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Emma mattress review: One writer puts it to the sleep test and reveals what's great about this popular foam mattress

A soft but supportive night's sleep

There's nothing more important than a good night’s sleep and if you're struggling to get one, you're not alone. And while there are many things about sleeping that are hard to control - one thing you can do is make sure you have the best mattress for your body and sleep style, to guarnatee as good a sleep as possible.

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With so many different mattresses on the market it's hard to know which one to pick, but the Emma mattress is getting a lot of attention these days - with Instagram campaigns and influencers going wild for them. So.... do they live up to the hype? 

What is an Emma mattress?

Emma mattresses were launched in 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany and are now sold in 17 countries around the world. Having won awards such as the Which? Best Buy in 2020, the Emma Mattress has fast become a social media sensation, but what's the science behind the foam mattress?  The idea is to support ideal spinal alignment which they do using patented technology and materials. The 12-inch thick mattress is constructed of three layers of foam and comes in at a medium firmness rating of 6/10. 

Emma mattresses are medium firm

What are the benefits of an foam mattress?

One benefit is motion isolation - if you're sharing your bed with a partner who wriggles a lot in their sleep, you won't be disturbed by his or her movements. Foam mattresses absorb local motions and are quiet too - so no squeeky mattress springs. Pressure relief is another benefit. While sprung mattreses can put presure on bits of your body that stick out, a foam mattress moulds around the body meaning any parts that usually feel a bit uncomfortable on a harder surface, are gently moulded around with foam. 

What are the disadvantages of an foam mattresses? 

Some people feel that foam mattresses get a lot hotter than sprung mattreses as there is less space for air to circulate and the mattress moulds around the human form. The edges of foam mattresses tend to be very soft too - and can give you quite a shock when you go to sit down right on the corner, as they feel like they will give way entirely. 

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How does the Emma mattress measure up? 

We tried out two types of Emma mattress - the original and the premium version which is said to offer more breathability and stability than the original. 

Emma Original Double memory foam mattress, £699, Amazon

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This was the first time I had tried a foam mattress and I was intruiged - my only real experience with memory foam was a pillow which I hadn't got along with particularly well a few years ago, so I was definitely scepical, but I had a few friends who had purchased foam mattresses and were passionate about them, so I was eager to try one out for myself. 

The original mattress arrived rolled up in a small box - well, small for the size that it swiftly sprang out to be. I'd been told that the mattress might give off a smell for the first few days so left it resting on the floor for a couple of days but honestly never really felt I could smell anything that was concerning. 

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The first thing I noticed about the Emma Original was how soft if felt. I was concerned by this as I like a fairly firm mattress and when I knelt on it to put the sheets on, my knee on the edge of the mattress sunk so far in, I wasn't convinced this was going to offer any support to my back and body when I slept. It turns out that this is something to be expected with foam mattresses - and the Emma Original is, according to other reviews, stronger at its edges than many foam mattresses. But while the give at the edge when either trodden on or pushed down on a knee takes some getting used to, it doesn't affect the performance of the mattress while sleeping, and sitting on the edge is also fine. 

Emma Medium tension memory foam double mattress, £379.50, John Lewis

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My first night in on the Emma mattress and I suddenly realised what all the fuss was about. The mattress really is insanely comfortable. My best night's sleep previously had been in a Four Season's hotel on a firm mattress with a cloud-like mattress topper, but I'd never been able to recreate this at home. The Emma mattress is the closest I've ever got - it feels like the mattress is enveloping your body, whatever position you are in, feeling soft and comforting whilst also offering such great support that you feel no aches and pains. I loved that I could move around to sleep however I wanted (I'm a side and back sleeper mainly) and that whichever position I opted for, I felt similarly supported, but softly so. 

After a few nights on the Emma I had to return to my usual firm, sprung mattress and the difference was even more tangible back in my own bed. The bed felt hard and uncompromising, and I yearned for my cloud bed. 

Was the bed hot? I think it was warmer than my normal bed, and it makes sense, because your body is in closer contact at more points than on a harder surface. But the Emma beds are better ventilated than some foam beds as they consist of three different layers. The Airgocell® foam (3 cm) has an open-pore cell structure, specifically designed to allow air circulation and claiming to keep you cool, even on warm nights. I actually enjoy being toasty in bed so for me any increase in temperature was welcome, but my partner, who prefers to keep cool, didn't complain either. 

Firmness is the other main consideration. I found the mattress to do what it said on the box - be the perfect combination of soft and supportive. The reason is the other two layers which are a 2cm visco-elastic memory foam - for pressure relief and moulding to the shape of your body, beneath which is the 19cm of cold foam, which is the foundation and the support for the mattress. There is no doubt it's softer than a firm sprung mattress. And if you're someone with back pain, who needs a hard, supportive mattress, the Emma Premium might be a better option for you. 

How does the Emma Premium compare to the Emma Original? 

The difference in construction is here: the Emma Premium mattress consists of 5.5cm foam layer, with a 12.5cm pocket-spring core above, topped by additional layers of memory foam and a bit more foam. The deep springs in the mattress allow for even more breathability during warmer nights, helping you keep cool while you sleep.  There's no doubt that this mattress feels firmer than the original - and the edge support is certainly stronger too. I could not really discern a huge temperature difference between mattresses - I'm sure if you were using thermometers and experimental data this would be possible but as a normal human being, the mattress felt cosy and warm but not in any way hot or suffocating. 

Emma Premium Mattress with pocket springs

The benefits of the foam mattress remain here - it's very comfortable, and wraps you up like a cloud, like the Original. So for me it's really a call on stability. If you're new to foam mattresses and nervous about making the leap from a sprung mattress, this is an obvious good first step. Personally, having had the luxury of both, I'd be happy with either, so it's down to personal choice when it comes to how supported you like to feel. Both are comfortable on your side. 

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