How to come out on top when buying a mattress

Consumer Reports
Finding a new mattress

(Photo: Thinkstock)

Five tips for choosing the best mattress, plus three new tricks for your old mattresses.

Getting a good night’s rest doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  Consumer Reports’ most comprehensive test of mattresses found models that performed well and cost under $1,000.

”You don’t have to spend thousands to get a great mattress,” said Bob Markovich, home and yard editor for Consumer Reports.  “Our first full performance ratings make it easier to find one that works for you and your sleep partner if you have one – and we found there are many affordable options.”

MORE AT CONSUMER REPORTS

Consumer Reports tested 12 models from Ikea, Sealy, Serta, Simmons, Stearns & Foster and Tempur-Pedic, plus Costco’s Novaform brand.  Simmons’ performance varied the most in this test.  The manufacturer’s Beautyrest Glover Park Firm Pillowtop (sold at Sears), a CR Best Buy at $780, topped the ratings of conventional, innerspring mattresses while its ComforPedic Loft Crestwood Luxury Plush, $1,920, earned the lowest scores among foam models and overall.

Overall, foam models fared a bit worse than innerspring mattresses in Consumer Reports’ tests.   The recommended Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Simplicity, $1,200, earned the highest scores.  But Sleep Innovations Novafoam Memory Foam Collection Serafina (Costco), a CR Best Buy at $900, virtually tied the Tempur-Pedic for $300 less. 

When it comes to mattress shopping, roughly 40 percent of surveyed subscribers said that they had buyer’s remorse. 


Finding a new mattress

Five Tips for Choosing a New Mattress

Consumer Reports’ latest tests confirm that more coils, fancier fabrics and frills found on pricier models don’t guarantee a better mattress.  And the best mattress isn’t always necessarily the firmest, even for those who suffer from pain.




  1. Try before buying. Don’t rely on softness or firmness claims – nearly half the mattresses Consumer Reports tested were softer than promised.  Gauge comfort by lying on any mattress in consideration.  Spend at least ten minutes on each side, back, and stomach – depending on typical sleep position.

    (See also: Consumer Reports best vacuums)

  2. Win the name game. Mattress makers offer some lines nationally.  Those available at major retailers like Macy’s, Sears, and Sleepy’s are typically exclusive to those chains.  And because retailers often change model names, it’s hard to compare models store to store so use Consumer Reports performance ratings as a guide.

  3. Consider the winter months. Using a temperature-controller chamber, Consumer Reports tests found three innerspring and three memory-form mattresses that were better at retaining body heat, which should help keep users warm when the weather turns cold without feeling clammy when it’s hot.

  4. Keep an old box spring if possible.  Replacing the box spring that goes beneath a mattress can cost anywhere from $150 to more than $300.  For those swapping out an innerspring mattress for a new one, keep the box spring if it is not sagging or damaged.  If switching to memory foam, a solid platform may be necessary to provide enough support.  However, for both foam and innerspring mattresses, some brands require consumers to purchase their box spring purchase to receive the full warranty.

  5. Don’t forget to haggle.  Most mattresses have huge markups that allow retailers to run frequent “sales” of up to 50 percent off.  But don’t wait for a promotion to save – one-third of Consumer Reports’ subscribers who haggled slashed $150 or more off the price.

Three New Tricks for Old Mattresses

People typically keep their mattresses roughly ten years before replacing them. Consumer Reports recommends tossing any mattress that shows sags or lumps.  For a mattress that looks serviceable but causes discomfort, try these quick fixes before buying a new one.

  1. Flip or rotate it.  Many older, conventional innerspring mattresses can often be flipped and rotated.  But models with an obvious top layer can only be rotated.  And those with different firmness levels for each sleep partner, including some memory-foam can’t be flipped or rotated.

  2. Check the pillow.  A firmer or softer one may be what it takes to nod off. Evaluate the firmness of pillows by putting them on a flat surface and compressing them to about half of their original thickness; the more pressure needed, the firmer the pillow.

  3. Top it off.  A mattress topper can improve a too-hard bed.  Consumer Reports tests have found that paying more for foam- and feather-filled toppers didn’t guarantee more comfort. 



Copyright © 2006-2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Chef José Andrés Addresses His Lawsuit with President Trump: ‘I Did What I Had to Do’

      For chef José Andrés, becoming embroiled in a legal battle with anyone—let alone the President of the United States—is brand new territory. Andrés found himself at the receiving end of a lawsuit from Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign after he pulled out of a restaurant project in Washington, D.C.’s Trump Hotel. The move was a response to the then-candidate’s controversial remarks about Hispanic immigrants, which the chef claims made it difficult to attract staffers and customers.

      People
    • 'Jeopardy!' Contestant Gets Away With Flipping Off America

      “Jeopardy!” just had its most hostile contestant since Sean Connery appeared on the “Saturday Night Live” version. During a “Jeopardy” College Championship match that aired Tuesday, host Alex Trebek thought he was asking contestant Viraj Mehta a simple question about pizza. This prompt would allow the Stanford student to launch into a hilarious anecdote, amusing the host and America. But the joke was on us ... What is ... he doing with that finger? It didn’t take long for Twitter to catch on. Was it intentional? As some on Twitter point out, Mehta held his finger out for about 7 seconds. If it’s not intentional, that guy is just asking for a finger cramp for no reason. The college student joins

      The Huffington Post q
    • Caretaker performed sexy dance on 100-year-old with dementia

      SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) — A caretaker at an assisted living center who police say was filmed performing a sexually provocative dance on a 100-year-old resident was doing it as a prank and trying to make the man feel good, her attorney said.

      Associated Press
    • Deputy Responds To Girl, 19, Who Stole His Bike to Get Home Safely: 'It Had to be Scary For Her'

      A young woman who identified herself as "M" explained she had a 16-mile journey home, and was stranded "because of drunk boys, a dead phone and no money."

      Inside Edition
    • A girl named Ehlena and a dog named Wonder win at U.S. Supreme Court

      The justices ruled 8-0 that Ehlena Fry, 13, and her parents may not be obligated to go through time-consuming administrative appeals with the local school board before suing for damages for the emotional distress she said she suffered by being denied the assistance of her dog, a goldendoodle named Wonder. The justices sent the case back to a lower appeals court to determine whether Ehlena's complaint involves the impermissible denial of a proper special education.

      Reuters
    • Cost of immigration crackdown?

      Francesc Ortega, Queens College Associate Professor of Economics, weighs in on the economic impact of the immigration crackdown.

      CNBC Videos
    • David Cassidy Opens Up About His ‘Beautiful’ Son — and Why He Doesn’t Have a Relationship with His Daughter

      After revealing that he has been battling dementia since 2015, David Cassidy is opening up about his complicated relationships with his two children – Beau and Katie. “I’ve never had a relationship with her,” Cassidy, 66, exclusively tells PEOPLE of his only daughter — who has appeared on Gossip Girl and Arrow. “I’m proud of her,” adds Cassidy.

      People
    • Megyn Kelly's NBC contract has rumors swirling about the Today show anchors

      Sources are telling Page Six that Guthrie, who currently co-hosts the 7 a.m. hour of the Today show alongside Matt Lauer, is likely to get bumped to the 9 a.m. slot, taking over for Tamron Hall and Al Roker and opening up a spot in the coveted 7 a.m. hour for newcomer Megyn Kelly. "NBC is not paying Megyn $12 to $15 million a year to be on at 9 a.m. The word is that Savannah could take the 9 a.m. slot and Megyn will go right in at 7 a.m. Andy Lack is completely behind all of this," a source said. "There’s no way Megyn would have signed with NBC unless she was promised a big role down the line." Another insider added, "If you’re Savannah, you’re looking over your shoulder every minute. The first

      SheKnows q
    • What poison could have killed Kim's brother?

      The assassination of the North Korean leader's half-brother saw Kim Jong-Nam collapse shortly after two women shoved a cloth in his face. A. I don't know of a toxin powerful enough to act by penetrating the skin that would kill so quickly.

      AFP
    • 'Sinking like a rock': Trump's approval rating keeps plummeting

      President Donald Trump received his lowest approval rating since he took office, according to a...

      Business Insider
    • Check Out Mitch McConnell's Face As An Angry Voter Lets Him Have It

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) got an earful from an angry constituent at a luncheon in Kentucky on Tuesday.  The exchange began innocently enough, with the woman saying she loved McConnell. “Thank you,” he replied. “I needed that.” But he wouldn’t thank her for what she said next. Check it out:  The unidentified voter berated McConnell over jobs and health care, saying: “The last I heard, these coal jobs are not coming back and now these people don’t have the insurance they need because they’re poor. And they work those coal mines, and they’re sick, the veterans are sick, the veterans are broken down, they’re not getting what they need.” Here’s McConnell’s reaction: “If you can

      The Huffington Post q
    • Op-Ed: We moved from New Jersey to a villa in Costa Rica and we only pay $400 a month

      The comfortable American dream doesn't compare to this paradise town in Costa Rica, writes Frederick Haywood.

      CNBC
    • Wily Coyote Follows Surgeon Into South Carolina Hospital: ‘It All Happened Very Quickly’

      It was “take your coyote to work” day on Feb. 15, when a South Carolina spinal surgeon accidentally let a growling coyote into his hospital. Dr. Steve Poletti was on his way to work at the Southeastern Spine Institute in Mount Pleasant when the intruder snuck in. Coffee in hand, he opened the door to the building and entered — not realizing a wild coyote had swiftly slipped in behind him before the door closed.

      People
    • Entertainment Tonight
    • Sources: 76ers trade Ersan Ilyasova to Hawks

      Ersan Ilyasova played 53 games for the 76ers. As Atlanta Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox promised, the franchise has turned into a trade-deadline buyer. The Hawks agreed to trade with the Philadelphia 76ers to acquire forward Ersan Ilyasova, league sources told The Vertical.

      Yahoo Sports
    • Mom's shocking photo of 10-year-old son depicts painful reality of cancer

      A mom posted this harrowing photo of her son to Facebook. This photo of a 10-year-old boy, bald, pained look on his face, standing in his pull-ups diaper while clinging on to the bathroom sink is quickly going viral on Facebook. The photo may not be pretty, it’s admittedly hard to look at, but it’s a raw depiction of what life is like for a cancer patient — which is exactly why the boy’s mother posted it.

      Yahoo Canada Style
    • Happy Presidents' Day! See Pictures of Presidents in Their 20s (8 photos)

      Happy Presidents' Day! Today is about more than just sleeping in and crazy good sales (although, we'll take holidays in honor of both of those things). Today we honor and celebrate our nation's many leaders and the work they've done as president of the United States, a job that we imagine is a little more challenging than your average nine to five. It's easy to forget that before they were literally leading an entire country, these guys were leading regular lives. They played sports in college, chilled with their friends and family, and went on dates. Actually, Barack Obama 's first date with Michelle Robinson (now his wife, aka former First Lady Michelle Obama ) in 1989 was so majorly adorable, it was adapted for the film Southside with You in 2016. Presidents, they're just like us. If you still don't believe it, scroll down for more shots of past commanders-in-chief from back in the day.

      InStyle
    • There’s something unsettling about Rey in the “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” image, and now we’re so worried about her

      In the unfurling hullabaloo surrounding the release of the first image from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we were so caught up…

      Hello Giggles
    • 7 Reasons The Latest Donald Trump Rumour Is The Most Disturbing Yet

      function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible);

      The Huffington Post UK q
    • Capitol Hill Buzz: Mitch McConnell defends obstructionism

      LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is speaking up for obstructionism.

      Associated Press