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You spend one-third of your life on a mattress: Here’s how to find the best one

Experts share tips on choosing the best mattress for your sleep type. Plus, shop mattresses that Shop TODAY editors swear by.
Vivian Le / TODAY

A good night's sleep can be hard to come by, from day-to-day stressors keeping you up at night to those aches and pains that seem to never go away. And you've probably heard that you should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night, according to the Center for Disease Control. One thing that might be affecting your REM cycle is what you sleep on; experts tell us that a huge factor in getting much-needed rest is your actual sleep environment, which includes your mattress.

What to look for in a mattress | How often should you replace your mattress | Benefits of a new mattress | Mattresses to shop | FAQ's | Meet our experts | How we chose

Finding a good mattress can seem like a project and not to mention, it’s a commitment. So, how do you know which mattress will be best for you? Harvard Medical School Associate Professor and sleep expert, Dr. Rebecca Robbins, tells us that there is "no one-size-fits-all" when it comes to choosing a mattress and suggests spending time trying different ones, because you will spend one-third of your life on a mattress ... yes, one-third.

"A mattress is a very personal decision, and we all have different preferences for a plush or firm surface," says Robbins. "In addition, a key consideration when purchasing a new mattress is finding a mattress that can support you in the position you prefer most for sleeping."

Best mattresses

Shop TODAY Snapshot

What to look for in a mattress

Sleep style

The first thing you want to consider is your sleep style (i.e. if you're a side, back or stomach sleeper). And while there's no correct way to sleep, the Sleep Foundation says side sleeping is the most common position. If you are one of the many side sleepers, our experts say you'll want to find a mattress that supports your head, neck and spine.

But that goes for other sleep positions, too; feeling properly supported is key. New York-based chiropractor Dr. Jan Lefkowitz says overall proper support means less strain on your spine (and less trips to your chiropractor!). "I generally recommend hybrid mattresses which are a combination of innerspring with memory foam or latex. This combination tends to be a good compromise to keep the majority of people comfortable in terms of reducing motion transfer, improving air flow, spinal support and comfort," he says.

If you are a stomach or back sleeper, Robbins suggests opting for a firmer surface for optimal spinal support. "A surface too plush may bring your spine out of alignment," she says.

Couple sleeping

Sleeping with a partner is something else to consider when looking for a mattress, especially if their movement wakes you up at night. “Generally I don’t recommend innerspring mattresses as they don’t contour to your body and they tend to sag and wear out. They are also much more bouncy so if you sleep with a partner and they roll over it will likely disrupt your sleep," says Lefkowitz.

He also mentions that you'll want to look for "reduced motion transfer," which is a feature found in newer mattresses. Lefkowitz says this is beneficial in limited movement if your partner changes positions and wakes you up at night.

Airflow

Robbins tells us you'll also want to take into account your "thermal neutral zone" and how hot or cold your sleep environment is, since she says your body is unable to regulate your temperature during certain sleep stages. She explains that this can ultimately lead to sleep disruptions and you'll want to find a mattress that offers airflow.

"Ideally, you want to find a mattress that dissipates heat and promotes airflow during sleep. Springs can accomplish this, as springs provide support but also allow for air to flow, then a topper of your choice," says Robbins.

How often should you replace your mattress?

According to Sleep Foundation, the average mattress should last for six to eight years. Whether you're approaching that time frame or not, Robbins says if you're experiencing neck pains from your current mattress, or notice that it has indentations or sags, it may be time to get a new one.

Lefkowitz shares similar insights and also notes that heavier bodyweight can make the mattress lose support more quickly. He also mentions that if you're suffering from allergies and asthma, it might be an indication that your old mattress has collected dust mites and other allergens, and a new one could alleviate that.

Benefits of a new mattress

A good mattress is one of the best investments you can make for your overall health. And as Robbin's mentioned above, you will be (and should be) spending one-third of your life on one, and you'll want to find one "that you look forward to getting into every night."

"Deep, uninterrupted sleep has a positive effect on your immune system, your metabolism, your level of inflammation, your ability to heal from injuries and even your mental health," Lefkowitz adds.

Best mattresses to shop

If you’re on the hunt for a new mattress, we hand-picked bestselling and editor-approved mattresses based on expert insights below, from hybrid mattresses to memory foam bed-in-a-box.


Best affordable mattress

Zinus 12 Inch Green Tea Memory Foam Mattress

What we like
  • Easy to set up
  • "Cloud-like" feel for medium
Something to note
  • Could have a "sink" feeling

Mattress type: Memory foam | Height: 12-inches | Firmness level: Medium | Sizes available: Twin — California King | Warranty: 10 year

SEO associate editor Kamari Stewart says this memory foam mattress "is a dream to sleep in" and even though it's meant to be "slightly firm," she says it still feels like she's sinking into a cloud.

According to the brand, the mattress is designed with three layers of foam, which includes a dense support foam base for spinal alignment. It also delivers in a box, which Stewart says she was able to manage and assemble on her own.

Best bed-in-a-box mattress

Cocoon by Sealy The Chill Mattress

What we like
  • Good for partner sleeping
  • Good for hot sleepers
  • Comes in memory foam or hybrid
Something to note
  • Needs time to inflate
  • Only one firmness level

Mattress type: Memory foam and Hybrid | Height: 10 - 12 inches | Firmness level: Medium | Sizes available: Twin XL — California King | Trial length: 100 nights | Warranty: 10 years

Reviewers are impressed with how comfortable this mattress is, which comes in memory foam or hybrid. The brand calls the firmness level "happy medium." And while it comes in a box, reviewers say it "fluffed up nicely" and didn't have a chemical smell or any odors, as some bed-in-a-box options do.

Best mattress for side sleepers

Helix Sunset Luxe

What we like
  • Good for hot sleepers
  • Support for side sleepers
  • Soft and comfortable
Something to note
  • Heavy, two person job to move
  • Only one firmness level option

Mattress type: Hybrid | Height: 16-inches | Firmness level: Soft | Sizes available: Twin XL — California King | Trial length: 100 nights | Warranty: 15 years

Deputy editorial director Alexandra Deabler, says that after researching "best mattresses for side sleepers" she came across this option and it lives up to the internet hype. According to the brand, the hybrid mattress features coils and memory foam to support the spine for side sleep positions.

"It has amazing lumbar support, you can feel it inflating under your back if you’re laying on your back" she says. She also notes that she purchased the thicker "luxe," since she prefers a softer bed.

Best mattress for back sleepers

The WinkBed

What we like
  • Many firmness options
  • Users say good for back pain
  • Lifetime warranty
Something to note
  • Ships in box, needs to inflate

Mattress type: Hybrid | Height: 13.5-inches | Firmness level: Softer, Luxury Firm, Firmer and Plus | Sizes available: Twin XL — California King | Trial length: 120 nights | Warranty: Lifetime

This multi-award winning mattress comes in four different firmness levels, so there's an option for every firmness preference. Reviewers say they felt amazing lumbar support and relief from back pain. According to the brand, it features ample airflow for hot sleepers and "reduce motion transfer" technology, so you can sleep soundly with a restless partner.

Best mattress for stomach sleepers

Tuft & Needle Original Mattress

What we like
  • Supportive for tummy sleepers
  • Cooling technology
  • Has reduce motion transfer
Something to note
  • Ships in box, needs to inflate
  • Only one firmness level

Mattress type: Memory foam | Height: 9.5-inches | Firmness level: Firm | Sizes available: Twin XL — California King Trial length: 100 nights | Warranty: 10 years

According to the brand, this firm mattress is made for back and stomach sleepers, and commerce writer (and stomach sleeper) Danielle Murphy says it's been really supportive for the sleep style.

"I’ve had this mattress for maybe six years, and it’s still so incredibly comfortable. It’s made with a cozy adaptive foam, which is meant to accommodate back and stomach sleepers (I fall into the latter category). Since I prefer a really cushy mattress, the brand offers a topper that gives me some extra cushion — trust me, it’s a game changer," she says.

Best cooling mattresses

Nectar Premier Hybrid Mattress

What we like
  • ActiveCool HD techonology
  • Breathable layers
  • Good for all sleep types
Something to note
  • One firmness level option

Mattress type: Hybrid, option for memory foam | Height: 13-inches | Firmness level: Medium firm | Sizes available: Twin XL — Split King | Trial length: 365 nights | Warranty: Lifetime warranty

This mattress is designed with a "breathable cooling cover" that's meant help wick away body heat. And since it's a hybrid mattress, the inner coils help provide airflow. Many reviewers say they've been able to sleep in multiple positions, and after suffering from restless nights, they've been able to sleep soundly on this option.


Serta Arctic Hybrid Mattress

What we like
  • Supports all sleep positions
  • Designed for cooling
  • Multiple firmness levels
Something to note
  • Users say pricey, but worth it

Mattress type: Hybrid | Height: 13.5 -inches | Firmness level: Medium and plush| Sizes available: Twin XL, Queen, King, Cal King | Trial length: 120 nights | Warranty: 10 years

A cooling option that's worth the splurge is the the Serta Artic. The brand offers two firmness options and multiple levels of cooling technology, including coils to promote airflow. One reviewer wrote that she was able to sleep without a fan and found it to be really supportive. "For the first time in a long time I’m able to sleep comfortably and wake up with no more back or neck pain, it’s definitely life changing," she wrote on Serta's website.

Best pillow-top mattress

Sealy Posturpedic Soft Euro Pillowtop Mattress

What we like
  • Can use with adjustable frame
  • No sinking feeling
Something to note
  • Might be too soft for some
  • Delicate fabric

Mattress type: Innerspring | Height: 14-inches | Firmness level: Plush | Sizes available: Twin XL - California King | Trial length: 180 nights | Warranty: 5 years at additional cost

SEO writer Jannely Espinal says this mattress "changed her life." "I love this mattress so much! I bought an adjustable frame along with it and has improved my sleeping patterns. So, if you’re someone who can’t lay down fully, this mattress is the solution — especially for people with acid reflux," she says.

According to the brand, the mattress features heavy-duty innersprings to reduce movement, which is ideal if you sleep with a partner. Espinal likes the soft pillow top and says it has the "perfect in-between cloud-like feel and rigidness" for her body. She also notes it has maintained its shape and comfort level through the past two years.

Best hybrid mattresses

Leesa Original Hybrid Mattress

What we like
  • Supports many sleep positions
  • Designed with airflow
Something to note
  • Difficult to clean

Mattress type: Hybrid | Height: 11-inches | Firmness level: Medium - medium firm | Sizes available: Twin XL — California King Trial length: 100 nights | Warranty: 10 years

SEO senior editor Jess Bender says she has had this mattress for five years, and her sleep has been just as comfortable from day one.

"Its biggest selling point for me, as somebody who tends to move into different positions — from the side to my back and repeat — when I sleep, is that the top layer easily conforms to and supports whatever position I’m in anywhere on the mattress (which is surprising considering how firm it is)," says Bender. "It also doesn’t absorb that much body heat, which is a huge plus during the summer when my home starts to become sauna levels of hot."

Best memory foam mattress

Casper Original Mattress

What we like
  • Good for pressure relief
  • Designed to be cooling
Something to note
  • Only one firmness level

Mattress type: Memory foam | Height: 11-inches | Firmness level: Medium firm | Sizes available: Twin XL — California King Trial length: 100 nights | Warranty: 10 years

Memory foam mattresses have become more and more popular, and that might be because of both comfortability and ease of delivery. This option from Casper checks all the boxes for support and ease, according to reviewers.

One reviewer said they ended up repurchasing it after needing to upgrade to a king: "Great support and just firm enough, while also allowing some cushion. We sleep on our backs and also sides. This works great!," they wrote.

Best latex mattress

Nolah Natural 11-Inch Mattress

What we like
  • Hypoallergenic fabrics
  • Good for side sleepers
Something to note
  • Only one firmness level
  • Ships in box, needs to inflate

Mattress type: Latex Hybrid | Height: 11-inches | Firmness level: Firm | Sizes available: Twin XL — Split King Trial length: 120 nights | Warranty: Lifetime-limited

If you're looking for a a sustainable and hypoallergenic mattress, a latex option might be for you. In addition to latex, which is meant to provide cooling pressure relief, this option from Nolah is made of organic cotton and wool, says the brand. It's also won multiple sleep awards for being a great option for those suffering from allergies.

Best innovative mattress

Purple Mattress

What we like
  • Users say grid layer is comfy
  • Hypoallergenic materials
Something to note
  • Only one firmness level

Mattress type: Memory foam | Height: 9.25-inches | Firmness level: Medium firm | Sizes available: Twin XL — Split King Trial length: 100 nights | Warranty: 10 years

Purple mattresses are known for their patented GelFlex grid technology, which (similar to memory foam) is meant to "cradle the body" with support and breathability.

Production associate Audrey Ekman says she's slept on a Purple mattress a few times and has it in her five-year plan to own one. “I am a notoriously bad sleeper — I typically struggle to fall asleep at night and tend to get overly hot and sweaty. But every night that I have slept on a Purple mattress, I’ve slept like a baby. The brand’s proprietary, cushy gel grid technology seemed strange at first, but don’t knock it ‘til you try it," she says.

FAQ's

Meet the experts

  • Dr. Rebecca Robbins, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School and a sleep scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
  • Dr. Jan Lefkowitz D.C. is a New York-based chiropractor and founder of Body in Balance.
  • Katie Roberts is a consumer analyst at Dealnews.com.

How we chose the best mattresses

We selected the best mattresses based on sleep experts' and consumer analyst insights, recommendations from a chiropractor and Shop TODAY editor tried-and-true picks. We also used these insights and chose mattresses based on brand information and shopper reviews.