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What I Learned Testing Beds at Our Mattress Warehouse

I did the legwork so I can confidently recommend you a mattress. Here is everything I learned from testing beds with fellow mattress experts.

Caroline Igo Editor, Sleep
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.
Expertise Sleep, mattress accessories, vitamins and supplements, nutrition & personal care Credentials
  • Carl R. Greer/Andrew D. Hepburn Award for Best Nonfiction Essay (Miami University, 2020)
Caroline Igo
6 min read
Caroline on top of a stacks of mattresses in the mattress warehouse.
Erica Devaney/CNET

Here at CNET, our sleep experts are all over the country. We have experts in North Carolina (like me), Puerto Rico and Nevada. Specifically, Nevada is home to our mattress warehouse, and the team there spends each day evaluating beds so it can recommend you the perfect mattress. 

To broaden my mattress understanding, I traveled to Reno, Nevada, alongside my fellow experts, to test over 35 beds. Here's how it went. 

Read more: Best Mattress

Our mattress warehouse 

The mattress warehouse in Reno functions  as a testing lab, a filming studio and an office. The space is an impressive 6,000 square feet and includes desk space, two mock bedrooms for testing and filming, and a large backroom filled with mattresses -- in addition to the stacks of mattresses in a corner-like office when you first step into the warehouse and the stacks of mattresses along the desk and computer space.  

CNET's mattress warehouse.
Caroline Igo/CNET

The massive mattress backroom houses about 14 stacks of beds, each with five or more mattresses, totaling 68 mattresses. About 50 are then stored throughout the space, some as a backdrop for video reviews and a few surrounding the working areas. The entire mattress warehouse contains about 117 beds, and each has gone through rigorous testing and reviewing. 

How I tested the mattresses

Caroline and Dillon unboxing the DreamCloud mattress

Unboxing a DreamCloud mattress

Erica Devaney/CNET

While the warehouse currently has 117 mattresses, our team has tested over 200 beds. During my visit, I was able to walk through the process. Coincidentally, a new DreamCloud mattress had just arrived. I was able to unbox the bed and help the team set up the new mattress onto a bed frame in one of the bedroom setups. I helped cut off the constricting packaging and watched the shriveled-up mattress slowly start to take shape. Due to the all-foam construction, it took about a day for it to be ready for testing.    


In addition to the new mattress, I performed my own tests on other beds. I first tested firmness by pressing into a mattress and then lying down on it. The firmness of a bed is determined by its pressure relief and support. The Avocado Green Mattress, for example, felt very firm to me, even its medium, pillow-top version. It's made of latex foam, which is bouncy and firmer than memory foam. The Helix Midnight Luxe, however, is a medium to medium soft and has less support -- my personal preference. It's important to note that everyone will feel mattress firmness a little differently, depending on your body type, weight and preferred sleeping position. For example, someone who weighs 230 pounds may feel a medium mattress softer than someone who weighs 150 pounds.

Read more: Best Firm Mattress


Testing the Tempur-Pedic mattress

Reviewing the Tempur-Pedic LuxeBreeze Hybrid.

Caroline Igo/CNET

I tested for feel by switching sleeping positions while lying down. Typical memory foam, like in the Tempur-Pedic LuxBreeze Hybrid, is dense. When testing, it provided resistance when I switched between my stomach to my side. The feel between the Tempur-Pedic mattress and the Purple mattress is huge. While I sunk into the Tempur-Pedic memory foam, the gel-like latex grid of Purple is bouncy and light. My body stayed on top of the mattress without too much sinking.       

Sleeping positions 

An important part of mattress testing is determining which sleeping positions work best for each bed. I tried my hand at this, similar to how I tested for feel. For example, when I assessed the Big Fig mattress, I switched from my stomach, to back to side. Big Fig is a firmer mattress that is supportive enough for stomach and back sleepers and heavy people. It wasn't comfortable on my side. However, I am petite to average size, and Big Fig is meant for bigger figures. Any mattress will feel firmer to me due to my body size. On the other hand, heavier people will find beds softer than the average sleeper. 

Motion isolation 

Testing motion isolation of a mattress

Testing motion isolation of the  Leesa Legend Hybrid.

Caroline Igo/CNET

Motion isolation refers to how well a mattress absorbs the movement of a partner or pet that is also in bed with you. In theory, if a mattress has great motion isolation, your partner can toss and turn in the middle of the night without waking you. My team and I tested motion isolation of the Legend Chill Hybrid mattress by placing a wine glass filled with water on one side of the bed. On the other side, I lied down and switched from my stomach to my side. I observed how the glass didn't spill or slosh around -- a sign of good motion isolation.   

I noticed that the motion isolation of memory foam was significantly better than a hybrid mattress. This is due to the foam absorbing more motion than coils.

Read more: Best Hybrid Mattress

Edge support 

If you own a memory foam mattress, you know the feeling of almost falling off the edge. My team tests for edge support, because it's an element of the overall performance of a bed. Hybrid mattresses often have great edge support because the construction often has more support than all-foam. I tested the Nolah Original Hybrid's edge support by sitting on the edge, judging the support and then rolling as far as I could without falling off. The Nolah bed had great support all around the edges.  


Two CNET mattress experts testing the Brooklyn Aurora Luxe

Testing the Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Luxe.

Caroline Igo/CNET

As a hot sleeper myself, the temperature of a bed is a huge deal breaker for me. My team tests a bed's "temperature" by determining if it's cooling, temperature-neutral or may heat up an already hot sleeper. Cooling mattresses are usually made with breathable materials like cotton or gel memory foam and have a cooling cover that's cool to the touch. I tested the temperature of the Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Luxe -- which is now my favorite mattress -- by first assessing the cooling cover. While the bed wasn't covered with a sheet or bedding, I could feel the cooling sensation through the couple layers of my clothes. I was impressed.  

Read more: Best Cooling Mattress

3 key takeaways from testing beds

After testing mattresses at the warehouse for a few days, I compiled a list of main points I learned. Not only are they interesting, but these takeaways are important to know if you're in the market for a new mattress.  

Caroline on top of a stacks of mattresses in the mattress warehouse.
Erica Devaney/CNET

Mattress testing is often done with the average male body in mind

While in the warehouse, my team and I noticed some discrepancies among our mattress opinions. Two other women and I testing the beds found the firmer mattresses completely uncomfortable, even though our main sleeping positions require a supportive mattress. The general rule in the mattress industry is that stomach and back sleepers need a firmer bed to better support the spine, and side sleepers need a softer mattress to give pressure relief to the hips and shoulders. However, these general rules don't take into account stomach sleepers with bigger chests. It seems that these guidelines were set for the average body, mostly like male.  

If a mattress is marketed as a great option for stomach sleepers, know that this might not take into account breasts. However, I found that pillow-top mattresses are great, because they give those with chests extra cushion. I noticed that memory foam, like the Puffy Cloud mattress, was much more comfortable on my chest when I laid on my stomach. Stomach sleeping on a firmer mattress like the GhostBed wouldn't be ideal for me. 

A high price doesn't always equal comfort 

While I did test a few mattresses with high price points, like the Purple Rejuvenate and the Helix Elite series, I noticed that the affordable mattresses were still quite comfortable. For example, I tested a lot of these beds without knowing the name, brand or price at first. When I climbed on top of the DreamFoam Doze, I immediately liked the neutral foam feel. I found it just as comfortable as other higher-end memory foam mattresses that I had tested that day. To my surprise, the queen model of the DreamFoam Doze is only $240 and $180 when it's on sale. It's hard to argue with that price, especially when I already found it comfortable. You don't have to spend a fortune to find an accommodating mattress. 

Mattresses are subjective 

Not every bed will feel the same to you as to someone else. While a bed may be marketed as "universally comfortable" or great for all sleepers, your preference for feel matters so much more. I loved a mattress that my mattress expert peers didn't; they liked certain mattresses that I didn't. It's important to remember when reading reviews that just because a mattress is too soft for a back sleeper, for example, you might still prefer that bed if you like medium to softer meds. Although, a softer mattress will not always support the spine of a back sleeper as much as a firmer bed -- but that's your prerogative. At the end of the day, it is your mattress. I encourage you to do as much research and then go test for yourself. Mattresses have great return policies and free trials for this reason. Don't like the new bed? Return it. Try another. 

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.