Recently Consumer Reports® released their updated mattress buying guide online and announced initial mattress testing results in a media press release. Their guide offers general guidelines for shopping and an overview of types and top-selling brands, gleaned from their experts and a large scale consumer survey. The ratings study looks at 12 specific mattresses to assess quality and comfort. Here we will examine some of the top brands and recommendations provided in the latest reports, as well as tips for getting the best bed.
Consumer Reports®’ Best Mattress by Type 2013
The mattress buying guide issued by Consumer Reports™ finds that all mattresses but the cheapest to be relatively sturdy and likely to offer satisfactory sleep. This correlates with average mattress rankings across the board, which hover in the 65-70% range, and National Sleep Foundation research that any new mattress helps improve sleep quality. But, there are still significant differences among the different types and some receive better ratings than others. First, we’ll look at the different mattress types.
Innerspring mattresses remain the most-sold mattresses and the traditional go-to for many consumers. These mattresses feature metal spring or coil support systems topped with padding or foams and encased in fabric ticking. Innerspring mattresses are often sold as sets with the mattress top and box springs. Generally, innerspring beds make moving around easier, but also transfer motion to sleeping partners via the coils.
Best Innerspring Mattress Brands
The top-selling brands in this category are Sealy, Serta, Simmons and Spring Air. Based on their initial 12-mattress comparison, Consumer Reports® recommend the Simmons Beautyrest Glover Park firm pillowtop, while the ComforPedic Loft Crestwood Luxury Plush ranked lowest.
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam is known for offering superior pressure point relief by transferring weight across the surface of the bed (whereas springs place the most pressure on heaviest areas like hips and shoulders). The other significant benefit is alignment support. Memory foam is typically favored among people who suffer from pain and pressure points on traditional beds. The nature of the material prevents motion transfer, but some brands sleep hot, make turning difficult, and can have a chemical odor. Their guide, perhaps unfairly, classifies latex as a type of memory foam.
Best Memory Foam Brands
Tempurpedic is the leading brand of memory foam. In Consumer Reports® release, they look at the Tempur Simplicity and Novaform Serafina, finding that the Tempurpedic ranked slightly higher but ultimately naming the Serafina as their pick for its lower price of $900. We found another memory foam mattress brand, Amerisleep, that offers prices under $1000 as well but higher foam densities and plant-based materials that have been shown to sleep cooler and eliminate offgassing concerns. (Have a look at the comparison info and chart provided by BestMattress-Reviews.org).
This is a newer category made popular in the last 2 years, characterized by the inclusion of gel via infusion or gel layers. Gel is typically added to another mattress type like innerspring or memory foam, and is touted to be more breathable and offer cooler sleep. There is limited research as to gel’s effectiveness, and it is questioned whether or not gel foams actually improve breathability.
Best Gel Mattress Brands
The online guide and initial comparison data released by Consumer Reports® do not specifically mention gel brands, though most popular brands include Serta iComfort and Sealy Optimum. Research from Cargill and Tempurpedic have both shown that claims made by gel brands about sleeping cooler than plant-based and traditional memory foam may not hold up, however.
Summary of Findings: Consumer Reports™ vs Best Mattress Brand Recommendations
The table below summarizes the recommendations and top picks by type for the different mattress types. On the left are Consumer Reports® findings, on the right are our recommendations based on our previous articles comparing reviews and value.
|Consumer Reports(tm)' Recommendations||Best Mattress Brands' Recommendations|
|Innerspring||Simmons Beautyrest Glover Park||Sealy brand (bunnell coils)|
|Memory Foam||Novaform Serafina||Amerisleep|
Getting the Best Mattress
Getting the the best bed can be a challenge, but having a few guidelines can help shoppers make better decisions. Here are the general recommendations from CR, which we follow with a few additional tips from our own research and experience.
Consumer Reports® Buying Tips
- Buy a new mattress if your bed is saggy, you wake up tired, or if older than 5-7 years.
- The most expensive mattresses don’t always offer the best sleep.
- Buy in stores.
- Don’t buy a new foundation or boxspring if your existing one is in good condition and suitable.
- Check return periods/comfort guarantees in case you don’t like the bed.
- Wait for a sale.
- Leave your mattress tag on to ensure warranty service.
While we agree with most of Consumer Reports®’ recommendations, there are a number of benefits of shopping online such as being more informed, saving money and better return policies. Shoppers are able to take their time free of sales pressure and truly gain knowledge about potential purchases so that in the end the showroom test drive is no longer required. People are gaining confidence in purchasing online because of the guarantees that many online retailers offer and the history of consumer satisfaction. A recent study from research group RTI even showed that the standard 15 minute showroom test drive did not help consumers choose a comfortable mattress. So, we would also recommend the following:
- Shop & research online.
- Check return fees and look for a trial of 30+ days.
- Look for U.S. made mattresses for quality and safety.
As we go throughout the year shoppers can continue to see how the top brands fair against other emerging brands in the industry. Many changes are in store for leading companies from new products to mergers, so it will be interesting to see how the market changes over the next year. For those shopping for a new bed, these mattress shopping tips and Consumer Reports®’ buying information can help you make a smarter decision and get better sleep.
Disclaimer: Consumer Reports is a trademark of the Consumers Union of United States, Inc. and is neither affiliated in any way with nor endorsing any content on Best Mattress Brand.