Best Firm Mattresses in 2021

Looking for a firm bed? Check out our top picks and learn what to look for when shopping.

By Andrea Pisani Babich

Firm mattresses aren’t for everyone. In fact, the majority of sleepers prefer a medium-firm mattress. But for a few types of sleepers, a firm mattress is essential for blissful nights and pain-free mornings. 

In this guide, we’ll share reviews of our 7 top-rated firm mattresses, and then in our buyer’s guide, we’ll walk you through everything you should consider when looking for a firmer bed.

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Best Firm Mattresses

In the following section, we’ll give you an in-depth look at each mattress.



Best Firm Innerspring Mattress

Best for

  • Seniors
  • Side sleepers with back pain
  • People who sleep hot

No more aches and pains when we get up in the morning.”

Carla R.
Customer Rating
4.8 / 5
MA Score
8.7 / 10

Available in plush soft: 3/10; luxury firm: 5.5-6.5/10; and firm: 8/10

Trial Period

180 days

The Saatva mattress is a customizable luxury innerspring mattress that offers all the bells and whistles. You can choose between three firmness levels to find the one that is just right for you. Plus, the mattress is designed with high-quality, eco-friendly materials. 

The Saatva stands out for its great edge and lumbar support. Proper edge support is great for sleepers who stretch out on the edge of their bed or regularly sit on the edge to get ready in the morning. Lumbar support is key to a good night’s sleep that’s pain-free. 

Firmness isn’t the only feature you can customize with the Saatva. You can also select a custom height and size of the mattress, and as a bonus, if you buy a mattress foundation through Saatva you can customize its height as well. 

To top it all off, Saatva offers free white glove delivery for your new bed and free mattress removal for your old mattress. Mattress shopping doesn’t get any easier than that.

Read our full Saatva mattress review.



Best Eco-friendly Firm Mattress

Best for

  • Couples
  • Hot sleepers
  • Eco-conscious shoppers

The Awara mattress is the perfect combination of comfort and cradling as well as a good amount of support.”

Ron S.
Customer Rating
4.8 / 5
MA Score
8.8 / 10

Medium-firm: 7/10

Trial Period

365 days

The Awara mattress is a premium latex mattress built with natural materials, including sustainably sourced latex, wool, and cotton. The organic cotton cover is cool to the touch, perfect for people who suffer from night sweats, and the dunlop latex foam provides responsive cushioning for people who toss and turn.

This eco-friendly firm mattress is great for all sleeping positions and body types, pairing latex with 5-zoned pocket coils to offer a balance of comfort and support. The materials in the Awara mattress are also naturally breathable, so you’ll stay cool all night long.

Along with being natural, the Awara mattress is durable. They are so confident in the mattress’s comfort and durability that you get a year-long sleep trial and lifetime warranty with purchase.

Read our full Awara mattress review.



Best Firm Mattress for Side Sleepers

Best for

  • Couples who sleep hot
  • Combination sleepers
  • People who want a customizable mattress

Our chronic back pain is GONE! I absolutely recommend this mattress to anyone who wakes up with their back hurting.”

Erin M.
Customer Rating
4.6 / 5
MA Score
8.9 / 10

Customizable: Varies based on selection

Trial Period

100 days

Helix bed-ina-box mattresses define customization with 7 unique mattress models, all with different firmness options and good for different sleep positions. Using Helix’s quiz, you can find the right firm mattress for side sleepers (we recommend the Helix Twilight).

Read More: Best Mattress for Side Sleepers

On top of customizability, Helix offers amazing responsiveness, edge support, and motion isolation, a good combination for couples and co-sleepers. Responsiveness allows you to toss and turn easily without being uncomfortable, and motion isolation keeps those movements from waking your sleep partner. Edge support allows you to comfortably sleep on the edge of the bed.

Helix gives you a 100-night trial period and a 10-year warranty with your mattress purchase, during which you can easily swap out one model for another. There is nothing keeping you from trying it out.

Read our full Helix mattress review.

Cocoon Chill by Sealy


Best Firm Memory Foam Mattress

Best for

  • People with back pain
  • Those looking for good edge support
  • Sleepers who toss and turn

The most comfortable bed ever slept on but most surprising was waking up with no back pain!”

Samuel W.
Customer Rating
4.7 / 5
MA Score
8.7 / 10

Medium-firm: 6/10

Trial Period

100 days

You may not think you can find a memory foam mattress that’s firm, but the Cocoon mattress proves that you can. The Cocoon Chill is a memory foam mattress that offers stellar pressure relief and spine alignment with its three-layer support system. The middle layer personalizes your firmness level to give you a restorative night’s sleep. 

This firm bed utilizes foam layers and a phase change cover for cooling and breathability. The firm middle layer adds firm support to keep your spinal alignment nearly perfect, so you can be sure you’ll get a good night’s sleep on the Wave and wake with no back pain.

Read our full Cocoon mattress review.


Brooklyn Plank

Best Extra Firm Mattress

Best for

  • Side sleepers
  • People who sleep hot
  • Heavy people

No more achy backs in the morning!”

Customer Rating
4.4 / 5
MA Score
9.1 / 10


Trial Period

120 days

The Plank mattress by Brooklyn Bedding is great for those who think they want a firm mattress but they aren’t sure exactly how firm of a bed they want. Why? Because the Plank is flippable! That’s right, you can use either side of the mattress.

Read More: Best Flippable Mattress

One side of this foam bed is the “firm” side (7/10) and the other is “ultra-firm” (9/10). Both layers are uniquely stitched to provide a firm feel and minimal loft. Between the two layers, the Plank is designed with Brooklyn Bedding’s proprietary TitanFlex foam that offers support, durability, and pressure relief to keep you pain free and your mattress from sagging.

So if you’re looking for an extra-firm mattress, the Plank is a great option.

Read our full Plank mattress review.


Brooklyn Spartan

Best Firm Hybrid Mattress

Best for

  • Athletes with back pain
  • Stomach sleepers
  • People with night sweats

I’d recommend this to anyone and everyone who depends on good sleep as much as me who works all the time and is on their feet.”

Customer Rating
5 / 5
MA Score
9.2 / 10

Available in plush, medium, and firm

Trial Period

120 days

The Spartan mattress, another offering by Brooklyn Bedding, is a luxury hybrid mattress specifically designed to provide optimal rest and relaxation for athletes and active adults. Receiving nearly perfect scores for spine alignment and responsiveness in our testing, the Spartan is a top-of-the-line hybrid mattress for restoration.

You can also choose your preferred firmness level between plush, medium, and firm for the Spartan. Side sleepers do best on the soft, combination sleepers on the medium, and stomach and back sleepers on the firm model.

Read our full Spartan mattress review.

Alexander Signature Series

Alexander Signature Series

Best Firm Mattress for Back Pain

Best for

  • Back sleepers
  • Couples who sleep hot
  • Those looking for a durable mattress

This is the BEST mattress I have ever slept on!”

Customer Rating
5 / 5
MA Score
9.1 / 10

Flippable—medium or luxury firm

Trial Period

100 days

You may have heard that sleeping on the floor is good for back pain. While we wouldn’t recommend you sleep on the floor, the basis of the statement, that a firm surface can be good for sleepers with back pain, is true. 

The Alexander Signature Series mattress is a great example of a firm mattress that appeals to sleepers with back pain. It is a best-selling mattress by Nest Bedding that comes in two firmness levels: medium and luxury firm. Back and stomach sleepers are typically most comfortable on the luxury firm, and for side sleepers the medium-firm option is typically best. 

In our testing, the Alexander Signature Series mattress received one one of the highest scores ever for responsiveness! This makes it great for combination sleepers or people who move around frequently throughout the night as it quickly and seamlessly adjusts to new positions.

It also scored fantastically in spinal alignment and pressure relief, making it one of the best mattresses for back pain.

Read our full Alexander Signature Series mattress review.

Shopping Tips for Choosing a Firm Mattress

When we talk about a firm mattress we’re referring to a mattress that is rated 7 to 8 out of 10 on the firmness scale. Sleeping on a firm mattress is more like floating on the bed rather than sinking into it. A firm mattress does not conform to your body, so you won’t get the “hug” you would feel with a softer mattress

But remember, the firmness scale is just a starting point in your search for the perfect mattress. In this guide, we’ll cover

Benefits of a Firm Mattress

You might not be sure if a firm mattress is right for you. Here are a few features that people like about a firm mattress.

  • Supports a neutral spine alignment: There is little chance of your spine twisting out of alignment on a firm mattress because it will provide even support for the entire length of your body. Maintaining the natural curve of your spine is crucial to sound sleep and pain-free mornings. 
  • Easier movement: Since a firmer mattress prevents your body from sinking in, you can change positions and climb out of bed more easily than on a soft mattress. This is especially important for seniors and people with mobility issues, both of whom appreciate more push back from their mattresses when they roll over or get out of bed.
  • Sleeps cooler: Because a firm mattress will contour your body less than a soft mattress, it allows for better air circulation. Better airflow means less heat buildup and a cooler night’s sleep.
  • Better edge support: If you regularly sit on the edge of your bed to dress or put on shoes, you know what I’m talking about. You may also find yourself sleeping near the edge of your bed, especially if you sleep with a partner. Firmer mattresses generally have better edge support, which can improve your comfort as well as increase the durability of your mattress.
  • Minimal motion transfer: Motion transfer occurs when movement on one side of the bed disturbs the sleeper on the other side of the bed. The best kind of mattress will absorb other sleepers’ movements and allow you to sleep through position changes and bathroom breaks. Medium-soft or medium-firm mattresses also reduce motion transfer, but because a very firm mattress does not respond significantly to movement or pressure, it will isolate movement and keep disturbances to a minimum.
Allswell hand

Who Is a Firm Mattress Is Good for?

People with Back Pain

About 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives, with about 20% of them developing chronic pain. It was long thought that a very firm mattress was the best surface for back pain sufferers. But researchers have found that switching to medium-firm mattresses relieves back pain for many people. So, look for firm, but not too firm.

Heavy People

Sleepers with above average weights need the push-back of a firmer mattress with a dense support layer to keep them aligned. Sleeping on a mattress that does not evenly support their weight can cause sagging that will strain the curvature of your spine and cause your mattress to wear prematurely. 

Related: Best Mattress for Heavy People

Stomach and Back Sleepers

A firm mattress is recommended for people who sleep primarily on their stomachs or primarily on their backs. Stomach sleepers need the firm push back to prevent their backs from curving up.

Related: Best Mattress for Stomach Sleepers

Back sleepers also need a firm mattress to support the natural curve of their spine even while relieving pressure on their shoulders, hips, and heels. Because a firm mattress provides even support for the entire length of your body, both stomach and back sleepers can rest easy and wake pain-free.

Hot Sleepers

While temperature control is largely a function of mattress material, a firm mattress can be cooler to sleep on than a softer mattress. A firm mattress allows more air circulation because sleepers sink in less than on a softer mattress. Better air circulation allows heat to dissipate, leaving you cooler as you sleep.   

People with Mobility Issues

Think of your mattress like the sand at the beach. It’s really hard to walk or run in the soft sand that gives way every time you try to push off. But the sand that has been packed by the waves down by the water’s edge does not yield so easily, so you can move with less effort. A firm mattress is most like that packed sand—it has significant push-back, making it easier to shift positions and get up from your bed.

Who Should Avoid a Firm Mattress

A firm mattress is not all a bed of roses. There are some issues that may be deal breakers for some people and should be considered as you shop for a firm mattress.

  • Less relief on pressure points: The downside of all that firmness is that you may sacrifice comfort on your pressure points—the parts of your body that make the firmest contact with the mattress. That means shoulders, hips, knees, and heels, depending on your sleep position. You can increase pressure point relief by adding a plush topper or buying a mattress with a pillow or euro top.
  • Longer break-in period: Getting accustomed to your new firm mattress can take a while, especially if you are switching from a softer model. It can take as long as 30 days or longer to break-in a new mattress. If you are not sure that you really need a firm mattress, this break-in period may try your patience.
  • Poor motion isolation: We said firm mattresses can reduce motion transfer, but hear us out. Depending on the mattress material and the actual firmness rating of your mattress, it may not isolate motion as well as you might like. 

Now that you know a bit about the cons of firm mattresses, let’s go over who may want to avoid buying a firm bed.

Side Sleepers

Many people ask, are firm mattresses good for side sleepers? Unfortunately, side sleepers usually find that a firm mattress does not yield to their shoulders and hips enough to relieve the pressure on these areas. The result is a bad sleep and soreness in the morning.

People with Sleep Apnea

Sleep experts recommend people with sleep apnea sleep on their sides to facilitate breathing and reduce the risk of snoring. Side sleepers risk sore pressure points on firm mattresses and should steer towards softer models for better comfort.

People Who Want Their Mattress to Hug Them

If you like the feeling of sleeping in your mattress rather than on it, you may not be comfortable on a firmer mattress. Even if a firm mattress has a comfort layer, it will only cradle you so far. If you prefer a contouring mattress that yields under your weight and embraces your body, a firmer mattress is not for you.

Joint Pain Sufferers

If you suffer from joint pain, a firm mattress may not provide you with the pressure point relief you need to sleep comfortably and wake without additional pain. If your mattress doesn’t yield enough at your shoulders, hips, knees, and heels while still being supportive, you could find it hard to get comfortable and wake with soreness.

Related: Best Mattress for Hip Pain

Smaller Sleepers

People who weigh less than 130 lbs. do not have the mass to compress a firm mattress sufficiently for comfort. The result is a feeling of floating on the surface of the mattress rather than relaxing into it.

More people sleep on medium-firm mattresses than any other type of mattress. If you think you want your mattress on the firm side but are unsure how firm, start your search with medium-firm mattresses.

How to Adjust the Firmness of Your Mattress

Your mattress may have the firmness rating you sought, but you may still not be totally satisfied. Different mattress materials and construction methods can cause mattresses with the same firmness rating to perform differently. But don’t give up on your mattress yet. Here are two ways to make your mattress firmer.

1. Add a Mattress Topper

Whether you want to add firmness to your top layer or make your firm mattress a little plusher, you can find mattress toppers that can add just the right amount of softness or firmness you’re looking for.

2. Turn Up the Air

If your mattress is made with memory foam, lowering the temperature in your bedroom can help to keep it firmer through the night. Memory foam is designed to yield as it responds to body heat and pressure. It will yield less if it is kept cooler. You’ll sleep better not only because of the firmer bed but also because the ideal temperature for sleeping is around 65 degrees and can be as low as 60 degrees.


Is an extra firm mattress good for your back?

You might think that if a firm mattress is good for you, then an extra firm mattress would be very good for you. But a mattress that is too firm will not yield enough to support your back in a neutral position or relieve pressure points.

Try this test: If you sleep on your back, you should be able to slide your palm between the mattress and the small of your back fairly easily with no gap. If there is a gap, your mattress is too firm. Without a sufficient comfort layer that gently supports the natural curve of your lower back, you may wake with back pain, not to mention soreness in your joints.

A stomach sleeper on a mattress that is too firm may feel too much pressure on their chest making it hard to breathe. If you sleep on your side, you should steer away from firm mattresses because they will exert too much pressure on your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles and you’ll wake with soreness on these pressure points.

We recommend that you avoid mattresses at the far end of the firmness scale. They will be too hard to provide the comfort you need to sleep well and wake refreshed.

What is a medium-firm mattress?

On the industry firmness scale that rates mattress firmness from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest, mattresses that fall within the 5 to 7 range and are described as medium to medium-firm mattresses.

Nectar mattress firmness

Are pillow top mattresses good for back sleepers?

Back sleepers need a mattress that is firm enough to keep their spine supported, but with a soft enough top layer to allow the spine to keep its natural shape. Firm mattresses with a pillow top are good options for back sleepers.

See the best pillow top mattresses.

Recap: Our Top Picks for the Best Firm Mattresses

Mattress Award MA Score
Saatva Best Firm Innerspring Mattress 8.7/10
Awara Best Eco-friendly Firm Mattress 8.8/10
Helix Best for Side Sleepers 8.9/10
Cocoon Chill Best Memory Foam Mattress 8.7/10
Plank Best Extra Firm Mattress 9.1/10
Spartan Best Firm Hybrid Mattress 9.2/10
Alexander Signature Series Best for Back Pain 9.1/10
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