Be honest: when was the last time you bought a new mattress? You may well have heard that a mattress needs replacing every seven years, but experts say this is an urban myth. Instead, your mattress is due an upgrade when you begin to notice aches and pains or wake up feeling less rested than before.
Quality of sleep is vital for our overall health and well being – so it’s surprising that so many of us will put up with a mattress that’s lumpy, creaky or sagging in the middle. “We spend a third of our lives asleep, so a mattress is actually the product you probably spend the most time with,” says sleep expert James Wilson (also known as 'The Sleep Geek').
“Sleep forms the foundation for rest of our health. During sleep, your body recovers – both physically (during deep sleep) and emotionally (during the REM stage of sleep). Sleep is where we process the memories and what we have learnt for the day. If we are sleeping well, we are more emotionally resilient, we find it easier to eat healthily and are more motivated to exercise and socialise.”
Wilson himself has an individually customised mattress from UnikBed, which manufactures each mattress based on an individualised assessment with the assistance of physiotherapist. However, such a custom-made mattress comes at a cost.
Mattress shopping used to mean a trip to a local department store or showroom to feel potential mattresses for yourself, but now that so many of the leading brands are bed-in-a-box brands that sell primarily online, it’s trickier to try before you buy (and for this reason, a warranty or guarantee is vital).
How I tested the best mattresses
As well as sourcing opinions from experts in the field, I visited department stores to lie on the mattresses featured on this list, gaining more insight from people who work on the shop floor and so have the best working knowledge of what makes a mattress popular. As a writer for the Telegraph's lifestyle sections, I've also researched the best mattresses for back pain and the best sofa beds, duvets, and duvet covers.
At a glance: the best mattresses for 2022
- Best mattress overall – Simba Hybrid Pro
- Best hybrid mattress – Brook + Wilde Lux
- Best bed-in-a-box mattress – Emma Premium hybrid
- Best pocket-sprung mattress – Silentnight Genius 1200 Pocket Memory
- Best memory foam mattress – Nectar Memory Foam
- Best budget mattress – IKEA MORGEDAL
Read on for our full reviews
The best mattresses
1. Simba Hybrid Pro Mattress
Was £1,499, now £899.40 for a double. Simba
It doesn’t come cheap, but this consistently top-rated hybrid mattress is worth every penny should you choose to invest, thanks to its winning combination of cloud-like lightness, temperature regulation and unparalleled support.
It has seven engineered layers which show a near-obsessive attention to detail: a super soft surface followed by wool (which regulates temperature better than foam), Simba’s “open-cell” foam, two layers of springs, and then two more layers of foam. The mattress is 28cm deep and contains 5,000 "Aerocoil" springs.
Given the number of mattresses that end up in landfill at the end of their lifespan, Simba’s dedication to sustainability is also admirable; the foam used in their mattresses is CertiPUR certified free of toxic dyes and heavy metals. Simba only offers one firmness option, but the Hybrid mattress is available in a wide range of sizes: single, small double, queen, double, king and super-king. You can rest easy knowing that each mattress also comes with a 10-year guarantee and a 200 night no-strings-attached trial.
2. Brook + Wilde Lux mattress
£899 for a double, Brook + Wilde
Best hybrid mattress
Another hybrid model worth considering is the Brook + Wilde Lux mattress. It sits in the middle of the price spectrum for bed-in-a-box brands – it’s cheaper than the Simba Hybrid above but is still a significant outlay. However, you get a similarly well-thought-out structure and premium technology.
It’s also the only hybrid mattress to include two separate layers of pocket springs plus memory foam. It has six layers: a breathable cover; cooling memory foam; 2,000 mini pocket springs; ‘wave technology’ foam that is engineered to offer higher-density support for your neck and shoulders; another layer of 1,000 pocket springs; and finally a supportive base. Although it’s made from CertiPur certified foam, there is an initial chemical smell on opening.
Unlike most other bed-in-a-box companies, Brook + Wilde also offer three different firmness options to choose from (and you can swap it if it’s not right thanks to the 100 night trial period). It comes in four sizes: single, double, king and super-king.
3. Emma Premium hybrid mattress
Was £1099 for a double, now £549.50, Amazon
Best bed-in-a-box mattress
This leading bed-in-a-box mattress brand has been overrun with awards for their comfortable, supportive memory foam. The original Emma foam mattress is still a popular choice, but even better is their new premium hybrid model, which couples foam with the support of pocket springs.
It’s a bit of a jump up from the original Emma mattress price-wise, but you do get tangibly more support from the inclusion of springs. The mattress comprises five layers: the first is breathable ‘open-pored’ memory foam, followed by slightly firmer pressure-relieving memory foam, a second layer of the breathable foam, a layer of extra-tall 12.5cm pocket springs and then a firm base layer of foam.
Emma’s other big selling point is the ease of their (free) delivery service: the mattresses in a box with a generous 200 night trial and money back guarantee, so there’s no risk if you decide the mattress isn’t for you. The Premium mattress is also ready to sleep on within an hour of unboxing it – although it doesn’t lose that slightly chemical ‘new mattress’ smell for a couple of days. It's slightly thinner than the mattresses above, at 25cm, and comes in four standard sizes (single, double, king and super-king).
4. Silentnight Genius 1200 Pocket Memory mattress
£549 for a double, John Lewis
Best pocket-sprung mattress
This ‘pocket memory mattress’ is Silentnight’s answer to a hybrid design (and it rings in at a lower price than the bed-in-a-box models above, at £549 for a double). It has the perfect soft-medium firmness for if you like a bed to sink into, but still need ample support. With a layer of extra-comfortable memory foam followed by “Zoned Mirapocket®” pocket springs, you get the best of both worlds.
It’s especially recommended for side sleepers who need a little extra softness, and it’s a great choice for allergy sufferers, too, as it’s made with a specially designed Purotex which reduces moisture and dust-mite allergens. It’s single-sided, so doesn’t need flipping, although it is recommended that you rotate the mattress from head to toe regularly for best performance.
For a more premium model, try the Silentnight Sleep Genius 2000 Pocket Comfort Mattress (£659) – it has more springs, for extra bounce, and is made from recycled plastic bottles (it’s also fully recyclable at the end of its life).
5. Nectar Memory Foam mattress
Was £849 for a double, now £483.45, Nectar
Best memory foam mattress
This medium-firm memory foam mattress is one of the most affordable bed-in-a-box options out there, and it's a good midway point for those who want the soft, sinking feeling of memory foam but still need a fair amount of support. It’s the only mattress to offer a 365 night trial, so you have an entire year to decide if it’s right for you.
It has another USP: Nectar is the only climate-neutral mattress company and manufactures its mattresses in the UK without any harmful chemicals (so it doesn’t smell when you first open it).
But how does it feel? Although it says it consists of five layers, two of those are just covers – the core of the mattress is actually two layers of memory foam and then a firmer memory foam base. It is excellent at minimising motion transfer between you and a partner, and has a pleasing stability that’s soft yet supportive. It's available in five sizes: single, small double, double, king and super-king.
6. IKEA MORGEDAL mattress
£299 for a double, IKEA
Best affordable mattress
As mattresses go, the IKEA MORGEDAL is a bit of a unicorn – it’s very affordable, verging on suspiciously so, but it’s still surprisingly comfortable and lasts well. It has a simple two-layer construction, with a firmer layer of foam at the base for support and a slightly softer ‘zoned’ layer on top for comfort (although it’s worth noting that it’s a fairly firm mattress overall).
It’s incredibly easy to set up, as it comes compressed in a box and can be slept on straight away (although IKEA do note that it can take a few days to fully decompress).
For obvious reasons, you don’t get the support and longevity of more expensive models, but you do get a comfortable mattress for a great price, making the IKEA MORGEDAL a great choice if you’re on a budget or if you need to furnish a spare room (it comes in single, double or king sizes). If you prefer pocket springs to memory foam, the IKEA HÖVÅG (£199) is another budget-friendly choice.
What is the best type of mattress?
There are a wide range of mattresses out there that all make very similar promises. How are you supposed to know which will help you sleep better?
As with your pillow, the best mattress for you will largely depend on personal preference and factors such as your sleeping position – whether you sleep on your front, back or side. However, the best regarded and most popular mattresses (regardless of what type of sleeper you are) fall under three broad categories:
- Pocket sprung: These, the most popular type of mattresses, are made from individually woven pockets of springs. They tend to feel bouncy and supportive; they’re also excellent if you share a bed as they provide individual support that means you’re unlikely to find you both roll into the middle.
- Memory foam: Some think that memory foam is now falling out of favour, since basic memory foam mattresses tend to trap heat. However, new formulations of foam are specifically designed for better temperature regulation, so a memory foam mattress is still well worth considering. They consist of a base layer of supportive foam, usually topped with a second (and in some cases third) layer of softer foam which moulds to your body shape for comfort.
- Hybrid: hybrid mattresses contain both a layer of pocket springs and a layer of memory foam to provide improved comfort, support and temperature regulation.
There are other, more niche types of mattress out there – such as latex mattresses, which tend to be very expensive – and open-coil mattresses, which tend to be cheap and uncomfortable, but they haven’t made this list of the ‘best’.
How do you know when to change your mattress?
According to sleep consultant Dr Neil Stanley, "you should buy a new bed when you start noticing your old one." This could mean noticing discomfort, waking up with aches and pains or not feeling rested. Worn fabric or squeaky springs are also a tell-tale sign that it’s time to upgrade (or else add a mattress topper as a temporary fix). Also, a word of warning: “remember that each night you sweat a significant amount of moisture and shed a good amount of dead skin into your mattress,” Stanley says, “So for hygiene reasons it would be good to change your bed regularly." Safe to say if your mattress starts to smell, it’s high time you found a replacement.