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Make Your Cheap Mattress Comfortable With These Accessories
Looking to save money? Want to avoid an uncomfortable dorm mattress? Transform a cheap bed into a luxurious, comfortable mattress with these few simple steps.
Caroline Igo (she/her/hers) is a wellness editor and holds Sleep Science Coach and Stress Management certificates from the Spencer Institute. She received her bachelor's degree in creative writing from Miami University and continues to further her craft in her free time. Before joining CNET, Caroline wrote for past CNN anchor, Daryn Kagan.
ExpertiseVitamins and supplements, nutrition, sleep & personal careCredentials
Carl R. Greer/Andrew D. Hepburn Award for Best Nonfiction Essay (Miami University, 2021)
Maybe you are going off to college soon and are dreading the inevitable uncomfortable dorm mattress. Or maybe you own a cheap or uncomfortable (but still cheap) mattress and are eyeing a new one that's outside of your budget. Either way -- don't fret! You can often make an uncomfortable, cheap mattress more comfortable for less than the price of a brand-new luxury mattress. Here is everything you need to know to save money and transform your bed or dorm mattress.
Cheap, budget and luxury mattresses on the market
The price of any mattress depends on the size and type (such as innerspring, foam, latex or hybrid). According to a study in 2021, the average price of a queen mattress ranges between $1,050 and $2,050. The type of mattress accounts for the price difference. An average queen innerspring mattress is $1,050, an average queen foam mattress is also $1,050, and an average latex queen mattress is $2,000. Hybrid mattresses are the most expensive -- a queen averages $2,050.
While this is the average price for a mattress, the tiers of mattresses can be further broken down, ranging from "cheap" to "budget" to "luxury." Here is what you need to know.
What is a cheap mattress?
Cheap mattresses are inexpensive, and the mattress itself often isn't supportive or comfortable. It might sag, be too firm or too soft (especially for back and stomach sleepers) or be made of poor quality materials. All in all, cheap mattresses rarely give you a good night's sleep.
An upside to cheap mattresses is the price. Regardless of the type, it is usually around $200 to $300.
What is a budget mattress?
Any beds like the Allswell, Tuft and Needle Nod or Casper Element are considered budget beds -- they're affordable but not cheap or of bad quality. Budget beds often come in a box and work for most sleeper types.
Budget mattresses are a step above a cheap, flimsy mattress and cost anywhere from around $350 and up.
What is a luxury mattress?
A luxury mattress is exactly what it sounds like -- think a fancy hotel bed. These mattresses are going to be the most expensive and grand. So, besides the price, what makes a luxury mattress so special? Luxury mattresses are known for their features: quilted top layers, Euro-tops, phase-changing materials and thick, dense layers.
According to a 2021 study, a luxury innerspring mattress can start at $1,200 and up, a luxury foam mattress from $1,300, a luxury hybrid from $2,200 and a luxury latex from $2,500.
Luxury mattresses are marketed as the most comfortable beds money can buy. However, that might not always be the case. You can take a cheap mattress and transform it into a comfortable, luxury mattress.
What can you do to your mattress to make it more comfortable?
The good news is that you don't have to slumber on an uncomfortable or cheap mattress for long. Fortunately, there are many add-ons available at many online or in-store retailers that sell sleep-related products (such as Amazon, Walmart and Target).
Take your cheap or budget bed up a few steps towards a luxury mattress with these added sleep accessories. Consider investing in the following items.
The most common and often most effective way to transform an uncomfortable mattress is using a mattress topper. This accessory is a thick (usually 2 to 4 inches) layer of foam or feathers that is placed on top of the mattress to change the feel and support of the bed. The most popular mattress toppers are often made of memory foam.
While this may be the most expensive add-on on this list, it can drastically change any bed. Tempur-Pedic, GhostBed, Puffy, Allswell and Saatva are some of the brands that offer quality mattress toppers.
A mattress pad is thinner than a topper and intended to protect the mattress from dirt, stains or pet damage. In doing so, mattress pads also add an extra layer of comfort consisting of latex foam, fibers or feathers to your bed. Mattress pads are fairly inexpensive and are available at many major retailers. For the best results, use this in combination with a mattress topper -- a real game-changer.
Your sheets change the feel of your mattress while you lie on top of it. Scratchy sheets or sheets not intended for hot sleepers (such as cotton) make sleeping a little more difficult. If you really want to up your mattress' game, the sheets are a good place to start. Look at linen, bamboo, silk, fiber or cotton and decide which best suits you.
In addition to your sheets, your pillows also determine the comfortability and feel of your mattress. Flimsy, thin or otherwise non-supportive pillows only add to the uncomfortability. Take the time to look for full, fluffy pillows that support your neck. It is recommended that you replace your pillows every one to two years. Casper, Nectar and Purple offer pillows for hot sleepers, memory foam lovers and those with neck pain.
For the best results to transform your cheap or uncomfortable mattress, I recommend investing in all four accessories.
Important tips for transforming your mattress
Neither mattresses or sleepers are made alike. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when deciding what to add to your mattress.
Know your sleeping position: Your mattress might be uncomfortable because it isn't intended for your sleeping position (stomach, back, side or combination). Research your bed's intended sleeper type or consider transforming a new cheap mattress.
If you sleep hot, get a gel or latex cooling mattress topper: Latex won't absorb as much heat as regular memory foam. GhostBed makes foam toppers for hot sleepers. Also, consider sheets that wick away heat.
If you don't like memory foam, there are mattress topper options for you: Brands like PlushBeds offer natural latex mattress toppers or even some made completely of feathers. Latex foam has more buoyancy than memory foam, meaning you will not sink into the mattress as much as with memory foam.
If you require a firmer mattress, there are mattress topper options for you: While they might not be as abundant as soft memory foam mattress toppers, firm toppers are available from brands like Puffy, Avocado and Brooklyn Bedding.
Not all pillows are made the same: Pay careful attention to the pillows you buy, as not every pillow is made for your sleeper type either. For example, Tempur-Pedic's Tempur-Cloud pillow is strictly designed for back and stomach sleepers. If you are a side sleeper, Tempur-Pedic recommends other pillows, like the Tempur-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling pillow.
Is a cheap, comfortable mattress for you?
Your sleep is important, and the mattress you choose to sleep on is imperative. Why suffer another night when you have the option to alter your at-home mattress or dorm mattress without buying a new one?
It might be time to transform your old mattress if:
You keep waking up in the middle of the night due to your mattress.
You are unimpressed by your bed or quality of sleep.
Your sheets, pillows or other sleep accessories are old, worn out or too thin.
If you aren't interested in fixing your old mattress, there is always the option to upgrade and buy a new one.
A cheap but newer comfortable mattress might be best for you if:
You are in the market for a new mattress and don't want to go over your budget.
You like memory, latex or gel foam mattress toppers (although there are wool, feather and fiber options available, too).
Paying $350 or above for a midtier mattress is outside your budget.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.