We Imagine the Best Soft Mattresses Are the Closest to Sleeping on a Cloud
But our favorites are more than memory foam.
Published Jun 15, 2022 1:00 PM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
There’s nothing like falling into bed at the end of a long day, and when we’re talking about the best soft mattresses, into is the key word. Soft mattresses, explains Sleep Foundation’s product expert, Keith Cushner, are designed to hug your body while you sleep, cushioning joints and offering a gentle level of support. “Back sleepers and side sleepers tend to benefit from softer, foam-based mattresses because the mattress will lessen the pressure on various points of the body,” he says.
But while soft mattresses are usually made of foam, pillow top–style padding can make even a classic innerspring mattress feel plush enough for sleepers who crave extra cushioning. Below, we found the best soft mattresses that can turn ordinary weeknights into spalike relaxation retreats.
- Best overall: Casper Original Mattress
- Best value: ZINUS Cloud Memory Foam Mattress
- Best support: Tuft & Needle Original Mattress
- Best cooling: LUXEbreeze by Tempur-Pedic
- Best compromise: Nectar Memory Foam Mattress
Best Overall: Casper Original Mattress
Type: Memory foam or hybrid | Trial period: 100 nights | Height: 11 inches | Pressure relief: Strong
What we like:
- Comes in all-foam and hybrid options
- Ultra-durable base
- Can take some getting used to if foam is new for you
Why we chose it: Casper’s mattresses—including this one—are great as your first venture into foam (or your fifth).
Soft mattresses really shine for side sleepers, as the bed’s layers hug elbows, hips, and knees—in other words, the joints that tend to ache the most. And in this case, simplest is best: A layer of breathable foam on top, a spine-supporting layer in the middle, and a sturdy foam base make sure you won’t sag too deep. We’re always a fan of brands that take their materials seriously, and Casper only uses foams that are CertiPUR-US certified, so you know they are made without ozone-depleting chemicals and have been thoroughly tested to ensure low VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions.
Best Value: ZINUS Cloud Memory Foam Mattress
Type: Foam | Trial period: None, though eligible for return within 30 days if purchased using Amazon Prime | Height: Comes in 8-, 10-, and 12-inch versions | Pressure relief: Moderate
What we like:
- Quick, free delivery
- Less than $300 for a queen
- The upper limit of support is around 500 pounds
Why we chose it: A primary bedroom–worthy mattress at a guest-bedroom price.
A restful night of sleep doesn’t always have to cost a fortune, as evidenced by this mattress, available on Amazon (and with all the fast, free delivery benefits with a Prime account). Available in three different thicknesses (great if you have a particular low-profile or vaulted bed frame in mind) and at a sub-$500 price point, we recommend investing in this bed as a great option for a guest room or for kids growing out of the twin-size phase. We can’t get over how plush the top layer is, paired with additional cushioning above the solid base, providing you with maximum softness, all without sacrificing support.
Best Support: Tuft & Needle Original Mattress
Type: Foam | Trial period: 100 nights | Height: 9.5 inches | Pressure relief: Great–this one was designed with pressure points in mind
What we like:
- Quickly bounces back after a night of deep sleep
- Infused with cooling technology
- Works best with a supportive base
Why we chose it: Contours-to-you foam that looks like new each morning, no matter which sleeping position you prefer.
One of the biggest complaints about foam is that it’s too contouring; sleeping in the same position night after night can create permanent indentations (especially if your preferred sleeping persuasion is reserved to one side of the bed), making it less effective over time. You won’t have to worry about this happening with Tuft & Needle’s mattress, thanks to a patented blend of foam that promises to bounce back to its original fluff as soon as you roll out of bed. And stomach sleepers, this bonus is for you: The mattress provides the coveted sinking-in feeling, but not too much, so your body won’t sink in too deeply.
Best Cooling: LUXEbreeze by Tempur-Pedic
Type: Foam | Trial period: 90 nights | Height: 13 inches | Pressure relief: Strong
What we like:
- Every size available, from a long twin to California king (even a split king)
- Best-in-the-business cooling technology
- The most expensive pick on this list
Why we chose it: Beating the heat has never been more comfortable.
Staying cool throughout the night is a huge priority for many sleepers, especially those who prefer the hug-style support of a soft mattress. Tempur-Pedic takes cool to cooler with its proprietary material called PureCool, which is designed to help you maintain an ideal temperature not just as you fall asleep, but all night long (say goodbye to waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat). But perhaps our favorite part? This mattress comes in every size and style, including the elusive split king, ideal for those of us who share a bed with a partner who has particularly strong opinions about, say, how many blankets is too many for a comfortable sleeping experience.
Best Compromise: Nectar Memory Foam Mattress
Type: Foam | Trial period: 365 nights | Height: 12 inches | Pressure relief: Moderate
What we like:
- Frequently on sale
- Has won numerous industry awards
- On the firmer side of soft
Why we chose it: Not sure how soft is your ideal amount of cushion? Try this option risk-free for an entire year.
Memory foam, says Cushner, is one of those things “you either love or you really, really don’t love.” Since the only way to know if a mattress will truly work for you is to sleep on it, we love that Nectar allows buyers a full year to make up their minds. If you’ve never tried foam before, this is a good way to dip your toe in, as it’s on the firmer side of the soft mattress spectrum and could be an ideal compromise for partners who want varying levels of softness in a mattress.
How We Chose These Products
Let’s face it: The world of bedding is super-saturated and overwhelming—but sometimes you need a new mattress (or pillows or sheets) to sink into. At Domino, we strive to prioritize bedding brands that balance style, high-quality manufacturing, and eco-conscious attributes. Our editors and writers conduct hands-on testing when possible, and we tap industry experts for their input, dig into brand stats, and conduct independent research to determine which soft mattresses offer the best cushioning and support. The thing is: There’s really no shortcut to finding your ideal mattress—you just have to try them (and that’s why we prioritize sleep trials!).
Our Shopping Checklist
Design and Materials
Foam mattresses can be firm and soft, which can make shopping confusing! Most soft mattresses these days are made of foam, so you’ll want to figure out if the enveloping style of the material is right for you. If specific joint aches are an issue, look for a mattress that offers pressure-point support, meaning it will do a good job of cradling the parts of your body that tend to give you the most trouble.
The keyword here is layering: A good soft mattress isn’t just soft all the way through, but instead constructed with a firm support layer, middle layers that keep you aligned throughout the night, and a top layer that offers the cushioning we often associate with a softer bed.
Soft mattresses are designed to let you really sink in, which can lead to elevated body temperature. That’s why so many mattress brands have rolled out cooling options over the past several years. If sleeping hot is a concern, look for a mattress with a top layer that incorporates cooling gel, which will help keep the temperature down at the crucial falling-asleep stage (and just be sure to pair it with the best cooling sheets). Also worth looking for: a mattress that incorporates heat-wicking material, which will pull heat away from your body as you sleep.
Mattresses made out of foam are largely considered more durable than traditional innerspring mattresses, because the foam material is less likely to wear out from overuse the way metal springs can. You won’t need to flip your foam mattress, but we do recommend turning it from head to foot once a year or so, which can help stop deep indentations from forming in any one spot.
Sleep Trials and Returns
We can’t stress enough how important sleep trials are, especially for soft mattresses, which for some sleepers can feel great for a few nights and not so great after that. At least a month is best, though some brands are now encouraging customers to try out beds for 90, 120, or even 365 nights.
Q: Can a soft mattress sit on a platform frame?
Yes! Soft mattresses just need a solid support base, so as long as your platform bed has slats that are relatively close together (think: no more than a few inches apart), you’re good to go.
Q: How do you clean a soft mattress?
When it comes to cleaning, vacuuming every few months is the way to go, though you may want to call in a professional in the case of major staining. For spot removal, try to keep your efforts as targeted to the actual stain or spill as possible, since wet foam takes a long time to dry.
Q: Does a soft mattress need a box spring?
Not always. You can add a box spring underneath a foam mattress, or use a box foundation, which is essentially a solid board covered in fabric that sits atop your bed frame. Since they do best with a firm base, soft mattresses are also a good option for anyone who likes a close-to-the-floor–style bed frame.
The Last Word
Mattresses that cushion and envelop can be a game changer for side sleepers and anyone with joint issues. A good soft mattress does the work of supporting your body while making you feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud.