Best Extra-Firm Mattresses (2023)
Jan 17th, 2023 •
The feeling of sleeping on a cloud is fine, but some people want (or need) their mattress to be a little more substantial. Whether it’s personal preference, body type, or back pain, you might find that an extra-firm mattress offers you the most comfortable and restful sleep.
Compare our picks for the best extra-firm mattresses, with review highlights from each selection. You can also check out our buyer’s guide to get expert advice on picking the right extra-firm mattress for you.
Best Extra Firm Mattress: Our Top Picks
- Best Adjustable Mattress – Saatva Solaire
- Best Mattress for Back Sleepers – Helix Twilight
- Best Pillow Top Mattress – The WinkBed
- Best Mattress for Heavy People – Titan Plus
- Best Mattress for Stomach Sleepers – Plank Firm
- Best Memory Foam Mattress – Amerisleep AS1
- Best Foam Alternative Mattress – airweave Advanced
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Best Adjustable Mattress
- 50 firmness settings
- Dual firmness in queen size and larger
- High-tech smartbed features
The Saavta Solaire’s adjustable air chambers make it easy to find the extra-firm feel you want. You can choose from 50 firmness options to really dial in your ideal firmness level.
Because queen and king sizes feature dual air chambers, the Solaire is also a great mattress for couples who have different firmness preferences. You and your sleep partner can adjust each side to be as firm or soft as you want. Another plus for couples is the Solaire’s 9/10 motion transfer score in Mattress Advisor testing. Also, Saatva earns high customer satisfaction marks thanks in part to free white-glove delivery, a lifetime warranty, and a 365-night sleep trial.
As a luxury smartbed, the Saatva Solaire is not cheap. Regular price for a queen size is nearly $3,600. Since all Saatva mattresses are made to order, delivery can take up to 21 days. Also, your new Solaire might have a “new mattress smell” after unpacking, but it should fade quickly.
Best Mattress for Back Sleepers
- Great for back sleepers
- Outstanding spine alignment
- Near-perfect edge support
At 8.5/10 on the firmness scale, the Helix Twilight offers plenty of support for back sleepers. The five-layer hybrid design blends memory foam, polyfoam, and innerspring coils.
In addition to its firmness, the Helix Twilight’s spine alignment capabilities make it a great mattress for the back sleeping position. It earns a 9/10 spine alignment score in Mattress Advisor testing, a strong indicator that the mattress will help your spine maintain a healthy, neutral alignment as you sleep. The Twilight’s 8.5/10 testing score for pressure relief is an encouraging sign for people who need cushioning support to address back pain or hip pain.
Helix mattresses come with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10- to- 15-year limited warranty, which more or less meet the industry standard but aren’t as generous as some competitors. Back sleepers in the 130-lb range might find the Twilight doesn’t let them sink in quite enough for optimal comfort.
WinkBeds Luxury Firm
Best Pillow Top Mattress
- Extra-supportive Euro pillow-top
- Two coil support layers
- Highly responsive
Medium firm: 6/10
Two of the WinkBed’s four firmness options can provide the extra-firm feel you’re looking for: the 7.5/10 Firm and the 8/10 Plus. Either one is complemented by a Euro pillow-top layer.
The WinkBed’s pillow-top layer is made from gel-infused Hypersoft foam designed to provide pressure relief for the shoulders, back, and hips. A layer of pocketed coils helps maintain the overall firmness of the Firm and Plus options. The WinkBed earns a near-perfect testing score for edge support (9.75/10), which helps provide consistent support across the entire mattress surface. It also has a flawless 10/10 durability score, so it should stay firm for a long time.
If you’re a side sleeper, the WinkBed might not supply adequate pressure relief (7.75/10 Mattress Advisor score) for your shoulders and hips. The 6.4/10 motion transfer score, which measures how well the mattress isolates motion, isn’t a very promising sign for couples.
Best Mattress for Heavy People
- Designed for heavier sleepers
- Highly durable
- Near-perfect spine alignment
The Titan Plus (8/10 firmness) is one of relatively few beds designed specifically for heavier people. It can support up to 1,000 lbs, or 500 lbs per side for two people sharing the mattress.
The Titan Plus has a lot more going for it than the extra-firm feel. This Brooklyn Bedding mattress has an overall Mattress Advisor score of 9.2/10, earning high marks in testing categories including cooling (8.5/10), spine alignment (9.5/10), and responsiveness (9.5/10). It matches up well with three of the four sleeping positions (back, stomach, and combination). The Titan Plus is also reasonably priced, with a queen-size mattress costing less than $1,250.
Side sleepers might not get the cushioning support they need in their shoulders and hips, due in part to a 7/10 pressure relief score. A 7.5/10 edge support score suggests that sleepers who like to use the entire surface might not feel adequately supported away from the center.
Best Mattress for Stomach Sleepers
- Flippable (firm and ultra-firm)
- Excellent pressure relief
- Quick, easy set-up
Stomach sleepers looking for an extra-firm bed probably won’t have to flip this dual-sided mattress. They can simply sleep on the Extra Firm side, which has a sturdy 9/10 feel.
Although stomach sleeping typically requires more firmness than any other position, the versatility of the flippable Plank Firm could come in handy if you want to make a change. The Firm side is 7/10, which is still highly supportive. Whichever side you choose, the Plank Firm should provide enough pressure relief (9/10 score) and spine alignment (8.75/10) to gently cushion your hips and lower back while promoting a healthy, comfortable sleep posture.
The Plank Firm earns an 8/10 cooling score, which is good for an all-foam mattress but not outstanding. An optional cooling panel is available, but it’ll cost an additional $100 to $200 depending on mattress size. Also, some reviewers found that the “new mattress smell”—while not harmful or unusual with a foam mattress—took a couple of days to fade after unboxing.
Best Memory Foam Mattress
- “Hugging” memory foam feel
- Superior edge support
- Eco-friendly, plant-based foam
If you like memory foam but have trouble finding an extra-firm foam mattress, consider the Amerisleep AS1. It combines an all-foam design with a feel between 8.5/10 and 9/10.
The Amerisleep AS1 uses Bio-Pur foam designed to provide the cushioning of traditional memory foam but with more breathability, thanks in part to a large, open-cell structure. Another quality that sets Bio-Pur foam apart is its plant-based composition, which should make the “new mattress smell” associated with off-gassing less of an issue. In Mattress Advisor testing, the AS1 performs well in spine alignment (8.75/10) and very well in edge support (9.25/10).
Pitched as an alternative to regular memory foam, Bio-Pur has some catching up to do in pressure relief and responsiveness. The AS1’s testing scores in those respective categories (6.75/10 and 7.25/10) are lower than those of many beds that use standard memory foam. Also, the AS1’s 10″ thickness might not feel supportive enough for sleepers weighing 230 lbs or more.
Best Foam Alternative Mattress
- Uses breathable airfiber
- Customizable block structure
- Excellent spine alignment
With customizable firmness as high as 9/10, the airweave Advanced is a made-in-Japan memory foam alternative that some customers call the firmest mattress they’ve ever slept on.
The airweave Advanced uses a proprietary material called airfiber designed to promote healthy sleep posture and breathability. The testing scores for spine alignment (9.25/10) and cooling (8.5/10) seem to bear out both theories. Our testers also give it high marks for edge support (8.75/10), and motion transfer (8.25/10). The design uses three airfiber blocks that you can configure to customize your firmness—no off-gassing or waiting for the mattress to expand.
The airweave Advanced might be the most expensive mattress we’ve ever reviewed, with a queen size priced at $6,000. For those prices, you’d probably hope for more than a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year limited warranty. Performance-wise, this mattress might not be the best fit for side sleepers and people with achy joints based on its 7.5/10 pressure relief score.
Read our full airweave Advanced mattress review.
How to Find the Best Extra-Firm Mattress
Although mattresses with an extra-firm feel are comparatively rare, the rarity has a silver lining. You’ll still have a number of options to choose from, but not so many that the variety will leave you feeling overwhelmed.
While extra firmness might be your main consideration in mattress shopping, it’s not the only one. This guide will show you what to look for in addition to an extra-firm feel—performance, price, compatibility with your sleeping position, and more.
- What is an Extra-Firm Mattress?
- Who Should Get an Extra-Firm Mattress?
- What to Look for as You Shop for a Mattress
What is an Extra-Firm Mattress?
The mattress firmness scale goes from 1-10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. A mattress with a firmness of 8 or above is generally considered extra-firm. By comparison, a firm mattress falls between 7/10 and 8/10 and a medium-firm mattress falls between 6/10 and 7/10.
So what gives an extra-firm mattress its firmness? The keys are materials and design.
The firmness of memory foam mattresses and latex mattresses is determined during the manufacturing process by density. The higher the density, the firmer the foam. Generally, latex has a firmer feel than memory foam, while Dunlop latex feels firmer than Talalay latex.
The firmness of metal coils, a key component of innerspring mattresses and innerspring hybrids, depends on how thick the coils are. Thicker coils have a firmer feel. To find out the thickness of mattress coils, look for the term “coil gauge.” The lower the coil gauge number, the thicker the coils. A coil gauge of 13 or lower falls in the firm range.
A hybrid mattress design that uses layers of different materials opens the door for a lot of variations in firmness. For example, innerspring hybrids with coil layers often feel firmer than mattresses made entirely out of foam.
Another example is a pillow-top mattress with a layer supported by foam, latex, or innersprings. The pillow-top can add a plush feel to the upper layers while the coil layer below maintains the mattress’s overall firmness, especially around the edges.
Who Should Get an Extra-Firm Mattress?
Some people want a firmer mattress just because they like the feeling of sleeping on top of the mattress rather than sinking in too deeply. On the other hand, others might actually need an extra-firm mattress for reasons separate from personal preference.
People weighing 230 lbs or more usually need a mattress that’s firmer than average so that they feel adequately supported. Many mattresses designed for heavier people have firmness levels of 7/10 or higher. Also, remember that firmness levels are set with average-weight people in mind. A 6/10 firmness level might feel more like a 5/10 to someone on the heavier side.
The stomach sleeping position lends itself to firmer mattresses, since a stomach sleeper’s hips and midsection can sink too far into a soft mattress and lead to joint pressure. Similarly, some heavier back sleepers might also fare better on an extra-firm mattress.
People with Back Pain
You might instinctively think that a super-soft mattress is best for an aching back, but generally the opposite is true. If you check with your doctor or chiropractor, don’t be surprised if they recommend a firmer mattress that keeps the areas around your pressure points stable.
Related: Best Mattresses for Back Pain
What to Look for as You Shop for an Extra-Firm Mattress
There’s more to a mattress than how firm or soft it feels. In addition to firmness levels, pay attention to:
Compatibility with Your Sleeping Position
Although back sleepers and stomach sleepers typically need the firmest mattresses, side sleepers who are above average weight or have back pain might also need a firmer bed. The key for side sleepers is finding a bed that strikes the right balance between firmness and pressure relief.
Pressure relief measures how well a mattress cushions pressure-sensitive areas including the hips and shoulders. Since the side sleeping position involves those areas sinking into the mattress surface, a firmer mattress that doesn’t provide adequate pressure relief can lead to less comfortable sleep.
Our review process includes testing each mattress to see how they perform in pressure relief and other categories, with each test scored on a 1-10 scale. Our recommendation for side sleepers who want an extra firm mattress is to look for one that scores an 8/10 or higher in pressure relief.
Combination sleepers change sleeping positions during the night, usually alternating between side sleeping and back sleeping. For them, we recommend a good pressure-relieving mattress that also has superior responsiveness so that you don’t exert as much energy rolling from your side to your back and vice versa.
Does the Mattress Sleep Cool?
Many extra-firm mattresses use high-density foam and latex, and the density of the material can affect airflow. Fortunately, many of the best mattresses for hot sleepers feature innovations like gel-infused memory foam and aerated latex foam to make the mattress more breathable. Also, extra-firm hybrids that include airflow-friendly innerspring layers provide additional breathability.
Is the Mattress in Your Price Range?
A firmer mattress shouldn’t necessarily cost more than a softer mattress, unless perhaps it’s designed for heavier people or other specific types of sleepers. You can find many top-rated mattresses in the popular queen size in the $1,200-$2,000 range.
Luxury mattresses typically cost more than other beds, and adjustable mattresses or smartbeds come with features that add to the overall cost.
Do You Have a Sleep Partner?
When it comes to a mattress for couples, what if you want an extra-firm mattress but the person you share your bed with prefers a softer feel? For couples and co-sleepers, different firmness preferences don’t have to be a nightly point of contention.
Mattresses like the adjustable Saatva Solaire and the line of Sleep Number beds let you customize the firmness level on each side of a couple-sized mattress. The only downside is that smartbeds and adjustable mattresses tend to be pretty expensive, sometimes costing twice as much as a regular mattress.
As an alternative, you could improvise by getting two twin XL mattresses, each with the desired firmness level, and putting them side by side on a king-size foundation.
How Thick is the Mattress?
Certain mattresses offer a choice of thickness, ranging from anywhere to 6″ to 14″ or more. Thicker versions of the same mattress could feel softer unless the mattress is designed to maintain the same overall firmness level.
If you compare thickness options, be sure to check whether the firmness level changes the taller the mattress gets.
Adding Firmness with Accessories
In some cases, you might be able to make your mattress feel firmer by topping it off with a firm mattress topper. This strategy does have potential downsides, though. For example, a topper could reduce the cooling effects of a mattress with a top layer of gel-infused foam.
If you’re considering a firm mattress topper, a topper that uses gel-infused memory foam or naturally breathable latex might help offset any cooling issues.
Related: Get all the details on choosing the best bed for you in our Mattress Buying Guide.
Recap: Our Best Extra-Firm Mattresses
|Mattress||Award:||Mattress Advisor Score (out of 10)|
|Saatva Solaire||Best Adjustable Mattress||8.6|
|Helix Twilight||Best Mattress for Back Sleepers||8.8|
|The WinkBed||Best Pillow Top Mattress||8.6|
|Titan Plus||Best Mattress for Heavy People||9.2|
|Plank Firm||Best Mattress for Stomach Sleepers||8.9|
|Amerisleep AS1||Best Memory Foam Mattress||8.2|
|airweave Advanced||Best Foam Alternative Mattress||8.0|
Best Firm Mattresses
If you prefer a firm mattress, read this guide to learn about what to look for in the best firm mattress and how to choose a bed based on your sleeping style.
How to Make a Mattress Firmer
Do you prefer a firm mattress over a soft one, but have somehow ended up sleeping on a mattress far too plush? Learn how to make a mattress firmer in 7 steps.