The 12 Mattresses Esquire Editors Swear By

a man and woman sitting in a hammock
The 12 Mattresses Esquire Editors Swear Bytuft & needle / Getty Images / Esquire

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Apparently the only qualifications necessary to refer to yourself as a mattress expert is needing to have tested at least three to four mattress brands. It's a low bar on the Internet these days. Kidding aside, I'm not here to claim that I'm another fake sleep expert or anything. But, I have dedicated most of my career to reviewing mattress, sofas, and some Dysons too. In the last two years alone, I've tried at least four mattresses—I lost count before my partner banned me from trying anymore.

As result, I constantly get asked about which one is really worth buying. My answer isn't simple—sorry—but it is consistent: “It depends on what you like.” While being a self-proclaimed expert has its perks, it doesn’t make me the sayer of all. Just because I like a mattress doesn't mean a majority of the people out there will. A lot of this depends on sleep style, position, your height and weight, and even what temperature we sleep at at. For example, I like plush and fluffy, which is a nightmare blend for many. Many skew more towards extra firm choices, or there's even choices for people with back pain or side sleepers.

This brought me to think about what really is the best way to help people find what they need while shopping virtually for a mattress that often arrives in a box. It was time to survey my colleagues.

Here at Esquire, we love to determine what's the best of the best. We know the best tequilas, the best hotels, the best sneakers, and so we, of course, have to know the best way to sleep. I enlisted 11 staffers (along with myself) on a sleep experiment to see how they sleep, what they sleep on, and why they like what they like. Some of us tested new mattresses in search of an upgrade, and a few refused to replace their beloved ones, choosing to rave about what's kept them rested for years instead. This is as real as recommendations get. Here's what we actually sleep on every night.

Snow Hybrid Mattress

Out of all those mattresses I've tested over the years, the one I ended up with and that's currently in my bedroom is the Casper Snow Hybrid. There's a whole journey behind this choice that brought me full circle. First though, I'd like to address that there are a number of Casper mattresses on this list, and that's simply because the brand really does know what its doing. Its not hype. Its at the top for a reason.

This story began when I tried the Casper Nova model, when it first launched several years ago. That is hands-down my favorite mattress—and it's further down on this list if you keep scrolling. The Nova is plush and squishy how I like, yet offers so much back support. True perfection. But that was four years ago now and I've since moved cities and then dedicated my life to mattress testing. Throughout the years and trials, nothing ever stood up to it. I tried eco-friendly mattresses that seemed nice at first, only to fall flat very quickly. I tried all-foam choices, which again, after time just felt meh. I even tried a firm choice (because my partner insisted) and that was pure hell for me. Then we decided as a couple the mattress testing needed to stop, we needed to be normal people with a mattress we liked.

Of course, I wanted to resort back to the Nova, but my partner who prefers firm and hates plush, said it was just too soft for him. Then Casper released the Snow Hybrid, a firmer, yet plush cooling mattress. It has medium firmness comfort level, and I definitely lied to my partner and told him it was firmer option—he's thankfully never noticed and doesn't read my writing. But I'll be honest with you reader, it has a medium firm feel with a soft top that keeps me happy. What makes a hybrid mattress so great is that you get the support of coils below, and the soft feeling of a pillow topper built right in. Even though I dream of a cloud-like mattress this one works for both of us—for now at least. Plus, the brand's signature cooling technology goes a long way here and makes a huge difference for sweaty sleepers like myself. In the end, there's nothing I'd recommend more, because it appeals to a mass amount of sleepers out there. —Krista Jones, Commerce Director

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Rx Mattress

If you want to gain followers on Instagram, post a meme that says, “When you’re over 40 and fall asleep in a weird position,” with a screenshot of Johnny Cash and the lyrics, “I hurt myself today.” You’ve seen some version of this on social media. You’ve reacted to this meme, maybe liked or shared it, because it is accurate. A few months ago, I couldn’t turn my head to the left for days because I slept on my neck funny.

But the meme became irrelevant to me when I learned about the Saatva Rx mattress, which, yes, I had the same initial reaction: a prescription mattress? Am I really that old? The mattress promises to help ease discomfort from chronic conditions like sciatica, arthritis, herniated discs, and scoliosis. I have none of these ailments (yet), but I am 43 and have two young kids—a condition all its own. Can a mattress treat that? Yes, this one certainly does.

It is a mattress with the seemingly contradictory combination of soft and firm. It supports you while enveloping you. This is unholy, because I never want to get out of bed. I fantasize about this mattress. It has become a fun fact I share at corporate gatherings: I’m Michael Sebastian, editor-in-chief of Esquire, and one thing you don’t know about me is that I adore my mattress.

Even better: my wife shares this opinion. One downside: so do my kids. It is a king-size, so, in theory, the four of us could all fit, but that would be foolish—especially when the bed is this comfortable. Why do that to ourselves? Beat it, kids. No more sleep injuries for me. —Michael Sebastian, Editor-in-Chief

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Luxe Mattress

Side sleepers, allergy victims, joint pain sufferers, lend me your ears. I have a recommendation that might just change your life. Here it goes: it’s time to break the chokehold of Big Memory Foam and invest in a latex mattress. I’ll confess, I’ve never much understood the appeal of memory foam. If you ask me, it’s got an aggressive marketing campaign and a sorely lacking product. That body-hugging feeling of getting sucked into a hole—who wants that? There’s a better way to sleep, I promise. Enter latex: bouncy and buoyant, a latex mattress provides all the body-contouring support of memory foam, without that maddening sensation of sinking into spongy quicksand.

As a fussy side sleeper with insomnia, I’ve spent years searching for a mattress with what seemed like an impossible duality: Enough firmness to provide cushioned support for pressure points like my hips and shoulders, and also enough softness to feel comfortable and luxurious. Memory foam and inner-spring mattresses have always come up short, leaving me feeling like I’m sleeping on a 2x4 or getting swallowed into a sinkhole. Then I tried Brooklyn Bedding’s EcoSleep Luxe Mattress, a layered model with a plush wool and cotton topper, a supportive core of Talalay latex, and a bedrock of zoned coils.

The EcoSleep Luxe leaves me feeling weightless and buoyant, like I’m floating on a springy cloud. Pressure point pain in my hips and shoulders is a thing of the past; instead, the mattress supports me and contours to me, all without sucking me in like memory foam. Where memory foam traps heat, latex is ultra-breathable and cooling. Where memory foam is made from polyurethane (hence the chemical smell), latex is eco-friendly, made from the milky sap of the rubber tree. Where memory foam forms deep indentations over time, latex springs back due to its elastic nature. Are you catching my drift here? Why are you still listening to me? Get out there and go latex already! Adrienne Westenfeld, Books and Fiction Editor

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Loom & Leaf Memory Foam Mattress

If you live in a building anything like mine, large deliveries are a nightmare. Choosing a mattress with a white glove delivery service was a major relief for me. No one gets hurt—or embarrassed about not being able to pivot the thing and then regretful about having made no friends in the building. The newer Loom & Leaf mattress comes in two comfort levels, and I chose the Relaxed Firm.

On Saatva’s comfort scale from one (represented by a cloud) to 10 (represented by a diamond), the Relaxed Firm is in the range of five to seven. Touted as the “most popular” model relative to the Firm option, which is pointedly on the scale at 8, Relaxed Firm is, well, just more relaxed. And I could be wrong about this, but isn’t relaxing—putting oneself into a position of repose—exactly what a bed is supposed to be for?

I was moving on from a mattress with a more “diamond-like” firmness, shall we say, to one more in keeping with my preferred state of repose. This mattress is so relaxed, so effective at relaxing, sleeping on it rivals and perhaps even surpasses any other activity I can think to do on such a heavenly cloud of a bed. Since exchanging my old bed for this one, my head hits the sheets, I sink into an unconscious abyss unfettered by any movement caused by others (credit for which I’ve no doubt goes to the memory foam), and I don’t remember much else till the alarm trills. I know now that when I go down, I’d better be serious about it because that bed is taking no prisoners. It’s taking you straight to your happy place instead, where you run into the one drawback this mattress has–which is that you may really not wish to leave and that’s when you’ll need to remind yourself to make good choices like that one you made to reclaim your identity as a relaxed firm kinda person. —Kevin Sintumuang, Lifestyle Director

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Wave Hybrid Mattress

You don’t necessarily expect to be dealt a savage personal burn while staring down at the serene face of your sleeping three-year-old son, but that’s exactly when it happened. My wife reached down to brush the hair away from his forehead so we could get a better look at him but paused mid-motion. “Oh, man. His head’s all sweaty. He really is exactly like you, huh?”

It’s true. Looking at baby photos, we’re the spitting image of one another. (Bad news when you grow up, kid.) But apparently my son also inherited something else from me: He’s a hot sleeper. A very hot sleeper. A perched-on-the-edge-of-an-active-volcano-with-a-heat-lamp-hanging-over-you-level hot sleeper. That—plus a right shoulder that just loves to tweak itself into a painful knot during the wee hours—has plagued me over the course of 15 years and two mattresses. The first was a slab of memory foam that dulled motion transfer but felt like climbing out of a vat of oatmeal in the morning. The second was a hybrid mattress that I’m almost certain we irrevocably damaged on day one by trying to fold it in half lengthwise to move it (long story). I’d wake up in the middle of the night sweating, my shoulder aching, on both.

Then I got a Casper Hybrid Wave. And I went for it with the cooling features, adding Casper’s Snow Technology—with its hilariously named HeatDelete Bands—to keep me extra frosty at night. The cooling is a game-changer. But what really sold me on the mattress was something I wasn’t expected: The extremely pleasant mixture of support, softness, and bounce it delivers. You know that feeling of springiness you get from a bed in a really nice hotel? The kind that makes climbing into bed on your hands and knees way more fun than just…sitting on the damn thing? That’s what you get with this mattress. And yet, you don’t feel your partner’s every minute twitch. And there’s still enough of that foamy, sink-on-into-it feeling that it wasn’t a shock to the system and remains entirely comfortable for my side-sleeping self.

Sure, I still occasionally awake with a bead of sweat on my brow. And my shoulder still finds, from time to time, a way to re-tweak itself just a little. It’s a mattress; it can’t force my subconscious to abandon its apparent love of twisting my body into a pretzel each night. But what it can do is give me all the support and cooling power to turn two things that used to be the dual banes of my existence into mere nuisances. That’s pretty impressive. Maybe when my son grows out of his toddler bed, we’ll get him one, too. —Jonathan Evans, Style Director

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Wave Hybrid Mattress


Plus Mattress

Although, I am a side and stomach sleeper, my back tends to react better to firm mattresses, which is why I've always gone with all-foam models in the past. I always thought that those thick all-foam mattresses were great and offered the right support and I never had any complaints—until recently, that is.

My girlfriend and I just moved into a new place and we both agreed that the mattress I had was fine (just fine) but we eventually ended up deciding that it was time for an upgrade from a full to a queen, so why not try something new? We ended up opting for the Purple Plus Mattress, and in just a few nights, I realized what I had been missing out on.

Purple's signature and patented grid system that looks like a giant well, grid—hence the name—combined with the transition of soft foam provides a super fluffy soft feel on top, while still being firm and offering enough support deep down, which is great for side sleepers like me. My view on how comfortable a mattress can be has completely transformed and now I cannot believe how much better I am sleeping.

I also want to note that this mattress system feels so unique that, when I was visiting friends in Chicago, I laid in their guest room bed and immediately knew I was atop a Purple mattress without even looking. Its signature design is that recognizable. This isn't a budget buy, I admit, but don't cheap out on something you will spend 33 percent of your life on. To me there’s no price too high for a good night's sleep. —Mike Kim, Digital Design Director

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The Mattress

In the medical community there’s a saying that if you hear hoofbeats behind you, it’s probably horses, not zebras. When the Thuma came into my life I was being chased by a herd of zebras, and in great danger of throwing in the towel on my youth. Musculoskeletal pains of all manner would wake me up in the night, every night. Either I was sick or old and neither sounded great. I’d google symptoms until the wee hours. I was certain the answer was some sickness not yet recognized by the medical community or the ravages of time. Being an idiot, I didn’t even consider that the hoofbeats behind me might have been those of a $200-something mattress from Bob’s Discount Furniture that I bought in 2012.

When I dragged that old horse out to the curb and replaced it with the Thuma it all became clear: There’s nothing like a new mattress to take 15 years off your age, and there’s nothing like the Thuma.

As for me, I’m a side-sleeper, and I don’t sleep particularly hot or cold, so I'm not that picky, and just needed an upgrade. I could not describe my perfect mattress to you, which is the beauty of the Thuma. It’s medium-firm, which to me is the default setting on mattresses. It feels luxurious without being obtrusive, and you don’t need a box spring. The whole deal is clean, modern, and sophisticated and will not require you to make any big decisions. I have no particular mattress needs other than "I’d like to not feel like shit all the time." If that’s you, I highly recommend the Thuma.

The brand also makes a bed frame, which I also love. It works with nearly any decor scheme and is exactly the right height from the ground. No hoisting! Points lost for the fact that the delivery representative left both the bed and the mattress in the lobby of my third-floor walkup, which necessitated a call to the super to help drag up three flights. Can I really blame the mattress for that, though? I think not, but it’s something to know. Besides, how can I complain? I have the strength of a woman half my age (or so it feels). —Kelly Stout, Articles Director

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Elite Hybrid Mattress

I hate to start this way—I really do—but I have to tell you about a different mattress before giving you the details of the mattress I want to endorse. A few weeks ago, I stayed at an Airbnb in Asheville, North Carolina. It was a cabin in the woods, and my first glamping situation. With the nearest bathroom in the host's house (?!) down a trail outside of the cabin, there was only one thing I liked about the place: the mattress.

It was just a little bit squishier than my then-current mattress. (I've now introduced a third mattress to this blurb. I'm sorry.) It featured the exact amount of extra-squishy that every hotel (or amazing Airbnb) mattress has—the kind that makes you wonder about the piece of shit you're sleeping on back at home. After the trip, incidentally, I had a new mattress to open up that I just received: the Bear Elite Hybrid.

The entire story I just told you, I'll admit, is a means to say that this mattress has that elusive extra-squishiness—the kind that simply doesn't exist in any mattress ever bought by any person I know, ever.

I'm a side sleeper, with an internal temperature of 1,1345 degrees, and this bed manages to wrap around me without inducing a night-long sauna session. As for the specs, it's a hybrid, meaning it has both coils (two kinds, to be exact), and several layers of foam, which is where that squishiness comes from. The added bonus of a cooling layer makes it even better. Now, I don't have to go to a cabin in the woods—looking at you, weird Airbnb hosts—to get a good night's sleep. —Brady Langmann, Entertainment Editor

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Hybrid Luxury Firm Mattress

I am a stomach and side sleeper with a preference for a mattress on the firmer side, or at the very least an internalized fear passed down to me from my mom that a cushiony mattress will eventually destroy my back, which already hurts all the time. I also have doubts (seeded again by my mom) about mattresses that come in a box. I’m not usually so anti-technological advancement, but I have a hard time really believing that something that can squish into a box can support me as well as some good old-fashioned coils can. (I also have proof: My boyfriend’s old all-foam was way too soft for me!)

So, last summer when we moved in together and upgraded to a queen, I went to the Herald Square Macy’s during Memorial Day Weekend—a mattress mecca on the biggest mattress sale weekend of the year—to test ’em out like the mattress truther I am finding myself to be. After much flopping around, I landed on the Aireloom Hybrid Luxury Firm Mattress, which is on the firmer side with 1000+ coils (my mother also taught me that coil count is important–the higher the better) and a plush, memory foam pillow top.

It feels just the right amount of luxurious for a home bed—not too crazy, like you’re in a five-star hotel and going to sink into it and sleep forever, but not so firm that you can’t get comfortable. I highly recommend it, especially if you can catch it on sale. I am also realizing that everything I know about mattresses I learned from my mom, so please direct all complaints to her if you buy this mattress and don’t like it. —Lauren Kranc, Assistant Editor, Content Strategy

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Nova Hybrid Mattress

Confession time! During my college career (of five and a half years, hah) I slept on a 1970s-era waterbed. My reasons for doing this were simple: First, I received the waterbed as a free (possibly gag) gift from my parents. Second, I thought having a waterbed was really, really funny. And, it kinda was, for a time. Fellas would double over laughing whenever I showed them what I slept on every night. On the ultra rare occasion that I would invite a lady into my room she would invariably look at the bed, then at me, and then—without fail—hold her head in her hands and leave. It was glorious. On top of all that, I also never slept soundly.

Eventually fate intervened and the waterbed suffered what engineers would call a “catastrophic failure” when my roommate performed a cannonball on it one early afternoon to wake me up. We didn’t get our deposit back. The next 16 years saw one disappointing mattress after another. Too stiff, too hot, too small, broken springs, weird smells. That was until last year when I finally (finally!) picked up my first big-boy mattress: the Casper Nova Hybrid.

I have two issues when I sleep: I run hot and I thrash around constantly. The Nova Hybrid employs a feature called AirScape 2, which is essentially a layer of cushioning perforated with thousands of holes that keep air circulating and prevent moisture from building up. I’ve never woken up a hot sweaty mess. The mattress is also divided into seven different comfort zones, which gently supports my back and also ensures I won’t wake up my partner when I inevitably flop around at night. I don’t just get good sleep with the Nova Hybrid, I get the best sleep of my life. And that, ahem, is a dream. —Daniel Dumas, Editor at Large

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Arctic Mattress

As a person that doesn’t exactly sleep on my mattress bare, shopping for a new one was an interesting journey. What do I mean bare? Well, typically, I have several layers between me and my actual mattress. Of course, I have my sheets and comforter, but I also like those old-school (yet-amazing) eggshell foam toppers. I've used one forever and when it came to shopping for a new mattress—because my old one was on the outs—I just wanted something that was solid, reliable, and would act as a comfy base layer to a system I already loved.

I opted for the Serta Artic because I was very intrigued by its cooling system, as I can tent to overheat in my sleep. The mattress is made to absorb body heat and even create a cooling system offering more airflow throughout the night. I had never had a cooling mattress and I'm glad I tried it, because I have felt the difference.

When it comes to comfort, I can say that the firmness was just right. It's not too soft, and offers a medium firm level of support I can really feel. I typically sleep in one spot during the night, and this memory foam is consistent. I never feel like I'm sinking too far in or making a dent, I actually feel like I'm floating on the mattress as if it was a cloud.

In the end, I realized this mattress was all I needed. It's comfy, supportive, and now I'm a full believer in cooling techonolgy. I will say the price is steep, but it is worth the money and I’m fully a changed man. —Rashad Minnick, Former Fashion Associate

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Mint Mattress

Tuft & Needle, one of the O.G. mattress-in-a-box purveyors, sells its midrange offering, the Mint, as designed "with two sleepers in mind." Its patented foam layer is infused with graphite and the ever-so-popular cooling gel for both breathability and heat-reducing capabilities. The brand claims this helps reduce motion transfer, making it so that you and your partner sleep better and "independently of the other’s temperature or movement." Okay! You can see why I was sold.

If I were single, I might be turned off by the presumption of partnership as the price for entry. I happen to be married, and while I, who runs hot, haven’t noticed any discernible heat-reducing capabilities, I appreciate that I can go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without sending shockwaves as I roll out of bed. So, does my better half.

Before receiving the Mint, that extra foam layer was my biggest concern. A confession and proud declaration: I am a stomach sleeper. Is it bad for my spinal alignment? Yes. Do I spend six to eight hours each night inhaling the microscopic dust that has accumulated on my pillow? You bet. Would I have it any other way? Absolutely not. But, I must take special precautions. For the more than ninety percent of you who sleep on your back or your side, mattress firmness is a matter of preference. For us stomach sleepers, time spent on a too-soft surface guarantees a stressed spine.

The Mint offers me just enough support along with its hotel-bed plushness. With my old mattress, a crick in my neck became just another part of the morning routine. But around two weeks on the Mint—about the time it takes, says the company, for the mattress to fully expand out of the box—I woke up one morning and realized, My neck hasn’t hurt in, like, four days!

For some, the Mint will toe the line of being too soft. Also, it lacks handles and can be hard to maneuver. Whether or not those sound like drawbacks to you, the value is undeniable: The Mint comes in at a lower price point than the similar offerings at most of Tuft & Needle’s competition. —Eric Sullivan, Former Senior Features Editor

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Why Trust Esquire?

Like I said, we don't claim to be sleep doctors here at Esquire. But, we are committed to testing fucking everything. We don't just believe in internet research, we believe in human research. We're fighting the good fight against AI and robots, testing the things you can't. We actually drink the alcohol, use the sheets, stay in the hotels, and of course, we sleep on these mattresses for real. We're only recommending the best of the best, because that's what you deserve, reader.

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