There’s no more important piece of furniture in your home than a mattress. Get it wrong and a poor night’s sleep can single-handedly ruin the outcome of the next day and, long term, wreak havoc on your body. Thanks to the current crop of bed-in-a-box mattress brands, it’s never been easier to replace your lumpy spring bed or that futon contraption from college with a slab of polyurethane memory foam that conforms to both back and side sleepers.
Foam mattresses have been around for years but, thanks in part to the middleman markup, they cost thousands. A new breed of upstart company sells direct to the consumer, lowering the cost, while upping the quality and getting rid of that hot, sunken feeling that plagued older foam beds. Worried about making an investment like this without taking one for a test ride in the store? Don't be — most of these brands offer a 100-night in-home trial and return policy. We slept on five king-size polyurethane memory foam beds over a two-month period. Here’s how we felt in the morning.
The first thing we noticed after unboxing the Yogabed is how insanely comfortable the removable cover is. The 50/50 synthetic and natural-fiber blend is similar to what is used to make temperature-sensitive athletic clothing. It's designed to evaporate moisture on warm nights to keep you dry, and act as a thin insulation barrier on cold nights to keep the bed warm. Then we noticed how heavy it is at 110 pounds — only one mattress weighed more — which made us wish the cover included stitched-in handles, which no brand seems to think is important. Made from four foam layers here in the United States, the bed was very responsive. Depressions made by the body fill in almost immediately, so there is none of that swallowed-up-by-the-mattress feeling. That’s good news for fitful sleepers. Under the covers, the bed was a comfortable cooling temperature. It fell in the middle of the road for bounciness, so while sex is easier compared to a typical foam mattress, you might be disturbed by someone else’s late-night visit to the restroom. It's covered by a 10-year warranty and comes with two foam pillows. [Get it now from $449 (twin) to $849 (Cal King) at amazon.com]
The three layers that make up the Eve provided the most bounce out of the mattresses tested, a real boon during sex, but probably less so if your partner is a constant toss-and-turner. At 120 pounds, the U.K.-imported mattress was the heaviest (still no handles!) and felt like the firmest, which might be most comfortable for back sleepers. The mattress is designed with cooling in mind, with holes in the layers to help move body heat away, which made for a comfortable sleep. The comfortable cover zips up on three sides and sort of slips over the mattress like a sock, so it wasn’t the easiest to deal with. After unboxing, Eve had the most noticeable off-gassing smell, though it went away after a few hours. It's covered by a 10-year warranty. [Get it now from $449 (twin) to $949 (Cal King) at amazon.com]
The U.S.-made Leesa was the most distinctive mattress we tested. The three layers combine to offer bounce — enough to encourage a five-year-old to keep reaching for the ceiling — with the lower layers having the moldability of a traditional foam mattress. The lightest bed in the roundup (90 pounds), we felt cradled but not enveloped, yet it was firm at the same time. The foam seemed to handle motion transfer well when someone got out of the bed. The polyester-lycra cover was the most comfortable tested — we preferred it to our own sheets, in fact. Leesa is covered by a 10-year warranty. [Get it now for $995 (king) at amazon.com]
Tuft & Needle
When we buried our nose into the Tuft & Needle, we detected a faint soap smell, which we didn’t mind. The comfortable cover is easy to remove, and it has the beefiest zipper in the bunch. Similar to the Yogabed, this SoCal-manufactured mattress had a good mix of bounce and responsiveness and is decidedly on the firmer side. The brand has brick-and-mortar stores in San Francisco and Phoenix for those looking for a test drive. It's covered by a 10-year warranty. [Get it now from $350 (twin) to $750 (Cal king) at amazon.com]
This brand’s Taylor mattress is distributed through Amazon (and is subject to a 30-day return policy, not the 100 nights the other brands here offer), and was by far the softest in the roundup. At 12 inches thick, two more than the rest of the field, body impressions took nearly five seconds to fill in, which made this the bed for those who like the molding aspect of a foam mattress. But there is none of that trapped-heat feeling associated with earlier foam beds because of the cooling gel infused into the top layer. While it’s made in the U.S., the fit and finish of the cover left something to be desired; seams were coming undone out of the box, and the zipper didn’t have a pull tab. The cover is also difficult to get back onto the mattress. Good thing it's covered by a 20-year warranty. [Get it now from $370 (full) to $690 (Cal king) at amazon.com]