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13 best memory foam and hybrid mattresses for 2019 - how to get a good night's sleep

The i logo The i 13/03/2019 Ysanne Brooks
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The positive impact of a good night’s sleep cannot be underestimated. It’s not just for how long you sleep either. Even if you get the recommended seven to eight hours a night, if the quality of that sleep is poor, you won’t wake up feeling revived and ready to face the day. That's why a good mattress is essential.

But with the market currently booming, how do you decide which one is worthy of your hard-earned cash?

The bed-in-a-box market has grown at a furious pace recently, with anthropomorphically named products – Eve, Casper, Simba – in abundance, so we took to our beds to find out which were the best of the memory foam bunch.

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We also tested three of the new hybrid kids on the block, which are a blend of memory foam uppers and coil base layers. Take a look at our mattress buying guide if you’re still struggling to figure out what type of mattress is best for you.

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How we test

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Our testers – one a back sleeper with lower spine issues and the other a restless side-sleeper with a tendency to overheat – spent a few nights on each mattresses on a simple slatted bed base to see how they measured up and changed over time.

Most of the mattresses we tested don’t require turning over at all, just rotating once every few months, which is just as well as they can be weighty, and only two featured handles to help the process.

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While all of the mattresses here offer trial periods and free returns, remember to check the warranty, as some returns depend on regular rotating or may be different if you buy via a third party such as John Lewis.

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All prices below are for a UK double.

Best memory foam and hybrid mattresses under £500

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Ikea Morgedal Memory Foam Mattress

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£165, Ikea Best for: Those on a budget

Key specs - Sizes: 5, single to super king; Foam layers: One; Trial period: 90 nights; Warranty: 25 years; Extra features: Removable cover, carry handles

Arriving in a neatly packaged roll, rather than in a box, at 18cm, this pure foam mattress isn’t as thick as some of the others and took a little while to fill out, so we couldn’t sleep on it straight away. Ikea recommends 72 hours but we felt it was just fine well before that and slept on it after just 24 hours.

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Despite its reduced depth, it’s one of the firmest mattresses we tested, which made it the least comfortable for the side sleeper but provided a peaceful night for the back sleeper. There was a slight chemical smell for the first day or two but this also dissipated and certainly didn’t affect sleeping.

Appreciably cheaper than many of the other mattresses we tested – a standard double is just £165 – we felt this one was excellent value for money and a good choice for those experimenting with memory foam for the first time, or a good choice for a guest room. Although you can go in store to see and try out this one, Ikea still offers a 90-day trial period in case you’re not happy.


Silentnight Memory-Now 3 Zone Memory Mattress

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Best for: Allergy suffers

Key specs - Sizes: 7, single to European king; Foam layers 1; Trial period: 60 nights; Warranty: 5 years; Extra features: Removable cover

Delivered in a vacuum packed roll but not in a box (the bin men will be pleased), this felt the lightest of the mattresses we tried, just pipping the Ikea one to the post, so if you don’t want to be heavy lifting when changing sheets or turning, this could be a good choice.

It also helps when removing the top cover for washing as it’s zipped only partially, so a little awkward to slip off and on again. Like the Ikea mattress, at 18cm it’s also not as deep compared to others we tried and there’s just a single layer of foam so it didn’t feel quite as robust at the sides as some of the others.

At first it felt quite soft with lots of give, which initially was a little disconcerting as there were worries it might give an enveloping, claustrophobic feel. However, while the three-zoned support does provide a sleep experience that’s softer in the shoulder area, it’s definitely firmer for hips and lower back, helping to keep the spine aligned, particularly for back sleepers.

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It’s also treated to reduce moisture and dust-mite allergens to create a drier, fresher and all-round healthier mattress, meaning it’s a good choice for an allergy sufferer.


Casper Mattress

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Best for: A comfortable night’s sleep for all

Key specs - Sizes: 9, single to super king; Foam layers: 4; Trial period: 100 nights; Warranty: 10 years; Extra features: Removable cover

Four foam layers wrapped in a removable, washable outer layer provide a cooling, soft yet surprisingly supportive feel to this mattress. As with all boxed mattresses, it’s simple to unpack and pop on the bed and just takes a few hours to fill out. We did have to open a window as the chemical smell was a little stronger than some but it dissipated pretty quickly and certainly wasn’t strong enough to disturb our sleep a few hours later.

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The open-cell top layer is designed for increased airflow to prevent overheating and it definitely works. While on first inspection it has a surprising amount of give, once fully on it, the bottom layer of support foam did its job, ensuring there wasn’t that horrible sinking feeling evident in some earlier memory foam incarnations.

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Usually preferring a firmer mattress, one of our testers was concerned that it would be too marshmallow-like but woke up in the morning professing to have had one of the best night’s sleep in recent memory. In particular, we liked the “Zoned Support” layer, which is designed to treat pressure points, such as hips and shoulders, differently to ensure all-round comfort.


Emma Original Mattress

£454.30 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon Best for: All-round comfort

Key specs – Sizes options: 8, single to super king; Foam layers: 3; Trial period: 100 nights; Warranty: 10 years; Extra features: Removable, machine washable cover; side handles

The relatively simple three-layer construction of this mattress includes a 25mm memory foam layer for pressure relief, an Airgocell foam layer for ventilation, and a thicker foam layer for targeted support of the shoulders and lower back.

The UK-made Emma also uses a different kind of chemical foam compared to other memory foam mattresses, which the makers claim is more durable.

This design, matched with a breathable cover that ensures moisture is quickly wicked away when sleeping, provided a comfortable, non-sweaty night’s rest for both our testers. There’s also minimal motion transfer, which is great if you’re partner tends to toss and turn in the night.

It’s easy to get upstairs and, once released from its packaging, it rose to its full height of 25cm in just a couple of hours. While it doesn’t require turning or flipping, the handles on either side made it easier to get the mattress positioned on the bed in the first place, and also made changing sheets and removing the washable cover quicker.

It’s slightly on the firm side of medium, so might not suit a heavy person or one that likes a softer bed, but despite this, even our side sleeper was well rested in the morning, without the usual aching muscles from a previously too-firm bed.


OTTY Hybrid Memory Foam and Pocket Spring Mattress

£499.99, OTTY Best for: A super comfortable hybrid

Key specs - Sizes: 9, single to emperor; Foam layers: Hybrid; Trial period: 100 nights; Warranty: 10 years; Extra features: Removable cover

Another hybrid mattress from a relatively new brand that combines layers of gel-infused memory foam, a support foam layer and up to 2,000 pocket springs (for king size beds) together in one bed-in-the-box offering. The main point of difference to other hybrids seems to be the pocket springs, which the makers claim are five times the height of those offered by competitors, along with the gel-infused top layer that helps to wick away moisture for temperature regulation.

Taken direct to the room of your choice by extremely helpful and knowledgeable deliverymen, it’s easy to unpack. It’s wrapped incredibly compactly for a hybrid but once released from the plastic outer it’s ready to go in a few hours, although it’s recommended windows should be opened once it’s on the bed, not just to help the slight new mattress smell dissipate but also to encourage the mattress to fill out.

Although we knew the springs were there, it certainly didn’t feel like a traditional coil mattress and it was impossible to detect the individual pockets through the soft foam top in the way you might in a traditional mattress. This is much to do with the side and 5cm top foam panels, which added both structure and comfort to the mattress ensuring there was no side sag – something that sometimes occurs in solid memory foam offerings.

Described as medium firm it suited both our sleepers well, providing just enough softness for side sleeping with plenty of lower back support, too. The OTTY also comes with free pillows (one if you order the single mattress) for a limited time.


Best memory foam and hybrid mattresses under £1000

Leesa Mattress

Best for: Heavier sleepers

Key specs - Sizes: 9, single to super king; Foam layers: 3; Trial period: N/A; Warranty: 10 years; Extra features: Removable, washable outer cover

The first thing we noticed was that this bed-in-a-box had all the instructions on the top of the packaging, making them simple to follow. After releasing it from its outer plastic, we let it unfurl for a while until it was up to its full 25cm depth. The padded outer felt super soft and can be removed for washing. Below it sits three foam layers – the airflow Avena top layer helps to keep things cool, the contouring memory foam below is pressure relieving so great for aching joints, and the dense 15cm core adds support.

It was one of the firmest mattresses we tried, which is great if you sleep on your back or are a little heavier but not quite as comfortable if you sleep on your side. We really appreciated the airflow top layer as it definitely kept us cool all night.

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There’s the usual free delivery, 100-day sleep test and free returns if you’re not 100 per cent happy with it. However, there’s something else that provides even more of a feel-good factor, Leesa’s One-10 programme, which promises that for every 10 mattresses sold, it will donate one to charities serving those at risk or homeless. To date the scheme has provided more than 30,000 new mattresses to those in need around the world.


Simba Hybrid Mattress

Best for: Side sleepers

Key specs - Sizes: 12, small single to emperor; Foam layers: Hybrid; Trial period: 100 nights; Warranty: 10 years; Extra features: Removable, washable hypoallergenic sleep layer

Softer than some we tested, this mattress is still firm enough to be a great choice if you prefer to lie on a comfy cloud-like bed while your sleeping partner insists on one that errs on the firmer side. It’s another bed-in-a-box and arrives well packaged with comprehensive instructions for use and care. Including a safety cutter is a nice touch, allowing you to quickly and easily release it from its plastic packaging without worrying about damaging the mattress with scissors.

It was, on balance, one of the softer mattresses we tested but still pretty supportive where it needed to be, particularly the lower back, and this was a definite plus point for one of our testers. It’s made up of five layers including a foam core, responsive memory foam, a layer of tiny conical pocket springs, and a Simbatex synthetic latex layer with activated charcoal extracts all wrapped in a hypoallergenic outer cover that doesn’t get overly hot.

It’s really the layer of 2,500 micro springs that is the point of difference for this one, as they move as you sleep giving you the support you need. The seven “zones” in the base layer also allow the mattress to adjust to your body shape, which we found particularly seemed to suit the side sleeper.


Eve The Original Mattress

Best for: Restless sleepers

Key specs - Sizes: 9, single to emperor; Foam layers: 4; Trial period: 100 nights; Warranty: 10 years; Extra features: Removable top panel, anti-slip base

The Eve bed-in-a-box was one of the first to the UK market. It’s compact and not too heavy so it was easy to get upstairs. Instructions for unboxing are online but it is simplicity itself, so we didn’t bother looking for them. Once released from its suction wrapping and in place on the bed it immediately started to take shape and was ready to sleep on in just a couple of hours.

The makers say it doesn’t need turning or flipping and as there are no carrying handles this is probably just as well. The outer top layer can be unzipped for washing at 40 degrees but you might want to add a mattress protector, too. The moisture wicking top layer provides added circulation, great if you get a little warm in the night.

Underneath, the comfort layer, a supportive foam base and a non-slip outer all add up to a level of snugness and body fit you’d expect from memory foam, with the support that you might more often find in a traditional sprung bed. We definitely experienced a reduction in morning aches and pains and although the top layer initially felt softer than our usual bed it still felt pretty supportive and certainly erred on the firmer side.

If you’re a restless sleeper, as one of our testers is, or the partner of one, then this is a great choice. As well as experiencing a less disturbed night than usual, movement didn’t “travel” from one side of the bed to another meaning we both felt more refreshed as a result.


Nectar Memory Foam Mattress

£599, Nectar Best for: Great trial period and forever guarantee, as well as back and front sleepers

Key specs - Sizes: 4, single to king; Foam layers: 5; Trial period: 365 nights; Warranty: Forever; Extra features: Removable cover

Nectar is America’s fastest growing mattress company and is now available in the UK. The makers of its mattress are so confident about the quality they’re offering an astounding 365 night trial. That’s a whole year and if you aren’t happy with it, then they’ll come and pick it up and take it away again for free. It’s another with a free cutting tool, making releasing it from its plastic packaging a cinch.

With five layers, including a beautifully soft, quilted memory foam cooling cover that adapts to body heat to keep even our rather feverish tester cool all night. It’s definitely on the firmer side of medium firm, so is a good choice for front and back sleepers but probably not best for heavy side sleepers or those that prefer a mattress you can really sink into.

Having said that, the more we slept in it the more comfortable it became, so given time it would probably even suit those who want a sleep experience that’s on the softer side of medium. When we trialled the Nectar it was also on offer, with £100 off and two free memory foam pillows, which we found gave great support to necks and heads that had been in front of computers all day. Like the mattress, they also had removable covers.


Sid Denim Mattress

£995, Sleep with Sid Best for: Trend setters

Key specs – Size options: 4, single to super king; Foam layers: 6; Trial period: 120 nights; Warranty: 15 years; Extra features: Removable, changeable outer covers, a pair of Sleep with Sid eye masks

The USP of this memory foam mattress is that the snazzy denim outer cover on the sides is specifically designed to be shown off. Bespoke sheets can be bought that just cover the top layer, revealing the denim detailing on the base. If you’re bored of denim, simply cover up with a regular sheet, or invest in a different cover to mix up the look.

The changeable covers aren’t the only story for this mattress, though. The six layers provide hypoallergenic, zoned support, with one featuring Graphyx -technology that harnesses the properties of graphite to help cool and ventilate the mattress – to create a comfortable, sweat-free night.

There’s a matching headboard available, as well as custom-made sheets and memory foam pillows. It’s fairly heavy, but is easy to get into place and has a cutter to help remove the plastic without nicking the fabric.

The mattress feels super-soft initially, with the quilted top layer giving a level of comfort you’d normally expect from a luxury topper, which enveloped the sleeper but didn’t stifle. Don’t worry if you need support, though, as the memory foam base layers created a comfortable but firm-hold sleeping experience for our side sleeper in particular.


Best memory foam and hybrid mattresses under £1500

Dormeo Octaspring 6500 Memory Foam Mattress

£1049, Furniture Village Best for: Temperature regulation

Key specs - Sizes: 4, single to super king; Foam layers: 4; Trial period: 60 nights; Warranty: 20 years; Extra features: Removable top cover section, carry handles

Unlike bed-in-a-box options, this mattress is delivered flat but by a “white-glove” service that takes it directly to where it need to be – unpacking and arranging it before taking away the packaging. This is a bonus as while it’s a handy way to get a mattress delivered, those big boxes do take some dismantling ready for recycling.

The breathable open construction memory foam Octasprings, arranged into two layers featuring three comfort zones, are the unique selling point for this mattress. The technology involved is reflected in the price tag, making it the most expensive of our test models. But the “springs” create a ventilation system that prevents overheating that might occur in solid foam and we definitely felt that it was the coolest sleeping experience of all the mattresses we tested.

Different densities of Octaspring are grouped into three zones in two layers to give comfort and support where they’re most needed. There was also less motion transfer compared to some of the other mattresses we tested, which resulted in a welcome undisturbed night’s sleep. It’s billed as a medium to firm mattress but we found it was a perfect fit for both the back and side sleeper and the more we slept on it the more it contoured itself around us, creating individual support where it was most needed. Carry handles mean it’s easier to move, particularly when rotating as recommended every few months.


IGel Celestial Mattress

£1049, Bensons for Beds Best for: Super-thick comfort

Key specs - Sizes: 5, single to super king; Foam layers: Hybrid; Trial period: None (you can test in store); Warranty: 5 years; Extra features: Carrying handles

This hybrid mattress is an amazing 34cm deep and combines a 5cm layer of gently cushioning IGel memory foam with a base of 2,500 pocket springs. Unlike bed-in-a-box mattresses, it comes in a choice of medium firm or firm. We tried the medium and also unlike some of the bed-in-a-box models, it was ready to go straight away.

The IGel layer features conductive ceramic, which helps to regulate body temperature while you sleep to ensure you’re neither too hot nor too cold during the night. As one of the testers is prone to overheating, making nights restless, this was a welcome change from waking up feeling clammy.

While it was true that our nights were undisturbed, one of the things we noticed most was that the ultra squishy surface provided a supremely soft, almost bouncy top to the mattress that was also wonderfully supportive whichever way we slept. However, it might prove a little to enveloping for heavier sleepers. It’s another mattress that doesn’t require turning, which is just as well as it is pretty bulky and has no carrying handles to help move it.


Tempur Sensation Elite Mattress

£1669, Furniture Village Best for: A soft, cosseted sleep

Key specs – Size options: 10, single to super king; Foam layers: 4; Trial period: 100 nights; Warranty: 10 years; Extra features: Removable, machine washable cover

Tempur’s claim to fame is that it developed the first memory foam mattresses using NASA’s pressure-absorbing, temperature-sensitive material that was originally used to give astronauts added cushioning and support during lift off. Launched in 1991, Tempur soon became synonymous with comfort and support.

But how does the original stand up to the latest rash of bed-in-a-box pretenders? The first thing you notice is that it’s conspicuously more expensive, with a single costing more than a grand. It also doesn’t come in a box, which means it’s harder to get up the stairs, but doesn’t take several hours to fill out either.

So, is all that extra money worth it? After testing it for a few nights, it was clear that although it wasn’t head and shoulders above others we tested if you’re a standard sleeper, a restless sleeper or one with back and shoulder pain would benefit from this mattress.

Simply put, motion transfer became a thing of the past, resulting in better nights for both our testers. It’s on the soft side, so not great for front sleepers, and you do initially get a sinking feeling when lying on it, particularly on your side, but it’s more like a gentle embrace than a suffocating grip. There’s definitely a quality feel to it, too.



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