Maybe you’ve heard of the new “bed in a box” revolution that’s stormed the mattress industry in recent years. It involves cutting out the middleman— brick and mortar mattress showrooms and salesmen— and buying your mattress directly from an online brand, who delivers it to your front door.
Buying your mattress online can seem risky since you don’t get to try it out before you buy it, and you have to rely on customer reviews and marketing to decide if the mattress is best for you. Thankfully, most beds in a box also come with lengthy sleep trials, giving the customer months to try out the bed in their own home and the opportunity to return the mattress within the sleep trial for a refund.
In our article, we’ll assuage your worries with our top brand recommendations for beds in a box, the pros and cons of this newfangled trend, and everything else you need to know before purchasing your own bed in a box.
The Amerisleep AS3 contains pressure-relieving, plant-based foams and clinically proven support technologies to deliver a luxurious sleep experience and help you wake up every morning feeling refreshed. Plus, their beds come with a 100-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty.
The Zoma Sports Mattress is designed to help those with an active lifestyle leverage their night’s sleep to achieve peak performance during their day-to-day. Zoma facilitates deeper sleep, faster recovery, and leaves you waking up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. Even if you aren’t an athlete, Zoma can help you get the sleep you need.
Best Bed in a Box Mattresses of 2020
|Amerisleep AS3||Pressure-relieving, eco-friendly memory foam|| |
|Zoma Sports Mattress||Zoned support in the top layer to help reduce tossing and turning.|| |
|Nest bedding||Three layers of foam pair with pocketed coils for excellent cooling and comfort.|| |
|Purple Mattress||Smart Comfort Grid™ layer offers weightless pressure relief and cushioning.|| |
|Nolah||Nolah AirFoam™ comfort layer relieves pressure and isolates motion.|| |
|Avocado||GOLS certified materials and over 1,000 pocketed coils give proper back support and durable cushioning.|| |
Amerisleep AS3 features pressure-relieving, plant-based memory foam and clinically proven support technologies. Designed to have an even balance of comfort and support, the AS3 is a perfect medium in terms of firmness. Amerisleep designs their AS3 for side, back, and combination sleeper, but it’s likely too soft for stomach sleepers.
In each of their beds besides their firmest model, Amerisleep includes HIVE® technology. HIVE® contains five comfort and support zones to nurture a healthy spine and promote proper posture. A recent clinical study found HIVE® can reduce pressure points up to 49%, and as far as we know, it’s the only clinically-proven sleep technology.
Amerisleep Warranty and Sleep Trial
Amerisleep offers a generous 20-year warranty with each of their beds, giving you the most bang for your buck. During the first ten years, Amerisleep will cover any repairs or replacements covered in their warranty, such as sagging above ¾ of an inch, tears or rips in the cover, or a faulty zipper (see their website for more warranty details).
During the last ten years of the warranty, the customer will be responsible for a percentage of repair or replacement costs— the percentage depends on how long the customer has owned the mattress.
100-Night Sleep Trial
Amerisleep offers a 100-night sleep trial with each of their beds, including free returns and exchanges. If at any time during the sleep trial you want to return or exchange your bed, Amerisleep will pick up the mattress and donate or recycle it.
If you’re looking for a mattress to keep up with your active lifestyle, look no further than the Zoma Sports Mattress. Zoma is engineered to facilitate deeper sleep and faster recovery to help you wake up feeling refreshed every morning. Even if you’re not an athlete, Zoma can upgrade your night’s sleep because it helps you enter more reparative sleep cycles.
Zoma contains gel-infused memory foams and Triangulex™ technology to offer a good balance of comfort and support. When you lay on the Zoma, the memory foam layer contours to your body and offers cushioning comfort.
Meanwhile, the gels within combat body heat to keep you comfortable. Triangulex™ technology offers dynamic spinal support and relieves pressure in your major joints. Zoma is most comfortable for side and back sleepers.
Zoma Warranty and Sleep Trial
The Zoma mattress comes with a 10-year warranty. During that time, Zoma will determine if your mattress needs repairs due to manufacturing defects, or if you need a replacement mattress. The warranty covers sagging above ¾ of an inch— you must use your Zoma on a compatible foundation, outlined in their warranty, or these guarantees are void.
100-Night Sleep Trial
Zoma offers a 100-night risk-free sleep trial— that means you can try out the bed for over 3 months, and if during that time you’re not satisfied with it, you can return it for a full refund.
3. Nest Bedding Alexander Hybrid
Nest Bedding’s Alexander Hybrid mattress is one of their bestselling beds. Its hybrid construction includes almost 6 inches of foam and 8 inches of Quantum Edge support coils. All of the foams in the mattress are CertiPUR-US® certified, decreasing the risk of off-gassing when you unbox the bed.
Nest Bedding uses gel-infused memory foam and a phase changing fabric cover on the top of their Alexander Hybrid mattress. These two things combine to keep the customer cool and comfortable all night. Below the comfort foam layer lies 3 inches of Medium TitanChill Endurance Foam® and 1 inch of SmartFlow Support Foam, creating a medium feel that’s perfect for side-sleepers or combo sleepers.
Nest Bedding Warranty and Sleep Trial
Nest Bedding offers a limited Lifetime Warranty with the purchase of one of their beds. It covers manufacturing damage or defects as well as visible sags or indentations deeper than 1 inch. It does not cover normal wear and tear or improper use of the mattress, including using it on an incompatible base.
100-Night Sleep Trial
Your sleep trial begins the day you receive your mattress. Nolah asks you try out your bed for at least 30 nights— after that, you can initiate a return with Nolah (within 100 nights). You cannot extend or pause your sleep trial once it begins.
4. Purple Mattress
The Purple Mattress was developed by scientists who wanted to create a bed that relieved pressure points instead of creating them. They do this with their Smart Comfort Grid™ foam, which is said to be the ideal comfort level for all sleeping positions.
The open-grid design is completely unique in the mattress market— it aids in motion isolation, so you won’t feel your partner shifting around as they sleep. The high-density foam base is CertiPUR-US® certified, so there should be little to no off-gassing odors when you unbox the mattress.
The grid design also promotes airflow, eliminating any worries you may have about sleeping hot on this mattress.
Purple Warranty and Sleep Trial
The Purple Mattress comes with a standard 10-year warranty. In order to make a warranty claim, you will need the original proof of purchase and the law tag needs to be intact (still on the mattress). Purple’s warranty covers sagging greater than 1 inch and cracks or splitting in the foam.
100-Night Sleep Trial
Purple asks that you try your mattress for at least 21 nights before initiating a return or refund. After these 3 weeks and before 100 days, if you’re still unsatisfied, you can arrange for Purple to pick up your mattress and get a refund.
5. Nolah Original 10
The Nolah Original 10 is named for its height— a solid 10 inches. This bed offers quite a lot of cooling technologies for anyone who worries about their foam bed sleeping too hot.
The first layer of the Nolah mattress is 2 inches of their proprietary AirFoam™, giving you optimal pressure relief. The one-inch layer of foam beneath that is stronger and more durable than latex, and offers additional support for your back and other sensitive pressure points.
Finally, the base is 7 inches of high-density foam to reinforce the top two layers.
Nolah Warranty and Sleep Trial
Your Nolah mattress comes with a generous 15-year warranty. The warranty covers defects in the mattress, which Nolah will either repair or replace at their discretion. They do not cover sagging less than 1 inch deep or physical abuse to the mattress caused by the owner.
120-Night Sleep Trial
Nolah asks that you try out your new mattress for at least 30 nights to ensure you fully adjust to the bed. After that, within 120 days of your purchase, if you want to return your mattress, you can initiate a pick-up and Nolah will donate or recycle your bed.
6. Avocado Mattress
The Avocado mattress is one of the most eco-friendly beds in a box on our list. It uses GOLS-certified materials including natural latex, which is made using green manufacturing processes. The Avocado is also a hybrid, meaning its base contains nearly 1,500 pocketed support coils along with the layers of foam in the top of the bed.
Customers have the option to add a Euro pillow-top to their Avocado for an additional cost, since the mattress by itself rates as medium-firm. The pocketed coils at the base are arranged in 5 ergonomic zones which reduce back pain, evenly distribute weight, and isolate motion.
Avocado Warranty and Sleep Trial
25-Year Limited Warranty
Avocado’s mattress is prorated, meaning the customer is responsible for some of the repair or replacement costs after the first ten years. This warranty covers sagging or indentations greater than 1 inch as well as other manufacturing flaws and defects.
1-Year Sleep Trial
Avocado offers a full year for customers to try out their beds. During that time, if you decide to return the mattress, Avocado will arrange for it to be donated or recycled. There are no restocking or pickup fees.
Why Buy a Bed Online?
You may feel a little wary of buying a bed online without having tried it, but buying a mattress online is better than buying a mattress in a retail store for a number of reasons. Here are a few:
Buying a Bed Online Saves Money
|Typical Mattresses||Online Retailer||Brick & Mortar Retailer|
|Sales Tax||$0||$101 (7%)|
Think of the cost of keeping one mattress store open and staffed— that’s a lot of overhead costs that could be going towards a higher-quality mattress. Bed-in-a-box companies save a lot of money by eliminating those costs and passing the savings on to you. Additionally, you typically don’t have to pay sales tax or delivery fees.
Avoid Salespeople and High-Pressure Situations
If you don’t like high-pressure sales situations, buying a bed online is a much better option than a mattress store. In-store sales are designed to put the salesperson at an advantage and the customer at a disadvantage.
You don’t want to feel under the gun when you are shopping for a piece of furniture you will spend one-third of your life on— not to mention, mattresses can be a large expense, and you need some time to really try out the bed before committing to it.
Showrooms Don’t Lead to the Best Decisions
People who choose mattresses in a showroom-like setting tend to end up with the least comfortable beds for their bodies, according to a study done published in RTI International. The study concluded that customers will choose a more comfortable bed when they can try it out overnight.
The showroom isn’t your normal sleep environment and you aren’t really trying to sleep when you try a mattress. Trying a bed in your normal setting doing your usual sleep-time rituals is the best way to get a feel for the bed.
Potential Downsides to Buying Online
While most online mattress companies offer risk-free sleep trials, these still present some hassle to the customer. After all, if you decide not to keep the bed, you have to call the company to come pick up the mattress— if they offer that service. Some require that you re-package and return the bed yourself, creating more work for you.
A high-quality mattress should last you 7-10 years, so make sure the warranty covers at least that time period.
Some other downsides to buying online include the following:
- Some companies argue that a truly high-quality mattress shouldn’t be able to be compressed into a box. This all depends on the order of the layers and their material composition (see our section about construction and materials for more info on this).
- Company transparency: reading customer reviews is extremely helpful, but what if the company doesn’t publish any negative reviews? It’s hard to trust if what you’re buying online will be what you get, so do some extra research on the brand’s longevity, read their Better Business Bureau profile, and read mattress reviews on third-party websites if available.
The best mattress is going to be different for every person, depending on your own sleep needs. Check out our other best mattress guides to find the most comfortable next bed for you.
Further Considerations Before Clicking Buy
Your experience finding the best bed in a box depends on a few variables— you’ll want to look at mattress types, return policies, and then of course your own personal preferences. Let’s break them all down.
A lot of beds-in-a-box are made using foam, but there are lots of material options— there’s even more than one type of foam. The type of mattress you choose has to do with your sleeping position, your budget, and even your weight.
Foam mattresses are the most common type used for beds-in-a-box because they can be compressed and folded easily to fit in a box. Today, there are three basic foam types in mattresses.
Polyfoam, like memory foam, is made using petroleum. Plant-based foams replace some of that petroleum with plant-based oils, such as canola oil. Unlike memory foam, which responds to heat, poly-foam is not as compressible or as contouring. You’ll often see poly-foam used in couches or car seats, but in mattresses, users look for more pressure relief, which can be found in memory foam.
Memory Foam (Viscoelastic Foam)
This unique material was developed under a NASA contract to help cushion aircraft seats in the 1970s. In the 1990s it began to appear in mattresses, and the rest is history. This viscoelastic polyurethane foam softens as it warms to body temperature, which allows it to conform to the body (hence its viscous and elastic qualities). Memory foam mattresses are some of the highest-rated beds available.
Traditional memory foam has great motion isolation and pressure relief, but it also traps heat and produces an off-gassing odor— two things that can disrupt sleep.
Gel and Other Cooling Foams
Cooling foams were made to address the most common complaint associated with memory foam— sleeping too hot. Gel foams can be infused with gel swirls or embedded with ceramic gel beads. Both variations are meant to pull heat away from the body.
Other cooling foams are infused with graphite, charcoal, or copper— all three perform similarly to gel by pulling heat away from the body.
A relatively new innovation, plant-based memory foams are derived from soy and other plant oils. Unlike traditional foams, they have few complaints of heat retention due to their open-cell structure. This allows for more airflow which helps to move heat out of the bed. Natural, plant-based foams also emit fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than traditional and gels.
100% natural latex is one of the most durable mattress materials— it’s also one of the most expensive. Natural latex is derived from the sap of the rubber tree. These trees can be tapped and harvested for over thirty years. After the latex is harvested, it is baked and turned it into a solid. Natural latex can be certified organic, so check for organic certifications if a retailer claims to be organic.
Customers overwhelmingly prefer natural latex to synthetic latex for a number of reasons, including minimal odor and durability. It’s also much more eco-friendly to produce.
Synthetic latex is derived from petroleum and is therefore not natural. Unfortunately, there are few regulations governing the labeling of a product as “natural”— as a result, blended latex using both natural and synthetic components is often marketed as “natural.” If you are seeking a natural latex mattress, look closely at the retailer’s claims and check for certifications.
Latex is bouncier and firmer than memory foam— if you’ve never slept on latex before, it helps to try it out in a showroom if possible before buying it, since it does feel slightly different from the foam you may be used to.
Innerspring beds are made with steel coils or springs in the base along with a few layers of polyfoam or a quilted pillow-top as the comfort layer. Innersprings were the first mainstream mattress type, and today they remain the most commonly purchased mattress type.
Despite making up a large percentage of total mattress sales, innerspring mattresses have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings due to their short lifespan. They are quite cooling, thanks to the coils in the base, but they do not offer much pressure relief or contouring like foam mattresses do.
If you are considering an innerspring, it helps to know the different variations of coils and foam types in innersprings before purchasing.
Continuous coils are made with a single long wire formed into many interconnected S-shaped coils. They tend to be durable and responsive, but have problems with lateral motion transfer since every spring draws support from those adjacent to it.
Bonnell coils are individual, hour-glass shaped coils typically made of steel. These coil systems are available with many different coil counts and gauges (coil gauge refers to thickness). These are also the cheapest type of coil and often appear in dorm room or hotel mattresses.
Offset coils are made of tempered steel like Bonnell coils, but they are more durable and expensive than Bonnnell coils.
Pocketed coils, or Marshall coils, are wrapped in fabric and connected to other coils using glue instead of wires or steel hooks. The coils are wrapped to increase motion isolation and contouring— two issues commonly associated with innerspring beds.
Because pocketed coils are made using more materials and they increase the durability of the mattress, they are more expensive. Most often you’ll see pocketed coils in hybrid beds, which are made with coils in the base and foam layers above the base.
A hybrid mattress is 50% innerspring coils and 50% foam. In order to qualify as a true hybrid mattress, the bed must contain at least 3 inches of foam, but most include even more than that. Foam types in hybrid mattresses are typically memory foam, latex foam, or poly-foam, or a combination of two or three. Some hybrids use microcoils in the top layers for even more bounce and contouring.
Read More: Best Hybrid Mattress
Do mattresses in a box sleep hot?
Since foam mattresses are the most popular bed-in-a-box type, this question comes up a lot— do you need to worry about your mattress trapping heat? It depends on the material.
Foam, especially traditional memory, is prone to trapping heat. That’s because it’s viscoelastic, meaning it responds to warmth and compression (somebody sleeping on top of it). While this provides excellent contouring and pressure relief, it can also lead to waking up hot.
Most memory foam brands have begun to solve this issue by using gel or other cooling materials in their foams. These conductive materials draw heat away from the body and allow you to sleep cool.
What is your sleeping position?
The way you sleep has a huge impact on the feel of your mattress. Most of us know our preferred sleeping position already, but are all mattresses compatible with all sleeping positions? The short answer: no.
Side sleepers need a mattress that offers a perfect balance of comfort and support. That’s because they are at risk of paresthesia, or pins and needles, because they compress one side of their bodies all night long. Their mattress should relieve potential pressure points like the hips, back, and spine that can build up in the side-sleeping position.
Side-sleeping is the most common position, so a lot of companies cater to this group. Most side-sleepers are comfortable on a medium-soft to medium mattress, and the best mattress types for this group are memory foam, hybrid, or latex because of their pressure-relieving qualities and close-contouring abilities.
Back sleepers are at a lower risk for back pain compared to other sleeping styles because their weight is evenly distributed across the surface of the bed. However, they are also at the highest risk for breathing issues such as sleep apnea or snoring, since gravity presses down on their airway, potentially causing obstruction.
Considering these things, back-sleepers often go for a medium to medium-firm mattress— one that has some contouring, but still keeps the customer from sinking too far into the mattress and misaligning their spine or hips.
Back sleepers sometimes avoid memory foam mattresses since they have quite a bit of sink— if you are a back-sleeper and you want to try a memory foam bed, look for mattresses with a high-density foam core that won’t sag. Back sleepers may also be comfortable on hybrids or latex beds.
We do not recommend sleeping on the stomach because it increases risk for injury and discomfort more than any other sleeping position. If you prefer sleeping this way, make sure to choose a medium-firm or firm mattress that has very little sinkage— this will prevent the hips and pelvis from misaligning and injuring the back.
Stomach-sleepers will most likely be comfortable on hybrid, latex, or innerspring beds. Be careful of choosing a mattress with too much bounce and motion transfer, since this can throw things out of alignment as well. Some stomach-sleepers may like memory foam as long as they choose a medium-firm or firm option.
Does your body weight affect your mattress?
Your weight or the combined weight of you and your partner will affect the durability and longevity of your mattress. Plus-sized sleepers who weigh more than 250 lbs (or average-sized partners whose combined weight is over 250 lbs) should opt for a firmer mattress with a strong foundation.
Average-sized or lightweight sleepers can enjoy softer-feeling mattresses because they don’t need to worry about excess compression wearing down the materials.
What is a good mattress budget?
The average cost of a queen-size mattress is about $1,000. The cost of a mattress depends on the materials, composition, and the company’s sleep trials and other policies. For example, a latex mattress that comes with a long sleep trial and free white glove delivery will cost more than a basic, two-layer memory foam mattress with a shorter sleep trial and no white glove delivery.
A mattress with a large price tag does not necessarily signify “high quality.” On the other hand, a queen-size mattress that costs less than $500 may be made using much cheaper materials and won’t last long. Make sure to read customer reviews and company policies to ensure the product’s claims line up with its price point.
Look at the company’s sleep trials, return policies, and warranties
You should always look closely at a company’s policies before you invest your money with one of their products. Most online mattress companies offer sleep trials and corresponding return policies. If there is no sleep trial or return policy, that could be a sign to look elsewhere.
Most company sleep trials are at least 90 days long— some last longer, but they should always give you at least 30 nights to try out the bed. This month accounts for the adjustment period, or the length of time your body needs to get accustomed to the feel of your new mattress.
The return policy coincides with the sleep trial (if one is offered)— this means the customer should be able to return their mattress for a refund during the sleep trial period. If there is no sleep trial, there is usually a customer satisfaction guarantee to replace it, but these are a bit riskier.
Most bed-in-a-box companies do not ask the customer to return the mattress; rather, they pick up the mattress for donation or recycling and then refund the customer.
The industry-standard warranty length is 10 years— since most good mattresses last about 7-10 years, a warranty lasting less than 10 years is probably a sign to stay away from that company. Warranty conditions vary across mattress brands, but most cover the same basic things:
- Sagging or indentations above a certain depth (usually 1 inch)
- Rips or tears in the foam or cover fabric
- A faulty or broken zipper
- Burst or broken coils
Companies will not cover damages caused to the mattress by improper usage, including placing the bed on an incompatible foundation. Always review the company’s recommended bed foundations on their website so as not to void your warranty.
What is a mattress in a box?
A mattress in a box is exactly what it sounds like— it’s a bed that’s been compressed and rolled using a special machine to fit into a relatively small box. This way, companies can ship mattresses directly to their customers— there’s no awkward moving or transporting your mattress from the store to your house.
Most mattresses in boxes are made using foam (the amount and type of foam varies depending on the mattress type and the brand), which is fairly lightweight, making it easy to ship. Mattresses in a box often come with sleep trials, allowing the customer to try out the bed for a number of nights before they commit to keeping it.
How long do bed in a box mattresses last?
Again, it depends on the mattress type, but a good-quality memory foam mattress should last about 7-10 years. Typically, innerspring beds, which are not usually shipped directly to the customer in a box, last 5-6 years, while latex foam beds can last up to 15 years. Hybrids last around 6-8 years depending on the foam type, coil number, and coil type.
What is the best mattress of 2020?
The best mattress is subjective since we all have different sleep preferences and needs. However, there are many mattresses that consistently rise to the top of many people’s lists, like the Amerisleep AS3, because of their generous sleep trials and return policies, high-quality materials, and universal comfort levels. Be sure to do your research before choosing the “best” bed for your needs.
Where do I buy beds-in-a-box?
Beds in a box are available online. Some brands have showrooms where you can try out the beds in person, but all of them will ship directly to your door from the website.
Are all mattress types ok to be stuffed in a box?
Yes and no. Technically, you could roll up and compress any mattress and put it in a box— but some mattress types can be damaged by this practice. Typically, you won’t see innerspring beds sold in a box. If a mattress has some kind of plywood or rigid material in the base (like innersprings sometimes do), they cannot be folded or rolled.
The thicker and firmer the mattress, the harder it is to compress and roll.
What if I need to send my mattress back?
Most companies do not require you to send the mattress back if you are utilizing the return policy. They will arrange for it to be picked up and donated or recycled. In these cases, you just need to keep the donation receipt to get your refund.
Where should I put my mattress?
The best mattress foundation for your bed depends on the mattress type. Foam, hybrid, and latex mattresses should be used on a flat, solid foundation like a platform bed. If foam mattresses are used on slats, the slats should be no more than 3 inches apart, since this can cause the bed to sag, dip, and become damaged.
Innerspring mattresses are most often used with box springs and then placed on a traditional bed frame.
Can a topper help adjust the comfort level of my mattress?
Some find that their mattress doesn’t quite fit their comfort level needs, but, understandably, they don’t want to buy a completely new mattress to mitigate this issue. This is where mattress toppers come in. Mattress toppers are usually made using memory or latex foam and act as an additional layer of support foam on top of the bed.
If you decide to get a topper to increase the cushioning on your mattress, keep in mind the fit of your bedding, since the topper will change the thickness of your bed as well.
How do I set up my bed in a box?
Beds in a box come rolled up and compressed. When they arrive at your door, you can open and unroll them right away. Most companies recommend you let the bed expand and air out for at least 24 hours before sleeping on them, but if you decide to rest on your bed before the 24 hours is up, you shouldn’t have any issues.
Research & Resources
In making this article, we researched over 20 top mattress brands, read dozens of customer reviews, and spent 15 hours writing and editing to create the most high-quality content possible.
Beds-in-a-box is all the rage right now, and for good reason— most mattresses sold this way are affordable, offer great pressure relief, and come with lengthy sleep trials so you can try out the mattress in your own home.
Buying a bed online shouldn’t be a scary proposition for anyone. There are plenty of reputable online mattress retailers to choose from— just do some research before buying a bed online and you’ll likely come away with a great deal and a comfortable place to snooze.