Updated: January 2, 2020
Online Or Not, Mattress Choice Is Critical
When shopping for a new mattress, you may be overwhelmed with options. There are more mattress companies out there than ever before offering a wider variety of mattress types, designs, warranties, trials and price points. On top of this, you also have to decide on where you buy your mattress (we’re assuming you’ve decided online). Despite this, it’s worth the research! Selecting a mattress is a very important decision because your sleep quality and the amount of sleep you get impact almost every aspect of your health and daily life.
Determining which mattress is right for you usually comes down to a combination of your sleeping position, weight, budget and sleep temperature. There are many other features to consider like eco-friendliness, motion transfer, edge support as well as warranty, trials and return policies. However, this approach can help you narrow down 100 options to the one that’s right for you pretty quickly.
While choosing the right mattress is a decision very specific to you we’ve created some common mattress buying categories that you may relate to depending on your sleeping position, weight, budget or combination of the three. For each of these categories, we’ll talk about our top recommended mattress. Click here to jump to the best mattress recommendations.
Buying A Mattress Online
As with almost any product nowadays you can buy it online and expect delivery in as little as two business days. Surprisingly, despite the size and weight even a mattress now falls into this category! This has dramatically changed the way we buy mattresses.
The secret is in the packaging process. Most mattresses sold online are wrapped in a thick plastic cover, vacuum-compressed and stuffed into a box that allows mattress companies to ship the mattress with normal parcel carriers like UPS, FedEx, and USPS. During the unboxing process, the mattress will expand (a lot) to the size you’re used to seeing. To learn more about mattresses in a box, read my other guide.
This process helps dramatically reduce the cost of mattresses, improves the delivery time and convenience and allows you to comparison shop all brands online vs selecting from a handful at a physical mattress store, which often mark up their mattresses 2 or 3X their cost to cover the cost of the store, sales staff, and delivery.
The only main drawback to buying online is not being able to try the mattress in person… more on that later!
Pros And Cons Of Buying Online
- Cost - the main advantage of buying a mattress online vs in-store is the cost. The mattress business was one of the last businesses to transition online and when it did it came with a major cost saving to customers. On Amazon, you can actually buy a queen mattress for less than $200 shipped to your house! This was unheard of 10 years ago.
- Warranty, Trials, and Returns - when the mattress business exploded online it came with a lot of competition which is great for you. Due to this competition mattress companies are offering more and more in the way of warranties, trial periods and ease of returns in case of an issue. Many companies are making it truly risk-free to try one of their mattresses.
- Selection - in the old days of buying a mattress in-store, many of the brands that were offered were all manufactured and owned by the same company, with the only main difference being the label, brand, and price.
- Quality - due to the lack of competition in the mattress business there were very few companies innovating and improving the quality and design of their mattresses and the ones that were, were charing a lot. Now we have companies like Purple that are taking entirely new approaches to mattress designs and engineering.
- Delivery Time and Convenience - due to the mattress-in-a-box phenomenon, taking delivery of a mattress is often no longer than receiving the paper towel you order on amazon. This added convenience over picking up the mattress from a store or coordinating with a freight delivery service is great.
- Sales Experience - you can avoid the typical sales pressure you're likely to encounter at a mattress storefront.
- In-Person Experience - For most mattresses you buy online you will not be able to try them out in person before you buy but this is changing for many manufacturers. Big mattress companies like Casper are offering in-person experiences with their products before you buy, often in malls. Others are collaborating with existing mattress store chains to do the same. This gives you the benefits of buying online without the fear of getting a mattress you don’t like.
- Mattress Setup and Removal - typically if you buy a mattress in-store it will come with some kind of help setting it up and potentially removing your old mattress for free or for a small fee. While some online-focused companies like Saatva provide services like this, most do not. If you have a mattress that you’d like to remove read our Mattress Disposal Guide. There are many options before sending it to landfill.
Warranty And Returns
Worried about running into an issue with the mattress you purchased online? Buy from a reputable company (see our list) and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Due to the increased competition among mattress companies in the last 10 years, the warranties and return policies offered are pretty incredible(they really want your business!). Most companies that stand by their product will offer a 10-year warranty minimum, with many big names offering 15, 20 years and in the case of Nectar mattress a limited lifetime warranty.
If you’ve decided a mattress you’ve bought online isn’t for you, reach out to customer service. Each company handles this a little differently but they will typically facilitate donating the mattress, giving you a discount to keep it and in some rare cases pick it up and haul it off to a landfill. The later is becoming rarer.
Shipping And Delivery
When it comes to buying a mattress online you can expect to get free ground shipping(sometimes two-day) with minimal processing times between 1 day and 2 to 3 business days. So if you order your mattress on a Monday you could get it as early as Thursday.
While the box may look small, it’s still very heavy. We recommend getting some help moving it from your door to your bedroom. A queen memory foam mattress, for example, can weigh upwards of 80 pounds with all the packaging materials included.
Types Of Mattresses Available Online
When online mattress shopping became popular around 10 years ago only memory foam or all-foam mattresses were being compressed and shipped out to customers in a box. Now nearly all types of mattresses can be bought online and shipped to your door:
- Memory Foam - memory foam mattresses are typically made from layers polyurethane foam with high density, soft outer comfort layers on top of a harder low-density support layer. The combination of the two layers gives you resistance while still contouring to the shape of your body. Generally, memory foam mattresses are great at contouring to your body, pressure point relief, and motion and noise isolation. They aren’t so great at providing firm support or keeping you cool.
- Traditional Innerspring - With a design well over 100 years old innerspring mattresses provide support via a network of individual springs connected by a grid on both the bottom and top of the mattress. Traditional Innerspring mattresses seem to be unanimously shunned but still offer among the best cooling and can still be comfortable for back and stomach sleepers Pressure point relief is the biggest drawback and why side sleepers should avoid them.
- Hybrids - Hybrids as the name suggests combines the best of both innerspring and memory foam mattresses. By taking the outer comfort layer of a memory foam mattress and adding it on top of an innerspring core you get a mattress that can conform to your body, keep you cool all with a minor compromise to cooling ability and motion and noise transfer. Unfortunately, with the exception of Linenspa hybrids, most cost much more than the average mattress.
How to Choose Your Mattress Online
So if you can’t see the mattress in person, how do you know you’ll like it? Great question! Here’s how we approach it:
Ideal Sleep Position
Your goal in selecting a new mattress is to find one that gives you the support for spinal alignment. When your spine has an optimal alignment, your neck, back and hips are free from twisting, flexing or strain. Sleeping with spinal alignment is sublime and provides that fresh feeling we’re all looking for when we wake up in the morning.
Sleep Position and Firmness
As mentioned above your sleeping position has a lot to do with your mattress choice. For example, sleeping on your side requires a lot of pressure point relief while for back or stomach sleeping, pressure relief isn’t as critical.
- Side Sleeping - Generally side sleepers should shop for a memory foam mattress with medium firmness.
- Back Sleeping - Back sleeping calls for a firmer mattress and while memory foam mattresses can work just fine, a firm hybrid can be slightly more effective.
- Stomach Sleeping - Like back sleeping a firm mattress is ideal but stomach sleeping introduces a lot of other issues with your neck and hip positions that a mattress alone cannot solve for. To learn more about stomach sleeping and mattress choice, read my guide on stomach sleeping.
- Combination Sleeping - if you’re a combination sleeper, meaning you transition from one position to another throughout the night, you’ll want a versatile mattress. Go with a medium firmness hybrid. The hybrid construction will give you some contouring for side sleeping while still keeping you flat for back and stomach sleeping.
Since mattresses are designed to resist your weight and support your body, it’s natural that your own weight will play a factor in your mattress choice. Generally, the more you way the firmer you mattress needs to be, but there are limits to different mattress designs and materials that are worth noting. Here are some general guidelines:
- Under 150 lbs - If you’re under 150 pounds you want to be careful with some of the most popular options as they may be too firm. We recommend looking for a memory foam mattress that’s designed specifically to be soft. You may not get the contouring you need, especially as a side sleeper with some mainstream “medium” firmness options.
- 150 to 250 lbs - If you’re between 150 and 250 pounds you have plenty of options. The mainstream options from all the big names in the online mattress world are great as they are designed and tested for this weight group. If you’re on the lower end of the scale a medium firmness memory foam mattress is great and as you move up the scale consider either a medium-firm memory foam mattress or a hybrid for the best support and alignment.
- 250 lbs + - While more options are being developed for people 250 lbs and above it’s still an underserved group. Our recommendation is to search for a hybrid mattress that was designed for your specific weight. At 250 lbs+ firm memory foam mattresses lose their comfort as that 2 to 3” outer “comfort” layer becomes fully compressed/overloaded.
One of the biggest complaints about mattresses is their cooling ability or lack thereof. Certain mattress designs and types are better than others at keeping you cool while you sleep. Here’s what we recommend for different types of sleepers:
- Hot Sleeper: If you consider yourself a hot sleeper and someone that can never stay cool while they sleep you may want to consider a hybrid mattress or at least a memory foam mattress with REAL cooling abilities (all mattress companies claim their mattresses keep you cool).
- Cold Sleeper: If you’re one of the few people layering on blankets at night but are still struggling to keep warm you may be a great fit for a memory foam mattress as it’s one way you can improve your warmth.
Best Online Mattresses
We’ve invested around 28 hours of research to create this guide on the best online mattresses and how to pair them with your sleeping position. As usual, we've also supplemented our research with an in-depth interview with a chiropractor who frequently helps patients with their sleeping positions and sleep-related back and neck pain. You can learn more about our review process here
- The Nectar Mattress offers a great combination of quality and price backed up by one of the best warranties and trial periods around
- Limited Lifetime “Forever” warranty with a 365-night sleep trial, free shipping, and free returns
- Medium-firm firmness which is great for all sleeping positions if you’re between 150 and 250 lbs
- Currently Includes two pillows with every mattress purchase
Zinus Green Tea
- The Zinus offers nearly an unbeatable price point for a thick memory foam mattress
- Uses gel-infused memory foam to improve cooling with a 2.5” thick comfort layer for optimal contouring to your body
- 10-year limited warranty and 100 day trial period
- Medium-firm firmness on the firm side but still suitable for all sleeping positions
Best Budget Runner Up
- The Linenspa Hybrid combines the best of both memory foam mattress comfort and support of an innerspring mattress in one affordable option.
- Available in a variety of firmness options based on mattress thickness (8”, 10’ and 12”)
- Includes a gel-infused foam layer and individually pocketed coils
- 10-year limited warranty
The Casper (Foam)
Best For Side Sleeping
- The Casper in foam offers great value for money with a medium firmness memory foam construction.
- Medium firmness coupled with a thick outer comfort layer means this mattress will conform to your body well and even properly support side sleepers
- Zoned support design with firm edges and versatility for all body types, sized and sleeping positions.
Tuft & Needle Original
Best For Back And Stomach Sleeping
- The Tuft and Needle Original makes use of a proprietary foam that is bouncy (unlike most memory foams) while providing pressure relief, motion isolation, and proper support.
- The T&N foam is an improvement over conventional memory foam that doesn't trap heat.
- 100-night sleep trial and 10-year limited warranty
Best Mattress for People 250 lbs+
- The TitanFlex is one of the only cost-effective mattress options designed and tested for people that weigh 250 lbs+ and makes it a go-to budget choice for heavy people looking for a mattress designed for them.
- Hybrid design with individually pocketed coils that will stand up to years of use and provide the support you need.
- Uses a 1" thick gel memory foam comfort layer in combination with a 2" TitanFlex foam layer to provide resistance and contouring that big people need in a mattress.
Saatva Plush Soft
Best Mattress For Light Sleepers
- The Saatva in Plush Soft is one of the few hybrid mattress options available in a soft firmness.
- Designed to contour and support someone light in weight regardless of sleeping position
- 120-day trial and free "white glove" delivery service that includes setup of the new mattress and removal of your existing mattress (something no one else really does)
Our Favorite Online Mattress Brands
Here are some of the top online mattress brands we recommend and what makes them different. If you’re searching for a new mattress it’s worth considering one of these brands.
- Casper - One of the first online-only mattress companies Casper now makes three different mattresses at different price points, designs and cooling abilities. There’s something for everyone offering all-foam mattresses and hybrid options.
- Tuft and Needle - Similar to Casper Tuft and Needle was also early into the online mattress business and offers three different mattress options and different price points including a hybrid option.
- Nectar - Nectar is a relative newcomer to the mattress space but making a name for itself for its high value for money mattresses. One of the first mattress companies to offer a limited lifetime warranty coined the “Forever Warranty” Nectar offers a quality memory form mattress for a great price and gives you a truly risk-free experience.
- Layla - Layla makes unique double-sided memory foam mattresses that offer two firmness options. When you receive your mattress, it is recommended to sleep on one side then try the other to see what is most comfortable. Layla also makes innovative use of copper gel to improve the cooling of their mattresses over conventional memory foam.
- Purple - By now you’ve probably seen the funny purple commercials demonstrating how effective their patented grid is. Purple developed this new material in order to improve pressure point relief and cooling. Purple mattresses are expensive but offer much better cooling than solid foam mattresses.
- Zinus - When it comes to budget-friendly memory foam mattresses, Zinus is pretty hard to beat. Zinus’s Green Tea Mattress is regularly one of the best selling mattresses on Amazon. Not only is the price right for a lot of buyers they also use green tea extract, cooling gel infusions and other sleep innovations not typically found in budget mattresses.
- Linenspa - Linenspa is also another great budget option with a specialty in budget hybrid mattresses. Typically hybrid bed construction was reversed for higher price points but their 10” queen hybrid is only $250 on Amazon and if you’re willing to go thinner, an 8” version is less than $200.
Online Mattress FAQs
How do I dispose of my current mattress?
Mattress removal and disposal can be a headache for anyone looking to improve their sleep. While there are services that will haul away your mattress for a price if it still has life in it for someone you should try to donate it or repurpose it. To learn more about mattress disposal, read our guide
Do I need a box spring for my mattress?
Most mattresses sold online do not require a box spring, especially when it comes to memory foam mattresses. Each mattress company provides instructions on how to set up their mattress and it does vary from company to company.
Can I return a mattress?
Most reputable mattress companies will allow you to return your mattress for a full refund. Some will ask that you sleep on your mattress for a period of time to adjust to it, others will ask you to donate it for a refund. Some will actually pick up the mattress then issue a refund. The answer is it varies but if you buy from a company that stands by its products you can almost always get your money back if you’re truly unhappy.