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How to Find the Best Firm Mattress for You
Choosing a mattress is a significant decision. It affects the quality of your sleep, health, and life. Not only is it an important decision, but also very subjective. Everyone experiences sleep differently, and the mattress that’s best for you won’t be best for someone else.
This guide will help you explore the pros and cons of a firm mattress, who can benefit from a firm mattress, the choice of materials, our top picks, and firm mattress reviews to help you decide. Armed with this information, you’ll be ready to choose and buy your mattress.
How is Firmness Measured?
Mattress firmness is rated on a numerical scale of 1-10. However, what feels medium-firm to you may be a hard mattress to someone else. Your body mass index (BMI), physical sensitivity, your sleep position, whether you run “hot” when you sleep, and if you sleep alone or with a partner all matter.
Although firmness is about your perception of comfort, mattress manufacturers rate products on the numeric scale to help guide customers. Mattress firmness rankings run from extremely soft to extremely firm along this general scale:
|1||Extremely soft||These are plush mattresses that give the sensation of “sinking in.”|
|2-3||Soft||These are soft with the “sinking in” quality.|
|4-6||Medium||These middle-ground mattresses are plush but with less “sinking in.”|
|7-9||Firm||These are harder and offer limited sinking and less soft sensation.|
|10||Extremely firm||These are very hard with no plushness, sinking, or softness sensation.|
Our Top Picks for Firm Mattresses
|Plank||Transitional TitanFlex™ Foam||Firm (7) on one side; Extra Firm (9) on the other||$999|
|Saatva||Innerspring||3 choices: Soft (3), Relaxed Firm (5-6), and Firm (8)||$1,199|
|WinkBed||Hybrid||3 choices: Soft (4.5), Luxury Firm (6.5), and Firm (7.5)||$1,599|
|Birch||Talalay Latex||Medium Firm (6.5)||$1,499|
|Brooklyn Bedding Signature||Hybrid||Soft 3 choices: Soft (4), Relaxed Firm (6), and Firm (8)||$1,699|
|Avocado Green||Latex Hybrid||2 choices: Relaxed Firm (5.5) and Firm (7)||$1,399|
|Loom & Leaf||Memory Foam||2 choices: Relaxed Firm (5-7), Firm (8)||$1,499|
*Price varies by mattress size from twin up to California King (prices listed are for queen). Optional pillowtop accessories may increase price in some models.
Best Firm Mattress Reviews
When choosing the best firm mattress for you, it’s a matter of personal preference, sleep style, health concerns, and your budget. Below is a review of our top five firm mattresses with details on each including pros and cons, information on construction and materials, and why this could be the best mattress for you.
Why we like it:
- Flippable with 2 firmness options
- Long expected lifespan
- Good motion isolation for couples
- 120-night trial
Many flippable beds offer contrasting feels, typically a soft side and a firm side. The Plank by Brooklyn Bedding is a flippable mixed-foam mattress designed for sleepers who prefer exceptionally firm settings. One side is firm, or a 7 on the 1-10 firmness scale, while the other side is extra firm (9). This makes the Plank particularly well-suited to heavier back and stomach sleepers.
Each side of the bed is constructed with comfort layers of quilted polyfoam, and the Firm surface has an extra foam layer for added padding. A shared, high-density support core reinforces both sides to prevent sagging and indentations that compromise support.
Because firmer mattresses tend to outlast softer models, the Plank has a longer-than-average expected lifespan compared to other all-foam beds. It also isolates motion transfer for couples and does not make any noise when bearing weight.
The Plank has a price-point of $999 in a Queen-size, making it highly affordable for a flippable mattress. Brooklyn Bedding also offers free shipping in the contiguous U.S., as well as a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
Why we like it:
- Better pressure relief than most innerspring beds
- Sleeps cool
- Free White glove delivery with setup
The Saatva is the only innerspring on our top five firm mattress list, and it comes in three firmness levels of soft, medium-firm, and firm and two different heights. Further it is made with environmentally-friendly materials.
The inner construction is composed of two levels of coils. The support core is hourglass coils, and the middle layer is pocket coils for contour. Atop these is a comfort layer of thin memory foam with a European pillowtop.
Like other innersprings, the Saatva offers a cooler sleep experience. Unlike other innersprings, this bed has a nice cushioned feel that will conform to your pressure points. The higher firmness options also make this bed an excellent choice for back, stomach and heavyweight sleepers who prefer a firmer mattress.
Saatva offers free white glove delivery including their team bringing the mattress and setting it up for you. Additionally, it have excellent customer reviews and comes at a relatively affordable price.
Why we like it:
- Multiple firmness options
- WinkBed Plus designed for heavier individuals
- Strong airflow keeps the bed cool and comfortable
- Lifetime warranty
The WinkBed is available in three different settings for sleepers who prefer firmer surfaces. For the standard WinkBed, options include ‘Luxury Firm,’ which corresponds to a medium-firm (6.5), as well as firm (7.5). These models are constructed with comfort layers of polyfoam, gel polyfoam, and pocketed minicoils, along with a compressed-cotton lumbar pad for extra back support.
Additionally, the WinkBed Plus is another medium-firm (6.5) option. This model is specifically designed for heavier individuals. It features comfort layers of gel polyfoam and latex, along with the cotton lumbar pad.
All three versions of the WinkBed also have pocketed coil support cores encased in high-density foam, which gives the mattress exceptional edge support. Strong airflow through the coils also helps cool off the surface, making the mattress a good choice for people who normally sleep hot.
The WinkBed is very reasonably priced compared to other luxury hybrids. WinkBeds also offers a generous lifetime warranty. This includes the ‘Any Reason’ option, which allows owners to exchange their mattress for a different firmness level at a 50% discount after the 100-night sleep trial has ended.
Why we like it:
- Made from natural and organic materials
- Exceptional durability and support
- Relatively low-priced
- 25-year warranty
The Birch Mattress is a luxury hybrid made from sustainably sourced materials. Its components include an organic-cotton cover, natural and organic wool batting, and a Talalay latex comfort layer. These materials create a responsive, medium-firm (6.5) surface that provides moderate yet consistent body conforming for sleepers in all positions.
The Birch Mattress ia also a good option for hot sleepers. Air flows freely through the pocketed coil support core, allowing the surface to remain cool, while the top wool layer helps wick away moisture and regulate the sleeper’s body temperature.
Durability is another key strength. Thanks to its natural components, the Birch Mattress has a much longer lifespan than most beds made with foam, synthetic latex, and other manmade materials. The bed is fairly responsive, as well, making it good for sex.
The bed has a lower-than-average price compared to other latex hybrids and Birch Mattress offers free shipping to all 50 states. The mattress comes with a 25-year warranty that includes 10 years of nonprorated coverage.
Why we like it:
- Three different firmness options to accommodate any sleeper
- Gel-Infused foam provides great pressure relief
- More responsive than most hybrids
The Brooklyn Bedding Signature Mattress is an innerspring-polyfoam hybrid. It features three firmness options: soft (3.5), medium (5.5) and firm (7.5), making it a good option for any firmness preference. Brooklyn Bedding is renowned for their quality and this mattress is highly liked by its owners.
The Brooklyn Bedding Signature mattress is a hybrid with a six-inch base of innerspring pocket coils. The 1.5” thick comfort layer of quilted polyfoam sits on gel-infused polyfoam. There are three firmness options, and the gel layer is thicker in the firmer option. Under that is a transitional layer of polyfoam that’s thinner in the firmer model.
The firm model of the Brooklyn Signature is among out top picks for best firm mattress. With the gel-infusion polyfoam and innerspring design, this mattress gets the best of both worlds, providing more pressure relief than innerspring beds and and more responsiveness than even most hybrids. The result is a mattress that’s versatile, comfortable and good for sex.
At under $1000, the Signature is the cheapest Brooklyn mattress and one of the cheaper options on this list. Additionally, delivery is free, and the sleep trial lasts 120 days, so you can really give it a go before you commit.
Why we like it:
- Made with natural and sustainable materials
- Good pressure relief, motion isolation and edge support
- 100-night sleep trial and a 25 year ending
The Avocado Green Mattress is a latex hybrid bed known for its sustainable, organic materials. This mattress comes in two firmness options, medium (5.5) and Firm (6.5), with an 11″ and 13″ thickness profile respectively. The medium firmness model features a pillow-top for a softer feel, making the firm option our pick in the context of this article.
The top comfort layer of the Avocado Green is two inches of firm, durable Dunlop latex foam. Beneath that is a support core of eight-inch innerspring coils. Below that is another one-inch layer of Dunlop foam. The cover is tufted organic cotton over high-quality GOTS organic certified wool.
For those who value an all-natural and organic mattress that has been constructed sustainably, the Avocado Green should probably be a top pick. Additionally, the latex-spring hybrid system makes for a firm, supportive sleep surface that provides good pressure relief, motion isolation and edge support. We’ve also found this mattress to be slightly more firm than advertised, reinforcing it as a top choice for those seeking a firm mattress.
The Avocado Green comes with a 100-night sleep trial, 25 year warranty and ships free in the US. Natural materials do come at a price, however, as this bed is not among the most affordable on the market. Nonetheless, this is a quality product and Avocado donates 1% of their proceeds to charity.
Why we like it:
- Multiple firmness options
- Sleeps cool for an all-foam bed
- Great motion isolation and no noise
- Free white glove delivery
Although memory foam beds are quite popular with sleepers, most models feel relatively soft and may not be suitable for people who prefer firm surfaces. The Loom & Leaf by Saatva is a notable exception. This luxury memory foam bed is available in a firm (8) setting, which offers minimal body conforming but still alleviates pressure points and improves spinal alignment for side sleepers. The Loom & Leaf is also available in a medium (5.5) setting.
The bed is constructed with two high-density memory foam comfort layers. These include a top layer laminated in cooling gel, which – along with the organic-cotton cover – allows the Loom & Leaf to sleep noticeably cooler than many competing memory foam mattresses.
The Loom & Leaf is a great choice for couples, as well. The foam layers absorb and minimize motion transfer, resulting in fewer movement-related sleep disruptions, and the mattress does not make any noise.
Saatva offers free White Glove delivery to customers in the contiguous U.S. and Canada. This service includes in-home mattress assembly and old mattress removal upon request at no extra charge. The Loom & Leaf comes with a 120-night sleep trial and a 15-year warranty.
Is a Firm Mattress Right for You?
What feels extra firm to you might not feel firm at all to someone else, because comfort is subjective. Your weight is also a factor. A heavier person will experience a mattress differently than a lighter person. The important thing is to determine if a firm mattress will give you a good night’s sleep and how firm of one you need. Your sleep style, overall health, age, and other factors should influence your decision.
If your current bed is not firm and you have pain or soreness upon waking that goes away after stretching and being active, your bed might be the problem. You might need a firmer sleep surface. This guide will walk you through firm mattress options so that you can decide if you’re ready to change your bed to improve your sleep. Here are some considerations.
Firm to medium-firm mattresses are better suited for:
- Stomach sleepers
- Back sleepers
- High BMI people
- Hot sleepers
- Back pain sufferers
- Arthritis sufferers
Stomach sleepers are a rare breed. Research by Professor Chris Idzikiwoski of The Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service in the UK surveyed 1,000 people and learned that just 7% sleep on their stomach. The study calls this the “freefaller” position. Firm mattresses are better for stomach sleepers because if you sink in too deeply, your spine’s curvature will misalign.
Back sleepers are also relatively rare and may benefit from a firm mattress to support the “S” curve of the spine while sleeping. If you can slide a hand between your lumbar region (pictured) and the mattress, you might need a different sleep surface. The University of Rochester Medical Center suggests back sleepers put a small pillow under their knees to help alignment.
Back sleepers usually find they are best suited to a mattress in the medium-firm range rather than an outright firm bed. A medium-firm mattress – depending on body type – allows for some sink in the hip/pelvic region to help maintain the natural curve of the lumbar area, while being stiff enough to support the upper back.
Heavier people, gauged by Body Mass Index (BMI), often benefit from a firmer mattress. A study by the Sleep to Live Institute found those with greater BMI (30 or higher) sleep less, have a lower quality of sleep, less energy in the daytime, and more daytime sleepiness.
Studies suggest that those with higher BMI benefit from firmer mattresses that prevent excessive “sinking in” or “hammocking” effects. A heavier person will automatically dig further into any mattress than someone of a lower BMI, so a firmer bed will help to offset that natural sink.
Hot sleepers are more commonly women than men as women experience hormonal surges at mid-life, but anyone can wake up sweating. A study from Sleep Medicine Reviews showed a link between higher body temperature at night and insomnia. Hot sleepers benefit from firmer mattresses that don’t let you sink into soft materials that insulate and increase body temperature.
Back pain sufferers benefit greatly from firmer mattresses. Studies from Harvard Medical School show that medium-firm to firm beds are best for those with low back pain while another study in Canada concluded medium-firm was preferable. The evidence is clear that soft mattresses are typically not good for those with back pain.
Children sleep better on firmer surfaces. The sleep patterns of children evolve significantly as they age and can change rapidly. Healthy Children reports that firm mattresses are safer for children. Also, growing children are less able to regulate their body temperature while they sleep and firmer mattresses are cooler and may help children sleep better and through the night.
Arthritis sufferers may benefit from a firm mattress with a soft upper comfort layer, according to an expert from The Cleveland Clinic. Keeping the spine properly aligned helps ease arthritis aches and pains while sleeping. Firm mattresses allow you to shift position more easily so that your joints won’t stiffen as you sleep. Mattresses that are too soft can increase arthritis pain.
Firm to medium-firm mattresses may not be a fit for the following:
- Side sleepers
- Low BMI people
- Older people
- Sleep apnea sufferers
Side sleepers are the most common position. The UK sleep study mentioned above found that almost 70% of people sleep on their sides. Firm mattresses are less comfortable for side sleepers. Discomfort in the pressure points of your shoulders, neck, and hips may not be cushioned enough by a firm mattress. Softer mattresses may support side sleepers better.
Thinner people may find firm mattresses uncomfortable because they don’t weigh enough to get a “sink in” effect. Those with a Body Mass Index of less than 18.5 are considered underweight. If you’re very thin, you may need a cushier sleep surface. The top layer of a mattress – called the comfort layer – won’t help if you don’t weigh enough to sink into it.
Older people might not benefit from a firm mattress. Softer mattresses may be preferable for seniors because the materials retain heat and better relieve pressure thanks to the “sinking in” of richer comfort layers. Seniors with certain medical conditions, such as arthritis, might be better with a firmer surface, but in general, older joints, bones, and muscles benefit from more cushion.
Sleep apnea sufferers are strongly recommended to sleep on their sides. SleepHealth.org reports that 20% of Americans suffer from sleep apnea. On your side is the best sleep posture for apnea relief and that means a softer mattress may be better. The latest CPAP masks are soft and flexible enough to allow beneficial side sleeping while using the life-saving gear.
Benefits of a Firm Mattress
While your choice of mattress is deeply personal, there are some confirmed benefits of choosing a firm mattress over a softer one. These benefits include:
Less sag in your sleep.
A comfortable mattress lets you sink in a little, but too much softness can turn into sagging. If you sink into the bed too deeply, your spine won’t stay aligned, and it can be tough to change position. Excess sagging can lead to a “hammock effect” that’s unhealthy for your spine and can have you waking in pain.
Better air flow.
If you live in a warm climate or are naturally a hot sleeper, a firm mattress will be better for you. Because you’re not sinking down into the structure of the mattress, you’ll have better airflow which can keep you cooler. Studies show that sleep temperature is critical to your quality of sleep and running too hot can lead to insomnia.
Optimal edge support.
Firmer mattresses have better edges which are important if you’re someone that sleeps near the side of your bed. Soft sides can send you tumbling to the floor. A firm mattress supports you when you sit on the edge of your bed to stretch, put on socks and shoes, read, relax, fold laundry, etc. Softer beds don’t offer this benefit.
Better for sex.
Mattresses aren’t only for sleeping. Firmer mattresses are shown to have better bounce and are more reactive during sexual activity. Soft mattresses that allow you to sink in too deeply can inhibit amorous activities. Edge support on a firm bed is also better for sex. Firmer mattresses are usually more durable, which is also a plus.
Depending on your sleep position, a firm mattress may offer improved spinal alignment. Keeping your ears, shoulders, and hips aligned is recommended no matter in what position you sleep. If you’re a stomach or back sleeper, you’ll likely find alignment easier to attain on a firm mattress supplemented with high-quality pillows.
While shopping for a mattress, the variety may seem overwhelming. Every manufacturer has many models, and salespeople use buzz words that might not mean much to you. The important thing to know is that there are four basic types of mattress materials. Once you know this, it simplifies the options and lets you cut through the industry hype.
The four basic types of mattresses are: