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The Best Firm Mattresses – Top 6 Beds and Buying Guide

Our Research

147
Mattresses Considered
130
Hours of Research
8
Mattress Executives Interviewed
3
Sleep Experts Consulted

Quick Overview

When it comes to mattresses, softer does not always mean better. While many sleepers prefer beds that conform closely, others prefer to feel that they are lying “on” their mattress as opposed to “in” it. For example, heavier individuals and stomach sleepers often both prefer firmer beds. Overly soft mattresses sink too deeply beneath their bodies, compromising support and creating aches and pains. 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.

Best Firm Mattresses

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’). Below, we’ve reviewed the best firm mattresses of 2019, looking exclusively at those with a firmness rating of ‘Medium Firm’ (6) or higher. Our picks are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis. Read on to learn more about firm mattresses and discover the best mattress for you.

First Time Buying a Mattress?

Hop down to our Buyer’s Guide for a crash course on finding the best firm mattress.

Our Top 6 Picks

The Best Firm Mattresses - Reviewed

Editor’s Pick – Plank by Brooklyn Bedding

Editor’s Pick –  Plank by Brooklyn Bedding

Highlights

  • Flippable with two firmness options
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Strong, durable support
  • Sleeps cool and responds well
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Editor’s Pick Overview

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 Bottom Line.

The Plank is one of the firmest mattresses you’ll find today, with not just one, but two, firmness levels — both of which are accessible from the same mattress. This flexibility is designed for sleepers who aren’t quite sure of just how firm they need their mattress to be.

  • Back and stomach sleepers. As a foam mattress, the Firm side of the Plank can provide some contour for back sleepers, while either firmness setting can work for stomach sleepers.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups. Either the ‘Firm’ or ‘Very Firm’ sides of the Plank mattress provides sufficient support for these sleepers.
  • People who prefer mattresses that conform very little. The Plank mattress maintains a flat yet comfortable surface.
  • Those who sleep hot. There’s no risk of sinking into this mattress and it doesn’t trap body heat.
  • Couples. The foam isolates motion well, reducing disturbances during the night.

Not Recommended for:

  • Side sleepers of below-average weight. The Plank mattress may not provide sufficient give to these sleepers, creating the potential for spinal misalignment.
  • Shoppers who want to be able to return their mattress quickly. Brooklyn Bedding requires a 30-day break-in period for their sleep trials.

Best Value – Saatva

Best Value –  Saatva

Highlights

  • Multiple firmness options (4, 6, 7.5)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 15-year warranty
  • Strong, durable support
  • Good conforming and pressure relief
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Best Value Overview

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 mattress also sleeps very cool, thanks in part to strong airflow throughout both coil layers.

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.

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.

The Bottom Line.

The Saatva mattress features an innovative construction in both ‘Medium Firm’ and ‘Firm’ settings, with a competitive price-point and perks like free White Glove delivery. Backed by a 15-year warranty, this bed will satisfy sleepers looking for a firm mattress and a good deal.

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination). Different firmness settings allow sleepers to choose the best firmness rating for them.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups. A sturdy coil support core combined with a ‘Firm’ firmness setting will support sleepers of heavier body weight.
  • Back pain sufferers. While the ‘Firm’ is a true firm, the Saatva’s comfort layers provide adequate conforming for sleepers with back pain.
  • Those who tend to sleep hot. The Saatva sleeps cool, thanks to a breathable cotton cover and airflow-promoting coil core.

Not Recommended for:

  • Those who need to move or rotate their mattress frequently. The Saatva mattress is heavier than average.
  • Couples. The Saatva’s innerspring core does not absorb motion well, so sleepers may wake up from noise or movement if their partner shifts positions often during the night.

Best Luxury – Birch Mattress

Best Luxury – Birch Mattress

Highlights

  • Medium Firm (6.5)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 25-year warranty
  • Natural, eco-friendly components
  • Consistent temperature neutrality
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Best Luxury Overview

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 Bottom Line.

With organic materials and an eco-friendly construction, the Birch Mattress is designed to provide a luxurious, breathable sleep experience for a very long time.

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination). The Birch Mattress feels firm and supportive for stomach and back sleepers, while providing enough give for side sleepers.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups. Dense latex foams resist sagging and offer superior support for heavier body types.
  • Eco-conscious shoppers. Organic and natural materials are good for the environment, and provide a longer-lasting, more sustainable bed for the sleeper.
  • Hot sleepers. The Birch Mattress is made from naturally breathable materials that keep the mattress surface cool.

Not Recommended for:

  • Lightweight sleepers. The Birch Mattress may feel too firm for these sleepers.
  • Those looking for an extra firm mattress. As a 6.5 on a scale of 1-to-10, the Birch Mattress offers more of a middle-of-the-road firmness when compared to our other top picks.

Best Latex Mattress – Zenhaven

Best Latex Mattress –  Zenhaven

Highlights

  • Durable, natural Talalay latex
  • Dual firmness design (4, 7)
  • Organic cotton and wool cover
  • Free White Glove delivery
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Best Latex Mattress Overview

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 Bottom Line.

The Zenhaven offers a ‘Firm’ (7) on one side, with a ‘Soft’ (4) on the other, making it a perfect fit for anyone who needs a firm mattress now, but may want something softer later.

  • Sleepers of all body weights and sleeping positions. With its quality latex construction, the Zenhaven offers a durably firm mattress surface with sufficient contour for varying sleep positions.
  • People who like firmness flexibility. Sleepers can simply flip the mattress to enjoy a different firmness level.
  • Those who tend to sleep hot. Organic latex is naturally cool and breathable, while the organic cotton cover includes an underside of moisture-wicking wool.
  • Sleepers with allergies. This mattress is made from all-natural materials that are hypoallergenic and resistant to mold and bacteria.
  • Couples. The Zenhaven sleeps virtually silent and absorbs motion well.

Not Recommended for:

  • Those looking for strong edge support. You can experience sinkage when sitting on or sleeping close to the edge of the bed.
  • Sleepers on a budget. As an all-latex mattress, the Zenhaven does carry a higher price-point than other types of mattresses.

Best Memory Foam Mattress – Loom & Leaf

Best Memory Foam Mattress  –  Loom & Leaf

Highlights

  • Multiple firmness options (5.5, 8)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 15-year warranty
  • Excellent motion isolation and close conforming
  • Free White Glove delivery
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Best Memory Foam Mattress Overview

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.

The Bottom Line.

The Loom & Leaf mattress is an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, making it the firmest mattress on our list and one of the firmest foam mattresses you’ll find today.

  • Side and back sleepers. Memory foam comfort layers offer these sleepers sufficient contour to feel comfortable, relieving pressure points.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups. High-quality foams resist sagging, providing durable support for sleepers with heavier body weights.
  • Back pain sufferers. Two comfort layers of high-density memory foam deliver excellent pressure point relief.
  • Couples. All-foam beds like the Loom & Leaf absorb motion very well, preventing sleepers from being disturbed from their partner shifting or moving during the night.

Not Recommended for:

  • Those who tend to sleep hot. Due to the dense foams, the Loom & Leaf can have a tendency for trapping body heat.
  • Those sensitive to smell. The bed may have a strong off-gassing odor at first, but this should dissipate within a few days at most.

Best Hybrid Mattress – WinkBed

Best Hybrid Mattress  –  WinkBed

Highlights

  • Multiple firmness options (4.5, 6.5, 7.5)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Above-average responsiveness
  • Good pain and pressure relief
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Best Hybrid Mattress Overview

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 ‘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 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.

The Bottom Line.

WinkBed caters to all body types by offering not one, but two, true ‘Firm’ variations of their mattress. The WinkBed Plus suits individuals with above-average body weight, while the standard WinkBed supports individuals of below-average and average body weight.

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination). Hybrid construction offers some contour for those who need it, while maintaining firm support for all sleep positions.
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy). While the WinkBed offers four different firmness options, the Plus and Firm models will be preferred by those looking for a harder feel.
  • Back and hip pain sufferers. Whether you go with the standard ‘Firm’ or the WinkBed Plus, the comfort layers contour to the body and alleviate pressure points.
  • Those who tend to sleep hot. The WinkBed regulates temperature well, thanks to a pocketed coil support core and a stretch-knit Tencel lyocell cover.

Not Recommended for:

  • Those who wake easily. The WinkBed has a bouncier feel and some motion transfer.
  • Shoppers who want to be able to return their mattress quickly if needed. The 120-night sleep trial includes a mandatory 30-night break-in period.

Best Firm Mattresses Buying Guide

Below, we share everything sleepers need to consider when buying a firm mattress, along with our best tips for buying a new mattress.

What You Need to Know about Sleeping on a Firm Mattress

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’). When we talk about a firm mattress, we’re referring to beds with a rating of 7 or higher on this 1-to-10 scale.

Choosing the Best Firm Mattress

If we had to boil down what makes a great mattress, it’d be how well it keeps your spine aligned while you sleep. Your mattress’s ability to support proper spinal alignment is essential to feeling comfortable while you sleep, and well-rested upon waking up. Some sleepers require a firm mattress to achieve this, especially heavier sleepers and those who sleep on their back or stomach.

Heavier individuals prefer firmer mattresses because they provide more comfort and support than less firm options. With a softer mattress, heavier people can sink too deeply into the mattress surfaces, incurring aches and pains as their spine gets pulled out of alignment.

Stomach and back sleepers can experience similar problems with soft mattresses. For stomach sleepers, their pelvis or belly area may sink into a softer mattress, creating a curve in their spine that leads to discomfort. While back sleepers can require more contour from their mattress, they need a mattress that prevents their hips from sinking too deeply.

Finally, firm mattresses typically offer a cooler sleep surface, since there is a reduced ability for the mattress to conform closely to the body and trap heat. This quality makes them a favorite among those who tend to sleep hot.

Selecting Your Firmness Level

Mattresses come in a variety of firmness levels. If you’re interested in a firmer mattress, a mattress that rates as ‘Medium Firm,’ ‘Firm,’ or ‘Very Firm’ will likely be what you are looking for. To hone in on the best firmness level for you, you’ll need to take into account your bodyweight and sleep position.

Let’s start with 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 mattresses 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.

Selecting Your Mattress Type

Due to their material composition, some mattresses are inherently better suited to providing a firm sleep surface than others. For example, hybrid, innerspring, and latex beds can provide dense, firm support, while memory foam beds tend to fall on the more cushiony side. However, there are exceptions to every rule, as our Editor’s Pick, the Plank, demonstrates. It’s an all-foam bed with a true ‘Firm’ (7) rating.

To help you find your ideal mattress type, below we review the different types of mattresses, and evaluate their suitability for sleepers seeking a firm mattress.

Foam Mattresses

Best Firm Foam Beds:

Mattress Brands
Plank Mattress Review
Mattress Brands
Loom & Leaf Mattress Review

Foam mattresses are made entirely of foam, with higher-density polyfoams in the support layer and polyfoam and/or memory foam comfort layers. Higher-density foams beget a firmer feel, and they tend to be more durable, too. Sleepers looking for a firm mattress will want to keep an eye out for higher-density foams, particularly in the comfort layers. These will provide conforming and pressure point relief, while still feeling quite firm.

Average price (Queen): $1,044.16

Expected lifespan: 5 to 6 years

Benefits for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Still able to offer contour for sleepers with chronic pain, while maintaining a firm surface
  • Foam absorbs motion and noise, offering a quiet sleep environment
  • Widely available

Drawbacks for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Tendency to trap heat
  • Potential for sagging, so sleepers may need to buy a new mattress sooner vs. later
  • Minimal edge support

Latex Mattresses

Best Firm Latex Beds:

Mattress Brands
Zenhaven Mattress Reviews

Latex mattresses can be made entirely of organic latex, or with a mix of natural or synthetic latex foams. These mattresses naturally have a denser quality to them, especially those made from Dunlop latex. Both types of latex offer some contour to sleepers, but Talalay latex can have a bouncier feel, so sleepers looking for firmness often prefer Dunlop.

Average price (Queen): $1,970.51

Expected lifespan: 7 to 8 years

Benefits for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Dunlop latex has a firm, dense feel
  • Latex provides some contour and support, without sinking too deeply
  • All-natural latex beds are hypoallergenic, providing more restful sleep for those with allergies

Drawbacks for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Expensive, especially all-natural models
  • Potential for sagging with synthetic models
  • Minimal edge support

Hybrid Mattresses

Best Firm Hybrid Beds:

Mattress Brands
Birch Mattress Review
Mattress Brands
WinkBeds Mattress Reviews

Hybrid mattresses feature pocket coils in their support core, which is surrounded by base polyfoam. The comfort layers are made of latex and/or memory foam. Hybrid mattresses vary in firmness depending on the comfort layers. The coil support core offers some contour, while still having a dense feel overall. If the comfort layers feature higher-density foams, or thinner foams (as our top Hybrid Mattress Pick, The WinkBed, does), the result is a firm feel appreciated by those who prefer a firm mattress.

Average price (Queen): $2,076.70

Expected lifespan: 6 to 7 years

Benefits for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Offer some contour for sleepers, while still maintaining a firm and relatively cool sleep surface
  • Excellent edge support for those who like to sit on the side of their bed
  • Good support and pressure relief

Drawbacks for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Depending on construction, can be heavy and difficult to maneuver
  • Typically more expensive
  • Some potential for noise

Innerspring Mattresses

Best Firm Innerspring Beds:

Mattress Brands
Saatva Mattress Reviews

Innerspring mattresses have a support core made of innerspring coils, with foam comfort layers on top. The suitability of a particular innerspring mattress for firm sleepers will often come down to the plushness of the comfort layers, as the support coil grid offers uniform support with minimal contour.

Average price (Queen): $1,037.97

Expected lifespan: 4 to 6 years

Benefits for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Strong edge support
  • Inexpensive
  • Widely available
  • Sleep cool for most

Drawbacks for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Minimal conforming and pressure relief
  • Shorter-than-average lifespan
  • Noise potential

Other Considerations for Sleepers Interested in a Firm Mattress

Firm mattresses offer unique benefits (or drawbacks, depending on your perspective). Below we share some of the construction and performance qualities shared by most mattresses rated as a 7 or higher on the firmness scale. Take a look and evaluate whether qualities will improve or detract from your sleep experience

  • Longer Lifespan/Less Sagging

    Softer mattresses are prone to premature sagging or indentations in the sleep surface that can cause back pain and pressure over time. Firm mattresses are less susceptible to sagging and indenting, and typically last much longer.

  • Lower Thickness

    One reason mattresses are firm is a lack of additional foams and other cushioning materials in the comfort layer. As a result, they tend to have low profiles compared to soft mattresses.

  • Less Expensive

    The cushioning and padding that makes softer mattresses thicker is also the reason why many of these models have higher price-points compared to firmer mattresses.

  • Minimal Conforming and Pressure Relief

    Sleepers do not sink as deeply into the surface of a firmer mattress, which may result in less pressure relief compared to softer mattresses.

  • Sleeping Cooler

    When sleepers sink into a mattress, this can limit airflow and cause the surface to feel uncomfortably hot or warm. Firmer mattresses have better airflow and sleep cooler — although this also depends on the comfort layer materials, as foam and latex mattresses tend to retain more body heat from sleepers and feel much hotter than innersprings or hybrids.

  • Fewer Odors

    Off-gassing smells are a common complaint regarding mattresses with high concentrations of foam. Firmer mattresses tend to have less foam, meaning they produce less off-gassing odor.

  • May Be Too Firm for Sex

    When it comes to evaluating mattresses for sex, the top-rated models — usually Medium or Medium-Firm — offer a balance of comfort and responsiveness. Firm mattresses may be responsive but many lack the cushioning to accommodate comfortable sex.

  • Lower Weight/Easier to Move

    Not surprisingly, mattresses with more layers tend to weigh more than those with fewer layers. For this reason, firmer mattresses tend to be lighter and easier to move than their softer counterparts.

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
Thickness Thickest Thicker Least Thick
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

Tips for Buying and Maintaining a Firm Mattress

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.

  • Take Advantage of Sleep Trials

    Many manufacturers offer mattress sleep trials, which allow customers to test out their mattress for a given length of time (typically 90 to 120 nights). The customer may then return the mattress for a full or partial refund before the sleep trial ends. In some cases, they may also be able to exchange their mattress for a model with a different firmness rating. If you are unsure about your specific firmness of choice, then a sleep trial can be highly beneficial. All of the firm mattresses on our list offer sleep trials of 100 nights or more.

  • Consider Dual Firmness

    Let’s say you prefer a firmer mattress but your partner would rather sleep on a softer surface. Some manufacturers offer ‘dual-firmness’ mattress designs that feature different firmness ratings on each side of the bed to accommodate couples with varying preferences. These options tend to be more expensive than standard, single-firmness mattresses, but dual-firmness can be invaluable for some couples.

  • Shifting Firmness Preferences?

    A flippable model may be best. Although they are not common, some manufacturers offer flippable mattresses with different firmness ratings for each comfort layer and a shared support core. This is a suitable option is you prefer sleeping on a firm mattress some — but not all — of the time. Our Editor’s Pick, the Plank mattress by Brooklyn Bedding, is a flippable mattress.

  • Know What’s Covered in the Warranty

    Most mattress warranties consider sagging and indentations as long as they measure to a certain depth (1? to 1 1/2?, in most cases). One thing that is not covered under most mattress warranties: changes in the owner’s firmness and comfort preferences. So if you decide the firmness of your mattress is not right for you after the sleep trial has ended, you may not be able to replace or exchange it at a reduced rate.

Match Your Pillows & Bedding

The right pillows and bedding can enhance the sleep experience on a firm mattress.

Because sleepers don’t sink as deeply into firmer mattresses, they often require thicker, high-loft pillows for cushioning between their heads and the sleep surface. Medium- and low-loft pillows, by comparison, may not provide enough cushioning and can lead to increased neck and shoulder pain. Usually, the right pillow height depends on your sleep position. When sleeping on a firm mattress, you’ll still want to take your sleep position into account, and then add a bit more loft for comfort.

  • Back sleepers benefit from medium- and high-loft pillows, depending on the space between their back/shoulders and neck. These pillows should be tall enough to prevent the head from falling back and wrenching the neck out of alignment; however, they should also be plush enough to let the head sink just enough to stay straight with the neck. Shredded memory foam and gel-infused foam work well for firmer mattresses. See our picks for the best pillows for back sleepers.
  • Stomach sleepers sleep best with low-loft pillows. These provide cushioning for the head, without causing the head or neck to twist back and up, and out of alignment with the rest of the spine. When sleeping on a firm mattress, choose a low-loft pillow with special attention to the materials. The filler should be soft enough to allow the head to sink into the pillow, but the material needs to be durable and supportive throughout the night. Premium down and latex pillows are good options. See our picks for the best pillows for stomach sleepers.
  • Side sleepers find comfort from the tallest pillows of all. Mid-loft or high-loft pillows are best. Ideally, the height of the pillow should match the width between the shoulder and the neck. Then, look for filler materials that keep their shape throughout the night. Otherwise, you’ll find your face sleeping on the hard mattress surface. A thick memory foam, feather, or buckwheat pillow will provide comfortable support on a firm mattress. See our picks for the best pillows for side sleepers.

If you eventually find your mattress to be too firm, and your sleep trial had ended, you can soften your bed by using a mattress topper with a lower firmness rating. In addition to improved comfort, some toppers can also add support. A wide range of mattress toppers are sold today. These include low-priced options like fabric, fiber, and feather toppers, as well as more expensive memory foam, latex, and wool toppers.

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