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After Thousands of Hours of Testing, These Are the Best Firm Mattresses

The Joint Chiropractic's Dr. Kevin Lees discusses mattress selection in an article from Health.com.

Original article published by Health.com on November 15, 2023 on Health.com

By Lindsay Modglin

Poor sleep can affect more than just your mood. Your body's internal systems, including cardiovascular health 1 and hormone production, 2 depend on a sound night's sleep. Long-term deprivation of quality sleep can even contribute to high blood pressure, metabolic syndromes, and weight problems. 3 But what if you already get the recommended seven to nine hours of nightly shut-eye and still wake up feeling exhausted? The answer could be in your mattress.

Tossing and turning throughout the night can prevent your body from entering a deep, restorative sleep—a potential outcome of sleeping on the wrong mattress. Kevin Lees, DC, director of chiropractic operations at The Joint Chiropractic, the nation’s largest chiropractic care provider, told Health that your body style, sleeping patterns, and weight are just a few factors affecting your ideal mattress type.

As the name implies, a firm mattress offers more support than its softer counterparts. Designed with fewer plush layers and a sturdier feel, these mattresses are especially beneficial for back and stomach sleepers. If you're a heavier individual or suffer from back pain, a firm mattress can provide the additional support necessary to keep your spine aligned as you rest.

We spoke with sleep experts and tested firm mattresses based on criteria like comfort, support, sleep quality, and more. We also had a physical therapist from our Medical Expert Board review this article for medical accuracy.

What to Know About Firm Mattresses

When shopping for a firm mattress, there are several key factors to consider. First, the level of firmness is paramount. Below, we’ve rated each of our picks on a firmness scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the firmest. People who sleep on their stomachs or backs, or heavier individuals, may find a mattress on the firmer side of the scale more supportive—between 7 and 10 on the scale.

Other key considerations include:

  • Material: The mattress’ material will impact its firmness and longevity. Memory foam, latex, and innerspring are common materials with unique properties. For instance, memory foam conforms to your body shape, latex is firmer and all-natural, and innerspring provides a traditional feel with good ventilation.
  • Thickness: Mattress thickness is another crucial consideration. Thicker mattresses (also called high profile) usually offer more support and are generally more comfortable for heavier individuals. Mattresses with an 8- to 12-inch depth are lower profile, while those 13 inches and taller are considered high profile.
  • Heat Retention: Some materials, like memory foam, are known to retain heat, which can lead to an uncomfortable sleeping experience for already hot sleepers. Look for mattresses with cooling materials–such as gel or perforated memory foam–or highly breathable materials.
  • Edge Support: If you often sit or sleep near the edge of the bed, consider a mattress with solid edge support to prevent sagging or rolling.
  • Budget: While quality sleep is priceless, your budget will likely play a role in your decision. Keep in mind that a higher price doesn't always equate to higher quality.
  • Trial Period and Warranty: Many mattress companies offer trial periods, allowing you to test the mattress at home for several weeks or months. Also, check the warranty policy; an extended warranty period assures the product's quality and durability.

Best Overall: Bear Original Mattress

Our Ratings: Comfort 5/5 | Support 5/5 | Value 5/5

  • Type: Gel Memory Foam
  • Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King, Split King
  • Price Range: $748–$1,622
  • Firmness Level: Medium-Firm (7/10)
  • Depth: 10 inches
  • Delivery: Arrives vacuum sealed in a box and expands in around an hour
  • Warranty and Return Policy: 120-night trial period with free returns; lifetime warranty

Who It’s Best For

The dense foam layers of the Bear Original Mattress conform to the body for cushioning and support, an ideal combination for those who want firmness but also need pressure relief.

Why We Like It

The Bear Original Mattress has distinct foam layers, each designed to provide a unique benefit. From cooling to balance and pressure relief, this mattress offers a variety of features to help you sleep better. We especially like the design of the cooling cover, which helps wick away heat and regulate body temperature throughout the night.

What It’s Made Of

The mattress has three layers. The top layer has cooling graphite-gel memory foam that relieves pressure and regulates temperature. The second layer of responsive transition foam conforms to your body's movements for personalized support. The high-density support foam base layer provides a sturdy foundation for long-lasting durability. The innovative cover is made of Celliant fabric and helps to circulate heat away from the body.

How It Performed

Boasting a medium-firm level of firmness, the Bear Original Mattress excelled in our tests. This mattress, designed to envelop your body’s unique shape while maintaining proper spinal alignment, offers significant relief for pressure points. Even when we changed sleeping positions at night, we didn’t disrupt our partner's sleep. From the moment we nestled into this mattress, we experienced immediate relaxation in our joints and muscles, significantly enhancing our sleep quality throughout testing.

It’s Worth Noting

While there was an initial plastic smell when unboxing, it dissipated quickly after adding our bedding. If you prefer a warmer mattress, consider a different option. Its cooling cover and triple-layer design keep air moving through the night, meaning it may not make for the coziest mattress during cooler weather, but it’s a great option for those who run hot. It’s also a cushier firm, which may not make it a great pick for stomach sleepers.

Best Firm Mattress for Back PainPurple New Day Mattress

Our Ratings: Comfort 4.5/5 | Support 5/5 | Sleep Quality 5/5 | Value 5/5

  • Type: Gel and Foam
  • Sizes: Full, Queen, King
  • Price Range: $1,195 – $1,595
  • Firmness Level: Firm (8/10)
  • Depth: 8 inches
  • Delivery: Arrives vacuum-sealed in a purple bag and takes 24 hours to expand fully
  • Warranty and Return Policy: 100-night trial period with free returns; 10-year warranty

Who It’s Best For

The memory foam and gel layers in the New Day Mattress provide cushioning and support for those with chronic back pain. It's firm enough to maintain a neutral spine alignment for day and night relief.

Why We Like It

The New Day mattress' three layers are perfectly balanced for spinal support. The top layer of gel-infused memory foam wicks away heat to keep you from getting too hot, while the support layers below stabilize your spine and hips. It's less bouncy than a traditional innerspring mattress, so your back is more likely to stay in place while you sleep.

What It’s Made Of

The New Day has a three layer design: a top layer of gel-infused memory foam for cooling and comfort, a middle layer of high-density supportive foam, and a bottom layer of firmer support foam. The mattress also has a breathable cover to prevent heat retention.

How It Performed

Our editor—who previously woke up multiple times during the night—was surprised to find they could sleep through the night without interruptions on the New Day. The supportive yet cushioned layers provided ample comfort, and the mattress aligned our hips, back, and neck. We can attest to its cooling abilities as well. We didn’t experience any heat retention or hot spots during our four weeks of testing. Also noteworthy, we woke up in the same position we fell asleep in. Our morning pain diminished because the structure of the mattress kept us from twisting and turning awkwardly.

It’s Worth Noting

The mattress is only eight inches deep and won't give you the same height as a thicker option. Moreover, memory foam mattresses feel less bouncy than traditional mattresses. You may not appreciate the change or break-in period if you’re accustomed to innerspings.

Best Medium-Firm MattressPurple Mattress

Our Ratings: Comfort 4.7/5 | Support 5/5 | Sleep Quality 5/5 | Value 4.5/5

  • Type: Gel and Foam
  • Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King, Split King
  • Price Range: $799 – $1,998
  • Firmness Level: Medium-firm (7/10)
  • Depth: 9.25 inches
  • Delivery: Arrives vacuum-sealed in a purple bag and took 48 hours to fully expand
  • Warranty and Return Policy: 100-night trial period with free returns; 10-year warranty

Who It’s Best For

The Purple Mattress’ unique gel-infused foam layers provide a soft touch without sacrificing stability.

Why We Like It

The Purple Original Mattress strikingly combines form and function. Its patented gel-infused foam responds to your body's curves, while the soft top layer relieves pressure points. We especially like the built-in air channels for breathability and the moisture-wicking cover to keep you dry.

What It’s Made Of

This mattress has three layers and a flexible cover that moves with you. The first layer is made of gel-infused foam, which conforms to your body's shape. The second layer is supportive comfort foam, while the third layer is a durable foam base.

How It Performed

Our editor found the Purple Mattress to be exceptionally comfortable. The memory foam doesn't have the bounce of an innerspring mattress and instead provides a slower response to movement; this is great for reducing disturbance when your partner moves around at night. We were also impressed by the quality of our sleep. We fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer thanks to the Purple Mattress' design.

It’s Worth Noting

It's heavy at 98 pounds and requires two people to move it around. The Purple also isn't compatible with every bed frame, so review its bed frame guide before purchasing.

Best Firm Mattress for Side SleepersPurple Restore Hybrid Mattress

  • Type: Hybrid
  • Sizes: Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King, Split King
  • Price Range: $1,845 – $3,690
  • Firmness Level: Soft (2/10) or Firm (8/10)
  • Depth: 11.5 inches
  • Delivery: Arrives vacuum-sealed in a purple bag and only took one minute to fully expand
  • Warranty and Return Policy: 100-night trial period with free returns; 10-year warranty

Who It’s Best For

The firm option of the Purple Restore provides enough cushioning to keep joints comfortable while holding your spine in proper alignment.

Why We Like It

The hybrid coil base offers maximum comfort for your body and neck, but what sets this mattress apart is its remarkable responsiveness—it's delightfully bouncy without compromising support. The combination of memory foam and coils is ideal for sleepers who need body contouring without feeling trapped in the mattress.

What It’s Made Of

We immediately noted the luxurious feel of the gel and foam layer. It’s soft in all the best places yet firm enough to maintain proper spinal alignment—an invaluable benefit to side sleepers. Over several nights, the mattress adapted to our bodies with ease. It's incredibly supportive without being overly rigid. We think it’s the perfect balance of responsiveness, temperature regulation, and relief.

How It Performed

We tested the firm model and quickly noticed its luxurious quality. It feels soft in all the right places yet provides ample firmness to promote proper spinal alignment, especially for side sleepers. Over time, the mattress effortlessly adjusted to fit the contours of our bodies, including our neck, shoulders, and hips. We didn’t get too hot or too cold, and there was minimal motion transfer from our partners.

It’s Worth Noting

While the Restore Hybrid is efficient in functionality, there might be a better pick for sleepers who prefer a taller mattress. It comes in at 11.5 inches thick, which is middle of the road in terms of depth. Most queen mattresses range in height from 8 to 16 inches. It’s also unavailable in a standard twin.

Best Hybrid Firm MattressSaatva Memory Foam Hybrid Mattress

Our Ratings: Comfort 5/5 | Support 5/5 | Sleep Quality 5/5 | Value 5/5

  • Type: Memory Foam Hybrid
  • Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Split King, Cal King
  • Price Range: $995 – $2,195
  • Firmness Level: Medium-firm (7/10)
  • Depth: 11.5 inches
  • Delivery: Free in-room delivery, setup, and mattress removal
  • Warranty and Return Policy: 365-night trial period with $99 returns; lifetime warranty

Who It’s Best For

The hybrid build provides a supportive sleep experience for all positions, so there’s something for almost every type of sleeper.

Why We Like It

The Saatva Hybrid won us with its true medium-firm feel and quality construction. We love the thick layer of memory foam for pressure relief, but the innerspring support system adds a degree of stability. The 11.5-inch depth is enough to hug our hips without feeling too plush or firm.

What It’s Made Of

The Saatva Hybrid has three main layers that sit inside an edge support rail. From the top, a half-inch layer of memory foam helps relieve areas prone to pressure. Below is a layer of breathable foam designed to circulate air through the mattress. This rests on a thicker pocketed coil system that provides excellent body contouring and support. The solid foam base gives the bed extra durability.

How It Performed

We were impressed with the Saatva Hybrid. It offered enough firmness to support our bodies while softening in essential areas, like our hips. The pocketed coils made movement easy, and we appreciated its breathability for keeping us cool. There was no sinking as we repositioned during sleep.

It’s Worth Noting

It costs $99 to return your mattress if you take advantage of the home trial and decide to return it. The fee covers the cost of return pickup and labor. Additionally, while Saatva offers a lifetime warranty, there are stipulations to qualify for exchanges and replacements. You may encounter a processing fee to cover delivery and setup of the replacement mattress.

Best Splurge Firm MattressCasper Wave Hybrid Snow Mattress

Our Ratings: Comfort 5/5 | Support 4.5/5 | Sleep Quality 4.5/5 | Value 4.6/5

  • Type: Hybrid
  • Sizes: Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King
  • Price Range: $2,895 – $3,995
  • Firmness Level: Medium-firm (7/10)
  • Depth: 13 inches
  • Delivery: Arrives vacuum sealed in a box and only took one minute to fully expand
  • Warranty and Return Policy: 100-night trial period with free returns; 10-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For

The Casper Wave Hybrid Snow has cooling properties to keep hot sleepers from waking sweaty.

Why We Like It

The Casper Wave Hybrid Snow stands out for its features and construction. Every layer of support is designed to keep you cool. From the cover to the hybrid layers, this mattress encourages air circulation and dissipates heat. It's also incredibly comfortable and relieves pressure points as it contours to your body.

What It’s Made Of

Under the cover sits five unique layers and a spring base for support. The topmost layer is gel-infused foam to keep you cool and comfortable throughout the night. This rests on a perforated airflow layer, a zoned transition foam, and a gel pod layer that cradles your body for spinal alignment. The spring base gives this mattress its bounce, durability, and lift.

How It Performed

We made sure to test out the Casper Wave Hybrid Snow's cooling features. We were pleased with how quickly it dissipated heat and kept us from waking up in a sweat. Its contouring capabilities kept our backs straight and hips aligned without feeling too stiff. It also reduced nighttime wake-ups and helped us fall back asleep quickly.

It’s Worth Noting

The edge support was lacking. If you sit or sleep on the edge, you may feel like it's sagging, but this doesn't affect its performance. It’s also unavailable in standard twin sizes and weighs 111 pounds for a queen, which could be a deterrent.

Best Firm Mattress for Back and Stomach SleepersSaatva Classic Mattress

Our Ratings: Comfort 5/5 | Support 4.5/5 | Sleep Quality 5/5 | Value 4.5/5

  • Type: Spring
  • Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Split King, Cal King, Split Cal King
  • Price Range: $1,095 – $2,790
  • Firmness Level: Firm (9/10)
  • Depth: 11.5 inches
  • Delivery: Free in-room delivery, setup, and mattress removal
  • Warranty and Return Policy: 365-night trial period with $99 returns, lifetime warranty

Who It’s Best For

The firm Saatva Classic has a spring base that provides ample support for back and stomach sleepers. Its added lumbar support helps keep your midsection from sagging into the mattress.

Why We Like It

We scored the Saatva Classic highly across the board. Its innerspring construction kept us from sinking into the mattress and provided enough support to align our backs. It also has an impressive lumbar zone that adjusts to your body's curves while providing extra support around the hips and lower back.

What It’s Made Of

The pillow top of this mattress features a beautifully quilted design for an added layer of plushness. Beneath it, a layer of dense memory foam offers excellent support for your spine. Below the memory foam layer are 884 individually-wrapped steel coils for head-to-toe support. The mattress also boasts lasting edge support to prevent the edges from sagging over time.

How It Performed

We found the Firm Saatva Classic incredibly supportive. The individually-wrapped coils kept us from sinking in, while the premium memory foam provided the perfect base for a good night’s rest. We tested as side and back sleepers, and it offered plenty of support for both positions after an initial break-in period.

It’s Worth Noting

This mattress slept hot during testing. You may get too warm during the night if you're prone to night sweats. Additionally, Saatva doesn't offer free returns; if you decide to return your mattress after your in-home trial, it will cost $99.

Best Adjustable Firm MattressSaatva Solaire Adjustable Firmness Mattress

Our Ratings: Ease of Setup 5/5 | Comfort 5/5 | Performance 5/5 | Design 5/5

  • Type: Memory Foam and Latex
  • Sizes: Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Split King, Cal King, Split Cal King, Queen Upper-Flex, King-Upper Flex
  • Price Range: $2,595 – $5,190
  • Firmness Level: Adjustable
  • Depth: 13 inches
  • Delivery: Free in-room delivery, setup, and mattress removal
  • Warranty and Return Policy: 365-night trial period with $99 returns; lifetime warranty

Who It’s Best For

With 50 customizable firmness settings, the Saatva Solaire allows you to tailor firmness to your body and needs; it's ideal for couples with different firmness preferences since each person can adjust their side of the bed.

Why We Like It

On the softer end, the Saatva Solaire feels like a traditional memory foam bed; on the firmer end, it's reminiscent of an innerspring. With its adjustable firmness settings, you can customize how your mattress feels based on the support or pain relief you need. The mattress also helps reduce motion transfer, so you won't feel your partner tossing and turning.

Dr. Lees says firm latex mattresses are among the firmest available, followed by extra firm innerspring mattresses; while the Saatva Solaire also contains memory foam, the latex helps provide full body support.

What It’s Made Of

The Solaire mattress is designed to ensure a comfortable and hygienic sleeping environment. The top layer is organic cotton, which helps regulate temperature and keep you dry overnight. The second layer is composed of hypoallergenic natural latex for continuous pressure relief. Next, the latex and moisture barrier foam prevents the buildup of bacteria and allergens. These three layers sit on top of the adjustable air chamber—the component that increases and decreases the firmness of your mattress.

How It Performed

We were thoroughly impressed with the Solaire’s firmness settings. The mattress provided excellent support to our backs and hips without feeling too stiff or soft. We adjusted the firmness until our backs and hips felt adequately supported and had no issues during the night.

It’s Worth Noting

You’ll need an outlet nearby to adjust your mattress’ settings. It's also less soft than you may think, given its memory foam layers and adjustability.

Best Firm Mattress for Pressure ReliefPurple RestorePlus Hybrid Mattress

Our Ratings: Comfort 4.8/5 | Support 5/5 | Sleep Quality 5/5 | Value 5/5

  • Type: Hybrid
  • Sizes: Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King, Split King
  • Price Range: $2,445 – $4,890
  • Firmness Level: Soft (2/10) or Firm (8/10)
  • Depth: 13 inches
  • Delivery: Arrives vacuum-sealed in a purple bag and took two hours to fully expand
  • Warranty and Return Policy: 100-night trial period with free returns; 10-year warranty

Who It’s Best For

The Purple RestorePlus (firm) naturally adjusts to your body's shape as you change positions to alleviate pressure, making it ideal for people who toss and turn.

Why We Like It

The Purple RestorePlus offers some of the best pressure relief out there. Its support zones align your spine and prevent you from sinking into the mattress. However, the foam layers still contour to your body's shape as you change positions and adjust your sleep position.

What It’s Made Of

Purple is known for its gel-infused, grid-like foam that keeps you cool and supported. This mattress features a top layer of Purple's signature foam in addition to denser layers beneath. The individually-wrapped coils help create a supportive base, while the additional perimeter foam prevents sagging. Finally, the mattress is encased in an antimicrobial cover for added protection and breathability.

How It Performed

Though we only tested the firm version of the Purple RestorePlus mattress, we appreciated how well it hugged our bodies. It wasn't bouncy or squishy but provided the perfect support without feeling stiff. After four weeks, our usual joint pain had significantly improved. The mattress also kept us from shifting into uncomfortable positions during the night.

It’s Worth Noting

The sheer weight of the RestorePlus mattress–147 pounds for a queen–makes it difficult to move or adjust, which is one of our only cautions. It had an initial chemical-like odor after unboxing, but it was short-lived and didn't linger.

Our Testing Process

To find the best firm mattresses, we evaluated dozens of top-rated models from leading mattress companies. We tested each one for comfort, support, sleep quality, and value over a period of four weeks. During that time, we also looked at factors like motion transfer, edge support, temperature control, and ease of setup. We also spoke with the following sleep experts to learn more about the type of person who would most likely benefit from a firm mattress:

  • Angelie Mascarinas, MD, board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) doctor with fellowship training in interventional spine and musculoskeletal care, who practices at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
  • Kevin Lees, DC, director of chiropractic operations at The Joint Chiropractic, the nation’s largest chiropractic care provider
  • Ryan Sultan, MD, board-certified child psychiatrist at Integrative Psych in New York, sleep therapist, and professor at Columbia University
  • Danielle Kelvas, MD, chief medical advisor at Sleepline, a sleep resource website

We also considered factors like available sizes, firmness level, depth, delivery, warranty, and return policies. We compared each mattress based on the criteria mentioned above to determine what makes a great firm mattress and narrowed down our list. Our recommendations are thoroughly researched, unbiased, and based on our experience.

More Firm Mattresses to Consider

We also tested these firm mattresses, but they didn’t rate as highly during our testing. However, they may still be of interest to you.

  • Casper Element Pro: The Element Pro is a memory foam mattress with a firm feel. However, it's only available on Amazon due to the company replacing this model with The Casper.
  • Avocado Green Mattress: The upper and mid-back support impressed us, but the odor upon unboxing lasted an entire month.
  • Tuft and Needle Original: It expands almost immediately after unboxing, but our bodies sank into the foam more than we would have liked.

Your Questions, Answered

Is it healthier to sleep on a firm mattress?

This is a matter of personal preference and sleep style. Generally, people who suffer from back pain will benefit more from a firmer mattress because it offers better support for the spine and keeps the sleeper in proper alignment. Additionally, light sleepers or sleepers who share their bed with a partner may prefer a firmer mattress to reduce motion transfer. According to Ryan Sultan, MD, board-certified child psychiatrist at Integrative Psych in New York, sleep therapist, and professor at Columbia University, psychological factors can also play a role. For example, some people may find that a firmer mattress helps with anxiety by providing a sense of stability.

Who is a firm mattress best suited for?

A firm mattress is best suited for those who prefer a hard surface, back and stomach sleepers, people with back pain, and those who share their bed. It’s important to note that you should choose a mattress type based on your individual needs. For example, a firmer mattress may be your best bet if you have medical issues like chronic lower back pain or sciatica. If you’re a side sleeper needing extra support, a medium-firm mattress may be the better choice.

What type of mattress is the firmest?

Traditional innerspring and latex mattresses are typically the firmest mattress options available, according to Dr. Lees and Dr. Sultan. The steel coils in an innerspring mattress provide a very firm, supportive sleeping surface. Latex mattresses are also quite firm due to the dense material and construction. However, mattresses often come in varying firmness options. It's important to research the different models to determine which is best for your body type and sleeping style.

Is a firm mattress good for back pain?

Yes, a firm mattress is often recommended for those with back pain. The firmer surface helps keep your spine aligned and prevents you from sinking into the bed. Excessive sinking leaves you with neck or back pain by the morning, according to Danielle Kelvas, MD, chief medical advisor at Sleepline, a sleep resource website. Additionally, firm mattresses can help reduce pressure points that could lead to aches and pains during the night.

About The Joint Chiropractic

The Joint Corp. revolutionized access to chiropractic care when it introduced its retail health care business model in 2010. Today, it is the nation’s largest operator, manager and franchisor of chiropractic clinics through The Joint Chiropractic network. The company is making quality care convenient and affordable, while eliminating the need for insurance, for millions of patients seeking pain relief and ongoing wellness. With 800+ locations nationwide and nearly 11 million patient visits annually, The Joint Chiropractic is a key leader in the chiropractic industry. Ranked number one on Forbes’ 2022 America’s Best Small Companies list, number three on Fortune’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list and consistently named to Franchise Times “Top 400+ Franchises” and Entrepreneur’s “Franchise 500®” lists, The Joint Chiropractic is an innovative force, where healthcare meets retail. For more information, visit www.thejoint.com.

Business Structure

The Joint Corp. is a franchisor of clinics and an operator of clinics in certain states. In Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming, The Joint Corp. and its franchisees provide management services to affiliated professional chiropractic practices.

Media Contacts

The Joint Corp.
Margie Wojciechowski
[email protected]
Office: (480) 245-5960 x 210
 

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