Though some people wax poetic about sleeping on cloud-like mattresses, the truth is you may be better suited to sleeping on a bed with more support. The best firm mattress is at least medium-firm and made from memory foam or latex to prevent a sinking-in feeling for a more comfortable night’s sleep.
So how firm of a mattress do you need? Firmness is a range, but a medium-firm mattress is considered a universal mattress for most sleepers and offers a balance between contour and support, while a firm mattress provides the most support with absolutely no sinking feeling. Firmer mattresses are more comfortable for back sleepers and stomach sleepers while side sleepers or anyone managing back pain tend to be more comfortable on a less firm mattress. While shopping for a mattress online makes it difficult to evaluate if the one you're eying has the desired firmness you're looking for, reviews can go a long way in providing you with good intel. Bonus points if the mattress comes with a free trial period.
Firm mattresses can come in several different materials, including:
- Memory foam: Memory foam mattresses contour to your body so they feel like they’re cradling you, and this characteristic also is notable for its pain relief, especially at common pressure points in hips and shoulders. This material is also great for anyone who tosses and turns because it absorbs pressure and movement, so it’s the best pick for motion isolation. Traditional memory foam is, however, known for absorbing heat, so keep this in mind if you tend to sleep hot and choose an open-cell or gel-infused memory foam for a more breathable mattress.
- Latex: The most noticeable difference with a latex mattress is its bounce, especially when compared to memory foam. After putting pressure on latex, it has quicker recovery and a springiness to its feel, which means you may feel motion transfer more on the bed if you sleep with a partner. Latex is durable and supportive, but keep in mind it won’t provide as much pressure relief as memory foam. It can also be more expensive than memory foam.
Some mattresses also have certifications, like the GREENGUARD Gold Certification, which has health-based standards including limits on volatile organic compounds (VOC); CertiPUR-US certified, a standard that assures consumers that the item is low VOC and made without things like ozone depleters, flame retardants, heavy metals, or formaldehyde; or STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX, which indicates they're free of harmful substances.
With all this in mind, below are the best firm mattresses. Each one is highly rated on Amazon with thousands of reviews.
1. The Best Medium-Firm Memory Foam Mattress
This high-quality medium-firm mattress is made of cushioned memory foam with an open-cell layer to keep it from getting too hot. This highly rated pick with over 9,000 reviews is GREENGUARD Gold and CertiPUR-US certified, and you can rest easy knowing it's backed by a 100-night trial period. Although this mattress is considered supportive, it maintains a level of softness that contours the body thanks a layer of adaptive foam that relieves pressure but springs back. It also comes with a plush cover that is breathable and cooling. The mattress is available in two depth levels: 10 or 5 inches.
A helpful review: “ [...] I have a bad back from an injury in the Army. I wake up in the middle of the night from back pain often. Since I’ve been using this Tuft & Needle I haven’t woken up once with back pain. I wish I bought this brand years ago. It’s not super soft or hard, it’s like a medium firmness. It supports my back perfectly. I don’t cave into the mattress like my old one. I’m a stomach sleeper and it’s very supportive and I don’t sink into the mattress. I know people have different tastes with mattresses but this one has been a miracle for me. [...]”
- Mattress sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king
2. The Best Firm Gel-Infused Memory Foam Mattress
This gel-infused memory foam mattress is the one if you or a partner sleeps hot as it also has an open-cell top layer for added ventilation and breathability. Its firm support alleviates pain on typical pressure points, according to reviewers. This pick is CertiPUR-US certified and highly rated with more than 3,000 reviews. It is only available in queen size. Many reviewers confirm this mattress is a firm choice, something that can be attributed to a level of gel-infused dense memory foam that is positioned above a second layer of base foam.
A helpful review: “Having suffered from lower back pain for some time now, I figured I'd just have to deal with it. Every morning I get up and felt a little sore and [have] little hope that it would dissipate. As a start I revisited my mattress as a possible cause. Thankfully I did! Doing Lots of research and reading hundreds of reviews, I decided to purchase this mattress. I can unequivocally say that this was one of the best decisions I've ever made! Even after the first night I noticed that my lower back felt as if a weight had been lifted off! I wake up with a spring in my step. [...] The mattress is firm and supportive yet the upper gel memory foam layer allows a little give. [...]”
3. The Best Extra-Firm Latex Mattress
Though this mattress is the priciest of my picks, it's worth noting that this one is actually relatively affordable for latex mattresses, which can easily cost between $1,300 and $3,000. This extra-firm mattress is made of 100% natural latex and is GREENGUARD Gold Certified and rated STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX. And remember, latex is more durable than the more ubiquitous memory foam so don't be surprised it this mattress stands the test of time. This mattress also comes with a quality quilted cover designed with organic cotton and organic New Zealand wool.
A helpful review: "I have lower back problems, so I thought a firm mattress would help, after doing some research in 100% latex mattress this one was the affordable version, I have it now for almost a month and yes, [it] is firm, I had other mattresses where I could feel every movement, every sunken part and every spring, I'm not joking I've had some bad nights. At fist I could notice the smell, but with time it will disappear, and yes at the beginning it was weird to have a firm mattress but now I'm so happy with it, now I can't feel when my husband leaves (I'm a light sleeper)."
- Mattress sizes: twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king
4. The Best On A Budget: A Gel-Infused Firm Mattress With Three Depth Levels
This firm mattress is indeed firm but with a plush feel, and it's made of CertiPUR-US certified memory foam, which helps cushion shoulders and hips. It comes in three depth levels so you can choose the one that best suits your sleeping style: 8 inches is available in full and queen sizes, or you can select 10 or 12 inches in any mattress size. This highly rated mattress, with over 7,000 reviews, is infused with cooling gel and charcoal for extra pressure relief and breathability, and it has a layer of green tea-ventilated foam for added comfort, support, and firmness.
A helpful review: “[...] Im a side sleeper but feeling my back on this beauty was really comforting, after a few mins I was ready to knock out so I turned to my side and surprise, the firmness on this bed didnt let me sink on the bed so I thought i was gonna have a hard time. 2 mins later I knocked out like a baby! (The good babies that go to sleep in a minute and stay like that for hours), [...] my lower back and hip soreness didnt go away in one night but It does feel surprisingly better. I always say that Im gonna hit the gym early and I end up moving my lethargic body from bed to the couch feeling lazy, However today I feel great . Its been only one night but the difference is astonishing. [...]”
- Mattress sizes: twin, full, queen, king, California king