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Shopping for a new mattress is a process that looks entirely different now than it might have 10 years ago. With an overwhelming number of online mattress brands that promise to ship directly to your doorstep and make mattress purchase and set-up just a click away, most of us would never think to even set foot in a traditional mattress store. This is a blessing and a curse. Decision paralysis sets in quickly -- and nearly defeats the convenience and ease of a DTC mattress solution.
We here at The Quality Edit found ourselves in the midst of mattress mania; we figured our readers might be experiencing the same. And so two of our esteemed editors tested mattresses among the internet’s favorites -- Tuft & Needle and Awara Sleep -- evaluating each for comfort, convenience, eco-friendliness, and value. Below is our unfiltered fireside chat of sorts -- read on to learn as much as you can about these mattresses before you add-to-cart.
Zoë: Hey Max! Let’s jump right in. What you were looking for in your mattress hunt?
Max: Zoë! Oh man. When we left the city to shelter-in-place in the NJ countryside, we soon realized the bed here was not quite up to snuff for two humans and a cat. So my hunt began with your standard Google search, but the sheer number of brands out there is just overwhelming. Plus, it probably didn’t help that I was looking for that sweet spot in our new bed: not too hard, not too soft...I’m a total Goldilocks.
Z: I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum -- I really had no idea what I wanted from my mattress. I was hesitant to even enter the DTC mattress space. I’ve only tried one before, and the chemical odor as it unfolded in my bedroom was alarming (and stuck around for a few days after the mattress had expanded), which ultimately resulted in my returning the mattress, cue my anxiety re: chemicals in my otherwise serene abode.
M: Oh no! I had seen some of those horrors in reviews when I was searching, which definitely put me on edge, too. Things like mold showing up after a few weeks, or the foam support breaking down after a while...all of it makes the whole comparison-shopping thing pretty intimidating. Especially when trying to decide on a purchase you’re presumably going to keep for many years...
Z: And one that you’ll use for (hopefully, if your sleep schedule is blessed) eight hours every night! Yes, the internet becomes a scary and overwhelming place when reading hundreds of mattress reviews before actually following through. So tell me: how’d you land on Tuft & Needle? And were there multiple mattress styles you had to choose from?
M: Luckily, Scott, our esteemed Editorial Director at TQE, tipped me off to T&N, as he’d been sleeping soundly on one of theirs for the last couple years. And sometimes less is definitely more—Tuft & Needle’s selection didn’t overwhelm me with variants, and it was pretty easy to find that middle ground among their lot. I should also mention that when I reached out, they were very helpful in making a recommendation, which I ultimately went with: the Mint, described as the “medium-firmness” choice between the three they offer.
Z: Sounds perfect for your aforementioned Goldilocks tastes! I almost want to jump ahead to ask how you like it now, but first I’m curious to hear about the unboxing. Did it ship directly to your door? How easy was the set-up situation?
M: Do you remember those toys when we were kids, the miniature dinosaurs or reptiles that would expand after putting them in a little bowl of water?
Z: Of course. Those always felt like magic.
M: Exactly. Unboxing the mattress felt like that—after it shipped (literally) to my door, I brought the box in and opened it up near the bedroom (so I wouldn’t have to lug the thing too far once it was ready), and the mattress unrolled and started puffing up just like a T-Rex. There was nothing I had to do except stand back and let it do its thing for a couple hours.
Z: I had the same experience. It’s pretty amazing. I almost expected my Awara mattress to be insanely heavy, because part of the “sell” is that it’s a luxury hybrid mattress -- it’s got both coil and memory foam, and is made with 100% organic wool. It was definitely hefty, but I was easily able to move it up a flight of stairs and onto my bed frame. Then, same situation: I just cut open the plastic wrap and it expanded to its full size within an hour. The stuff of sci-fi (or children’s toys)!
M: Pretty rad. So now let me ask you: how’d you land on Awara to begin with?
Z: To be completely transparent, I was initially tipped off to its existence by your classic influencer marketing. My Instagram algorithm must have known that I would be intrigued by the “all natural and organic material” angle that Awara is known for. The mattress is chemical free, made with natural water-based adhesives, and is also environmentally friendly. Because I didn’t know quite what I was looking for, the hybrid coil support core and memory foam combo eased a bit of my decision fatigue.
M: Gotcha, makes sense. T&N’s Mint is all foam—three different layers, in fact: a 6 ½” base layer of support foam, then 2” of T&N’s Adaptive® foam with ceramic cooling gel, and then another 3” of the Adaptive® foam with graphite (graphite pulls sweat away from your body while you sleep, and the gel beads offer further defense against heat retention). This was part of what interested me, as I’d never dabbled in memory foam before but had always heard good things...call it Foam-O, if you will.
Z: You are winning this review in the pun department! And with all that technical talk, I’m compelled to ask potentially the most important question: how do you like the mattress a few sleeps in?
M: I gotta tell ya Zoë, it’s pretty freakin’ amazing. I’ve always had trouble falling asleep, and I mostly attributed it to being unable to just turn off the ol’ “roof-brain-chatter'' that's always buzzing around. But now I’m definitely a believer in the huge difference a mattress can make for your ability to slumber. I used to find myself looking at the clock throughout the night, seemingly at every hour—now I just see it when I wake up in the morning.
I’ve always had trouble falling asleep, and I mostly attributed it to being unable to just turn off the ol’ “roof-brain-chatter'' that's always buzzing around. But now I’m definitely a believer in the huge difference a mattress can make for your ability to slumber.
Z: Amazing! I feel the same -- didn’t really realize how much of a difference a mattress could make for my sleep quality until I tried this one from Awara. Mine has 4 layers -- a plush top with organic New Zealand wool, natural Dunlop latex, premium coil support core, and an organic cotton blend base with reinforced handles for easy moving -- so it’s substantially tall and cushioned. I’ve taken to calling it my “princess mattress”: it feels like total luxury climbing into bed each night, and even though I’m a major morning person, I find myself wanting to stay in bed a bit longer when I wake up.
M: That’s funny, because I’m definitely more of a night person, and when I first got the mattress I found myself plopping down on it well before bedtime, just for super-comfortable lounging around or book-reading. And when it comes to actually sleeping, it really does “thread the needle” between comfort and support: it’s soft at the surface, but immediately sturdy underneath. Feels like I’m being carried off to sleep by a cloud...
Z: It seems like we both found our dream mattresses. What happens if you don’t like it down the road? I don’t see that happening for either of us, but I was initially comforted by Awara’s forever warranty and 365-night trial. Awara’s luxury mattress is definitely priced that way, at $1299 for a Queen, so it’s reassuring to know that if you don’t like it, you’ll be able to return it for a full refund for a year.
M: Yeah, it definitely takes a load off knowing that I wasn’t going to have to stick with something if it turned out not to be right for me. Especially for a mattress, because it’s not like you can tell after only one night’s sleep. Tuft & Needle recognizes that—not only do they recommend sleeping on it for two weeks to let it fully adapt to your body, but they also let you return it, no questions asked, within the first 100 nights after receiving it. At $995 for the Queen-sized Mint, that certainly helps to stave off any return-problem nightmares.
Z: Anything else you wish you knew before going on your mattress search? I feel pretty lucky I found Awara -- and I’m enjoying catching quality sleep while knowing my purchase is eco-friendly and made with all natural and organic materials, keeping my most restorative space exactly as peaceful as it should be.
M: I just wish I hadn’t taken so long to pull the trigger! Getting swept up in all the options out there made me miss the forest through the trees: Tuft & Needle was founded specifically to combat that “nightmare” of mattress shopping, and their bed is a testament to the research and feedback they put into developing such a high-quality product. If only I’d had a review like ours to steer me straight from the start…