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Shopping for a firm mattress?
You've come to the right place.
Mattress firmness is an extremely important factor to consider when shopping for a mattress. The ideal firmness level depends on your sleeping position, body weight, and special conditions such as chronic back pain.
A too-soft or too-firm mattress will not only make for uncomfortable nights, but it can also cause or worsen back pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, and neck soreness.
For the best sleeping experience, most people should sleep on a medium-firm mattress. It has the best balance of soft contouring and firm support. A medium-firm mattress is also the best choice for people with back pain.
If you weigh more than 230lbs or you are a stomach or back sleeper, a firm or extra-firm mattress is the best choice for you.
What's In This Buying Guide?
Table of Contents
- What's In This Buying Guide?
- Mattress Firmness Scale
- Best Firm Mattresses for 2020
- Best Firm Mattresses: Reviews
- 1. Best medium-firm mattress: Nectar memory foam
- 2. Best Cooling Medium-firm Cooling Mattress: Brooklyn Aurora Hybrid
- 3. Best Memory Foam Medium-Firm Mattress: Loom & Leaf Luxury Firm
- 4. Best Innerspring Medium-Firm Mattress: Winkbeds Original
- 5. Best zone support firm mattress: Helix Twilight Luxe
- 6. Best Natural Latex Hybrid Mattress: Avocado Green
- 7. Best Memory Foam Firm Mattress: Amerisleep AS1
- 8. Best Innerspring Firm Mattress: Saatva Classic Firm
- 9. Best Extra Firm Mattress: Plank by Brooklyn Bedding
- Types of Firm Mattresses
- Who is a Firm Mattress Best For?
- Benefits and Drawbacks of Firm Mattress
- Buying Guide: What to Look For in a Quality Firm Mattress
- Final Verdict
In this buying guide, we review the best firm mattresses you can order online. Our top picks will include medium-firm, firm, and extra-firm mattresses.
Of course, it is not a guarantee that a firm mattress is perfect for you. That's why all the mattresses we recommend come with generous in-home trial periods and free returns.
You can try the mattress at home for between 100 and 365 nights, and if you realize a firm mattress is not for you, return it for a full refund or a softer mattress.
If you are specifically looking for a mattress designed for a heavier person, see our reviews of the best mattresses for heavier people.
If what you need most is a mattress that will help with back pain, check out our reviews of the best mattresses for back pain.
Mattress Firmness Scale
When it comes to firmness, mattresses are graded on an unofficial 1-10 scale, starting from soft to firm.
Here's the range of each mattress firmness level.
Soft: 1-3. These are ultra-plush mattresses, ideal for side sleepers weighing under 130lbs and anyone who loves to sink into a mattress. Be careful buying a soft mattress as it can affect spinal alignment and lead to back pain.
Medium-soft: 3-4. Most plush mattresses are in this range. A medium-soft mattress feels soft and plush but still provides adequate support for most side sleepers and people weighing under 130lbs.
Medium-firm: 5-7. Most mattresses fall within this range since it's the best for most types of sleepers. A medium-firm mattress provides a great mix of soft pressure relief and firm support. It's ideal for back sleepers, lighter stomach sleepers, couples, and combination sleepers.
Firm: 8-10. This range covers firm and extra-firm mattresses. Firm mattresses have minimal sinkage and have a ‘floating on the mattress' feel. They are ideal for sleepers weighing more than 230lbs, most stomach sleepers, and heavier back sleepers.
Note that mattress firmness is subjective. The above classifications are just a rough guide.
Depending on your body weight, a mattress may feel slightly firmer or softer than indicated.
Best Firm Mattresses for 2020
In a hurry? Here's a summary of our top picks and a comparison table.
Best Medium-Firm Mattresses
- Best medium-firm mattress: Nectar memory foam
- Best cooling medium-firm cooling mattress: Brooklyn Aurora Hybrid
- Best memory foam medium-firm mattress: Loom & Leaf
- Best innerspring medium-firm mattress: Winkbeds Original
Best Firm Mattresses
- Best zone support firm mattress: Helix Twilight Luxe
- Best memory foam firm mattress: Amerisleep AS1
- Best innerspring firm mattress: Saatva Classic
- Best natural latex hybrid firm mattress: Avocado Green
Best Extra-Firm Mattresses
- Best extra-firm mattress: Plank by Brooklyn Bedding
|Nectar||Best medium-firm||Memory foam and polyfoam||11"||Good||1-year||Lifetime warranty||$|
|Brooklyn Aurora Hybrid||Best cooling medium-firm||Polyfoam, memory foam and pocket coils||13.5"||Excellent||120-nights||10-years||$$$|
|Loom & Leaf||Best memory foam medium-firm||Memory foam and Polyfoam||12"||Good||120-nights||15-years||$$$|
|Winkbeds Original||Best innerspring medium-firm||Polyfoam and pocket coils||13.5"||Excellent||120-nights||15-years||$$$|
|Helix Twilight Luxe||Best zone support firm||Memory foam, polyfoam and pocket coils||14"||Excellent||100-nights||15-years||$$$|
|Avocado Green||Best natural latex hybrid firm||Organic cotton, organic wool, organic latex and pocket coils||11"||Excellent||1-year||25-years||$$|
|Amerisleep AS1||Best memory foam firm||Memory foam and polyfoam||10"||Fair||100-nights||20-years||$|
|Saatva Classic||Best innerspring firm||Memory foam, organic cotton and coils||11.5"/14.5"||Excellent||120-nights||15-years||$$|
|Plank by Brooklyn Bedding||Best extra-firm||Polyfoam||11.25"||Good||120-nights||10-years||$$|
Best Firm Mattresses: Reviews
1. Best medium-firm mattress: Nectar memory foam
Nectar is one of the most popular memory foam mattresses. It is comfortable for most sleepers but costs less than comparable memory foam mattresses such as Casper.
Using four layers of foam, the Nectar mattress provides just the right soft and firm balance to meet the needs of just about any type of sleeper.
- Great value for money.
- Universal medium-firm comfort – feels great for most types of sleepers.
- Sleeps cooler than other memory foam mattresses.
- Long trial period.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Hot sleepers may sometimes find it a bit too warm.
- Not ideal for those looking for a bouncy mattress.
- Fair edge support.
Nectar carefully combines five layers of foam to provide just the right amount of support and body hug while keeping the mattress cool and ensuring it lasts long.
Unlike most memory foam mattresses that have memory foam only in the first layer with the others being conventional polyfoam, the Nectar mattress has three layers of memory foam.
This improves body contouring, especially for side sleepers and heavier sleepers.
The first layer is a thin layer of plush memory foam quilted into the cover. It provides instant pressure relief when you lie on the bed.
The second layer is the gel memory foam. It provides additional pressure relief and absorbs excess heat to keep you cool.
The third layer is Hi Core memory foam. It is firmer and denser than the other two layers, which keeps you from sinking too deep into the mattress.
The next layer is the base, made from high-density polyfoam. It provides overall support and keeps the mattress from sagging.
These four layers combine to provide a medium-firm feel that's great for back sleepers and heavier side sleepers. It's also a great choice for people with back pain. The memory foam hugs your back while ensuring your spine is properly aligned.
The Nectar mattress comes with a 1-year in-home trial period, one of the longest in the industry. You also get a lifetime warranty.
Issues & Limitations
While the Nectar mattress sleeps cool for most people thanks to the breathable cover and gel memory foam, it may feel a bit too warm for hot sleepers.
Nectar is also not the best choice if you are looking for a bouncy mattress. The memory foam constructions result in minimal responsiveness.
Another area where the Nectar mattress performs weakly is edge support, but this is par for the course with foam mattresses.
There are a gazillion choices to consider when you are buying a medium-firm memory foam mattress for under $1,000. They are the most common types of online mattresses.
We think Nectar is the best choice. For a lower price than other brands like Casper, it provides a comparable or better sleeping experience.
2. Best Cooling Medium-firm Cooling Mattress: Brooklyn Aurora Hybrid
Brooklyn Bedding sells half a dozen mattress models. The Aurora Hybrid is their coolest offering.
The mattress incorporates multiple temperature regulation techniques, including phase change materials to keep the mattress cool throughout the year.
- Great for hot sleepers.
- Hybrid design – delivers better cooling, support, and responsiveness.
- Thick profile – ideal for heavier sleepers.
- Long trial period.
Temperature regulation was a priority when Brooklyn Bedding designed the Aurora hybrid mattress.
There are several different cooling techniques used in the mattress, which makes the Aurora hybrid cooler than other hybrid mattresses.
Brooklyn Aurora has five layers of foam and coils.
The first is a layer of copper-infused foam (CopperFlex®). The copper has anti-bacterial properties, which helps keep the mattress feeling and smelling fresh. It also helps with heat dissipation.
In addition to copper, the first layer also contains TitanCool™, a phase change molecule that keeps the mattress within a comfortable temperature range.
The second layer consists of TitanFlex, a responsive poly foam that contours to your body while providing a bit of bounce to make it easier to move around on the bed.
The third layer is the gel memory foam. It provides a deeper body hug for heavier sleepers and pulls somebody's heat away from you.
The next two layers form the base of the mattress. They consist of 8″ pocket coils and a 1″ high-density polyfoam base.
Let's summarize all the ways the Brooklyn Aurora hybrid mattress keeps you cool.
- Copper-infused foam
- Phase change molecule
- Gel memory foam
- Ventilation-boosting pocket coils
But that's not all. The mattress cover also contains the TitanCool phase change molecule. This gives the mattress a cool to the touch feel.
The Aurora hybrid mattress is available in three firmness levels. But we recommend the medium/medium-firm for most types of sleepers.
Brooklyn Aurora hybrid comes with a 120-night trial period and a 10-year warranty.
Issues & Limitations
All that luxury comfort and cooling in the Aurora Hybrid mattress doesn't come cheap. The mattress is more expensive than even most hybrid mattresses.
If you are looking for a budget mattress, this is not it.
We've not seen a mattress so obsessed with cooling the way the Aurora hybrid mattress is, which is why it is our top recommendation for hot sleepers, those who live in warm climates and anyone who sleeps better on an ultra-cool mattress.
3. Best Memory Foam Medium-Firm Mattress: Loom & Leaf Luxury Firm
If you like the idea of a memory foam mattress like Nectar but would like something more luxurious, try the Loom & Leaf mattress.
It feels plush yet supportive. The addition of an organic cotton cover helps with cooling, but we still wouldn't recommend Loom & Leaf for hot sleepers.
- Breathable organic cotton cover.
- Excellent pressure relief.
- Excellent motion isolation.
- Long trial period and warranty.
- Not ideal for hot sleepers.
- Slow response – not ideal if you want a bouncy mattress.
One reason the Loom & Leaf has a plusher, more luxurious feel is the quilted organic cotton cover. A thin layer of soft foam provides instant pressure relief when you sleep.
The cover itself feels soft and cool. The organic cotton fabric also does a great job wicking away sweat – good news for people with night sweats.
The cover has a coating of Guardin®, an exclusive antimicrobial treatment that keeps the surface of the mattress hygienic and smelling fresh.
Below the quilted cover is a layer of gel memory foam. The foam cradles your body while the gel pulls heat away from your skin to help you sleep cooler.
The next layer is also memory foam, but it's denser to better support your weight and keep you from sinking too far into the mattress.
A polyfoam transition layer and 5.5″ high-density polyfoam complete the core and base of the Loom & Leaf mattress.
Loom & Leaf is available in two firmness options. We recommend the relaxed firm if you want a medium to the medium-firm mattress.
Loom & Leaf comes with a 120-night trial period and a 15-year non-prorated warranty.
Issues & Limitations
For a memory foam mattress, Loom & Leaf is expensive. It even costs more than most hybrid mattresses, which are usually more expensive.
Another issue is temperature regulation. Most people will sleep cool thanks to the breathable organic cotton cover and the gel memory foam. But hot sleepers may find the close body hug of the memory foam to be a bit too warm.
Another group of sleepers who may not be a big fan of the Loom & Leaf mattress is those that prefer a bouncy mattress.
The 4″ memory foam comfort section of the Loom & Leaf mattress has a slow response, which can make it more difficult to turn or get out of bed. The slow response is also not great for sex.
Though more expensive than we expected, the Loom & Leaf mattress is a great choice for anyone looking for a luxury memory foam mattress.
4. Best Innerspring Medium-Firm Mattress: Winkbeds Original
With a supportive and body-contouring dual coil design, the Winkbeds original is our top choice for anyone looking for a medium-firm innerspring mattress.
- Great support.
- Pressure-relieving pillow top.
- Excellent cooling performance.
- Great for sleepers with back pain
- Lifetime warranty.
- Some motion transfer.
- The springs may get noisy over time.
Dual coil hybrid and innerspring mattresses are becoming more common. A dual coil design consists of two innerspring layers.
In the Winkbeds original mattress, a layer of micro pocket coils allows the mattress to contour to your body, which prevents pressure points and helps align your spine.
A lumbar cotton pad separates the micro-coils layer from the main pocket coil layer below it. The thicker coil layer provides compression support, which keeps the mattress from sagging.
This coil layer has variable support zones that provide targeted pressure relief and support. This further improves lumbar support and spinal alignment, especially for people with back pain.
Thicker coils ring the edges of this layer to provide better support along the edges.
A polyfoam base provides overall support and stability.
The Winkbeds mattress is not all coils. At the top is the pillow top we mentioned. It consists of two layers of Hypersoft foam infused with cooling gel.
The pillow top provides quick pressure relief and helps keep the surface of the mattress cool.
The Winkbeds mattress is available in four firmness levels if you want medium-firm select the Luxury Firm option.
Winkbeds offers a 120-night trial period and a lifetime warranty.
Issues & Limitations
The dual coil design is great for support. But it has a couple of downsides.
The first is reduced motion isolation. If your partner turns and tosses a lot while asleep, you'll feel some of their movements, especially if you are a light sleeper.
The second is noise. The coils in the Winkbeds mattress are encased, so the mattress is quiet. But after a few years, as the coils wear out, they might begin to squeak.
If you are not a big fan of foam mattresses and prefer the bounciness and support of innerspring mattresses, Winkbeds is a great choice.
It also sleeps cooler and has excellent edge support. If that's not enough to convince you, here are other benefits: the Winkbeds mattress is great for sex.
5. Best zone support firm mattress: Helix Twilight Luxe
Zoned support mattresses have been around for some time now. These mattresses have one layer that has variable firmness zones.
The layer, which can be foam or pocket coils, maybe softer under the shoulders and firmer under your lower back.
This targeted support and pressure relief greatly improve the sleeping experience, particularly for people with back pain.
The Helix Twilight Luxe uses zoned lumbar support coils to improve spinal alignment and body contouring.
- Zoned design improves comfort and support.
- Sleeps cool.
- Great for plus size sleepers.
Even though Helix Twilight Luxe is a firm mattress, you won't feel like you are sleeping on a rock. The pillow top provides a nice plush feel to hug your shoulders and other pressure points.
A cool and breathable Tencel cover covers the pillow top.
Below the pillow top, a layer of gel memory foam provides additional pressure relief. The gel pulls heat away from your body to help you sleep cool.
Another layer of memory foam, this time high-density memory foam, provides lumbar support and motion isolation. A polyfoam transition layer complements it.
The core of the mattress is where you'll find the zoned coils. The pocket coils are softer under your shoulders to alleviate presser and more rigid under your lower back to keep your spine properly aligned.
A high-density foam base provides overall support and stability.
The Helix Twilight Luxe comes in at around 7-8/10 in terms of firmness. So be sure you want a firm mattress before you order it.
We recommend it mostly for stomach sleepers and some back sleepers. It is also a great choice for heavier sleepers weighing more than 230lbs. The firm feel plus the 14″ thickness provides excellent support.
Helix Twilight Luxe sleeps cool thanks to the Tencel cover, gel foam, and pocket coils. It's great for hot sleepers.
It comes with a 100-night trial period and a 15-year warranty.
Issues & Limitations
Like other premium hybrid mattresses, the Helix Twilight Luxe is more expensive than ordinary hybrid mattresses. If you are looking for a budget hybrid mattress, this is not it.
Helix Sleep offers third party financing through Klarna or Zibby. If you'd like the mattress but don't have the budget to pay for it at once, apply for financing to enjoy smaller payments over several months.
Many firm mattresses struggle to provide adequate pressure relief while still keeping the mattress firm and supportive.
Not the Helix Twilight Luxe. Using a plush pillow top and a mix of firmer foams, it manages to keep the mattress feeling firm while cradling your pressure points.
The zoned coil layer makes a big difference in sleeping experience. The mattress fits your body like a glove. So the mattress doesn't need to be overly plush to keep you comfortable.
6. Best Natural Latex Hybrid Mattress: Avocado Green
If you don't want a mattress containing polyurethane foam, we recommend Avocado Green.
Avocado Green is a latex hybrid mattress that's available in two configurations. The standard option is firm, while the pillow-top option is medium-firm.
- Excellent support.
- Sleeps cool.
- Some motion transfer.
Instead of polyurethane foam, the Avocado Green mattress uses organic Dunlop latex. It is GOLS-certified.
Two layers of latex provide a mixture of pressure relief, body contouring, and support. The top layer is softer for pressure relief while the firmer second layer holds up your weight.
The base consists of 8″ pocket coils that provide deep compression support, responsiveness, and ventilation.
The coil layer has a zoned design, with five distinct zones providing targeted support and pressure relief for different areas of your body. This layer also has a dedicated edge support system that increases the usable surface area on the mattress.
Like latex, the cover is also 100% organic. It's cotton, so it's very breathable and easily wicks away sweat.
Below the cover, the Avocado Green mattress contains 100% organic wool. Wool has many benefits in a mattress: it's a natural fire barrier, it's great at temperature regulation, it wicks moisture and is naturally resistant to dust mites.
The standard Avocado Green mattress has a firm feel, what the manufacturer calls gentle to firm. It's great for stomach sleepers and heavier back sleepers.
If you'd like a latex mattress with a slight hug, add a pillow top to your order. The pillow top will be attached permanently to the mattress, giving it a plusher medium-firm feel.
One thing you don't need to worry about when you buy the Avocado Green mattress is overheating. Latex is naturally cool. Add the breathable organic cotton cover and the pocket coils, and you have a mattress that stays cool all year round.
Avocado Green comes with a generous 1-year trial and a partially prorated 25-year warranty.
Issues & Limitations
Avocado Green has good, not great, motion isolation. It doesn't bounce like crazy at any movement from your partner, but you may feel your partner tossing or getting up from the bed.
The combination of naturally bouncy latex with pocket coils certainly doesn't help.
One thing we love about Avocado Green is the surprisingly affordable price tag. We are used to expensive natural latex mattresses.
So if you are looking for a firm eco and pocket-friendly mattress, Avocado Green is a great choice.
7. Best Memory Foam Firm Mattress: Amerisleep AS1
It's hard to come across a firm memory foam mattress. Most are soft, medium, or medium-firm. The Amerisleep AS1 mattress is one of the few memory foam mattresses that offer a firm feel.
- Good support.
- Affordable pricing.
- Excellent motion isolation.
- Long warranty.
- Not ideal for hot sleepers.
To make the AS1 firm, the AS1 has a thinner than average comfort section. It has only one memory foam comfort layer.
The other layer is a high-density polyfoam base.
This results in a mattress with minimal give. But the memory foam layer on top is thick enough to provide adequate pressure relief for stomach and back sleepers.
One interesting thing about the AS1 mattress, and other Amerisleep mattresses, is that they use a special type of memory foam. They call it Bio-Pur foam.
It is made partly from petroleum products and partly from plant-based materials. Bio-Pur foam is cooler and eco-friendlier than conventional memory foam.
The AS1 mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a partially prorated 20-year warranty.
Issues & Limitations
If you are a hot sleeper, you may not like sleeping on the Amerisleep AS1 mattress. While it doesn't get as hot as mattresses with thicker memory foam layers, it can still get uncomfortably warm, especially in summer.
If you still want the AS1 mattress, we recommend buying a medium-firm or firm latex topper. The latex topper will keep you cool without significantly affecting the firmness of the mattress.
Amerisleep AS1 is a great choice for anyone looking for a firm mattress but doesn't want an innerspring or hybrid design.
8. Best Innerspring Firm Mattress: Saatva Classic Firm
Saatva Classic is a surprisingly affordable luxury innerspring mattress. It was one of the first mattresses to spot a dual coil design, which boosts support, body contouring, cooling, and durability.
If you are looking for a firm mattress that will also contour to your pressure points, Saatva Classic is a great choice.
- Great support.
- Plush euro pillow top prevents pressure points.
- Dedicated edge support system.
- Ideal for heavier sleepers.
- Two height options.
- Some motion transfer.
One of the unique things about the Saatva Classic is that you can choose how tall you want your mattress to be. Options are 11.5″ and 14.5″.
Both options have the same layer configuration.
At the top is a plush Euro pillow top that provides instant pressure relief. It cradles your pressure points to ensure you don't wake up with sore shoulders or back.
Next, is a pocket coil layer made using 14.5-gauge coils. These coils have more give than normal mattress foundation coils, so they easily conform to your body's shape and curves.
This body contouring reduces pressure points and ensures your spine is aligned naturally.
Below the pocket coils is a layer of memory foam that provides further pressure relief. In the middle section of this layer, the Saatva Classic mattress incorporates the active wire lumbar zone technology that boosts support under your lower back.
The second coil layer, which is the base, comes next. It consists of 13-gauge (firmer and more rigid than the pocket coils) tempered Bonnell coils.
Other components of the Saatva Classic mattress include a dedicated edge support system made with high-density foam and an organic cotton cover with Saatva's Guardin antimicrobial treatment.
For most people, the 11.5″ option is perfect. Choose the 14.5″ option if you weigh more than 230lbs and need extra support.
The 14.5″ mattress is also great if you prefer how tall mattresses look. Just make sure you pair it with a low foundation to make it easy to get in and out of bed.
Saatva Classic comes with a 120-night trial period and a 15-year warranty.
Issues & Limitations
Because of the dual coil design, the Saatva Classic mattress transfers more motion than foam and hybrid mattresses.
If you are a light sleeper and your partner turns and tosses a lot at night, consider getting a foam mattress or a normal hybrid mattress with just one pocket coil layer.
The Saatva Classic mattress is a great choice for anyone looking for a firm innerspring mattress. The 14.5″ option is also ideal for heavier folks weighing over 230lbs.
9. Best Extra Firm Mattress: Plank by Brooklyn Bedding
According to the manufacturer, the Plank mattress is ‘for those sleepers who say a typical firm is never firm enough.'
Plank is a two-sided mattress that offers two firmness levels: firm and extra-firm. So you can choose the firmness that best suits your needs.
- Extra-firm support.
- Flippable with two firmness options.
- Optional cooling panel available for hot sleepers.
- Hot sleepers need to pay extra for the cooling panel.
If you find firm mattresses not to be firm enough, give Plank a try. The Plank mattress is made by Brooklyn Bedding and uses the same materials as the Brooklyn Aurora mattress we reviewed earlier.
As we mentioned, this is a flippable two-sided mattress. One side is firm, and the other is extra-firm, so you can choose exactly how firm you want the mattress to be.
On the extra-firm side, the mattress has a 0.75″ quilted top layer. It's just thin enough to relieve pressure on your pressure points without creating any plushness. You still enjoy that flat, no-loft feel.
On the firm side, the Plank mattress has a 1.5″ quilted top layer. The thicker layer creates a slightly softer feel for those who need extra pressure relief.
The core of the mattress has just two layers: a 2″ layer of TitanFlex foam (a responsive polyfoam design) and a 7″ high-density support foam layer.
If you are a hot sleeper, the mattress can get a bit warm. To avoid this, you can order the optional cooling panel. The fabric panel contains a phase change molecule that keeps the surface of the mattress within a tight temperature range.
The Plank mattress comes with a 10-year warranty and a 120-night trial period.
Issues & Limitations
Hot sleepers who are concerned that the foam quilting and layers may get too warm will have to spend extra on a cooling panel. And it's not cheap.
A queen size cooling panel adds $250 to the mattress price.
If you think that's too expensive, here's what we recommend. Get the mattress without the cooling panel and then buy a firm latex topper. A separate natural latex topper will cost you about $150 and will sleep just as cool as the cooling panel.
The only downside is that it may slightly affect the mattress firmness, especially if you prefer the extra-firm side. Get the firmest topper you can find.
The few sleepers who prefer an extra-firm zero-loft mattress finally have a mattress that's designed specifically for them.
If you find that extra-firm is probably a bit too firm for you, you can flip over to the normal firm side.
Types of Firm Mattresses
Hybrid mattresses consist of two materials, usually foam and pocket coils. A hybrid mattress provides the pressure relief of foam and the support and responsiveness of coils.
Hybrid mattresses also sleep cooler than foam mattresses. On the downside, you are likely to pay more for a hybrid mattress compared to a foam mattress.
Foam mattresses are made with polyurethane foams, usually a combination of memory foam for pressure relief and polyfoam for support.
Foam mattresses are affordable, and most provide excellent pressure relief. But they tend to sleep hot and have minimal responsiveness (bounciness), which can make it harder to move around on the bed.
Innerspring mattresses have a core of pocket or Bonnell coils with a comfort foam layer on top. Others use a pillow top as the comfort layer.
Because they have a thinner foam comfort layer compared to hybrid mattresses, innerspring mattresses don't hug your body as much. Side sleepers may find them uncomfortable.
Innerspring mattresses are also responsive and have excellent cooling performance.
On the downside, they have a shorter lifespan compared to foam and hybrid mattresses. Additionally, they have reduced motion isolation, which is a problem if your partner tosses a lot at night.
Latex is made fully or partially with latex. The latter is called latex hybrid mattresses. In addition to latex, they also contain polyurethane foam (polyfoam or memory foam) or pocket coils.
Latex mattresses can either be natural, synthetic, or a blend of the two. Natural latex mattresses are the most expensive, but offer the best comfort and are more eco-friendly.
Latex mattresses are great for those who don't like the feel of foam mattresses. Latex sleeps cool, offers better support, and is more responsive.
Latex mattresses, especially those made with natural latex, are also very durable.
Airbeds use air as the main support material. Most have a built-in electric pump that you use to inflate the mattress.
The biggest advantage of airbeds is that you can inflate the mattress to your desired firmness. By adjusting how much air you put in, you can set the airbed to medium-firm, firm or extra-firm.
Who is a Firm Mattress Best For?
Back and Stomach Sleepers
Most back sleepers sleep comfortably on a medium-firm mattress. It's soft enough to hug your pressure points and firm enough to keep your spine naturally aligned.
Heavier black sleepers may find a firm mattress to be more comfortable.
Most stomach sleepers sleep comfortably on a medium-firm (those lighter than 130lbs) or firm (130lbs and above) mattress.
A firm mattress ensures there's no pressure on your spine, which occurs if your midsection sinks lower than the rest of the body. A firm mattress keeps your body properly aligned.
Stomach sleepers weighing over 230lbs may find an extra-firm mattress like Plank to be more comfortable.
If you weigh more than 230lbs, you need a mattress that provides higher than average support to ensure you don't sink too deep into the mattress.
Firmer mattresses provide more support.
If you sleep on your side, try a medium-firm mattress. It's still firm enough to support your weight, and soft enough to hug your shoulders and hips.
If you sleep on your back, try a firm mattress. If you are a stomach sleeper, try a firm or extra-firm mattress.
We recommend getting a hybrid mattress. The addition of coils greatly increases support, body contouring, cooling, and overall comfort.
People with Back Pain
If you have back pain, most doctors recommend a medium-firm mattress because of the soft-firm balance it provides.
You need a mattress that hugs your sensitive back to prevent pressure but is firm enough to keep your spine in natural alignment. A misaligned spine can worsen back pain.
Medium-firm mattresses fit the bill. We especially recommend memory foam mattresses or a hybrid mattress with a memory foam comfort layer.
Memory foam is great for back pain because of the way to contours to your body.
Contrary to popular belief, a firm or extra-firm mattress is not the best choice for most people with back pain. It can worsen the pain by putting pressure on your back and misaligning your spine.
We recommend a firm mattress only if you weigh over 230lbs. In that case, a firm mattress will feel and behave like a medium-firm mattress.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Firm Mattress
Firm mattresses provide excellent support. You don't have to worry about sinking too far into the mattress.
Firm mattresses also tend to sag less quickly, thus have a longer lifespan.
Because they don't have the same close body hug as softer mattresses, a firm mattress sleeps cooler. This is helpful if you are a hot sleeper.
Firm mattresses have some drawbacks too.
There's an increased risk of pressure points and sore joints. Firm mattresses provide less pressure relief, which can be a problem if you sleep on your side or have shoulder or hip pain.
That's why we recommend a soft or medium mattress for side sleepers, especially those with shoulder or hip pain.
Buying Guide: What to Look For in a Quality Firm Mattress
Type of Mattress
Refer to the section above on types of firm mattresses to learn the differences between different mattress constructions and designs.
Here's who each type of mattress is ideal for.
Foam: If you prefer a body-hugging mattress with minimal bounciness. Also ideal if you are on a budget.
Hybrid: If you are looking for a mattress with somebody hug as well as robust support. Also ideal for hot sleepers.
Latex: Best choice for those who don't like foam mattresses. Latex mattresses are also great for hot sleepers and those looking for a natural or organic mattress.
Innerspring: Good choice if you want a bouncy mattress with great support and excellent cooling performance.
Airbed: Ideal as a temporary bed or for small spaces where you need to remove the bed during the day. Airbeds are also great for people with back pain. Buy an airbed if you'd like the ability to adjust firmness at any time.
Firm mattresses range in comfort from medium-firm to extra-firm. The firmness level is super important in how comfortable the mattress feels.
The best firmness level depends on your weight and sleep position. Here's a quick guide.
Medium-firm: Back sleepers and stomach sleepers under 230lbs. Side sleepers over 230lbs. Also ideal for combination sleepers.
Firm: Back sleepers and stomach sleepers over 230lbs.
Extra-firm: Stomach sleepers over 230lbs.
If you are a hot sleeper, buying a hybrid, latex, or innerspring mattress will help you sleep more comfortably.
It can also help to look for a mattress that incorporates a cooling technology or two. For example, the Brooklyn Aurora mattress, our top medium-firm pick for hot sleepers, has a phase change materials, copper-infused foam, and gel foam.
Other mattresses use perforated foam, open-cell foam, or convoluted foam.
Trial Period and Returns
Virtually all online mattresses offer an in-home trial period, ensuring your purchase is risk-free.
The best mattresses offer a trial period of at least 90 nights. This gives you enough time to test the mattress and decide if it's right for you.
Also, check if returns are free – they usually are. But some companies may ask that you pay for return shipping.
Finally, check the warranty period.
A 10-year warranty is ideal for foam and innerspring mattresses. Latex and hybrid mattresses are more durable, thus should have a warranty of at least 15 years.
Check if the warranty is prorated or non-prorated.
With a prorated warranty, you'll have to pay a percentage of the mattress purchase price if you claim a new mattress. Coverage is typically full for the first 5-10 years; then, after that, you pay a prorated amount depending on how long you've had the mattress.
Firm mattresses are the best for most types of sleepers, including back, stomach, combination, and even some side sleepers. The most important thing when shopping for a firm mattress is to decide which firmness level is best for you: medium-firm, firm or extra-firm.
Are firm mattresses good?
Firm mattresses are good for most back and stomach sleepers as well as heavier side sleepers. People with back pain will also be more comfortable sleeping on a firm mattress, specifically a medium-firm mattress.
Are firm mattresses good for back pain?
Yes, they are. Specifically, medium-firm mattresses. They provide the right balance of soft pressure relief to cradle your back and firm support to keep your spine naturally aligned.
What mattress do orthopedic doctors recommend?
Orthopedic doctors and chiropractors generally recommend firm mattresses, either a medium-firm or a firm mattress, depending on your body weight.
A firm mattress is the only one that can minimize pressure on your back while keeping your spine in its natural alignment.
Are firm mattresses good for heavier sleepers?
Yes, they are. Heavier sleepers (those weighing over 230lbs) require more support, which they can only get from a firm mattress.
A hybrid or innerspring firm mattress is the best choice.
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