Best Firm Mattresses of 2021
When deciding how firm your mattress should be, consider your sleep style and recurring pain points. If you’re a side sleeper, you may need a softer mattress than you’re used to. Alternatively, if you experience lower back pain, you may be perfect for a firm mattress.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the main things to consider when deciding how firm your bed should be and then touch upon our firm mattress recommendations.
30 Second Summary: Best Firm Mattress
- Amerisleep AS2 — The Amerisleep AS2 is our Editors’ Choice as the best firm mattress because it offers adequate support to hold your spine in a neutral position and support healthy sleep positions.
Best Firm Mattresses of 2021
|Amerisleep AS2||HIVE® technology promotes healthy sleeping positions and prevents pain.|
|Amerisleep AS1||Minimal two-layer design for extra-firm feel, keeping sleepers on top of the mattress.|
|Amerisleep AS2 Hybrid||Pocketed coils provide responsive bounce and edge support.|
|Original Tuft & Needle||Features graphite and cooling gels to keep you at a comfortable temperature.|
|Helix Dawn Luxe||Firm hybrid mattress with targeted support and cool gel foam.|
|Plank Mattress by Brooklyn Bedding||Flippable mattress with firm and extra-firm sides for different styles.|
|Original Purple®||Features proprietary Purple Grid™ made with firm-feeling hyper-elastic polymer.|
Best Firm Mattress Overall: Amerisleep AS2
Our favorite firm memory foam mattress is Amerisleep’s AS2 because it is both supportive and contouring, so it has a nice firm feel but still offers some comfort and pressure relief. Not to mention, it contains a dynamic zoned support layer to promote healthy sleep positions and eliminate aches and pains.
Amerisleep’s AS2 is ranked medium-firm on the firmness scale and is recommended for back and stomach sleepers, but side sleepers who need a little extra support can also get comfy sleep on this bed.
The medium-firm AS2 has three layers: 2 inches of Bio-Pur®, 3 inches of Affinity with HIVE® technology, and 7 inches of Bio-Core® base foam.
The comfort layer in this bed, Bio-Pur®, is plant-based memory foam, so it provides all the pressure-relieving benefits of regular memory foam but is made with plant-based oils instead of petroleum.
The layer below, Affinity, is a responsive transition foam with targeted cutouts. The HIVE® technology in this layer provides firmer support for the head, lumbar area, and legs while allowing for deeper compression under heavier parts of your body, such as the shoulders and hips. This technology is what makes this bed so great for eliminating back pain and encouraging healthier sleep positions.
The base layer of this bed, Bio-Core®, is durable and strong; so strong that Amerisleep is able to offer a 20-year warranty with their AS2 (and all of their mattress models).
Amerisleep is an online mattress brand, but they also have showrooms located throughout the country, so you can shop their beds online or in-store. No matter how you buy, Amerisleep offers a 20-year warranty, 100-night sleep trial, and free shipping with every bed.
- Pressure-relieving, plant-based memory foam
- HIVE® technology promotes healthy sleep styles
- Recommended for lower back pain relief
Best Extra Firm Mattress: Amerisleep AS1
For some sleepers, the AS2 mattress just doesn’t feel firm enough. For example, a stomach sleeper might prefer a firmer mattress that buoys their bodies and reduces the chances of sinkage while they sleep. Such sleepers might want to consider the Amerisleep AS1 mattress, with its basic two-layer design that encourages a truly firm surface.
The Amerisleep AS1 mattress possesses a top layer of Bio-Pur® foam and a bottom layer of Bio-Core® foam. The Bio-Pur® layer is 2 inches thick, ensuring adequate cushion for pressure relief without detracting from the mattress’s firm feel. As we previously mentioned, Bio-Pur® foam is more eco-friendly than traditional memory foam.
The Bio-Core® base is 8 inches thick, ensuring the mattress is unlikely to sag even after years of use. Amerisleep credits Bio-Core® foam’s durability as the reason they can offer a generous warranty with all of their memory foam mattresses.
The Amerisleep AS1 includes no-contact shipping for free. Once the mattress arrives at your door, you have 100 nights to try it out and a 20-year warranty guaranteeing its comfort.
- Minimal two-layer design for added firm feel
- Bio-Core® base establishes firmness and mattress longevity
- Low mattress profile ensures bed isn't too tall
Best Firm Hybrid Mattress: Amerisleep AS2 Hybrid
Next on our list is the hybrid variation of Amerisleep’s AS2. Like the original memory foam model, the AS2 Hybrid is rated medium-firm and feels comfortable for back sleepers and side sleepers who need extra support. The biggest difference between the all-foam AS2 and the AS2 Hybrid is the hybrid’s pocketed coil layer—instead of Bio-Core®, the hybrid contains an 8-inch coil system to deliver all-over support and isolate motion. Let’s talk more about how the AS2 and AS2 Hybrid differ.
For starters, the AS2 Hybrid has four layers instead of three. The hybrid includes 2 inches of Bio-Pur®, 1 inch of Affinity foam (without HIVE®), an 8-inch pocketed coil system, and a 1-inch base layer. Although the hybrid doesn’t contain HIVE® technology, Amerisleep designs their pocketed coil system to provide responsive support and adapt with your movements, so the AS2 Hybrid can still facilitate healthy sleep positions, resist sinkage, and prevent morning aches and pains. Another perk? The hybrid’s coil layer enhances the bed’s overall edge support and improves airflow, making this bed an excellent option for heavy sleepers and hot sleepers.
So how does the AS2 Hybrid feel? The comfort layer of the AS2 contours to your body ever so slightly to alleviate aches and pains—so sleepers can enjoy some cushion on this firm bed. The Affinity layer and pocketed coil system below the Bio-Pur® increase the bed’s bounciness. Then, the base foam at the very bottom of the bed supports the layers above to prolong the mattress’s lifespan.
Like the memory foam AS2, Amerisleep offers free, no-contact shipping, a 100-night sleep trial, and a 20-year warranty with their AS2 Hybrid.
AMERISLEEP AS2 HYBRID
- Features breathable memory foam and open coils to promote cool sleep
- Contains double-density coils around the left and right sides for added support
- Responsive Affinity offers even more lift to enhance firmness
Best Budget Firm Mattress: Tuft & Needle Mattress
If you’re shopping for an inexpensive firm mattress, the Original Tuft & Needle Mattress is right up your alley. Tuft & Needle’s flagship model is 10 inches thick, medium-firm, and costs $695 for a queen size. T&N designs their mattress as a “one-size-fits-all” sleep solution, but we only recommend this bed for back and stomach sleepers since it can feel a little too firm for most side sleepers.
Tuft & Needle makes their Original Mattress with two layers, including 3 inches of proprietary T&N Adaptive® Foam and a 7-inch core. T&N’s Adaptive® Foam is a high-tech poly-foam meant to feel like a blend of memory foam and latex—it’s contouring but also responsive and lifting. Tuft & Needle even incorporates cooling gel and graphite in this layer to combat body heat and keep sleepers cool. If you tend to get night sweats during sleep, you may like the added cooling effect these infusions provide.
The base layer of this mattress is sturdy and long-lasting, it’s meant to resist wear and tear and keep sleepers comfortable. Tuft & Needle also backs their beds with a 10-year warranty so you can feel confident in your purchase.
Tuft & Needle mattresses are sold in T&N showrooms, select Walmart locations, and at Lowe’s Home Improvement stores. They can also be bought on the T&N website and Amazon. In addition to their 10-year mattress warranty, Tuft & Needle also offers free shipping and a 100-night sleep trial with every mattress purchase.
TUFT & NEEDLE MATTRESS
- Contains cooling foams to prevent night sweats
- Designed for universal comfort
- Available in-stores and online
Best Firm Cooling Mattress: Helix Dawn Luxe
Firm mattresses tend to stay cool at night because they conform less to a sleeper’s body than a softer mattress. Since a firm bed doesn’t hug a sleeper’s body, it absorbs less heat from a person. However, we’ve singled out the Helix Dawn Luxe for its numerous added cooling features. As the name suggests, the Dawn Luxe is an upgraded version of Helix’s original Dawn model.
For added comfort, the Dawn Luxe features a quilted pillow top with a Tencel™
cover. Tencel™ promotes a breathable sleep surface with its natural materials. Next is a layer of gel foam to contour to the body for cushioned support. The contouring feel is bolstered by the underlying layer of Helix Dynamic Foam, a material that lofts back and stomach sleepers.
The Dawn Luxe’s transition layer is ergonomic poly-foam, supported by over a thousand wrapped coils. The coils are arranged to feel more conforming under the shoulders and firmer under the hips to support a proper spine alignment. The coil layer also offers edge support, making it simple to move in and out of bed. A base layer of DuraDense foam structures the overall mattress.
Helix’s mattresses are sold online and in select mattress showrooms. The Helix Dawn Luxe is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 15-year limited warranty.
HELIX DAWN LUXE
- Cooling, airy Tencel™ fabric cover
- Reactive and contouring Helix Dynamic Foam
- Numerous pocketed coils with zoned support
Best Firm Dual-Side Mattress: Plank Mattress by Brooklyn Bedding
Plenty of flippable mattresses offer a different feel on each side, but normally one side feels soft and the other side is firm. The Plank Mattress is a notable exception, with both sides offer an uncompromising firm feel.
One side is firmer than the other, allowing you the opportunity to experiment and decide which feel you prefer. Both sides can be covered with phase change fabric for a cool-to-the-touch-surface.
From the firm side down, the bed possesses a 1.5-inch thick quilted top. Underneath the quilted top is 2 inches of TitanFlex™ comfort foam with a firm feel that nonetheless compresses under the body.
The support core is 7 inches of high-density base foam. The extra-firm side has a 0.75-inch quilted top for minimal loft.
The Plank Mattress includes a 120-night trial and a 10-year warranty.
PLANK BY BROOKLYN BEDDING
- Firm and extra-firm side for different sleep styles
- Cooling panels promote temperature-neutral surface
- Flat sleep surface promotes ideal spine alignment
Best Firm Foam Mattress: Original Purple®
The last mattress on our list is the Original Purple®. Purple® is another popular online mattress brand that launched only a few years back. When they first debuted, they only sold their all-foam flagship model, Purple®. However, this year, they released three hybrid versions of their namesake model.
Their firmest bed, though, is their original Purple®. Let’s talk about the design of this mattress.
The Purple® mattress was designed to be the world’s first-ever “No-Pressure” bed. The founders of Purple® even patented a new material to use in their beds, hyper-elastic polymer. Purple® fashions this material into a mattress-sized grid to create their bed’s Purple Grid™.
Every Purple® mattress contains the Purple Grid™ as its comfort layer. This grid promotes airflow through the mattress, minimizes motion transfer, and relieves pressure points for exceptional pain relief. Plus, because Purple® designs their beds for universal comfort, this grid can adapt to most sleep styles and body types.
The second layer of the Purple® mattress is a transition layer of cushioning poly-foam to act as a barrier between the Purple Grid™ and the core of the mattress. Last but not least, the base of the mattress is a solid, high-density poly-foam to give the bed added support and reinforce its shape.
Purple® mattresses can be bought online or at select Mattress Firm locations, and every bed comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
- Purple Grid™ offers a variety of sleep-promoting benefits
- Designed to be a "No-Pressure" mattress
- Compatible with all sleep styles
Things to Consider When Finding the Best Firm Mattress
If only finding the most comfortable mattress was as simple as declaring you want a firm bed, and choosing one out of the hundreds to try. Unfortunately, the process is a bit more complicated than so.
It’s best to shop for your individual sleep needs, such as the right mattress for your sleeping position and body type. Firmer mattresses are usually the bed of choice for heavy people or those who like to sleep on their back or stomach. Side sleepers and petite people should shop for a softer mattress that can conform to their bodies.
How firm a bed feels varies greatly by who is laying on it. Meaning, what may feel firm to one person, may not feel the exact same to the next— this can make buying a mattress for a couple tricky. Below, we’ll discuss what specifically to account for before choosing your next firm mattress.
If you prefer to shop in-store, you can find an assortment of firm mattresses sold by legacy brands. Most mattress retailers carry these big name brands and more, so you’re bound to find quite a bit of variety.
A perk to buying with big name brands is that they make and carry most of their mattress models in a variety of firmness levels. Meaning, you can pinpoint the features you’re looking for in a mattress, then choose the firm option of the model you like. This takes the focus away from finding a firm bed that meets your sleep needs and allows you to focus on the features of the bed itself.
Plus, most of these big name brands receive glowing reviews and come with a sleep trial period, allowing you to shop in confidence.
Before you can choose the best firm mattress for your particular needs, take a step back and consider different mattress types. There are four main types of mattresses: memory foam, latex, innerspring, and hybrid. All of these mattress types are made in a variety of firmness levels.
Memory foam mattresses are some of the best for alleviating chronic pains. If you frequently suffer from neck or back pains, these beds are probably best for you. Memory foam contours to your body unlike any other material to relieve pressure and tension. These beds can adapt to almost any body type or sleep style, so they’re an option for just about every kind of sleeper.
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly or hypoallergenic bed, latex mattresses are great for you. Like memory foam, latex is cushioning and pressure-relieving; however, latex is more responsive than memory foam and creates a different feel from your mattress. Many regard latex as feeling firmer than memory foam due to it’s increased responsiveness. These beds offer a more lifting, “on the bed” feel in comparison to other foam beds.
Innerspring mattresses are defined by their coil system. These beds don’t contain layers of foam, so any cushioning comfort these beds provide come from their cover. Innerspring beds are bouncy and do not conform to your body. Often, these beds cannot isolate motion well. If you like a bouncy bed and don’t want a mattress with conforming foam layers, an innerspring can be a fit for you.
Hybrid mattresses combine the comfort of foam layers with the responsiveness of a pocketed coil system. If you’re a fan of the bounciness an innerspring mattress provides, but also need cushioning comfort, choose a hybrid. Because these beds combine multiple high-quality materials to create a dynamic sleep surface, they’re usually a bit pricier.
How you sleep also influences how firm your mattress should be. Typically stomach and back sleepers are more comfortable on firmer mattresses because they hold your body in a neutral position and aid in maintaining a healthy spine.
On the other hand, firm mattresses are typically not the bed of choice for a side sleeper. Side sleepers need a bed that can relieve pressure in their joints, particularly in their hips and shoulders. The best mattresses for side sleepers have a soft to medium feel, allowing the hips and shoulders to compress in the bed. When side sleepers sleep on firmer mattresses, they don’t always let the hips and shoulders to sink into the bed adequately, which can result in pressure points and chronic pains.
Your height, weight, and build can impact how a bed molds to your body and supports you. If you don’t bring much weight to the mattress, it may seem like many beds feel firm.
However, if you’re on the heavier side, or have a weight above 250 pounds, you’ll probably find most beds feel soft and unsupportive.
Firm mattresses do well when it comes to fostering a healthy spine, but firm mattresses with built-in zoned support do much better. Zoned support reinforces proper spinal alignment, enhances support in the lumbar region of your body, and offers relief for pressure points.
What About Firm Pillows?
Some sleepers considering a firm mattress may also be wondering about their pillows. Is a firm pillow better than a soft pillow, despite a plush pillow often being touted as the ideal accessory? Like a firm mattress, a firm pillow isn’t for everyone; it may improve one person’s sleep but worsen another’s, depending on their sleep style.
Side sleepers are one group that benefits from using a thick, firm pillow. A side sleeper’s head must not dip too far into their pillow since the lack of support can misalign their cervical spine and cause neck pain. Pillows with a firm feel and high loft are well suited for side sleepers.
However, back sleepers often feel most comfortable on soft pillows that cradle their heads and support their necks. A too-firm pillow can raise their neck out of alignment, leaving the back sleeper with a sore neck or shoulder pain in the morning. Some back sleepers may even want to buy cervical pillows with hollows for their heads.
Stomach sleepers can benefit from using a thin, firm pillow under their heads. However, some stomach sleepers feel perfectly comfortable sleeping without a head pillow. Sleeping with a firm pillow under their abdomen can also minimize a stomach sleeper’s chances of sinking too far into their bed and misaligning their spine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a firm mattress good for back pain?
A firm mattress can prevent or alleviate back pain by minimizing the body sinkage that misaligns the spine. However, a too-firm mattress can also cause pressure to build up in the lower back, causing or worsening back pain. Research suggests that a medium-firm feel strikes the right balance when it comes to back pain.
Do firm mattresses get softer?
Yes, a brand new mattress tends to soften up as you break it in. If you find after a few nights your mattress still feels uncomfortably firm, try walking across the bed for a few minutes every day.
Mattresses also tend to soften with age as the years pass. If your mattress no longer offers the support it once did, you can try firming up its feel with a mattress topper until you’re ready to buy a new mattress.
How can you tell if your mattress is too firm?
Does your mattress feels like it’s pressing hard up against you night after night? Then it might be too firm for you to sleep comfortably. Even a firm bed should let you sink in a little bit for pressure and pain relief. If you find yourself waking up with a sore back or hips, the culprit might be a too-firm bed.
Who should sleep on a firm mattress?
Not every sleeper benefits from lying on a firm bed. Back, stomach, and obese sleepers often rest better on a firm, supportive mattress. Side sleepers and lightweight people usually need a softer mattress to experience pressure relief.
What types of mattresses are the most firm?
Most mattress types are available in a variety of firmnesses, so it’s difficult to label one as the “most firm.” Innerspring mattresses tend to have a naturally firm feel because they usually possess a thin layer of cushion, but hybrids and foam mattresses can possess a similarly hard feel with the right foams and support layers. Often, the simplest way to narrow down your options is to ask yourself if you would prefer a bouncy or cradling feel.
Did You Find Your Next Bed?
We hope this guide has helped point you towards the most comfortable mattress for your own sleeping needs. Remember, consider your own body type and sleep style before taking a shot in the dark regarding how firm your bed should be. If you buy the wrong bed, it can result in uncomfortable nights, unhealthy sleep positions, and recurring pains. Choose the healthiest option for yourself by reading online mattress reviews and buying guides, and shop in confidence knowing most brands offer generous sleep trials with their beds— helping you make the best decision for yourself.