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In recent years, companies have completely reinvented the (previously awful) mattress buying experience. Rather than lugging a hefty mattress up multiple sets of stairs, your air-sealed mattress-in-a-box comes neatly packed away, only to expand to full size in your room of choice once you unpack it. The best mattress-in-a-box brands also offer perks like affordable pricing (at least compared to traditional mattress stores), free trials, bedding bundles and customization options.
Rather than wasting time at showrooms lying down on mattresses with sales associates hovering for a commission, the direct-to-consumer mattress-in-a-box offers competitive quality and the ability to navigate online reviews to discover if a particular mattress matches your sleep preferences. While many mattresses-in-a-box are made with memory foam, many companies sell innerspring mattresses and hybrid models that feel more like a traditional bed and can offer a firmer surface. And if you’re nervous about buying a mattress online, look for a brand that offers a sleep trial so you don’t need to commit.
Before making a big purchase like a mattress, it’s a good idea to do your research — and we’ve done it for you. SPY has reviewed a lot of mattresses over the years, and for this shopping guide, we also consulted a few sleep industry experts. We asked these sleep experts what consumers should keep in mind when it comes to this product category.
JD Velilla, Serta Simmons Bedding’s Head of Sleep Experience and Technology noted that “mattresses in a box are all about convenience. They typically have incredibly fast shipping times.”
“These mattresses are packed with great technology in a range of price points. They are usually accompanied by an in-home trial, which allows you to sleep on the bed for just enough time to decide if you really like it.”
What to Consider Before Purchasing a Mattress-in-a-Box
Dr. Samina Ahmed Jauregui, Sleep Psychologist and advisor to Pluto Pillow noted a few key questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a new mattress.
“Is it time? Most national sleep organizations recommend replacing your bed every ~7-10 years. More importantly, if the springs are bothersome to your sleep or there is a noticeable sized lump in the mattress it would be time to replace the mattress asap to reduce any disruption to your sleep,” said Dr. Jauregui.
“Consider your preferences and need for a good night’s sleep. Are you a side, stomach or back sleeper? Do you tend to run hot or cold overnight? Any difficulties with circulation, chronic pain, or physical abilities that may require an adjustable base? Are you sharing the bed and easily disturbed by your partner, children, or pets, if so mattresses that offer minimal motion transfer would be important to keep in mind.”
“Finally, what level of support allows the best comfort? Keep in mind that our sleep patterns can and will change as we age and are largely dependent on our lifestyle. So what felt comfortable to you once before may not be what is comfortable now. Make sure to do a personal assessment and pay attention to any restless nights of sleep you might be experiencing with your current mattress.”
(Emphasis added to above quotes.)
Pros and Cons of Purchasing a Mattress-in-a-Box
Our sleep experts outlined a few pros and cons of purchasing a mattress-in-a-box, including the fast delivery times and notoriously low profiles. If you’re looking for a larger, thicker mattress, the variety you need may not be available in a box. However, if you’re a lover of memory foam or hybrid mattresses, the in-the-box method is very convenient for delivery.
Dr. Jauregui noted that a mattress is one of the most important purchases you’ll make for your health, and shopping for one online gives you the time and space away from pushy salespeople to do your research, read reviews and find one that’s best for you.
She noted that “purchasing a mattress-in-a-box allows for the flexibility to “shop at your own pace” without the added pressure of pleasing a salesperson or rushing into a purchase. Online shopping also allows for greater access to reviews and consumption of information about the product at a comfortable pace.”
On the flip side, she also said that many customers are “daunted” by the return process if a mattress ordered online turns out to not be exactly what they were looking for.
“Many tend to be dissuaded from making a return not knowing what to expect of the process or from fear of shipping costs/restocking fees. Notably, this is a problem that also occurs with in-store purchases, so the pros definitely outweigh the cons.”
- Convenient Delivery + Setup
- Competitive Price Points
- In-Home Trial
- Mattresses May Need 24-48 Hours Before They’re Ready to Sleep On
- Boxes May Be Heavy Upon Delivery
- Mattresses Sold in Boxes Tend to Have Lower Profiles — 10 to 12 Inches on Average
If you’re having trouble choosing the best mattress-in-a-box, we get it. There are dozens of options out there, but we helped narrow down those choices by picking the best mattresses-in-a-box from top brands for every kind of sleeping position. Whether you’re a stomach or side sleeper, here are the most comfortable mattresses-in-a-box for a range of preferences.
The DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid Mattress
The DreamCloud brings the ultimate blend of memory foam and innerspring coils, offering the best of both worlds. If you prefer a softer mattress, for $400.00 extra, you can get the DreamCloud Premiere, which features an additional cushy topper. Described as the perfect level of firmness for couples who can’t agree on a sleeping surface, this luxury firm hybrid mattress is a total game-changer when it comes to the mattress-in-a-box genre. While most of the mattress-in-a-box brands featured here have a sleep trial, DreamCloud offers sleepers a full 365-day trial.
Features: A super-unique multi-layer design; 1-year sleep trial.
Buy This If: You’re looking for the most comfortable mattress-in-a-box option that doesn’t cost a ridiculous amount of money.
The Winkbed features a gel-infused cooling layer, a soft pillow top, and coils to add support. Edge support is rated highly on this mattress, which comes in three firmness levels. Although it doesn’t have the feel of a traditional memory foam bed, it offers a similar softness, with added edge support and zero sagging. Most buyers seem to opt for the luxury firm, with one buyer calling it ideal for “someone who gets back pain if the mattress is too soft and can’t sleep if the mattress is too firm.”
Features: A medium-firm mattress that mimics the feeling of traditional innerspring mattresses.
Buy This If: You’re looking for a firm mattress that’s not too firm.
The Nectar Memory Foam Mattress
If you’re a fan of memory foam and aren’t looking to overspend, consider the Nectar memory foam mattress-in-a-box, which contours your body like no other and prevents overheating with a heat-wicking, cooling cover. Unlike creaky innerspring alternatives, you and your partner will rest soundly thanks to the minimal motion transfer that this mattress offers, and pressure-relieving benefits that will make shoulders and hips happier. It’s basically the goldilocks of memory foam, coming in at a medium-firm comfort level.
Features: Affordable memory foam mattress; 1-year sleep trial.
Buy This If: You’re looking for the most comfortable mattress-in-a-box under $500.
Helix Midnight Luxe
BEST FOR SIDE SLEEPERS
If you always sleep on your side, consider the Midnight Luxe by Helix, which has zoned lumbar support and medium firmness. Due to the zoning, this mattress-in-a-box may not be ideal for stomach sleepers. Gently cradling your hips and shoulders, the Midnight Luxe and its polyfoam transition layer help to stop side sleepers from tossing and turning. It will keep your spine perfectly straight when you’re sleeping, which is a major plus.
Features: Built-in dual-layer topper with a cooling pillow-top and memory foam layer.
Buy This If: You’re looking for a premium mattress for side sleepers.
Tuft & Needle Original Mattress
GREAT FOR COUPLES
Tuft & Needle’s original mattress has a few different features that make it ideal for couples. Most importantly, it’s one of the most comfortable mattresses-in-a-box for sale in 2022. Inside, you’ll find two layers of foam, including Tuft & Needle’s patented foam blend that’s designed to contour to your body and relieve pressure points. Despite the foam construction, reviewers note that you won’t sink into this mattress, which can be a problem with even the best memory foam mattresses. What makes this the best mattress-in-a-box for couples? It’s great for a variety of sleeping positions, and the open-cell construction of the foam and heat-conducting graphite and gel inserts move heat away from the body.
Features: Designed for optimal cooling; supports back, stomach and side sleeping.
Buy This If: You and your partner have different sleep styles.
Plank Hybrid Mattress
BEST FIRM PICK
The best hybrid mattresses offer the support that purely memory foam options lack. So if the thought of memory foam makes you shudder, consider the very firm, flat and affordable Plank mattress. It has a flippable design letting you opt for a softer surface, which, full disclosure, is still pretty firm. For those who detest plush and sinky surfaces at night, this is the ultimate way to create a neutral spine position to support your overall posture. This flatter and firmer surface also enhances your circulation and lets you inhale more oxygen while you sleep.
Features: Unique flippable design lets you switch between firm and extra-firm.
Buy This If: You love firm mattresses and want to spend under $1,000.
Birch Natural Organic Mattress
ECO FRIENDLY PICK
Birch’s all-natural mattress-in-a-box is 100% organic, which is ideal for sensitive or sneezy sleepers who want a non-toxic sleep experience. These natural materials allow the bed to stay cool throughout the night, unlike foam, which can leave sleepers hot. It’s made with a Talalay latex base, and hypoallergenic materials like sap from rubber trees to create exceptional pressure relief. Sleepers who use sleep-tracking apps say that it’s greatly improved their sleep quality, with one saying it makes them feel like a “bear in hibernation.” In terms of firmness, then is another goldilocks pick, exactly in the middle between soft and firm.
Features: Eco-friendly design and handmade in the USA.
Buy This If: You want a mattress made exclusively with non-toxic, natural materials; you prefer a medium-softness sleep experience.
GhostBed 3D Matrix
If you frequently wake up with night sweats or just feel too hot to get a restful and complete night of sleep, take a look at the GhostBed 3D Matrix, with patented cooling technology and a gel polymer layer. Despite the higher price tag, this unique product is easily one of the best mattresses-in-a-box. It has impressive responsiveness and a material that’s similar to latex, making it suitable for sleepers of all sizes. However, it is more suitable for back and stomach sleepers given its firmer construction, offering the feel of a latex bed for a reasonable price point.
Features: Patented cooling technology and hybrid design.
Buy This If: You want a luxury hybrid mattress with great cooling features.
Purple doesn’t use innerspring or foam — instead, they think outside of the mattress-in-a-box box by using their own material known as GelFlex Grid, a gridded hyper-elastic gel that relieves pressure, unlike any other material. It stays cool throughout the night too thanks to thousands of built-in air channels to move heat, and it has an instant response that supports your body but also springs back whenever you adjust your position throughout the night. It’s also superior to foam in terms of durability. If you prefer a medium-firm mattress on the comfier side, then Purple is is one of the best mattress-in-a-box brands for your bedroom. Purple is also a great alternative to more expensive bed-in-a-box brands such as Helix and GhostBed.
Features: Powerful cooling abilities and medium-firmness.
Buy This If: You want a cooling mattress that’s not made from traditional memory foam.
Parachute Eco Comfort Mattress
BEST INNERSPRING PICK
Mattress-in-a-box doesn’t automatically mean memory foam. The Eco Comfort Mattress by Parachute is supportive, foam-free, and kind to the environment. It’s constructed from organic cotton, boasts pocketed steel coils that are hand-tufted together, and even has wool from New Zealand. Customers note that while they previously needed an extra firm mattress to reduce back pain, this hybrid model still conforms to your body without causing that sinking feeling.
Features: Unique hybrid design and great support; eco-friendly materials.
Buy This If: You want a supportive and eco-friendly mattress; you prefer an innerspring mattress to memory foam.
Helix Sunset Luxe
While the popular Helix Midnight Luxe offers a firmer experience for side sleepers, if you sleep on your back or just want the floating sensation of being enveloped in a cloud, consider the oh-so-soft Sunset Luxe model from Helix. A quilted pillow top gives way to a lavish comfort for the plushest relief ever. If you suffer from back and joint pain but don’t enjoy the feeling of a too-firm bed, consider this comfy option, which marries the support of a firm mattress with the comfort of memory foam. The best mattresses offer unique features to support a specific sleeping style, and that’s why the Helix Sunset Luxe is one of the best mattress-in-a-box options for side sleepers and those with back pain.
Features: A soft mattress for side sleepers; made in the USA.
Buy This If: You want a reasonably priced mattress for side sleepers.