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Few things are as important to your health as sleep — and it starts with a comfortable mattress.

Sleeping on a worn-out bed because you’re short on cash is not only a bad idea; it’s not necessary when, for as little as $500, you can upgrade to the mattress you deserve.

The fact is — you don’t have to spend a lot to get a great mattress.

Bells and whistles don’t guarantee the best night’s sleep, but quality materials do — and that just what you’ll find in our list of best mattresses under $500.

Give us a few minutes of your time, and we’ll help you find the mattress of your dreams.

Sweetnight 10-inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Best Queen Mattress Under $500

Highlights

  • Medium-firm support
  • Features a gel memory foam
  • Breathable, antimicrobial cover
  • CertiPUR-US certified foam
  • 10-year warranty

If you wake up feeling stiff and sore, let us introduce you to the memory foam mattress that could change your life. Created by Sweetlife, it’s three foam layer construction is simple, but it’s wowing customers with unprecedented comfort.

It starts with a thick high-density foam layer for support and long-lasting performance — this is among our best mattresses for durability. Gel memory and open-cell comfort foam layers cradle the body and soak the pain from an aching body. Combined, these materials make the best memory foam mattress for anyone who overheats at night.

A foam mattress this well-appointed should cost more than it does, but it’s the perfect example of how shopping online buys you more mattress for your money. It’s five-star hotel sleep at an economy motel price and possibly our best mattress under 500 dollars.

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Pros

  • Superior motion isolation
  • Exceptional pressure relief
  • Durable

Cons

  • Modern off-gassing
  • No handles
  • Lacks edge support

LUCID 10-inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Best Queen Memory Foam Mattress Under $500

Highlights

  • Medium-plush feel
  • Breathable, antimicrobial cover
  • Ideal for adjustable bases
  • CertiPUR-US certified foam
  • 10-year warranty

LUCID has only been in the mattress business since 2016, but they’ve made a splash with simple designs that are both comfortable and affordable. Their gel memory beds are a rare breed.

This 10-inch medium-plush model has two only layers — a 7-inch high-density support base — the best for durability — topped by a 3-inch ventilated layer of gel memory foam. Ergonomically built to relieve pressure points, it aligns the spine and cradles the head and neck in ultra-cool comfort. A breathable moisture-control cover rounds out the ensemble with an extra layer of softness that’s gentle on the skin.

At 10-inches, this mattress is the best low-profile choice for a small space. It’s sleek lines and uniform color are a pleasure to decorate with. There are cheaper memory foam mattresses on the market, but few are both this well-made and affordable. It’s among our best mattresses for both quality and price.

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Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Sleeps cool
  • Relieves pressure

Cons

  • Sinks under heavy weight
  • No handles
  • Softer than expected

LUCID 12-inch Queen Hybrid Memory Foam Mattress

Best Hybrid Queen Mattress Under $500

Highlights

  • Medium-plush feel
  • Charcoal infused for freshness
  • Relieves pressure points
  • CertiPUR-US certified foam
  • 10-year warranty

Premium features don’t guarantee the best sleep, but you can have them without spending extra with this best mattress by LUCID.

Like other hybrids, it has an innerspring base for support. Coils are fabric-encased for whisper-quiet performance and excellent motion isolation, while three layers of foam distribute body weight evenly for top to bottom support. It’s among our best mattresses for a bad back.

Without gel, it sleeps warmer than some mattresses, but the coil design and ventilated top layer dissipate heat and ensure breathability. LUCID knows you want a bed that stays fresh, so they’ve infused their memory foam layer with odor-fighting bamboo charcoal and aloe vera. It’s a treat to sleep on, and with LUCID’s 100-night money-back trial, it’s the best risk-free choice.

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Pros

  • Resists odor
  • Minimal off-gassing
  • Non-slip cover

Cons

  • Firmer than advertised
  • Limited edge support
  • Sleeps warm

Sweetnight 12-inch Pillow Top Hybrid Mattress with Gel Memory Foam

Best Sweetnight Queen Mattress Under $500

Highlights

  • Medium-firm support
  • Targeted pressure point relief
  • Motion isolating coils
  • CertiPUR-US certified foam
  • 10-year warranty

Memory foam, hybrid or pillow top — which mattress is best for you? Enjoy the features of all three in this blue-ribbon mattress from Sweetnight.

Foam over coil construction offers the support of carbon steel springs with the superior weight distribution of the best quality memory foam. The medium-firm feel is ideal for both stomach and side sleepers, and if you share your bed with a partner, the motion isolation is first-rate.

A cozy pillow top adds an extra measure of breathable softness, while a cooling gel layer helps dissipate heat. Similar best mattresses will give you a good night’s sleep, but small touches from an impeccably stitched cover to Sweetnight’s legendary customer service make this feel more like a luxury bed. It’s sublime comfort.

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Pros

  • Plush top
  • Skin-friendly hypoallergenic cover
  • Sleeps cool

Cons

  • Limited edge support
  • No handles
  • Not ideal for adjustable bases

Rivet 10-inch Queen Memory Foam Mattress

Best Rivet Queen Mattress Under $500

Highlights

  • Medium-firm support
  • All-foam construction
  • CertiPUR-US certified foam
  • 10-year warranty
  • 100-night money-back trial

Rivet is a new brand with a passion for making the best online furniture. Designed for small spaces, their 10-inch all-foam mattress is among their greatest successes.

Its triple-layer construction begins with a 6-inch base of the best high-density foam for ultimate durability. Two-inches of memory foam distributes weight for a personalized feel while an alternative latex comfort layer reduces painful pressure points and keeps the spine anatomically aligned.

Despite its affordable price, the Rivet’s foam is CertiPUR-US certified and made in the USA. As a bonus, the cover features patented Celliant fabric that’s infused with minerals to deliver rejuvenating oxygen to sore muscles. The Rivet memory foam mattress wraps you in head to toe comfort. It’s the best mattress for relieving everyday aches at a value price.

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Pros

  • Quick-response alternative latex memory foam
  • Refreshing oxygenation technology
  • Best for weighty sleepers

Cons

  • Minimal edge support
  • Non-removable cover
  • Limited pressure relief

Sleep Innovations Marley 10-inch Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Best Queen Gel Memory Foam Mattress Under $500

Highlights

  • Medium-firm feel
  • Multi-layer all-foam construction
  • CertiPUR-US certified foam
  • 10-year warranty
  • Made in the USA

Signature Sleep promises quality without compromise, and their Memoir mattress delivers. It starts with a durable, high-density support foam layer. Compared to similar best mattresses, it offers better edge support. A memory foam comfort layer makes motion transfer a thing of the past — if you toss and turn at night — it’s among the best mattresses for controlling movement. Your partner is going to thank you.

Reviews agree the Memoir is more firm than medium-firm — it’s among the best mattresses for a bad back. It’s plain to look at, but the light-colored cover won’t show through sheets like a dark mattress can. Black mattresses aren’t the best under sheer white sheets.

What we don’t like about the mattress is the warranty. Signature Sleep advertises an “up to a 15-year” guarantee, but it’s a 1-year warranty with the option to purchase more coverage. Still, it’s among our best mattresses for comfort, and it has a reputation for durability. The warranty may be a non-issue.

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Pros

  • Distributes body weight evenly
  • Focused pressure point relief
  • Sleeps cool

Cons

  • Virtually no edge support
  • Non-removable cover
  • Limited durability

Signature Sleep Memoir 12-Inch Memory Foam Mattress

Best Firm Queen Mattress Under $500

Highlights

  • Medium-firm feel
  • All-foam construction
  • CertiPUR-US certified foam
  • Up to a 15-year warranty
  • Ideal for all sleep positions

Low profile foam mattresses fit almost anywhere, but they can also lack the support thicker mattresses offer. Not so with this 8-inch marvel from Zinus!

Most mattress reviews leave out models like this because many aren’t as comfortable as their deeper counterparts, but this one is an exception. If your space calls for a thin mattress, the Zinus’s 4-inch high-density foam base and two layers of comfort foam provide it without sacrificing comfort.

Made of quality materials throughout and backed by a worry-free 10-year warranty, the Zinus is proof that good things can come in small packages.

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Pros

  • Distributes body weight evenly
  • Relieves pressure points
  • Aesthetically neutral

Cons

  • Slippery cover
  • On the firmer side
  • Questionable warranty

LUCID 12-inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Best Supportive Queen Mattress Under $500

Highlights

  • Medium-plush feel
  • Ultra-cool ventilated and gel memory foam
  • Infused with freshness enhancers
  • CertiPUR-US certified foam
  • 10-year warranty

The only foam mattress better than LUCID’s 10-inch bed is this thicker 12-inch model. The 8-inch base is constructed of the best high-density foam topped with four 4 inches of ventilated memory foam that allows the mattress to breathe freely.

The top 3 inches are gel infused, and 1 inch is packed with bamboo charcoal that fights body odors and keeps the mattress fresh. It’s the best mattress for maximum cooling power.

If you want to give a memory foam mattress a try, but worry it will be too soft — this bed is a good bet. It’s billed as medium-firm, but reviews say it’s almost as firm as a coil mattress despite the supple top — in a foam mattress, that’s a rare find. You’ll sleep like a baby.

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Pros

  • Supportive yet soft
  • Breathable, moisture-wicking cover
  • Resists body impressions

Cons

  • Limited edge support
  • Heavy with no handles
  • Spot clean only

Why Buy a Queen Mattress Online for $500

It’s the best mattress for your money.

Furniture stores sell some of the best mattresses — but they’re not the best value. The models you see in the showroom come from the very same factories online retailers use. Cover fabrics and brand labels may vary, but the mattresses are made of the same materials inside. The only difference is — you pay more.

According to industry insiders, stores mark up mattresses as much as 50%. Do you need to pay for fancy displays and sky-high sales commissions to get the best night’s sleep? We don’t think so.

Trying a bed before you buy it is always the best idea — especially if you’re trying something new like a foam mattress — but how much is it worth to buy one from a store when the best online mattresses come with risk-free trial periods? No mattress shop will let you sleep in the showroom for 100 nights!

If you’re on a tight budget, you can buy a feature-packed hybrid or foam mattress online for the same price you’ll pay for a basic mattress in a store. Why compromise when you can have the best?

It’s a step up in comfort from a full-size mattress.

Being cramped is a recipe for a miserable night’s rest. If you’re sleeping on a full size mattress, you’ve probably noticed that it’s a tough squeeze. Falling out of bed or kicking your partner is the last thing you should have to worry about when you can sleep more comfortably on an affordable queen mattress.

The extra 6 inches in width doesn’t take much floor space, but it’s just enough room to relax. And if you’re tall, you’ll appreciate the additional 5 inches in length. A queen size mattress is a better fit than a full for most couples — it’s the best night’s sleep for both of you.

A queen mattress fits anywhere.

If you can’t have a traditional queen size mattress because it won’t fit through a short door or a narrow curved stairway, buying a foam mattress is the best solution. They shipped compressed and fit virtually anywhere. Only the box needs to fit through the spaces leading to your bedroom. It’s the best option for small spaces.

Things to Consider When Buying a Queen Mattress Online for $500

Quality

In this price range, you’re not buying the best mattress, but neither are you buying a cheap bed. You won’t find high-end materials and space-age features among our best mattresses, but you will find a supportive and durable bed that will give you the sleep you deserve. Bells and whistles don’t make the best mattress — good quality materials do.

Returns

The thought of packing up a mattress and shipping it across the country for a refund can give any buyer cold feet. Who pays for shipping? What if you can’t get the mattress back in the box? Wouldn’t it be easier to buy from a local store?

The good news is that the best online sellers take your concerns seriously, and they’re working to make returns easier. Since it’s almost impossible to put a decompressed mattress back in a box, most companies will pick up your return for free.

In some states, it’s legal to resell a used mattress, but it’s a practice reputable vendors avoid. Most donate returns to charity or pay for recycling. It’s a responsible, eco-friendly approach that keeps them out of landfills.

The best mattress companies are transparent about their return policies — but select vendors still want customers to pay for return freight charges. A foam mattress is lightweight, so compared to buying from a store, it’s still the best deal. Since free returns are costly for vendors, expect to see it reflected in the price.

Safety

Even the best mattresses are made with petroleum-based foam that contains tiny amounts of potentially toxic substances. Since mattresses are covered, your exposure is limited. But why take chances when you can avoid most of them by buying CertiPUR-US certified foam mattress?

CertiPUR-US is a voluntary testing program open to all foam manufacturers.

CertiPUR-US foams are guaranteed to be:

  • Free of toxins including formaldehyde, heavy metals, and flame retardants

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

  • Manufactured with no ozone-depleting chemicals or government-regulated phthalates

Not every foam mattress is CertiPUR-US certified, but the best models in this price range are. Certification extends to all types of foam, including gel memory. It’s one of the many benefits of spending a little more. Better foams make the best mattresses.

Warranties and Trial Periods

When there’s only so much money in the budget, a good warranty takes the stress out of buying a mattress — just be sure to read the fine print.

The best mattresses come with guarantees come in two forms — warranties and trials. Warranties cover defects in workmanship that could result in a mattress having a shorter life than expected. Lemons happens, and the best warranties give buyers recourse. They don’t, however, cover abuse or regular wear and tear. If your 10-year-old uses their coil mattress as a trampoline or the dog ruins the cover on your foam mattress, don’t expect a refund.

Trial periods are more more forgiving. Mattress makers know it takes up to a few months for the body to adjust to the feel of a new mattress, so they’re incentivized to give you time to try their product. It’s become a best practice. In more cases than not, people grow to love their new mattress. It’s a win-win for the seller and buyer.

The best mattress makers offer trial periods of 30, 60, or 100 nights. It’s an excellent way to try a mattress without committing but beware — every vendor has different terms. Some require you sleep on the mattress for the full trial period before they’ll offer a refund. Others don’t offer a money-back guarantee, but they’ll work with you to improve the comfort of your mattress. One well-known manufacturer sends a complimentary topper to customers who find their mattress is too hard. Working with customers is the best way to ensure repeat sales.

VOC Off-Gassing

Mattress foam contains odor-causing VOCs. In a showroom, the smell isn’t strong because the beds have been open to air. But when a mattress is compressed and wrapped in plastic, VOCs are trapped. When you unwrap your buy at home, the release of chemical odors — called off-gassing — can be overwhelming. Even the best mattresses off-gas — it’s not a reflection of their quality.

If you’re particularly sensitive to unusual odors, off-gassing, like perfume, can cause mild respiratory irritation. Otherwise, don’t worry. Off-gassing is unpleasant, and but it’s harmless, and odors should dissipate within a few days. For the lowest possible emissions, the best plan is to stick with a mattress made with CertiPUR-US certified foam.

Base Compatibility

If you sleep on a coil mattress with a box spring, chances are it sits in a four-sided metal bed frame. The center is empty — it’s the box spring that supports the mattress.

One of the benefits of mattresses and most hybrids is that they don’t require a frame or a bulky box spring, but they do need a sturdy surface. Some can go directly on the floor, while platform beds are recommended for others. Pairing a foam mattress with a tall platform frame maximizes under bed storage space.

If you have an adjustable base — memory foam mattresses are the best to use because they’re flexible. An innerspring mattress can’t bend at an extreme angle. Some hybrids are thin enough to work on a moving base, but reviews suggest that practically speaking, memory foam is the best choice.

Queen Mattress Features

Dimensions

A queen size mattress measures 60×80 inches. It’s considerably more spacious than a full size at only 54×75 inches, yet it only requires an additional 780 square inches of floor space. When a full-size mattress is too small, and a king overfills the room, a queen is the best choice.

Temperature

Today’s advanced mattress materials offer unprecedented comfort, but memory foam beds sleep hot. Why? They retain warmth because, unlike coil mattresses, they’re dense. That’s not always a bad thing — memory foam depends on the warmth of your body to mold to your curves. Without the ability to retain heat, your cloud-soft mattress would feel like a brick.

If you live in a cold climate, a foam mattress is best to keep you toasty. But if you don’t, how can you turn down the heat without resorting to springs? The best memory foam mattresses are gel infused or use phase-change materials that breathe.

Phase-change materials are woven into the fibers of a mattress. If you naturally sleep hot, they absorb heat and trap it — keeping it away from your skin. In the $500 price range, phase-change materials are rare, but gel memory foam is a feature everyone can afford.

Used to make cooling pads, gel is too resilient to make the best mattress on its own, but when it’s added to memory foam, it not only cools, but it also helps distribute body weight more evenly. If you don’t like the stuck feeling you get when trying to change positions on a memory foam mattress, gel memory can help.

The best cooling mattresses are also ventilated. Small holes in the memory foam allow air to circulate without compromising support. If a memory foam mattress still sounds too risky, a foam over coil hybrid may be the best choice.

With a breezy coil base and just a few inches of foam on top, hybrid mattresses breathe better while still offering the softness and pressure relief of memory foam. If some of the foam is gel infused, it’s even better. It only takes a thin layer of gel memory foam to control overheating.

Pillow Top

Coil mattresses are supportive, but they’re not the best on achy joints. Springs push against your body where it weighs the most, causing pressure against your hips, shoulders and knees. If you love the feel of a coil mattress, but need something a little more gentle, a mattress with a pillow top could be the best prescription.

Pillow tops come in two styles. A traditional pillow top looks like a separate comfort layer that’s been stitched to the top of the mattress — there’s a clear seam. Euro pillow tops are more discreet. They extend to the edge of the mattress, so the sides are flush with the rest of the bed. Both are equally comfortable, but a euro top is best if you want a smooth look.

Years ago, pillow tops were stuffed with the same kind of polyfoam batting found in chair padding or cheap pillows. Because of that, they got a bad rap for collapsing after only a few months of use, leaving sleepers with a too-firm mattress.

Today, the best pillow tops are made with higher quality foam, including the same type of memory foam used in mattresses. They retain their shape long-term and resist body impressions for years of lasting comfort. Pillow tops are a feature not often found among the cheapest mattresses — the best selection is in the $500 range or higher.

Support

According to sleep experts, no support level is best for everyone. Studies show that a medium-firm mattress is a good choice for stomach, back and side sleepers. We have reviewed the best mattresses for stomach sleepers if you are looking for that level of support. But while firm support is best for a bad back, reviews are clear — a mattress with a touch of softness is the best for relieving pressure.

Since no two people are alike, the perception of firmness varies between individuals. So how do mattress makers accurately gauge the level of support their products offer? It isn’t just a guess — they do it with science.

Support on a hybrid depends in part on how many coils are in the mattress and their thickness. The heavier the springs and the higher the coil count, the firmer it is.

Foams are tested using the IDL, or Indentation Load Deflection Test. Indentation load deflection reflects how much pressure it takes to compress a 4-inch piece of foam by 25%. The IDL scale rates mattress foams from 14 — the softest — to an extra-firm 44. Medium mattresses average 30, but variables can affect both performance and perception. No one level is best.

Compared to a conventional coil mattress, even the best memory foam may seem too soft — while a plush foam mattress can feel more supportive than a bed with sagging innersprings. When moving from one mattress material to another, it’s essential to consider their general characteristics, but it can take weeks for your body to adjust to a new feel. Don’t give up on a new mattress too easily. After a period of adjustment, it could give you the best sleep ever.

Edge Support

Edges support is the resistance you feel when you sit on the side of a mattress. Cheap coil mattresses have metal bars around the edge that feel rigid under your legs and can sag over time, while most foam mattresses have no additional side support. Hybrids are a happy medium with both innersprings and extra foam on the sides. The best models have coils that extend to the edge of the mattress on all four sides.

What’s the big deal about edge support? It’s important for two reasons. First, it improves your sense of proprioception — your sense of where your body is in space. A mattress with no edge support is smooth and soft from side to side, and with no obvious border, it’s surprisingly easy to fall out of bed.

Second, if you have pain in your hips or back, rising from a soft surface without edge support is tough. Sitting comfortably on the side of a memory foam mattress is almost impossible — but there’s an easy fix. A sturdy surface like a platform bed gives the edges more support. Mattresses with reliable edge support are best for the elderly.

Motion Transfer

When the body moves, it transfers energy. As you walk, that energy propels you forward. But when you’re in bed, it creates waves in the mattress your partner can feel. It’s called motion transfer, and studies show it disrupts even the best sleep.

Which mattress types control motion transfer best? Coil mattresses and hybrids are best for edge support, but when it comes to isolating motion, nothing beats foam. Memory foam contains movement better than polyfoam because it’s less resilient, but all foams isolate motion better than springs.

If your back needs the best support, but a mattress that curbs motion transfer is a must, a foam over coil hybrid may be your best bet. Models with individually pocketed coils that move independently are the best at keeping movement on one side of the mattress while the foam absorbs additional energy.

Foam Density

Not all foams are created equal — their densities vary. Like ice cream, the more air that’s mixed into it, the cheaper foam is because it uses less raw material. Density isn’t the only factor that determines the quality of a mattress, but because it contributes to both comfort and durability, it’s the best place to start.

Polyfoam ranges in density from 1.5 to 2.5 pounds per cubic foot. For a medium-firm mattress, look for foam that’s at least 1.8 lbs./ft³.

Memory foam density ranges from 2.5 to 8 pounds. Foams with less than 3.5 lbs/ft³ of density are soft, but they’re the least supportive and durable. Medium-density foam from 3.5 to 4 lbs./ft³ is ideal for both support and relieving pressure.

High-density foam over 5 lbs/ft³ is firmer, and it stands up to more weight without sinking excessively — it makes the best support layer. Multi-layer foam mattresses make the best of foams with different density by combining high-density bases with softer comfort layers for the ultimate in long-lasting comfort. The best foams cost a few dollars more, but they’re worth it.

Foam Materials — Memory Versus Polyfoam

Polyurethane foam is comfortable, lightweight and cheap, but it’s not the best for durability. If your favorite chair has a permanent hole in the middle where you sit, chances are it’s padded with polyfoam.

Memory foam has a higher density, so it’s heavier. Chemically enhanced to lower its resiliency, it softens when exposed to body heat and conforms to the body, but returns to its original shape without losing integrity.

Both types of foam are comfortable and supportive, but low-density polyfoam is the least durable. A memory foam mattress is best for durability and relieving pressure.

Types of Queen Mattresses

Foam Mattress

Polyfoam, latex foam and memory foam are all popular mattress materials, but which one is best for you? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Polyfoam

Polyfoam is popular because it’s cheap to manufacture, and it compresses easily. As a bed-in-a-box, it’s economical to ship.

The best quality polyfoam is reasonably supportive, and because it’s less dense, it sleeps cooler than memory foam and doesn’t give you a stuck feeling that makes changing positions in bed a challenge.

Who is a polyfoam mattress best for? It’s ideal for kids or a guest room. Regardless of density, it’s less durable than memory foam — body indentations form faster. A polyfoam mattress is cheap, but it isn’t an investment-level purchase.

Latex

Latex makes a great mattress because it’s soft and elastic. It conforms to curves and relieves painful pressure points, but it sinks less than memory foam and is more supportive. Because the spine stays ergonomically aligned, it’s among the best materials for both back and side sleepers.

Compared to regular memory foam, latex mattresses are more breathable, so they sleep a little cooler. Motion transfer and edge support are comparable. Latex mattresses are the least likely beds to have body weight limits. For heavy people, they’re ideal.

Like other foams, both natural and synthetic latex off-gas, so there’s no relief from chemical odors. And while latex is naturally dust mite resistant, it’s off-limits if you’re allergic to it.

Latex mattresses are expensive. Expect to pay hundreds more, and the selection in the $500 range is low. Warranties may be longer because latex is expected to be more durable, but dollar for dollar, it’s the most costly mattress material on the market.

Memory Foam

Memory foam is polyfoam that’s been chemically enhanced to increase its density. It’s ultra-soft and conforms to curves, but it also resists body impressions and keeps its original shape better over time — reviews across the board rate it among the best materials for relieving back and joint pain.

For couples, nothing offers better motion isolation than memory foam. Because it distributes weight more evenly than polyfoam, memory foam can be as supportive as latex or coils.

Non-gel memory foam does retain more heat than polyfoam, so it sleeps warmer. And thick, high-density memory foam mattresses are almost as heavy as latex, so they’re not quite as portable.

Who will appreciate a memory foam mattress? Memory foam is ideal for most sleep positions. It doesn’t have the bounce of polyfoam, and it’s less supportive and durable than latex, but it’s an affordable middle ground offering years of comfort and restful sleep without breaking the bank.

Coil/Innerspring Mattress

Coil mattresses are popular because they’re affordable and widely available. They come in a range of firmness levels that appeal to a broad audience, and they have a romantic bounce that everyone appreciates for intimate activities. So why do reviews consistently rate innerspring mattresses among the worst for customer satisfaction? It’s because coils are made of metal.

In as little as a few years, once-comfortable innersprings can start to sag, leaving depressions that cause back pain. Comfort layers feel soft at first, but most are thin, and they relieve far less pressure than memory foam.

The best mattresses are made with individually wrapped coils instead of single-piece innersprings — separate coils move independently, so motion is limited to specific zones. But neither type isolates movement better than a memory foam mattress.

Finally, there’s the issue of noise. Modern, heavy-duty wrapped coils are quieter than those from decades past, but within a few years of ownership, more than a few reviews note squeaking. Even the best mattress among hybrids can’t hold a candle to foam when it comes to being quiet.

You’ll like a coil mattress if you need the best edge support, and because coils allow air flow, they help a mattress sleep cooler. Of the models you’ll find in a showroom, the least expensive are usually innerspring, but as coil gauge and density rise, so does the price. If you’re shopping online, you’ll find as many foam mattresses for the same budget-friendly price.

Hybrid Mattress

If the comfort of foam is seductive, but you can’t get past the familiarity of an innerspring mattress, a foam over coil hybrid might be the best choice for you. With an innerspring base and a memory foam top, it’s the best of both worlds.

While innerspring and hybrid mattresses feature similar coil counts, they don’t all have the same amount of foam — so it pays to do your homework. An average of 1.5 to 3 inches is typical, but more isn’t always best.

Models with less than 1.5 inches won’t feel much softer than all-coil mattresses, while brands with more with 3 inches will have more foam-like characteristics. The best mattress usually falls somewhere in between.

Like innerspring mattresses, the coils in hybrids can also sag and squeak after a while. The foam mitigates those effects to a degree, but research suggests a hybrid mattress is no more durable than a coil mattresses. Models with a thick memory foam top will sleep hot unless there’s also a gel memory layer. Hybrids are a good middle ground for someone who wants the best in pressure point relief without sacrificing support and bounce.

Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Gel has been used for decades in the manufacture of cooling pads. Made to keep pets from overheating on sultry days, the same technology is now used to combat warmth in memory foam mattresses.

Does it work? Studies show that gel memory foam feels cooler than standard foam initially — it breathes better — but it warms through the night as you sleep. The net result for most people is that it makes it easier to fall asleep, but it doesn’t ease early morning sweat. Is it enough? In most cases, people report being happier with gel memory versus regular a foam mattress for two reasons.

First, even though the cooling effect of gel memory isn’t exactly like sharing a bed with your air conditioner, if heat retention is a deal-breaker with a foam mattress, it makes a tangible difference.

Second, gel is resilient. If you like the feeling of a foam mattress, but hate the stuck feeling you get when trying to change positions, gel memory adds just enough resiliency to make it a little easier. The Gel foam doesn’t sink as much as a regular foam mattress.

A gel memory mattress costs more than regular foam, but the price is coming down. An all gel foam mattress still carries a hefty price tag, but even a single layer of gel memory over types of foam adds a touch of cooling comfort. A models that combines cooling features makes the best memory foam mattress.

Adjustable Air Mattress

Air beds are for more than just the campground. Major manufacturers have taken the concept to a whole new level with inflatable mattresses that adjust to the best level of support for you.

These models don’t look like typical air beds. Aesthetically, they look like traditional mattresses, but functionally, they’re different. They feature the same comfort layers as other mattresses, but instead of high-density foam or coils for support, inside is a series of air-filled baffles.

With the touch of a remote, a pump adds or removes air from the bed— compared to a foam mattress, it can be noisy. On king and queen size models, each side adjusts independently, so it’s among the best mattresses for partners with distinct sleep preferences. It’s probably saved more than one marriage.

But like any mattress, air beds have drawbacks. Like the inflatable beach toys you had when you were kids, they can leak. And as with all technologically advanced equipment, an air mattress is prone to breaking down. In a power outage, the best mattresses stay inflated — cheap models don’t. If you have thousands to spend on an air mattress, you’ll sleep well, but the quality in the $500 range is disappointing. For the price, the best mattresses are hybrid or memory foam.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking for the best memory foam mattress or you have a hybrid in mind, our best mattress under 500 list has an affordable bed for you. For less than the cost of a convenience store coffee every morning, you’ll sleep so well on one of our best mattresses that you won’t need the jolt of caffeine. It’s time to look forward to going to bed again.