Best Firm Mattresses of 2020: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

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 our top 8 best firm mattress reviews, and then in our buyer’s guide we’ll walk you through everything you should consider when looking for a firmer bed.

Best Firm Mattresses

Take a look at our 8 top-rated firm mattresses below. In the following section, we’ll give you an in-depth look at each mattress. 

By clicking on the products below, we may receive a commission at no cost to you, the reader. It’s how we fund our Mattress Lab and bring you better mattress reviews and comparisons.

Saatva

Editor's Choice
  • A luxury, eco-friendly, customizable bed.
  • Has great edge support, pressure relief, and lumbar support.

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

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

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

Trial Period

120 days

airweave

Best Spine Alignment
  • Super firm.
  • Scored a perfect 10 on spine alignment in testing.

This mattress lives up to its reviews. Very firm, but comfortable."

Kenneth
Customer Rating
/ 5
MA Score
7.8 / 10
Firmness

Firm - 9/10

Trial Period

100 days

Plank

Best Customizable
  • Flippable, with different firmness levels on each side.
  • Uses Brooklyn Bedding’s proprietary TitanFlex foam that offers support, durability, and pressure relief.

No more achy backs in the morning!”

Bethany
Customer Rating
4.4 / 5
MA Score
9.1 / 10
Firmness

Firm to ultra-firm: 7/10 and 9/10

Trial Period

120 days

Spartan

Best for Athletes
  • Designed specifically for active people and athletes.
  • 3 firmness options: plush, medium, and firm

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.”

Andrea
Customer Rating
5 / 5
MA Score
9.2 / 10
Firmness

Available in plush, medium, and firm

Trial Period

120 days

Alexander Signature Series

Best for Combination Sleepers
  • Available in medium or luxury firm.
  • One of the most responsive mattresses we’ve ever tested!

This is the BEST mattress I have ever slept on."

Westair
Customer Rating
5 / 5
MA Score
9.1 / 10
Firmness

Available in Medium or Luxury Firm

Trial Period

100 days

Leesa Hybrid

Best for Side Sleepers
  • One of the highest scoring mattresses on Mattress Advisor!
  • Hybrid design marries comfort and support.

The BEST night’s sleep I have had in years!"

Karen S.
Customer Rating
4.5 / 5
MA Score
9.4 / 10
Firmness

Medium-firm - firm: 7/10

Trial Period

100 days

Casper Wave

Best Pressure Relief
  • Endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).
  • Support system target 33 specific points to mirror your body’s natural shape.

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

Samuel W.
Customer Rating
4.3 / 5
MA Score
8.7 / 10
Firmness

Medium-firm - firm: 7/10

Trial Period

100 days

Awara

Best Organic
  • Built with sustainably sourced cotton, wool, and latex.
  • Naturally breathable for a cool night’s sleep.

It’s not too soft and not too firm, it really is just right!"

David I.
Customer Rating
4.8 / 5
MA Score
8.8 / 10
Firmness

Medium-firm: 7/10

Trial Period

365 nights

Keep reading to learn more about each individual mattress. Make sure to keep an eye out for key factors such as what types of sleepers the mattress is good for, pricing, and materials to decide if it’s a good option for you. 

Saatva

Editor's Choice

Why We Love Saatva

Firmness: Available in plush soft (3/10), luxury firm (5.5-6.5/10), and firm (8/10)

The Saatva mattress is a customizable luxury hybrid 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 (although it’s not 100% green). 

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 in-home set-up of your new mattress and removal of your old mattress. Mattress shopping doesn’t get any easier than that.

Read our full Saatva mattress review. 


airweave

Best Spine Alignment
airweave mattress

airweave Mattress Highlights

Firmness: Firm (9/10)

The airweave mattress is an extremely firm bed made with proprietary technology to keep you cool (great for those who sleep hot) and evenly distribute your body weight across the surface. This allows you to sleep cool and comfortably all night long. 

Inside the airweave mattress, you’ll find their proprietary airfiber technology. This unique, plastic material is what makes the bed so firm and superior at spine alignment. In fact, the airweave mattress scored a perfect 10 out of 10 in our spine alignment test!

Read our full airweave mattress review. 


Plank

Best Customizable
Plank mattress in bedroom

Plank Mattress Highlights

Firmness: Firm (7/10) and ultra-firm (9/10)

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. 

One side is the “firm” side (7/10) and the other is “ultra-firm” (9/10). Both layers are uniquely stitched to provide the most firmness and the least loft. Between the two layers, the Plank is designed with Brooklyn Bedding’s proprietary TitanFlex foam that offers support, durability, and pressure relief. 

Read our full Plank mattress review. 


Spartan

Best for Athletes
Man and woman laying on the Spartan testing the responsiveness of the mattress

Spartan Mattress Highlights

Firmness: Available in plush, medium, and firm

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 top-of-the-line 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. 

Read our full Spartan mattress review. 


Alexander Signature Series

Best for Combination Sleepers
Alexander Signature Mattress in a bedroom

Alexander Signature Series Mattress Highlights

Firmness: Available in Medium or Luxury Firm

The Alexander Signature Series 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 is typically best. 

In our testing, the Alexander Signature Series 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. 

Read our full Alexander Signature Series mattress review. 


Leesa Hybrid

Best for Side Sleepers
Leesa hybrid mattress in a bedroom

Leesa Hybrid Mattress Highlights

Firmness: Medium-firm to firm (7/10)

The Leesa Hybrid is one of the highest scoring mattresses on Mattress Advisor! The hybrid design of this model, topping a foam layer over a support system of pocket coils, gives you the comforting benefit of a foam mattress without sacrificing firmer support. The Leesa Hybrid is great for its responsive surface that quickly adapts to your body’s movements and its pressure relieving capabilities that help you sleep soundly and pain-free all night long. 

Read our full Leesa Hybrid mattress review. 


Casper Wave

Best Pressure Relief
Casper Wave mattress

Casper Wave Mattress Highlights

Firmness: Medium-firm to firm (7/10)

The Casper Wave offers stellar pressure relief and spine alignment with its five-layer support system. This design mirrors the natural shape of your body at 33 specifically targeted points to give you a restorative night’s sleep. This mattress is even endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) so you can be sure you’ll get a good night’s sleep on the Wave.

Read our full Casper Wave mattress review. 


Awara

Best Organic

Awara Mattress Highlights

Firmness: Medium-firm (7/10)

The Awara mattress is a premium hybrid mattress built with sustainably sourced latex, wool, and cotton. It’s great for all sleeping styles and body types, pairing latex with 5-zoned pocket coils to offer a balance of comfort and support. The materials in the Awara are also naturally breathable, so you’ll stay cool all night long. 

Read our full Awara mattress review. 

Allswell hand

Because mattress firmness is largely a subjective measurement — what feels to firm to one may feel just right to another — it can be tricky to find the right mattress without sleeping on it. (That’s why it is crucial that you only buy a mattress that has a generous trial period and a reasonable return policy. More on that later.)

To help you sort out the myriad mattresses on the market, the industry developed a firmness scale that rates mattress firmness from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 the firmest.

Most mattresses fall within the 5 to 7 range and are described as medium to medium-firm.

When we talk about a firm mattress, however, we’re referring to a mattress that is rated 7 to 8 out of 10. Sleeping on a firm mattress is more like floating on the mattress rather than sinking into bed. 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. It tries to give an objective measurement of a feature that is largely a matter of preference.

Should You Sleep On a Firm Mattress?

You might think that if a firm mattress is good for you, then a very firm mattress would be very good for you. But be careful. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. 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.

The Pros

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 older people 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. If your mattress lacks sufficient edge support, the mattress will easily collapse and make it difficult to stay on the mattress surface. 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, especially for people who sleep with a mate or pet, will absorb other sleepers’ movements and allow you to sleep through position changes and bathroom breaks. 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.

The Cons

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 that has a significant comfort layer. But depending on your weight and the firmness of your mattress, you may still feel pressure at these contact points. 
  • 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 firm 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. Make sure to test your mattress either with your partner or by placing a stack of books on one side of the bed. Lie down on your side and move around a bit to see if your partner or the books are disturbed.

Who is a Firm Mattress 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.

Larger sleepers weighing over 250 lbs.

Sleepers with above average weights need the push-back of a firmer mattress to prevent them from bottoming out. Sleeping on a mattress that does not evenly support their weight can cause a sinkhole that will strain the curvature of your spine and cause your mattress to wear prematurely. 

Stomach and back sleepers

A firm mattress is recommended for people who sleep primarily on their stomachs (about 16% of sleepers) or primarily on their backs (about 10%). Stomach sleepers need the firm push back to prevent their backs from curving up. 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.   

What if you don’t fall into any of these groups? Can a firm mattress still work for you? Yes, of course. But there are some people for whom a firm mattress is just not the right fit.

Who Should Avoid a Firm Mattress?

Side sleepers

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 fitful sleep and soreness in the morning.

People with sleep apnea

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, about 26% of adults between the ages of 30 and 70 years have sleep apnea. Sleep experts recommend these people 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.

Sinkers (people who like to feel hugged)

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 your mattress to yield under your weight and embrace your body, a firmer mattress is not for you.

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.

Smaller sleepers weighing less than 130 lbs.  

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. There are a few ways to make adjustments to the firmness of your mattress before you up and ask for a refund.

1. Add a mattress topper

Whether you want to add firmness 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. Cool it off

Is your mattress not firm enough? 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, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Shocking, right?

3. Return or exchange it

If all else fails, ask to exchange or return your mattress if you are unhappy with it for any reason. Only buy a mattress that allows a trial period of at least 100 nights and allows returns or exchanges without exorbitant fees. Since it can take several weeks to adjust to a new mattress and for the mattress to break in, make sure you give yourself sufficient time to make the adjustment before opting for a return.

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