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The Best Firm Mattresses to Melt Away Aches and Pains

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For some, enveloping yourself in a cloud-like bed of plushness is the key to a good night’s sleep. For others, the idea of sinking into a mattress is about as appealing as skydiving into a black hole. If you fall into the latter category—or if you’re suffering from severe back pain—you’re probably looking for the best firm mattress that money can buy. Luckily, we’ve done all the research and review-sleuthing for you. Below, find the 10 best firm mattresses for every type of sleeper, plus expert advice on how to choose the best one for your sleep style.

THE BEST FIRM MATTRESSES, AT A GLANCE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A FIRM MATTRESS

1. Firmness level: The first question you should ask yourself is, *how* firm do I need this mattress to be? According to clinical sleep health expert Terry Cralle, RN: “A firm mattress [has] little or no indentation when you sit or lay on it…Extra firm mattresses will have no indentation, and medium-firm mattresses will show little indentation under body weight.” She also explains how mattress firmness is measured on a scale from one to ten (where level one is the softest, and 10 tends to be hard as a rock). So below, Cralle breaks down three of the firmest levels you can choose from:

  • Medium-firm (levels 6-7): Medium-firm mattresses feature adequate softness at the top to relieve pressure on your body. These are the best option for side sleepers, where they offer ample support for your feet, spine and head.
  • Firm (levels 7-8): Firm mattresses often feature a sturdy coil system coupled with several layers of compressed and upholstery. Such mattresses deliver minimal sinkage, making them the best choice for back sleepers.
  • Extra-firm (levels 9-10): Extra-firm mattresses have a strong foundation that is tailored to absorb weight and motion. They also have remarkable edge support, which means you won’t have to worry about it sagging.

2. Support and sleep type: First and foremost, what do you need most from your mattress? If you suffer from chronic back pain, you’ll want to prioritize a mattress that can offer support. Or, if you’re a side sleeper, you’ll want to look for something that can mold to your body and offer pressure relief. Dr. Frank Siraguso of Revive Chiropractic writes: “One question I hear often is, ‘What is the best mattress for back pain?’ My answer is always the same: You need a medium-firm, hybrid, memory foam or latex mattress.” Indeed, according to a recent study, patients with medium-firm mattresses reported an improvement in chronic low back pain, while extra-firm mattresses proved to be better for spinal alignment. “Back sleepers with aches and pains would benefit from a firm or ultra-firm mattress because of its added support. A side sleeper would benefit from a medium-firm mattress because of its pressure relief,” Dr. Siraguso adds. However, “a hard mattress does not equal a firm mattress. In fact, a hard mattress could increase your back pain by not allowing proper relief from your pressure points. A firm mattress will have an equal amount of both support and pressure relief.”

3. Materials: Speaking of mattress types, make sure you’re clear on which materials will offer you the most comfort. “A medium-firm hybrid mattress made of pocketed coils and several layers of memory foam or latex materials would work great for most conditions, like chronic back pain or a bad back,” says Dr. Siraguso. “Latex mattresses are typically more buoyant than memory foam mattresses. This means that they adjust to your sleep position a little quicker, and are more responsive than traditional memory foam, making latex mattresses best for side sleepers.” He also mentions the cooling benefits of latex, which is a bonus if you’re a sweaty sleeper. “Latex is less dense and usually an open-celled material. This allows for better airflow and cool sleeping,” Dr. Siraguso explains. It’s worth mentioning, however, that latex can get pricey. So, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly alternative, gel memory foam uses phase-changing technology that’s proven to draw heat away from your body and provide a cooler night’s sleep.

4. Trial period and returns: One of the perks of buying a mattress online is that you don’t need to spend a Saturday hopping from bed to bed in-store (with an eager salesperson breathing down your neck). Nowadays, most companies offer a trial period that can span from 30 to 90 days, depending on the brand. Otherwise, most retailers offer a 30-plus-day return period if you’re not feeling the mattress after a few weeks. Just be sure to check that policy applies to your model (AKA: read the fine print). Furthermore, if you’re ordering through Amazon, ensure you’re reading the vendor’s specific return policies.

HOW WE CHOSE OUR PICKS FOR THE BEST FIRM MATTRESSES

After researching the top-reviewed mattresses on the web, we vetted them based on the type of sleep support, which materials they used, that they had a 6+ level of firmness and whether they had a trial period and 30-day-plus return policy.

The 11 Best Mattresses in a Box of 2022


Dreamcloud

1. Dreamcloud Luxury Firm Hybrid Mattress

Best Overall

  • Firmness level: 6.5 (medium-firm)
  • Return Policy: DreamCloud offers a 365-night trial, which means if you find a flaw—or hate the way the mattress feels—they’ll fix, replace or fully refund you for your mattress within the one-year trial period.

Let’s just get one thing out of the way: This is the ostrich Birkin bag of firm mattresses. With a 4.8-star rating and more than 7,900 reviews, DreamCloud’s hybrid has everyone raving about its unprecedented levels of supportive, pressure-relieving comfort. It’s designed with five supportive layers—which include gel memory foam and an innerspring coil system—and it’s ideal for couples who have different sleeping styles.

On one hand, the mattress has individually encased support coils and a sturdy foam foundation base to provide that solid-and-firm feel you’re looking for. Yet, on the other, it features a cashmere blend cover and top layers of CertiPUR-US foam for pressure relief that conforms to your body. “Perfect for couples,” one reviewer says. “The combo of foam on top of individual inner springs gives us just what we were looking for in comfort and firmness. Great back support for me while being soft enough for her. It’s cool in the summer, warm in the winter and transfers very little motion from one sleeper to the other.”

Amazon

2. Linenspa 10-inch Hybrid Mattress

Best Budget

  • Firmness level: 7 (firm)
  • Return Policy: The item is shipped through Amazon, which allows you to return your mattress—no questions asked—within 30 days.

If you’re looking for a firm hybrid on a budget, *this* is your guy. Designed with a thick layer of memory foam and an open coil system, Linenspa’s 10-inch mattress combines the support and stability of innerspring coils with the contoured, pressure relief of memory foam. It also features a special comfort foam in the middle, which reduces coil movement and makes the mattress less bouncy (without taking away from its overall responsiveness). “I really like how I sink into the memory foam topper [of this mattress]. It’s warm, but it doesn’t make me sweat. It’s not bouncy when I roll over. And it doesn’t make a single noise when moving about on the mattress. No clicks, pings or squeaks. I can’t believe the quality of sleep I get for what I’ve spent on this mattress,” writes one reviewer.

Tempurpedic

3. Tempur-pedic Proadapt Medium Hybrid Mattress

Best For Back Pain

  • Firmness level: 5-7 (medium-firm)
  • Return Policy: Tempur-Pedic offers a 90-day trial period, and if you don't love your new mattress, they’ll refund your money after 30-days (shipping charges not included). However, the retailer also offers a 10-year warranty that protects your mattress from future damage.

“This is the exact mattress I sleep on and what I recommend to all my patients,” writes Dr. Siraguso. And if you still need something to justify this mattress’s lofty price tag, its 4.5-star rating with more than 6,500 reviews speak for itself. What makes this model so unique is that it’s a memory foam hybrid mattress that provides a balance between support and pressure relief (so you don’t have to choose). It has several layers of premium high-density premium memory foam, along with proprietary hybrid inner coil technology (developed by NASA, no less) that gives you the support and proper spinal alignment you need throughout the night. What’s more, it uses cooling yarns in the exterior portion of the cover that allows heat to escape. Not to mention that its memory foam is constructed with an open-celled design, which allows heat to disperse without getting trapped. “Most reviews are from people who are either sharing their experience of pain relief and a better night sleep, or raving about TEMPUR-Pedic’s customer service. I can attest to both, because both personally and professionally I have seen that they make the best mattresses for back pain,” Dr. Siraguso adds.

Saatva

4. Saatva Luxury Firm Classic Mattress

Best Medium-Firm

  • Firmness level: 5-7 (medium-firm)
  • Return Policy: Saatva offers a 365-night trial, and for the first 2 years, the retailer will replace your mattress with a new one at no extra charge. Otherwise, if you're not completely happy with your purchase, the company charges a $99 processing fee for return pickups.

Looking for something splurge-worthy? This luxury pick was awarded 94 points out of 100 in a PureWow100 review for its combo platter of comfortable and body-supporting elements. “The entire layer-cake of its construction is engineered to provide support where your back needs it most—the top is extra-quilted in the lumbar region, and there are additional lumbar supports made of wire and high-density memory foam. The mattress has two additional layers totaling 1,300 coils in two different steel densities to keep you supported and floating on the mattress, not slurped down into it,” writes editor Dana Dickey. “Since my first night on my Saatva, I’ve noticed I regularly dream more, which leads me to believe I’m sinking faster and longer into what neuroscience says is the recuperative REM dream state. I wake up feeling more refreshed, and frankly, I drift off to sleep faster, since I’m not tossing and turning to feel comfortable.” Oh, and did we mention that this guy comes with free in-home delivery, where a team will set the mattress right atop your frame?

Plank

5. Plank Firm Mattress

Best Extra-Firm

  • Firmness level: 8-10 (extra-firm)
  • Return Policy: Brooklyn Bedding offers a 120-night trial on all mattresses, where they’ll include free shipping on delivery, exchanges and returns. It also comes with a 10-year warranty that protects your mattress from damages or dents in the future.

If you’re a back sleeper who’s in need of some extra support, the plank mattress is about as firm as they come. It’s engineered to create a neutral spine position that’s better for your back and posture, helping to reduce pressure on your circulatory system and increase your oxygen flow (according to the manufacturer). What’s most impressive, however, is that it features a flippable design; the top side of the mattress offers a level 10 (AKA ultra-firm) feel, while the bottom side is measured at a firm level 8.

“If you were to break a bone and have it put in a cast, that this is what this bed does for your back. It really feels like it is being healed and properly reset. The first time I [slept] on it, I could feel the intense tension in multiple parts of my back. It took about 15-20 minutes for it to settle in before I fell asleep,” shares one reviewer. “I woke up pain-free for the first time in a long time, and after the first two weeks, I made it through the entire day without the slightest back pain.”

Nectar

6. Nectar Mattress

Best Hybrid

  • Firmness level: 6.5 (medium-firm)
  • Return Policy: Nectar offers a 365-day trial period and allows you to return unboxed mattresses after 30 days (not including fees for shipping or white glove delivery).

Yet another PureWow100 favorite, this hybrid mattress scored 93 points out of 100 for its supportive layers and pain-relieving abilities. It features five layers that are intended to relieve common pressure points while providing soft, ‘sink-into-me’ support. What’s more, it has a top layer of gel-infused memory foam that helps regulate temperature and draw heat away from the body. “After a few nights of sleeping on the soft, yet supportive layers of memory foam, I was impressed. My middle back pain was gone, and I noticed that I fell asleep in a few minutes flat instead of tossing and turning like I was used to. This side sleeper was content,” writes one former editor. An added bonus? It’s a bed-in-a-box mattress that’s super easy to set up (just unbox and let and it breathe).

Sealy

7. Cocoon By Sealy Chill Mattress

Best Cooling

  • Firmness level: 6 (firm)
  • Return Policy: Sealy offers a 100-night trial, where they’ll refund your money, pick it up for free, and donate the mattress to a local charity—no questions asked. Plus, it comes with a 10-year warranty.

Sealy is a tried-and-true brand that’s been around for years. But we have to say; its new hybrid mattress is a total game-changer. It can provide as much cooling as it does comfort, where its premium stretch-knit cover is infused with phase-change material that helps regulate your temperature as you fall asleep. Under the cooling cover, however, there are also three other layers of memory foam, coiling and support, making for a Goldilocks feel that’s firm yet adaptable. One reviewer writes: “The [mattress] actually keeps a cooler temperature and reduces sweating during sleep. It also helps my back de-stress and fall into sleep immediately when laying down. I never want to get out of it in the morning!”

Bear Mattress

8. Bear Original Mattress

Best Memory Foam

  • Firmness level: 7 (firm)
  • Return Policy: Bear gives you a 120-night sleep trial, where they’ll refund your mattress—free of charge. It also comes with a lifetime warranty, which is rare for most manufacturers.

If you’re looking for an all-memory foam mattress that can still give some support, Bear’s original mattress is your guy. Its four layers of foam offer a combination of support and pressure relief, giving people with aches and pains the best of both worlds. What’s more, it features a Celliant cover that helps disperse heat and keep the mattress cool throughout the night.

“[This mattress] is super firm, but it doesn't have a hard surface. Before this, I had been sleeping on a very hard springs mattress that would hurt my hip or shoulder bones when I slept on my side,” shares one reviewer. “The Bear has a top layer that is gentle to my bones while also being super supportive. I like to sleep on my stomach, so I [like how the mattress doesn’t] immediately give in. My other requirement was that it wouldn't transmit movement, and it absolutely doesn't.”

Helix

9. Helix Midnight Luxe Mattress

Best Pillow-Top

  • Firmness level: 4-7 (medium-firm)
  • Return Policy: Helix offers a 100-night trial period; if, after the first 30 days you are unhappy with your mattress, you can return it for a full refund (as long as it's still within the 100-day period). In other words, between days 31-100. It also comes with a 15-year limited warranty (which gives you specific legal rights and covers all manufacturing defects).

This model is Helix’s best-seller for a reason: It features all the hybrid qualities side sleepers love (pressure-relieving memory foam, body-cradling wrapped coils and increased airflow), but the top and middle mattress layers are developed to give you the perfect support and spine alignment, even in the fetal position. One reviewer raves: “We went with this model for two reasons: 1) We wanted a hybrid mattress. I am a hot sleeper, I wanted to avoid full foam. We have not yet had the opportunity to try in summer, but so far, temperature control feels great. 2) We wanted something soft, but not a sinker. Again, this mattress has more than fulfilled that. You get good resistance and support, without just falling into it and contorting. I have not woken up with back pain since the day we got it, and this was consistently a problem for me on the old, spring-only mattress.”

Birch

10. Birch Natural Mattress

Best Latex

  • Firmness level: 6-7 (firm)
  • Return Policy: Birch offers a 100-night trial period; if after the first 30 days you are unhappy with your mattress, you can return it for a full refund (as long as it's still within the 100-day period, so basically, days 31 through 100). It also comes with a 25-year limited warranty.

Finally, a latex mattress that’s perfect for anyone who’s looking for a firm, eco-friendly alternative. The mattress is handmade to order for an entirely customizable sleep experience, which offers layers of organic cotton, birch wool, Talalay latex and steel innerspring coils. Not to mention that it retains its shape, regulates body temperature and is naturally flame retardant (hello, peace of mind). “Not too hard-not too soft, [this mattress] is just the right amount of support. No more pain upon waking, and since it’s organic, there were no worries about "off gassing" (which was one of the biggest selling features for me). I am super sensitive to smells, and there was absolutely NO odor from the mattress,” writes one reviewer.


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