Mattress in a Box Problems: Exposing Truth Behind The Hype

By: Ryan Poppie Reading Time: 14 minutes

Mattress In A Box - Uncover the Hype
Reading Time: 14 minutes

Hoping for the convenience of purchasing a mattress online? The idea of a bed in a box can be quite alluring. They come compressed and rolled up, so they’re easy to ship to home and set up. However, thousands of consumers have encountered a list of common problems with mattresses that arrive in a compressed, roll-packed form. 

As the Chief Bedmaker and President of The Beloit Mattress Company, I have decades of experience in handcrafting best-value mattresses, rooted in a deep understanding of mattress technology.

With five generations as a factory direct mattress manufacturer since 1929, I offer authoritative knowledge on the underlying issues of mattress in a box problems. 

These convenient mattresses have challenges, ranging from questionable longevity to insufficient support. I have found that what initially feels like a cloud can quickly become a lumpy or sagging disappointment.

In this article, I’ll cover what you need to know and what to keep an eye out for.

Key Takeaways

  • Mattress in a box revolutionized the industry in the early 2010s.
  • Mattresses in a box have durability problems because they use low-density foam.
  • These mattresses often offer limited styles, usually just all-foam or hybrid.
  • Packed and rolled mattresses can lose spine support, especially in the middle.
  • Roll packing impacts the quality of foam more than they are telling you.
  • You will get a far superior and long-lasting mattress from traditional manufacturing. 

What Is A Mattress In a Box?

First, let me define what a “mattress in a box” is.  A mattress in a box refers to a mattress that is compressed, vacuum-sealed, and packed into a compact box for easy shipping and delivery.

This innovative approach began gaining popularity in the early 2010s with the rise of online mattress retailers like Casper and Tuft & Needle.

The concept allows customers to order a mattress online, deliver it to their doorstep, and quickly unbox it at home. Once unpacked, the mattress expands to its full size. This method revolutionized the mattress industry by offering convenience, reducing shipping costs, and simplifying the buying process.

However, there are downsides, which I’ll share with you in this article by identifying three critical problems behind the hype.

What are the typical problems with bed in a box mattresses?

First Problem: Durability Concerns

The primary issue with bed-in-a-box mattresses centers around durability.

In my extensive experience, I’ve observed that these mattresses often offer lower-density foams to be compressed and fit into a small box. This adaptation leads to several significant problems.

Firstly, the foam is not as durable as in a standard mattress. Lower-density foams are more prone to developing indentations and losing shape over time, leading to uneven support and discomfort during sleep.

Secondly, and more critically, the lower-density foam tends to get damaged during the flattening and roll-packing process. The compression required for packaging can strain the foam’s structure, causing it to fail sooner than expected.

This can result in a mattress that deteriorates rapidly and provides inconsistent support and comfort.

Young woman waking up with back pain from a sinking mattress

Imagine moving into your new place, loving that memory foam mattress you just unrolled, but then fast forward a few years—it starts sagging way sooner than expected. It’s discouraging to think about the comfy bed you chose not lasting as long as you planned when you start waking up with terrible back pains.

Manufacturers might say their mattresses are tough, but here’s what happens: those plastic spherical cells inside the low-density foams get all crunched up during compression. They’re simply not made for that kind of pressure.

So even if they throw in some innerspring coils or cooling gel for good measure, the soft edges give away the game—your bed won’t stay firm where it matters most. Sure, at first glance your bedroom looks great with that new foam mattress sitting pretty; however, damage becomes apparent often within a few years as weaker spots starts giving out beneath you.

Second Problem: Limited Selection

Most bed-in-a-box mattresses come in just two styles: all-foam or hybrid. You might struggle to find that perfect feel you’re dreaming of. With traditional innerspring mattresses, you get variety – plush tops, firm supports, and more. But these can’t be squished into a box as easily. So the fancy quilt-top mattress you saw at a friend’s house? It’s probably not going to show up at your doorstep compressed in a neat little package.

The hybrid model option offers more support by combining foam with springs. Yet, they still may not hit the mark for everyone’s unique comfort needs. It’s like trying to pick out your favorite flavor of ice cream at a shop that only offers vanilla and chocolate – you miss out on all the other delicious possibilities!

In other words, if you want something special like extra lumbar support or organic materials, your online order choices are slim. Many customers compromise on their ideal comfort because there’s just not much to choose from.  

When you buy factory-direct from a company like mine, you save enough money to have a mattress delivered to your home affordably. We offer white-glove delivery of our mattresses for free within 50 miles and 300 miles for a small fee, and we use a special carrier for any further distance at a reasonable price. Not trying to toot my own horn, I’m just saying there are options other than stuffing a bed in a box. We offer a 365-day trial period where if the mattress isn’t right, we modify it until it is. 

Third Problem: Lack of Support

The third major problem with bed-in-a-box mattresses is their lack of support. These mattresses are often made with cheap lower-density foams to accommodate the roll packing process and skip the traditional spring system. This results in a mattress that is less supportive overall. Additionally, once the mattress is flattened for packaging, it is usually folded in half and then rolled up. 

This folding process directly impacts the center of the mattress, where most of the lumbar support is needed. Imagine trying to sleep on a new mattress that’s weak in the center; it’s uncomfortable and extremely frustrating.

They also tend to leave out stronger spring systems. Without those springs, your back might not get the firm foundation it needs at night. You deserve better than waking up sore or stiff because your mattress didn’t hold up its end of the deal.

How does roll packing impact the quality of mattresses in a box?

In my professional opinion, the claims that roll packing and compressing a mattress do not cause damage are questionable.  Folded and rolled packing is not as gentle on a mattress as you might think.

It breaks the foam and can ruin coils, especially if they stay compressed for too long. Imagine pushing down on a fresh loaf of bread; it doesn’t spring back the same way.

That’s what happens to your mattress after being squished into a box.  Watch this video demonstration of mattress compression to see the compress and roll in action.

Mattress Compression - Model 1390HCA - (legacy video)

SSB Bedding, AKA Serta Simmons Bedding, knows this well – they’ve recently invested in a mega plant about 20 miles from our factory designed to ship mattresses flat. This facility is designed with dock doors surrounding the entire plant, set up for shipping thousands of mattresses daily. If roll packing were truly harmless, why would a major manufacturer invest in a plant designed to ship everything flat, requiring significantly more logistical resources?

This decision by a leading manufacturer in the mattress industry underscores the potential drawbacks of the roll-packing process.

The Economic Motivations Behind Bed-in-a-Box

This model raises several questions about the manufacturing and shipping practices in the mattress industry, particularly regarding the roll packing process. So, why is roll packing still prevalent, particularly for online mattress sales? The answer lies in the economics of online retail.  Shipping a mattress flat is considerably more expensive and logistically challenging than shipping a compressed mattress in a box.

The Logistics Puzzle: Roll Packing vs. Flat Shipping

For many consumers, the high cost of flat shipping would be a deterrent, likely driving them to purchase from a local store instead. Online mattress companies, therefore, resort to roll packing as it is the only feasible way to reduce shipping costs and make online sales attractive to customers.

By compressing the mattresses into boxes small enough to be handled by standard shipping services like UPS or FedEx, these companies can offer free or low-cost shipping – a key selling point in the competitive online market.

Environmental Impact of Bed-in-a-Box Returns

Men at a Mattress Landfill - working through a recycling nightmare

A significant yet often overlooked issue with bed-in-a-box mattresses is their environmental impact, particularly concerning returns and disposal. As highlighted in a report by The Guardian, the ease of purchasing and returning these mattresses contributes to a growing landfill crisis. When customers return their bed-in-a-box mattresses, these often end up in landfills due to the challenges and costs associated with recycling the materials used in them.

The Guardian’s article sheds light on this alarming trend, revealing how the convenience of these mattresses comes at a substantial environmental cost.

Critical Approach to Researching Bed In A Box Mattresses

When digging into the topic of bed-in-a-box mattresses, I highly advise you to use a discerning eye, particularly when examining customer reviews. A crucial tip for potential buyers is to start by sorting reviews by the lowest ratings. This method often reveals insightful information about the brand and its products, uncovering truths that might be obscured by higher-rated, often more prominently displayed reviews.

Unveiling A Very Real Customer Experience

Negative reviews tend to offer a more unfiltered view of the product, highlighting issues that might not be immediately apparent. These can range from concerns about new mattress durability and comfort to customer service experiences and the reality of the return process for an old mattress. Starting with these reviews gives you a clearer picture of the potential drawbacks and how they might impact your experience.

When browsing through reviews of any particular mattress brand, have you considered sorting the reviews by negative first?  Let’s take a quick peak under the hood of some of the top bed-in-a-box manufacturers and see what customers are saying:

* Disclaimer: these screen captures from well-known brands were taken to show common themes related to this article.  You can explore thousands more like this; just remember to short or only display the lowest rating reviews to uncover truths.


Helix Mattress 1-star review from customer Roy said: This mattress is wildly uncomfortable Review by Roy W. on 6 Jan 2024review stating This mattress is wildly uncomfortableThis mattress is wildly uncomfortable even though the sleep quiz recommended it. The top layer also slid around and warped the entire mattress.


Casper 1-Star review from customer said: Beware. Less than 2 years in its unusable. Started the warranty process and after jumping through all the hoops and them being very responsive, ghosted.


GhostBed 1-Star Customer review said "GhostBed 1-Star Customer Review Anna R said: "I Wish It Was In-Store So I Could Test It Out. Not so great for my back personally. It's way to firm for my liking. I got caught up in the reviews and thought this would be a great buy."

Layla 1-Star Customer Review said: "Regretting not returning it The mattress was only okay for a a period of time. About 5 months we feel the lack of support and firmness already and with body heat it sags even more. My back woke up sore and now 7 months later we need to get another mattress . It is not worth the money if you are looking for firm/ supportive mattress. Money wasted."

Understanding These Very Common Complaints

Sorting reviews from lowest to highest allows you to identify common themes in the complaints. For instance, if multiple reviews mention rapid deterioration or lack of support, these are likely systemic issues with the mattress. This approach is beneficial for identifying “mattress in a box health issues,” such as inadequate support leading to back pain or the environmental concerns associated with disposal and recycling, discovering fiberglass, and related annoyances.

Balancing Perspectives

While negative reviews are enlightening, balancing these perspectives with positive and moderate reviews is important. This comprehensive view helps us understand the full spectrum of experiences with the mattress. However, starting with the negatives ensures you are not swayed by overwhelmingly positive reviews that might overlook critical flaws.

Understanding the Trade-Offs

Here’s what I believe.  The widespread adoption of the bed-in-a-box model is not a testament to its superiority in terms of product quality. Instead, it is a strategic response to the economic challenges of selling mattresses online

As a consumer, you must understand these trade-offs. While the convenience and lower shipping costs of bed-in-a-box mattresses are appealing, they may come at the expense of durability, longevity, and overall mattress comfort and quality. 

Bed in a Box vs Traditional Mattress

I’ve consistently found that traditional mattresses like our Classic Orthopedic Tufted Flippable mattress offer distinct advantages over bed-in-a-box options.

Here are a few reasons: 

  1. The support and comfort provided by traditional mattresses are superior, thanks to their high-quality construction and materials. This is crucial for maintaining proper spinal alignment and avoiding common “mattress in a box health issues” like back pain.
  2. Durability is another area where traditional mattresses excel. Built with robust materials, they withstand wear and tear much better, offering a longer lifespan. 
  3. The variety available with traditional mattresses means they can cater to a broader range of personal preferences and needs. Whether firmness, material type, or size, traditional mattresses offer more options, allowing for a more personalized sleep experience.
  4. If you want a bed made of memory foam, we can make the mattress with quality foam layers and add coils in the center to ensure proper support that leads to a good night’s sleep.


>> Discover our 5-star rated flippable Orthopedic Tufted Mattress.


Orthopedic Tufted Innerspring Mattress by The Beloit Mattress Company

Comparing Foam Mattresses to Traditional Innerspring


Feature Foam Mattresses Traditional Innerspring
Support Inferior Superior
Edge Support Limited Robust
Structural Integrity May degrade over time Maintained over time
Multiple Support Zones Not typically available Engineered with zones
Pressure Point Reduction Limited Balanced distribution
Sustainably Sourced Materials Varies by brand Prioritized
Lifespan Shorter Longer
Durability Less durable More durable
Environmental Responsibility Varies by brand Committed to sustainability


Note: The information provided is based on general observations and may vary depending on specific brands and models of foam mattresses and traditional innerspring mattresses.


  1. Remember that bed-in-a-box mattresses might not be the best choice. They can sag, lose support, and have a shorter life. When you buy a mattress, you’ll want to check for strong coils and thick foam for lasting comfort.
  2. Unpacking them wrongly could hurt their shape and support, too. If you’re worried about allergies or chemicals, read up before buying. Go with companies that care about safe packing and delivery.
  3. As an expert in the field, I advocate for a more informed approach to mattress purchasing, where quality and long-term comfort take precedence over short-term conveniences.
  4. Pick a durable mattress over a convenient one; they are long-lasting, with at least ten years of life!
  5. Ensure you check the label and that your mattress doesn’t include fiberglass.
  6. Consider a traditional flat mattress from a factory-direct manufacturer like mine. You’ll be glad you did.

Customer review regarding Bed In a Box:

After reading MANY MANY mattress reviews, and considering a bed in a box, I stopped by Beloit Mattress to have a look. No pressure from Jamison…he answered all my questions honestly and thoroughly. They want to sell you a mattress that works for you, and their 365 day guarantee is a no brainer. I saved $1000. Great customer service from purchase to delivery, and removal of my old bed!!

Read 5-star here:


What are some health issues linked to mattresses in a box?

  • Mattresses in a box might contain polyurethane foam and chemicals like formaldehyde, diisocyanates, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These can affect indoor air quality and trigger asthma attacks or skin irritation.

Why do some people complain about heat retention with these mattresses?

  • The materials used in many boxed mattresses, especially memory foam, hold onto body heat. This means they can get quite warm during the night, leading to uncomfortable sleep for some folks.

Can chemicals in mattresses cause long-term health problems?

  • Yes, certain chemicals found in some mattresses — like methylene chloride and VOCs — have been linked by consumer reports to serious health risks, including cancer.

Do all mattress-in-a-box brands use harmful substances?

  • Not necessarily! There’s a wide range of products out there. Some brands focus on using renewable materials like latex, which is less toxic because it comes from rubber trees – that’s good news for your sleep and the planet!

Are there eco-friendly options for shoppers who worry about their mattresses affecting indoor air quality?

  • Look for an eco-friendly label when shopping; this shows the mattress uses less harmful flame retardants or has fewer emissions of volatile organic compounds, boosting air quality and peace of mind.

What Is a Bed in a Box?

  • A bed in a box is a mattress made of foam, compressed, folded, and stuffed in a box. This process allows for convenient delivery but comes at the cost of the mattress’s quality and longevity.

Are Mattresses in a Box Good?

  • From my perspective, while they offer convenience and easy delivery, bed-in-a-box mattresses often lack the quality, support, and durability found in traditional mattresses. Their construction limits the selection and compromises the materials used, affecting the overall sleep experience.

Are you just researching right now?

Check out our free Mattress Buying Guide.

What You’ll Learn From This Guide


  • The importance of quality sleep
  • Types of mattresses
  • The different mattress sizes
  • What makes a mattress “green”
  • And much, much more!

About Ryan Poppie

Ryan Poppie, President and Chief Bedmaker at The Beloit Mattress Company. He's not just a mattress maker but a true expert in sleep. Leading a 4th generation family business, Ryan uses his deep sleep knowledge to ensure every mattress made gives his customers the best rest possible. Each custom mattress is handcrafted to show his love for sleep and how it can improve our lives. With his team, Ryan's passion is to improve your quality of life through a better night's sleep.

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