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Best Firm Mattresses

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Written by

Logan Foley

author

Mattresses are often promoted as being “soft,” “plush,” or “cloud-like.” For many people, however, the best sleep actually comes from a firm mattress. A firm feel generally means more support and less sinkage, which can benefit those who weigh more than 230 pounds. Back and stomach sleepers may also prefer a firm mattress that reinforces their midsections, promotes even alignment, and reduces the potential for pressure points along the spine.

Each member of the Sleep Foundation testing team brings years of experience to our hands-on mattress evaluations. This diverse group includes side, back, stomach, and combination sleepers, as well as people with different body types. We rely on their varying experiences to evaluate each mattress across a wide range of performance metrics and create ratings that reflect the experiences of most sleepers. While firm feels were the main criteria for the list below, we also based our top picks on other factors such as durability, temperature regulation, and edge support.

The Best Firm Mattresses

Each of these mattresses not only offers a firm sleep surface but also stands out from the competition thanks to high-quality construction and above-average performance. Details about each of our best firm mattress picks can be found below. Scroll down even further for our comprehensive buyer’s guide, which discusses the pros and cons of firm mattresses, the people who benefit most from these mattresses, and what you can expect in terms of cost, longevity, and performance.

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Product Details

Saatva Classic

Best Overall

Saatva Classic

Saatva Classic
Price Range: $887 - $2,174
Mattress Type: Innerspring
Firmness: Soft (3), Medium Firm (6), Firm (8)
Trial length: 180 Nights ($99 Return Fee)
Trial length: 180 Nights ($99 Return Fee)
Warranty: 15 Year, Limited
Warranty: 15 Year, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Split King, California King, Split California King
Who it's best for:
  • People who like the feel of an innerspring mattress
  • Sleepers who need extra lumbar padding
  • Shoppers who want free White Glove delivery
Highlights:
  • Choice of three firmness levels
  • Strong lumbar support
  • Coil-on-coil design delivers firm support
Saatva Classic

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The Saatva mattress offers an appealing mix of firmness and pressure point relief, especially for stomach and back sleepers. Its hybrid, coil-on-coil construction promotes excellent performance and durability.

What It’s Made of

The support core in the Saatva is a layer of 13 gauge Bonnell coils. In the 11.5-inch model, the coils are 4 inches tall; in the 14.5-inch model, they are 7 inches tall. These thick coils offer a firm, stable foundation for the mattress, and the edges are buttressed with a high-density polyfoam encasement.

Resting on top of these coils is a 4-inch layer of pocketed micro-coils. These coils also enhance firmness and bounce, but their design allows them to provide more tailored compression to suit any individual person’s body.

Above the two coil layers is a series of foams that are placed within a Euro-style pillow-top. One of these is a memory foam lumbar pad that can decrease pressure in the lower back, a common problem area for stomach and back sleepers. Firm layers of polyfoam round out the Saatva’s comfort system, creating more comfort without reducing the firm feel.

How It Performed

The Saatva Classic’s innovative design combines the excellent support of a traditional innerspring with the contouring and pressure relief of a foam hybrid. Back and stomach sleepers, people who weigh more than 230 pounds, and other sleepers who need extra support from their mattress should all be satisfied with this mattress as long as they choose one of the firmer feels. The soft option is better suited to those who need more cushioning from their sleep surface.

Temperature regulation is another major strength of the Saatva Classic since both coil layers generate steady air circulation and the cover is made of breathable organic cotton. The ultra-supportive design also helps to ensure less sinkage and more surface airflow for sleepers.

After you’ve placed your order, Saatva works with you to coordinate free White Glove delivery that includes setup of the Saatva and removal of your existing mattress. You then have 180 nights to try it out with the option to return it for a refund minus $99 deducted for return pickup. The mattress comes with a 15-year warranty to cover potential defects.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Saatva’s coil-on-coil design is firm where it counts but still has a bit of cushion thanks to its Euro-Top. The high-quality build edged out a lot of the competition during our durability tests.”

Titan Firm Hybrid

Best Value

Titan Firm Hybrid

Titan Firm Hybrid
Price Range: $699 - $1,299
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Firm (8)
Trial length: 120 nights (30-night requirement)
Trial length: 120 nights (30-night requirement)
Warranty: 10 Year, Limited
Warranty: 10 Year, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Shoppers on a budget
  • Stomach sleepers
  • People who weigh over 230 pounds
Highlights:
  • Above-average firmness for a hybrid bed
  • Excellent temperature neutrality
  • “Cooling panel” available for additional purchase
Titan Firm Hybrid

Use this SleepFoundation.org link for the most current discount on Brooklyn Bedding mattresses

The Titan Firm Hybrid Mattress from Brooklyn Bedding is a hybrid bed that stands out for its firmness and sturdy support. The Titan Firm Hybrid is offered at a lower price-point than many other hybrid beds on the market, making it a good value for those shopping on a limited budget.

What It’s Made of

The Titan is a firm bed that rates 8 on a 10-point firmness scale. It features a comfort layer of gel memory foam followed by a polyfoam transition layer. These top layers contour gently with the body, offering relief to areas where pressure build-up may occur. Beneath is a support core of pocketed coils and a high-density foam base. The support core stabilizes the bed and confers excellent support and durability.

How It Performed

The Titan is suitable for stomach sleepers, who typically require firmer beds to ensure healthy spinal alignment. It is also a good option for sleepers who weigh over 230 pounds, since heavier sleepers often require the support of firmer beds to maintain proper posture during sleep.

People who sleep hot may appreciate the cooling features in the Titan Firm Hybrid. The coil system allows air to circulate through the mattress, while the comfort layer is infused with a cooling gel. For an additional fee, customers can also purchase a “cooling top panel,” which helps cool the surface of the bed.

Brooklyn Bedding ships mattresses for free within the contiguous United States. The Titan comes with a 10-year warranty and a 120-night sleep trial.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Titan Firm Hybrid manages to pack big-time support and multiple cooling features into a pretty affordable package. It doesn’t skimp on quality materials to come in under budget and it’s one of the firmest hybrids we’ve tested.”

WinkBed

Best for Back Pain

WinkBed

WinkBed
Price Range: $1,149 - $2,049
Mattress Type: Innerspring
Firmness: Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6), Firm (7), Firm (8)
Trial length: 120 nights (30 night requirement)
Trial length: 120 nights (30 night requirement)
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Warranty: Lifetime, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who like the bounce of innerspring coils
  • People who tend to sleep or sit near the edge of the bed
  • Customers who want the peace-of-mind of a lifetime warranty
Highlights:
  • Choice of four firmness levels
  • Coil-on-coil support provides dynamic support
  • Lifetime warranty
WinkBed

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The WinkBed brings multiple assets to the table: standout edge support, a blend of bounce and cushioning, and a lifetime warranty. With a firm comfort level, it meets the needs of a wide range of people, especially back and stomach sleepers.

What It’s Made of

The driving force behind the WinkBed’s performance is its coil-on-coil construction. The bottom coil layer is taller and is built with the springs arranged in zones for extra strength under the heavier areas of the body. Above this support core is a layer of micro-coils. Both sets of springs are individually wrapped, meaning that they better respond to the body to reduce motion isolation.

How It Performed

While the coils are a key design element of the WinkBed, the mattress also takes advantage of polyfoam sewn into a pillow top. The dense and firm foams give a modest degree of contouring that is just enough to help keep the spine aligned without making the bed too soft.

The WinkBed provides excellent edge support as each of these interior components retain their structural integrity around the perimeter. The bounce from the coils makes it easy to move around on the mattress, including during intimate activities.

The WinkBed comes with a 120-night sleep trial, so customers have the opportunity to try it out for an extended period in their own bedroom. The company shows their faith in the durability of their product by offering a lifetime warranty that covers defects in materials and manufacturing.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“We found that the firmest WinkBed model is a great bet for sleepers over 230 pounds. The support system is sturdier in the middle to make sure that your midsection doesn’t sink into the mattress core.”

Helix Dawn Luxe

Best Luxury

Helix Dawn Luxe

Helix Dawn Luxe
Price Range: $1,099 - $2,349
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Firm (8)
Trial length: 100 nights (30-night requirement)
Trial length: 100 nights (30-night requirement)
Warranty: 15 Year, Limited
Warranty: 15 Year, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Back and stomach sleepers
  • People who weigh more than 230 pounds
  • Hot sleepers
Highlights:
  • Pillow-top hybrid design creates a plush surface without sacrificing support
  • Two memory foam layers contour evenly to reduce pressure
  • Zoned coils protect the edges and keep you on an even plane
Helix Dawn Luxe

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Helix Sleep’s product line includes an extensive selection of hybrid mattresses, each one designed for certain people based on body type, sleep position, and firmness preferences. The Dawn Luxe is the firmest of Helix Sleep’s six luxury hybrids, rating as an 8 on the 1-10 scale. While a quilted pillow-top cushioned with memory foam makes the surface feel plush, the Dawn Luxe offers excellent reinforcement and should appeal to anyone who wants a firm mattress.

What It’s Made of

In addition to the pillow-top, the Dawn Luxe contains another comfort layer of memory foam followed by a transitional polyfoam layer. These components ensure gentle, even contouring from head-to-toe and even support for your body, as well as some surface-level bounciness that makes getting in and out of bed easier.

The support core contains pocketed coils divided into zones based on gauge. Thicker low-gauge coils line the perimeter to make the edges feel stable and also lie beneath the torso and hips. Thinner high-gauge coils promote more cradling for lighter areas of your body.

How It Performed

The firm feel of this mattress is best suited to back and stomach sleepers who weigh more than 230 pounds. The coils also help the mattress sleep cool by generating consistent airflow throughout the interior. The cover is also made of breathable Tencel fabric for added cooling near the surface.

If the Dawn Luxe sounds appealing but you’re looking for something slightly softer, the Twilight Luxe (7), Dusk Luxe (6), and Midnight Luxe (6) are also reasonably firm. Shoppers on a budget may also be more drawn to the standard Dawn hybrid. Although this model does not have a pillow-top and the interior coils are not zoned, this model is firm (8) and performs quite well while carrying a lower price-point.

Helix Sleep offers free ground delivery to all 50 states. Your Dawn Luxe purchase includes a 100-night sleep trial for testing out the mattress and deciding whether it’s right for you, and a 15-year warranty against structural defects if you choose to keep it.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Helix Dawn Luxe is a great option for people who want firm support but a bit of plushness too. As a side sleeper, I got the support I need without the hip pain that can come with a mattress that’s too hard.”

Plank

Best Extra-Firm

Plank

Plank
Price Range: $699 - $1349
Mattress Type: Foam
Firmness: Firm (7), Extra Firm (9)
Trial length: 120 nights (30-night requirement)
Trial length: 120 nights (30-night requirement)
Warranty: 10 Year, Limited
Warranty: 10 Year, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King, Split California King, Short Full, Short Queen, Short King, Olympic Queen, RV King
Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who want an extra-firm option
  • People looking for a reversible firmness design
  • Those who put a premium on significant edge support
Highlights:
  • Flippable design with firm and extra firm options
  • One of the firmest feeling mattresses on the market
  • Optional cooling top panel enhances temperature regulation
Plank

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The Plank Mattress, designed and manufactured by the proven team at Brooklyn Bedding, is like a dream come true for people who want a firm mattress. The mattress is flippable, allowing customers to easily choose between a firm and extra firm feel.

What It’s Made of

The Plank is composed of four layers. When arranged for use on the Firm side, the top layer is .75 inches of fiber fill quilted into the cover. Next is 2 inches of a latex-like polyfoam known as TitanFlex that has light conforming and notable bounce. The next layer is the support core, which is 7 inches of high-density polyfoam. The final layer is 1.5 inches of fiber fill that is also quilted into the cover.

How It Performed

The Plank’s materials have limited heat retention, but the mattress is also available with an optional cooling top panel that has a phase change material (PCM) incorporated into it. The PCM holds a stable temperature by dissipating or retaining heat as needed over the course of the night.

For people who know they want a firmer feel but want flexibility in terms of just how hard their mattress feels, the Plank’s reversible firmness design is a major selling point. It also provides well above-average edge support and is easy to move around on top of.

Brooklyn Bedding backs the Plank with a 120-night sleep trial that lets you try out the mattress in your own home. The company also provides a 10-year limited warranty covering defects in materials and craftsmanship.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“As the name implies, the Plank doesn’t mess around with firmness. This model is the best bet for people over 230 pounds and anyone who’s had a hard time finding a mattress that’s firm enough.”

DreamCloud Mattress

Most Comfortable

DreamCloud Mattress

DreamCloud Mattress
Price Range: $899 - $1,399
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Medium Firm (6)
Trial length: 365 nights (30-night requirement)
Trial length: 365 nights (30-night requirement)
Warranty: Lifetime, limited
Warranty: Lifetime, limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • All sleep positions (back, side, stomach, combination)
  • Those who sleep hot at night
  • Sleepers over 130 pounds
Highlights:
  • Medium firm feel offers a versatile choice for many sleep preferences
  • Exceptional 365-night sleep trial
  • Quilted cover provides plushness, without excessive body sink
DreamCloud Mattress

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The DreamCloud, a hybrid mattress with a quilted top and a thick profile, is a great medium firm (6) mattress that suits most sleepers. The quilted cover and memory foam comfort layer give this bed a somewhat-plush feel on top and provides some pressure relief, without compromising the bed’s firmness.

What It’s Made of

The quilted top consists of a cashmere poly-blend cover and a foam filling. This gives the very top of the mattress a plush, breathable feel, while the lower layers are supportive and firm. Under this is a layer of gel-infused memory foam that provides extra pressure relief and traps less body heat than conventional memory foam. This is followed by a polyfoam transition layer and an individually wrapped coil support core, which provides support and some ‘bounce’ to the bed, making it easier to move around on.

How It Performed

With a medium firm feel and tons of supportive layers, the DreamCloud is capable of suiting just about any sleeper type, with the possible exception of side sleepers under 130 pounds. Since the biggest portion of the mattress is a breathable coil support core, the DreamCloud doesn’t trap too much body heat and sleepers cool throughout the night. It also performs well in categories such as pressure relief, edge support, and ease of movement, making it a versatile, all-around well-performing mattress.

The DreamCloud comes at an average price-point for a hybrid mattress, which is impressive given it’s tall profile and quality materials. They offer an excellent guarantee, giving customers a 1-year sleep trial and a lifetime limited warranty.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“We think the DreamCloud hits the sweet spot for most sleepers who weigh more than 130 pounds, but especially side sleepers, who will probably enjoy the plush quilted top the most.”

Layla Hybrid

Best for Side Sleepers

Layla Hybrid

Layla Hybrid
Price Range: $1,299 - $1,899
Mattress Type: Hybrid
Firmness: Reversible: Medium Soft (4), Firm (7)
Trial length: 120 nights
Trial length: 120 nights
Warranty: 10 year, Limited
Warranty: 10 year, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers
  • People whose firmness preferences vary night to night
  • Those who struggle getting on and off of their mattress
Highlights:
  • Flippable hybrid design offers a distinct feel on each side of the mattress
  • Copper-infused memory foam cushions and contours to the body with too much heat buildup
  • Zoned pocketed coils reinforce the edges and deliver enhanced support
Layla Hybrid

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The Layla Hybrid is a good option for people who enjoy the feel of a firm mattress, but not necessarily every night. The flippable design features one side that feels firm (7) and supportive, making it best suited to back and stomach sleepers weighing up to 230 pounds, as well as side sleepers who weigh more. The opposite side is medium soft (4), so side sleepers weighing 230 pounds or less can also feel comfortable on the mattress.

What It’s Made of

Both sides are constructed with comfort layers of memory foam infused with copper, which can help the mattress sleep cool by reducing uncomfortable heat retention – a common complaint about this type of foam. Copper also has natural antimicrobial properties to keep the mattress smelling fresh. The cover can be zipped off and removed whenever it needs to be cleaned The Layla Hybrid’s shared support core contains pocketed coils, which are divided into zones based on their reinforcement level.

How It Performed

Sturdier coils placed along the perimeter limit sinkage and improve stability when you sleep near the edges or get in and out of bed. You’ll also feel more coil support beneath your torso and hips, while gentler coils cradle lighter areas of the body. Steady airflow throughout the coil layer also helps the mattress sleep cool.

The Layla Hybrid’s sticker price is on par with the average hybrid model and each purchase includes two Layla pillows at no extra cost. Shipping is free for all contiguous U.S. orders. The sleep trial spans 120 nights in length and includes free returns, and those who choose to keep the mattress also receive a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The Layla Hybrid gives you the best of both worlds if you want a firm mattress, but maybe not every night. I also found that it sleeps cooler than other mattresses that have a comparable amount of foam.”

GhostBed Classic

Best Cooling

GhostBed Classic

GhostBed Classic
Price Range: $845 - $1,990
Mattress Type: Foam
Firmness: Medium Firm (6)
Trial length: 101 Nights (30-Night Requirement)
Trial length: 101 Nights (30-Night Requirement)
Warranty: 20 Year, Limited
Warranty: 20 Year, Limited
Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King, Split King
Who it's best for:
  • Side and back sleepers weighing 230 pounds or less
  • Hot sleepers
  • Those easily disturbed by their partner’s movements
Highlights:
  • Contouring memory foam and responsive latex create a balanced comfort system
  • Breathable cover and steady internal airflow
  • Each purchase comes with two free pillows
GhostBed Classic

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If you enjoy sleeping on a mattress that conforms evenly to the body but dislike the heat trapping of memory foam, you should consider a bed constructed with a latex comfort layer. For many sleepers, the GhostBed Classic will be the best of both worlds. Its design combines the cooling and gentle contouring of latex with the plush cushioning of memory foam. The result is a medium firm (6) mattress that alleviates pressure, keeps cool, and doesn’t sink too much when you move across the surface.

What It’s Made of

The latex layer is ventilated to promote air circulation near the surface, while the memory foam is infused with cooling gel intended to decrease heat absorption that can make sleepers feel uncomfortably warm. The cover, made from a breathable blend of viscose and polyester, also contributes to the GhostBed Classic’s above-average temperature control.

After testing this mattress, we’ve found it best suited to side and back sleepers – especially those who weigh up to 230 pounds. The latex and memory foam layers provide enough cushioning to improve alignment and reduce pressure points for side sleepers, while those who favor the back position can lie comfortably without sinking too much around the lower back and hips.

Couples should also enjoy the GhostBed Classic thanks to its strong motion isolation. The latex won’t absorb as much movement as memory foam, but there should still be very little transfer when you or your partner changes positions or gets in and out of bed.

The mattress is priced competitively and all buyers receive two complimentary GhostPillows with their purchase. Shipping is free of charge for orders in the contiguous U.S. GhostBed backs the Classic with a 101-night trial and a 25-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Lab Notes – What Our Testers Thought

“The latex comfort layer is the star of the GhostBed. It helps the surface feel resilient and responsive without sacrificing pressure relief. Side and back sleepers will get the most out of this one.”

Why You Should Trust Us

Our testing team assigns a firmness value to every mattress we evaluate. We use a 10-point scale, ranging from 1 (softest) to 10 (firmest). For our best firm mattress picks, we exclusively looked at models with a firmness of 6 (medium firm) or higher. These include mattresses that are exclusively designed with firmer feels, as well as flippable models with at least one firm surface and those sold in multiple firmness levels. In all, we personally tested dozens of individual mattresses before deciding which models made our final cut.

Each member of the Sleep Foundation team is highly experienced when it comes to researching and evaluating mattresses. Our testers fall into different weight groups and favor different sleep positions, so our findings should represent the vast majority of sleepers regardless of their personal needs and preferences. For this list, we focused on defining qualities of firm mattresses such as overall support, perimeter reinforcement, ease of movement, and temperature regulation. We also took pricing into account in order to make recommendations for shoppers on a budget.

Who is a Firm Mattress Best For?

Comfort is subjective, so there are no black-and-white rules about who should buy a firm mattress. Every sleeper should opt for the best fit for their needs and preferences. That said, there are general tendencies in terms of which people get the most benefit out of a firm bed.

Two major factors that play into the optimal firmness level are body weight and primary sleeping position. People who weigh over 230 pounds often prefer a firmer mattress because it keeps them from sinking too deeply into the bed, which can harm spinal alignment and cause overheating.

Back and stomach sleepers usually need a firmer feel to keep their abdomen and lumbar area from hyperextending, which can lead to lower back aches and pains.

While there are exceptions, the table below provides an outline of the top mattress firmness level based on a person’s weight and main sleeping position.

Weight Side Sleepers Back Sleepers Stomach Sleepers
Less than 130 Pounds Soft – Medium Medium Soft – Medium Firm Medium Soft – Medium Firm
130 to 230 Pounds Medium Soft – Medium Firm Medium – Firm Medium Firm – Firm
More than 230 Pounds Medium – Medium Firm Medium Firm – Firm Medium Firm – Firm

Sleeping Position


A person’s preferred sleeping position is closely tied to their ideal mattress firmness.

  • Side sleepers can struggle with a mattress that is too firm because it can generate an uncomfortable impact at their main pressure points like the hips and shoulders. This is especially true for people under 130 pounds.
  • Back sleepers generally benefit from a firmer mattress that keeps their midsection from sagging into a U-shape that can strain the lower back.
  • Stomach sleepers have similar support needs as back sleepers but often prefer an even firmer bed so that it doesn’t feel as though they are being suffocated or swallowed by their mattress.
  • Combination sleepers, who move between positions during the night, can appreciate a firm mattress if they spend more time on their back or stomach. A firmer bed can also prevent feeling stuck in the mattress, making it easier to adjust positions during the night.

Body Type

Body type and body weight affect how a person experiences the feel of a mattress and should be taken into account when purchasing a firm mattress.

The more that a person weighs, the more pressure they put on a mattress, so heavier people will sink more into any given bed. This means that people under 130 pounds tend to experience a firm mattress as very hard, but someone over 230 pounds may find it to have a comfortable amount of cushioning. Generally, as a person’s weight increases, so does their preference for a firm mattress.

How to Shop for a Firm Mattress Online

Buying a firm mattress online is both convenient and cost-effective. With a range of options to choose from and the ability to shop from home at your own pace, finding a great mattress is easier than ever.

It might seem odd to buy a firm mattress without feeling it in-person first to actually know how firm it is. Because of this, online mattress companies provide generous return policies known as sleep trials. This lets you use the mattress for a set period of time, usually 100 nights or more, with hassle-free returns. The sleep trial allows you to try the mattress in your own home, which gives you a far better sense of whether it will work for you.

Because there’s less overhead than with brick-and-mortar stores, it’s easy to find great deals for mattresses online. Mattress manufacturers frequently run promotions, and third-party sites, like SleepFoundation.org, often provide discounts or coupon codes to help you get the best price. Our site’s buying guides and reviews can also be a handy resource for finding the mattress that best fits your needs and budget.

Shipping is almost always included in your purchase price, and some companies even include installation or offer it for an extra charge. Ordering is as easy as a few clicks, and payment with a credit card or methods like Paypal (on some sites) makes finalizing your order simple. Some retailers even offer financing programs as well.

Important Mattress Considerations

Shopping for a new mattress can be overwhelming. Complex marketing campaigns can draw attention away from some of the most important considerations, and as a consumer, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Stay focused on these factors that are most likely to impact how satisfied you’ll be with your purchase.

  • Mattress Type and Materials: The composition of a mattress is one of the most important factors driving its performance and durability. Each type has pros and cons, and identifying the type you’re most interested in can help you narrow the field for better comparison shopping. Read more about mattress types in the section below.
  • Price: Given how much you rely on your mattress to promote quality sleep, it’s a product worth investing in. Nevertheless, you have to work within your budget, so a key factor to consider is how much you can realistically spend on a new mattress and any related accessories you might need (such as a new bed frame, sheets, or pillows).
  • Motion Isolation: If you share a mattress, good motion isolation can reduce the chances that you’ll be awoken by movement on another part of the bed. Firmer mattresses with less contouring usually transfer more motion, but the interior materials can significantly affect how much disturbance you’re likely to experience.
  • Pressure Relief: A firm mattress can still provide pressure relief by offering sufficient cushioning of pressure points. A slight amount of give, especially when tailored to the body’s weight, can contribute to proper spinal alignment.
  • Ease of Movement / Sex: Some mattresses make it easier to move around on the surface, which is especially important for anyone who wants to be able to effortlessly change their sleeping position or engage in intimate activities. Hybrid and latex mattresses tend to have the most bounce to facilitate movement.
  • Edge Support: You want your firm mattress to have that same feel across the bed, allowing you to effectively use the whole surface area. Strong edge support also makes it easier to sit on the edge of the bed without feeling like it is collapsing under you.
  • Temperature Neutrality: A mattress that retains heat can lead to a lack of sleep as you find yourself waking up in a sweat. If you tend to sleep hot, look for a mattress with materials that combat heat buildup.

Types of Firm Mattresses

If you’re not sure how to narrow down the available options, a good starting point is focusing on the types of mattresses available.

Each category of mattress has some shared characteristics of design and performance, but remember that there are exceptions. The type of mattress gives a sense of the likely feel, but the best information comes from digging into the details of any given brand and model.

Hybrid

Definition: Hybrid mattresses have two key sections. The bottom section is the support core, which is built with innerspring coils. The top section is the comfort system, and it is made with one or more materials like foam, latex, micro-coils, wool, cotton, and polyester.

More Than Just Firm: With a strong base of coils, most hybrids have a firmer feel and quality edge support, but the comfort system brings extra benefits. For example, comfort layers can improve pressure relief and motion isolation.

Innerspring

Definition: An innerspring is made with one primary section, which is its innerspring support core. Unlike a hybrid, an innerspring has few materials that rest on top of the coils. Although there may be a thin amount of foam or fiber fill, it is usually not enough to strongly change the overall feel.

Reliably Firm: The lack of a developed comfort system means that innersprings tend to have a firm to extra firm feel. While they tend to lack pressure relief and motion isolation, most innersprings are reliably firm.

Latex

Definition: Latex is a rubber material that can either be harvested from sap from trees or produced chemically. A latex mattress is made with interior layers that are exclusively latex, and in mattresses, that latex is most often natural rather than synthetic.

Pronounced Bounce: Latex can be designed to be different levels of softness, but it is almost always resilient and bouncy. A firm latex mattress makes it easy to move on the bed and often can provide mild pressure relief as well.

Airbed

Definition: In an airbed, the support core is an air chamber that can be inflated or deflated to change the firmness. The air level is controlled by a smartphone or remote. There may be one or more layers above the support core to create a comfort layer.

Control Firmness at the Touch of a Button: No other mattress type provides as much control and flexibility as an airbed. With the push of a button, an airbed lets you make your bed feel harder or softer, allowing you to home in on your ideal firmness level.

Foam

Definition: All of the layers of these mattresses are made with memory foam, polyfoam, fiber fill, or latex. Generally, the support core is high-density polyfoam, and one or more layers above serve as the comfort system.

Added Pressure Relief: Foams, especially memory foam, are able to hug the body by compressing in response to the amount of weight applied to them. Even in an otherwise firm mattress, this boosts pressure relief, which can be particularly useful to side sleepers.

Accessories to Complement Your Firm Mattress

Picking out a firm mattress is step one to getting your bed set up to perfectly suit your needs. Once you have the mattress, though, it’s worth putting some thought into a few accessories to optimize your bed.

Pillows

Your pillow helps to make sure that your neck is supported and in line with the rest of your spine. On a firmer mattress, the pillow won’t sink much into the bed, so you’ll notice more of the pillow’s loft. Pillows made with feathers, down, polyester, or shredded foam or latex offer more ability to manipulate the pillow to adjust its fit under your head, and this can be a big plus for side sleepers. Back and stomach sleepers usually need lower-loft pillows, so thin pillows or models with a zippered cover that let you remove fill can be a good option. When a pillow is made with one piece of foam or latex, the loft is more stable. These pillows can work well on a firm surface as long as the selected loft matches with the support needs of the head and neck.

Mattress Toppers

If you’re looking for a firmer feel but don’t want to spring for an all-new mattress, a topper can be a temporary solution. A topper usually has a thickness of one to three inches and goes above your existing mattress and under your sheets. It can be made of foam, latex, fiber fill, wool, or down.

A topper provides an easy way to change the comfort level of your mattress, but it won’t be as durable or reliable as a new mattress. In addition, if your existing mattress is sagging or showing signs of wear, that will drag down the performance of any topper placed on top of it. For this reason, a topper is most appropriate when you are on a tight budget or only need a minor or short-term adjustment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is a firm mattress better for your back?

    Sleeper type and weight factor heavily into determining whether or not a firm mattress is better for your back. Generally speaking, the best mattress for your back is one that keeps your spine evenly supported. Support needs differ depending on how much you weigh and what position you sleep in. While a firm mattress may be the best for one sleeper’s back, it could create pressure points for others.

    A firmer mattress is best suited to back and stomach sleepers, especially those who weigh above 130 pounds. These groups may find that they sink into the core of a mattress that’s too soft, which can create an uncomfortable curve in the spine. A mattress that’s too firm can cause pressure build-up in some side sleepers and those who weigh less than 130 pounds. In order to choose the best mattress for your back, you should consider mattress construction, your weight, and sleep style. Taking advantage of a mattress’ sleep trial is an excellent way to determine whether or not the firmness level is right for you.

  • What mattress types are most firm?

    All types of mattresses can be firm, but mattresses without pressure-relieving comfort systems usually feel subjectively firmer than those with that feature. Pressure relief and firmness are not the same, and a mattress that cradles the body can be firm enough beneath the comfort layers to properly support people who need a firm or even extra-firm bed. However, people who prefer the feeling of sleeping ‘on’, rather than ‘in’, their firm mattress should consider innerspring or latex models rather than all-foam or hybrid.

    The latter two options usually have pressure-relieving foam comfort systems, making them feel subjectively softer. Innerspring beds typically have a thin comfort layer if they have one, while latex is naturally bouncier and more resilient than synthetic foams.

  • What is the best firm mattress?

    The best firm mattress is one that satisfies all your sleep requirements while providing the right amount of support. Knowing that you prefer a firm mattress is the first step in choosing a bed, but finding the right one also requires you to ask yourself other questions.

    Your preferred sleep position is particularly important since it will help determine what pressure relief and support you need. Side sleepers, for example, can develop pressure points, aches, and pains on a firm mattress with minimal pressure relief. People who sleep on their backs, on the other hand, tend to need less pressure relief but may appreciate extra pelvic support in the form of ergonomic zoning.

  • Are firm mattresses better for sleepers with back pain?

    While a mattress that is too soft can cause or worsen back pain, so too can a mattress that is too firm. Instead of focusing on finding an extra-firm mattress, people with back pain should learn what mattress firmness is best for their body type and preferred sleep position. Your spine will not be in alignment if your mattress is too soft, but a too-firm mattress can compress your joints and straighten the natural curve of your spine.

  • Is mattress firmness the same thing as mattress support?

    Firmness and support are related but separate factors to consider when choosing a mattress. Mattresses that are too soft will not offer the correct amount of support, but choosing a firmer mattress doesn’t necessarily mean it will be more supportive. In fact, a too-firm mattress can be unsupportive if it fails to allow for the natural curve of your spine.

    To determine the best firmness for your needs, consider your weight and preferred sleep position. Instead of increasing your mattress firmness past this level, consider a bed with a robust support system — such as an ergonomically zoned hybrid mattress — if you require more support.

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About Our Editorial Team

author
Logan Foley

Certified Sleep Coach

Logan has extensive experience testing sleep products and producing sleep content. She is also a Certified Sleep Science Coach.

About Our Editorial Team

author
Logan Foley

Certified Sleep Coach

Logan has extensive experience testing sleep products and producing sleep content. She is also a Certified Sleep Science Coach.