Finding the best mattress for your sleep style can make a huge difference to the quality of your sleep. However, with so many options available, tracking down the best mattress for you can feel daunting.
Whether you’re a front, side, or back sleepers, your weight, body temperature, and any pre-existing aches and pains, plus whether you sleep alone or with a partner can all affect which mattress is best for you. And, whether you’re looking for a ‘cheap’ mattress that’s under the £500 mark or you can stretch to a luxury mattress at over £2000, there’s no denying that a new mattress is a significant investment, so it’s a decision we all want to get right.
That’s where the Ideal Home team’s sleep experts are here to help. We’ve tried, tested, and reviewed bestselling mattresses from the biggest brand names in the sleep field – including Emma, Simba, Brook + Wilde, Tempur, Hypnos, Nectar, Silentnight, Woolroom, Panda, Sealy, and many more – to find the best mattresses overall. Each mattress review puts the mattress through its paces to compare comfort, motion transfer, edge support, and temperature regulation, as well as ease of delivery, sleep trials, and, of course, price.
You’ll find in-depth mattress-buying advice at the bottom of this page – where we cut through the manufacturer’s marketing spiel to weigh up the pros and cons of memory foam, hybrid, and pocket spring mattresses – along with our top mattress recommendations, gleaned from hours of comfortable snoozing, just below. Plus, if you want to ensure you have all of the ingredients for a good night’s sleep, then don’t forget to read our guide to the best pillows too.
The quick list
Short on time? This quick list is an overview of the very best mattresses. You’ll find more information on each mattress and a full mattress review detailing why our testers recommend it if you keep on scrolling.
Best mattress overall
Our reviewers describe the Simba Hybrid mattress as the ‘Goldilocks’ of the mattress world – a sleep surface that’s not too soft or too firm. A hybrid mattress that employs pocket springs for support with a cushioned memory foam top layer, this mattress is particularly comfortable for side and back sleeping, and it’s hybrid construction means it’s a good all-rounder for sleepers of various weights. A crowd-pleaser that’s often on sale at a hefty discount means it gets our vote for best mattress overall.
Best hybrid alternative
2. Emma Luxe Cooling Mattress
Best hybrid alternative
Emma and Simba are two of the UK’s best-known mattress manufacturers, and the Ideal Home team has put both brands through their paces. Emma’s latest launch, the Luxe Cooling mattress, solves a common niggle with owners of the now discontinued Emma Premium mattress by delivering a more breathable sleep. Which brand to invest in often comes down to which has the biggest discounts running at the time of your purchase, with both manufacturers regularly offering up to 50% off RRP.
Best luxury mattress
3. Brook + Wilde Ultima mattress
Best luxury mattress
The Brook + Wilde Ultima mattress is a true all-rounder; comfortable, supportive, cool to sleep on, and available in three firmness levels, so there’s an option for you whatever your sleep style or tension preference. Our reviewer couldn’t fault it. The only real downside is its price tag. However, if you have the budget to invest in a good night’s sleep, then regular sitewide discounts mean you could snap up this luxury mattress for up to 50% off if you time your purchase right.
4. Emma Original mattress
Best affordable mattress
The affordable entry-level Emma Original is an all-foam mattress topped with a layer of cushioning memory foam. Our reviewers found it a super comfortable sleep surface, although its soft foam construction and lack of pocket springs can mean it’s not the best option for heavier sleepers or back and front sleepers who may need more support. Our hot sleepers also found its memory foam ‘hug’ a little too warm, but, its affordable price tag is hard to beat if you’re looking for a budget buy.
Best for hot sleepers
5. Hypnos Pillow Top Select mattress
Best mattress for hot sleepers
Hypnos makes its mattresses from predominantly natural materials which makes them more eco-friendly than most, and is great news for those of us who struggle to sleep on synthetic all-foam or memory foam mattresses without overheating. Temperature-regulating materials plus an airflow-enhancing pocket spring system mean the Hypnos range always proves highly breathable in our sleep tests, delivering a comfortable and cool night’s sleep.
Best memory foam
6. Tempur Sensation mattress
Best memory foam mattress
Tempur is widely accredited with creating the very first memory foam mattress, and unlike most memory foam mattresses which take a one-size-fits-all approach to softness, its memory foam mattresses come in three different firmness options which enable you to find just the right fit for your sleep preferences. They’re an investment, but worth it if you love a memory foam sleep surface that cushions aching joints and dampens any movement from a sleep partner.
Best mattresses 2023 – tried and tested
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Best mattress overall
If you’re looking for a mattress with good support and bounce but which still has plenty of cushioning, then you’ll want to opt for a hybrid mattress. A hybrid mattress generally combines the support of pocket springs with the comfort of a memory foam upper. You’ll usually pay more for the addition of those springs, but it can mean your mattress has more longevity and is a particularly good option if you’re a heavier sleeper who needs a firmer base layer for support.
The Simba Hybrid mattress is a popular hybrid option that combines up to 2500 springs with a top layer of the brand’s Simbatex® foam – the brand describes this as ‘open cell’ memory foam, which allows thirty times the airflow of memory foam to prevent overheating during the night.
While some of our heavier reviewers found it on the softer side, most of our testers described this as the Goldilocks of mattresses – i.e. not too soft or too firm. They also found it particularly comfortable when side-sleeping, with the soft memory foam surface providing sink-in support for the shoulders. Back sleepers were also impressed, although the memory foam top was less suitable for front sleepers.
Simba offers mattress-in-box delivery, which makes for easy transportation to the room of your choice, and also offers a generous 200-night sleep trial if you buy direct from the brand. If you time your purchase to coincide with one of the Simba’s regular up to 50% off sales you can also get this great all-rounder mattress at a great price.
Our full Simba Hybrid mattress review has more detail.
Best hybrid mattress alternative
The Emma Luxe Cooling Mattress is one of the brand’s latest launches, designed to offer – as you might expect from the name – a cooler sleep experience than the otherwise highly-rated Emma Premium mattress, which, despite its plus points, we found could sleep warm when our testers put it through its paces for our Emma Premium mattress review.
Our review of the Emma Luxe Cooling Mattress found it does exactly what its name promises, with its extra graphite-infused foam layer offering a more breathable sleep surface than its predecessor, the Premium, or Emma’s Original mattress. That’s why we think this is the best Emma mattress to invest in out of all the designs in the Emma range.
Similarly to the now-discontinued Premium mattress, the Emma Luxe Cooling Mattress is a hybrid mattress that combines a memory foam upper with pocket-spring support. This is in contrast to the brand’s entry-level mattress – the budget Emma Original mattress at number #3 in this guide – that is foam only.
Our reviewer instantly noticed the difference between the softer Emma Original mattress and the Medium-Firm Emma Luxe Cooling mattresses in our sleep tests, noting that the Luxe felt ‘supportive and cushioning’. Heavier weight sleepers will definitely appreciate the extra support the pocket springs add, and those springs are also likely to give the hybrid mattress more longevity compared to its all-foam counterpart. The only downside is the price, with Emma’s Luxe Cooling mattress currently selling at an RRP of nearly four times the price of the Emma Original mattress!
Emma mattresses are often looked at in comparison to Simba’s mattress range, and having now put both of the brand’s hybrid bestsellers to the test we have to say they’re pretty much neck and neck in design. Especially now Emma has made efforts to improve breathability and deliver a cooler sleep with the Luxe Cooling mattress’ new construction.
As such, the determining factor in which brand to shop often comes down to price. Currently the Emma Luxe Cooling mattress retails for significantly more than the Simba Hybrid. That said, both brands offer regular discounts that can see discounts of over 50% off both mattresses. Your best bet is usually to opt for the brand with the heftiest discount at the time of your purchase.
Our full Emma Luxe Cooling mattress review has more detail.
Best luxury mattress
The Brook + Wilde Ultima mattress is a true all-rounder; comfortable, supportive, and cool to sleep on, our reviewers couldn’t fault it. However, it is an investment, so what makes it worth the extra spend?
Firstly, with this mattress, you can choose from a range of firmness levels, so there’s an option for you whatever your sleep style or tension preference. That said, our reviewer tested the Ultima in a medium firmness level and thought this was the perfect tension for both side, back, and front sleepers.
Secondly, this hybrid mattress offers a lot of bang for your buck, with a construction that includes ten layers of comfort and support. There are two memory foam layers, crafted from ‘open cell’ foam that allows 4 times the airflow of regular memory foam. Plus a ‘twin blanket of 2000 nano-springs, ergonomically designed to evenly distribute your weight’, and another layer of 4000 taller pocket springs, that the brand states ‘provides the perfect level of push-back and bounce’.
Our reviewer certainly agreed, finding after a few nights on the Ultima her lower back pain was a thing of the past, and also praising the lack of motion transfer when her partner tossed and turned nearby. The removable and machine-washable thermic cover also kept our testers cool as they slept through two heatwaves.
All those layers do mean this mattress is heavy, and at 30cm deep it’s well worth checking the height of your bed frame to make sure the sleep surface won’t end up too high. That said, our testers found it hard to find other faults – other than the price. However, Brook + Wilde does tend to run fairly regular sitewide discounts that can see up to 50% knocked off the mattress’ normal retail price, so, time your purchase right and you could be able to snap up this luxury mattress for a lot less.
Our full Brook + Wilde Ultima mattress review has more detail.
Most affordable mattress
The Emma Original is an affordable foam-only mattress constructed from a base layer of high-density foam with top layers of memory foam designed to ‘hug’ the body and cushion pressure points.
Our reviewers have universally found this mattress extremely comfortable on initial testing, agreeing that on a scale of firmness from 1 to 10, they rate the Original at a 5 (medium) which makes it a soft and cushioning surface to sleep on, even going so far as to call it ‘dreamy’ and ‘unbelievably comfy’. The memory foam surface also makes for very little motion transfer thanks to its movement-dampening effect – a big bonus if you sleep with a fidgety partner.
The boxed delivery packaging is super useful for homes with awkward access, there’s a generous 200-night sleep trial to allow you to fully test it before committing, and the brand regularly slashes prices meaning you can often pick up the Original at 50% off.
The compromise for the affordable price point is the lack of springs. That means you don’t get the bounce that you’d get from a hybrid or pocket-spring mattress, and, without that additional spring support, over time some reviewers have noted indentations in the foam if the mattress isn’t regularly rotated. Those of us on the heavier side of the weight spectrum, or who are front sleepers, may also be likely to find the all-foam construction too soft – a pocket-spring or hybrid mattress will offer more support. And, several reviewers have noted some overheating due to the memory foam’s lack of breathability, so it may not be the best buy for a hot sleeper.
However, if you’re after a soft, cushioning, and affordable mattress, that offers a generous sleep trial and hassle-free delivery, then we think you’ll find the Emma Original is a bestseller for good reason.
Our full Emma Original mattress review has more detail.
Best mattress for hot sleepers
If you’re looking for a mattress that’s more sustainable than most – and still scores highly on comfort – then the Hypnos Pillow Top Select mattress is our top choice.
This mattress is made predominantly from natural materials, which makes it far more eco-friendly than most synthetic mattresses, and that’s also great news for those of us who struggle to sleep on a foam or memory foam mattress without overheating. The natural materials used in the Hypnos Pillow Top Select’s fill, plus its airflow-enhancing pocket spring system and ventilation features, mean it proved highly breathable in our tests.
As such, we think this is the best mattress for hot sleepers, as that breathable sleep surface means body temperature is regulated throughout the night leading to a deeper and more restful sleep – without any 3 am wake-ups where you’re kicking off the sheets.
Even better, this breathability is achieved without any compromise on comfort. The clever pillow top design means that unlike the usual hybrid mattresses that feature a memory foam layer over a pocket spring base, this mattress instead uses a sewn-on ‘pillow top’ layer – packed with British wool and responsibly sourced natural plant-based fibres, Himalayan allo, kapok, and cotton – to add luxurious comfort to its pocket spring base.
The only downside is, the price, and a little less motion isolation than a pure foam mattress like the Emma Original or a memory foam hybrid like the Simba Hybrid and Emma Premium mattress can provide.
However, if you’re after a natural sleep that might well be a sacrifice worth making. Alongside its foam-free inner, the Hypnos Pillow Top doesn’t use chemical fire retardants like most synthetic mattresses, comes in eco-friendly packaging, and can be fully recycled at the end of its lifespan.
Our reviewer says, ‘This mattress will particularly suit hot sleepers who need breathability, those looking for a comfortable and cooler alternative to memory foam, eco-conscious consumers searching for a more sustainable mattress choice, and tricky customers who need a mattress that’s comfortable whether you sleep on your side, front, or back. The Hypnos Pillow Top mattress delivers on all counts.
Our full Hypnos Pillow Top mattress review has more detail.
Best memory foam mattress
Tempur is the brand widely accredited with creating the very first memory foam mattress. In the 1960s NASA experimented with creating a new material – originally dubbed ‘slow spring back foam’ or viscoelastic – for use as cushioning in its spacecraft. When NASA eventually released this invention to the public domain, Tempur’s founders saw its potential as a new mattress surface, and today the brand remains the only mattress manufacturer to hold NASA’s Certified Space Technology® license.
Since then numerous mattress brands have jumped on the memory foam bandwagon, with multiple manufacturers – such as Emma and Simba – now offering memory foam mattresses at far cheaper price points. So why would you invest in a Tempur mattress instead?
Well, unlike most memory foam mattresses which take a one-size-fits-all approach to keep price points lower, Tempur instead offers the luxury of choice that enables you to find just the right fit for your sleep preferences. There are three different firmness options; the softest Cloud, medium-firm Original, or firmest Sensation mattresses, and three mattress thicknesses to choose from; the 21cm deep Supreme, 25cm Elite, and 30cm deep Luxe.
The firmer and deeper options in particular make the range far more suitable for heavier-weight sleepers for whom an all-foam mattress without spring support generally isn’t recommended. So if you love the cushioning feel of memory foam, but also need greater support, Tempur’s range is a great choice.
In our tests, we found this mattress isn’t perfect – our reviewers felt its edge support is lacking, and if you’re a hot sleeper then you may well find the memory foam surface less breathable than you would like. However, our testers loved the Tempur Sensation’s cushioning surface which eased aches and pains and relieved pressure on hips, backs, and shoulders.
Our memory foam-averse testers also appreciated the slightly firmer sleep surface that was less ‘enveloping’ than softer memory foam mattresses. And when it came to negating the sleep disturbance caused by a restless sleep partner, this mattress came up trumps, with its motion-isolation and the dampening effect of its all-foam core second to none.
Our full Tempur Sensation mattress review has more detail.
Longest sleep trial
Similar to the Emma Original mattress, the popular Nectar Memory Foam mattress is an all-foam affair with no springs in sight.
Just like the Emma Original, that makes for a cushioned sleep surface that’s a good option for side sleepers, with very little motion transfer thanks to the movement-dampening effect of the memory foam top layer. Nectar’s mattress-in-a-box delivery also makes for easier delivery to homes and rooms with awkward access. However, that pure foam construction means the mattress may be a little too soft for those of us on the heavier side, or for front sleepers, who will both find a pocket-spring or hybrid mattress to offer better support.
So how to choose between the Emma Original and the Nectar Memory Foam mattress? Well, we have a few niggles with the Nectar option – largely the lack of side handles for rotation, the fact the cover isn’t removable like the machine-washable Emma Original cover, and the ‘new mattress’ off-gassing smell that our reviewer found took a little longer to dissipate compared to other mattresses.
That said, Nectar offers one of the longest sleep trials in the business if you buy direct – that’s currently a whopping 365 nights to test out the Nectar Memory Foam mattress and ensure it’s the right option for you (just make sure to double-check the Terms & Conditions before you buy). Emma’s sleep trial is also lengthy at 200 nights, but we all know time can fly, so a year’s worth of snooze-testing is a big selling point.
Price-wise, the Nectar Memory Foam mattress is generally the more expensive option at full RRP, but regular discounts can mean that prices are slashed beyond that of Emma, so in terms of affordability it’s all about when you shop.
Best latex mattress
Memory foam mattresses have become hugely popular in recent years, mainly due to the way that memory foam slowly contours to the body as a sleeper’s body heat warms it up, offering a cocooning sleep surface moulded to your exact dimensions.
A latex-topped mattress offers similar cushioning properties but can be quicker to respond as it doesn’t rely on body heat to activate its elasticity. It also provides a more general contour that some prefer to the enveloping ‘hug’ of memory foam.
Silentnight’s Lift Replenish Hybrid 2000 Mattress is made up of 2000 pocket springs topped with a 2cm latex layer and wrapped in a fabric cover that the brand calls an “Intense™ sleep surface”. This means that the fabric has carbon woven into it in order to reduce static electricity which builds up in our bodies naturally throughout the day. The brand says that this static can limit the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which helps people get better sleep. So in theory, less static equals a deeper sleep.
The mattress is available in two firmness options – medium-soft and medium-firm – and whilst our reviewer found the medium-firm was definitely on the firmer side of the equation (and that that latex upper made for an extremely heavy mattress to move), she testified to its overall comfort and the good night’s sleep it offered.
Our full Silentnight Lift Replenish Hybrid Mattress review has more detail.
Best ‘infused’ mattress
‘Infusions’ are big in the world of mattresses right now. From charcoal and green tea to copper and Panda’s bamboo-infused foam, all manner of on-trend ingredients that have for the past few years been packed into health supplements and skincare products have now been picked up by mattress manufacturers and blended into mattress foam alongside promises they will provide better sleep.
So do infusions work? The jury’s still out as far as we’re concerned, however, in the case of Panda’s Hybrid Bamboo Mattress, this mattress has plenty going for it beyond its top layer of bamboo-infused foam.
Prior to testing this mattress, our reviewer’s biggest sleep challenges were overheating and being disturbed by the movement of her partner sleeping adjacent. After six months of testing the Panda Hybrid Bamboo Mattress, she found she slept cooler in comparison to her old memory foam mattress – likely thanks to the Hybrid Bamboo Mattress’ open-cell foam upper layer that allows for more airflow – and any tossing and turning from her husband was dampened by the combination of two layers of memory foam and a pocket spring core, so her sleep was less disturbed.
That said, the Panda Hybrid Bamboo mattress is an investment. Compared to the ever-popular Simba Hybrid mattress at the top of our round-up – which benefits from regular discounts that can often see it reduced to half price – the Panda mattress is significantly more expensive, both at full RRP and, from our observations, during sale periods. And, whilst the Panda Hybrid Bamboo mattress’ 100-night sleep trial is more than generous, it is still beaten by Simba’s current 200-night trial.
However, those sleep trials offer a brilliant way to test out which mattress is best for you, and if you’re looking for a good all-rounder mattress that offers comfort, support, breathability, and motion isolation, the Panda Hybrid Bamboo mattress is well worth having on your radar.
Our full Panda Hybrid Bamboo mattress review has more detail.
Best firm mattress
The Sealy Newton Posturepedic Mattress is a hybrid mattress that employs open coil springs for support and a layer of cushioning latex to create a firm yet cushioned sleep surface.
The mattress is available in two firmness options – medium and firm – and has been designed in conjunction with the Orthopaedic Advisory Board, which Sealy states is a mix of ‘orthopaedic surgeons, bio-mechanical engineers, and medical scientists’.
A firm mattress is often recommended for those seeking good postural support in bed, so it was the ‘firm’ variation of the mattress we tested. Our reviewer suffers from some lower back pain and neck pain, and although it took her a while to get used to the firmer latex sleep surface, after a month of sleeping on this mattress she gave it the seal of approval, saying ‘whilst sleeping on the Sealy Newton Posturepedic Mattress, I didn’t wake up with lower backache like I often do’.
In our tests, the Newton Posturepedic also performed well in terms of edge support and temperature regulation. Our reviewer says, ‘I often wake up too hot in the night, so I was really interested to see if the mattress’s ‘Intelligent SmarTex® fibres’ – a coating applied to the outer fabric on the mattress that’s designed to regulate your temperature and remove moisture – would make any noticeable difference. After sleeping on this mattress for a couple of weeks I realised that my temperature seemed to be much more regulated and I wasn’t waking up drenched in sweat like I sometimes have been’.
The ‘Responsive UniCased® edge support’ which provides firm support right up to the very edge of the mattress is another plus point, and particularly beneficial for anyone with mobility issues as it can make getting out of bed easier.
In fact, the only real downside our reviewer noted was that motion transfer could have been a little better. Potentially due to Sealy’s decision to use open coil rather than pocket springs for the mattress construction – open coil means one continuous unit of springs that can tend to transfer motion more than individual pocket springs that are cased separately to prevent motion transfer – our testers found they could feel some disturbance when a partner moved in bed. However, this wasn’t enough to negatively impact sleep in our testing.
Overall, if you’re looking for a firm mattress, then we found the Sealy Newton Posturepedic Mattress to be a good buy at a decent mid-range price point.
Most eco-friendly mattress
Trying to find an eco-friendly mattress can be a tall order, which is why we were keen to test out Woolroom’s Hebridean mattress.
This pocket-spring mattress combines 1000 pocket springs and 2000 micro coil springs with an all-natural fill made from a mix of wool, cashmere, silk, and cotton – a combination that’s gentler on the environment in terms of manufacture and biodegradability than a synthetic mattress.
As the name suggests, Woolroom is big on wool, and if you spend a little time digging into the detail, it’s easy to see why. The perfect bedding material – that fell out of favour when cheaper foams and polyesters entered the market – wool is insulating, breathable, temperature regulating, hypoallergenic, durable, and a sustainable and renewable resource.
Importantly for mattress production, wool is also a natural fire retardant, which means none of Woolroom’s mattresses are coated in the chemical fire retardants required for synthetic mattresses.
Although it’s an investment at just over £1000 for a double, that’s actually a fairly reasonable price for a traditionally made, hand-tufted mattress that’s filled with natural fibres. We found its firmer sleep surface a good fit for heavier-weight and front sleepers, plus wool’s temperature-regulating attributes made it a great option for hot sleepers. And for those sensitive to the chemical off-gassing of memory foam, latex, or synthetic mattresses, this all-natural mattress could prove a great solution.
Our full Woolroom Hebridean 3000 mattress review has more detail.
How to choose the best mattress
What is the best mattress?
Whilst choosing the best mattress for you is very much about personal preference, there are some key considerations that are well worth bearing in mind to help you find the best mattress for your sleep preferences.
First up, it’s helpful to understand some basic mattress terminology before starting your mattress search.
In an effort to stand out from the crowd, mattress manufacturers tend to employ an often bewildering array of fancy terms aimed at convincing us that their particular mattress is going to transform our sleep experience and turn us into our best well-rested selves.
However, starting with the basics, there are three main types of mattress construction it’s helpful to be familiar with; pocket-spring, hybrid, and foam. We sum up the main differences between each mattress type below.
What is a pocket-spring mattress?
A pocket-spring mattress features a layer of coiled springs topped with either foam or natural-fill padding.
Pocket-spring mattresses tend to be the firmest mattresses and the most bouncy. This can make them the easiest to change position on and make getting out of bed easier as your body doesn’t sink into the surface as it will with a memory foam or hybrid mattress. That firmer surface is also great for front sleepers.
But, those same qualities can mean that you’ll encounter increased motion transfer on a pocket-spring mattress as without the dampening effect of a memory foam or latex top layer a partner’s movement is more noticeable, so you might find there’s more sleep disturbance if your sleep partner fidgets.
If you’re a side sleeper then you may also find the sleep surface a little too firm, as it doesn’t offer the sink-in factor to cushion hips and shoulders that a pillow-top, hybrid, or memory foam mattress does.
What is a hybrid mattress?
Increasingly popular, a hybrid mattress is the mid-ground between a pocket-spring mattress and a foam mattress. These mattresses combine a pocket-sprung layer with a memory foam or latex upper.
This combination works well for a wide range of sleepers – especially side sleepers – as the pocket springs offer good support, whilst the memory foam or latex upper adds some softness to cushion joints.
That cushioned upper layer is also great news for motion isolation, with the sink-in top layer dampening the movements of a fidgety partner.
The downsides are that there’s not as much bounce compared to a pocket-spring mattress, and not everyone enjoys the sensation of memory foam moulding to their contours as they sleep, with hot sleepers often finding this leads to overheating.
What is a foam mattress?
A foam mattress contains no pocket springs. It will either feature a denser foam base layer topped by a more cushioned foam upper, or it may have the addition of a memory foam top layer.
Generally, a foam mattress will be the cheapest mattress you can buy. They tend to be best for lighter-weight sleepers due to the lack of spring support, and they’ll suit a side sleeper best as front and back sleepers may find the foam sinks too much for comfort.
If you struggle with mobility you might also find an all foam mattress difficult to get out of and turn over in as there’s little to no bounce without those springs. Edge support can also be poor, so sitting on the edge of the mattress you’ll sink rather than having a firmer surface to stand up from. That sink-in factor is good news for motion isolation though, with the all foam construction dampening the movements of any sleep partners for a less disturbed sleep.
In general, a foam mattress is unlikely to last quite as long as a mattress that has pocket-spring support, and you’re more likely to find the sleep surface forms dips over long-term use.
Your favourite sleeping position can be a big determining factor in which type of mattress you’ll find the most comfortable, so it’s important to consider whether you’re predominantly a side, back, or front sleeper before you start mattress shopping.
This is because the spine needs to be supported differently for optimum alignment in each of the respective sleep positions, and that’s where mattress firmness comes into play.
As a general rule, mattresses tend to range from soft-medium, medium, and medium-firm, to firm, and extra firm. However, there are no industry-wide standards of mattress firmness, so one manufacturer’s medium rating can sometimes be another brand’s firm. That’s why we always try to include our tester’s firmness findings in all of our reviews.
Your mattress firmness preferences are always a personal decision – there are no right or wrong answers – but below are the generally agreed-upon recommendations for each type of sleeper.
What’s the best mattress for side sleepers?
Sleeping on your side allows your spine to relax and therefore takes the pressure off of the back. This makes it one of the healthiest ways to sleep. Side sleepers will generally prefer the cushioning of a medium-soft or medium-firm mattress that allows the shoulder and hips to sink in a little whilst supporting the waist so that the spine can rest in its most natural position.
A hybrid mattress that mixes a pocket-spring base layer with a memory foam or latex top layer can be a popular choice for this style of sleeping due to the cushioning effect that enables the mattress sleep surface to mould to the curves of the body and support natural spine alignment.
If you’re solely a side sleeper, then you could also opt for a more affordable all-foam mattress. This will save you some cash compared to a hybrid mattress, and you likely won’t miss the additional spring support as much as a front or back sleeper.
Best for side sleepers: medium-soft to medium-firm
What’s the best mattress for back sleepers?
If you’re a back sleeper then a medium-firm mattress may well be the best option for you, as it will offer support to the hips and upper back whilst adding a little cushioning to support the lower back too.
Memory foam can also be a good option for this sleep position, although you’ll likely want a slightly firmer surface than a side sleeper. You’ll probably also prefer a hybrid or pocket-spring mattress for the additional support they offer as opposed to an all-foam mattress.
Best for back sleepers: medium-firm to firm
What’s the best mattress for front sleepers?
Generally, this is the sleep style least recommended by osteopaths due to the pressure it can put on the neck, however, front sleeping is still the position of choice for a minority of us. If this is you then your mattress choice could help eliminate some of the pressure put on your spine when sleeping in this position.
A firm mattress is the best option here as it will keep the hips lifted rather than allowing them to sink, therefore reducing the unnatural curvature of the spine.
You’re likely to sleep best on a pocket-spring mattress, as a hybrid mattress topped with memory foam, or an all-foam mattress, are both likely to be too soft for your needs.
Best for front sleepers: firm
Whilst this might seem like a bit of a personal question, sharing our bed can have a big impact on potential sleep disturbance, so it’s an important factor to consider when choosing a mattress.
Unfortunately, your mattress choice might not be able to eliminate all of your partner’s annoying sleep habits, but if one of you tends to toss and turn in the night or fidget before finding the most comfortable sleep position, or you go to bed and get up at different times, then opting for a mattress with good motion isolation can prevent a lot of night-time disturbance.
There are two main factors that help to add good motion isolation to a mattress. One is the addition of mini coil springs to a pocket spring or hybrid mattress. These smaller springs can help to absorb and reduce the amount of bounce in the mattress, and therefore reduce vibrations from one side of the mattress to the other – so far less risk of your partner bouncing you out of bed as they exuberantly get in! The other is the addition of a cushioned top layer – like memory foam or latex – which will absorb and have a dampening effect on each partner’s movements.
Both are well worth considering if a fidgety sleep buddy is waking you up at night!
If you regularly wake up too hot at the night, then it could well be your mattress to blame.
Alongside synthetic bedding (check out our guide to the best duvets for alternatives) the biggest culprit for night-time sweats is a synthetic mattress. Our bodies naturally give off heat and moisture during the night, and with a synthetic mattress, this heat and humidity can be reflected back toward the sleeper.
Whether foam or memory foam, a synthetic mattress is made of materials that are a variation on polyester or polyurethane – both of them forms of plastic derived from petroleum – and, if you think of their essence as being similar to a plastic bag, it’s easy to see why a synthetic mattress can lack breathability and get hot and sweaty pretty quickly!
As such, most synthetic mattress manufacturers spend a lot of time and money trying to come up with innovative ways to combat the lack of breathability of these man-made synthetic fibres.
A mattress filled with natural materials will generally do the best job of offering breathability and providing the coolest sleep. In our tests, we’ve found wool-fill mattresses in particular are the hot sleeper’s best friend.
Wool does a great job at regulating temperature throughout the night, helping those prone to overheating or night sweats to maintain a comfortable, steady temperature, and therefore secure a deeper night’s sleep. No wonder, seeing as a sheep’s temperature-regulating fleece keeps it warm in the winter and cool in the summer!
Wool is also naturally absorbent, wicking moisture away from the body and releasing it into the air, therefore creating a ‘breathable’ mattress that’s ideal for hot sleepers.
An entry-level natural-fill or wool-filled mattress will generally be more of an investment than an entry-level synthetic mattress, but if nighttime overheating is affecting your sleep quality then it can be an investment in well-being well worth making.
If overheating is a concern but you want the affordability of a synthetic mattress, then look out for terms like ‘air-flow’ and ‘cooling’ which generally demonstrate attempts have been made to allow the dissipation of heat away from the body. A wool mattress protector or mattress topper can also do a great job of helping to combat the overheating associated with a synthetic mattress.
A wide range of mattress manufacturers now offer sleep trials to allow you to test out a mattress in the comfort of your own home, night after night, before committing.
This can be a great way of taking some of the stress out of this major investment purchase, especially as experts tend to say it can take up to three months to get used to sleeping on a new mattress.
You’ll usually have to pay for the mattress upfront, and there will generally be terms and conditions to abide by to qualify for a return and refund so always check the small print, but a sleep trial can be a great way to find out of a mattress is the right fit for you.
Generally speaking you’ll need to buy from the mattress manufacturer direct to take advantage of a sleep trial, and trial periods can differ considerably in length, with Emma and Simba both currently offering a 200 night sleep trial, and Nectar offering a whopping 365 nights.
What is the cheapest way to buy a new mattress?
Sadly, mattresses don’t come cheap, with a good mattress easily costing upwards of £1000. The cheapest way to buy a new mattress is to do your research on which is the best fit for you, and then look out for mattress deals on your preferred brand.
Luckily mattress manufacturers are renowned for slashing prices to tempt shoppers in their direction, with Emma, Simba, Nectar, REM-Fit, and more all running regular discounts with up to 50% off savings to be found. Especially around the discounting event of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday in late November, when mattress deals abound.
If you’re looking for a cheap mattress then make sure to check out our mattress deals page which has round-ups of all the best sale prices currently available.
How we test mattresses
Ideal Home’s sleep experts have multiple years of experience in putting mattresses to the test. We know our open-cell foam from our high-density viscoelastic, and our pocket springs from our coil springs. In the course of our testing, we’ve also developed extensive knowledge of what makes the best night’s sleep – in our opinion that’s breathability, temperature regulation, motion isolation, cushioning, and support.
In order to compile this guide to the best mattresses you can shop, our mattress reviewers have tested out bestselling mattresses from the leading brand names in the world of sleep.
You can click here to find out more about how we review products at Ideal Home, and here to find out how we test mattresses specifically. You can rest assured that we only recommend mattresses that our team of reviewers has tested in person.
Each mattress has been sleep-tested in the homes of our review team and slept on for a minimum of a month – in most cases far longer – before we write our review. This enables our reviewers to adjust to each new sleep surface and assess a mattress’s performance over the course of multiple weeks.
We test out the mattress’ comfort, motion isolation, edge support, breathability, and temperature regulation to find the best mattress for a variety of needs. We also make sure to take into account additional factors such as the delivery process, any off-gassing in the case of foam mattresses, sleep trials, and, of course, price point, in making our recommendations.