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Mattresses are often promoted based on their plush, “cloud-like” feel, but for many people, the best sleep actually comes from a firm mattress. Even though it’s not usually thought of as luxurious, a well-built firm mattress can deliver a top-notch sleeping experience.
People who sleep on their back and stomach are typically the biggest fans of firm beds. For these sleepers, a soft mattress can cause their lower back to sink out of alignment. In addition, sleepers over 230 pounds tend to prefer firmer mattresses that have more structural integrity and resist sagging.
A firm mattress should offer enough support and comfort so you can wake up. Our top picks for the best firm mattress include various mattress types, but all of them deliver a firm feel and high-end performance.
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Helix fashions mattresses to fit the needs of specific sleepers, and the Plus is one of their key models for people who want a firm comfort feel. At the same time, it’s contouring top layers make it effective at relieving pressure for sleepers over 130 pounds.
The comfort system of the Helix Plus is built with two separate foam layers. The topmost of those is Helix’s Memory Plus Foam, which provides the pressure relief that memory foam is known for but uses a firmer formulation by Helix that helps resist deep sink into the bed. The second part of the comfort system is a layer of latex-like polyfoam that adds responsiveness and supplements the firm feel. Under this is a transition layer of memory foam.
The key component of the support core is a tall layer of pocketed innerspring coils. With their wider range of independent movement, these coils suppress the motion transfer that can be an issue on many spring mattresses. The coils are reinforced around the exterior to increase edge support. A thin layer of dense polyfoam sits at the bottom of the mattress to help absorb pressure and noise.
Like many firm mattresses, the Plus is best for sleepers over 130 pounds, and is excellent for those over 230 pounds. Lighter side sleepers will probably want to avoid the Plus. Due to its breathable pocketed coil support core and firm foam layers, the mattress sleeps fairly cool, and it’s good motion isolation makes it a great choice for couples.
The Plus comes with a 100-night sleep trial as well as the long-term protection of a 10-year limited warranty.
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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.
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.
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.
Best for Side Sleepers
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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.
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.
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.
Customers rave about the WinkBeds 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 WinkBed, 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.
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Many hybrids are relatively firm, but the Idle Hybrid’s customizable design sets it apart from other similarly constructed models. This flippable mattress is constructed with a sleep surface on each side. For either surface, you can choose between a medium firm (6) or firm (8) feel. Select the same firmness level for both sides and periodically rotate the mattress for added longevity, or choose a different feel for each side if you want more night-to-night versatility. The medium firm feel contours a bit more closely than the firm, but both offer great support.
Regardless of which firmness levels you choose, both sides are constructed with three individual layers consisting of an adaptive polyfoam comfort layer and denser foam layers for added reinforcement. The support core, shared between both sides, is nestled between the foam layers. Thanks to steady airflow through the coil system and breathable foam layers, the Idle Hybrid sleeps quite cool. It is also easy to move across thanks to a firmer feel and should be responsive enough for sex.
People who weigh between 130 and 230 pounds – side sleepers in particular – will probably prefer the medium firm feel, while those who weigh more than 230 pounds are more likely to find the firm feel more comfortable. Base your firmness configuration on how much conforming you prefer.
Spanning 18 months in length, Idle Sleep’s trial period is one of the longest in the mattress industry and the Idle Hybrid comes with a lifetime warranty for extra peace of mind. Standard ground shipping is free for all customers in the contiguous U.S. These perks make the Idle Hybrid a cost-effective investment despite the mid-level sticker price.
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Amerisleep offers a wide selection of all-foam and hybrid mattresses, each one designed for a certain feel that makes it best suited to different body types and sleep positions. The AS1 is the company’s shortest and firmest mattress. Constructed with a comfort layer of dense memory foam over a thick polyfoam base layer, the mattress offers some light body-contouring and very strong support. These traits make the AS1 ideal for back and stomach sleepers, especially those weighing between 130 and 230 pounds. Many competing all-foam beds sink excessively for these individuals, but the AS1 delivers strong support to keep your body on an even plane.
The mattress sleeps exceptionally cool, as well. The comfort layer is composed of open-cell memory foam that won’t trap too much body heat, while the bed’s firm (7-8) feel allows you to feel more airflow on the surface. Additionally, the mattress is encased in a breathable cotton-blend cover that helps the surface remain cool. We also recommend this mattress for couples and co-sleepers. The foam layers absorb movement and eliminate most motion transfer, which can reduce sleep disruptions, and the mattress is completely silent when bearing weight.
Like other bed-in-a-box brands, Amerisleep provides free standard shipping for all customers in the contiguous U.S. The AS1 is backed by a 100-night sleep trial, as well as a 20-year warranty that covers defects in the mattress after the trial period ends.
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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.
The support core in the Saatva is a layer of 13 gauge Bonnell coils. In the 11.5-inch model, the coils are four inches tall; in the 14.5-inch model, they are seven 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 four-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.
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.
The Aurora Hybrid from Brooklyn Bedding is a mattress that reflects thoughtful design and execution with a diverse combination of materials that work together to provide a sleeping surface that is firm, supportive, and comfortable.
The top layer of the Aurora’s comfort system is 1.5 inches of CopperFlex, a type of polyfoam that is infused with copper. The second layer is two inches of a latex-like polyfoam called TitanFlex. The final layer is one inch of gel-swirl memory foam. With this blend of foams, the Aurora offers mild contouring and motion isolation and above-average responsiveness.
The support core has two components: an eight-inch layer of pocketed innerspring coils and one inch of high-density polyfoam. This support system fosters notable edge support and overall stability.
Effective temperature regulation is a valuable feature of the Aurora. A phase change material (PCM) is used in the cover. This molecule is engineered to remain at a comfortable 88 degrees by either pulling in or dissipating heat as needed. The copper- and gel-infused foams and the coils also fight against heat retention.
With its Firm model, the Aurora is a solid match for most stomach and back sleepers. It also has a thick comfort system that works well for side sleepers over 230 pounds, offering greater cushioning and reducing the risk of “bottoming out” through the foams and placing excess pressure on the coils.
Brooklyn Bedding offers customers a sleep trial of 120 nights and includes a 10-year limited warranty for the Aurora that covers defects.
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.
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 two 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.
These materials have limited heat retention, but the Plank 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.
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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When it fits with an individual’s needs for comfort and spinal support, a firm mattress can definitely help prevent or reduce back and neck pain. Maintaining spinal alignment through the night can decrease stress on the back, so finding the right fit in a mattress — whether firm, medium, or soft — is important for anyone worried about pain. Be sure to take your weight and sleeping position into account when determining the best firmness for your specific pain. Consult your doctor or chiropractor for personalized results.
If your mattress is still in good working condition, you can make it firmer by using a mattress topper. You’ll want to look for a topper that is firm and thick enough to noticeably change the comfort feel. If your mattress is wearing out or sagging, there’s not much you can do to make it firmer. In this situation, the best bet is to get a new mattress.
In general, children’s mattresses should be Medium Firm to Firm depending on their age and body size. As children get older and have more pronounced pressure points, a Medium or Medium Firm mattress may provide more support and comfort.
Some children’s beds are designed with a reversible firmness feature. In these beds, each side of the mattress has a different feel, allowing parents to simply flip the mattress to offer their children a firmness choice as they grow.
A mattress can be too firm. Almost everyone would agree that sleeping on concrete is uncomfortable, and this extreme shows that cushioning is important. In addition, each sleeper has different needs, and for some people, a firm mattress can’t accommodate pressure points.
Most side sleepers do best with Medium or Medium Firm mattresses, but there are exceptions. Some side sleepers just prefer more firmness, and those over 230 pounds often find that a firmer mattress offers sufficient cushioning without exaggerated sagging.
A firm mattress won’t necessarily last longer than a soft mattress. All materials will start to wear out, meaning that even a sturdy, firm mattress will soften over time. Factors like design and quality of materials have much more bearing on durability than firmness.
A firm mattress can cause back pain if it’s the wrong fit for any individual. If the firm feel creates impact at pressure points, it can be painful and throw off spinal alignment.