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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’) or firmer.
Best Firm Mattresses
Editor’s Pick – Plank
Best Value Mattress – Sleep On Latex Pure Green Mattress (9″)
Best Luxury Mattress – Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Contour Collection
Best Mattress for Side Sleepers – Loom & Leaf
Best Mattress for Cool Sleep – airweave
Best Organic Mattress – Avocado Green
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.
The Pure Green Mattress from Sleep on Latex is available in two thickness profiles, 7″ and 9″. We’ve chosen the 9″ model as our Best Value Mattress because it is more supportive to individuals in all weight groups than the 7″ option, but the price-point for the 9″ bed is still very low compared to other latex mattresses.
Customers in the contiguous U.S. qualify for free shipping when they order a Pure Green Mattress. Sleep on Latex also offers a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty for this bed.
The TEMPUR-Contour collection from Tempur-Pedic features three memory foam mattress models. The Elite and Elite Breeze, which are 12.5″ thick and ‘Firm’ (7); and the Rhapsody Luxe, which is 13.5″ thick and ‘Medium Firm’ (6). This selection gives firm mattress sleepers three potential options.
Tempur-Pedic mattresses are renowned for their pressure relieving abilities, and the TEMPUR-Contour models are no exception. The memory foam comfort layer conforms closely without excessive sagging, while a high-density polyfoam support core helps the bed maintain an even, comfortable surface. The bed also isolates motion transfer very well and makes virtually no noise. And unlike many memory foam models, TEMPUR-Cloud beds have exceptional durability and longer-than-average lifespans; most won’t need to be replaced for at least seven years.
Prices are above-average for the TEMPUR-Cloud mattresses, which makes them a good choice for shoppers with bigger budgets. Tempur-Pedic customers in the contiguous U.S. qualify for free White Glove delivery, which includes in-home assembly and old mattress removal. The mattress comes with a 90-night sleep trial and a nonprorated 10-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.
Both firmness options for the Loom & Leaf are suitable for side sleepers; they provide extra support to sensitive areas like the shoulders and hips, which can improve spinal alignment and reduce pressure points throughout the body. Comfort layers of gel memory foam and standard memory foam hug the body 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.
Inspired by ultra-firm mattresses that are popular in East Asia, the airweave Mattress is one of the firmest beds sold today. This is largely due to its construction; the 8.5″ mattress is designed with layers of ‘Airfiber’ – a proprietary material made from food-grade polyethylene – in both the comfort system and the support core. The material has strong responsiveness and will not sink much, which helps back and stomach sleepers with spinal alignment.
The Airfiber material is highly durable and the airweave has a lifespan that far exceeds that of the average mattress. The airweave also sleeps very cool due to good air circulation within the individual layers, as well as the breathable cotton-blend cover. And because the mattress is exceptionally lightweight, it is easy to lift and move for most adults.
airweave ships mattresses for free within the contiguous U.S., and White Glove delivery is available for a flat fee of $40. The mattress is backed by a 60-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
The Avocado Green is a latex hybrid mattress offered in two firmness settings: ‘Medium’ (5.5) and ‘Medium Firm’ (6.5). This selection should be suitable for sleepers who prefer mattresses that are somewhat firm.
The Avocado Green is also a good pick for eco-friendly mattress shoppers. Comfort layers made of natural Dunlop latex and organic wool offer close conforming and pressure-relieving cushioning. The mattress also sleeps very cool thanks to these components, as well as the organic cotton cover and good air circulation throughout the pocketed coil support core. Shoppers who desire more padding can opt for the pillow-top design, which adds two inches of latex to the comfort system.
The mattress is highly supportive, as well. The coils are zoned, with higher-gauge (thinner) springs around the perimeter and a mix of low- and high-gauge springs in the center. This absorbs the sleeper’s weight more effectively and also helps minimize sinkage around the edges of the bed where people tend to sit.
Avocado customers in all 50 states qualify for free shipping. The mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial, as well as a longer-than-average 20-year 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/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.