend a customer bring their own pillow — you will be kicked out of the store if you try to bring your infested pillow inside a store.

  22. I just got rid of my Tempurpedic. Kept rolling into the middle of the bed lol smh plus way to hot in the summer and it hold smell(yuck). It was time for a new one. Got me a Sierra Mt Dana Plush.

  23. I agree that finding a good mattress is very tricky. both my husband and I are side sleepers and we are average sizes. is there one you recommend for us?

  24. I am often met with a response of shock when I explain to someone that dogs are being used to sniff out bedbugs. Not only can they detect bedbugs, studies have shown dogs to be as accurate as 97%-98% at locating bedbugs. Dogs can be used to locate low level bedbug activity that can be easily missed by the human eye.

  25. I'm still using the Sealy Posturpedic I've had since 1981, and it's showing no signs of wear. Very comfortable as well.

  26. Get a Kingsdown matress. Had mine 12 yrs and took away my back pain. It's the most comfortable bed I've ever laid on. Buying a new one next year.

  27. Never buy a Jamison Mattress. It was expensive and they do not back up their warranty. It's cheaper to replace a mattress than stuck with a crappy expensive mattress.

  28. Memory foam is often made with polyurethane, but it breaks down and compresses over time thus disqualifying the warranty/. flame retardant portions are actually hazardous for your health big time.

  29. looking for a durable, firm yet plush mattress for the past 2 months and I am just as confused …it took a month of research to buy my car. Ridiculous . My last Ikea mattress (sultan ) at a little over $500, only lasted us a little over 3 years!

  30. Top tip, if you have a double bed get a king-size duvet it helps to keep your warm if your wife steals the covers in the winter 😉


  32. I bought a temperpedic 20 years ago and love it to this day. its not organic, its expensive but out of 3 different foam mattresses in home it's the best by far

  33. Spent $700 6 years ago for what I thought was an excellent mattress and a month ago it started sagging in the middle. Unacceptable! Aren't they supposed to last at least 10 years?

  34. American are obsessed with soft mattress. Which is very dangerous for your heath and body. Mattress should be flat firm with soft feel. Not saaggy.

  35. I'm not sure that a soft mattress is the cause for numbness and tingling. It is possibly the reason that somebody would more likely sleep on his or her side and therefore cut off circulation in the thoracic outlet.

  36. I'm just going to assume it's best to buy the most comfortable mattress at the best price today and plan to replace it in 4 years. This way my feelings won't be hurt when my mattress turns to junk

  37. Can’t imagine buying a mattress is so difficult. You lose sleep over buying a mattress! Blame the unnecessary marketing to confuse the already confused!

  38. The best is spring mattress. Con is you can disturb the person next to you due to transmitted bouncing. So just buy two small spring mattress to form queen size and add top thin foam so you wont feel the middle connection if you want to lie in the middle when you are alone. Ordering online is cheaper but test first in a store what's most comfortable to you then buy online if it is cheaper, on company's website of course

  39. We love our Verlo mattresses. If you're in the midwest, check Verlo out. They make all their mattresses in-house.

  40. My memory foam mattress is over six years old and smells like a chemical factory. Never again will I buy that garbage.

  41. can't make my mind up either Nectar mattress or Tempur? I had a Simba and hated it too firm and woke with a backache so sent it back.

  42. Dont ever buy a KingKoil they are just a scam company they all go after 6 months may as well wipe ur ass with the warranty

  43. mattresses aren't what they used to be. now you get one side so your mattress will last about 25% as long as your now stressing one side twice as much. the guv wants everyone to get cancer and pay the chem/chemo companies to kill them so flame retards are in everything. google spark people otto warburg if you want the cure for cancer. the mattress game is just a con job. better to get an organic latex topper or an old school thick futon or sleep on thick carpet

  44. I paid $2,200 for a mattress as I am disabled and have to lay a lot of the time I bought the top of the line so I was sure it would hold up its start sagging after 3 months boy was a scam when I call the man to the house he had like it was my fault so so much for those expensive matches next time I'll just buy a regular mattress for about $600 they did about the same thing

  45. Thank you CR for a wealth of information. Switching back from Temperpedic to Innerspring. My specific TemperPedic is very hot!
    Looking at Sealy Premium line. Can anyone offer opinions or suggestions?

  46. I just don't understand why anybody would pay a creaky door to do this voice over.
    This woman has a dreadful voice but someone actually chose her to do this job and paid her, I'm guessing.

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