Mattress Guides

The 5 Best Firm Mattresses

If you’re ready to buy a new bed and are considering a firm mattress, this buying guide will equip you to find the best firm mattress for you. You spend one-third of your life in bed so choosing your sleep surface is an important decision that will affect your health and quality of life.

In this guide, you’ll see our top choices for firm mattresses, firm mattress reviews, learn how mattress firmness is measured, how to decide if a firm mattress is best for you, see the benefits of a firm mattress, and learn about mattress types and firmness. Let’s get started!

Our Picks for the Best Firm Mattress

Category Winner Mattress Company Model What Type of Mattress? How Firm? How Much? (Queen)
Best Value Nest Love & Sleep Foam Dual-sided: 6.5 (Medium-Firm) and 8 (Firm) $599
Best Luxury Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Hybrid 3 (Soft), 5 (Medium), 7 (Firm) $1,699
Best Overall Loom & Leaf Memory Foam 6.5 (Medium-Firm), 8 (Firm) $1,099
Editor's Choice Saatva Innerspring 3 (Soft), 6 (Medium-Firm), 8 (Firm) $999
Softest Mattress Amerisleep AS1 Memory Foam 8.5 (Firm) $1,199

Reviews of Our Favorite Firm Mattresses

The Best Value – Nest Bedding Love & Sleep Mattress

nest-bedding-love-sleep-picture

Construction:

The Love & Sleep from Nest Bedding is a three-layer 11” mattress available in medium and firm. The support core is 6” base foam. There’s a 1” transition SmartFlow layer for air flow. The comfort layer is 3” high-density Energex cooling foam. There’s an upper foam layer that makes up the 1” top and has a phase-change cooling fabric cover.

Pros and Cons:

The Love & Sleep is a good fit for back and stomach sleepers, and with a price point of less than $600, it’s a best-buy for a comfortable foam mattress. It sleeps cool and offers excellent support. The bed is not a match for side sleepers because it’s quite firm so the pressure relief on the hips and shoulders isn’t ideal for this sleeping posture.

Why Love & Sleep Is Our Best Value Firm Choice:

The low cost is impressive and even more so because Love & Sleep is the world’s only cooling mattress that’s Greenguard Gold certified. The phase-change cover is excellent for cooling as is the Energex cooling foam. Heavy sleepers should try the firmer model, and lightweight sleepers may find the medium option feels quite firm to them.

The Best Luxury – Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Mattress

Brooklyn Bedding Aurora
Construction:

The Brooklyn Bedding Aurora is a 13” hybrid with five-layer construction. There is a 1” high-density base foam layer below the 8” pocket coil support core. Over that is a 1” transition layer of compression support memory foam. The lower comfort layer is 2” TitanFlex™ hyper-elastic foam. At the top are 1.5” copper and gel-infused Energex™ TItanCool™ foam under a phase-change cover.

Pros and Cons:

The pros of the Aurora include excellent edge support, a firm sleep experience, and cooling rest. It’s got a nice bounce and minimal motion transfer. The primary downside for some buyers will be the $1,699 price point, but for the superior components inside the bed, it can be an excellent investment in quality sleep particularly for back and stomach sleepers.

Why the Aurora Is Our Best Luxury Firm Choice:

The mattress comes in three firmness options rated 3, 5, and 7. Average and heavy sleepers and those looking for a firm surface should look to the firmest available. Lightweight sleepers may want the medium as it will feel firmer to those with low BMI. Brooklyn Bedding’s Aurora is firm, supportive, and cooling and the materials provide a luxury sleep experience.

The Best Overall – Loom & Leaf Mattress

Loom and Leaf
Construction:

The Loom and Leaf by Saatva is a six-layer 12” memory foam mattress. The base layer is 5.5” high-density foam with airflow channels. Above that is a transition layer of loft foam. The lower comfort layer is 2.5” premium 5-pound memory foam. The upper comfort layers are 2” gel-swirl memory foam and inverted convoluted foam. The cover is an organic cotton circular knit.

Pros and Cons:

One pro of this bed is the tech that’s the same that’s used to treat burn patients, so it’s ultra-cooling. White glove delivery and old mattress removal are free. Another plus is that it’s never compressed and not delivered in a box. One con is the $1,099 price point. It’s not overly costly, but also not a low price. The edge support is typical of a foam bed.

Why Loom & Leaf Is Our Best Overall Firm Choice:

The foams in the bed are Guardin and CertiPUR-US certified plus at least 30% of the foam contains sustainable plant-based oils. The mattress is available in medium-firm and firm. Loom and Leaf is our top overall choice for a firm mattress because of the sleep experience and supportive surface plus the impressive cooling elements.

The Editor's Choice – Saatva Mattress

Saatva-Mattress-2
Construction:

The Saatva is a four-layer hybrid mattress that’s 11.5” or 14.5” in loft. The thinner model is intended for adjustable-base beds. The support core is 7” innerspring with a firm perimeter for edge support. Above that is a 4” pocket coil contour layer topped with a generous layer of memory foam. There’s a 3” Euro-top that’s standard unless you buy the thinner bed. The cover is organic cotton.

Pros and Cons:

The pluses of the Saatva are that it’s never compressed and not a bed in a box and white glove delivery and set-up are always free. The cons are that motion isolation is not as good as beds with strictly foam comfort layers. Innerspring beds sometimes don’t last as long as other materials and at just under $1k, the bed is affordable, but it’s not a bargain buy.

Why Saatva Is Our Editor's Choice for Firm Bed:

The two coil elements, both of good quality (13 and 14-gauge) recycled steel, combine to make a firm and supportive sleep experience in the Saatva. For the firmest sleep surface of quality materials, opt for the model rated 8 on the firmness scale. The foams in the mattress are CertiPUR-US and OEKO-TEX certified, and the cover is organic.

The Firmest Mattress – Amerisleep AS1 Mattress

Amerisleep AS1 mattress
Construction:

The Amerisleep AS1 is a very firm 10” mattress designed with very supportive layers. The 8” support core is proprietary BioCore™ foam, and the comfort layer is 2” of proprietary BioPur™ cooling open cell memory foam. The cover is poly spandex and innovative thermoreactive Celliant® which is a cooling material.

Pros and Cons:

One advantage of the AS1 is it’s the firmest on our list, rated at about 8.5 on the industry 1-10 firmness scale. The yarn in the Celliant® cover is thermoreactive and converts body heat to healing infrared. The con of the AS1 is that it’s firm or nothing with no other options. Also, the price point of $1,199 means it isn’t a bargain bed but isn’t excessively costly either.

Why Amerisleep AS1 Is Our Best Choice for Firmest Bed:

The AS1 made our list because it’s designed to provide a very firm sleep experience and it definitely delivers. The open-cell foam means this Amerisleep model sleeps cool. Not only are the materials extremely supportive, but a portion of the foams contain plant oils, and Amerisleep has CertiPUR-US and Greenguard Gold certifications.

How is Mattress Firmness Measured?

The industry measures firmness on a scale from 1 to 10 but how a bed feels and sleeps is subjective. Beds rated on the low end of the scale are softest and the firmest at the high end. Few people can tolerate a mattress at either end of the spectrum and most sleep comfortably towards the medium-firm range. No matter the number assigned to a bed, what matters is how it feels to you.

An ultra-soft (rated 1) bed has almost no support while very soft (2-3) beds hug deeply, have little support, and tend to sleep hot. A soft (3-4) bed relieves pressure, lets you sink in, but still offers some support. A medium-soft bed (5) contours and supports, but without excessive sinkage.

Medium beds (6) are popular because they offer adequate support while providing pressure relief and contour. A medium firm (7-8) mattress has less hug and sinkage and doesn’t cushion as well but is even more supportive. A beds at an 8 rating is firmer but is not an overly hard mattress, has much more support, and less contour.

A very firm (9) bed has little to no contour and pushes back on the sleeper with little to no cushion for pressure relief. Ultra firm (10) beds are extremely rigid, and an extra firm mattress like this is not likely to be comfortable for any but sleepers with extreme needs.

Is a Firm Mattress Right for You?

Before deciding your mattress firmness level, you should educate yourself on the concept of firmness, how it's determined, and whether a firm mattress fits your needs and preferences. Studies show that most people prefer to sleep on a mattress rated at about 5.5-6 (medium-firm) rather than a firm or very firm bed.

Firmness is subjective

How firm a bed feels to you is subjective to your preferences, body type, and needs. Lighter people experience firmness more intensely, so a bed rated medium-firm might feel firm to them or even overly rigid and intolerable, and the converse applies to heavier people who may think medium-firm feels soft.

One way to gauge whether a firm mattress is right for you is to consider your current mattress. How firm is it rated on the industry scale? Does it feel too firm or just right? Test different mattress types and firmness levels with lie-downs in stores and try the beds of friends or family and assess the feel.

Who’s best suited for a firm mattress:
  • Heavy sleepers – The heavier you are, the less firm a bed tends to feel. If you weigh more than 250 pounds or have a BMI over 25, you will usually need a firmer sleep surface.
  • Hot sleepers – If you run hot when you sleep, a firmer bed will be far more cooling because you won’t sink into the bed and your body heat won’t reflect.
  • Stomach sleepers – Stomach sleeping requires a firmer sleep surface, so your face doesn’t sink into the bed, your hips have support, and your spine remains aligned.
  • Back sleepers – Most back sleepers prefer a firmer sleep surface that keeps their spine aligned from head to hips in the neutral “s” position.
  • Back pain sufferers – Studies show that a medium-firm mattress is ideal for those that struggle with back pain, although in some cases, firmer might work better.
Who’s not suited for a firm mattress:
  • Side sleepers – Pressure relief is critical for side sleepers, and firmer mattresses may not have enough cushion at the hip and shoulder area to sleep comfortably.
  • Lighter sleepers – The less you weigh, the softer bed you need because you don’t create enough pressure to interact with the comfort layer of a firmer mattress.
  • Joint pain sufferers – Those with achy joints usually need more pressure relief and find a firmer bed presses into their sensitive joints and can intensify aches and pain.
  • Older people – Seniors often need a bed closer to medium or medium-soft for enhanced comfort on joints and brittle bones, so a firmer bed may be uncomfortable.

The support core of a bed determines mattress firmness. The comfort layers of the bed determine relief on your pressure points like your hips and shoulders. If you decide a firm mattress is for you, carefully evaluate the support core components. Be sure to check reviews to assess sleep experience.

Benefits of a Firm Mattress

For certain sleepers, a firm mattress is just the ticket. There are many upsides to choosing a firm sleep surface, but it’s important to do research and shop wisely. If you decide to go with a firm mattress, here are some of the benefits you may experience:

  • Enhanced edge support – The softer a bed, usually the less edge support you’ll get depending on the materials. Foam mattresses are known for questionable edge support. Firmer beds typically have better edge support that’s important for edge sleepers.
  • Cooler sleep – Firmer beds don’t let you sink down into them, and this keeps your body heat from absorbing into the mattress material and radiating back, overheating you. Hot sleepers usually benefit from firmer sleep surfaces for this reason.
  • Bouncy for sex – A firmer bed is more responsive to movement, lets you shift position easily, and offers more bounce – all things important for sexual activity. Softer beds can leave you feeling stuck and unable to move around as actively during sex.
  • Sag prevention – A sagging mattress is bad for your back and disrupts sleep. Some sag may be due to the breakdown of older or inferior mattress materials. Sag can also be due to inadequate support. A firmer bed is less likely to sag and hammock your body.
  • Weight support – If you weigh 250+, have a BMI of 25+ or are a large person in general, a firmer mattress offers greater support for your weight. A bed that’s not firm enough won’t keep your body properly positioned and can cause pain and disrupted sleep.
  • Spinal alignment – Your spine should be aligned from neck to bottom as you sleep, no matter your sleep position. A firmer bed can keep your spine in a healthy neutral alignment particularly if you’re a back or stomach sleeper, more so than a softer bed.
  • Comfort can be adjusted – Firmness comes from the support core, but if you need more pressure relief, you can enrich the comfort level and hug of a firmer bed by adding a mattress topper. However, you can’t take a softer bed and make it firmer!

Mattress Types

There are four common mattress types, and all are available in a range of firmness options from soft to very firm. Some manufacturers make only one universal firmness option while others offer three to four firmness models. Here’s a look at how mattress type and construction affect firmness.

Innerspring

Innerspring beds have a support core of coiled wire springs or pockets coils (springs in fabric sleeves). The comfort layer(s) is usually polyfoam or memory foam. Innerspring beds are known for support and bounce but may also have some noise, motion transfer (movement across the mattress surface), and are known to be less durable than other mattress materials.

Hybrid
Latex
Foam