Shopping for a mattress can be an overwhelming experience, especially because firmness levels are subjective. What’s considered firm for one sleeper may be too soft for another. Some people like a cushy mattress they can sink into while others prefer a bed with more support. Regardless, it's important to find a mattress that provides comfort but still keeps your spine in a healthy alignment throughout the night.
The experts at Mattress Advisor tested hundreds of beds to determine which firm mattresses are the best of the bunch. Explore their top picks below, and learn more about what factors to consider while looking for your ideal mattress.
Mattress manufacturers rate their beds from one to 10 on a firmness scale, with one being very soft and 10 being extra firm. Softer mattresses have more cushioning and give while firmer mattresses have more tension and support. But you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to get the stability you need. Most firm mattresses have managed to find a suitable balance between the two.
Innerspring mattresses use a steel coil support system that involves either a single unit attached with springs or a unit with individually wrapped pocket coils (some have a combination of both). The coil systems are usually covered with padding or upholstery for added comfort. These mattresses tend to sleep cooler because the open space between coils facilitates greater airflow.
Known for its contouring comfort and pressure-relieving qualities, memory foam doesn’t have the bounce of an innerspring mattress, but it does provide exceptional motion isolation. Because memory foam generally runs less firm, it might cause you to feel like you’re sinking too far into the bed. It can also sleep hot unless it's infused with cooling materials like gel or graphite. However, you can always add a cooling pillow or cooling sheets to help mitigate the heat.
Latex mattresses are made of synthetic latex, natural latex, or a blend of both. They’re somewhat bouncy like innerspring mattresses and more buoyant than memory foam, so you’ll feel like you’re floating on top of the bed instead of sinking into it.
Hybrid mattresses combine two or more materials. In general, hybrids are made with coils and a thicker layer of foam. These beds provide the support and durability of an innerspring mattress with the added comfort of memory foam and latex. They can run anywhere from medium-firm to firm, depending on the materials used.
When we sleep, we put strain on specific parts of our bodies. A firm mattress with pressure-relieving qualities offers more cushioning at the hips and shoulders and provides greater support at the head and waist.
A mattress with focused edge support makes you feel less like you’re going to roll off the bed in the middle of the night. It also helps you get in and out of bed more easily. Overall, a medium-firm or firm mattress’s edges are better suited to withstand excess pressure and weight.
Because firm mattresses have fewer or thinner comfort layers, they are more likely to produce an even sleep surface. This ensures less sagging and better weight distribution, which helps relax muscles and ligaments.
For optimal spine alignment, side sleepers and back sleepers, who can benefit from cushioning and support, should look for a medium-firm mattress. Stomach sleepers tend to fare best with extra-firm beds because they run the greatest risk of developing lower back pain.
The Plank mattress by Brooklyn Bedding gives sleepers two firmness options—one side of the mattress is firm and the other is ultra-firm. It’s made with high-density foam that offers outstanding support and durability, plus a layer of the brand’s TitanFlex transitional material is included for added pressure relief. If you still find both sides too firm within the first 30 days of your trial period, Brooklyn Bedding will send you a free mattress topper to improve cushioning.
A luxurious sleep experience starts with Saatva’s quilted euro pillowtop and dual-coil system that helped it earn a perfect 10 out of 10 in durability from Mattress Advisor. That doesn’t mean the bed, which is offered in three firmness levels, sacrifices comfort. A layer of memory foam gently conforms to your body while the added lumbar support promotes proper spine alignment—a key consideration for back pain sufferers.
The Helix Twilight is a firm mattress that uses memory foam and coils to deliver incredible support and spine alignment. Coming in at an eight out of 10 on the firmness scale, this hybrid mattress features top and middle layers that provide stability while a memory foam layer uses different densities to cushion sensitive pressure points at the hips and shoulders. It also comes with a 100-night sleep trial so that you can fully test out its capabilities before committing.
The Zenhaven latex mattress is one of the softest options on this list, making it ideal for side sleepers who like to sink into their mattresses. Its flippable design includes a luxury plush side and a gentle firm option, which both provide cushioned comfort and the buoyancy of latex. It delivers excellent pressure relief without the engulfing feel of memory foam, and it also comes wrapped in an organic cover that promotes cooler sleep.
The AS1 is the firmest of Amerisleep’s five foam mattresses. Not only is it highly supportive, but it also offers features that perpetually hot sleepers will love. This bed contains a breathable open-cell foam that wicks away warm air and promotes airflow to keep you cool. It’s also made without harsh chemicals, so you can sleep soundly.
The Avocado Green mattress is one of the best organic mattresses on the market because it’s made with an assortment of natural materials, including organic wool. It combines the support and buoyant comfort of a latex mattress with the durability of an innerspring mattress. Plus, its organic cotton cover promotes cooling. In addition to being eco-friendly, this bed delivers exceptional spine alignment to help prevent back strain.
The Cocoon Chill by Sealy proves that not all memory foam mattresses make you feel like you’re sinking into quicksand. With two firmness options to choose from––medium-soft and extra-firm––you can dictate the level of support you want. The Cocoon impresses with its ability to keep the spine in a neutral, healthy position, which is reflected in its near-perfect alignment score. Plus, it comes with a 100-night sleep trial period and a 10-year warranty.
The medium-firm Bear mattress excels in spine alignment, working to reduce strain on your back. Exercise enthusiasts will love how the bed’s highly responsive layers help to ease sore muscles by relieving pressure on sensitive joints. Each mattress purchase includes a 100-night sleep trial, so you can return it if it doesn’t end up meeting your needs.