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19 November 2020

Choosing the best mattress type

Find the best mattress for your body and budget. We look at the pros and cons of different types - from memory foam mattresses to pocket sprung and latex.
Picture of woman looking at different types of mattress in a shop
Ben Slater

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.

Read on to help you decide which type of mattress to buy. Once you've made up your mind, you can use the filters on our independent mattress reviews to find your perfect mattress.

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.

Keep reading for more information on the main type of mattress. Or, if you already know which type you want, find out how to buy the best mattress.

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.

We've tested some great pocket sprung mattresses at a range of different prices, so you're sure to find one that suits you. Go to our Best Buy mattresses page to see the very best.

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.

Everything you need to know about this increasingly popular type of mattress can be found in our memory foam mattresses guide

If you already know that you want to buy a memory foam mattress, you can find the right model for your budget and body type by reading our mattress reviews.

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.

You can find out more about our survey results, including which brands to look out for, in our full mattress brand reviews.

Latex mattresses

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. 

Manufacturer Dunlopillo specialises in latex beds, although the Dunlopillo mattresses we've reviewed don't come cheap.

Mattress toppers

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.

Discover which are the best mattress topper brands according to our survey of more than 1,000 mattress topper owners.

Popular mattresses 

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. 

Alternatively, head straight to the best mattresses to see which ones we recommend.

The Emma Hybrid, £699

Type: Memory foam and springs

Size: Double 

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. 

Read our full The Emma Hybrid mattress review, or buy it now at Amazon or John Lewis.

Simba Cool Foam, £199

Type: Foam

Size: Double 

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? 

Read our full Simba Cool Foam mattress review, or buy it now at Argos

Ikea Hövåg, £179 

Type: Pocket sprung

Size: Double 

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? 

Read our full Ikea Hövåg mattress review, or buy it now at Ikea

Eve Premium Hybrid, £978

Type: Memory foam and springs

Size: Double

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.

Read our full Eve Premium Hybrid mattress review, or buy it now at Eve Sleep.

Casper The Essential Mattress, £400

Type: Foam

Size: Double

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?

Read our full Casper The Essentials mattress review, or buy it now at mattressonline.


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 19 November 2020. 

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