Sleep Supported with the 9 Best Firm Mattresses, According to the Sleep Doctor

best firm mattress

Let’s start with a simple acknowledgment: Firm mattresses are excellent for sleepers who are seeking relief from back and joint pain, or simply prefer a more supportive feel. While many top mattresses are categorized as medium-firm, a true firm mattress is especially important for back and stomach sleepers who require extra attention to their natural spine alignment.

But with so many great options on the market today, how should you decide which firm mattress will be right for you? Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, board-certified sleep specialist Michael Breus, Ph.D, otherwise known as The Sleep Doctor™, Ph.D. weighs in on the best mattress options that will address your specific sleep needs. With help from the team at Mattress Advisor, each of the mattresses selected in this article underwent hours of rigorous testing in their mattress lab based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Tests follow 14 criteria points that mattresses have to meet, and are rated on a scale of 1-10, with ten signifying a perfect score. Find out about the Sleep Doctor’s picks for the best firm mattress.

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

The 10 Best Firm Mattresses

1. Best Firm Mattress for Stomach Sleepers: Helix Dawn

Helix offers a number of different mattresses, varying in their firmness levels as well as their high-end-luxury features. The Helix Dawn, however, is the line’s best option for people who sleep on their stomachs.

Stomach sleepers need their mattress to keep their lower backs and shoulders elevated to hinder any sinking and causing possible back pain. The Helix Dawn proved to be up to the task in testing, scoring a 9 out of 10 for spine alignment. Testers also noted the mattress’s ability to relieve pressure along the hips and shoulders for stomach sleepers, achieving an 8.25 out of 10 in this category. Two foam layers atop a system of innerspring coils were designed especially for these two factors, keeping stomach sleeper’s spines in alignment while parlaying pressure relief.

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid
  • Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5
  • Firmness: Firm
  • Warranty: 10-years

Buy It, Helix Dawn, $999 for a Queen, helixsleep.com

2. Best Firm Innerspring Mattress: Saatva Classic

The Saatva Classic is a truly top-of-the-line innerspring mattress with a reputation for lavish, yet affordable comfort. If you enjoy sleeping on hotel-style mattresses, Saatva aims to replicate that experience. 

The Saatva Classic is available in three firmness options, including two dedicated firm options. This innerspring mattress works well for sleepers with back pain, as well as heavier sleepers who need extra lumbar support. There are two layers of coils, plus memory foam made for back support–which helped the Saatva Classic get a top score of 9.5 out of 10 for spine alignment. An additional perk that comes with the Saatva Classic is that it also comes with free white-glove delivery, setup and mattress removal.

  •  Mattress Type: Hybrid
  • Customer Rating: 4.8 out of 5
  • Firmness: Luxury-Firm, Firm
  • Warranty: 15-year limited

Buy It, Saatva Classic, $1,299 for a Queen, saatva.com

3. Best Extra Firm Mattress: Plank by Brooklyn Bedding

For those who want a really firm mattress at the upper end of the firmness scale, the Plank comes highly recommended by the testing team. This aptly named memory foam mattress is flippable, with each side offering a different firmness option. Rest assured that both of them are quite firm: One side of the mattress is about a 7 out of 10, and the flipside falls at a 9 out of 10.

There’s a lot to be said for Plank’s durability and support, as well as its pressure point relief (scoring a 9 out of 10 in testing). If laying down on a firm surface is the only thing that helps your lower back pain, this may be the right product for you. It’s made to evenly distribute your body weight, promoting healthy spine alignment (8.75 out of 10) to prevent back pain. It also happens to be a good option for budget shoppers, available for a low price point.

  • Mattress Type: Memory Foam
  • Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5
  • Firmness: Ultra-firm
  • Warranty: 10-year limited

Buy It, Plank, $999 for a Queen, plankmattress.com

4. Best Firm Pillow Top Mattress: The Winkbed

If you’re seeking a plush surface to lay your head at night, but without sacrificing firm support, the WinkBed is your best firm pillow top mattress option. Out of the four firmness options to choose from, there are three specific “firm” levels: luxury-firm, firm, and extra-firm. 

The WinkBed compiles two layers of coils with memory foam and a cooling Euro pillow top. In testing, these materials helped the mattress excel with responding to testers moving around on the surface of the bed (9 out of 10) and spine alignment (8.75 out of 10). 

  • Mattress Type: Memory Foam
  • Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5
  • Firmness: Soft, Luxury-Firm, Firm, Extra-Firm
  • Lifetime Warranty

Buy It, The WinkBed, $1,599 for a Queen, winkbed.com

5. Best Affordable Firm Mattress: Nectar

For those seeking a truly classic firm feel at an affordable price point, the best overall option is the Nectar. Its cushioning design is perfect for side sleepers and combination sleepers, yet there’s just enough rigidity here to work for stomach and back sleepers, too. That’s due to the Nectar’s solid pressure relief and responsiveness scores (8.5 out of 10 for both categories). Its memory foam layers quickly spring back into shape once pressure is applied, while supporting pressure points like your shoulders, hips, and thighs. With consistent support, it’s an affordable mattress that works for all sleep positions.

What makes the Nectar truly special is that it offers incredible value. It’s not only available at an affordable price point, but also there’s a year-long sleep trial and a lifetime warranty included in your purchase.

  • Mattress Type: Gel Memory Foam
  • Customer Rating: 4.8 out of 5
  • Firmness: Medium-firm
  • Lifetime Warranty

Buy It, Nectar, $1,149 for a Queen, nectarsleep.com

6. Best Firm Cooling Mattress: GhostBed Original

The GhostBed was engineered to deliver the firm, cooling sleep experience of latex, without the high price tag. Made from latex and gel memory foam, to help with temperature regulation, the Ghostbed scored an 8.5 out of 10 for cooling. It also stays highly responsive (8.5 out of 10).

While the GhostBed works to dissipate heat, it’s not the top pick for side sleepers who require more pressure relief. This mattress will work best for combination, otherwise known as multi-positional sleepers who need a firm, cooling mattress that can provide nonstop support as they move about. 

  • Mattress Type: Latex & Gel Memory Foam
  • Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5
  • Firmness: Medium-firm
  • Warranty: 20-years

Buy It, GhostBed, $1,195 for a Queen, ghostbed.com

7. Best Flippable Mattress: Layla Hybrid

What about sleepers who aren’t totally sure whether they need a firm mattress or a plush one? The Layla Hybrid allows sleepers to have both options thanks to its unique, flippable design. Give the firm side of the mattress a try, and if you don’t like it, the softer side is ready and waiting for you.

This hybrid mattress offers both foam and coil layers, which means it’s supple and supportive but also sleeps cool. It accommodates most sleeping positions and body types, scoring a 9 out of 10 for spine alignment. However, it’s not rated well for heavyweight sleepers who also prefer to lie on their stomachs. Thanks to its flexibility, this is a popular option in guest rooms and among kids and adolescents.

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid
  • Customer Rating: 5/5
  • Firmness: Soft and Firm
  • Warranty: 10 Years

Buy It, Layla Hybrid, $1,599 for a Queen, laylasleep.com

8. Best Firm Memory Foam Mattress: Puffy

Memory foam is known for being a favorite amongst side sleepers, combination or multi-positional sleepers, as well as couples because of its ability to react quickly to movement. The Puffy mattress earns the title “best memory foam” on this list thanks to its three layers of responsive foam. For firm mattress lovers, it falls at about a 7 out of 10 on the firmness scale, while still remaining very responsive (9 out of 10) and keeping the spine supported in all sleep positions (8.75 out of 10). It’s also a great choice for couples who want to keep sleeping soundly and not feel any motion from their partner’s side of the bed (9.25 out of 10 for motion isolation).

Puffy mattresses have a lifetime warranty and 101-night sleep trial, which only adds to the value of this firm memory foam mattress.

  •  Mattress Type: Memory Foam
  • Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5
  • Firmness: Medium-firm
  • Lifetime Warranty

Buy It, Puffy, $1,150 for a Queen, puffy.com

9. Best Firm Organic Mattress: Awara

If you’re looking for a mattress that’s made with organic materials, offering a minimal ecological footprint, the Awara deserves your consideration. This hybrid mattress combines a number of high-end natural materials, including Dunlop latex, organic cotton, and sustainably-sourced metal coils.

And that’s just for starters. The Awara mattress offers the firm support that back and stomach sleepers crave. Its latex construction stays naturally cool (8.5 out of 10), ideal for hot sleepers. And it delivers excellent edge support (9 out of 10), meaning it will stay durable and prevent any sagging. The Awara excels in many areas, but doesn’t necessarily score well in the pressure relief category. Those who suffer from back pain may want to look elsewhere.

  • Mattress Type: Latex and Coils Hybrid
  • Customer Rating: 4.8/5
  • Firmness: Medium-firm
  • Lifetime Warranty

Buy It, Awara, $1,499 for a Queen, awarasleep.com

10. Best Mattress for Back Pain: Casper Wave Hybrid

The Casper Wave Hybrid truly is a mattress that embodies the best of what many types of mattresses have to offer. It offers a memory foam comfort layer for comfort and support, plus an innerspring coil system for additional support, bounce and durability. There is even a latex foam layer, contributing some extra buoyancy.

There’s plenty to appreciate about the Casper Wave Hybrid, but we rate it one of the best mattresses for back pain thanks to its excellent pressure-relieving properties (8.5 out of 10) and responsiveness (9.25 out of 10). Also note that it helps you maintain a neutral spine position through the night (9 out of 10), which is especially good news if you’re a side sleeper. The Casper Wave Hybrid will help you wake up in the morning without feeling stiff or creaky.

  • Mattress Type: Hybrid
  • Customer Rating: 4.5/5
  • Firmness: Medium
  • Warranty: 10-year limited

Buy It, Casper Wave Hybrid, $2,595 for a Queen, casper.com

Searching for Your Best Firm Mattress

Something that can’t be overstated is that not all firm mattresses are created equal. In fact, just because you’re concentrating your research on the upper end of the firmness scale, that doesn’t mean all the products you see are going to be similar. There’s a lot of variation in materials, edge support, motion isolation, pressure relief and of course, price point. 

Who’s a Good Match for a Firm Mattress?

Heavier Sleepers: Plus-size sleepers are great candidates for a firm mattress, which will give the support they need as opposed to feeling too soft. 

Back Sleepers: Firm mattresses are important for back sleepers who need to maintain a healthy posture as they rest, keeping the spine lifted up and supported.

Stomach Sleepers: Like back sleepers, stomach sleepers typically need a firmer bed. Indeed, the firmness is vital in to preventing a stomach sleeper’s back from curving up into a painful or unnatural position.

Who Should Skip a Firm Mattress?

Side Sleepers: Statistically speaking, a majority of Americans prefer sleeping on their side. If that’s you, then we’d actually recommend thinking twice before purchasing too firm of a mattress. Most side sleepers want something more plush that will offer a contouring sensation for their body. 

Sleepers with Joint Pain: Sleepers with hip pain, arthritis, and any overall aches and sensitive joints need to seek a mattress with a little more cushion, such as a pillow top. A firm mattress may not yield enough pressure relief for these areas.  

Mattress Firmness

Mattress firmness can fall anywhere from “plush” to “firm,” with most products somewhere in between. Consider a scale of 1 to 10, where one is the softest option and 10 is the firmest. Most popular mattress models are in the 5 to 7 range. Mattresses included in this roundup fall between an 8 or 9 on this scale.

Health Conditions that Firm Mattresses Benefit

One of the main reasons to choose a firm mattress is because you struggle with back pain. According to the American Chiropractic Association, about 80 percent of adults find themselves with back pain at some point in their lives. For about 20 percent of adults, that pain becomes a chronic occurrence.

Switching to a firmer mattress may help to alleviate some of this pain. The reason for this has everything to do with pressure relief and support. When you lay down, your body weight naturally presses down on certain joints and pressure points, including your lower back and hips. This can exacerbate pain and stiffness, when not properly supported. A pressure relieving mattress will actually help to distribute your body weight more evenly, meaning your pressure points won’t be under as much strain while aligned. For many people this can help mediate chronic back pain.

“Overall I am often recommending a firm bed, especially for my patients who suffer from back pain,” says Dr. Breus. “A firm bed will allow you to have a consistent sleep posture, or healthy sleep position. Softer models allow for too much flexibility, and lower support in many cases.”

Mattress Type

As you think about firmness level, also think about mattress type. Again, there are a number of options to choose from, and it really comes down to your comfort preferences, sleep position, and budget.

Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses have been very popular in recent decades. An all-foam mattress should give you a “sinking feeling” as your body is cushioned and hugged to sleep. Foam mattresses don’t creak or make noise like innerspring beds sometimes do, and they tend to offer great motion isolation, which makes them perfect for couples who share a bed. The downside: Memory foam often traps and retains body heat. Gel memory foam can sometimes alleviate this, and offer a cooler sleep experience, but you must understand the details of the materials to find the right one.

Hybrid

If you see a mattress marked as a hybrid, it just means that it’s made from a combination of materials such as foam, innerspring coils and latex. Ideally, hybrid mattresses unite the best aspects of their source materials, and give you the best of each mattress type.

Innerspring

An innerspring mattress is made with a system of springs, or coils. Innerspring mattresses tend to promote air circulation and keep you cool. They also offer some “bounce,” which is important for combination sleepers. The biggest downside is that they can sometimes be a little noisy. Overall innerspring mattresses tend to be on the firmer side.

Latex

Natural and synthetic latex are both cool and supportive, and an all-organic option is ideal for eco-friendly shoppers. A lot of the time, latex mattresses are on the pricey side, so that’s something to be aware of. They have a good bit of “give” in the material while still maintaining excellent support. 

Picking the Right Firm Mattress for You

There’s not just one perfect mattress out there that works for everyone. All of us have our own unique preferences, and there are a lot of factors to juggle, from sleep position to body type. As you consider these questions on your search for a new bed, consider the options available on the Sleep Doctor’s list of highly recommended firm mattresses. 

Sources for this article

American Chiropractic Association, 2020. “Back Pain Facts and Statistics” American Chiropractic Association. https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/What-is-Chiropractic/Back-Pain-Facts-and-Statistics