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What it's like to buy (and return) a mattress online: A hands-on review

CBS News 9/20/2022 Lily Rose
 / Credit: Getty Images © Provided by CBS News / Credit: Getty Images

Ordering a mattress online can seem overwhelming. What if you don't like your mattress? How would you return it? I've tested Casper and Saatva -- two top-rated, online-based mattress brands with tons of positive reviews. And I returned one of them.

Which online mattress did I send back, and why? Here's what my experience was like.

Top products in this article:

Casper Sleep Original Hybrid mattress, $1,770 (regularly $2,095)

Saatva Classic king mattress, $1,970 (regularly $2,170)

What it's like to buy a mattress online

Full disclosure, I love Casper. Thanks to personal experience, I think the brand makes some of the best sheets, duvets and pillows on the market. Due to that familiarity, plus the variety of mattresses it offers, Casper was my first choice when it came time to buy a new mattress.

Casper Sleep Original Hybrid king mattress

 / Credit: Casper © Provided by CBS News / Credit: Casper

Casper makes it easy to order a mattress and bed essentials. The brand offers a discount on a bundle of Casper bestsellers. The bundle includes a Casper mattressmattress foundation and a mattress protector.

I purchased a king-sized mattress bundle and one of the brand's metal bed frames

Casper Sleep Original Hybrid Mattress, $2,095

My mattress and its accouterments arrived within a few days of each other. Delivery was free and no-contact, though I had to schlep each massive, individual box up to my apartment on my own.

This is the part where I confess that I had my boyfriend set up the bed frame. He claims that it was fairly easy to do. 

The Casper mattress was blissfully fluffy. But it didn't provide enough support for me. I slept on the mattress for roughly 20 nights before deciding that it would have to go back. 

This was not a decision I made lightly -- I was not looking forward to figuring out how to return my mattress. I kept my fingers crossed it wouldn't involve shoving it back into the box. All that enormous cardboard went down to recycling!

What it's like to return a mattress you bought online

Casper mattresses come with a 100-night trial, which begins once your items are delivered. Casper mattresses also include a 30-night adjustment period. The brand strongly recommends that you wait a month before asking for a free return. 

I didn't need 30 nights of sleep to know this mattress was too soft for me. I contacted Casper and explained the situation. Although the brand still strongly recommended that I wait, Casper arranged a courier to come and remove the mattress a few days later.

The mattress removal took all of 10 minutes, and I didn't have to do anything. The courier came and rolled up the king-size mattress like it was a piece of sushi. He carted it downstairs, chucked it into his truck and sped away. Casper has said the team tries to donate or recycle all used mattresses. 

Overall, the return process was so easy I recommend giving Casper a try, especially if you like your mattress on the softer side. 

Note that I didn't return everything. I decided to keep the mattress foundationmattress protector and the metal bed frame. I knew that I would need these bedroom essentials for the mattress I would eventually keep.

The online mattress I kept is...

After returning the Casper, I did more research online for the "best firm mattress." The first brand to appear in my search was Saatva. Saatva's classic mattress allows you to select your desired mattress firmness -- a feature not included with any mattress from Casper. 

Saatva Classic king mattress

 / Credit: Saatva © Provided by CBS News / Credit: Saatva

This Saatva bedroom essential is a must-have for people who want a firm mattress. Saatva says the mattress is "designed to feel like you're lying on top of the mattress rather than sinking in, with firmer foams for balanced resistance."

Saatva Classic king mattress, $1,970 (regularly $2,170)

Saatva offers free in-room delivery and setup. Unlike Casper, the Saatva deliverymen brought the mattress into my bedroom and placed it on my mattress foundation. The Saatva crew even took the protective plastic with them when they left, leaving me with my new mattress and zero trash.

From the moment I first tried the Saatva, I knew I'd found the mattress for me. Every night of sleep since has felt as though I am comfortably resting on my bed, not sinking down into it. The curves of its plush pillow-top support my whole body. Plus, its coil support layer keeps air flowing, so I don't sleep hot. 

Shop the best mattresses you can get online

Looking for a discount on a new mattress? While I didn't try all these mattresses personally, they are all top-rated and offer similar try-at-home sleep trials to the Casper and Saatva. 

Casper Wave hybrid queen mattress

 / Credit: Casper © Provided by CBS News / Credit: Casper

This Casper mattress is highly rated by customers. It's outfitted with gel pods that lift your waist and lower back for better alignment. The mattress is made with Casper's AirScape 3 + cooling gel technology, which helps prevent the mattress from growing hot. 

Casper Wave hybrid queen mattress, $2,895

If you tend to sweat while you sleep, the Casper Wave hybrid can also be purchased with Casper's Snow Technology. The brand's advanced cooling feature is made with a layer of cooling gel that helps prevent overheating for up to 12 hours.

Casper Wave hybrid queen mattress plus Snow Technology, $3,395

Purple queen mattress

 / Credit: Purple © Provided by CBS News / Credit: Purple

Technically foam models, Purple mattresses feature the company's Purple Grid technology, which layers hyper-elastic polymer between tiers of foam or coils, depending on the model. The traditional Purple mattress features two levels of the brand's trademark gel, paired with dual-layer foam, while the Purple Plus boasts two extra layers of comfort foam. The Purple Hybrid adds pocked coils for more airflow and durability, and the Purple Hybrid Premiere 3 or 4 -- luxury models -- offer three or four inches of the buoyant-feeling gel. Every mattress comes with a 100-night, risk-free sleep trial period.

Purple queen mattress, $1,095 (reduced from $1,399)

Purple queen Hybrid, $2,399

Purple queen Hybrid Premiere, $2,999

Serta cooling gel memory foam queen mattress

 / Credit: Serta via Amazon © Provided by CBS News / Credit: Serta via Amazon

Amazon has a Serta mattress on sale. This cooling gel foam mattress uses compression technology to pack the mattress into Serta's smallest carton yet, making it an ideal choice for people who live alone and might have trouble transporting a mattress from the front door to the bedroom. 

Serta 7" cooling gel memory foam queen mattress, $399

Layla memory foam queen mattress

 / Credit: Layla © Provided by CBS News / Credit: Layla

Whether you suffer from intermittent back problems or are on the fence about whether you prefer a softer or firmer mattress, Layla serves as both. Available as both a memory foam and hybrid, this clever sleeping surface offers "flippable firmness," soft on one side and firm on the other. And, constructed out of a pressure-relieving antimicrobial copper foam, it helps you sleep cooler, cleaner and more comfortably. Layla offers a 120-night, money back guarantee. 

Layla memory foam queen mattress, $949 (reduced from $1,099)

Birch Luxe Natural by Helix queen mattress

 / Credit: Birch by Helix © Provided by CBS News / Credit: Birch by Helix

Birch is an offshoot of popular mattress brand Helix, offering comfortable and luxurious beds, responsibility sourced and sustainably produced, handcrafted and assembled in the USA. The mattresses are also Greenguard Gold certified and GOTS certified organic. They offer two options, including the upgraded Birch Luxe Natural (shown here), made with materials such as organic cashmere, organic New Zealand wool, Fairtrade cotton and Pulse latex. This medium-firm hybrid limits motion transfer with the help of 1,000 individually wrapped steel coils and natural latex to cradle the body and relieve pressure points. 

Birch Luxe Natural by Helix queen mattress, $2,499 (reduced from $2,899)

Tuft & Needle Original queen mattress

 / Credit: Tuft & Needle/Amazon © Provided by CBS News / Credit: Tuft & Needle/Amazon

One of the top-selling and user-supported mattress brands on Amazon, Tuft & Needle offers a great mattress value. With two layers of foam -- a firm and supportive base with a plush, cooling top layer -- the medium-firm, 10-inch mattress is made out of chemical free materials and is both Greenguard Gold and CertiPUR-US certified. The company offers a 100-night trial; that said, the brand maintains that 95% of customers opt to keep sleeping on Tuft & Needle mattress.

Tuft & Needle Original queen mattress, $995

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