When shopping for a new bed, it’s important to take into consideration your sleep style and mattress preferences when choosing the appropriate firmness. For example, back and stomach sleepers tend to do well on a firmer mattress because it provides the proper support to relieve pressure points and maintain the spine’s natural curvature. Softer mattresses, on the other hand, are better suited for side sleepers because they allow the hips and shoulders to sink into the mattress, relieving tension.
When you’re searching and reading mattress reviews for a new firm mattress, some brands stand out amongst the crowd. High-quality foam and springs are often dependable signals of a better night’s sleep. In this guide, we’ll talk about the benefits of buying a firm bed as well as how to go about finding the best firm mattress for yourself.
Best Firm Mattress: 30-Second Summary
- The Amerisleep AS2 is our recommended firm mattress because it contains 2 inches of pressure-relieving foam and HIVE® zoned support technology to promote deeper, better sleep.
Best Firm Mattresses
|Amerisleep AS2||Features HIVE® technology for superior pain relief.||$1099|
|Amerisleep AS1||Ultra-firm mattress for stomach and back sleepers.||$999|
|Avocado||Made with organic materials for green shoppers.||$1399|
Amerisleep carries five different mattresses, the AS1 through the AS5— each range in firmness and are designed for specific types of sleepers. We recommend their Amerisleep AS2 because it contains a layer with HIVE® technology to offer zoned support and promote proper spinal alignment. HIVE® features hexagonally shaped cutouts grouped into five comfort zones to provide extra support under your head, midsection, and feet, and allow for deep compression under your shoulders, and hips. A recent clinical study found that HIVE® technology reduces pressure points by 49%.
Unlike other very firm mattresses, Amerisleep uses three different foam layers in their beds rather than other materials such as metal coils or springs. All in all, the AS2 is 12 inches tall and contains 2 inches of Bio-Pur®, 3 inches of Affinity with HIVE®, and 7 inches of Bio-Core®.
The comfort layer of their bed, their breathable Bio-Pur® foam, contours to your body while relieving pressure points. The layer below, integrated with HIVE®, offers targeted support and pressure relief. Lastly, their firm Bio-Core® foam offers structural and edge support for the bed, preventing sags and indentations.
Amerisleep designs their beds for types of sleepers and uses innovative sleep technology to promote restful and restorative sleep; their AS2 was also named Business Insider’s Best Mattress for Back Pain.
Amerisleep’s firmest mattress, the AS1, is best for stomach or back sleepers seeking an ultra-firm mattress. Unlike the AS2 we discussed above, the AS1 does not contain a layer with HIVE® technology, making the bed feel significantly firmer.
Amerisleep’s AS1 is 10 inches tall and contains 2 inches of Bio-Pur® and 8 inches of Bio-Core®. When you lay on this mattress, the top layer of foam cushions your body for immediate comfort and pressure relief. While the AS1 is cushioning, it doesn’t allow for much sinkage and offers an “on top of the mattress” feel in regards to firmness.
As we mentioned above, the AS1 is comfortable for stomach and back sleeping but is far too firm for side sleepers. Amerisleep offers a 100-night sleep trial and a 20-year warranty with each of their beds.
3. Avocado Green Mattress
The Avocado brand prides itself on its eco-friendly business model. Their bed, the Avocado Green mattress, is all-natural, non-toxic, and eco-conscious. For those shopping for a “green” bed, the Avocado Green is right up your alley.
The Avocado mattress is made with 100% natural Dunlop latex, organic wool, organic cotton, and a pocketed coil system. Latex has a springier and responsive feel— so how memory foam offers a more cradling feel, latex provides a more “lifting” feel. Meaning, you should not feel as if you’re sinking into this mattress. On their website, Avocado ranks their bed as a 7 out of 10 in regards to firmness, so it should feel pretty solid. The pocketed coil system in the mattress offers targeted support the latex does not, and because the coils are pocketed, they should not transfer too much motion.
After you buy your mattress, Avocado offers a 100-day trial period and a 10-year warranty. Their Green bed contains several layers of firm latex complimented by a three-zone pocketed coil system, providing the hardness of true innerspring mattresses that firm mattress lovers seek out.
Understanding the Firmness Scale: Soft to Firm
The firmness of a mattress is typically rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest.
- 1, Soft: These mattresses contain extra padding and are made from softer materials. People feel like they are “sinking in” when lying on them.
- 2 and 3, Medium Soft: Medium soft mattresses allow you to sink into the bed just a little bit, but contain firmer support layers to hold you up higher in the bed.
- 4 through 6, Medium: Medium mattresses are usually designed to offer an even balance of comfort and support. While they can have some give, the materials used in medium mattresses provide support and resistance to weight. Meaning, you’re a lot less likely to feel like you’re sleeping “in the bed.”
- 7 through 9, Firm: These mattresses are less likely to feel soft, and the tops should be more responsive when you push into them or lay on top of them. They support the body but do not allow sinking.
- 10, Extremely Firm/Hard: There is no plushness or sinking sensation to these mattresses, and they usually do not let any of the body’s natural curves to sink in.
Who Benefits From a Firm Mattress?
Firm mattresses are beneficial for spinal alignment, posture, breathing, and back pain; however, hard mattresses are not a fit for all sleepers. Before choosing a firm mattress, ask yourself the following:
- Do you sleep on your back or stomach? Because firm mattresses support the S-curve in the back, people who sleep on that curve – either on their backs or stomachs – benefit from a bed that can reinforce the natural curvature. However, if you sleep on your back but you can put a hand between the lumbar spinal curve and the mattress, you may not benefit from such a hard sleep surface. Often, a medium-firm mattress is considered the best mattress for back pain.
- Do you have a high body mass index (BMI)? If you have a higher BMI, you may experience poor sleep on a softer mattress because the bed can create a hammock, or sinking-in, sensation around your body. Even if you can tolerate sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress, too much “sink” in your mattress can cause respiration or circulation issues, leading to discomfort. A firmer or hard mattress offsets that sagging quality, allowing the lungs to expand and reducing the likelihood that circulation will be blocked in the limbs.
- Do you have a higher body temperature at night? Softer mattresses tend to envelop you at night, which can cause you to overheat or wake up hot. That said, firm mattresses may keep you cool at night. Because they typically allow for greater airflow and less “sink,” you have a decreased chance of sleeping hot on firm mattresses. If you’re prone to waking up hot, consider a firm bed.
- Do you have circulation concerns? Firmer mattresses allow for freer body movement while you sleep than softer mattresses do, which improves circulation. Softer mattresses may hug against your body, so you have less room to move or adjust in the night. A lack of movement can lead to circulation problems, muscle cramps, minor aches and pains, and, potentially, some blood flow issues that may get worse over time.
- Do you suffer from back pain? To demonstrate how well a firm mattress can alleviate back pain, some have studied the benefits of sleeping on the floor. Because firmer surfaces do not ensconce you and restrict your movement throughout the night, you are less likely to suffer aches and pains due to blood flow issues upon waking. A hard mattress also empowers you to strengthen small muscles by gently massaging their pressure points overnight, in a process called dynamic rest.
- Do you have arthritis? People who have arthritis may benefit from a firm mattress, especially one with an upholstered top or additional foam layer, which can allow the spine to rest in a neutral position. The firmer mattress also permits the body to spread out, allowing the joints more freedom of movement. In the morning, this helps your joints feel less cramped or gelled up.
Most mattress types are available in different firmness levels, so whether you’re looking for an innerspring or memory foam mattress, you have options. Let’s talk about the different types of mattresses.
Memory Foam Mattress
Memory foam mattresses are contouring and pressure-relieving, they mold close to your body for comfort and offer a cradling feel. If you’re somebody who experiences aches and pains, memory foam is your best bet. The few issues people have with memory foam is heat retention and feeling “stuck” in the mattress; however, many memory foam brands have modified their foams in the last years to address these concerns.
Memory foam beds are ideal for couples or those who share a mattress because they offer superb motion isolation, too.
Latex is cushioning and contouring, as well, but not nearly as contouring as memory foam. While latex foam is comfortable and cushy, it doesn’t mold as closely as memory foam, giving it a firmer feel. Latex mattresses have a more “on top of the mattress” feel in regards to firmness whereas memory foam beds feel more cradling. It’s hard to say whether memory foam or latex foam is “best,” as it all depends on personal preference.
Hybrid mattresses combine foam layers and an innerspring coil system to offer sleepers the best of both worlds. We recommend hybrids to those who want the cushioning comfort of foam layers but don’t want to sacrifice the bounciness of a spring mattress. Hybrids are often pricey, as they utilize a number of high-quality mattress materials.
Innersprings have been around since the beginning of the mattress industry— these mattresses are characterized by an inner coil system and lack of foam layers. These beds are quite bouncy and thus, allow for quite a bit of motion transfer. While innersprings can be comfy, they’re usually a bad choice for those who share a mattress. Innersprings have the shortest lifespan and are typically budget-friendly, too.
If you prefer a traditional innerspring mattress but want some cushioning comfort, choose one with a pillow top.
While the firmness of your new mattress may seem like something that’s up to personal preference, it really depends upon your body type and how you sleep.
Side sleeping is quite common, considering 70% of people prefer to sleep this way. While side sleeping allows for better breathing and aids in digestion, it also puts you at risk of developing pressure points. When you sleep on your side, your hips and shoulders take on the majority of your bodyweight. If your mattress is not soft or pressure-relieving enough, it can lead to sore joints and pain points.
The best mattresses for side sleepers are medium, medium-soft, and medium-firm, as they’re cushioning enough to prevent pain but firm enough to promote proper spinal alignment.
Back sleepers are at an advantage because, unless they’re sleeping in a contorted position, they sleep in natural alignment and are less prone to back pains. Back sleepers need a mattress that’s supportive enough to hold them in neutral alignment and prevent their hips from sinking too far in the bed.
Back sleepers are most comfortable on medium or firm mattresses, but can also get away from sleeping on soft, but supportive mattresses.
Stomach sleeping is rather unhealthy due to the undue stress it puts on your lower back. If you’re a stomach sleeper, we suggest switching to side or back sleeping to prevent chronic back pains. However, if you must sleep on your stomach, choose a firm mattress.
Trying Out Your New Mattress
If you are switching from a soft or a medium mattress to a firmer bed, you might expect immediate improvements to your mental and physical health. However, much like going to the gym, you can’t expect overnight results. Because your body is being supported differently than what it’s used to on this new bed, you may experience a few aches and pains upon initially sleeping on it. Give your mattress enough time for your body to adjust. If you do need a hard or firm mattress, your body will thank you with deeper sleep and fewer aches and pains.
When buying both online and in-store, many brands offer a sleep trial with their beds. During the sleep trial, you have the opportunity to try the new mattress in your home for a couple of weeks, even months, before deciding whether or not it’s the best mattress for you. If you do decide against keeping the bed, many brands offer free returns. By choosing a bed that comes with a sleep trial, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to truly test the bed before committing. Sleep trials also take some of the worry and uncertainty out of buying online.
Listen to Your Body
No matter which bed is the best for your own sleep needs, a good night’s sleep is key to lower blood pressure, less stress, better immunity, improved memory, clearer thinking, and less irritation. A firm mattress allows you to breathe better during the night, can encourage a healthy spine, and prevents the tossing and turning that negatively affects sleep quality. Finding the right mattress may take some time, but a good night’s sleep is worth the effort for years to come.