What is the best quality mattress available?

Hello Friends,

I recently spent $2400 on a new mattress set. It’s supposed to be a top of the line bed; a Simmons Beautyrest Black. It felt great at first, but after not much more than a week it started losing support. I’ve given it some time to make sure it wasn’t just a “breaking-in” period creating an illusion of lack of support. It’s been nearly 3 months now, and the bed is garbage. It’s softer and sagging more than the 4 year old, cheap mattress we had before. The difference is obvious. If I lay in the middle of the bed, which is practically unused, it’s still comfortable and supporting. When I start moving closer to the side where I normally sleep, the difference is VERY obvious. I am less that 180lbs and should not wear out a $2400 mattress in a matter of a few weeks. I know there are have to be better beds out there with good support that will last. Any ideas would be help full.

Thanks and Regards
Michael Bevan

Hi MichaelBevan,

The quality of a mattress is completely dependent on its construction and the quality of the materials that are used in it. Mattress manufacturers can use any quality of materials they choose (they have common sources or equivalent sources available to them). Quality in the context that it’s normally discussed on the site is primarily about durability and how long a mattress will stay close to its original specifications before the materials and components either soften, compress, degrade, or wear out and you cross the threshold between sleeping well on a mattress to “tolerating” it. Both low quality and high quality materials can feel the same in a showroom because you can’t “feel” the quality or durability of a material (both high and low quality materials come in a range of firmness levels). You can only determine quality by knowing the specifics of the layers, components, and materials in your mattress (see this article). The “weak link” of most mattresses is in the upper pressure relieving layers which are the most subject to softening, breaking down, or “wearing out” which is why it’s so important to make sure than any mattress you are considering doesn’t low quality materials in the comfort layers and doesn’t have any weak links in the design (see post #4 here).

Even more important than the quality/durability of a mattress and the most important part of the “value” of a mattress purchase is it’s “suitability” for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences). This will depend on your body type, sleeping positions, and preferences as well as your physiology, age, sensitivities, and any health issues you may have. This is where the different types of softness/firmness levels of each layer, the different properties of each type of material, and the different combinations play a role in “matching” a mattress to what you need and prefer. No matter what the quality or cost of a mattress or how long it may last you … if it’s not suitable for you to sleep on then it would have little value to you.

There are several parts to choosing a mattress that is “best” for YOU (what is best for anyone else makes no difference because your needs, preferences, and circumstances can be very different from other people).

  1. Comfort is what you feel when you first lay on a mattress and is mostly about pressure relief along with the overall “feel” and response of the different materials and components. The sleeping surface of a mattress needs to distribute your weight across the surface of your body so you don’t have pressure points which can restrict circulation and cause numbness, tingling, and pain and it needs to “feel” the way you prefer a mattress to feel.

  2. Support is all about how well a mattress keeps your spine and joints in good alignment and what you feel (or don’t feel) when you wake up in the morning either with or without discomfort or pain in your back, spine, and joints.

  3. Durability is all about how your mattress will feel a year or more down the road and you can only know or predict this by knowing the quality of the materials in your mattress (see this article) and identifying any “weak links” in its design (see post #4 here).

  4. Beyond this everything is about preferences (temperature regulation, motion isolation, overall “feel”, freedom or restriction of movement, sleeping “in” or “on” the mattress, safety of materials and certifications, and any others that are important to you).

All the different types of materials (various types of foam, fiber, ticking fabrics, and innersprings) have lower quality and/or less durable versions and higher quality more durable versions. Make sure your mattress uses higher quality versions of any material you prefer.

Foam will also go through 3 main stages of softening. The first stage is the initial break-in period where the the foam layers lose any false firmness and will soften a little more rapidly. This is followed by the long term softening of the foam where the softening is more gradual. The last stage is the breakdown of the material itself which often leads to more permanent and visible deeper impressions without any weight on the mattress. If you choose a mattress that is “on the edge” of being too soft and isn’t well inside the range of comfort/pressure relief or support that that is suitable for you … then even even the initial break in period can put you “over the line” and outside the comfort/support range that is suitable for you very quickly and the mattress may no longer be suitable for your needs and preferences and may need to be replaced even though it may still be suitable for someone else for many years (see post #2 here).

The larger manufacturers (such as the “S” companies) tend to use lower quality materials in their mattresses than smaller independent manufacturers at every price point which is the reason they often don’t last as long. This is the reason for the first guideline in this article which suggests avoiding them. Knowing what is in your mattress in terms of the quality of the materials is one of the most important parts of buying a mattress and the only meaningful way to make value comparisons between mattresses (less durable materials tend to cost less than more durable materials) and have a realistic sense of how durable it may be.

The “best” mattress for any person is the one that is the best match for each person in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) AND that uses the best quality and most durable materials available in your price range. This is part of what I call your personal value equation. The price you pay may have little to do with the quality of the materials inside it or whether a mattress is a good choice for you. Even highest quality mattress may not be suitable for someone’s needs and preferences and a high priced mattress that feels great in a showroom or at the very beginning is no guarantee that the materials are high quality or how long they will maintain their original feel and performance before you need to replace it. Foam softening and loss of comfort and support is the biggest reason a mattress needs to be replaced and is not covered by a warranty. Warranties have little to nothing to do with how long a mattress will last for any particular person.

Post #1 here is the single most important post on the forum and includes the information, steps, and guidelines that can dramatically improve your odds of finding the best possible quality and most suitable mattress in any price range.