Buying a new mattress should be a reason for joy. Despite the fact that you have to do plenty of research when it comes to making such an investment, getting the chance to “start fresh” and sleep on a bed with cool properties that will support and comfort your body is actually a good thing. It’s easy to get lost in all these new features that seem to appear every day and thinking that a $3,000 mattress is the best choice in the world is just wrong.
Our Top 3 Choice Mattress under $500
You can buy a good mattress for way less than that, but first, you have to create your own definition of the phrase “good mattress”. Beds don’t work that way and buying a mattress just because your best friend bought the same model and was happy with it is not a good idea. That is just one of the mistakes and misconceptions that people have about a mattress, so let’s debunk some of the most common myths that push people into making really bad mattress choices.
Common Misconceptions When Buying a Mattress
There’s something I want to straighten out before we continue. Whenever we write these “best” mattress reviews, we always try to underline the importance of what type of sleeper you are. A mattress isn’t a universal product that can be the best for everyone, as that really depends on a number of individual factors that are different from one sleeper to another.
However, from our years of experience in reviewing mattresses, we have understood what makes a huge difference, so we wanted to tell you what some of the most common mistakes are that people make when they buy a mattress.
Misconception #1: Firm mattresses are the best option.
For a long time, people believed that sleeping on a firm surface is the best solution for back problems. Medically speaking, there is some truth in that, but that does not mean that a firm mattress is the best solution for just any type of sleeper. When you buy a mattress, one of your first concerns should be the construction’s ability to keep your spine aligned, instead of forcing it to stay in an unnatural position (which is what can lead to back pain).
But let’s assume for a moment that you are a side sleeper. Have you ever tried sleeping on the side directly on a firm surface? If you haven’t experimented with the floor, take 15 minutes and just lie on the floor on your side. How do your shoulders feel? How about your hips? Are they sore? Does it hurt?
Your shoulders and hips are prominent parts of your body which “stick out”. When you are lying on a hard floor, the hips and shoulders will push against it, and since the floor doesn’t have any give (which means it’s not flexible), it will push back to an extent where these body parts aren’t comfortable.
On the other hand, when you buy a mattress that’s soft enough, the upper layers will contour your hips and shoulders, which basically make the bed “mold” to the shape of these prominent body parts. Does that make sense? In mattress terminology, these are called pressure points. That means you need to find a mattress that provides good pressure point relief. What you want is a mattress that can contour your body, while also allowing the spine to maintain its natural curve. So no, firm isn’t always better.
Misconception #2: Going to the store to test the mattress is the safest bet.
Have you ever wondered why brands that sell their mattresses online give you such a generous trial period? Most of the other product categories that you buy online come with a 30-day refund period, but mattresses have at least 100 nights of free sleep trial (some brands offer their customers one full year to sleep on the bed). Why does that happen?
Because your body needs time to adjust to the construction of a new mattress, and the new mattress needs time to contour your body properly and give you customized support. Think of it like buying a new pair of shoes. How many new shoes felt uncomfortable the first time you wore them, but started feeling great after a couple of uses?
Many people still think that going to a brick and mortar store and lying 5 minutes on a mattress will help them figure out if that’s a good bed for them. In reality, the best way to determine if a mattress is good for you is to actually sleep on it for a couple of weeks. Even more, there are mattress bands that require you to sleep on their bed for at least 30 nights before initiating a return. That’s not just false marketing; it’s giving the mattress a chance to adapt to your body type. Save yourself the hassle and shop online because a few minutes in a store will not help you make the best bed purchase.
Misconception #3: Memory foam beds are the best universal choice.
Memory foam has quite an interesting history and considering it’s a NASA production that was focused on the comfort and safety of their astronauts, people still assume that this is the best choice in terms of bedding construction. It’s true that memory foam has a very interesting concept behind how it works: because of its viscoelastic properties, memory foam draws heat away from the body in order to bend to its shape, which means that molds to the unique contouring of your body.
While that definition may sound like a dream come true, there are actually some problems with that: memory foam can retain heat (and if you tend to get really hot at night, this can be very uncomfortable and you might wake up sweating) and it tends to sag in time. There is this entire culture around memory foam that because it’s really good at contouring, it can help you get rid of back pains and sore joints, which must make it the best choice ever.
Misconception #4: Expensive is always better.
Again, mattress buying is a very subjective thing. With so many individual factors to take into consideration, it’s safe to say that a mattress that costs a few thousands of dollars won’t do wonders for just everybody. How come that are so many positive reviews for inexpensive mattresses?
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to the quality of the materials used in the construction of a bed, but the price doesn’t always reflect the benefits that a mattress can bring into the life of a person. What you want is to know how to analyze the source and construction of different materials, and then read a few professional and customer reviews along the way.
Generally speaking, very expensive mattresses are those who are either made from organic materials, those who come with embedded technology, or those typically found in luxury hotels. If you decide to spend a very high amount of money on a bed, make sure that you do so because you’ve researched the product, know all about the construction and materials used, and you’re paying good money for a product that you truly believe will help you. Price alone should never be a consideration.
Top 3 Mattresses Under $500
And since we ended that last paragraph talking about the price of a bed, we wanted to show that there are some really good mattresses to be found under $500. Full disclaimer: a good mattress will generally cost around $800 to $1,500 for a Queen-size version, so when we picked the models that we’re about to show you, we look into the price for a Twin-sized bed, hence the $500 threshold.
Have you noticed how most “best of” reviews always seem to include Nectar? That’s because this is a brand that means business when it comes to making good and affordable mattresses. The Nectar bed is a combination of several types of foam that make up a mattress designed for people who love contouring and pressure point relief above everything else.
The mattress debuts with a cover that’s made from quilted gel memory foam, being both soft and having cooling properties at the same time. Because memory foam is notorious for trapping heat and leaving you sleeping at a high temperature, the gel-quilted top is backed by another layer of gel memory foam. That’s less body heat for you to worry about.
The transition layer is made from Adapted Hi Core memory foam, and it prevents the body from sinking in too deep into the mattress, but also protects the layers on top of it from the base below. The last layer of the Nectar mattress is made from memory foam as well, giving the mattress shape and durability for the long haul.
Who Should Purchase This?
The Nectar is one of the best budget mattresses out there but will be particularly useful for sleepers who enjoy the feel of memory foam, and those who tend to sleep hot and want to avoid the pitfall of owning an all-foam mattress that retains heat.
- 1-year sleep trial.
- Forever warranty.
- Gel-infused memory foam.
- Soft quilted top cover.
- A bit firm for heavyweight side sleepers.
The Brooklyn Bowery mattress has a very straightforward construction. It comes with three inches of Energex foam that promises to target the body parts that need pressure relief and deliver it to them. Then comes a layer that measures two inches in thickness, and it’s made from foam that will prevent you from sinking in the bed too much. The base layer offers that mattress durability and shape, supporting your weight and the entire weight of the bed.
The Bowery is one of the most affordable all-foam mattresses, with a firmness level that’s ranked at about 5, meaning that it’s softer compared to the average standards of what a medium mattress should be (generally speaking, a grade of 6 or 6.5 is considered a medium-firm mattress). The mattress is a valid choice for lightweight side sleepers because it allows the comfort layers to cradle the curves just enough to prevent sore body parts.
Who Should Purchase This?
There is a general consensus that stated the fact that side sleepers would greatly benefit from a softer mattress compared to those who like to sleep on their backs or stomach. Because of that, you need a bed with a firmness rating of less than 6.5. The Bowery mattress has a firmness level of about 5, making it soft enough for people who need pressure point relief in the hips and shoulders area.
- Minimal noise.
- Good motion isolation.
- Good pressure point relief.
- Tends to retain heat.
- Too soft for stomach sleepers.
The last candidate on your best mattress under $500 list comes from Nest Bedding. The Love & Sleep mattress is an all-foam bed that has a combination suitable for those who need support because they sleep in multiple positions in a rather proportionate percentage throughout the night.
The mattress comes with a comfort layer made from a combination of foam and latex foam, which has a nice bounce to it but also performs well in terms of pressure relief. The next layer is made from polyfoam and comes in a convoluted shape, looking to maximize airflow inside the bed.
It’s also important to note that the cover is made with phase-change material, which means it can adapt to your body’s temperature and draw heat away from the body while you are sleeping.
Who Should Purchase This?
If you don’t’ have a favorite position and combine the three most popular ones in a “one-night stand”, then you are a combination sleeper. Finding a good mattress for you is tricky because each sleeping position requires pressure point relief and support in different zones. The Love & Sleep mattress is your best budget bet in that direction.
- Relatively cool.
- Good for combination sleepers.
- Available in two firmness choices.
- Great value for the money.
- Good for all-foam bed lovers.
- Not the best edge support.
- Some side sleepers might feel pressure.
More affordable mattress
Let’s see what the most affordable (and good) mattress has to offer in terms of construction. The Allswell is constructed with a cover that combines polyester with a little bit of Lycra spandex. That makes the cover stretchable and rather soft. It also embeds one inch of gel-infused foam which makes it plush when you first lie down.
The comfort layer is made with copper-infused foam, which is believed to be a hygienic and cooling alternative to standard foam. While this provides some contouring, it is not as conforming as the memory foam used on other mattresses, so side sleepers might not benefit from sleeping on this particular bed. The transition layer is made with high-density polyfoam, which is a wise choice considering that the foam layer above needs some cushioning from the support core below.
The mattress comes with a layer of pocketed coils, which are rather thick compared to those found on other hybrid mattresses. The mattress has good edge support because it uses thicker coils on the perimeters, and thinners ones in the middle, for better body support.
Who Should Purchase This?
The Allswell Luxe Hybrid mattress is the best choice for people who are looking to go as low as possible when it comes to spending money on a new mattress. Aside from being cheap, it also provides a decent level of comfort and good materials considering its low price.
- Good edge support.
- Good temperature neutrality scores.
- No off-gassing.
- Extremely good price.
- Durable despite the price.
- Minimal motion isolation.
Helix Suck is a hybrid mattress that brings forth a combination of layers and materials that are great for the average back sleeper. It all starts with a layer of what Helix calls their Dynamic foam, which is actually a hybrid between latex and foam, meaning that it’s firm enough to support the spine in a natural position when you’re sleeping on your back.
The transition layer is made from a type of memory foam that’s looking to protect your body from the feel of the coils that make up the core of the mattress. The individually wrapped coils that are used in the Helix Duck are there to make sure that your body is supported because of the push-back given by this layer. Underneath it all you can find another layer of durable foam, to protect the coils above it.
Who Should Purchase This?
The Helix Dusk is a medium-feel mattress that’s perfect for those who want a hybrid bed, and for back sleepers that want support and body contouring to keep their spine curved in a natural position.
- Solid construction.
- Good for back and stomach sleepers.
- Good edge support.
- Relatively breathable.
- OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 Certified.
- CertiPUR-US® Certified.
- Not the best motion isolation.
As you can see, you do have some good options when it comes to finding a proper mattress under $500. Granted, these aren’t the best mattresses in the world, but you already know how we feel about the definition of “best”. If you’re looking for a Twin-sized bed with a decent price tag and good features, you will absolutely find one for $500 or less. You just have to know where to look *wink*.