Firmness is one of the fundamental features to consider as you shop for a mattress. Everyone has their own preferences. We’re all Goldilocks when it comes to mattress shopping, forever in search of that sleep surface that’s “just right.” Those who weigh less or sleep on their backs or sides are typically better off with a plusher mattress while the majority of people can find what they’re looking for in a medium product. However, for those who weigh more or prefer to sleep on their stomachs, a firmer bed is more likely to offer the accommodation you seek.
It’s all about what you need. On paper, a firm mattress might not sound ideal. When you think about mattresses, you think about adjectives like plush and comfort. However, it’s not as if a firm mattress is made out of cement. These are still incredibly comfortable. It’s more about the level of support that your mattress provides. Sometimes you need that more than cradling. It all comes down to how you sleep and all sleepers are different.
If you’re in the market for a firmer mattress, there are a variety of products on the market to suit your needs. First, let’s get a peak at the five best firm mattresses that our experts have tried at The Sleep Judge. Then if any of those sound appealing, keep reading for a exploration of why firm mattresses could be right for you. In other words, by the end of this article you’ll know everything that you could possibly want to know about firm mattresses and will be prepared to purchase that mattress of your dreams.
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|Signature Design 12″ Medium Firm Mattress
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Best Firm Mattress Reviews
At The Sleep Judge, we’ve had the chance to check out some of the best firm mattresses on the market. After careful consideration, we consider these to be the best option for anyone who prefers their sleep solutions to be firm. If there are any finer firm mattresses out there, we certainly haven’t found them and wouldn’t believe anyone who claims that they exist!
1. Avocado- Best Extra Firm Mattress
- Warranty: 10 Year Limited, Pro-rated
- Trial Period: 100 Days
- Layers: Joma® New Zealand Wool- ½ inch,
Natural Dunlop Latex, eco-INSTITUT certified- 4 inches,
3 zone pocketed coil system- 8 inches
While you can get firm mattresses in foam products, innerspring mattresses are still a great way to increase support and add to firmness. Avocado is a quality product that employs the use of natural components free of harmful chemicals and synthetic materials. Along with the innerspring unit, you can also enjoy an ILD in the second layer of between 36 and 40 pounds. Furthermore, with its 100% natural Joma® New Zealand Wool, you can rest assured that your mattress will stay fresh and breathe well.
- Cover is durable and has unique aesthetic appeal
- Side handles make it easy to move
- Breathes well
- Offers pressure point relief
- Great combination of bounce and motion transfer, transfer reduction
- Can be a little too firm for those with low BMI’s
2. Saatva- Best Innerspring Firm Mattress
- Warranty: 15 Years
- Trial Period: 120 Nights
- Layers: Euro Pillow Top Cover,
Thin Layer of High Quality Memory Foam,
Steel Coil Base
Saatva is quickly growing in popularity and its firmness level is one that’s accommodated by the innerspring unit within. It’s comprised of individually-wrapped coils. This means, if you have a sleep partner, you can more effectively avoid the disruptive motion transfer that innerspring products are infamous for.
Saatva is accommodating for those looking for a firm product in that they offer three firmness options. Simply select their firm option for the sleeping solution you’re looking for. This product is very easy to get in and out of, and moving around is a breeze as the coils act to facilitate ease in mobility.
- Good durability expectations
- Great value considering cost
- Good bounce for ease in movement
- Some complaints of sleeping hot
3. Lucid Memory Foam- Best Firm Mattress Under 500
- Warranty: 25 years
- Trial Period: None
- Layers: TENCEL Lyocell cover,
Ventilated gel memory foam- 3 inches,
Bamboo charcoal memory foam- 1 inch,
High-density foam base- 8 inches
You don’t have to spend a fortune to receive a quality firm mattress. The online business model saves you money since you’re able to cut out the middleman. If you’re looking for a firm mattress on a budget, you can acquire the Lucid 12″ memory foam mattress for less than $500.
This product features the infusion of gel beads that help the product breathe. Memory foam is known to sleep hot, and this aids in addressing this common complaint. It’s also not primarily known for firmness, but Lucid’s construction allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds with ingenuity and creativity.
- Low off gassing
- Cover is washable
- Breathes well
- Low motion transfer
- Easy on the budget
- Cover is difficult to remove and replace
- Mattress is heavy
- No trial period
4. Zenhaven- Best Firm Latex Mattress
- Warranty: 20 years
- Trial Period: 120 Nights
- Layers: Organic cotton cover- 1 inch,
100 % Talalay Latex- 1 ½ inches,
100 % Talalay Latex- 3 inches,
100 % Talalay Latex- 3 inches,
100 % Talalay Latex- 1 ½ inches
Latex is one of the best materials in the mattress industry when it comes to durability. Zenhaven is yet another Saatva product that’s making headway in the market and for good reason. Not only should it stand the test of time, but its basic construction allows for versatility in firmness.
When you receive your mattress, you’ll notice a tag on the side that indicates firm and plush sides. All you have to do to take advantage of the firm side is flip the mattress. This not only allows you to enjoy the firmness you like the most, but it also gives you the two-in-one capability to learn more about what you like.
- Uses all-natural materials
- Cost a great value for quality
- Great durability expectations
- Firmness options add versatility
- Great motion isolation
- Product sleeps cool
- Difficult to move
- Can be expensive on a budget
5. Helix- Best Customizable Firm Mattress
- Warranty: 10 Year Limited
- Trial Period: 100 Nights
- Layers: Proprietary Helix Dynamic Foam, Microcoils, Poly Foam Base
It doesn’t take long to realize Helix takes a unique approach to getting the firmness just right. This is because, when you order, you’ll be taken through a sleep quiz. After answering personal questions unique to your sleeping experience, Helix will use a special algorithm to get the right firmness for you.
If you have a sleep partner, you can run into problems when they prefer a plush or medium product. With Helix, both preferences are considered. When you order, you can receive a blended product that combines your sleep quiz results. You can also pay a little extra for a dual product that offers two firmness levels in one.
- Can help reduce back pain
- Excellent customer service
- Accommodating for sleep partners with dual and blended options
- Cover is thin and tends to bunch up
6. Signature Design 12″ Medium Firm Mattress
Available Sizes: Twin, Full, Queen, King
Thickness: 8”, 10”, 12”
This particular firm mattress is one of those designs that really goes above and beyond to deliver a complex layered design that easily combines an extra firm feel with the plush ergonomics of memory foam. Being a foam mattress it still manages to give you that firm supportive feel but without compromising on the comfort factor. The “secret” is in the 10 inches thick layer of green tea infused ventilated dense support foam core that provides extra stability and reduces motion transfer. It is topped off with a 2 inches thick layer of gel and charcoal-infused memory foam that carefully adapts to your body and builds onto the support of the core to relieve the pressure of your joints. For a foam mattress, this design does great for supporting your weight, and all the while carefully conforming to the unique shape of your body.
Signature Design by Ashley is one of the leading brands in mattress design, and this firm foam offer is a perfect example of why. Skillfully combining firmness and ergonomics, this seemingly simple mattress really hides a few secrets that can completely change the way you experienced sleep.
- Good base layer for support
- Good air circulation
- Low maintenance
- Only 2 layers of foam
- Can lose firmness over time if maximum weight is exceeded
7. Signature Sleep Contour 8″ Reversible Mattress
Available Sizes: Twin, Full, Queen, King
Material: High Density Foam + 15 gauge Coil springs
Thickness: 8”, 10”, 12”
Extra-firm is sometimes not what our back needs – this medium-firm solution relies on an extra stable innerspring core, which is masked by two layers of ergonomic high-density foam to give you a more comfy solution with the same sturdy support you would expect. The core is made up of independently encased 15 gauge spring coils that are 7 inches high- and which are the best solution for evenly spreading out your weight and providing that necessary support. One unique feature of this mattress is its reversible aspect – prolong the longevity of this product by flipping it over when wear and tear appear after long use. With this feature, you can easily rely on this mattress for years to come. Cost-effective both in the long run and short term- how could it not get a spot on our list?
If you are after a balanced, mid-range design that can last you for years to come and provide you with ample support for your back, this Signature Sleep design does a great job. A basic design with a great and stable core will give your body all the firmness and support you need. And since it’s flippable, you can rest assured you’ll really get your money’s worth out of it!
- Reversible design for extra longevity
- Good firmness
- Comfortable to sleep on
- Great weight distribution
- Non-removable and non-washable cover
- Temperature regulation could be better
8. LUCID 10″ Memory Foam Mattress
Available Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
This design by LUCID manages to achieve that balance between basic and advanced design with some key advantages that make it a great firm mattress choice. At 10 inches of thickness, this mattress boasts 3 layers of foam that give it that firm core with ample support. At its base is the supportive 6.5 inches thick bamboo charcoal infused dense foam layer, topped off with 1 inch of transition foam, and finally with 2.5 inches of gel-infused memory foam. The top layer works great for temperature regulation and adds some hypoallergenic properties to the mattress as well.
This balanced design is great for support but still conforming to the outline of your back – making it great for pressure relief. And all that with a budget-friendly price tag, proving that even when you’re on a tight budget, you can manage to find a mattress that will suit your needs.
- Gel-infused memory foam regulates heat
- Good firmness
- 10 years warranty
- Good for back and stomach sleepers
- Bad at mitigating moisture
- Edges too soft
9. airweave Mattress
Available Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King
Warranty: 10-year limited warranty
Trial Period: 100 nights
Layers: 2x “airweave” Polyethylene Resin Fibers – 4 inches
airweave is a mattress company best recognized for its one-of-a-kind, extremely firm, and low-profile mattress offerings. For the past 17 years, the company has been manufacturing mattresses with its proprietary airfiber material and selling them online since 2007.
The two layers inside the mattress are made entirely of airfiber resin fibers manufactured from food-grade polyethylene. The cover is made using cotton and polyester. It measures 8.5 inches in weight and has a firmness rating of 8.5 out of a possible 10, this being an extra firm bed.
- Good for heavyweight or stomach sleepers.
- Doesn’t require decompression.
- Minimal off-gassing.
- Only one firmness option.
Benefits of Firm Mattresses
Many people never realize that they enjoy a firmer mattress until they actually try one. It’s an easy mistake to make. “Firm” isn’t exactly a word that conjures up mattress comfort. However, we’re not talking about those thin and flea-infested mattresses that you remember from summer camp. We are talking about carefully constructed sleep solutions that offer support in addition to comfort. If you’re considering buying one after using a medium or plush product, you may be surprised at some of the often overlooked benefits that you could take advantage of. These are remarkable mattresses. All you need to do is lay on one to understand the undeniable benefits.
— Extra support and weight distribution
Too little support can be highly problematic for any sleeping type. Firmer mattresses mean more support, and this is especially true if you’re older and/or suffer with neck, joint, and back problems. A firm mattress could be the cure to back pain that you didn’t ever realize you needed.
If you suffer with misaligned joints or muscles, there’s a chance the catalyst lies in your mattress. The wrong amount of support will cause sagging in heavier areas. A firmer product can add the support you need.
— Promotes spinal alignment and reduces back pain
A firm mattress is often the number one recommendation for adults suffering from chronic back pain and other back issues that can often occur due to bad posture, injuries, etc. The firmness and lack of sinking in a firm mattress works wonders for your back and gives you that needed support that can really help you feel brand new over time as a natural spinal alignment is established. This solution is often recommended by specialists as an efficient and natural way to once more regain the good health of your back.
— Deeper sleep
You want to enjoy 18-25% of your rest in a period of deep sleep. This is when the body temperature lowers slightly and most dreaming takes place. Firm products are able to offer the support you need to allow your spine, neck, and limbs to settle easily into a comfortable position. This is especially true if your current mattress has developed sagging.
— Reduces motion transfer
Soft mattresses and traditional designs are often very poor motion transfer isolators. When sleeping with a partner, any movement can be felt as it is transferred across the soft surface. And for people with light sleep, this can be a big issue. Luckily, firm mattresses come to the rescue. With high-density surfaces and hybrid designs, motion transfer is reduced to almost nothing. The firm surface absorbs the motion and thus isolates all the movements of individual sleepers. This way your sound sleep is preserved- no matter how much your loved one is fidgety during the night.
– Easily facilitates props
If you’re like me, you use your pillow for areas of the body other than the head. I find it very uncomfortable when lying on my side for my knees to lay on top of each other, so I’ll often place a pillow between them. Some of you may be big fans of body pillows that can be used for similar purposes.
Even if you don’t weigh much, sleep on your stomach, or suffer with aches and pains, you could still benefit from a firm product if you’d like to more effectively utilize your props. Firm mattresses offer more support for their effective use. Your body can adapt to a firm mattress and find it comfortable if you’re not used to it, although it can take a few weeks for these adaptations to take place if you’re used to a plush mattress.
Mattress trends and technologies are always changing. In the 70’s and 80’s, many were drawn to the idea of the waterbed, riding a wave night after night. Today, most have returned to the attraction to a tried-and-tested firm product for the support they need.
If you haven’t been mattress shopping in a while, you’ll be pleased to know that you aren’t restricted to innerspring products to get the firmness level you desire. Yes, you can still shop among a variety of quality innerspring products, but new technologies have allowed manufacturers to get more creative with materials and layer placements to allow you many more options. Just some include:
- Memory foam
- Hybrid mattresses
Note: Our Top Five list included at least one mattress from each of these material types.
Is a Firm Mattress Right for You?
There are many companies out there that offer the opportunity for you to make firmness adjustments after your purchase. Ideally, though, you want to start enjoying the right mattress sooner rather than later.
If you’re not yet quite sure if a firmer product will work well for you, it’s a good idea to do a self-analysis before you get too deep into shopping. While you do need adequate support to avoid misalignment of the spine, when you go too firm, you risk overcompensation that prevents the proper curvature you need to maintain comfort in your heels, buttocks, shoulder, and head.
Experts in sleep have reported that less cushioning has shown to encourage a neutral spine while in bed. This is because your bones take on the majority of the pressure. This allows both your muscles and blood vessels to relax, ultimately leading to better circulation and a higher quality of sleep. Furthermore, since your lower back won’t be as prone to sinking as a plusher product can cause, your airway is more open, allowing you to inhale more oxygen with every breath.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Firm Mattress
As mentioned, firm products aren’t for everyone. If you’re reading, you likely already have reason to believe firm is good for you. If you’re still not quite sure, consider the following to ensure firm is best for your needs:
- Have you suffered with lower back problems like arthritis, rheumatism, or scoliosis? Studies have suggested that firm products could cause more pain. Consult with your doctor before making a purchase.
- Do you have a body mass index under 25? If so, you may find more comfort in a plush or medium product.
- Do you like to sink a little bit into your mattress? You may not find the level of comfort in a firmer product that you’d like.
How to Gauge Firmness Shopping Online
As you shop online, there is a key piece of knowledge to keep in mind to get a good idea of firmness. Most companies will broadly categorize their products as plush, medium, and firm. The trouble is that these terms aren’t standardized. Comparing one mattress loosely categorized as firm to another may very likely result in finding one’s much firmer than the other.
The information you want to look for is the indentation load deflection. In a nutshell, 12 is very soft and 50 is very firm. You’ll typically find lower ILD’s in the comfort layer with much higher ILD’s nearer to the support base. A combined overall ILD of 31 or higher would be indicative of a firm product. The closer you get to 50, the firmer you can expect the product to be.
The Sleep Judge Firmness Test
We’ve hand-tested a number of quality firm products, and we offer a test on each that gives you a look into firmness. I apply my 130 pounds of body weight into an area of around nine by seven inches. Medium products usually sink between 6 ½ to 6 ¾ inches. Those that sink less are firmer. As you browse our top picks, you can access our full firm mattress reviews and see these tests for yourself to get a better idea of firmness. Here, we also share ILD’s when they’re available. (Some companies choose to keep this information under the radar to protect their formulas).
The majority of the population prefers a medium mattress. Unfortunately, that can make shopping a little bit difficult for those who prefer something more on the firm side. Whether your current mattress is sagging and ready to be replaced or you just can’t handle sleeping on a plush product that doesn’t offer adequate support, the investment in the right mattress can make a world of difference.
By utilizing the online business model, you put the power in your own hands in finding one that will best meet your needs. You don’t have to worry about pushy salesmen, and you can really take your time in finding what will work best for you.
October 15, 2021: Three new products have been added to this roundup due to increased popularity: the Signature Design 12″ Medium Firm Mattress, Signature Sleep Contour 8″ Reversible Mattress and the LUCID 10″ Memory Foam Mattress.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best firm mattress to buy?
When it comes to mattresses, there’s a plethora of options to choose from. That remains true even for firm mattresses. From the fabric to core material and trial period to warranty, there’s plenty of factors to take into consideration, but only you can define what’s best for you. If you’re looking for the best extra firm mattress, we recommend the Avocado. Made with natural materials, it offers pressure point relief and is breathable. For those of you who want an innerspring mattress, Saatva is our top pick for its value and durability. And if you’re looking for a firm yet affordable option that’s under the $500 price tag, Lucid is the way to go.
Is a firm mattress good?
A firm mattress offers plenty of benefits that are usually overlooked, but whether it’s good for you or not is up to you to determine. For someone who suffers from neck, joint, or back issues, and even aging pains, the extra support offered by a firm mattress can be godsend. Same goes for someone with misaligned joints or muscles. By distributing the weight and offering the right support, firm mattresses help alleviate this issue. The firmness of the mattress also helps achieve spinal alignment as you sleep, especially if you’re a back or stomach sleeper. This is key for getting deep sleep during the night so you can feel rejuvenated when you wake up.
Do firm mattresses get softer?
Yes. If you’ve got a new mattress, sleeping on it night after night is a sure shot way to break it in and make it softer. But if you want to lose that extra firmness pronto, you can take matters into your own hands. Begin by checking the foundation you’ve matched with your new mattress. Not all foundations and mattresses work well together. If you’ve got a memory foam mattress, you’ll probably want to ditch the box spring and instead place it on a platform bed. In case your mattress is old and still firm, you can add a mattress topper or simply rotate and flip it twice a year to achieve your desired level of firmness.
Do firm mattresses last longer?
Yes. Soft or medium-soft mattresses undergo premature sagging or indentations. Firm mattresses on the other hand do not suffer from this problem and thus, last longer. The type of firm mattress you’re using also impacts its longevity. Innerspring mattresses typically have a shorter life span, whereas latex mattresses are known to last the longest. You can elongate the life of your mattress further by ensuring it’s placed on the right foundation and using a mattress protector.