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The mattresses to avoid buying in the sales

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: 12 October 2023

Need to know

  • We tested 39 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 instore or online can be confusing and downright stressful, with so many types, builds, firmnesses, features and amazing 'new technology' claims being touted – not to mention prices soaring into the thousands of dollars for some models. It's enough to warrant a serious lie-down!

To help you choose, 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 $1100. Join CHOICE to see our full mattress reviews.

1. Sealy Back Support Harmony

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 61%
  • Comfort score: 50%
  • Price: $999

This spring mattress may cost under $1000, but sadly, this is not a great deal. It came dead last in our testing, and despite the fact it claims in its very name to offer "Back Support", we found in our testing that the advertised firmness did not match our results. 

It also received a very poor stabilisation score of 12%, which means it might have you bouncing around in your sleep much more than other mattresses. 

To score this aspect, we measure the movement of the mattress after a standard impact, simulating the turning body of a sleeping person. We also count the number of bounces up and down before the mattress is calm again. 

We run two tests, one to simulate bounces for a single sleeper, and a second to simulate the impact of movement on a second sleeper. 

We measured eight bounces before this mattress stabilised (4 or 5 bounces is acceptable)

For this mattress, we measured eight bounces before the mattress stabilised. For context, we would consider 4 or 5 bounces as acceptable, and our top-rated mattresses score around 70% or more in this test. 

The only good point our testers noted on this mattress flop is that there was minimal change in female body support over time.

Read our full Sealy Back Support Harmony review.

original mattress factory refresh

This mattress could do with a rebrand: you'll wake up anything but refreshed.

2. Original Mattress Factory Refresh

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 62%
  • Comfort score: 54%
  • Price: $2946

This mattress, which came second-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 one of a few mattresses we reviewed that charges a fee for returns and exchanges – and this was even applied during the 30-day trial period. 

This was also the only mattress we reviewed that charges a fee for returns and exchanges

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.

The Original Mattress Factory Refresh was also bad at retaining whatever firmness it had after heavy use, scoring 56% on our sagging scale – the second-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.

3. Silent Partner Bellagio spring mattress 

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 66%
  • Comfort score: 51%
  • Price: $2999

Close to $3000 is a lot to pay for a mattress that scores just 51% on comfort (this is the average score we give based on support assessments for men and women sleeping on their backs and on their sides when the mattress is brand new).

Plus, in another blow for people who've spent a lot of cash on this spring mattress, its advertised firmness did not stack up – our experts label it as a 'soft' mattress rather than medium or firm.

The Ikea Abygda mattress also scored 66% in our testing, but at a much lower price tag of $699, its failings are a little easier to stomach than this pricey poor performer. Plus, it scored much better for comfort, and at a quarter of the price. 

Read our full Silent Partner Bellagio review.

ikea abygda

Sweet dreams aren't made of this: the Ikea Abygda mattress.

4. Ikea Abygda

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 66%
  • Comfort score: 65%
  • Price: $699

Even though this mattress costs a quarter of the price of the Silent Partner above, you won't sleep any easier with it: it received exactly the same score. It was rated better for comfort than the Bellagio, however, which just goes to show that money can't always buy you sweet dreams.

Where it really fell down was the stabilisation test, which assesses how much the mattress moves when you turn in bed. It scored just 41%, so if you're a restless sleeper, or your partner is, you'll feel every movement throughout the night. Our testers also scored it down for sweat repellancy, so it's not a great option if you live somewhere hot. 

It's lucky that Ikea has a 365-day free trial period, because you'll probably want to send this one back. (It's the same story with the Ikea Fillan mattress mentioned below.) However, you'll have to pay to have an Ikea mattress picked up if you don't like it, so save yourself the hassle and the cost by just not buying one of these two in the first place. 

There are better Ikea mattresses out there, though, so don't write off the Swedish super-store just yet. One Ikea mattress is even recommended by our experts – check our expert mattress reviews to find out which one.

Read the full Ikea Abygda review

Other poor performers

The four mattresses we've listed were the lowest-scoring overall in our tests, but there were three more that only just out-scored them by a whisker, scoring 67% overall. 

One of them is a basic Clark Rubber foam mattress, which really shows the aforementioned mattresses in a poor light: a $3000 mattress that's worse than a $365 mattress? That's definitely not value for money. 

Here are three more mattresses that won't help you rest easy:

  • Art & Science Platinum: $1399
  • Clark Rubber Comfort Deluxe: $365
  • Ikea Fillan: $799
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.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.