Best Firm Mattresses , woman asleep

The 10 Best Firm Mattresses for Every Type of Sleeper, According to Experts

If you’re looking for the right combination of comfort and support, a firm mattress may be the answer—here’s why.
By Jillian Mueller
Updated September 22, 2021
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Ever feel like you're slowly sinking into a pit in the middle of your mattress when you're trying to fall asleep at night? If this scenario sounds familiar, it might be time to consider a firmer mattress.

The best firm mattresses help relieve back pain by providing greater pushback to make you feel like you're floating on top of the surface instead of sagging down into it. "A firm mattress helps support the spine's alignment, and therefore prevents people from sinking into positions that cause back or joint pain," Mike Calabrese, a licensed chiropractor in New York City, tells Health. Firm mattresses also provide phenomenal support for back and stomach sleepers by evenly distributing weight and keeping one's hips propped up.

If the last firm mattress you slept on was an awful bunk from your childhood summer camp, you'll be pleased to learn about the vast selection of firm mattresses available now that marry support and comfort. But with so many firm beds to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? The expert team at Mattress Advisor tested hundreds of beds using a 14-point testing methodology to determine which firm mattresses score highest in categories like spine alignment, durability, and pressure relief. Below, scroll through our easy-to-follow guide to find an option that best suits your individual needs and sleep style.

Our firm mattress recommendations

Keep reading to learn more about which type of sleepers a firm mattress works best for and what each of these beds has to offer. But first, here's a quick overview of what mattress firmness actually means.

How is firmness measured in a mattress?

Mattress firmness is subjective and varies from person to person; a mattress that feels firm to you may be too soft for someone else's taste. For this reason, mattress brands came up with a firmness scale to rate how firm a mattress is compared to others on the market. This scale describes mattress firmness using a scoring system of 1 through 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. 

While most mattresses are considered medium or medium-firm, which typically puts them between a 5 and 7 on the scale, a firm mattress falls around 7 or 8. Understandably, the different textures each provide a different sleeping experience: A softer mattress cradles your body while a firmer mattress feels like hovering on top of the bed rather than sinking into it. The experts at Mattress Advisor recommend going no further than an 8 on the firmness scale to achieve the right balance between support and comfort—a mattress that's too firm may end up being uncomfortable.

Who is a firm mattress best suited for?

People with back pain

According to the American Chiropractic Association, more than 80% of people will experience lower back pain at some point throughout their lives. If you are in this majority, a firmer mattress is a great choice for you. Studies have shown that the support of a medium-firm mattress can significantly improve sleep quality and stress levels, which can help reduce back pain.

Back and stomach sleepers

Both back and stomach sleepers will benefit from a firmer bed. Back sleepers need a mattress that keeps the spine in alignment with their natural curves while they are stretched out at night. Similarly, stomach sleepers need a mattress with enough support to prevent their stomach from sinking too far into the mattress and pulling the spine into an unnatural "U" shape. Since a firmer mattress supports the entire length of the body, it can help back and stomach sleepers enjoy nights of pain-free rest.

Benefits of a firm mattress

Spine alignment

An extra-firm mattress provides more pushback to support the entire length of your body, which helps keep the natural curves of your spine in alignment and prevents you from sinking into a funky position that can leave you sore. Firm mattresses also aid in relieving back pain by maintaining a neutral spine position, alleviating any excess pressure placed on the lower or upper back.

Even weight distribution

Have you ever sunk so far into a mattress that you felt stuck? That won't happen with a firm mattress—instead, it'll keep your body elevated on the surface so you can move around (and get out of bed) easily. A lack of support can cause sagging in softer mattresses, but with firm beds, your weight is more evenly distributed, creating a smooth surface that props you up.

Extra support

Firm mattresses provide superior support thanks to their sturdy feel. By helping to stabilize the body, thus keeping the spine from twisting into uncomfortable positions, they're a great solution for those who frequently suffer from aches and pains. Plus, if you like to sprawl out across your mattress or sit on the edge of the bed to put your shoes on, you'll benefit from the increased edge support of a firm mattress. It'll prevent you from falling out of bed or sinking into the sides.

The 10 best firm mattresses

Related Items

Saatva Mattress
Credit: Saatva

Best Firm Luxury Mattress: Saatva Classic

BUY IT, $887-$2,174

The Saatva Classic is a hybrid mattress that provides a firmer level of support without skimping on luxury features that make you feel like royalty. It's made of high-quality natural materials like an organic cotton cover and a plush pillow top. Unlike other online mattress brands, Saatva offers free white-glove delivery, meaning your new mattress will be set up in your home and your old mattress removed at no extra cost. 

The Saatva mattress comes in multiple firmness levels to suit every sleeping position, including firm and a slightly softer "luxury-firm." The firm option is a great choice for stomach and back sleepers who prefer to feel like they're resting on top of the mattress rather than sinking into it, while the luxury-firm model is the best mattress for side sleepers who want some cushion but still prefer a mattress on the firm side. 

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid (foam and pocketed coils)
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 8.7 out of 10
  • Firmness: Plush-soft (3/10), luxury-firm (6/10), or firm (8/10)
  • Trial Period for Returns: 180 nights
Plank Mattress
Credit: Plank

Best Extra-Firm Mattress: Plank

BUY IT, $799-$1,499

What is the best extra-firm mattress? Brooklyn Bedding's innovative Plank mattress allows you to experience two different firmness levels in one mattress because, unlike most beds in a box, it's flippable—one side is firm, coming in at a 7 on the firmness scale, while the other is ultra-firm, or a 9. Both levels provide adequate support to help distribute body weight evenly and prevent sleepers from sinking into the mattress, but the ultra-firm mattress side in particular offers phenomenal aid to back and stomach sleepers. This top-rated, extra-firm mattress keeps sleepers' spines in near-perfect alignment and earned high marks from Mattress Advisor in pressure relief and responsiveness, meaning you'll stay comfortable even as you shift positions.

The Plank scored exceptionally well in Mattress Advisor's edge support test, which is an important criterion when it comes to maintaining the mattress' firmness and preventing it from sagging. Mattress Advisor testers said they felt like the mattress was gripping them and keeping them from falling off the bed. The Plank also has notably easy assembly—it arrives in a compact box and testers were able to set it up in less than two minutes. The only drawback: Both sides may be too firm for side sleepers who require more pressure relief at their hips and shoulders.

  • Mattress Type: Memory foam
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 9.1 out of 10
  • Firmness: Firm (7/10) and ultra-firm (9/10)
  • Trial Period for Returns: 120 nights
Mattress Lifestyle Photos
Credit: DreamCloud

Best Firm Hybrid Mattress: DreamCloud

BUY IT, $1,198-$1,798

The DreamCloud sets itself apart in the competitive hybrid category by featuring luxury materials at a lower price point, making it the best firm hybrid mattress. Thanks to an exclusive offer, Health readers can get this mattress—which includes a posh cashmere blend cover, gel-infused memory foam, and individually wrapped coils—for just $999 (the normal price for a queen is $1,598).

Mattress Advisor testers gave the DreamCloud a 9 out of 10 for both spine alignment and edge support in the lab trial, two categories in which all firm beds should excel. Since it's also known as one of the best medium-firm mattresses, the DreamCloud works well for a wide range of sleep positions, but it's especially great for back sleepers who require a balance between comfort and medium-firm support. Looking for even more luxury? Check out the brand's newest model, the DreamCloud Premier.

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 9.1 out of 10
  • Firmness: Medium-firm (6.5/10)
  • Trial Period for Returns: 365 nights
Mattress Lifestyle Photos
Credit: WinkBeds

Best Firm Luxury Innerspring Mattress: The WinkBed

BUY IT, $1,149-$2,049

The WinkBed mattress combines an innerspring coil system with a soft luxurious pillow top to deliver unmatched pressure relief and support. It's available in four different firmness levels, with the firmer and plus options ranking on the higher end of the firmness scale. The top layer of foam on each version provides a comfortable surface that's suitable for most sleep positions.

Mattress Advisor testers tell Health that The WinkBed excels at cooling and scored an 8 out of 10 in that category during lab trials. The mattress also earned a 9 out of 10 in responsiveness, which is great for combination sleepers, who move around a lot at night. However, this extra-firm spring mattress only offers moderate motion isolation, meaning movement is easily transferred across the surface of the bed and could disturb your sleep partner. But the company's new model, the all-foam GravityLux, does a fantastic job of minimizing motion and is a solid alternative for couples.

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid (foam and coils)
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 8.6 out of 10
  • Firmness: Soft (4.5/10), luxury-firm (6.5/10), firm (7.5/10), or plus (8/10)
  • Trial Period for Returns: 120 nights
Mattress Lifestyle Photos
Credit: Helix

Best Firm Mattress for Side Sleepers: Helix Dawn Luxe

BUY IT, $999-$2,349

For side sleepers wanting a firm mattress, it's important to find one that has adequate pressure relief so you don't risk waking up with hip or shoulder pain. The Helix Dawn Luxe combines a plush pillow top with a firm feel to provide a high level of support without skimping on comfort. The bed also comes with a breathable Tencel cover, which will help keep you cool during the night.

Helix differentiates itself from other online mattress makers by offering six beds in its standard lineup, providing options for all types of sleepers at a variety of firmness levels. The brand also created Luxe versions of each bed, which feature a pillow top and special lumbar support system that make these mattresses 2 inches taller than their standard counterparts.

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid (foam and coils)
  • Mattress Advisor Score: Coming soon
  • Firmness: Firm (8.5/10)
  • Trial Period for Returns: 100 nights
Mattress Lifestyle Photos
Credit: GhostBed

Best Firm Latex Mattress: GhostBed Classic

BUY IT, $845-$1,990

The GhostBed Classic mattress incorporates latex and memory foam into its construction, which helps hot sleepers combat night sweats. Latex is a natural temperature regulator, but it also responds to movement and works to keep the spine aligned and hips elevated—making it a great pick for stomach sleepers. Plus, it comes with an ultra-breathable cover that wicks away moisture. All of these features earn the bed an 8.5 out of 10 in Mattress Advisor's cooling test.

While the mattress excels at providing support, it may be too firm for side sleepers who need more cushioning around their hips and shoulders. Strict side sleepers might prefer the brand's newer model, the GhostBed 3D Matrix, over the original. Whichever model you choose, each one comes with a 20- to 25-year warranty. For comparison, most competitors offer a two- to 10-year warranty.

  • Mattress Type: Latex with foam
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 8.6 out of 10
  • Firmness: Firm (7.5/10)
  • Trial Period for Returns: 101 nights
Mattress Lifestyle Photos
Credit: Layla

Best Firm Mattress for Couples: Layla Hybrid

BUY IT, $1,299-$1,899

For couples with differing sleep styles and firmness preferences, the Layla Hybrid offers a savvy solution that's rare among online mattresses: a two-in-one design. This flippable bed is medium-soft on one side and medium-firm on the other. The medium-firm option—which is a 7 on the firmness scale—suits most sleepers by striking a nice balance between comfort and firm support. For side sleepers, the medium-soft option allows your hips and shoulders to sink slightly into the mattress, relieving tension along pressure points. No matter the position you and your partner sleep in, the Layla Hybrid has you covered.

The bed also excels at isolating movement, so you won't be disturbed if your partner gets up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom (the mattress's responsiveness makes it a great bed for sex, too). Plus, it functions as a cooling mattress, promoting breathability through a perforated polyfoam layer and innerspring coils.

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid 
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 8.7 out of 10
  • Firmness: Medium-soft (4/10) and medium-firm (7/10)
  • Trial Period for Returns: 120 nights
Casper Mattress
Credit: Casper

Best Firm Mattress for Back Pain: Casper Wave Hybrid

BUY IT, $1,595-$3,095

The Casper Wave Hybrid firm memory foam mattress uses a five-layer support system that works to relieve pressure from your back and spine. The supportive gel memory foam layer keeps the spine in alignment, while a pressure-relieving layer distributes weight away from pressure points. To top off your sleeping experience, a comfort layer provides surface-level cushioning. 

The Casper's signature five-layer technology earned it excellent scores on the Mattress Advisor spinal alignment and edge support tests, along with an endorsement from the American Chiropractic Association. In addition to being a top pick for those with back pain, this mattress performed very well in the motion transfer test, which means it'll prevent your partner or pet from waking you up if they move around during the night.

  • Mattress Type: Memory foam 
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 9.3 out of 10
  • Firmness: Medium (5/10)
  • Trial Period for Returns: 100 nights
Mattress Lifestyle Photos
Credit: Cocoon by Sealy

Best Firm Cooling Mattress: Cocoon Chill Memory Foam

BUY IT, $769-$1,539

Tired of waking up hot? The Cocoon Chill Memory Foam is a cooling mattress that will—quite literally—help keep you chill. Set at a medium-firmness level, it's made with layers of memory foam that offer pressure relief and dependable support but without increasing your body heat. An added bonus of the Chill is the cooling cover, a feature not typically found in memory foam mattresses. It works to dispel extra body heat and keep sleepers cool by maintaining a breathable, airy sleeping surface. 

And thanks to its high scores in spine alignment (9/10) and pressure relief (8.5/10), this firm foam mattress lifts pressure points, like the hips and shoulders, while keeping the spine straight—which is especially important for side sleepers, though its level of responsiveness makes the Cocoon a solid choice for any sleep position. Plus, you still get that classic memory foam feel without experiencing any of the sinkage.

  • Mattress Type: Memory foam
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 8.6 out of 10
  • Firmness: Medium-firm (6/10)
  • Trial Period for Returns: 100 nights
Mattress Lifestyle Photos
Credit: Bear

Best Firm Mattress for Athletes: Bear Hybrid

BUY IT, $1,095-$1,995

Whether you're an avid runner, a yogi, or just love to stay active, the Bear Hybrid was designed to help restore tired muscles. This mattress uses a cooling cover, open cell foam, and thick, supportive coils to keep you sleeping comfortably. Plus, its price tag proves you don't need to spend a fortune to get a high-quality product.

The Bear Hybrid is the newest model in the brand's lineup. The original all-foam Bear is a better fit for strict side sleepers who want deep compression and contouring along areas of tension, like the hips and shoulders. The hybrid has a more balanced feel, blending support and pressure relief—a great combination for back and stomach sleepers. Still, both models promote recovery during sleep, which is crucial for active individuals.

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid
  • Mattress Advisor Score: 9 out of 10
  • Firmness: Medium-firm (6.3/10)
  • Trial Period for Returns: 100 nights

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is a firm mattress better for your back?

A: Firm mattresses help to support the spine and maintain its healthy "S" curve posture. Firmer beds also tend to distribute body weight evenly atop the surface, minimizing pressure on any one area of the spine. Mattresses that are too soft can allow the body to sink too deeply into the bed, causing the spine to twist out of alignment and potentially leading to back pain.

Q: How can I tell if my mattress is too firm?

A: If you wake up in the morning with pain and soreness in your shoulders, hips, or lower back, this is a sign that your mattress could be too firm. Still feeling tired in the morning is another indicator that you're resting on a hard mattress—you probably couldn't find a comfortable sleep position and tossed and turned throughout the night. A mattress with the right degree of softness allows the body to relax into the bed. So, if you lie down on a mattress and feel as if you're on a medical exam table, that's a great sign that it's just too firm.

Q: If my mattress is too firm, how can I soften it?

A: There are several good ways to soften a very firm mattress: First, give yourself time to break it in. It can take 30 to 90 days for the body to adjust to a new mattress. After that time period, if it's still too firm, add a mattress pad or a topper. A 1-inch-thick topper made of memory foam can add a lot of body-contouring comfort and pressure relief. It's also a good idea to rotate or flip your mattress to help it last longer and to make sure that it wears evenly.

Mattress Advisor's Review Process

Each mattress on this list was put to the test (literally) in Mattress Advisor's lab, which is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Bedding experts spent over 1,200 hours evaluating and comparing mattresses using a 14-point testing methodology to find the best firm beds on the market. 

While some of the factors tested are tied directly to performance, like responsiveness, edge support, and pressure relief, others are based around brand operations, such as customer service, shipping policies, and trial period. The Mattress Advisor team combines this proprietary methodology with in-depth interviews and customer experience to arrive at a weighted score out of 10.

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