Here’s Everything You Need to Know to Find the Best Firm Mattresses
Or pick from one of our favorites.
Published May 12, 2022 4:00 PM
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One of the hardest things about mattress shopping is figuring out just what it is you’re looking for. Do you want a mattress that feels firm? Kind of firm? Really firm?
Let’s start with the basics: A firm mattress feels bouncy, like it’s working to hold you up throughout the night. Compared to softer options, that’s why it’s the better choice “for people who don’t want to sink into the bed too much,” says Sleep Foundation’s Keith Cushner. A firmer mattress is also a good bet for anyone who kicks the covers off in the middle of the night, since it generally helps you stay cooler than something plush, which can trap heat and feel less breathable. Kushner points out you might be a good candidate if you’re someone who tosses and turns, if you sleep on your stomach and back, or if you have joint pain. Larger people generally do better with a firm mattress, since it tends to offer more support and makes movement easier for bigger bodies.
Below, we’ve put together a list of the best firm mattresses at a wide variety of price points—if you’re looking for all-night support, this is where you’ll find it!
- The all-around favorite: Purple Hybrid
- The solid basic: Amazon Basics
- The coolest of the cool: Casper Wave Hybrid
- The firm first-timer: Nectar Memory Foam
- The extra-firm: Stearns & Foster Estate Extra Firm Innerspring Mattress
The All-Around Favorite: Purple Hybrid
Type: Hybrid | Firmness: Medium-firm | Sizes: Twin XL through California king | Trial period: 100 nights
What we like:
- One of the firmest hybrids on our list
- Hard-to-find split-king option
- Trial period includes the caveat that you have to keep it for at least 21 days
Why we chose it: Individually wrapped coils and two layers of flexible gel material make this mattress both firm and responsive.
A firm mattress is designed to offer support—by keeping you from melting into the bed (especially if you’re a stomach or back sleeper) and helping your body stay more aligned, which in turn makes waking up in the morning much more pleasant. This Purple bed promises that and more by incorporating the company’s GelFlex technology to create a mattress that somehow manages to remain firm throughout the night and also responsive. So if you happen to roll over and switch sides while you snooze, the mattress will continue to provide the support you need to wake up feeling refreshed.
Speaking of moving around: Each of the bed’s individual coils is wrapped in noise-muffling fabric, a bonus for anyone sensitive to the sounds of tossing and turning.
The Solid Basic: Amazon Basics
Material: Foam | Firmness: Medium-firm | Sizes: Full, king | Trial period: None, but a warranty is available
What we like:
- Less than $500 for a king
- Works with a box spring or a slatted bed frame
- Shipping is quick (and free with Prime!)
- Vacuum-packed, so won’t be ready to sleep on for 72 hours after delivery
- No trial period
Why we chose it: A 12-inch-tall memory foam mattress that won’t break the bank.
Mattresses can get expensive quickly, but you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get a solid, firm option that will help you sleep comfortably. Part of the reason why is thanks to an innovative top layer designed to emulate the feel of a latex bed for a cozy yet bouncy feel, despite being made from foam. (And hot sleepers, take note: An additional gel-infused layer also helps keep you cool throughout the night.) This one is ideal for last-minute family and friends visiting from out of town, since it’s quick-ship and will swiftly make a spare bedroom guest appropriate. And while unlike many other DTC products (this one doesn’t come with an extended trial period), delivery is free with Amazon Prime.
The Coolest of the Cool: Casper Wave Hybrid
Material: Hybrid | Firmness: Medium-firm | Trial period: 100 nights | Sizes: Twin through California king
What we like:
- Add-ons include an even more cooling upgrade
- One of the most well-established DTC mattress brands
- Not the firmest pick on our list
Why we chose it: Relief for hot sleepers is this bed’s number-one goal.
Feeling overheated, either when falling asleep or in the middle of the night (or both!), is a major culprit behind sleep troubles. A firm mattress can help alleviate that—it’s less likely to feel like a full-body hug when you’re asleep. But Casper’s Snow Technology—a layer of cooling gel and material designed to pull heat away from the body—feels like slipping into an ice bath in the best way possible. This is a great pick for couples who might disagree on the ideal sleeping temperature, with the cooling effect resulting in some wiggle room when it comes to thermostat negotiations.
The Firm First-Timer: Nectar Memory Foam
Material: Foam | Firmness: Moderately firm | Trial period: 365 nights | Sizes: Twin XL to California king
What we like:
- Fantastic price point
- Longest trial period of any company
- It’s pretty firm, but if you don’t like foam, it might not be the bed for you
Why we chose it: Not too plush, not too firm, but just right—and to prove it, you can test it out risk-free for up to a year.
Sleeping on a bed is the best way to figure out whether or not one of the best firm mattresses is for you (it can take up to a month for your body to even adjust to something new!). Not every company offers trial runs, which is just one of the many reasons why shopping for one can feel so stressful. Nectar takes away some of that angst, though, by allowing you to try out its mattresses for a full 365 days—if at the end of that period you still don’t love it, you can send it back.
Foam beds do tend to be a little on the softer side, so we like that this one marries the plush material with a bit more firmness, with a stable base layer providing support set beneath a more traditional foam top.
The Extra-Firm One: Stearns & Foster Estate Extra Firm Innerspring Mattress
Material: Innerspring center | Firmness: Ultra-firm | Trial period: 100 nights when you buy through Wayfair
What we like:
- It’s really, really firm
- A legacy brand
- Carried in a number of stores
- It might actually be too firm for some sleepers, no exaggeration
Why we chose it: If firm beds don’t feel firm enough, this one will be just right.
There’s firm, and then there’s really firm, and then there’s Stearns & Foster’s Extra Firm mattress. Using innerspring coils, this bed’s firmness (have we mentioned it’s firm?) is excellent at preventing motion transfer, so if you or your partner tend to move around a lot throughout the night, no one’s beauty sleep will be disturbed. An extra-firm mattress can also help larger-bodied people get the support they need during the night.
And yes, while this is one of our higher-priced picks, the brand is easily available in a number of major mattress stores, department stores, and online retailers, which can be great places to score extra sales and discounts!
How We Chose These Products
Let’s face it: The world of bedding is super-saturated and overwhelming—but sometimes you need a new mattress (or pillows or sheets). At Domino, we strive to prioritize bedding brands that balance style, high-quality manufacturing, and eco-conscious attributes. Our editors and writers conduct hands-on testing when possible, and we tap industry experts for their input, dig into brand stats, and conduct independent research. But here’s the thing: There’s really no shortcut to finding your ideal mattress—you just have to try them (and that’s why we call out sleep trials!).
Our Shopping Checklist
Design and Materials
The two major materials when it comes to beds are innerspring (what’s traditionally been used by major brands) and foam (think Tempur-Pedic or any of the great DTC brands that have popped up over the last few years). Typically, a bed that uses innerspring is going to be firmer than a bed that uses foam, but there are an increasing number of hybrid beds that marry innerspring’s bounciness with foam’s cushioning capabilities.
A major selling point of firm beds is that they minimize motion transfer, which can be huge if you have a partner who gets up a lot in the middle of the night or kids who want to climb into your bed after a bad dream. If motion transfer is high on your list of priorities, consider looking for a split king, which is actually two separate mattresses that share one frame.
Staying Cool and Comfortable
Many firm mattresses include some kind of cooling technology, since people who sleep hot tend to prefer a firmer bed anyway. These work by wicking heat and moisture away from the body and keeping you from sinking into the bed too much—one of the main contributors to overheating.
In fact, if you wake up in a sweat but also feel stiff, a firm bed more easily allows you to rotate as you sleep, ensuring pressure is evenly distributed across your body, so you stay comfortable longer. “Firm beds make it easier to move around, which in turn makes it easier for people who need to change positions throughout the night to do so,” says Cushner.
Mattresses bigger than a twin generally require two people to move them in and out of the house, especially if you’re dealing with stairs. For a heavier foam mattress, consider buying from a brand that offers a full setup, and don’t forget to figure out whether or not delivery includes the removal of your old bed.
Sleep Trials and Returns
Mattress companies want you to be happy with their products, which is why most of the major players offer a trial period of at least 21 days, with some on our list letting you hold onto your option for a full calendar year. Warranties are also widely available, but generally only cover manufacturer defects.
Q: Is mattress firmness the same thing as mattress support?
Nope. Every mattress, from soft to firm, should be chosen for maximum support as you sleep—that’s what helps you wake up without the dreaded stiff lower back or crick in your neck. Although comfort is relative, and everyone needs a different kind of support, a firm mattress in general is better at helping stomach, back, and larger sleepers maintain proper alignment throughout the night.
Q: Are certain mattress types firmer than others?
A mattress with springs is always going to be firmer than a mattress that only uses foam, with hybrids (of course) landing somewhere in the middle.
Q: I love a good hotel bed. What firmness level are most hotel mattresses?
For every person who wakes up in a hotel longing for the comforts of their bed at home, there’s another who reliably gets their best sleep on vacation—and not just because of the vacation itself! Hotel beds are usually medium-firm to firm, and some will have a feather bed–style topper to give a sense of plushness without sacrificing that classic firmness (and overall support).
The Last Word
Sleeping on one of the best firm mattresses can be life changing for stomach sleepers, back sleepers, and hot sleepers. From medium-firm to extra-firm, these are the beds to try if you’re tired (pun intended) of uncomfortable sagging and kicking off the covers for heat relief.
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