Best Firm Mattress: 2021 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

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Mattress Guides
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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

  • Our Recommendation: 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

BrandMattress HighlightsPrice
amerisleep as2Amerisleep AS2Clinically proven HIVE® technology promotes healthy sleeping positions and prevents pain.
purple mattressOriginal Purple®Features proprietary Purple Grid™ made with firm-feeling hyper-elastic polymer.

1. Amerisleep AS2

amerisleep as2- best firm mattressOur Editors’ recommend the Amerisleep AS2 as their preferred firm mattress. Amerisleep makes and sells five memory foam mattresses; each model ranges in firmness and is built with different sleepers in mind.

Their AS1 and AS2 are firm and medium-firm, respectively. Then, comes their AS3, a medium mattress, followed by their AS4 and AS5— softer models.

You may be wondering why we didn’t recommend Amerisleep’s AS1, as technically it’s Amerisleep’s firmest mattress; however, the AS1 is lacking in targeted support technology, which contributes to healthy sleep.

Amerisleep integrates HIVE® technology into every one of their mattresses besides their AS1. The reason they don’t integrate HIVE® into the AS1 is that it can take away from the firmness of the AS1; so if you’re looking to “sleep on a rock,” their AS1 is the closest thing to it. That said, we’ll be focusing solely on the AS2 below.

Amerisleep’s AS2, their medium-firm mattress, is recommended to both back and stomach sleepers. It’s also been voted their best mattress for back pain relief because it is soft enough to allow for pressure relief but firm enough to hold your spine in a neutral, healthy position. Let’s look at the design of this bed:

The first layer of the AS2 is 2 inches of Amerisleep’s proprietary Bio-Pur®. When you lay on this layer, it’ll mold to your body and fill the gaps between you and the bed, offering instant comfort and tension relief.

HIVE® technology directly below Bio-Pur® offers extra support, ensuring you won’t sink uncomfortably far into the bed. This layer is made by grouping hexagonal shaped cutouts into five comfort zones within the foam; these hexagons are closer together to feel firmer where you need more support, and farther apart to feel softer where you need more cushion. The design of this technology promotes healthy sleep and prevents your body from falling into unnatural sleep positions.

The last layer of this bed is Amerisleeps’ Bio-Core® foam, a high-density poly-foam core. This layer is designed to be strong and durable, offering firm support to the two layers and sleeper above.

All three of these layers work together to provide sleepers with a comfortable, firm sleeping surface.

Amerisleep also now offers a hybrid version of the AS2. If you want a firm bed with some bouncy give to it, it might be a better match for you then the classic memory foam mattress.

If you buy an Amerisleep bed and decide it’s not suitable for your sleep needs after breaking it in, you have the option to exchange it for a different model or return it for a full refund through their 100-night sleep trial. On the other hand, if you choose to keep your Amerisleep bed because it’s a good match for you, it’s protected for the next 20 years under Amerisleep’s extensive mattress warranty.

Amerisleep AS2 Highlights

  • Pressure-relieving, plant-based memory foam
  • HIVE® technology promotes healthy sleep styles
  • Recommended for lower back pain relief

The Amerisleep AS2 is just one of the many mattresses on sale for Labor Day. For a complete list, check our guide to see the best labor day mattress deals in 2021.

2. Original Purple®

purple mattressThe 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 it’s 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® Highlights

  • Purple Grid™ offers 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.

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.

Legacy Brands

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.

Mattress Types

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.

Sleeping Position

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, the best mattress for side sleepers is medium in firmness to allow 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.

Body Type

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.

Zoned Support

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are firm mattresses bad for side sleepers?

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. A mattress for side sleeping should have a soft to medium feel.

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.

Is it better to have a soft or firm mattress?

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.

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.

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