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.
Buyer’s Guide for Firm Mattresses
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. 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.