7 Supportive *and* Pressure-Relieving Firm Mattresses Your Back Will Thank You For


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There’s a reason you leave a hotel wanting to drag the mattress out with you: while they might look plush on the surface, they always tend to be on the firmer side. Sure, a firm bed may not initially sound like a recipe for an amazing night’s sleepโ€”but a more supportive mattress can help keep your body in alignment, which in turn, prevents you from twisting into weird positions and waking up stiff as a board. Of course, the best firm mattress for you will depend on a few variables beyondย firmness (which we’ll get into below.)

If you want hotel-quality sleep, read on to explore seven firm mattress options to shop online, plus tips on how to choose the right bed for you. It’s also worth noting that I’ve laid on all but one of these mattresses (for work, of course), so I’ll share a few of my personal thoughts as well.


Experts In This Article

  • Cameron Yuen, DPT, Cameron Yuen, DPT is a physical therapist and strength and conditioning coach.

7 of the best firm mattress options, at a glance:

Who needs a firm mattress?

The short answer? Most people. Research suggests that medium-firm and firm mattresses reign supreme for the majority of sleepers, thanks to their ample support and cushion that helps keep your spine in alignment. According to Cameron Yuen, DPT, CSCS, and director of rehab and training at Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy in New York City, finding the right balance of support and plushness is key. “When mattresses are too soft, our body ends up shifting into shapes outside of a more neutral alignment by conforming to the mattress. If the bed is too hard, our bodies end up shifting to find more support because the mattress is not helping,” he says.

Typically, firmer mattresses are better for people who sleep primarily on their back and stomach, as well as anyone who experiences back pain. However, strict side sleepers should take a beat before cranking up the firmness. If you sleep primarily on your side, you’ll want to avoid a too-firmย mattress, which can put unnecessary pressure on your shoulders and hips. Finding a good mixture of support and pressure relief can be tricky, but it’s definitely possible (we have a handful of side sleeper mattress recommendations, too).

What determines mattress firmness?

The design of a mattress and the materials inside will ultimately determine how responsive or cushioned it is. All-foam mattresses tend to be squishier and softer, while innerspring or hybrid mattresses provide more support thanks to the spring coils. Many latex mattresses are also on the firmer side, as latex is a more dense and supportive type of foam (especially compared to polyurethane-based foams like memory foam).

But it’s important to note that the way a mattress feels will vary from person to person. Variables like your body weight, preferred sleep position, and whether or not you share your bed with someone else will all play a role in how comfortable the bed feels to you. That’s why it’s especially important to note each brand’s at-home sleep trialโ€”it will allow you to sleep on the mattress, typically for a minimum of 30 nights, to figure out if it actually works for you.

How to tell if a mattress’ firmness is right for you

According to Yuen, once you have your new mattress there are some easy steps you can take to ensure it’s the right firmness for your needs. “Lie flat on your back with your legs and arms extended, with your head in alignment with your spine,” he says. “If you can comfortably lie like this, it means the mattress is most likely supporting your back and neck. If you need to bend one leg, twist your upper body, or turn your head, the mattress is not filling in to support the areas of your body.”

Shop 7 of the best firm mattresses

Editor’s note:ย The prices listed below reflect the cost of a queen-sized mattress, before any promotional discounts.ย 

saatva classic, one of the best firm mattress options

Best innerspring: Saatva, Classic Mattress โ€” $2,095.00

Firmness: Plush Soft (3/10), Luxury Firm (5-7/10), or Firm (8/10)

The Saatva Classic is for anyone who likes the feel of a luxury hotel mattress. The combination of steel coils and memory foam gives it a traditional innerspring feel, but the 3-inch Euro pillow top makes it feel extra plush and luxe.

Iโ€™ve laid on this bed myself and loved it so much that I recommended it to multiple friends (who are now fully obsessed with their mattress). The Luxury Firm is best for back and combination sleepers, as it will feel plenty firm to most folks. Larger-bodied people may want to consider the Firm, which is very firm. Also worth noting: Saatva offers free in-home delivery and setup (which is rare for an online mattress brand) and has some of the best-rated customer service in the biz.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Split King, Cal King

Height: 11.5โ€ณ or 14.5โ€ณ

Materials: Recycled steel coils, CertiPUR-US certified memory foam, organic cotton cover

Arrives: Via white glove delivery and setup

Trial period: 365 nights

Warranty: Lifetime warranty

  • Three firmness options (two of which are on the firmer side) and two heights
  • Year-long trial and lifetime warranty, plus great customer service
  • In-home setup and old bed removal included
  • Plush pillow top and high-quality materials

the winkbed, one of the best firm mattress options

Best hybrid: WinkBeds, The WinkBed โ€” $1,799.00

Firmness: Softer (4.5/10), Luxury Firm (6.5/10), Firm (7.5/10), Plus (8/10)

The WinkBed is another great option for anyone seeking a firmer (but still plush) mattress. Itโ€™s a hybrid bed that uses individually wrapped steel coils, memory foam, and a cool-to-the-touch Tencel cover.

I sleep on the Luxury Firm WinkBed every night and think itโ€™s a really great mattress. The edge support is next level, so it makes our Queen bed feel bigger than it is (even with our dog squished in between us). The Luxury Firm works for both me, a smaller-bodied back sleeper, and my husband, a six-foot tall side sleeper. But the WinkBed also comes in a softer model (for strict side sleepers) and two firmer models, which is welcome news for heavier people and those who like a really firm mattress.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King

Height: 13.5โ€ณ

Materials: Recycled steel coils, gel-infused foam pillow-top, eucalyptus-derived Tencel cover

Arrives: Compressed in a box

Trial period: 120 nights

Warranty: Lifetime

  • Four firmness options
  • Plush Euro pillow top
  • Made with sustainably-sourced Tencel and recycled steel
  • Great edge support
  • Shorter sleep trial than other beds on this list
  • Cover is spot clean only

plushbeds botanical bliss mattress, one of the best firm mattress options

Best latex: PlushBeds, Botanical Bliss Organic Latex Mattress โ€” $2,949.00

Firmness: Medium (5.5/10), Medium-Firm (8/10), or Split Firmness (in a Queen or larger)

PlushBeds is one of the most sustainable mattress brands around and it makes all of its beds in certified organic Californian factories. Its luxury latex mattress, the Botanical Bliss, is made with GOTS-certified cotton and wool and GOLS-certified latex foam. In addition to providing a supportive, responsive surface latex is also great for temperature regulation (looking at you, hot sleepers!).

Combination and strict side sleepers should opt for Medium firmness, while everyone else seeking a firmer bed should stick to Medium-Firm. And, if you and your partner have different firmness needs, you can order a dual firmness model in a queen size or largerโ€”that way everyone wins. You can even swap out the latex layers down the line to change firmness or extend the life of your bed.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King, Split Queen, Split King, Split Cal King

Height: 9โ€ณ, 10โ€ณ, or 12โ€ณ

Materials: GOLS-certified organic latex, GOTS-certified organic cotton and wool

Arrives: Compressed in a box (option to add white glove in-home delivery for $249)

Trial period: 100 nights

Warranty: Lifetime

  • Dual firmness options in queen size or larger
  • Feel-good certifications and eco-friendly materials
  • Multiple height options
  • More of a splurge
  • Shorter sleep trial (100-nights)

nectar premier mattress in front of a blue wall

Best memory foam: Nectar, Premier Memory Foam Mattress โ€” $1,499.00

Firmness: Medium-firm (6.5 out of 10)

Memory foam mattresses arenโ€™t typically firm, but the Nectar Premier gets closeโ€”even closer if you choose the hybrid model. Nectar ranks the Premier at a 6.5 out of 10, which is great if you love the cushy feel of memory foam but want something a little less cloud-like. The bed is made up of three layers of foam, including a gel-infused memory foam layer at the top that Nectar says helps diffuse heat. That said, thereโ€™s only one firmness option to choose from with this mattress. Luckily, if it doesnโ€™t work out for you, you can return it within a year.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Split King, Cal King

Height: 13โ€ณ

Materials: CertiPUR-US certified gel memory foam, support foam, synthetic cover

Arrives: Compressed in a box (option to add on in-home setup for $199)

Trial period: 365 nights

Warranty: Lifetime

  • On the firmer side for a memory foam bed
  • Longer trial and warranty periods
  • Gel-infused memory foam to help dispel heat ย 

sleep on latex pure green, one of the best firm mattress options

Best affordable firm mattress: SleepOnLatex, Pure Green Organic Latex Mattress โ€” $999.00

Firmness: Medium or Firm

If youโ€™re looking for a super straightforward (and budget-friendly) firm bed, the Pure Green mattress from SleepOnLatex delivers. Itโ€™s made with GOLS-certified organic latex, GOTS-certified organic wool and cottonโ€”and thatโ€™s it. The result is a buoyant, supportive, and breathable mattress. At 8.5 inches tall, it is on the thinner side, and it doesnโ€™t come with a plush Euro pillow-top like other beds on our list. But if youโ€™re looking for something eco-friendly and firm that wonโ€™t break the bank, itโ€™s a solid (pun intended) pick.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King

Height: 8.5โ€ณ

Materials: GOLS-certified organic latex, GOTS-certified organic wool and cotton

Arrives: Compressed in a box, rolled in paper (not plastic)

Trial period: 100 days

Warranty: 10 years

  • Certified organic materials
  • Breathable, perforated latex (good for hot sleepers)
  • Lower price point
  • On the thin side
  • No plush pillow top (may not be a con for some)
  • Shorter sleep trial

purple restore plus hybrid mattress, one of the best firm mattress options

Best with cooling technology: Purple, RestorePlus Hybrid Mattress โ€” $2,999.00

Firmness: Soft or Firm

To be frank, I donโ€™t buy most brandโ€™s โ€œcooling technology claims.โ€ But Purple, which designs their mattresses with tons of space for airflow, is a little different. The brandโ€™s signature โ€œGelFlex Gridโ€ material is so specificโ€”Iโ€™ve never laid on anything like itโ€”and the unique shape provides more breathability than your average foam bed. Plus, this hybrid model includes spring coils that add not only support but also add more airflow into the bed.

So yes, itโ€™s going to sleep cooler by design. But itโ€™s also a great firm mattress option thanks to the targeted, wrapped coils in the base and the reinforced edge support. The Soft firmness may be a better option for smaller back sleepers and strict side sleepers, but if youโ€™re reading this article looking for a firm bed, stick to the Firm. That said, the grid material might not work out for everyoneโ€”if you donโ€™t like it during your 100-night trial, you can return or exchange it for free.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Split King, Cal King

Height: 13โ€ณ

Materials: Clean Air Gold-certified foam, proprietary โ€œGelFlex Gridโ€ material, steel coils

Arrives: Compressed in a box

Trial period: 100 nights

Warranty: 10 years

  • Designed with airflow in mind
  • Firmer support thanks to coils and responsive foam
  • Unique gel material is popular with folks (but might not work for everyone)
  • Pricier option
  • Shorter sleep trial than other beds on this list

Best extra-firm mattress: Plank by Brooklyn Bedding, Firm Mattress โ€” $1,332.00

Firmness: Medium-Firm (7-9/10) or Extra-Firm (9.5/10) (flippable mattress)

Approved by the American Chiropractic Association, the Plank mattress features a flippable designโ€”one side is Medium-Firm (although still rather firm) and the other is Extra-Firm (as in sleeping-on-the-floor firm). The core of the mattress uses a six-inch layer of high-density foam and a two-inch layer of slightly softer foam, so the bed will feel firmer or (slightly) softer depending on which side is up. You also have the choice to tag on Plankโ€™s cooling cover for an added cost.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Split King, Cal King (plus short and RV options)

Height: 10.25โ€ณ

Materials: CertiPUR-US certified high-density support foam, optional GlacioTexโ„ข cover

Arrives: Compressed in a box

Trial period: 120 nights

Warranty: 10 years

  • Firmest bed on this list
  • Extensive size range
  • Flippable
  • Made with feel-good materials
  • Might be too firm for some sleepers

Things to consider while shopping

  • Sleep trial:ย Because comfort is so subjective, you’ll want to give your mattress a fair trial at home. Brands offer anywhere from 100 to 365 nights for you to try the bed out at home before deciding if it’s “the one,” so make sure you know what sort of timeline you’re working with before you purchase.
  • Warranty:ย Mattresses are an investmentโ€”one that should last you around seven to 10 years with proper care. Make sure you read the details of the mattress’ warranty so you know what’s covered and for how long.
  • Materials and certifications: Some brands go a little further than others when it comes to certifying the materials in their mattresses. CertiPUR-US, which ensures the foam inside has been tested for low VOC emissions, is the most common certification you’ll see on our list and is the bare minimum you should look for when mattress shopping. If organic materials are important to you, there are also plenty of brands on our list that feature certifications like Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS).

FAQs

Do doctors recommend a firm mattress?

Most physicians, physical therapists, and chiropractors recommend medium-firm to firm mattresses to support spinal health. But remember, just because research suggests that a firmer mattress is better for alignment doesn’t mean all firm mattresses will work for everyone. Be sure to take advantage of a mattress brand’s sleep trial so you can get a sense of whether the bed is right for you.

What happens if a mattress is too firm?

While medium-firm mattresses can help support proper alignment, some people (especially smaller side sleepers) might require more cushioning to provide pressure relief to their hips and shoulders. Too-firm mattresses can put unwanted pressure on your joints and cause aches and pains.


Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.





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