Best Mattress Guides

Best Firm Mattresses

A firm mattress can have great benefits on your sleep health. However, it is essential you find the right one for you. Let's take a look at some of our favorites.

By The Mattress Nerd

If you are looking for a new mattress on the firmer side, but find yourself unsure which firmness level or bed is right for you this guide can help! The firmness is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing the best mattress. Everyone has a preference, and for many, a requirement for the level of firmness they desire in a bed.

If you’re a stomach sleeper, a heavy sleeper, or maybe you suffer from back pain—a firm supportive mattress can be a great option for you. Some people may not even realize they prefer a firmer mattress until they try it. Luckily, all of the options we’ll review in this guide offer a generous trial period for customers to fall in love with their bed if they aren’t so sure upon purchase.

Whatever your reasons, if you’re in the market for a firmer mattress, we can help you make the best choice. This article will review what firmness level actually means, several factors to consider, and we’ll share with you the best firm mattresses on the market. By the end of this article, you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Disclosure: By clicking on the product links in this article, Mattress Nerd may receive a commission fee at no cost to you, the reader. Read full disclosure statement.

Best Firm Mattresses of 2020

Mattress Firmness Scale

Firmness is judged differently from person to person based on your comfort level. But for the purpose of internet shopping, there is a scale that all mattress manufacturers use to help guide customers during their purchase. The scale goes from 1 to 10, with 1 being extremely soft and 10 being extremely firm.

1:Extremely Soft.These are plush mattresses that you can sink into.

2-3: Soft Slightly more firm than extremely soft, but still have a “sinking” feeling.

4-6: Medium. These mattresses are not too soft, but not too hard. Many hybrid mattresses are medium firmness.

7-9: Firm These are less conforming, stiffer mattresses that you don’t sink into.

10: Extremely Firm. These are very hard and stiff. There is no sinking or softness.

Saatva Classic

Best Firm Hybrid
BEST FOR
  • Side, Stomach, Back & Combination Sleepers
  • Heavy Sleepers
  • Those who suffer from back pain
  • Hot Sleepers
Score
4.7 / 5.0
Firmness

Offered in plush, luxury firm and firm

Trial period

120 nights

Reason to buy

High quality and custom firmness options

The Saatva is a hybrid mattress that comes in three different firmness levels: ‘Plush Soft’, ‘Luxury Firm’, and ‘Firm’. While the ‘Luxury Firm’ is their best seller, if you prefer a mattress with a little extra firmness, the ‘Firm’ option is the better choice. 

The construction starts at the top layer with a thin piece of quilted organic cotton foam to cushion your joints and provide pressure point relief. Underneath that is a layer of individually wrapped pocket coils designed to conform to your body and reduce motion transfer. Saatva also contains a layer of gel memory foam that supports the spine. Their goal was to make an affordable luxury product, with complimentary white glove delivery, free removal of your old mattress, excellent customer service, and a fantastic mattress they have done just that. 

Read our full Saatva mattress review to learn more!

Helix Twilight

Best for Heavy People
BEST FOR
  • Side, Back & Stomach Sleepers
  • Those that suffer from chronic back and joint pain
  • Low Motion Transfer
  • Hot Sleepers
Score
4.7 / 5.0
Firmness

8

Trial period

100 nights

Reason to buy

Affordable firm hybrid

Helix has designed several versions of their mattress, one to suit every type of sleeper. Some of the factors they considered when designing their mattress include weight, body type, and sleeping position; one mattress does not fit all. Their firm mattress options include the Helix Twilight and the Helix Dawn. Both offer a layered composition of memory foam and dynamic foam to create the right combination of pressure relief and contouring for the body. Bottom line: they are comfortable, yet solid.

The Twilight is the best mattress for side sleepers and provides excellent pressure point relief. The Dawn is best suited for back and stomach sleepers and conforms well to the body. Additionally, Helix mattresses come with free shipping to the United States, a 100-night trial, and a 10-year warranty. Helix is also one of our top picks for the best bed in a box

Read our full Helix mattress review for more details!

Layla Hybrid

Best for Couples
BEST FOR
  • Hot Sleepers
  • Combo, side & back sleepers
  • Shoppers who like options
Score
4.8 / 5.0
Firmness

Dual Sided: Soft & Firm

Trial period

120 nights

Reason to buy

Breathability & Support

Layla’s hybrid version of their original mattress gives sleepers a truly customizable sleeping experience. The mattress is dual-sided, one is a relatively soft feel (4/10) and the other is a more firm feeling (7/10). Since we are talking about firm mattresses here, we recommend sleeping on the firm side if that is what you prefer, but it is nice to know you have the option to change it up anytime you want.

The mattress is ideal for couples and heavier sleepers since it is constructed with coils, and has a lot of support. On the firmer side, you feel more support from those coils, but you will also feel some contouring and sinking from the memory foam. The Layla Hybrid mattress is really easy to move around and will accommodate just about any sleeping position.

Read our full Layla hybrid mattress review for more information. 

DreamCloud Mattress

Best Medium Firm
BEST FOR
  • Back & Side Sleepers
  • Sleepers less than 250 lbs
  • Warm sleepers
Score
4.8 / 5.0
Firmness

6.5

Trial period

365 Days

Reason to buy

A great mattress for pain relief and all-around comfort

The DreamCloud is a luxurious, medium-firm, hybrid mattress that gives you the feeling of sleeping on a cloud that you’ve always imagined. While this mattress is technically “firm” it is a great medium-firm option for those who are concerned about support but still like the pillowy, fluffy feeling of a soft mattress. The DreamCloud mattress does a little bit of everything. It has added features to keep warm sleepers cool, and also has pressure relief technology, making it appealing to a lot of sleepers.

One caution is if you are a heavier sleeper (250 pounds or more) this mattress will probably not feel very firm or very comfortable to you. Additionally, it performs well for back and side sleepers, but a lot of stomach sleepers find their hips sink an uncomfortable amount on the top of this mattress.

Read our full DreamCloud mattress review to learn more. 

Plank

Best Extra Firm
BEST FOR
  • Back and Stomach Sleepers
  • Couples
  • Those who weigh 230+ pounds 
  • Hot Sleepers 
Score
4.9 / 5.0
Firmness

Dual-sided: Firm and Extra Firm

Trial period

120 nights

Reason to buy

Exceptionally firm yet still responsive

The Plank mattress by Brooklyn Bedding is one of the firmest mattresses on the market. This is a flippable mattress with a ‘Firm’ side (a 7 on the firmness scale) and an ‘Extra Firm’ side (a 9 on the firmness scale). It has foam layers on both sides and a top comfort layer of quilted foam for some cushioning. 

It is minimally conforming and is a great option for stomach sleepers and those who weigh over 230 pounds. In addition, it excels at motion isolation and makes no noise while bearing weight, so it’s a great option for couples.  If your posture is a concern, this mattress promises to keep it in check while you sleep. The Plank increases blood flow to all areas of the body, while keeping sleepers cool and giving them a customizable sleeping experience. 

Cocoon by Sealy

Best Cooling Mattress
BEST FOR
  • Hot Sleepers
  • Couples
  • Memory Foam Lovers
Score
4.4 / 5.0
Firmness

8

Trial period

100 days

Reason to buy

Top of the line cooling technology

If you are a hot sleeper on the search for a firm mattress, the Cocoon Chill by Sealy is your perfect match. A lot of mattresses claim to have “cooling features” and promise to not trap your body heat, but how many of them have “Chill” in their name? Only one. To have as many added features and proven ability to perform like a cool memory foam mattress, the Cocoon sells at a very reasonable price.

Whether you sleep alone, with a partner or with a pet, this mattress promises you an undisturbed night’s sleep and they do live up that promise as far as motion transfer goes. The memory foam absorbs most of the movement, so you shouldn’t be shaken around by a restless sleeper. However, some combination sleepers complain that they feel “stuck” in memory foam mattresses and find them hard to move around on so that is something to consider if you or your partner are very active sleepers. All in all, this mattress is a great value that will keep you comfortable and cool.

Read our full Cocoon Chill mattress review for more information. 

Level Sleep

Best for Back Pain
BEST FOR
  • Those who suffer from back pain
  • All sleep positions, especially back sleepers 
  • Couples who require motion isolation
  • Light to average-weight sleepers
Score
4.6 / 5.0
Firmness

Three firmness settings along the length of mattress

Trial period

365 Nights

Reason to buy

Designed specifically to alleviate back pain

The Level Sleep Mattress is designed specifically for those sleepers who wake up (and go to sleep) with back pain. Recommended by some doctors and chiropractors, Level Sleep suggests that different parts of our bodies need different levels of support during rest. The mattress houses three levels of firmness along the length of the bed from the head/neck/shoulders to the hips, helping the spine stay in alignment.  

Level’s three-zone design features lumbar support and two softer zones that allow the shoulders and hips to release into the mattress, providing improved alignment and reduced pressure regardless of sleep position. It feels softer at the shoulders, firm at the lower back and medium-firm at the hips. With a full-year trial period to try out the mattress and a lifetime warranty to back it up, we think it’s absolutely worth a try, especially if you live with back pain.

Learn more about your options in our full Level Sleep mattress review.

Amerisleep AS1

Best Memory Foam
BEST FOR
  • Stomach & Back Sleepers
  • Heavier Sleepers
  • Couples
Score
4.7 / 5.0
Firmness

8

Trial period

100 nights

Reason to buy

Firm and cooling

The Amerisleep AS1 is the companies firmest mattress option. The support of this mattress is referred to as “gentle but firm,” exactly what shoppers hope for when looking for a firm mattress that will also keep them comfortable at night. This mattress is especially good for side and back sleepers, as side sleepers could potentially feel some jamming in the shoulders. If you are a strict side sleeper, look at the AS2 or AS3 as an option. 

In addition to open-cell technology, which keeps you cool at night, and eco-friendly materials, Amerisleep constructs all their mattresses in the U.S. These hybrid mattresses have the perfect balance of support and comfort for sleepers, making to fall asleep, and decreasing the likelihood that you will wake up with aches and pains. 

Read more about Amerisleep in our full review.

Casper Wave Hybrid

Best For Side Sleepers
BEST FOR
  • All sleepers of all sizes and sleep positions
  • Couples who need motion isolation
  • Sleepers looking for pressure relief
Score
4.9 / 5.0
Firmness

Medium

Trial period

100 nights

Reason to buy

Memory foam contours and coils respond

Designed to respond well to movement, the Casper Wave Hybrid mattress combines the best features of two mattress types: memory foam and an innerspring coil base. This updated version of the popular Casper Wave mattress isolates motion, relieves pressure and regulates temperature, making it a great option for a wide range of sleepers.

The Wave Hybrid is a different mattress altogether from the Casper Original due to the addition of the innerspring coil layer and another foam layer that adds 1.5 inches of thickness. To keep score, that’s a total of five layers of foam and 13 total inches. Both the construction and materials upgrade all of the mattress functions—from firmness and comfort to responsiveness, motion transfer, and pressure relief.

Read our full Casper Wave Hybrid mattress review to learn more!

Who Are Firm Mattresses Best For?

It’s no secret that firm beds are not for everyone. However, there are many categories of people who prefer a firm mattress and people who have medical conditions that make a firm mattress necessary. The following are some groups who may benefit from sleeping on a firm bed: 

Sleepers with Back Pain

Firm mattresses can provide support for those who suffer from back pain and other aches and pains. The improved spinal alignment that firm mattresses provide will reduce the likelihood of added soreness because of the mattress. 

Big & Tall Sleepers

Firm mattresses can also help provide support for those who carry more bodyweight and sink too deeply into soft mattresses. It is important to remember that “heavy” is relative and a mattress’s true firmness will likely vary from person to person. See: best mattresses for heavy people

People Who Prefer A Firm Surface

Preference matters. You should judge a mattress by how well you sleep while on it and your comfort level. While many who choose firm mattresses do so because they require the added support, some just prefer to sleep on a stiffer surface as opposed to a more plush environment. 

Benefits of a Firm Mattress

  • Improved spinal alignment – You may have heard from your doctor that proper posture is an important component to reducing chronic back pain. This doesn’t end when you’re sleeping. If the spine is out of alignment for 8 hours every day, you will notice via symptoms, such as aches and pains, that develop. A firmer mattress will reduce the risk of improper spinal alignment.
  • Extra support – Your spine is not the only portion of your body that requires support while you sleep. Those who suffer from shoulder, neck, hip and other joint pain will require more support and stabilization from their mattress to reduce or ease the pain.
  • Deeper Sleep – At least 20-25% of your sleep should be a deep sleep. To get to this stage in sleep, however, you need to feel comfortable and relaxed. Firm mattresses offer the support to allow your entire body to settle easily into a comfortable sleep position so you can get sufficient time in a deep sleep.
  • Even Weight Distribution – If you suffer from joint pain and muscle stiffness, it could be because you aren’t using a firm enough mattress. Improper support will cause sagging in heavier areas on a softer mattress.

Cons of a Firm Mattress

  • Lower-pressure point relief – If you’ve been in the market for a new mattress, you’ve likely heard the phrase “pressure point relief.” A pressure point is any part of the body that feels uncomfortable when you lie down because of the “pressure” applied by the mattress to that area. If you don’t have the right mattress, these areas of body tissue will end up squeezed and it can restrict blood flow and cause stiffness. If this sounds like you, you’ll want to avoid mattresses that have low-pressure point relief. This is often the case with discount mattresses and outdated mattress models.
  • Longer break-in period – Most mattresses take anywhere from 30 to 90 days to fully “break-in” or adjust to their final shape. This can be especially true for firm mattresses that are denser. Keep this in mind if you select a firm mattress and are initially startled by just how firm it is. Give it some time.
  • Firm isn’t for everyone – Is a firm mattress right for you? There’s only one way to be sure. Try it! The companies we’ve reviewed offer the opportunity to try their mattresses for a trial period to make sure it’s a good fit. But remember, while you do need firm support for proper spinal alignment, you risk overcompensation if you choose a mattress that is too firm. This will inhibit proper curvature, make your sleep very uncomfortable, and increase chronic pain.

Types of Firm Mattresses 

Innerspring

What is an Innerspring Mattress? Invented in 1871, the innerspring is what most people think of when they think “traditional mattress.” Think of brands like Serta Simmons, and other long-standing brands available in most brick and mortar stores. They are a mattress constructed with a layer of coils as their support and do not have a lot of material on top of those coils, making them very firm options. 

Are they firm? In short, yes. They tend to be some of the firmest options on the market since they typically do not have a comfort layer overtop the coil base. While there have been many improvements to innerspring mattresses since their creation, they are still not hailed as the most comfortable or pressure-relieving models. See: best innerspring mattresses 

Hybrid 

What is a Hybrid Mattress? A hybrid mattress is a fusion of an innerspring base with a comfort layer on top of the coils. This comfort layer could be made of latex, various foams, and other cotton and polyester blends. 

How firm are hybrids? Hybrids firmness can vary depending on the thickness of the comfort layer. Where traditional innerspring mattresses can fall short in motion isolation and reliving pressure, a hybrid can combine the firm base of coils with some additional comfort. 

Foam

What is a foam mattress? While memory foam is possible the most popular of the mattress foams, there are dozens of poly foams, gel foams, and foam blends that are used to create foam mattresses. They range in layers of different types of foams from the dense base layer, to varying comfort top layers. 

Firmness varies: Depending on the density of the foam used in the layers, foam mattresses can range from very soft to relatively firm. Most of these firmness levels will depend on the sleeper’s weight, and how far they sink into the first layer of foam. 

Latex 

What is a latex mattress? Latex mattresses are constructed from a combination of latex (a rubbery like substance), foams and/or coils, that results in a bouncy, supportive surface. 

How do they feel? Latex has a unique feeling if you have never slept on it before. They are a very popular choice for those in search of pressure relief and are much more breathable than some memory foam. They range from soft to very firm and have grown in popularity due to their use of natural materials. See: best latex mattresses

How Much Will my Weight Affect How Firm a Mattress Feels to Me? 

Your weight is the number one thing that will determine how firm, or how soft, a mattress feels to you. Mattresses are constructed of multiple layers, most of which become denser (firmer) as you get closer to the base of the mattress. On some mattresses, if you are a heavier person (over 250 pounds), you will sink into the mattress more, meaning you will feel more of the firmer materials deeper in the mattress. If you are a heavier person who likes a firmer mattress, you want to make sure you are feeling a comfortable firm. Look for beds that have a firm, or more dense, top/comfort layer. This means you will be feeling the firmness intended for the sleeper to feel, not the inner layers.

Will Some Sleeping Positions Sleep Better on a Firm Mattress?

Technically, all sleeping positions can sleep and find comfort on a firm mattress. However, if you are a side sleeper, you are the one sleeping position I would caution the most. Side sleepers have to find a delicate balance of supporting their spine alignment, as well as avoiding jamming on their hips and shoulders. I would recommend shopping for a firm mattress with a pillow top addition to ensure comfort and support. For stomach and back sleepers, a firmer mattress is typically best. If a mattress is too soft, it can cause the hips to sink down in these positions, throwing the spine out of alignment and increasing the risk for aches and pains. Combination sleepers will find that firmer mattresses are easier to move around on, but may not provide that “contouring feeling” once you get into your next comfortable position, so it is more about personal preference. 

Popular Accessories For Firm Beds

Mattress Toppers

There are now more ways than ever to customize your mattress. If you are in need or more support but tend to like a softer surface, consider the addition of a euro or pillow top to your bed. These toppers are made in a variety of materials that give your firm mattress a more plush feel. 

Pillows 

If you are shopping for a firm mattress due to neck, back, or hip pain, you may want to consider the addition of a pillow depending on your sleeping position. Pillows come in every shape and size; from wedge to flat and small to large, there are pillows for every pain concern. This can add some focused support to different areas of the body.

Conclusion

We’ve talked about why you might be in the market for a firm mattress and the varying degrees of firmness based on standards used by all the mattress manufacturers. In addition, we’ve covered the best, high-quality, firm mattresses on the market based on our very high standards of comfort and function. Finally, we reviewed the factors to consider and the components to keep in mind when you’re shopping for a firm mattress. 

Whether you require better spinal alignment to combat chronic back pain; you are a heavier sleeper who requires extra support, or you prefer a firmer surface to sleep on, you are now ready to decide with confidence and clarity. Go forth boldly and be on your way to a better night’s sleep!

Recap of the Best Rated Firm Mattresses

Mattress Award  Mattress Type
Saatva Best Firm Hybrid Mattress Hybrid
Helix Twilight Best Firm Mattress for Heavy People Hybrid
Layla Hybrid Best Firm Mattress for Couples Hybrid
DreamCloud Best Medium Firm Mattress Hybrid
Plank by Brooklyn Bedding Best Extra Firm Mattress Foam
Cocoon Chill Best Firm Cooling Mattress Foam
Level Sleep Best Firm Mattress for Back Pain Foam
Amerisleep AS1 Best Firm Memory Foam Mattress Hybrid
Casper Hybrid Best Firm Mattress for Side Sleepers Hybrid

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