The statement to “always choose a firm mattress,” is false. Firm mattresses are not for everyone, however, they are excellent choices for back and stomach sleepers— they need a firm mattress to prevent heavier sections of the body, like the hips, from sinking in and throwing the spine out of alignment.
In this article, we review our favorite firm mattresses and offer tips on how to choose the best firm mattress for your needs.
Best Firm Mattresses
|Amerisleep AS1||With a firm feel and gentle support, the AS1 is the best firm mattress for back and stomach sleepers.|| |
|Avocado||Responsive, all-natural latex has a firm, yet cool sleeping surface.|| |
|Bear||Open-cell foam circulates air and relieves pressure in hips, back, and shoulder area.|| |
|Novosbed||An all-foam mattress that comes with a complimentary Comfort+ firmness adjustment kit.|| |
|Nest Bedding Love & Sleep||Exclusive Energex™ foam has a firm and responsive feel similar to an innerspring mattress.|| |
|Nolah Original 10"||Special open-cell foams sleep cool and provide reinforced support.|| |
|Lull||An ideal option for lightweight sleepers looking for a firm, but comfortable mattress.|| |
|Plushbeds Botanical Bliss||Three layers of latex with different firmness can be rearranged for a customized sleep surface.|| |
|Airweave||Layers of a special air fiber plastic material give a “firmer than innerspring” feel.|| |
The Amerisleep AS1 our recommendation for firm mattress seekers. Standing at 10 inches, it includes a 2-inch layer of BioPur® and an 8-inch layer of BioCore®. It features a lightweight, breathable cover to keep air moving throughout the mattress.
Both Bio-Pur® and Bio-Core® foams are exclusive to Amerisleep. The open-cell structure of Bio-Pur® foam provides excellent air circulation, so sleepers never have to worry about overheating. Plus, BioPur® offers gentle pressure-relief without creating the “stuck” feeling associated with traditional memory foam.
Bio-Core® is quite sturdy so it prevents sagging and reinforces the whole structure of the AS1 mattress. Due to the durability of Bio-Core, you can expect this bed to last. And if it doesn’t— you’re protected by a lengthy 20-year warranty.
Amerisleep Warranty and Sleep Trial
Amerisleep’s 20-year warranty is divided in half— for the first 10 years, Amerisleep will replace or repair the mattress at no extra cost to the customer. Should a repair or replacement be requested during the last 10 years, Amerisleep will replace the mattress for 50% of the original cost. Customers will also need to pay transportation and shipping costs on top of the prorated charge.
Defects covered under the warranty include sagging greater than 0.75 inches and faulty manufacturer defects not caused by customer misuse.
100-Night Sleep Trial
With Amerisleep’s 100-night sleep trial, customers can rest easy with the ability to try the AS1 within the comfort of their own homes. It takes 30 days for the body to adjust to a new bed, so Amerisleep recommends customers try the mattress for at least that long. If, for any reason, a customer is not satisfied, Amerisleep will work with them to pick up the bed and process a refund.
The Avocado is a high-quality latex mattress. It stands at 11 inches tall with two 2-inch layers of Dunlop latex and 8 inches of tempered steel pocket coils. It’s covered in a 100% organic cotton cover.
Dunlop latex is similar to memory foam in its body-contouring properties, but is more responsive with a firmer feel. The Avocado mattress aligns the spine, isolates motion, and offers good edge support. The cotton cover uses New Zealand wool as a natural fire barrier and wicks away moisture. Because of its all-natural materials, the Avocado mattress does come with a higher price tag.
Avocado Warranty and Sleep Trial
From years 1 through 11, customers can expect a non-prorated warranty— Avocado covers the cost of repairs or a replacement. After the 11th year, customers are charged a prorated amount for any repairs or replacements, which increases each year.
365-Night Sleep Trial
The 365-night sleep trial starts the day you receive your Avocado mattress. If unsatisfied, customers can contact the company and arrange for the mattress to be picked up and donated to a local charity. Once Avocado confirms the pick-up, they will issue a full refund.
The Bear is a 10-inch tall, all-foam mattress. It’s constructed with 1 inch of graphite-gel infused memory foam, 2 inches of responsive transitional poly-foam, 5 inches of high-density support foam, and 2 inches of adaptive poly-foam. The polyester cover includes FDA-determined Celliant® technology.
The firm foam support provides excellent spinal alignment by preventing the hips from sinking into the bed, reducing aches and pains. The Bear is a comfortable mattress for lower back pain relief because it keeps your spine aligned and relieves pressure in your back, hips, and shoulders.
Bear Warranty and Sleep Trial
Bear covers sagging greater than 1 inch and will cover repair or replacement costs. Customers are responsible for handling and transportation fees.
100-Night Sleep Trial
Bear requires that customers keep the Bear mattress for 30 days to allow time for the body to adjust to the new bed before they process any returns. If, after at least 30 days, a customer is not satisfied, Bear will schedule a time to pick up the mattress and donate it to a local charity.
The Novosbed stands at 11 inches tall with 2 inches of memory foam, 2 inches of transitional foam, and 7 inches of support foam. It comes with a machine-washable stretch-knit Tencel® cover.
This all-foam mattress comes in three different firmness options, but for this article, we focused on the firm option. The Novosbed lightly contours the body without causing it to sink down. Back and stomach sleepers receive needed pressure relief without feeling smothered. The supportive poly-foam base evenly distributes weight and isolates motion.
Novosbed Warranty and Sleep Trial
Once it arrives, the Novosbed must be unpacked within 2 weeks, otherwise, any damage caused from not unpacking it within the allotted time will void the warranty. Novosbed covers indents greater than 1 inch within the first 10 years and indents greater than 2 inches within the last 5 years of the warranty.
120-Night Sleep Trial
Novosbed requires its customers to keep the mattress for 60 days before they’ll issue any returns. If customers feel the mattress is too soft or too firm, after 30 days they can request a Comfort+ firmness adjustment kit for free. If still not satisfied after 60 days, Novosbed will arrange to pick up the mattress for a full refund.
5. Nest Bedding Love & Sleep
The Nest Bedding Love & Sleep mattress is 11 inches tall with 3 inches of Nest’s exclusive Energex™ Cooling Comfort foam, 1 inch of SmartFlow Air Flow foam, and 6 inches of edge support base foam. The entire mattress is covered in a special phase change material to regulate body temperature.
As one of their firmest beds, the Love & Sleep mattress offers pressure relief and gentle body contouring with their own special Energex™ foam. It’s firm and responsive with a bounce normally found in innerspring mattresses. This mattress is available in two firmness options— medium and firm.
On top of their lifetime warranty and 100-night sleep trial, Nest also offers a Lifetime Comfort Guarantee: if, within 100 days, you feel like you want something softer or firmer, Nest will gladly switch your current bed for a new model, firmness, or size for free. After the 100 days, customers will need to pay half the current retail price for any replacement beds.
Nest Bedding Love & Sleep Warranty and Sleep Trial
The lifetime warranty lasts only for as long as the customer owns the mattress. If the bed is sold or given away, the warranty doesn’t transfer to the new party. Nest covers sagging greater than 1 inch, manufacturing flaw in the zipper, and any physical flaws in the cover not caused by customer misuse.
100-Night Sleep Trial
Nest Bedding requires customers to keep the Love & Sleep mattress for at least 30 days before requesting a return. This time period allows the body to adjust to the new bed. If after 30 days, the customer is still not satisfied, they can contact Nest to arrange a return.
6. Nolah Original 10″
The Nolah Original mattress is 10 inches thick and includes 2 inches of AirFoam™, 1 inch of support foam, and 7 inches of high-density base foam. It comes with a removable viscose cover.
The open-cell structure of Nolah’s exclusive AirFoam™ has good air circulation, providing sleepers with great cooling during the night. It’s also proven to reduce pressure on the hips, back, and shoulders. The layer of support foam has a responsive bounce, so sleepers have no trouble getting out of bed in the morning and won’t feel stuck in the mattress. The high-density base foam reinforces the bed’s overall support for a durable mattress that’s sure to last.
Nolah Warranty and Sleep Trial
Nolah will cover any sagging greater than 1 inch. The current warranty will not be renewed if the mattress is replaced. The removable cover is covered under warranty of 1 year and includes manufacturer defects in material or craftsmanship.
120-Night Sleep Trial
Nolah provides a 120-night sleep trial, however, they require customers to try the mattress for at least 30 days before they’ll accept any returns. If customers are not happy with the Nolah Original, Nolah will send someone to pick up the mattress to donate to a local charity or drop it off at a recycling program, before issuing a full refund.
The Lull mattress is 10 inches thick and includes 1.5 inches of gel memory foam, 1.5 inches of transitional poly-foam, and 7 inches of a high-density base foam. A polyester blend fabric covers the mattress.
Each layer of foam provides benefits to those seeking a firm mattress. The gel-infused memory foam absorbs and disperses body heat while relieving pressure points. The transitional layer distributes motion and prevents the body from sinking. Finally, the high-density foam base prevents sagging and adds overall support to the entire mattress.
With three layers to help promote healthy spinal alignment, the Lull mattress also offers good motion isolation, so you shouldn’t have to worry about waking in the night from a sleep partner’s movement. The Lull mattress is a great option for lightweight sleepers looking for a firm mattress. It gives the right amount of support without feeling uncomfortable.
Lull Warranty and Sleep Trial
Lull will replace or repair the mattress in light of a valid defect. Defects include sagging greater than 1 inch, manufacturing flaws in the mattress cover zipper, or physical flaws in the mattress cover not due to misuse.
100-Night Sleep Trial
Lull provides their customers with a 100-night sleep trial when they purchase a mattress. If, at any point during their trial, the customer is not in love with the mattress, Lull will arrange to have it picked up before issuing a full refund.
8. PlushBeds Botanical Bliss
The PlushBeds Botanical Bliss is 10 inches tall, and their medium-firm option consists of 1 inch of New Zealand wool, 3 inches of medium Dunlop latex, 3 inches of medium-firm Dunlop latex, and 3 inches of extra-firm Dunlop latex. An organic cotton cover creates a breathable, plush surface to sleep on.
As a pure latex mattress, the PlushBeds Botanical Bliss bed conforms closely to the body without the “stuck” feeling associated with traditional memory foam. This mattress is also customizable. If customers want a more firm feel, they simply need to unzip the cover and rearrange the latex layers.
PlushBeds can also customize the King and California King-size mattresses with split layers— two different firmness settings for each side of the mattress. A great option for anyone whose sleep partner has different preferences.
PlushBeds Botanical Bliss Warranty and Sleep Trial
The 25-year warranty starts at the date of purchase. For the first 10 years, PlushBeds will repair or replace the mattress without extra cost to the customer. After 10 years, PlushBeds can choose whether to repair or re-cover the mattress with a handling cost charged to the customer, or replace the mattress for a prorated charge. This prorated charge starts at 50% of the original mattress cost and increases by 3% each year until the end of the warranty.
100-Night Sleep Trial
Customers are required to keep the mattress for at least 30 days to allow the body to adjust to a new bed. After the 30 days, if customers are not happy with the PlushBeds Botanical Bliss mattress, they will receive a full refund.
The Airweave mattress stands at 8.5 inches thick with two layers of 4 inch airweave polyethylene resin fibers. It comes encased in a removable, machine-washable cotton-poly cover that adds another 0.5 inch to the top of the mattress.
The exclusive polyethylene resin material is specifically designed for optimal airflow— the interwoven, open fibers allows air to easily pass through the mattress. Altogether, the Airweave mattress feels firmer than a traditional innerspring bed. Customers feel like they’re floating on top of the mattress instead of sinking into it.
This unique mattress is made in Japan and shipped via freight overseas— different than vacuum-packed, bed-in-a-box mattresses. Customers can pay an additional $40 for White Glove Delivery, though it doesn’t include old mattress removal.
The Airweave mattress cover also has the added bonus of being completely washable. Simply remove it and toss in the washing machine, then rinse the airfiber with water to remove any stains or spills.
Airweave Warranty and Sleep Trial
The warranty includes sagging greater than 1 inch, any physical flaw that could cause the airfoam to split or crack, and any manufacturing defects. Airweave will replace a defective mattress with a new model, but they can also replace it with a different model— customers will need to pay the difference. However, the warranty doesn’t renew with the new mattress, but continues from the original mattress purchase date.
100-Night Sleep Trial
Airweave offers customers a 100-night sleep trial to properly try out their mattress. They only ask that customers keep the mattress for at least 30 days before they’ll issue a warranty. If customers are not completely satisfied, Airweave will issue a full refund.
Benefits of a Firm Mattress
A firm mattress can provide a variety of different benefits— extra support, cooler sleep, and spinal alignment to name a few. These benefits help sleepers improve not only their quality of sleep, but also their health.
A firm sleep surface helps to align the spine and prevent both back and hip pains. Improper alignment can cause muscle strain and discomfort in the morning.
For those who suffer from shoulder, neck, hip, or other joint pain, a firm mattress gives more support and stability to the body, depending on an individual’s preferred sleep position. We recommend consulting with your doctor first before purchasing a firm mattress.
Even Weight Distribution
Firm mattresses are less likely to sag and evenly distribute the user’s weight across the sleep surface. Even weight distribution also helps position the spine in neutral alignment, further reducing the risk of pain.
Firm beds make for great cooling mattresses.It’s easier to sleep on top of a firm mattress because they have very little give; this increases airflow and reduces the risk of heat retention.
A firm mattress is ideal for those who prefer sleeping on the edge of the bed or those worried about rolling off the bed. Good edge support prevents sleepers from slipping off the bed at night, and is also supportive when sitting on the edge of the mattress.
Softer mattresses conform more closely to the body and run a higher risk of sagging. A firmer mattress is less likely to sag quickly under lots of weight.
Who Needs a Firm Mattress?
While it’s true firm mattresses typically last longer than softer mattresses, they may not be the right choice for everyone. Those who benefit the most from a firm mattress include stomach and back sleepers, hot sleepers, heavy sleepers, and those with back pain.
Stomach sleepers need more support in their hips— less support causes the hips to sink into the mattress resulting in improper spinal alignment and back strain. Firm mattresses keep the spine aligned and prevents misalignment.
Unlike stomach sleepers, back sleepers prefer a slight sinking below their hips. This helps support the natural “S” curvature of the spine. A medium firm mattress is best for back sleepers since it allows a small amount of sinking in the hip area, but still supports the back.
For those who sleep hot, a firm mattress might be the best option. Rather than spend money on mattress pads with cooling technology, sleepers resting on top of a firm mattress are exposed to more air than they would be if they were sunken down in the bed. Firm mattresses are also less likely to retain heat because there’s less body inside the bed.
Soft and even some medium mattress models may not offer the support that a heavier individual, weighing 230lbs. or more needs. Those types of beds end up sagging, causing discomfort. A firm mattress offers the comfort and support heavy sleepers need for a good night’s sleep.
Those with Back Pain
Those who suffer from back pain may find relief in a firm mattress. A firm mattress aligns the spine and reduces back pain. A medium-firm to firm feel are good choices for back pain sufferers.
Who Should Avoid a Firm Mattress?
Firm mattresses aren’t comfortable for everyone— your preferred firmness level depends on your personal preferences, like sleep position, body type, and possible medical conditions.
Unlike stomach and back sleepers, side sleepers need a more plush surface for pressure relief in the shoulders and hips. While firm mattresses do offer some pressure relief, it may create more pressure points for side sleepers because of their lack of cushioning.
Lightweight individuals don’t have enough weight to allow their bodies to sink into a firm or even a medium mattress, even with an added comfort layer. They need a more plush sleeping surface and would do better with a medium-soft to soft mattress.
Those with Arthritis, Rheumatism, or Scoliosis
A firm mattress could worsen some medical conditions like arthritis, rheumatism, or scoliosis. It depends on where in the body the medical condition or pain is centered. A firm sleep surface may create more pressure points and increase muscle tension and pain. If you’re looking for a comfortable mattress for arthritis pain relief, choose something conforming, responsive, and motion isolating.
What to Look For in a Firm Mattress
When on the hunt for the best firm mattress, pay attention to the types of materials— different materials serve different purposes and influence the overall feel of the mattress. Also, research available sleep trials, warranties, and return policies attached to each brand you look into.
Each of these different types of mattresses provide their own perks. Customers can find a firm bed that can contain memory foam, latex, innersprings, or a hybrid with a combination of foam and innersprings.
Memory Foam Mattress
Memory foam mattresses contain a number of foam layers. The composition of these layers varies across brands, but a basic model uses memory foam as the top layer, followed by a polyurethane transitional layer and a high-density foam base. Memory foam is softer, retains heat, and conforms to the body. All foam is made from synthetic materials, and can range from soft to firm.
There are two types of latex— natural and synthetic. Natural latex comes from sap extracted from rubber trees, while synthetic latex is produced through a chemical process. Natural latex comes in two forms— Dunlop and Talalay. Dunlop latex is denser and more durable, while Talalay latex has a softer feel and sleeps cooler thanks to strategically placed ventilation holes.
Latex, especially natural latex, comes with a higher price tag. Similar to memory foam, it conforms to the body’s natural curves to relieve pressure, but it is more responsive. Latex mattresses are available in medium to firm options.
Innersprings contain steel coils with a thin comfort top layer. Innersprings are the traditional mattress many people grew up with. Firmer than memory foam, innersprings offer great air circulation but provide less pressure relief due to the coils. Innerspring mattresses are one of the most affordable options on the market.
Hybrids offer the best of both worlds— body contouring memory foam combined with the firm support of innersprings. Memory foam or latex act as a thick comfort layer with pocket coils for support. A true hybrid mattress must contain foam and coils. Hybrids offer good support and are available in a variety of firmness options.
Sleep Trials, Warranties, and Return Policies
Perks like sleep trials, warranties, and return policies are excellent ways to assure customers they’ve made the right choice. Many customers prefer to try a mattress out in their own home, rather than face the pressure of a salesman at a traditional brick-and-mortar store. Warranties and return policies act as further assurances to protect the customer and their mattress investment.
A sleep trial refers to a trial period to test out a mattress most manufacturers offer their customers with a purchase. Sleep trials are a convenient, no-hassle way of trying out a mattress within the comfort of your own home. Sleep trials should last 30 nights to allow for an adjustment period— most mattresses include a 100-night trial.
A brand new mattress should always have some type of warranty attached. Avoid purchasing a mattress that doesn’t have one. Warranties protect both the customer and the manufacturer. Always read the fine print before buying to know what to expect of the company and what the company expects of you.
In addition to the warranty, a return policy is another feature that should come with the purchase of a mattress. Return policies are easily confused with sleep trials— after all, they both let you try out a mattress, and if not satisfied, you can return it. The difference is some manufacturers don’t offer sleep trials and instead have a return policy. Return policies usually last 30 days, a shorter period of time compared to a sleep trial.
Now that you know what to look for in the best firm mattress, it’s time to start looking. If a firm mattress is right for you, there are several excellent choices out there. If your less concerned about finding a firm bed, look to our article on finding the best mattress of the year.
To write a high-quality and credible article, we considered over 22 leading mattress brands, read several dozen reviews and articles, and spent over 17 hours researching, writing, and editing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a mattress be too firm?
Yes. When lying on your back, if you can easily slip your hand under the curve of your lower back, the mattress is too hard and needs more cushion. That “S” curve needs support for healthy spine alignment.
What is a bed-in-a-box mattress?
Bed-in-a-box mattresses are usually less expensive than other types. Companies send you a compressed mattress rolled up and packed in a box, allowing customers to easily set up their beds in their own home.
Is a firm mattress good for chronic pain?
If you suffer from chronic pain, it might be a good idea to consult your doctor before purchasing a mattress. A firm mattress may worsen some medical conditions and increase pain, depending on what area of the body the pain is originating from.