Expert Which? testers reveal how to choose the perfect mattress for a good night’s sleep – including the ’10 minute test’ and not buying the most expensive model
- Which? have tested 139 mattresses in order to uncover the best and worst
- A bad mattress can cause back pain and poor sleep, leading to poor health
- Which? reveal exclusively to Femail how you should test a new mattress
We’ve all had bad experiences when it comes to mattress – from springs digging into our ribs to mattresses which are too hard – so how do we find the perfect one?
Which? have tested nearly 139 mattresses over the last seven years, in order to uncover the best – and expose the worst.
A bad mattress can contribute to back pain and poor sleep, which in turn can impact your physical and mental health, your mood, and your productivity.
Mattresses can be a considerable financial investment, but a good night’s sleep shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Through their testing they’ve found that the most expensive model doesn’t necessarily mean the best quality, while they also reveal how ten minutes on a mattress can give you an insight into how you will sleep on it.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of home products and services, said: ‘If you’re looking to buy a new mattress, remember that it should last for years to come, without compromising the quality of your sleep or your health.
‘Don’t rely on price as a guarantee of quality, and always do your research before parting with your cash.’
Which? reveal to Femail how they’ve been testing them and how you can find the perfect mattress for you…
Which? have tested nearly 139 mattresses over the last seven years, in order to uncover the best – and expose the worst
Buy from a trusted brand
As well as testing individual mattresses, Which? also surveys customers on their experiences with mattress brands and retailers.
As well as overall customer score, each brand is rated for how comfortable its mattresses are, how well they match the description, whether it met peoples’ overall expectations and whether they offer value for money.
Don’t be misled by price
A new mattress can cost anywhere between a hundred pounds and several thousand, but The Which? tests have found that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a mattress that will support your spine and last for years to come.
In fact, some of the cheapest mattresses they’ve tested have been awarded Best Buy status, whilst the most expensive mattress in our test – the Vispring Herald Superb firm, costing a staggering £2,515 – scores just 3 out of 5 stars for durability, and 3 out of 5 stars for overall body support.
Some of the cheapest mattresses they’ve tested have been awarded Best Buy status, whilst the most expensive mattress in our test only got 3 out of 5 stars for overall body support
Mattresses can be a considerable financial investment, but a good night’s sleep shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg
Mattress testing checklist
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Lie on the mattress for at least 10 minutes
- Sit on the edge of the mattress to ensure it doesn’t sag
- Don’t shop when you’re tired (all the mattresses will feel great!)
- If buying a memory foam mattress, move into different positions to test how easy it is to move
- If the bed is for two people, shop together
- If you’re looking for a bargain, try in store and then look for the best price online
Personal preferences and budget
There are four main mattress types to choose from – memory foam, pocket sprung, latex, and open coil. Most mattress manufacturers make more than one type, and each type will suit different budgets and sleeping styles.
If you’re buying a mattress for a bad back, don’t be swayed by medical terms like ‘orthopedic’ and ‘posturepedic’ – there are no restrictions on the term ‘orthopedic mattress’, so any mattress can use that description. The body-support rating Which? give in their mattress reviews shows how well each mattress keeps your spine in its natural position. This is your best guide to finding one that’s good for your back.
Try before you buy
Unless you’re buying a bed-in-a-box mattress it’s always best to try a mattress in store before buying. Over a third of Which? members felt intimidated trying out a mattress in store, but a good mattress store shouldn’t discourage you from doing so.
How did the most expensive mattress do in the Which tests?
Vispring Herald Superb firm – £2,515 (56 per cent)
This high-end pocket-sprung mattress from luxury brand Vispring is the most expensive mattress in the Which? tests.
But despite its cost Which? found: ‘It’s a supportive and breathable mattress from a very reputable brand. But it isn’t great for light sleepers and it’s let down by how much of its height it loses over time.
‘When we simulated several years of sleep, the mattress lost a lot of its height. While that won’t impact on the firmness or supportiveness of the mattress, it may have an effect on the comfort – and given how much the mattress costs, this could be risky when you can’t be sure if you’ll still like the feel of it in years to come.
‘Additionally, this mattress may not be suited to light sleepers. It isn’t as stable as some we’ve seen, so don’t be surprised if you feel your partner’s movements on your side of the bed.
‘You also need to flip this heavy 54kg mattress regularly to keep it in top condition, but at least there are handles to make that task somewhat easier.
A new mattress can cost anywhere between a hundred pounds and several thousand, but The Which? tests have found that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a mattress that will support your spine and last for years to come
The mattress you shouldn’t buy
Tempur Contour Supreme – £1,429 – DON’T BUY (34 per cent)
This memory foam mattress from Tempur was the only Don’t Buy in their mattress tests – they found that it didn’t provide good support for larger people, and it also became badly damaged during their durability tests.
Which said about the mattress: ‘We can’t recommend this mattress because we have concerns over the durability of the memory foam.
‘We simulate up to 10 years of use in our tests, and a large tear had developed in the middle of this mattress by the time our test finished.
‘While this does not necessarily mean the mattress will tear in real life, the fact that it tears in our test proves it’s less durable than other memory foam mattresses we’ve tested.
‘Switching sleeping positions also requires more effort than you might expect. You sink into this mattress, which restricts your movement.
‘Moving this mattress is very awkward too, as it weighs 34kg and doesn’t have any handles – however, as it is a one-sided mattress, it doesn’t need to be flipped.
‘What’s more, it’s also the fifth most expensive mattress in our tests, at £1,429.’
How Which? test their mattresses
A mattress should keep your spine the same shape as when you’re standing up. Which? measure the shape of a person’s body at 36 different points when standing, and again when lying on their back on the mattress. They then use people with different body types for this test to ensure each mattress is suitable for a wide range of people.
Which? simulate years of use by rolling heavy barrels over each mattress thousands of times to simulate approximately 10 years of use.
A good mattress will not get harder or softer over time. Which? simulate years of use by rolling heavy barrels over each mattress thousands of times to simulate approximately 10 years of use.
With a good mattress, you’re less likely to wake up when your partner turns or moves in the night. Which? use an oscilloscope to count the number of times the mattress bounces after impact before becoming calm again.
Should you buy a bed in a box?
Bed-in-a-box mattresses are a recent addition to the mattress market. They are sold online direct from manufacturer to consumer and delivered vacuum-packed into a box. Bed-in-a-box brands include Casper, Eve, Emma and Leesa.
But do Which rate them? ‘Spending a few hundred pounds on a mattress that you haven’t tried out for yourself might sound risky. But our lab tests have revealed that some of the best mattresses money can buy are only available in vacuum-packed boxes that you order online.
‘In fact, 19 of our 33 Best Buy mattresses are bed-in-a-box mattresses, have excelled in their rigorous testing.
‘While you can’t try before you buy, most bed-in-a-box mattresses come with an extensive sleep trial period, during which you can send the mattress back for an exchange or full refund.
You can find out more about Which’s best bed-in-a-box brands here.
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