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Upgrade your mattress. Upgrade your mattress or you’ll live an unfulfilled life. Upgrade your mattress because it’s killing you. Upgrade. Upgrade. Upgrade.

Or that’s how it seems, right? Everyone telling you that your mattress is the reason you feel terrible, but who has $10,000 to upgrade to a mattress.

“No worries!” they say. “The mattress revolution can get you a wonderful new mattress for only $2000!”

But you don’t have that either. You do have an old mattress that gives you pain in your shoulder and a burning need to upgrade to a quality mattress that’s more supportive.

Lucky for you, there are some quality mattresses out there with great features and excellent materials for budget prices. You don’t have to sacrifice your comfort because of your budget. We’ve got our favorites, and we’ve answered some questions you may have about how to choose a budget mattress. Let’s take a look.

Choosing A Cheap Mattress

Looking for a budget mattress is a lot like choosing any mattress. You need to look for some key elements.

Contouring And Support

Your old mattress is failing you in contouring. Mattresses without a layer of contouring leave your curves smashed up against the surface of the mattress. If your shoulder falls asleep before you do, you may have an issue with contouring.

Contouring doesn’t mean a soft mattress, necessarily. Soft mattresses in the past sagged underneath you, making it difficult for you to get spinal support. Back pain and shoulder pain were common issues with a soft mattress.

Modern companies use different layers to accomplish contouring and support. The top layer or layers are made of soft foam or other materials. Contouring layers give way underneath your widest parts while filling in around curves like your waist and lower back.

Even if you’re a side sleeper, contouring layers keep your spine straight because your broadest points don’t create stress on the curves of your body. They sink into the contouring layers just enough that your back and spine can decompress and straighten.

Underneath contouring layers, denser layers of support prevent your body from sinking too far into the mattress. They push back against your weight to support your spine and keep the mattress’s structural integrity intact.

Both layers create a combination of comfort and support. You feel like the mattress is soft because it cradles your curves, but it doesn’t allow indentation or sagging underneath you. Pain subsides, and pressure points decompress.

Edge Support

Cheap mattresses sometimes lack support all around. One particular kind is edge support. The materials of inferior quality mattresses give way underneath you and prevent you from sleeping or sitting on the edge of the bed.

A quality budget mattress should still use materials that prevent the edges from sagging. Some mattress companies further reinforce the edges to prevent compression. You can use the edge of the bed to sleep or get comfortable, which is good if you’re one part of a couple. There’s no sweet spot in the middle of the mattress causing you to fight.

You can also sit on the bed like you would a standard mattress. Spring mattresses often have great edge support, but memory foam has come a long way since the early days, and it’s possible now to have an all foam mattress that doesn’t collapse underneath you.

Good edge support means careful construction and thoughtful design. It’s an essential part of budget mattress shopping.

Motion Isolation

Cheap spring mattresses have very little to dampen motion. They move around a lot because all the springs are locked together. Move one, and you move them all in equal measure.

Quality mattresses use individually pocketed coils to help reduce the amount of motion transfer across the mattress. These often have layers of foam on top to further isolate motion.

Memory foam mattresses are excellent at isolating motion already. Latex can also help reduce movement while being more responsive than memory foam. You may like the traditional hug of foam, but if you’re addicted to your innerspring, a hybrid (foam and spring mix) or a latex option may be better for you.

Temperature Regulation

Sleeping at the right temperature can be the difference between a terrible night of sleep and a good one. You should consider how the materials of your bed could affect your temperature at night.

Quality mattresses have temperature regulating features. Many times, this is a type of passive cooling that helps the mattress draw heat away from your body and disperse it throughout the mattress, returning your mattress to room temperature more quickly.

Cooling materials such as gel or graphite are sometimes infused into the top layers to make this process quicker. Other times, it’s open cell foams that store air in little pockets. As you move around, air moves through the pockets, continually refreshing the mattress and regulating temperature.

If you sleep cold at night, traditional memory foam may make you more comfortable. It offers a little more hug and can feel warmer than other mattresses or cooling mattresses. Without gel infusions, and with a warm blanket, you can reflect a bit of body heat back to your body to keep you comfortable.

Materials

High-quality memory foams don’t break down and offer a long life for a mattress. Many companies now use proprietary foams that last longer and keep you cooler.

Memory foam should be certified by an organization as having low odor and low to no VOC or emissions. This prevents that classic memory foam smell caused by off-gassing. Traditional memory foam products produced a lot of odor, but newer ones are much easier on your respiratory system.

Latex should also be certified. Natural latexes are easier on both the environment and your respiratory system. Natural latexes are denser and bouncier, keeping the structural integrity of your mattress together.

Springs should be individually pocketed and reinforced for durability. Individual springs prevent motion transfer and help the support layer contour further to your body. They support your sleep position and keep your spine aligned.

Best Cheap Mattresses

Nectar – Our Top Pick

Our top cheap mattress pick is one with a generous sleep trial and warranty. Nectar makes only one model of a mattress and uses simple construction to create an amazingly comfortable surface.

The cover materials are Tencel, a material that’s cooler and softer than other types of cover materials (cotton or linen for example). The first two layers are gel-infused memory foam with the top layer a quilted layer. Quilting the top creates loft and better airflow for a softer, cooler surface.

The next layer is transitional and eases your body to the support layer. It uses adaptive foam that responds quickly to movement and weight, enhancing support where you need it and providing contouring where you don’t.

Underneath, dense support foam provides structural integrity to the mattress and gives your spine support. It also provides edge support and the entire layer system dampens motion to almost nothing.

Nectar has one of the most generous sleep trials and warranties on the market. You get a full year to try the mattress out before deciding if it’s the right one for you. That’s plenty of time to break in the mattress, allow your body to adjust, and track your sleep to know if it’s the right one for you. If you decide it isn’t, just return it any time before the trial period is over for a full refund.

Nectar also offers you a lifetime warranty against mattress defects. They’ll cover abnormal indentation and wear and tear. During the first ten years, they’ll replace a defective mattress. After the initial ten years, they’ll decide if replacing or repairing the mattress is more appropriate. Considering that many people have their mattress far longer than the recommended time period, this should cover you with time to spare.

The best part? A California king is under $950.

Pros:

  • lifetime warranty
  • 365-night sleep trial

Cons:

  • no option for heavier people

Nuvanna – Best For Active People

Our next affordable mattress is an all foam option for athletes and active people. It helps you recover as you sleep, making it critical for those with pain issues and frequent muscle soreness.

It uses just three layers to achieve contouring and support. The top layer is a gel-infused foam that uses phase change technology to keep you much cooler than the average mattress. It actively pulls heat away from your body and moves that heat quickly through the mattress where it can disperse.

The middle layer is a transitional layer that reduces motion transfer while responding quickly to your body’s movements. It offers additional contouring where you need it and aids the support layer filling in gaps.

The support layer is a progressive support system, meaning it gets denser with more weight. It also targets your curves to keep your spine correctly aligned. Together, the layers help you rejuvenate and recover.

Nuvanna allows you to try the mattress out for 100 nights. That gives you just over three months to let the bed break in and your body to adjust. Sleep in it for at least a few weeks to make sure that happens. If you decide it isn’t the right one for you, you can return it for a full refund.

Nuvanna also covers your mattress against mattress defects for ten years. If you notice any abnormal wear and tear, Nuvanna will take care of it. Make sure your mattress is fully supported so you don’t accidentally void the warranty.

Nuvanna’s California king is less than $1000, giving you both comfort, better recovery, and phase change temperature control for a very reasonable price. They don’t offer white glove delivery, so make sure you have a backup plan if you aren’t able to move the mattress yourself.

Pros:

  • good for athletes
  • designed for recovery

Cons:

  • no white glove delivery option

Tuft and Needle – Best For Allergy Sufferers

Tuft and Needle’s ultra-simple original mattress uses just two layers to create a comfortable night’s sleep. It offers temperature regulation and targeted support at a very reasonable price.

The first layer uses Tuft and Needle’s proprietary adaptive foam, created from years of feedback from Tuft and Needle customers. It gives way underneath your broadest points while supporting you in your curves such as the lower back. It’s also infused with graphite to help regulate your temperature.

Underneath, the supporting layer is a dense foam that pushes back against your weight to keep your spine aligned. The entire mattress is highly breathable and moves air quickly to reduce further the amount of heat stored in the core.

Tuft and Needle gives you 100 nights to try the mattress out. You should give it a few weeks to break in and your body to adapt. It can take some time for your body to get used to any new mattress, so you should allow some time to pass. If you still don’t like it after a few weeks, you can return it for a full refund.

Tuft and Needle also covers their mattresses for ten years against mattress defects. If you ever notice any type of abnormal wear and tear, Tuft and Needle will make it right. Make sure your mattress is correctly supported so that don’t accidentally void the warranty.

Tuft and Needle’s bed is certified by several different institutions, making it an excellent option for those with respiratory sensitivities. CertiPur-US verifies that it’s low VOC and emissions. GreenGuard Gold further certifies this content.

It’s also certified by OEKO-TEX Standard 100. This certification covers materials that stay closest to our skin like underwear and baby clothes. All these certifications mean the mattress is a lower emissions alternative to traditional memory foam.

Pros:

  • certified by a variety of eco-friendly organizations
  • proprietary adaptive foam has all the benefits of latex and memory foam

Cons:

  • not suitable for heavier people

A California king comes in under $800, making this line ultra-affordable.

Zinus

Zinus got started trying to help solve snoring. Since then, they’ve expanded their mattresses to a variety of models and styles. The materials are CertiPur-US certified as free of large amounts of VOCs and metals.

You have several different options for a mattress style. Memory foam choices come in several different depths such as the standard ten inch or also 12 inches. Some are green tea infused to help with odor and temperature control. Others have open cell foams increase breathability.

The hybrid options use foams on the top for contouring. They cradle your curves and keep your spine straight. Underneath, individually pocketed coils offer support and help your lower back decompress.

Zinus is available to try out in several physical stores, including some big box stores. You can also order their entire line from the internet. If you prefer buying from a physical address, Zinus has you covered.

Zinus guarantees their mattresses for ten years. They also allow you to try the mattress out for 100 nights to be sure that it’s the right one. It can take some time to get used to a new mattress, so be sure you sleep on it for at least a few weeks.

Zinus’s main attraction is quality, but ultra-budget mattresses. Many of their mattress models have California king options for under $500. They’re excellent quality without compromising your comfort and health.

Pros:

  • ultra-budget option
  • both hybrid and all foam choices

Cons:

  • not all models come in all sizes

Frankly – Best For Combination Support

Our final bed comes from Frankly. It’s designed for all-around comfort and all combination support. It uses four layers of foam to create contouring and support while helping you regulate temperature.

The first layer is designed to move air quickly through the mattress to help cool your temperature at night. The foam is designed to draw heat away from your body and quickly disperse it.

The next layer is adaptive high core foam, designed to support your weight and decompress your spine. It helps the support layer underneath push back against your weight and align your spine.

The cover materials just zip off so you can machine wash it and refresh the mattress periodically. The foam is certified by CertiPur-US as having low emissions and VOCs.

Frankly offers you 60 nights to try the mattress out, which should still give you some time to allow your body to adjust to the mattress. It’s covered by a ten-year warranty against mattress defects as long as your mattress is adequately supported.

A king size is just under $900, making it our final, ultra-affordable option.

Pros:

  • adaptive foam allows your spine to decompress
  • easy zip off cover for that machine washes

Cons:

  • sleep trial is only 60 nights

Final Thoughts

Just because you can’t swing a few thousand dollars to upgrade your mattress, you still have a lot of options for a quality mattress. You don’t have to compromise on quality or stay stuck with your old, worn out mattress. There’s a better option for you out there that won’t kill your wallet and will improve your sleep at night.

Did you think you could find the perfect mattress for your budget? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

Tim

Remember how your parents told you that you were going to sleep your life away? Well that would be perfectly fine with Tim. He's been in search of the most comfortable nights sleep for years and shares his findings with any willing ear.

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