Sleep matters. Without a decent night’s sleep we’re unfocused and irritable, find it hard to get things done and liable to all kinds of medical problems - and a bad or unsuitable mattress can be your enemy.
Too hard and it’ll make you toss and turn all night; too soft and you’ll get aches in hips, shoulders and spine, and maybe pins and needles or numbness too.
Unless you’ve damaged your back you don’t need an orthopaedic mattress, which is retailer-speak for “really hard”. That leaves two key types: sprung mattresses and foam mattresses.
The former mattresses use thousands of springs to support you, while the latter uses NASA-derived memory foam. Some mattresses do both, with a traditional spring support and memory foam on top.
Never, ever buy a mattress you haven’t tried (online dealers often offer no-quibble free trials), and do the hand test: lying down on your back, push your hand under the small of your back. If you can’t, the mattress is too hard; if the gap’s massive, it’s too soft. And if you have a partner, make sure they try it too: what feels fine solo may be like a bouncy castle when your better half’s on board. These are our picks for the best mattress options in 2017:
Our pick of the top mattresses to buy today
1. Simba hybrid memory foam pocket spring mattress
Hakuna Matata - Simba is the lyin’ king
RRP: £399 | Sizes: S/D/K/SK | Depth: 25cm | Turn?: No | Filling: springs, memory foam | Comfort: medium/all
The Simba promises to be the most advanced mattress in the world, using a combination of 2,500 conical pocket springs (in the King sized version), a “Simbatex” cooling layer, poly foam and memory foam to deliver a great night’s sleep. The makers are so confident that there’s a 100-day no-quibble trial: if you don’t love the mattress, just return it within the 100 days for a full refund. Unlike other mattresses the Simba isn’t labelled by firmness: the manufacturer calls it “perfect” and says it suits every kind of firmness fan. The reviews agree: if you pop along to John Lewis you’ll see stacks of happy sleepers, and the only real quibble is the lack of handles for rotating the mattress.
2. Vispring Salcombe Superb mattress
Very expensive but brilliant mattress
RRP: £4,300 | Sizes: K | Depth: 23cm | Turn?: Yes | Filling: : fleece, horsetail, devonshire wool | Comfort: medium
Vispring is well known for its premium mattresses, which are available in clever dual-tension versions: that means you can have a firm side for one of you and a softer side for the other. The standard model is medium firm, and uses a combination of two layers of pocket springs and layers of Platinum Certified British fleece wool, hand-teased horsetail and Devonshire wool. It’s effectively the Rolls-Royce of traditional sprung mattresses, with a price tag to match. Vispring does make considerably cheaper models, but if you’ve got the cash this is a whole other world. Two words of warning, though: if you don’t turn your mattress with the seasons it’ll eventually lose its shape and support, and if you have a sensitive nose you might find the smell of the natural fillings a little much in the first few days.
3. Eve UK King mattress
Eves are good, Eves are good, they feel firmer than we thought they would
RRP: £399 | Sizes: S / SD / D / K / SK / 90x200cm / 100x190cm / 140x200cm / 160x200cm | Depth: 25cm | Turn?: No | Filling: foam/memory foam | Comfort: medium/firm
Eve positions itself as Mattress 2.0: rather than make a whole bunch of different mattresses its mission is to make a single mattress that’s ideal for everybody. The cove is polyester, with four centimetres of memory foam underneath and a 3cm cooling layer below that. The final layer is made from poly foam that’s strong enough to do yoga on, and that means it’s suitable for slatted or sprung beds, divans or hard floors. Reviews are polarised: the majority of customers absolutely love the Eve mattress and leave five-star reviews, but the people who aren’t happy really don’t like it at all. The two key complaints are the initial smell of the mattress, presumably due to the poly foam, and the hardness: while the mattress is marketed as for everybody it’s on the firmer side of medium.
4. Sealy 1400 Nostromo
It’s the Sealy season every night if you get yourself a Sealy bed
RRP: £834 | Sizes: S / D / K / SK | Depth: 30cm | Turn?: No | Filling: pocket spring/latex | Comfort: medium
Sealy used to make some of the world’s worst adverts round our way, where a heavily accented woman tried to buy a Sealy bed and the salesman said no, they only had sensible beds. What larks! But it’s true that Sealy beds are far from silly. The Nostromo has seven zones with 1,400 pocket springs, tencel fibres, a latext comfort layer and a luxurious 29cm depth, and it’s both hypoallergenic and pleasantly cool even in hot weather. Which? magazine made it a best buy, Allergy UK has given it their seal of approval and there’s a five-year warranty for peace of mind. Amazon tends to sell it with a decent discount on the RRP too, so it’s worth buying online rather than in a shop.
5. Somnus Supremacy Marquis 14000
If you have to ask the price, you’re not the target customer
RRP: it’s a secret | Sizes: SS / S / SD / D / K / SK / Emperor | Depth: 32cm | Turn?: Yes | Filling: animals | Comfort: medium/firm
Somnus mattresses fall into the category of “if you have to ask the price, you’re not the target customer”: where every other mattress is priced keenly to sell, the Marquis is a secret: you’ll need to phone to find out how much it costs. You’re looking at well over a thousand pounds, but that’s because it’s a luxury, handmade product. There are 12,000 pocket springs, hand-teased fillings, British wool, horse hair, mohair and a team of flunkeys to massage you to sleep. We made that last bit up. Somnus have been making mattresses since 1840, and they’re so good you see luxury hotels boasting about having their beds. If you’re a high roller, this is the mattress for you.
6. Leesa Mattress
With great sleeping comes great social responsibility
RRP: £390 | Sizes: S / D / K / SK / 90 x 200cm / 140 x 200cm / 160 x 200cm | Depth: 25cm | Turn?: No | Filling: Foam / Memory Foam | Comfort: medium
If you want to sleep better and feel better too, Leesa has an interesting selling point: for every ten mattresses sold, it’ll donate one to homeless shelters and women’s refuges. But you won’t be sacrificing comfort for charity: the Leesa was designed to address the shortcomings of existing memory foam mattresses and uses three different kinds of foam to provide sufficient airflow and bounce. Consequently they're very popular and have good customer reviews. If you share with a partner their movements won’t bounce you out of bed, and the mattress does feel like something costing a lot more money. There’s a 10 year warranty and a 100-night no-quibble returns policy, and it’s won awards from Which? magazine and the Good Housekeeping Institute for its comfort and quality.
7. Dormeo Memory Plus
Great for allergy sufferers, but is adding Aloe Vera a gimmick?
RRP: £599 | Sizes: S / D / K / SK | Depth: 18cm | Turn?: No | Filling: foam/memory foam | Comfort: medium
The Dormeo Memory Plus is designed for allergy sufferers: not only does it combine memory foam and Ecocell 3D foam to protect against asthma and mites, but it’s also infused with Aloe Vera extract. At 18cm it’s thinner than many mattresses so it might not be ideal for heavier people or slatted bases, but if you like memory foam you’ll enjoy the 3cm of memory foam that’s stitched immediately below the cover. Like all memory foam mattresses it’s important to rotate the mattress frequently to avoid semi-permanent dips from appearing, but if you look after it properly there’s a 15 year warranty to guarantee peace of mind as well as a good night’s sleep.
8. Silentnight Mirapocket 1200
An excellent all-rounder for a very good price
RRP: £399 | Sizes: S / D / K / SK | Depth: 29cm | Turn?: Yes | Filling: pocket springs | Comfort: medium
Silentnight’s pocket sprung mattress has a clever solution to the problem of firmness: rather than deliver the same firmness across the whole mattress, it’s designed with different zones to ensure that the lumbar area of your back gets more support than your shoulders. That makes it particularly good for anyone whose back needs something firm but who’d rather not wake up with pins and needles everywhere else, and it also means your partner’s movements won’t impact your side of the bed. There are 1,200 pocket springs and a hypo-allergenic cover, and the 29cm depth is pretty luxurious for a mattress in this price range. There’s a 5 year guarantee but remember to turn it frequently: pocket sprung mattresses need regular turning to keep their shape.
9. Silentnight 1850 Pocket Geltex
The best of both worlds: sprung support and a luxurious, breathable top layer
RRP: £349 | Sizes: S / D / K / SK | Depth: 33cm | Turn?: No | Filling: pocket springs, geltext layer | Comfort: soft
We’ve found that pocket sprung mattresses with a comfort layer offer a great combination of support and comfort, combining the best of pocket spring and memory foam mattresses in one bed. We’re particularly taken with Silentnight’s Geltex: in this mattress it’s a 6cm pillow top that adds softness to the support you get from 1,850 individual pocket springs. That gives it a total depth of 33cm, which is massive, and the Geltex layer stays cool and comfortable even in warm weather. Like other Silentnight Mirapocket mattresses it’s zoned to deliver more support in the lumbar region than to the head and shoulders, and it’s very, very comfortable indeed - although it feels more medium than soft to us, so don’t expect it to feel like a fluffy cloud. Just make sure your sheets are big enough to fit it.
10. IKEA Morgedal
We’re surprised you don’t have to assemble it yourself
RRP: £125 | Sizes: S / D / K / 140 x 200cm / 160 x 200cm | Depth: 18cm | Turn?: Yes | Filling: Foam | Comfort: medium
IKEA is well known for its odd-sized beds, but in addition to European sizes this mattress comes in single, double and king size too. It’s a thick foam mattress in a polyester wrapping, and it’s best suited to a slatted bed base or mattress base. Don’t jump on it straight away: it’s delivered rolled up and needs three to four days to return to normal. Don’t expect lots of high-tech layers or cutting edge tech: IKEA’s mattress is exactly what you’d expect from a big lump of foam, comfortable and fairly immune to the movements of your partner. The foam can get a little damp if you tend to sweat a lot; if you do, a thick mattress protector is a very good idea.