Zinus Gel-Infused Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress Linenspa 12 Inch Hybrid Mattress
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Few things are as essential to your health as good quality sleep — and it all starts with a comfortable bed.

Sleeping on a worn-out mattress because you’re on a tight budget is not only a bad idea; it’s unnecessary when the truth is — you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the rest you deserve.

Buying online eliminates the cost of commissions and overhead that drive up showroom prices.

And the good news is — choices are no longer limited to memory foam mattresses. Affordable bed-in-a-box hybrids featuring the support of innersprings and the pressure relief of foam are taking the market by storm.

For less than $500, you can sleep like a king, one of our best mattresses — our mattress review takes you through ten top hybrids. One should be right for you.

Classic Brands 12-Inch Mercer Pillow Top Cool Gel Memory Foam and Innerspring Hybrid Mattress

Best Hybrid Mattress Under $500


  • Medium-firm support
  • Hypoallergenic memory and gel foams
  • Luxury pillow top
  • CertiPUR-US certified
  • 10-year warranty

Mattresses that please everyone are rare, but this full-featured bed-in-a-box by Classic Brands comes close. Back, side and stomach sleepers will all find something to like. It’s built on a base of heavy-duty steel coils for optimal back support — it aligns the spine and reduces morning stiffness. Each is individually pocketed and moves independently for the best in motion isolation and targeted pressure relief over large joints like the hip and shoulder.

There’s a layer of gel memory foam in the pillow top that helps regulate body temperature regulation, but because the overall foam content is higher than average, it sleeps slightly warmer than expected. And the top has deep tufts — the cover is stitched in place to prevent shifting — so it takes a few weeks to get used to the feel. Neither are deal-breakers.

The Mercer gets excellent reviews across the board for its blend of quality and value. It’s a universally comfortable bed at a surprisingly low price.

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  • Isolates motion
  • Alleviates painful pressure points
  • Comfortable in all sleeping positions


  • Sleeps warmer than expected despite gel memory foam
  • Tufted surface feels uneven at first
  • Slow to expand to its full size

Zinus 12 Inch Gel-Infused Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress

Best Zinus Hybrid Mattress Under $500


  • Medium to firm feel
  • CertiPUR-US certified foams
  • Cooling memory gel layer
  • Infused with freshness enhancers
  • 10-year warranty

Hybrids are ideal for those who want the deep pressure relief of memory foam with the firm support of coils — this well-appointed beauty by Zinus illustrates why.

The base is constructed of independently wrapped coils that are sturdy enough to be durable and supportive yet flexible enough to move with you. The result is capable motion isolation and a medium-firm feel. Foams are layered for maximum comfort. The cooling gel memory layer absorbs heat while the unique viscolatex foam optimizes weight distribution and provides additional support. Blending foams allows manufacturers to take advantage of each type’s unique properties.

Advertised as a medium bed, most buyers say it’s firmer than expected. That makes it a top pick for stomach sleepers, but side sleepers may benefit from a model with thicker foam layers. Additional features include convenient side handles — they’re weak, so don’t tug too hard — and a breathable knit top that’s quilted for comfort. With a worry-free warranty and so many top features, it’s tough to go wrong for the price.

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  • Very comfortable
  • Great at isolating motion
  • Made with environmentally friendly materials


  • Chemical odors may linger
  • Feels firmer than it looks
  • Weak handles

LINENSPA 12-Inch Gel Memory Foam Plush Hybrid Mattress

Best LINENSPA Hybrid Mattress


  • Ultra-plush feel
  • Cooling gel memory foam layer
  • Quilted cover
  • CertiPUR-US certified
  • 10-year limited warranty

LINENSPA lives up to its name with this spa-quality hybrid. Three layers of foam sit atop a durable base of 8-inch individually pocketed coils for medium-firm support with an ultra-plush feel. A cooling gel layer keeps you fresh while comfort foam and a thick quilted cover provide ample pressure relief. It’s just the bit of luxury you need after a long day.

Layers work well together to isolate motion, so partners aren’t disturbed. Coils move with the body, so they don’t transfer energy. Side sleepers will revel in the softness — if your shoulder and hips ache from sleeping on a too-firm surface, this bed is nirvana. Edges are firm but not rigid.

Compared to similar models containing memory foam, the LINENSPA retains less heat than most. The coil base naturally enhances ventilation, and the two full inches of cooling gel-infused memory foam dissipate body heat. You’ll wake feeling cool and dry. LINENSPA doesn’t set a clear weight limit for this model, and reviews suggest heavyweight sleepers might not find it supportive enough. Otherwise, it’s among our top choices for deep pressure relief and a rejuvenating night’s rest.

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  • Exceptional pressure relief
  • Great for side sleepers
  • Keeps users comfortable the entire night


  • Moderate amounts of off-gassing
  • Too soft for stomach sleepers
  • No side handles

Olee Sleep 13-Inch Galaxy Hybrid Gel Infused Memory Foam and Pocket Spring Mattress

Best Gel Infused Hybrid Mattress Under $500


  • Medium-firm feel
  • Cooling gel layer
  • Durable, high-density base layer
  • CertiPUR-certified foams
  • 10-year warranty

If you have a bad back, the Galaxy gets two thumbs up for support. Heavy-duty pocketed coils keep the spine aligned — kiss morning backaches goodbye. The plush eurotop is gentle on pressure points without being too soft. Back and stomach sleepers will love this model — but side sleepers may prefer beds with thicker foam.

Like many hybrids in this price range, a gel memory layer is a valuable upgrade, and the Olee has it. It sleeps extra-cool, so it’s a favorite for warm climates. Despite its 13-inch thickness, it’s flexible enough to work with adjustable bases. Edges are firm, and motion isolation is capable but not as remarkable as most hybrids.

What is noteworthy is the price — you’ll spend about a third less for than Olee than its closest competitors with only minor compromises in overall quality. With heavy, long-term use, it may have lower than expected durability, but for light to moderate use — say in a guestroom or for an average-weight sleeper — it will easily outperform its cost. If you’re on a tight budget, but you can’t stand to spend another miserable night on a rag-tag bed, give the Olee Galaxy your strongest consideration.

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  • Soft and supportive at the smae time
  • Compatible with all bed frames
  • Very affordable


  • Too firm for side sleepers
  • Lower durability than expected
  • Some customers don't like it's design

Signature Sleep Contour Encased Mattress

Best Encased Hybrid Mattress Under $500


  • Medium-firm feel
  • Flippable design
  • CertiPUR-US certified
  • Ideal for all sleeping positions
  • Low, low price

The Signature Sleep Contour may be the world’s most distinctive bed-in-a-box — it’s flippable. Hybrids with separate coil and foam layers should be rotated, but they can’t be flipped, and that’s a sticking point for some buyers because traditionally, flipping mattress helps them wear evenly. This unique model is made with layers of foam on both sides. It’s a novel idea.

Compared to our similar best mattresses, it offers similar support and pressure relief, and the edges are firmer than most. Despite its economy price, motion isolation is exceptional, and reviews agree it’s surprisingly firm for a model with so much foam — it’s among the best choices for a bad back.

The only feature we don’t like about this bed is the unusual warranty — it’s advertised as an “up to 15-year” term, but it’s actually a 1-year warranty with the option to purchase an extended plan. Since few buyers ever use their warranty, and experiences with the Contour suggest it has at least average durability, it’s not a big deal — it’s just unnecessarily confusing. For most people, not paying for a warranty they’ll never use amounts to a nice discount on their purchase. Who can complain about that?

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  • Low-profile
  • Known to relieve painful pressure points
  • Simple and modern design


  • Best for average or lightweight sleepers
  • No side handles
  • Confusing warranty

Signature Design by Ashley 12-Inch Chime Express Hybrid Innerspring Mattress

Best Hybrid Innerspring Mattress


  • Medium-firm feel
  • Hypoallergenic cover
  • Gel memory foam layer
  • CertiPUR-US certified foams
  • Matching box spring and accessories available

Ashley is a top name in furniture, and it shows in the Chime Express Hybrid. One of their top sellers, it’s a near-perfect fusion of support and softness. The base consists of 680 individually pocketed coils that minimize motion transfer — your partner will thank you. And if you’re concerned about feeling springs beneath your body, don’t be. They’re wrapped in upholstery-grade comfort foam for first-rate pressure relief — unlike conventional innersprings, you’ll never know they’re there.

The Chime Express is also among our top picks for edge support. Ashley went the extra mile with dual rows of heavy-gauge coils around the perimeter of the mattress for optimal stability when you’re sitting on the side.

Back, stomach and side sleepers alike give this bed high marks for its balanced construction. The sole complaint is that despite gel, it sleeps warmer than similar hybrids — but if you live in a cold climate, that’s an advantage. Like other fine products from Ashley, the Chime is exquisitely finished and perfect for any décor. Count on it for a blissful night’s rest.

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  • Superior motion isolation
  • Firm edges
  • Nice design


  • Sleeps warmer than expected
  • Limited warranty
  • No handles

LUCID 10-Inch Latex Hybrid Mattress with Cooling Gel Memory Foam

Best Hybrid Mattress With Cooling Gel Memory Foam Under $500


  • Medium-firm feel
  • Responsive latex layer
  • Cooling gel memory foam
  • CertiPUR-US certified
  • 10-year limited warranty

The LUCID combines the flexibility of individually wrapped coils with responsive latex to improve weight distribution. Latex is conforming, but it’s more resilient than memory foam. If you like the pressure-relieving qualities of foam without feeling “stuck” in your bed, this model is for you.

It’s ideally suited for heavyweight sleepers — few twin mattresses can handle 500-pounds without compromising durability — and it’s available in the coveted twin XL size. It’s five inches longer than a regular twin. Motion isolation is superb, but if you want firm edges, you may be disappointed. Coils don’t extend to the edge of the bed — the sides are wrapped with high-density foam for a softer feel. Yet that also makes this hybrid more flexible and compatible with popular adjustable bases.

This mattress contains 100-percent natural Dunlop latex, so it’s not for those with latex allergies, and it may feel too firm for side sleepers. But for stomach and back sleepers who want a supportive yet supple bed, the LUCID offers the restorative sleep you’ve been looking for.

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  • Sleeps cool
  • Generous 500-pound weight capacity
  • Works well with most bed frames


  • Firm for side sleepers
  • Weak edges
  • Not suitable for people with a latex allergy

Classic Brands 14-Inch Gramercy EuroTop Cool Gel Memory Foam Innerspring Hybrid Mattress

Best Simple Hybrid Mattress Under $500


  • Cushion-firm feel
  • Plush eurotop
  • Cooling gel memory layer
  • CertiPUR-US certified
  • 10-year limited warranty and impressive customer service

Classic Brands’ Gramercy EuroTop hybrid combines a supportive 13-gauge coil base with dual layers of responsive gel-infused memory foam for a cool and comfortable sleeping experience. Coils are individually pocketed for commanding motion control and extra layers of comfort foam afford maximum pressure relief. Despite the thick pillow top, off-gassing is minimal.

Described as cushion-firm, it’s closer to medium-firm to firm and not as soft as the pillowtop suggests. It’s a pleasure for sleeping on your stomach or back, but side sleepers may prefer the Mercer pillowtop at number one on our list. Edge support is below average.

Aesthetically, the Gramercy is a looker. It features a floral-embossed quilted knit cover and coordinating side panels for breathability. Foam can absorb odors, and ventilated fabric helps keep it fresh. Surprisingly, it also has handles on all sides to make rotating it easier. It’s a minor detail, but don’t underestimate its value — mattresses are heavy. Overall, this well-appointed model will meet or exceed your expectations at a reasonable price.

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  • Modern and aesthetically pleasing design
  • Comfortable and soft
  • Known to relieve back pain and pressure


  • Takes longer than average to expand to full size
  • Less edge support than similar models
  • Too thick for some adjustable bases

Olee Sleep 12-Inch Hybrid Euro Box Top Pocket Spring Mattress

Best Plush Hybrid Mattress Under $500


  • Medium to firm feel
  • CertiPUR-US certified foams
  • 10-year warranty
  • Cooling memory gel layer
  • Infused with freshness enhancers

The Olee Sleep Eurotop is engineered for universal comfort. Individually pocket coils provide a supportive base while layers of memory foam mold to your body for ample pressure relief. You’ll be comfortable in any sleeping posture, and for partners, motion control is excellent.

The Eurotop design is flush and smartly finished, so unlike some pillowtop mattresses, sheets fall smooth against the side for a tight, uniform appearance. The polyester jacquard cover is quilted for comfort and stitched in place, so it doesn’t shift like the cover on a memory foam mattress can.

Materials throughout are of high quality, but as with most products, manufacturers must strike a balance between the cost of materials and the price of their mattresses. Olee emphasizes affordability, so it has fewer bells and whistles. This model, for example, doesn’t include gel memory foam, but it’s offered as an option in their more expensive beds. Heavyweight sleepers have also reported occasional issues with durability. As a consumer, only you can decide where quality and affordability should meet. For bargain hunters, it’s a dream.

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  • Cool and comfortable
  • Keeps motion isolated
  • Made with eco-friendly materials


  • Chemical odors may be present
  • Might feel slightly too firm
  • Not very supportive for heavier sleepers

Zinus Extra Firm iCoil 12-Inch Support Plus Mattress

Best Extra-Firm Hybrid Mattress Under $500


  • Extra-firm support
  • CertiPUR-US certified foams
  • High coil count
  • Green tea- and charcoal-infused for freshness
  • Worry-free 10-year warranty

Constructed with a 7.5-inch base of 936 individually wrapped steel coils, this thoughtfully designed hybrid gives stomach sleepers the extra-firm feel they need. Layers include 2.5 inches of high-density polyfoam for superior weight distribution, plus 1.25 inches of comfort foam that offers capable pressure relief without the sinking feeling of memory foam. The neck and back stay anatomically aligned, reducing stress on vulnerable muscles. It’s an excellent choice for people with sleep apnea.

With a generous 650-pound total weight capacity, the Support Plus is ideal for couples or single heavyweight sleepers. And for partners, few other hybrids offer as much motion isolation — you’ll feel like you have the whole bed to yourself.

A worry-free 10-year warranty and Zinus-exclusive green tea and activated charcoal freshness enhancers round out this well-engineered bed. It’s a rare breed.

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  • Near-perfect for stomach sleepers
  • Superior motion isolation that exceeds other models
  • High total weight capacity


  • Lacks any side handles
  • Too firm for side sleepers
  • Retains heat

What is a Hybrid Mattress?

Hybrids combine two or more support systems — typically an innerspring system with layers of memory or traditional polyfoam — the type found in furniture and kid’s mattresses. Today’s better beds blend foams to get the most out of each type’s comfort characteristics.

What makes hybrid mattresses so special?

Hybrids balance the pressure relief of foam with the classic feel of an innerspring mattress. Most are universally comfortable for all sleeping positions — they’re both supportive and pressure-relieving.

Like conventional innerspring beds, they’re also breathable. Air circulates freely amongst the coils. Without gel infusions or specially ventilated foams, all-foam beds tend to trap body heat and can be too warm for comfort for some people.

What’s the difference between Hybrids and Regular Mattresses?

Hybrids have thicker comfort layers. Most traditional innerspring mattresses have only a thin layer of batting between the cover and coils. Covers are tufted to keep padding from shifting, so they feel soft at first, but they lose resiliency over time. Most hybrids have thins covers similar to memory foam beds — they rely on thick foam inserts for comfort.

There are exceptions. Some conventional styles have added pillow tops for padding, while select hybrids with pillowtop-like designs have tufted tops. The basic construction of the beds remains the same.

What are Hybrid mattresses made from?

A hybrid’s dual support systems include both innersprings and foams — what they’re made of determines how they feel. Coils are made of metal, usually tempered steel. “Tempered” steel is heat-treated to enhance strength and reduce hardness. It seems counterintuitive, but too-hard coils can crack instead of flex.

Foams may include polyfoam, memory foam, gel foam or latex. Most models use a blend of some or all of these to create the most responsive surface possible, and some makers have developed their own proprietary materials with unique properties.

Materials in Hybrid Mattresses may include:

Polyurethane Foam

Polyfoam is the most popular support layer for hybrids — it’s affordable, durable, and resilient— Unlike memory foam, it recoils almost immediately after being squeezed. It also a lower point of elasticity than memory foam, so when it’s compressed in one place, it affects a larger area — it neither isolates motion nor distributes weight as effectively as memory foam.

There are different grades of polyfoam based on how much air is in it. The denser it is, the firmer it feels and the longer it holds its shape. Beds made with high-density foams are the most durable.

Memory Foam

Memory foam is polyfoam enhanced to be pressure and temperature-sensitive. Developed by NASA in 1966 to improve the safety of airplane cushions, it’s a denser foam that conforms to your curves as you sleep. Compared to “open-cell” polyfoam, the tiny pockets of air in memory foam are “closed,” or isolated. Air doesn’t flow through it as freely, so it tends to retain heat.

Memory foam also offers exceptional pressure relief, and for some people, it feels like the ultimate cocoon of comfort. But for others, the sinking feeling feels suffocating. For combination sleepers, it takes more physical effort to change positions.

Gel Memory Foam

Gel memory foam is a relatively new technology, but it’s fast becoming a standard feature in the best mattresses.

What are its benefits?

Primarily, it helps dissipate heat. It doesn’t lower your body temperature — instead, it absorbs warmth and distributes it to the surrounding material. Most people report feeling cooler during the first half of the night while getting progressively warmer toward morning. Gel memory foam is not a singular solution, but when combined with other features that promote cooling, it helps.

Gel also adds just a touch of resiliency to memory foam, helping alleviate the stuck feeling. How much of a difference it makes depends on how thick the layer is and the concentration of gel.

Latex Foam

Latex makes a great sleep surface because it’s both soft and elastic. It conforms to your curves and relieves painful pressure points, but it sinks less than memory foam and is generally more supportive. For intimacy, it has more of a bounce.

Compared to regular memory foam, latex mattresses are more breathable, so they stay cooler without the benefit of gel. Motion transfer and edge support are comparable — it’s still soft — but latex beds are the least likely to have maximum weight limits. They’re exceptionally durable and ideal for heavyweight sleepers.

Because all-latex mattresses are costly — as high as $6,000 for a king-size — hybrids under $500 typically contain only a few inches of latex, or in some cases, viscolatex — an allergy-friendly latex-free alternative. If you have a latex allergy, no amount of it is safe.


Conventional innersprings are old news. Made from a single coil of metal wound into springs, they’re supportive and bouncy.

But because it’s one continuous piece, motion transfer is abysmal — you ‘ll feel every move your partner makes. And if one area breaks down, the whole bed feels uncomfortable, and worse, it squeaks.

With the better pocketed coil technology available today, old-fashion innerspring beds are best left to the kids to use as a trampoline.

Pocketed Coils

Pocketed coils are single-piece coils wrapped with and connected by sturdy yet breathable fabric.

They move independently — only the coils beneath you compress as you move, so support is targeted, and kinetic energy isn’t transferred across the surface. Beds bounce – but only when you want them to.

Motion isolation is superb, and the open nature of the design promotes ventilation by allowing air to flow freely through the coils.

Gel/Hyper-Elastic Polymers

Hyper-elastic polymers are similar to gel pads, but they’re thicker and more resilient. Like latex, it’s elastic, but it’s temperature neutral. Added as a top layer above coils, it creates a feeling of firmness, and when paired with memory foam, it helps the mattress sinks less and improves motion isolation.

Mattresses and Sleep Type

“Sleep type” reflects your preferred sleeping position — on your stomach, back or side — or a combination of all three. Also known as sleeping posture, experts say it’s important to consider when shopping for a new bed.

Back Sleepers

Back sleepers are the most comfortable on medium-firm hybrids. They should be soft enough to cradle the body without causing a change in the natural curvature of the back.

Beds that are too soft allow the body to sink, creating a depression where the body is the heaviest and throwing vertebrae out of alignment. It’s a recipe for pain.

Stomach Sleepers

Stomach sleepers also benefit from a medium-firm mattress, Depending on the thickness of their pillow, mattresses that sink force the neck back, leading to muscle strain and pinched nerves.

A stomach sleeper using a thin or no pillow can get by on a softer bed, but most prone sleepers feel like they’re suffocating if they sink too much, preferring a firmer feel.

For our roundup of the best mattresses for stomach sleepers, check out our post on specifically, that category.

Side Sleepers

When you sleep on your side, your shoulder and hip bear most of your body weight. If a bed is too firm, it creates uncomfortable gaps between your body and the surface of the bed at the waist and neck — while placing excessive pressure on joints. The result is tossing and turning.

Medium hybrids with a soft comfort layer on the top are ideal. If you’re a stomach sleeper, avoid beds that are too soft — what you gain in pressure relief, you’ll sacrifice in musculoskeletal pain.

Combination Sleepers

Combination, or combo sleepers, alternate positions throughout the night. They need both pressure relief and a supportive surface, so the best mattresses will be medium-firm with a thick comfort layer.

But most combo sleepers have one position they favor more than most, so while some prefer softer beds, others like a firm feel. Think about it before you shop.

What You Should Know About Buying a Hybrid Mattress for Under $500

In this price range, you can expect beds made of good quality materials but with fewer bells and whistles. That’s okay because add-ons rarely improve your sleep quality — they only drain your checking account.

But not all budget-friendly beds are created equal. Features among hybrids vary, and it’s essential to consider each before buying to ensure you’re getting the model that’s best for you.


For $500 or less, you can get a good but not the best mattress. But considering just how capable some models in this category are, spending thousands of dollars for a model made with only marginally better materials doesn’t make sense.

If you can afford it, it never hurts to buy the best, but while the investment may pay off in comfort, it doesn’t guarantee better durability. The best mattresses last 7–10 years regardless of construction.

Some models on our list have lower than average durability, but for a quarter of the price of high-priced competitors, you can afford to replace it several times over for the same cost without committing to one particular brand or style.

Value matters most if you:

  • Move often and can’t take beds with you

  • Need a mattress for a dorm or temporary use

  • Want a comfortable guest bed

  • Are buying beds for growing children with changing needs

The important thing is to be focused on your needs while being realistic about what you’re buying.

Size standard mattress measurements in inches are:

  • Twin – 39 x 75

  • Twin XL – 39 x 80

  • Full – 54 x 75

  • Queen – 60 x 80

  • King – 76 x 80

  • California King – 72 x 84

Which Size is Right for you?

In this price range, selections in twin through queen are the most common. Quality king-size mattresses are few and far between.

For comfort, the general rule of thumb is to choose the largest size bed your room can accommodate. A queen size model is only a few inches larger than a full, yet it’s considerably more spacious and takes little additional floor space.


Manufacturers suggest adult beds should be at least 10 inches thick — this is especially true for hybrids. Thicker beds have more material, so they tend to be more durable, and you’re more likely to get balanced support.

Coil bases should measures at least six inches thick, leaving an additional four inches for comfort layers in a 10-inch model. The more an individual weighs, the thicker beds should be. Thinner mattresses can be of excellent quality, but they will be less durable with daily use. Low-profile mattresses are best for guest rooms or trundle beds.

Motion Transfer

A partner who tosses and turns is the second most common sleep complaint — surpassed only by snoring. Research shows that even the slightest motion can disrupt the restorative stages of sleep, so couples will enjoy a more restful nights on beds that isolates motion.

What is motion isolation?

When you move, the motion creates waves of kinetic energy that transfer motion from your side of the bed to your partner’s. Different materials transfer more or less movement — known as motion transfer. The term “motion isolation” reflects how well different materials temper the effect.

Which beds best control motion?

Traditional innersprings are the worst. Because they’re made with continuous coils, any movement creates waves — it’s unavoidable.

Mattresses with individually pocket coils, including hybrids, transfer far less motion. Each coil is separately encased, so only those under your body respond when you move.

For the least possible motion transfer, an all-foam model is your best bet — memory foam mattresses were built for motion isolation — but hybrids with coils have benefits memory foam alone can’t provide. A good strategy is to choose a model with a 6-inch or greater coil base and thick comfort layers.

Edge Support

Edges support is the firmness you feel when you sit on the side of a bed. Cheap innerspring models use metal bars for support that feel harsh under your legs and sag over time. But all-foam mattresses have so little edge support you’ll slip off the side just trying to put your slippers on.

The best of both worlds is a hybrid — firmer edges allow you to sit comfortably. The best mattresses have coils that extend to the edge on all four sides. It takes significant core strength to rise from a soft surface to a standing position, so edge support is critical for seniors and sleepers with mobility challenges.

Firm edges also improve proprioception — the sense of where your body is in space. Mattresses with weak edges are soft from side to side, and with no distinct border, it’s surprisingly easy to roll off the bed. For hybrid with soft edges — there’s an easy fix. A sturdy surface like a platform bed gives them more support.


Beds come in soft, medium and firm — and many degrees in between. According to experts, there is no “best” level of support, but studies suggest that medium-firm models are best for most sleep positions. Bad backs benefit from firmer beds, while medium mattresses are better for relieving pressure against the shoulders, hips and knees. But how do manufacturers determine firmness?

For traditional innerspring and hybrid mattresses, support primarily depends on coil gauge and density. The higher the coil count and heavier the springs — measured in “gauge” — the firmer the bed will be. Higher gauge springs are thin and flexible — low gauge springs are more substantial and supportive. Twelve to 15 gauge is ideal.

Other variables also impact performance. Memory foam, for example, distributes weight more evenly than innersprings, so while it’s tempting to think conventional beds are firmer, that’s not always the case. High-density memory and latex foams can be just as supportive, while beds with pillow tops can give the impression of softness when the underlying base is firm.

Firmness scales are not universal. One maker’s “firm” may be another’s “medium.” If you can’t try the mattress, the next best thing is to narrow down your choices based on materials and pour through reviews.

If you’ve only slept on conventional innersprings, even the firmest memory foam mattress may feel too soft at first. If you’re moving from one type to another, it can take up to 100 days for your body to adjust. Hybrids are easier to get used to, but be patient.

Base Compatibility

Traditional innerspring mattresses and box springs sit in an open four-sided metal frame. It’s the box spring that supports the mattress.

One of the many benefits of a memory foam mattress or hybrid is that they don’t require a bulky box spring — only a supportive surface ranging from the floor to a platform bed. Each manufacturer makes different recommendations that you’ll want to heed — not doing so will compromise your comfort and possibly void your warranty.

That’s not necessarily bad news — frames can serve a valuable purpose. Pairing hybrids with a tall platform frame creates under-bed storage space and elevates it, making it easier for tall sleepers to get in and out.

Most hybrids are compatible with adjustable frames. Most manufacturers suggest 10- to 12-inch mattresses are ideal. But flexibility also matters — a rigid 8-inch model may not bend as much as a softer 12-inch style. Always refer to the product description.

If you have an existing box spring, can you use it with one of our best mattresses? That’s a tough question because it’s not easy to spot wear on a box spring. Wood and metal parts are covered with fabric, and they may feel sturdy while having lost their supportive edge. A good rule of thumb is to replace beds and box springs together.


Even the best mattresses are made with petroleum-based foams containing small amounts of potentially toxic chemicals. Most evaporate once the plastic wrap is removed. This process is called “off-gassing,” and it’s the cause of the dreaded “new mattress smell.”

In an open showroom, display models have been open to air for long periods, so the odor is negligible, but when a foam mattress is first unwrapped, the smell of trapped VOCs can be overwhelming. The good news is — it’s neither harmful to your health nor a reflection of material quality.

If you have respiratory disease or are particularly sensitive to chemical odors, off-gassing, like strong perfume, can cause mild respiratory irritation. Otherwise, it’s unpleasant but harmless, and lingering odors should dissipate within a few days.

For the lowest possible emissions, choose mattresses containing only CertiPUR-US certified foams. CertiPUR-US is a voluntary testing program open to any manufacturer.

CertiPUR-US foams are guaranteed to be:

  • Low-emission — less than 0.5 parts of VOCs — volatile organic compounds — per million

  • Free of formaldehyde, regulated phthalates, toxic flame retardants and heavy metals such as lead

  • Made with no ozone-depleting chemicals

Not every foam mattress in this price range is CertiPUR-US certified, but the models on our list are. The certification covers all types of foam, including gel memory and polyfoam. You could take your chances with a lesser mattress, but why risk it?

Sleeping Posture

Sleeping posture should be among your top considerations when choosing a mattress — look for one with the right feel. Even a five-star hybrid will let you down if it’s not ideal — if you’re a stomach sleeper, a too-soft surface will be painful no matter how much money you spend.

Trying to change your preferred sleeping posture to fit a mattress is also a bad idea. Research shows that only a small number of highly motivated people — such as those with a medical condition — can successfully make the switch. The best mattresses should be uniquely comfortable for you, not the other way around.

Returns, Warranties and Guarentees

Buying a mattress direct can save you hundreds, but what if you try it and you don’t like it? Stuffing a fully expanded queen back into the box it came in is no one’s idea of fun — yet, that’s exactly what some sellers require to accept returns. It pays to familiarize yourself with return policies before buying.

The best mattress makers offer easy returns. They eliminate hassles by sending a truck for unwanted beds and either donating them to a local charity or ensuring they’re properly recycled. Some may charge a pick-up or restocking fee — yes, some states permit the sale of used mattresses. Others make it free.

Before you buy, do your homework and ask about return conditions. Some companies will only take beds back if they’re defective — if you just don’t like it, you’re out of luck. Others accept them with no questions asked, but you may need to complete a trial period first.

Free trials are good in that the company will take the bed back if it’s not comfortable for you. But if the trial period is 100-days, they may require you to sleep on it for that long first. That’s because studies show it takes weeks for your body to adjust to a new feel — buyers dissatisfied after a few days often feel differently after a few months. Still, it’s a long time to sleep in misery, and not all sellers are equally transparent about returns, so make sure terms are crystal clear.

Always read the fine print in the warranty — the legalese can be confusing. Most warranties are “limited” — meaning that they only cover defects in workmanship. But when you’re five years into a 10-year guarantee, it’s almost impossible to convince a seller problems are due to defects and not abuse. No seller wants to pay for damage caused by forces beyond their control. Examples include water damage, tears in fabric due to pet nails or springs that sag prematurely because the maximum weight limit wasn’t observed.

Other warranties may be prorated — meaning you only get a portion of your money back based on the number of years you’ve owned the bed. And you may also be liable for shipping it back to the factory. Considering what it costs for an individual to ship a bulky mattress cross-country — large companies get huge freight discounts — it’s no wonder so few people ever use their warranties.

The lesson here is that it’s better to scrutinize your purchase first rather than depend on a warranty that may not cover your costs. Returning beds is time-consuming and inconvenient, even if it’s free.

Final Thoughts

If it’s been a while since you’ve faced the morning feeling fully refreshed, chances are your mattress is to blame. Like diet and exercise, getting good quality sleep is an investment in good health. If you haven’t shopped for a bed for a while, we hope we’ve made it easier for you to find a better night’s rest with an affordable hybrid. Buy one today — sleep better tomorrow.