We Tried Hundreds of Mattresses, Sheets, and Pillows — Here Are the Very Best Leave a comment


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We’ve tried it all at Apartment Therapy, from shower curtain liners and bath towels to diffusers, lamps, and sofas. But if there’s one thing we know from top to bottom (especially those layers in between), it’s bedding. Over the past year, we’ve tested hundreds of pillows, sheet sets, mattress toppers, and more from new collections and well-loved ones. Each category of bedding essentials involves its own specific set of criteria, most of which boils down to feel, durability, and performance. We asked the questions: Does this product deliver on what it claims to do? What does it feel like? How long does it last? Bedding that has exceeded our expectations ended up in one of our lists of the best on the market. Here, we’re celebrating the winners of each of those features in the world of bedding: The best of the best. Whether you’ve been looking for the perfect set of sheets or are in the market for a whole new sleep setup, we’ve got you covered (as it were).

Testing for the best mattress has been, by far, our longest-running test period of the year. There are quite a few out there, not to mention the variety of materials and designs as well as the types of sleepers they’re best suited for. After testing 30 mattresses, we determined the best among them for back, side, and stomach sleepers, in firm or plush feels, and more. In the end, we found Helix to be the best overall mattress brand for their large variety of options and the high performance of the Midnight LUXE mattress. It’s a hybrid-style mattress with a combination of memory foam, gel foam, and wrapped coils for a medium feel. It also has a quilted pillow top so you feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud, even with superior support, which makes it suitable for nearly any kind of sleeper. It features zoned lumbar support for body contouring as well, so pressure points are alleviated and the spine stays aligned.

Our tester, real estate and finance editor Madeline, describes herself as both a hot sleeper and a side sleeper. Her most recent mattress was a 2015-era hand-me-down from a friend, and she says the Midnight LUXE is a major upgrade. Some of the adjectives she uses to describe it: supportive, squishy, comfortable, and cozy. “I feel like a queen sleeping on a queen. It’s softer and squishier, for sure, which means I don’t need a topper. And it provides so much more support than my old mattress.”

Who It’s Best For: Those who sleep hot; side sleepers; those who want a hybrid construction; those who appreciate long trial periods.

Good to Know: Militaryfirst respondersteachers, and students are all eligible for a 15 percent discount. Helix has a showroom in New York City where you can schedule an appointment to feel the mattresses before you buy. Helix also has a referral program, so the benefits keep coming while you’re getting your best sleep.

Mattress toppers are one of the most personal bedding elements because of their ability to alter the feel of your current mattress subtly or dramatically, depending on what you need. When choosing the best topper, we went with the one that would take any mattress situation and level it up dramatically at the best price. It’s no surprise that Coop Home Goods, which makes one of our favorite pillows, has such a fantastic mattress topper as well. Made from CertiPUR-US certified foam, this topper has a few features that make it stand out from the rest. First, it’s flippable, with both a plush and a firm side. If you tend to go through periods of different sleep positions (like me), the ability to change your bed completely with one quick flip is a huge relief — literally. What if you think you prefer plush but it turns out you actually need something firm? The firm side is great if you need extra support or want to improve alignment, while the plush side turns any old mattress into a cozy wonderland. The Flip already comes covered with a waterproof mattress protector, saving you money if you need both. Plus, having a protector will give you peace of mind if you have pets or little kids jumping into bed with you (or if you enjoy drinking wine in bed).

Who It’s Best For: Those who want flexibility with their mattress feel; those who want something waterproof.

Good to Know: It’s a mattress topper and waterproof protector in one, so there’s no need to invest separately in a protective cover.

In our hunt for the best pillow, we knew it had to offer support to the widest range of sleepers — it can’t be too flat, isolating side sleepers, and it isn’t the one with the most volume, which can put back and stomach sleepers’ necks out of alignment. The best pillow is a perfect medium, much like the ones at nice hotels that work for a large population of people. Our winning brand Fluff Co.‘s pillows are inspired by those luxe hotel pillows we all covet, commerce writer Sarah says. The idea is to “get luxurious, hotel-style pillows into everyone’s hands at a fraction of the price (those fancy pillows can run well over $100 a pop!).” Everything Fluff Co.’s got has been sourced from the same factories that make 5-star hotel products. Their limited catalog only includes what they’ve meticulously tested and perfected. “I ADORED this pillow!” says Sarah. “The second I laid down, I knew I was in for a treat as I let out an audible, ‘ooooh.’ The support was great, I slept soundly, and didn’t wake up with any neck pain — a sign of a good pillow.” Another sign that this pillow was a winner was how Sarah’s best friend — a back sleeper with a history of neck problems and surgeries — reacted to it. “I didn’t mention anything about the pillow, I just let her use it when she stayed over,” says Sarah. “After five minutes, she turned to me and said, ‘You HAVE to send me the link for this pillow.’ Coming from someone who I know has spent so much time and money trying to find something for her delicate neck, it made me a believer that these might just be one of the best pillows around.”

Who It’s Best For: Those who want a luxe hotel-style pillow; those who don’t want to break the bank.

Good to Know: You can try your Fluff Co. pillow for 30 days and get a full refund if you’re not happy. (Pillow shopping might have a leg up on dating after all.)

For the second year in a row, Riley Home’s Goose Down Comforter reigns supreme as our best overall comforter. For this category, we tested for quality, feel, weight, and durability — Riley came out on top on all accounts, including improving our quality of sleep. This pick continues to be a standout because it’s luxe, feels cozy, and is perfectly weighted. Made with a 100 percent long-staple combed cotton sateen cover and 700 fill power white goose down, the comforter is airy enough for a breathable sleep yet insulating enough to keep you snug in frigid temperatures. “This comforter gives me all the fancy hotel room feels,” says AT contributor Samantha, who put it to the test. “It’s the perfect weight and helped keep me warm through a wintery snowstorm. The material is sturdy yet soft, narrow yet puffy, and resort quality. It’s the ultimate treat yo’ self comforter.”

Who It’s Best For: Those who want the luxury of down; those who have trouble staying at the same temperature through the night; those who want something that will last.

Good to Know: Comes with a five-year warranty and a 60-day money back guarantee. You can also buy Riley Home’s down alternative version that starts at $179.

It couldn’t be denied that this set by My Sheets Rock blew every other competitor out of the water with its eponymous temperature-regulating powers. Testing for this category of sheets is fairly black and white: They either cool or they don’t. Made from high-grade, sustainably sourced OEKO-TEX-certified bamboo rayon, these sheets boast eight heat-fighting benefits, including breathable construction, moisture-wicking technology, and a lightweight feel that’s buttery soft and inviting all year-round. Commerce writer Sarah attests that they’re not only the softest pair of sheets she’s ever encountered, but they’ve also allowed her to sleep sweat-free at last. “These sheets seem to combine the positive traits of two other beloved textiles: the smoothness of silk (sans the slip) and the lightweight, classic design of cotton,” she says. “Not only did I sleep soundly and comfortably, but I also woke up sweat-free and without a hair out of place.”

Who It’s Best For: Those who want to sleep on the coolest sheets possible; those who love a silkier feel to their sheets.

Good to Know: These sheets have sold out several times and fly off shelves when they re-stock, so don’t wait if you think you could benefit from a set of your own.

Linen sheets, while attractive and trending, have a bad rap for being so textured and taking quite a bit of use and washes to break in. In looking for the best linen sheets, we expected 100 percent high-quality linen, breathability, and coziness after just one wash. Wayfair-exclusive brand Greyleigh, which was named our best budget brand last year, crept all the way to the top spot with their Hilma linen sheet set as our best overall pick for linen sheets in 2021. Made from 100 percent French linen, these sheets are soft, lightweight, and, best of all, under $160 for a Queen set. Commerce director Mark calls these sheets “life-changing,” while applauding them for their breathability. “They’re soft with a bit of a gauze-y feel, which I really love,” he says. “They’re also completely breathable and keep me comfortable through the night.” Because these linen sheets are on the thicker side, he anticipates being able to swap out his comforter for the set’s top sheet during the sweltering summer months. Since they’re comparatively inexpensive, the Greyleigh Hilma sheets are a good starter option for those testing the linen waters. We appreciate the clean design, which comes in four colors and breaks up the all-white bedding look without going rogue.

Who It’s Best For: Those looking for a perfect combination of soft and sturdy; those who want luxury quality at a more attainable price.

Good to Know: This is another sheet pick that tends to sell out, especially when it goes on sale, so if you see it available in your size and color preference, don’t wait to purchase.

Those opting for cotton percale sheets are often on the hunt for something high quality, cooling, and free of mysterious materials. Percale is characterized by a matte finish and crisp feel thanks to its “one-over-one-under” weave. We tested over two dozen sets of percale sheets across a variety of brands and thread counts and determined Brooklinen’s to be the best of all. “These sheets truly make getting out of bed a challenge — that’s how darn comfortable they are,” says senior commerce editor Jasmine. Though they have a bit of weight to them, these 270-thread-count sheets are completely breathable, making them ideal for both hot and cold nights. And while the sheets are already soft to the touch, they get even better with each wash, developing a sort of lived-in quality. “What I love most is the hotel-like crispness from these sheets, which I’ve only ever experienced when I’m vacationing somewhere fancy,” adds Jasmine. To round out how awesome they are, the sheets also come with a lifetime warranty(!) and are available in a really nice range of colors. Keep an eye out for Brooklinen’s limited-edition colorways — they tend to sell out fast, but the brand typically launches new ones every season.

Who It’s Best For: Those who want percale sheets but don’t like an ultra crisp feel; those who want to invest in quality sheets but don’t want to spend a lot.

Good to Know: You can also buy a starter set that doesn’t include a top sheet, if that’s your thing.

Macy’s has a full range of sheets in every style and material imaginable, but when it comes to jersey softness, it’s gotta be Martha Stewart Essentials. We tested a spectrum of jersey sheets across a range of prices for softness, durability, breathability, and warmth, and found this Martha Stewart Essentials Jersey Knit set to be the best performing at the best price. Real estate editor Madeline thinks they are the perfect balance between ultra soft and lightweight. “My apartment in Brooklyn runs really hot in the wintertime (thanks, radiators!), so I’m usually on the lookout for lightweight sheets and blankets that won’t make me too warm when I’m trying to fall asleep,” she says. In fact, Madeline notes that the sheets feel like her softest fitted tee in the best kind of way. The set can outfit mattresses up to 15” (take note, dorm dwellers), and is available in an array of six moody and muted tones — rich purple and vivid aqua included. 

Who It’s Best For: Those who run warm at night; those who want lived-in softness; those who are working with a budget.

Good to Know: This set is exclusive to Macy’s. 

The best overall flannel sheets have to be of the highest quality material and construction, and made with a long-lasting, ultra-soft weave that keeps you cozy, not stuffy. Warm and weighty, Coyuchi’s simply amazing Cloud Brushed flannel sheets are our best overall pick. They rival the most expensive flannel sheets we tried when it comes to softness, weight, and quality. They’re also organic and consciously made. The velvety finish is smooth and pill-resistant, and you have seven different colors to choose from, ranging from a fresh spring white to an autumnal ginger, so they’ll work all year round. Shopping editor Blair says, “I’ve only owned one pair of flannel sheets in my life, which I did like a lot, but I admittedly had nothing else to compare them to — that is, until I got Coyuchi’s version, and I’ll never look at my prior set the same. I love Coyuchi’s because, yes, they add an extra layer of warmth to my bed, as all flannel sheets do, but their unparalleled softness really makes them superbly next-level. What’s fascinating, too, is that they’re fairly thick but still feel especially breathable — which, as a habitual hot sleeper, I SO appreciate.”

Who It’s Best For: Those looking for the softest sheets around; those who want something breathable; those who are picky about color; those who want something organic.

Good to Know: Even the packaging is eco-friendly — all sheets come in a reusable organic cloth bag.





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