Choosing the best mattress type
Memory foam, pocket sprung, latex, open coil, continuous coil... not sure which type of mattress is best for you? We look at the pros and cons of the main types of mattresses to help you find the best.
There are four main mattress types to choose from. Most mattress manufacturers make more than one type - different varieties go through a different manufacturing process and cost different amounts. Price isn't everything, though, as what is most important is what you as an individual find comfortable.
Spring vs foam mattresses
Watch our video below to find out the key differences between the main mattress types, including what each one is made up of and how it will affect your sleep.
Slide through the interactive gallery below and click on the information spots to discover more about the differences between spring mattresses - open coil and pocket sprung - and foam mattresses, such as latex or memory foam.
Pocket sprung mattresses
In pocket sprung mattresses, the springs are sewn into individual fabric pockets. Pocket sprung mattresses are the most popular type of mattress among Which? members - more than half of the members we surveyed about their mattress had bought a pocket sprung one.
Pocket sprung mattresses don't mould to your shape in the same way that memory foam mattresses do, but that doesn't necessarily mean they offer less support. They also tend not to be as warm as memory foam mattresses, which could be an important consideration if you tend to find yourself too warm at night.
Memory foam mattresses
Memory foam mattresses, also known as memory mattresses, are topped with a layer of temperature-sensitive viscoelastic material (memory foam). They can be expensive, but we've found some fantastic memory foam mattresses for less than £400.
This makes the shape of the mattress change to fit the shape of your body, and it also tends to make the mattress feel warmer.
Continuous coil and open coil spring mattresses
These mattresses are cheaper than other types of bed mattress.
- Continuous coil mattresses are made from a single looped wire
- Open coil mattresses are made of single springs fixed together by one wire.
Because the springs move as one unit, you're more likely to be disturbed by your partner moving around during the night, we call this stability in our tests. The coils in these mattresses wear out more quickly than pocket springs, so you’re likely to end up rolling together eventually.
When we surveyed Which? members to find out more about mattresses, those who own an open-coil mattress are less likely to say that it helps them to get a good night's sleep than those who own other types of mattress.
Latex is a less common type of mattress which features a core made up of layers of springy latex. These mattresses tend to be more expensive, but manufacturers claim that they are more resilient and able to better keep their shape.
These are different from mattress protectors in that they add a layer of extra padding to your existing bed. Mattress toppers can be made of memory foam or other materials. However, they can be as expensive as buying a new mattress in some cases, and won’t provide more support if your old mattress is already sagging.
Emma, Simba, Ikea, Eve and Casper are five of the most searched-for mattress brands at the time of writing. Below is a selection of different types and styles from those picks. We’ve also included links to retailers handpicked because of their stock availability, best value price or warranty options.
The Emma Hybrid, £729
We liked: breathable, stable
We didn’t like: not the warmest mattress
The Emma Hybrid Mattress is a big name in the growing list of UK bed-in-a-box mattress brands. With its memory foam and spring core, Emma says this mattress will give you the 'comfiest sleep possible', but if you want to be confident it will offer the support your back needs you'll have to read our review first.
Simba Cool Foam, £199
We liked: breathable, good at absorbing movement
We didn't like: the mattress gives off a bit of an odour for the first couple of weeks
This cheap foam mattress is from Simba but you can't actually buy it on their website - it's only available in Argos. It comes rolled and vacuum-packed, which makes picking it up from the store easier than some and you can return the mattress after sleeping on it for 100 nights if you decide you don’t like it. But does it's budget price tag reflect in the quality of the mattress?
Ikea Hövåg, £199
Type: Pocket sprung
We liked: supportive, stable, easy to turn over on
We didn't like: doesn't come with a removable mattress cover
The Ikea Hövåg (202.587.63) is a pocket-sprung mattress that's layered with foam and other soft filling, all aimed at improving comfort. The manufacturer also recommends that this mattress is used with a slatted bed base or a mattress base. At just £179 for a standard size double it's one of the cheapest pocket-sprung mattresses we've tested - but can it really compete with it's pricier rivals?
Eve Premium Hybrid, £978
Type: Memory foam and springs
We liked: Easy to turn on, long-lasting
We didn't like: smells a bit when you first unpack it
The Eve Premium Hybrid Mattress uses a combination of memory foam and pocket springs to provide ‘superlative support’ while feeling ‘comfortably cool’ to lie on – or so the manufacturer says. Unfortunately it's only available online so you can't try before you buy but you can read our full review to see if our test results match up with Eve's claims.
Casper The Essential Mattress, £500
We liked: easy to manoeuvre, supportive
We didn't like: it can only be bought online
The Essential Mattress comes from the popular bed-in-a-box brand, Casper which means it's delivered vacuum packed in a box, direct to your door. This is the brands cheapest offering and comes with a handy removable mattress cover that can be chucked in the washing machine. Made with just two layers of foam - can it really provide the support you need?
How we selected prices and retailers
Retailers and brands chosen based on popular UK search terms, stock availability, best value price and warranty options. Prices correct as of 14 January 2020.