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5 mattresses to avoid buying

Don't wake up on the wrong side of the bed – give these mattresses a miss and spring for something better.

mattress with an angry emoji
Last updated: 01 June 2022

Need to know

  • We tested 47 popular mattresses from Sleeping Duck, Sealy, Ikea, Emma, A.H. Beard, Tempur and more
  • Experts assessed key factors like comfort – brand new and after eight years' use – stability, sagging over time and more
  • Become a CHOICE member to see full reviews and compare products

We spend about a third of our lives in bed, so it's vital to find the right mattress for the best night's sleep. But be careful – buy a bad bed and it could turn into a nightmare. 

Choosing a mattress in store or online can be confusing and downright stressful, with so many types, builds, firmnesses, features and amazing 'new technology' claims being touted. It's enough to warrant a serious lie-down!

To help you pick, CHOICE has been testing popular mattresses for years – and no, it's not just some lucky staff member sleeping on them all day (we wish).

How we test mattresses

No, we don't test mattresses by taking naps on the job. Watch how our lab partners assess key factors like comfort, stabilisation and more.

Instead, our lab partners in Europe scientifically test the most important factors, including comfort for both male and female body types, stabilisation, sagging over time, sweat resistance and more. 

To help you avoid losing any sleep over your selection, we've highlighted the mattresses that rated lowest in our tests below.

Of course, our experts also uncovered some very good mattresses, too, including some impressive surprises priced well under $1500. Join CHOICE to see our full mattress reviews.

1. Original Mattress Factory Refresh

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 62%
  • Comfort score: 54%
  • Price: $2898

This mattress, which came in last overall in our tests, is proof (in case you still needed it) of the fact that you can't always trust advertising. This queen-sized specimen markets itself as a 'Firm' in mattress parlance, but once our testers got their hands on it, they found it to be much closer to a 'Soft'. With firmness often being a deciding factor for many shoppers buying a mattress, this product is falling short on essential criteria.

And bad luck if you discover this too late: this was also the only mattress we reviewed to charge a fee for returns and exchanges – and this was even applied during the 30-day trial period. These sorts of exchange fees are on top of any shipping costs you may incur to replace a mattress during a free trial period. And while some brands will provide a free pick-up of the mattress you want to return, don't expect such luxury with this product: the cost of a pick-up will come out of your own pocket.

This was also the only mattress we reviewed to charge a fee for returns and exchanges

The Original Mattress Factory Refresh was also bad at retaining whatever firmness it had after heavy use, scoring 56% on our sagging scale – the third-worst of all the currently available mattresses we tested.

On other criteria, such as stabilisation, this mattress was on par with others reviewed by our testers, but did not perform noticeably well in any areas.

Read our full Original Mattress Factory Refresh review.

Woman lying on her side on a mattress with a red line running down the length of her back

Lab lie-down: Our comfort tests use lasers to monitor spinal alignment.

2. SleepMaker Alaska

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 63%
  • Comfort score: 44%
  • Price: $1899

In another case of false advertising, this mattress did not live up to its promised firmness and was marked down by our testers as being 'Soft,' when it had marketed itself as a 'Firm.' It also performed poorly in the comfort stakes, with our lab testers recording disappointing ratings for both male and female triallists.

And if you or your partner toss and turn at night, expect some turbulence while trying to get to sleep on this SleepMaker – it scored an ordinary 58% in our stabilisation trials, which measures the amount of movement in the mattress following a sudden increase in pressure.

On the flipside, the Alaska did score well in other areas, with 80% for sagging (or the lack of it) over time, and a perfect 100% for sweat-repellency.

Read our full SleepMaker Alaska review.

3. Sealy Posturepedic Elevate Marbella 

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 65%
  • Comfort score: 61%
  • Price: $1250

Don't let its comparatively modest price fool you: this mattress offers nothing close to value for money when it comes to absorbing movement. Anyone who is, or shares a bed with, a restless sleeper will have a hard time getting some shut-eye on this Sealy Posurepedic, which scored only 24% (equal second-worst) in our stabilisation simulations.

This queen-size also over-promises on firmness, coming in as the third offender in our line up of 'Firm'-labelled mattresses that are actually softies. It also came in below many other samples in our sweat-resistance ratings.

But the Sealy did perform well when tested on the amount of comfort and support it provided. Following a process designed to simulate eight years of use, our testers found there had been very low drops in the levels of comfort provided to male and female users.

Read our full Sealy Posturepedic Elevate Marbella review.

4. Dusk & Dawn Essential

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 65%
  • Comfort score: 58%
  • Price: $1649

While this mattress was on par with our other contenders in the comfort and support-retention stakes, it lost points for coming in below-average in our sag trials.

Again, here we had another mattress that under-delivered on firmness, being rated by our experts as a 'Medium' despite putting itself forward as a 'Firm.' The fact that you can't get a free pick-up for this mattress if you live in a rural area and want to exchange it also cost it points in our estimation.

Unfortunately for Dusk & Dawn, on top of these negative aspects, this mattress didn't perform noticeably well enough in any areas to keep it out of our bottom five.

Read our full Dusk & Dawn Essential review.

5. A.H. Beard King Coil Chiro Response 

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 65%
  • Comfort score: 39%
  • Price: $2899

The fact that every one of the top-performing mattresses we awarded a 'Recommended' label to cost less than this A.H. Beard should tell you everything you need to know about mattress pricing: you don't always get what you pay for. This mattress, which was one of the most expensive of the mattresses we tested, was also the equal third lowest scorer overall. 

This mattress, which was one of the most expensive of the mattresses we tested, was also the equal third lowest scorer overall

Both male and female testers alike found this mattress uncomfortable, with the men rating it just 34% for comfort. Although we found its support levels didn't get worse over time, that only means it stayed uncomfortable, even after the simulated eight years of use. 

What's more, in another example of dodgy marketing, retailers marketed this mattress as a 'Firm', but our tests revealed that it's actually very soft. 

Read our full A.H. Beard King Coil Chiro Response review.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.