Consumer Reports tests mattresses to learn which mattresses provide the best support for your back and side. We also recommend that you try out any mattress you're considering to gauge how comfortable it feels. Indeed, if you enter a mattress store without doing your homework, a salesperson may greet you and steer you toward the mattress or mattresses the store wants most to sell. At that point, you’re playing their game. Here are four selling points they’ll likely tout but that may not make a difference in comfort. We also reveal a few less-obvious features that really are worth a look: 

Mattress Features to Reconsider

More or better coils mean great support. The better innerspring mattresses we’ve tested had 600 to 1,000 coils. But having more coils won’t help if, as in some cases, they’re made of thinner-gauge metal. A sales rep might also crow about coil variations such as Bonnell (hourglass type), continuous wire, and coils of individually pocketed springs. None of those, we’ve found, is inherently superior for support.

Foam layers improve innersprings. The majority of innerspring mattresses in our mattress Ratings are “hybrids,” meaning they include foam on top. But on some models we’ve tested, that foam was sometimes too thin to make a difference in support. Performance varied; still, hybrid innersprings that scored well had a foam layer several inches thick.

Gel cools you down. We note in our mattress Ratings which mattresses have a layer of gel-infused foam, claimed to provide a cooling effect. But that layer can be buried beneath other layers. Past tests showed that innerspring mattresses containing gel tended to sleep slightly cooler. The reverse was true, however, with gel-infused foam beds.

Lumbar support helps your back. Manufacturers try to differentiate their product lines in many ways, and a specially raised lumbar-support zone is one. But it hasn’t shown significant benefits in our mattress tests, which leaves no guarantee that it makes any real difference.

Features Worth Thinking About

Removable cover. You can remove stains from most mattresses, but you’ll have to do so without using too much water or cleaning agent since you’ll be sleeping on it. Wouldn’t you prefer to remove the outer cover and hand-wash it separately? With some foam mattresses, including those from Casper and Tuft & Needle (shown above) there’s a zipper on the underside.

Handles. With mattresses that feature pillowtops, handles aren't as important because you no longer need to flip the mattress to extend its usable life. And you wouldn’t rule out a mattress that doesn’t come with them. But if you like to rotate your mattress, handles still come in handy. And if you want to transport the mattress from one room in your house to another, you’ll appreciate the handles.

Organic. Not everyone shopping for a mattress thinks about how it’s made, but some people prefer a mattress that doesn't emit harmful chemicals and wants to restrict which chemicals can be present. If that's you, consider buying a mattress with one of a few green certifications such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) that we consider the most stringent.

Need a New Mattress?

We’ve updated our Ratings of mattress retailers and brands, and we’re also testing about 25 new mattresses; we expect to share the results in late summer. If you haven’t shopped for a mattress in some time, take a few minutes more to read our buying guide for mattresses. Then check out our current Ratings of almost 60 innerspring, foam, and adjustable-air mattresses.

Tips for Buying a Mattress

Tossing and turning all night? Maybe it’s time for a new mattress. On the 'Consumer 101' TV show, CR expert Chris Regan shares tips on what to look for when mattress shopping.