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When choosing a new mattress, softer does not always mean better or of higher quality. While many sleepers prefer beds that conform closely and form a close impression around their figures, some feel most comfortable on mattresses that conform to a minimal extent. For example, heavier individuals often prefer firmer beds because overly soft mattresses sink too deeply beneath their bodies; this can compromise support and lead to aches and pains. Many stomach sleepers prefer firmer beds, as well.
Mattress firmness is evaluated using a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the least firm and 10 being the firmest. The vast majority of mattresses sold today fall between a 3 (‘Soft’) and an 8 (‘Extra Firm’). In addition to accommodating sleepers with certain preferences, firmer mattresses carry other benefits. They tend to be more responsive and better for sex, and often sleep cooler than mattresses that conform more closely.
Read on to learn more about firm mattresses, including our picks for the best firm mattresses. Our picks are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis. For the purposes of this article, we have only included mattress models that are available in a 6 (‘Medium Firm’) setting or firmer.
Our Editor’s Pick is the Plank mattress from Brooklyn Bedding, a flippable mattress with one side that is ‘Firm’ (or 7 on the 1-10 firmness scale) and another side that is ‘Extra Firm’ (or 9). This makes the Plank one of the firmest mattresses available today. It is ideal for those who prefer firm mattresses that do not conform very much, which often includes stomach sleepers and those who weigh more than 230 pounds. The mattress is constructed with firm foam layers on both sides, as well as top quilted foam layers that provide a bit of cushioning.
The Plank also isolates motion isolation to a significant extent and produces no noise when bearing weight. This makes it suitable for couples who prefer firmer beds, particularly if one or both of the sleepers awaken easily due to movement or noise. Compared to other all-foam beds, the Plank sleeps fairly cool as well. This is due in part to its breathable cotton-polyester cover.
Brooklyn Bedding offers free shipping to customers anywhere in the U.S. The Plank is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
A mattress with an expensive price-point does not necessarily mean it is high-quality – and by the same token, many low-cost mattresses outperform their higher-end competitors in several key areas. Our pick for the firm mattress with the best value is the Saatva, an innovative coil-on-coil innerspring that uses two spring layers to provide exceptional comfort and sleeper support. The comfort system contains pocketed coils, along with memory foam and polyfoam layers, while sturdy bonnell coils reinforce the support core very effectively. The result is a mattress that offers consistent body conforming and pressure relief, and also withstands sagging and indentations.
The Saatva is available in three firmness settings – Medium Soft’ (4), ‘Medium Firm’ (6), and ‘Firm’ (7.5) – as well as 11 1/2″ and 14 1/2″ profiles. This product range should accommodate most sleepers regardless of their firmness preferences, body type, or sleep position. The two firmer options should be sufficient for anyone who prefers a firmer bed. The ‘Medium Firm’ design offers some conforming and is suitable for most sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds; and the ‘Firm’ option should be sufficient for anyone who weighs more than 230 pounds, including back and stomach sleepers. The mattress also sleeps very cool, thanks in part to strong airflow throughout both coil layers.
Saatva offers free White Glove delivery – including in-home assembly and old mattress removal – to all customers in the contiguous U.S. Competing brands typically charge at least $100 for this service. The Saatva is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 15-year warranty.
Our Best Luxury pick is the Birch Mattress, a premium latex hybrid constructed from eco-friendly materials. The comfort system includes a top layer of natural and organic wool, followed by a secondary comfort layer of natural Talalay latex. These materials create a Medium Firm (6.5) feel that offers great support for back and stomach sleepers weighing at least 130 pounds, as well as heavier side sleepers.
The mattress also sleeps fairly cool thanks to its breathable organic-cotton cover, ventilated latex layer, and consistent air circulation through the pocketed coil layer. Because latex is naturally durable, the Birch Mattress has a longer-than-average expected lifespan, as well. The coils reinforce the bed nicely, resulting in minimal sagging in the sleep surface and sinkage along the edges.
The Birch Mattress has a price-point that is below-average compared to other latex hybrids. Birch also offers free shipping to all 50 states. The bed is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 25-year warranty.
The Zenhaven is an all-latex mattress that possesses a slate of features that make it a top choice for people who want a firm bed. The mattress has a distinct firmness feel on each side. The Firm side is a 7 on the 1-10 firmness scale, and the other side is a 4. This design gives people who generally prefer a firmer mattress a degree of flexibility in case their comfort preferences change.
The Zenhaven uses four layers of Talalay latex, a material that is known for its buoyant and springy feel. The two innermost layers are denser and serve as the support core for the bed. The two outermost layers are designed with fives zones, providing added responsiveness near the body’s major pressure points. The overall result is a firm sleeping surface that still relieves pressure and promotes spinal alignment.
The outer latex layers are aerated, letting air flow through to keep the mattress cool no matter which side you choose to sleep on. An organic cotton cover with an underside of organic wool provides additional comfort along with moisture-wicking for natural cooling.
The Zenhaven is manufactured by Saatva, who offers free White Glove delivery, which includes setup of the Zenhaven as well as removal of an old mattress. Once the Zenhaven is delivered, you have 120 nights to test it out and decide if it is the right fit for you. For the long-term, Saatva provides a 20-year warranty.
The Loom & Leaf by Saatva is a memory foam mattress offered in two firmness options. These include a ‘Firm’ (8), making it one of the firmest foam beds available, as well as a ‘Medium’ (5.5) option for sleepers who prefer a balance of firmness and softness.
The Loom & Leaf is built with comfort layers of gel memory foam and standard memory foam that hug the body and alleviate discomfort without excessive sagging. The mattress also sleeps fairly cool compared to other foam beds, due in part to its organic cotton cover. Another key strength of the Loom & Leaf mattress is motion isolation. Because the mattress absorbs and minimizes transfer so well and is virtually silent, it is a good option for couples – particularly if one or both of the sleepers awakens easily due to motion or noise.
Because Saatva manufactures the Loom & Leaf, this mattress is available with free White Glove delivery for customers in the contiguous U.S. The mattress is also backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 15-year warranty.
Most hybrid mattresses offer a balance of body-contouring pressure relief and robust support. The WinkBed is a standout in this category for several reasons. It is constructed with comfort layers of polyfoam, gel memory foam, and pocketed minicoils, as well as a compressed-cotton lumbar pad that targets pressure points in the lower back and hips. As a result, sleepers experience above-average pain relief.
Three firmness options are offered for a standard WinkBed: ‘Medium Soft’ (4.5), ‘Medium Firm’ (6.5), and ‘Firm’ (7.5). This range should accommodate most sleepers that prefer some level of firmness in their bed. Additionally, the WinkBed Plus is a ‘Medium Firm’ option that is specifically designed for heavier individuals; it swaps out the memory foam and minicoil layers for a single layer of latex. All four versions of the WinkBed sleep fairly cool and provide great edge support. The mattress is fairly quiet compared to other hybrids, as well.
The WinkBed’s is somewhat expensive, making it a good pick for shoppers with bigger budgets, but it still falls short of the average hybrid’s price-point. WinkBeds offers free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S.; the mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty.
Mattress firmness refers to how the bed’s surface feels underneath a sleeper’s body, and is directly tied to the materials used in the topmost comfort layer of the mattress. At Tuck, we evaluate firmness in mattresses using a 1-to-10 scale, with 1 being the least firm and 10 being the firmest. However, most mattresses sold today fall between a 3 (or ‘Soft’) and an 8 (‘Firm’).
This page will look at mattresses that are rated as a 7 and above. Some sleepers, such as heavier individuals and those who sleep on their back or stomach, tend to prefer firmer mattresses because they provide more comfort and support than less firm options. Firm mattresses are also linked to better durability, lower costs and a relatively cool sleep surface, but there are also drawbacks associated with firmer models.
First, let’s look at sleepers who prefer firm mattresses, as well as those who may not feel as comfortable on a firmer surface.
Firmness is often tied to the sleeper’s bodyweight. For the purposes of this page, ‘average weight’ is defined as 130 to 230 pounds. Generally speaking, people who are on the heavier side tend to prefer mattresses that are firmer, while those on the lighter side often choose mattresses with lower firmness ratings.
Pressure relief is a key reason for this trend. Firmer mattress require more weight for sleepers to sink into the mattress and alleviate their pressure points, and people in the below-average and average weight groups may not weigh enough to enjoy these qualities. On the other hand, softer mattresses may sink too deeply beneath heavier sleepers, resulting in added pain and pressure.
The table below lists the most popular firmness ratings for below-average, average, and above-average weight groups.
|Weight Group||Most Commonly Preferred Mattress Firmness|
|Below-average (Less than 130 Pounds)||4 (Medium Soft) and Lower|
|Average (130 to 230 Pounds)||5 (Medium) to 6 (Medium Firm)|
|Above-average (More than 230 Pounds)||7 (Firm) and Higher|
In addition to bodyweight, firmness may also be linked to the sleeper’s preferred position in bed. People who sleep on their side require mattresses that help align their spine and alleviate pressure points that commonly develop due to this position. Back-sleepers, on the other hand, sleep in a position that naturally aligns the spine and do not require a soft mattress as often. For this reason, back-sleepers tend to feel more comfortable on a firmer mattress than side-sleepers.
Stomach-sleepers in the average and above-average weight groups may also prefer firmer mattresses because they will not sink too deeply. If a mattress is too soft, then heavier stomach-sleepers may sink too far and experience neck and shoulder pain.
The table below represents firmness preference trends among sleepers based on bodyweight and sleep position.
|Weight Group||Preferred Firmness for Most Side Sleepers||Preferred Firmness for Most Back Sleepers||Preferred Firmness for Most Stomach Sleepers|
|Below-average (Less than 130 pounds)||3 (Soft) to 5 (Medium)||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)|
|Average (130 to 230 Pounds)||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)||5 (Medium) to 7 or 8 (Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)|
|Above-average (More than 230 Pounds)||5 (Medium) to 6 (Medium Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)|
Ultimately, every sleeper is different when it comes to mattress firmness, and we highly recommend testing out mattresses with different firmness ratings in order to pinpoint the feel that is best for you.
Next, let’s look at some of the construction and performance qualities shared by most mattresses rated as a 7 or higher on the firmness scale.
The table below rates Soft, Medium/Medium-Firm, and Firm mattresses based on the performance factors described above:
|Performance Factor||Soft (4 and Lower)||Medium to Medium Firm (5 to 6)||Firm (7 and Higher)|
|Longevity||Poor to Fair||Good||Good to Very Good|
|Average Price||High||Medium to High||Low to Medium|
|Conforming and Pressure Relief||Fair to Good||Very Good||Poor to Fair|
|Heat Retention||Poor to Fair||Good||Very Good|
|Off-gassing||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good|
|Sex||Poor to Fair||Very Good||Fair|
|Easy to Move||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good|
If you have determined that a firmer mattress is right for you, please review the following tips for purchasing a suitable model and keeping it in good shape.
As we’ve discussed, a firmer mattress may be the best option for certain sleeper groups, such as those who sleep on their back or those who fall into the above-average weight group. If you prefer mattresses that are less firm, feel free to check out our guide to the Best Soft Mattresses. For more information on mattress firmness, please visit our Firmness Guide.