The Best Firm Mattresses

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Finding Your Firmness

Like Goldilocks, your average sleeper prefers a mattress with a medium level of firmness -- not too firm, not too soft.

However, there are many sleepers out there who would enjoy a more restful, healthy sleep on a firm bed -- and you could be among them. Depending on factors like your weight, sleep position, and personal preference, you may find you are better suited for a firmer sleep surface.

If you are in the market for a mattress, this guide can help you decide whether a firmer bed is the right fit for you. Read on to learn more about firm mattresses, including benefits, special considerations, and a comparison of the best firm bed brands available today.

How is Firmness Measured?

Mattress firmness describes the level of resistance experienced when you apply pressure to the surface of your bed. A softer mattress lets you sink deeper into the bed, creating the sensation of sinking into the surface. On the other hand, a firmer mattress resists pressure, resulting in a floating feeling.

You can think of mattress firmness on a scale from 1 to 10:

  • 1 (very soft): With a mattress that has a level 1 firmness, your average sleeper will sink deeply into the surface.
  • 2 to 3 (soft): A 2- or 3-level mattress firmness will allow for a decent amount of sinking for most sleepers.
  • 4 to 6 (medium-firm): The most popular level of firmness, a medium-firm bed blends soft pressure relief with firm support. Most sleepers will sink slightly into a medium-firm bed.
  • 7 to 9 (firm): Mattresses rated between 7 to 9 tend to offer a little more resistance while still providing comfort and pressure relief. For most sleepers, this means a floating sensation with slight sinkage around their pressure points.
  • 10 (very firm): A mattresses ranked a 10 on the firmness scale will create a firm, floating sensation for most sleepers of different weights and sleep styles, with little-to-no sinkage.

Keep in mind that every sleeper experiences mattress firmness in a different way. A mattress that feels overly firm to some may feel soft to others depending on factors like BMI, sleep style, and personal preferences.

Is a Soft Mattress Right for You?

Certain types of sleepers may benefit from a mattress with a bit more resistance more than others. You may be suited for a firmer mattress if any of the following apply:

  1. You sleep on your stomach. For stomach sleepers, a firm mattress can keep the back from arching and the hips from sinking too deeply into the surface of the bed. If you tend to sleep on your front, you may find a firmer bed is better able to keep your spine in alignment while keeping uncomfortable pressure from building under certain areas of your body.
  2. You sleep on your back. Similarly,  a firm bed is generally able to provide the best spinal alignment to back sleepers. As a back sleeper, a firmer bed can help align your spine and support your lower back.
  3. You have a higher BMI. Sleepers with a higher body mass index (BMI) may sink too deeply into softer mattress, resulting in improper spinal alignment and other sleep issues. If you weigh more than 230 pounds, you may benefit from the extra support and durability of a firm bed.
  4. You sleep hot. You tend to float on a firm mattress rather than sinking into the surface, thus exposing more of your skin to the air. Because firm mattresses allow greater breathability, choosing a firmer bed may be able to help you keep cool if you tend to overheat at night.
  5. You have back pain. Once upon a time, chiropractors recommended a firm mattress for back pain. However, recent research suggests that a medium-firm bed may actually be more beneficial to some sleepers. Whether a firm mattress will help you with your back pain depends on your body type, sleep style, and preferences, so your best option is to try varying firmness levels to see how you feel. Happily, most online mattress companies let you test out beds during multi-week home trial periods, and return your purchase if the firmness level or anything else isn’t quite right.

On the other hand, there are certain types of sleepers who may NOT sleep as well on a firm mattress. In particular, if you sleep on your side, you may find a firm bed doesn’t offer adequate contouring for your hips and shoulders. If these major pressure points are prevented from sinking into the surface, your spine may be forced into improper alignment and you may experience back pain.

Similarly if you have a lower body weight, you may be better suited for a softer bed. Sleepers who weigh less than 150 pounds may not be able to exert sufficient force to push the surface into conforming to their pressure points. Much like side sleepers, lighter sleepers may suffer spinal misalignment and back aches after sleeping on a firmer bed.

Benefits of a Soft Mattress

For the right sleeper, a quality, firm mattress can offer some attractive benefits. Benefits of a firmer bed include:

Sagging prevention.

An overly soft mattress can allow areas of your body to sink too deeply into the surface, resulting in improper spinal alignment. Excessive sagging may interfere with sleep and lead to lower back pain. Alternatively, a firmer mattress resists sagging and may be more effective at keeping your spine properly aligned -- depending on your body type and sleep position.

Strong edge support.

“Edge support” refers to the strength of the mattress around the outer parts of the bed. A soft mattress with weak edge support may start sagging around the edges over time. On the other hand, a firm mattress typically offers significantly better edge support, making firm beds a good choice for owners who often sleep or sit on the edges of their mattress.

Breathability.

Firm mattresses allow better airflow by preventing you from sinking too deeply into the mattress. With more of your skin exposed to the air instead of enveloped in fabric and foam, you may find you sleep cooler.

More suited for sex.

Many sleepers prefer a firmer mattress during sex because the surface is more responsive and bouncier. However, some reviewers complain that overly firm beds deliver an uncomfortably hard impact while moving around the bed.

Spinal alignment.

For some back and stomach sleepers, a firmer mattress can help improve spinal alignment. Depending on how your body engages with the mattress, a firmer bed may be more adept at keeping your hips and shoulders level. If your spine is kept in healthy alignment when you sleep, you’ll experience less aches and pains and enjoy a more restful sleep.

Mattress Types

In today’s ever-expanding mattress market, you can find firmer and softer versions of all major mattress types. However, certain kinds of mattresses are naturally firmer than others. Let’s take a look at the four primary mattress types and their associated firmness levels:

Constructed from layers of memory foam and/or polyfoam, foam beds vary in feel and firmness level. Beds that feature a memory foam layer on top tend to offer above-average sinking and softness, though you can find memory foam and mixed foam beds that are designed to be firmer.

Best Firm Mattress Reviews

Have you decided that a firm bed is right for you? To help you find a mattress that meets your sleep needs and preferences, we’ve rounded up five of the best firm beds available in 2018. Check out our top five firm mattress reviews below.

Best Overall: Avocado Green

Handcrafted in California from natural latex and sustainable materials, the Avocado Green mattress was designed to be as eco-friendly as it is supportive. The luxury hybrid mattress is made from a layer of all-natural Dunlop latex atop a support layer of recycled steel coils. Below, a base layer of Dunlop latex acts as the Avocado Green’s foundation. Covering the bed is an organic cotton knit, hand tufted with wool rosettes, that naturally wicks away moisture, resists allergens, and promotes cooling.

Thanks to its thoughtful construction, the Avocado Green is able to offer a firm feel without sacrificing comfort. The Dunlop latex is naturally bouncy, while the recycled steel coils below help the latex conform to your natural curves. The bed comes with an optional European-style pillow top made from a softer latex rubber, but we recommend skipping this extra feature if you’re looking for a firmer mattress.

Pros:

  • Made from eco-friendly and organic materials like all-natural Dunlop latex and Joma New Zealand wool
  • Zoned internal pressure-point recycled steel coils provide exceptional ergonomic support
  • Free shipping and 100-night sleep trial

Cons:

  • Pricier than many bed-in-a-box competitors
Avocado Mattress

Editor's Choice: Novosbed

The Novosbed mattress comes in a choice of three firmness levels: Soft, Medium, and Firm. We recommend the Firm model to those in the market for a memory foam bed with a firmer feel.

The Firm mattress model is built from two layers of dense, durable memory foam on a foundation of ultra-dense polyfoam. The upper layer of memory foam is aerated to improve breathability, helping to reduce the overheating associated with traditional memory foam beds.

If you order a Novosbed Firm and decide the mattress is either to firm or too soft, the company will ship you a complementary “Comfort+ firmness adjustment kit”, which allows you reduce or increase the bed’s level of firmness.

Pros:

  • Dense, durable memory foam layers give the Novosbed an above-average lifespan
  • Free firmness adjustment kid available upon request
  • Free shipping with 120-night sleep trial

Cons:

  • May have slight new mattress off-gassing odor when first unpackaged
  • Two-month break-in period required before returns accepted
Novosbed Mattress

Firmest Mattress: Amerisleep AS1

The Amerisleep AS1 is another mattress that defies memory foam convention by being on the firmer side. There are five models of Amerisleep mattresses with varying levels of firmness, and the Amerisleep AS1 is the firmest and least expensive.

The mattress is topped with the company’s proprietary Bio-Pur foam, an open-cell material that is cooler and more responsive than conventional memory foam. Under the Bio-Pur foam is a layer of polyfoam, which contributes firmness and sag resistance. The mattress is covered in a cooling, stretchy blend of Celliant, polyester, and spandex.

Pros:

  • Open-cell, plant-based Bio-Pur foam is bouncier,  cooler, and more eco-friendly than traditional memory foam
  • Celliant fabric cover transforms body heat into infrared energy, promoting cooling and improving blood circulation
  • Free shipping with 100-night sleep trial

Cons:

  • One-month break-in period required before returns accepted
Amerisleep Beds

Best Value: Saatva – Firm

The Saatva mattress comes in three levels of firmness, with the Saatva Firm being the firmest. The Saatva Firm bed is made from a coil-on-coil construction that wraps the upper coils in a firmer foam material than the other models.

Above the two layers of coils, there is a layer of memory foam that provides pressure relief and enhanced lumbar support. The mattress features an organic cotton cover that is stitched with foam to create a European-style pillowtop.

The result is an innerspring bed that delivers a firm feel without compromising comfort. Because of the European-style pillowtop, you’ll experience an initial plushness with the Saatva before the lower firm foams kick in.

Pros:
  • Sophisticated coil-on-coil design delivers superior support and pressure relief compared to traditional innersprings
  • Constructed from green materials like organic cotton, bio-based foams, and recycled steel coils.
  • Free white-glove delivery with 120-night sleep trial
Cons:
  • Innerspring design isn't for everyone, especially those who prefer the memory foam feel
  • If you sleep with a partner, you will notice quite a bit of movement across the bed
Saatva Mattress

Best Luxury: PlushBeds Botanical Bliss – Medium-Firm

The PlushBed comes in a choice of four firmness levels -- Soft, Medium Firm, Firm, and Extra Firm. However, we recommend the Medium Firm version to your average firm mattress seeker, as it does the best job at balancing comfort and contouring with a firm feel.

The Medium Firm model is designed from all-natural, organic latex. The top layer of Talalay latex offers excellent bounce and pressure relief, while delivering the firm support your body needs. Below, a layer of ARPICO latex contributes even more support, making the bed well suited for heavier sleepers. The bed is covered in organic cotton and Joma wool, which regulates temperature and promotes breathability while resisting allergens.

Pros:

  • 100 percent, fully organic latex and organic fabrics
  • Pure latex construction designed for above-average durability, support, bounce, and cooling
  • Free shipping with 100-night sleep trial

Cons:

  • Pricier than many bed-in-a-box competitors
  • One-month break-in period required before returns accepted
PlushBeds Botanical Bliss 1

Best Firm Mattress Picks

Brand Name Price (Queen)
Best Overall Avocado Green $1,399
Editor's Choice Novosbed – Firm $1,099
Firmest Mattress Amerisleep AS1 $1,199
Best Value Saatva – Firm $999
Best Luxury PlushBeds Botanical Bliss $2,799