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, and different varieties go through a different manufacturing process and cost different amounts. Price isn't everything, though – the most important thing 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 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 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're generally not as warm as memory foam mattresses, which could be an important consideration if you tend to find yourself too hot 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). This makes the shape of the mattress change to fit the shape of your body, and also tends to make the mattress feel warmer.
They can be expensive, but we've found some fantastic memory foam mattresses for less than £400.
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 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 has a core made up of layers of springy latex. These mattresses tend to be more expensive, but manufacturers claim that they're more resilient and better able to 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.
Dormeo, Emma, Eve, Ikea and Simba 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 brands. We’ve also included links to retailers handpicked because of their stock availability, best-value price or warranty options.
The Emma Original, £649
We like: Breathable, stable
We don’t like: Not the warmest mattress
The Emma Original Mattress is a big name in a growing list of UK bed-in-a-box mattress brands. It's not the warmest mattress to lie on, but that might not bother some people. With its memory foam core, this mattress should give you the 'comfiest sleep possible', according to Emma, 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, £215
We like: Breathable, good at absorbing movement
We don't like: The mattress gives off a bit of an odour for the first couple of weeks
This low-priced foam mattress is from Simba, but you can't actually buy it on the brand's 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 its low price mean you're getting a low-quality mattress?
Ikea Hövåg, £179
Type: Pocket sprung
We like: Supportive, stable, easy to turn over on
We don'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 recommends that you use this mattress with a slatted bed base or a mattress base. We've seen it on sale for £199, but currently it's back down to £179. For a standard-sized double, it's one of the cheapest pocket sprung mattresses we've tested - but can it really compete with it's pricier rivals?
Dormeo S Plus Evolution, £500
We like: Easy to manoeuvre, supportive
We don't like: You can only buy it online
The Dormeo S Plus Evolution mattress is an interesting concept. This double mattress is made up of two separate, single cores that each have a firm side and a soft side. You can flip them individually, and zip them inside the cover to create a double mattress that suits the preferences of sleeping partners on either side of the bed. But does this unusual idea work?
Eve Premium Hybrid, £978
Type: Memory foam and springs
We like: Easy to turn on, long lasting
We don'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.
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 01 April 2021.