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When it comes to mattress firmness, everyone has their own preferences. If you’re a back sleeper, stomach sleeper, or tend to experience aches and pains, you may prefer sleeping on a firm mattress. These mattresses provide more support but still have a high degree of comfort.

If you’re in the market for a mattress that offers good support for your core, back, and hips, and also scores high for comfort, you have plenty of firmer options to choose from.

We considered many criteria when selecting the best firm mattresses. We specifically looked at:

  • The mattress’s firmness rating. Each mattress is rated luxury firm or higher. See the section below on firmness ratings to learn more.
  • Recommendations from experts. We spoke with a back pain expert who regularly recommends firm mattresses for his patients.
  • Manufacturer warranties. We made sure that each company discloses the manufacturer warranty on their website.
  • Trial period and return policy. Each mattress included in this roundup has a generous trial period, ranging from 100 nights to 365 nights. They also have a return policy that allows for free or inexpensive returns within the trial period.
  • User reviews. We carefully considered user reviews and feedback from customers who’ve bought and used these mattresses.

Pricing guide

  • $$ = $1,000–$1,500
  • $$$ = over $1,500

Mattress prices can vary widely by size and brand. Most mattresses come in a variety of sizes, from twin to California king. We based our pricing guide on a standard queen-size mattress.

Before you buy a firm mattress, it helps to know how mattresses are rated on a scale of firmness.

What to know about firmness ratings

Mattresses are rated on a scale of 1 to 10 for their firmness, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. Other descriptors include firm, luxury firm, medium firm, and extra firm. This is what these descriptors mean on the firmness scale:

  • Luxury firm is often the softest on the firmness scale, landing in the middle (around 6 to 7).
  • Medium firm is a step or two above luxury firm (around 7 to 8).
  • Firm is one step above medium firm (around 8 to 9).
  • Extra firm is reserved for the end of the spectrum. It often equates to a numerical rating of 10.

Not sure where to start? No problem. We’ve rounded up nine of the best firm mattresses for 2021 to help you figure out which mattress may be a good choice for you.

Best-rated firm mattress

Saatva Classic

Price: $$$

Key features: The Saatva Classic mattress earns our top spot for best-rated firm mattress for several reasons. It continues to receive high praise from its customers, you can customize the firmness of your mattress, and it’s made in the United States.

With three firmness options to choose from including plush soft (soft), luxury firm (medium), and firm, you’ll get the mattress you want with no difference in quality or cost.

Considerations: If you want a traditional innerspring mattress with a plush pillow top feel, this bed fits the bill. But if you’re looking for a true memory foam mattress, this may not be the right choice for you.

Both the luxury-firm and firm mattresses can accommodate most sleeping positions. However, they may not be the best option if you’re a true side sleeper, since this level of firmness may not provide enough pressure relief when sleeping on your side.

Shop for the Saatva Classic mattress online.

Best extra-firm mattress

Plank by Brooklyn Bedding

Price: $$

Key features: The Plank by Brooklyn Bedding mattress gives you the freedom to choose your level of firmness, even after you bring the bed home. Designed as a flippable mattress, each side has a different firmness. One side ranks as an 8 on the firmness scale, and the other side a 10, or extra firm.

If you tend to get warm when you sleep, you can add an optional cooling top panel for an additional $200.

Considerations: This mattress is very firm and may be too firm for some people. More specifically, it’s not ideal for side sleepers, people who need sharp pressure point relief, or those who wake easily when their partner moves around.

Shop for the Plank by Brooklyn Bedding mattress online.

Best firm cooling mattress

Brooklyn Aurora

Price: $$$

Key features: Hot sleepers looking for a luxury bed with advanced cooling technology may find what they need with the Brooklyn Aurora mattress. In fact, the cover feels cool to the touch.

Offered in three levels of firmness including soft, medium, and firm, this luxury mattress seems to be a good fit for all sleep styles, including side sleepers who need extra shoulder and hip support. Because it minimizes motion transfer, it may also be a good choice for couples.

Considerations: Because a mattress is an investment, make sure you’re sold on the Brooklyn Aurora mattress before the trial period ends.

Shop for the Brooklyn Aurora mattress online.

Best firm mattress for side sleepers

Helix Twilight LUXE

Price: $$$

Key features: If you’re a side sleeper who’s looking for a medium-firm mattress that provides pressure point relief for your hips and shoulders, this bed just might deliver the goods for you.

Designed as a hybrid mattress with five layers of foam and wrapped coils, it also comes with a premium quilted pillow top and a breathable cover made out of a jersey material. Plus, according to many customers, it passes the motion transfer test, which means it’s a great choice for couples.

Considerations: The Helix Twilight LUXE mattress sleeps cool, so you might find it a little on the cold side if you usually have to bundle up for bed.

Shop for the Helix Twilight LUXE mattress online.

Best firm mattress for lower back pain

Casper Original

Price: $$

Key features: If you have lower back pain, but don’t want to spend a ton of money on a mattress, the Casper Original may be a good option. The Casper Original is a medium-firm mattress with three layers of foam that works for side, stomach, and back sleepers.

Dr. Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS, of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center, says several of his patients with lower back pain experience relief when sleeping on the Casper Original. His clinic recommends it for side sleepers due to its reinforced lumbar cushioning.

“The Casper, with its reinforced support zones in the shoulder and low back regions, helps people who sleep on their side avoid spinal compression,” he explains.

Considerations: The edge support on the Casper Original isn’t the best. And while this may not be a deal-breaker for some, if you like to sit or sleep on the edge of the bed, it may sag more than you’d like.

Shop for the Casper Original mattress online.

Best firm lower-cost mattress

Nectar Memory Foam

Price: $$

Key features: If you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a mattress, the Nectar Memory Foam mattress is a great option. Simple and affordable, this five-layer, medium-firm mattress is an excellent choice for most sleep styles.

The Nectar lands right in the middle of the firmness scale, which means it offers an ideal ratio of firmness to softness. It’s also a good option for hot sleepers since the quilted memory foam is designed to be breathable. Most notably, side sleepers will appreciate the pressure relief at the shoulders and hips.

Considerations: Stomach sleepers may experience lower back pain with this mattress. If you need extra support for your hips, you may want to consider a firmer mattress.

Shop for the Nectar Memory Foam mattress online.

Best firm pillow top mattress

DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid

Price: $$$

Key features: Designed for all sleep positions, this medium/luxury-firm mattress combines gel-infused memory foam with individual encased coils to help optimize pressure point support. The cashmere blend quilted pillow top is a selling point if you’re looking for a firm mattress that offers pillow top comfort. It’s also a top pick among hybrid mattresses.

Considerations: The extra cushioning and comfort of a pillow top can provide extra support for people with more weight, but if you’re on the lighter side and want to feel as if the bed “hugs” you, you may want to consider a different mattress.

Shop for the DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid mattress online.

Best firm hybrid mattress

WinkBed Hybrid

Price: $$$

Key features: Hybrid mattresses are a top choice for those who want the sturdy support of an innerspring mattress with the pressure relief of foam layers. And when it comes to hybrid models, the WinkBed Hybrid ranks high among users.

This mattress comes in four firmness options: soft (4.5), luxury firm (6.5), firmer (7.5), and plus (8) on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the firmest.

Because you can customize the level of firmness, the WinkBed Hybrid is a great choice for heavier people who need more support. Because it provides an extra lumbar support layer for proper spinal alignment, it’s also a popular choice for people with lower back pain.

Considerations: The firmest mattress options may be too firm for side sleepers, especially those with smaller frames. If you like hybrid-type mattresses, you may want to consider the luxury-firm level of firmness.

Shop for the WinkBed Hybrid mattress online.

Best firm memory foam mattress

Amerisleep AS1

Price: $$

Key features: Designed with back and stomach sleepers in mind, the Amerisleep AS1 is one of the firmest memory foam mattresses on the market. It’s also one of the more affordable options. Like other memory foam mattresses, the AS1 provides soothing pressure point relief and long lasting comfort. It also keeps you cooler at night, thanks to their plant-based Bio-Pur material that allows more air to escape.

Considerations: The AS1 is high on the firmness scale, with most customers rating it a 7 or 8 out of 10. With that in mind, side sleepers may want to consider a softer bed.

Shop for the Amerisleep AS1 mattress online.

Finding the right level of firmness for your body requires trying out a few mattresses before you decide on the firmness that works for you. You may want to test drive a few different models at a local mattress store to find your “sweet spot” when it comes to mattress firmness.

It’s also important to understand how mattresses are rated for firmness. Focus on mattresses that fall within the numerical firmness rating that’s right for you.

You can also use the chart below to determine the level of firmness your mattress should be based on your weight and regular sleeping position.

Luxury firmMedium firmFirmExtra firm
weigh less than 150 pounds (lbs.) and sleep on your sideweigh less than 150 lbs. and sleep on your stomachweigh between 150–250 lbs. and sleep on your backweigh more than 250 lbs. and sleep on your side
weigh less than 150 lbs. and sleep on your backweigh between 150–250 lbs. and sleep on your sideweigh more than 250 lbs. and sleep on your sideweigh more than 250 lbs. and sleep on your back
weigh between 150–250 lbs. and sleep on your sideweigh between 150–250 lbs. and sleep on your backweigh more than 250 lbs. and sleep on your backweigh more than 250 lbs. and sleep on your stomach

A mattress is a major purchase. Before you buy, make sure the store or online site has a return policy that allows you to try the bed for at least 30 days and, if you’re not satisfied, get your money back. Also, consider the warranty. Aim for a 10-year or longer manufacturer warranty.

Also, consider the materials in the mattress. If possible, choose brands or styles that minimize the use of toxic materials.

You’re likely to spend one-third of your life on your mattress, so choosing the right one is important for the quality of your sleep. The firmness level of your mattress is personal and varies per person. Once you’ve found the sweet spot in terms of comfort and firmness, your mattress is likely to support you in a number of ways.

  • Firm mattresses cradle and support the back without sinking in. When a mattress is too soft, you may wake up with an aching back due to a lack of support for the lower spine. Medium and firm mattresses are generally recommended for people who have lower back pain.
  • A firm mattress also encourages proper spinal alignment for back and stomach sleepers. If your mattress isn’t supportive enough for these sleep positions, your lower back may sink lower than the rest of you, placing pressure on this area.
  • Since a firm mattress inhibits sinking, it tends to be cooler. Body heat escapes into the air instead of absorbing into the mattress and creating a warm sleeping environment. Those who sleep better when they are cooler may prefer a firm mattress since they’re less likely to become hot.
  • You’re less likely to slide or roll off a firm mattress since it distributes weight evenly. A soft mattress that allows you to sink or slump into it may result in more stumbles out of bed.

Generally, firm mattresses are best for those who have lower back pain and prefer a cool sleeping environment. They’re also well liked by back and stomach sleepers and those who want to avoid falling out of a bed that’s too soft.

The comfort level of a mattress is subjective, so you may simply prefer the feel of a firm mattress. Those who don’t want to sink into their mattress may naturally prefer a firmer sleep surface.

Firm mattresses are well suited for back sleepers. Soft or medium mattresses are generally well liked by side sleepers because they encourage proper spine alignment. But firm mattresses support the lower back and prevent it from collapsing. Stomach sleepers may also prefer a firm mattress as the support helps keep the spine aligned.

People with back pain will likely gravitate toward a firmer mattress that may provide more relief than a softer mattress. A firm mattress distributes weight equally and supports the hips and lower back.

Your body weight and height may also influence your preference for a firm mattress. People in larger bodies generally have an easier time getting in and out of bed with a firm mattress.

The main types of firm mattresses include foam, innerspring, and hybrid. Each has its own pros and cons. The best type of firm mattress largely comes down to each individual’s preferences and needs.

Foam

Foam mattresses are made with thick, dense layers of memory foam that conform to your body. Though the foam can feel soft to the touch, memory foam can provide ample support and pressure relief. If you share a bed with a partner, you will appreciate how memory foam absorbs movement so you or your partner aren’t disturbed if one moves around. As you move, the foam also regains its shape.

The feeling of a memory foam mattress contouring around you is both an advantage and a drawback. Some people enjoy this feature. But others may feel stuck or dislike the feeling of sinking into the mattress rather than sleeping on top of it.

Innerspring

When you think of a traditional mattress, innerspring may be what comes to mind. Innerspring mattresses are among the most commonly used mattress designs. They’re also the oldest type.

Support is provided by an interlocked grid of spring coils covered by layers of padding. These tend to be more breathable, supportive, and cool than other types of firm mattresses due to their construction. However, they are likely to be heavier due to the metal coils. Depending on the mattress, you may be able to feel the coils through the top of the mattress.

Hybrid

If you’re having trouble deciding between memory foam and spring mattresses, a hybrid mattress may be the solution you’re looking for. A hybrid mattress can offer the best of both worlds — the support of an innerspring mattress with the pressure relief of a foam mattress.

Hybrid mattresses offer a good compromise since they have elements of both innerspring and foam mattresses. Layers of memory foam sit on top of springs near the bottom for a supportive base and comfortable sleep surface.

If you’re not ready to commit to a firm mattress, a mattress pad that is firmer than your current mattress may help you determine the level of firmness that is right for you.

A mattress pad is a thin addition to the top of your mattress. It’s placed over your mattress to adjust the level of firmness and comfort. Many mattress pads are used to soften firm mattresses, but some mattress pads can be used to increase firmness instead.

A firm mattress pad is a great starting point to determine if a firm bed meets your needs for a more comfortable night’s sleep. However, a firm mattress pad may not offer enough support to fully replace a mattress with the appropriate firmness level.

Mattresses can be long lasting when properly cared for. Since they are an investment into your sleep quality and overall health, you may want to protect your mattress so it will last for many years.

A mattress protector is a removable piece of bedding that goes directly over your mattress like a fitted sheet. As an extra layer between the mattress and you, the mattress protector acts as a shield against:

  • fluids
  • dust mites
  • bacteria

Many mattress protectors are made with waterproof, hypoallergenic materials. Look for breathable materials that protect the mattress but do not interfere with your comfort level. Waterproof materials can be noisy, so look for noiseless mattress protectors to avoid the sound of crinkling when you toss and turn at night.

While a mattress pad can change the feel of your mattress, a mattress protector should not. Wherever your mattress falls on the scale of firmness ratings, your mattress protector should not influence that.

Consider size when purchasing a mattress protector. Most mattress protectors are available in a variety of sizes that fit most beds, from twin to California king.

Extra deep or extra tall mattresses ⁠— those that are thicker than 16 inches ⁠— require mattress protectors that can accommodate extra thickness. Some can fit mattresses up to 18 inches thick to prevent a poor fit that results in slipping.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about picking out a firm mattress:

What type of firm mattress should I look for?

The type of mattress firmness that may work best for you depends on a lot of factors. One of the most important ones is your regular sleeping position. Sleeping positions tell a lot about what parts of your body need relief from pressure.

For example, a person who sleeps on their side needs more pressure relief than someone who sleeps on their back. Thus, they need a softer mattress.

Will a firm mattress help my back pain?

Firm mattresses can be helpful for those with back pain, especially if they sleep on their back.

However, it’s important to note that a mattress that’s too firm can be just as harmful as a mattress that’s too soft. Aim to find a mattress that allows for your spine to align itself naturally while you sleep.

What’s the difference between firmness and support?

Support in a mattress relates to how well your spine is being supported while you sleep, while firmness is how hard or soft your mattress is.

Either a firm or soft mattress can be supportive, or not supportive, depending on your needs.

For example, if a firm mattress causes your spine to compress while you sleep, that mattress is not a supportive mattress for you.

Finding the right mattress requires time, patience, and a lot of research. It also helps to know your sleeping style and to find a mattress that’s a good fit for back, side, or stomach sleeping.

When choosing a firm mattress, assess the level of firmness as well as the cost, warranty, trial period, and materials used to manufacture the product. And make sure to note when your trial period starts and ends in case the mattress isn’t a good fit for you.