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There are few things in the world as contentious as the best mattress. Most of us fall squarely into the “firm” or “plush” camp, and we’re not going to be persuaded otherwise. For firm mattress lovers, the support of sleeping on a hardwood floor sounds like heaven, while those who prefer something softer wouldn’t dare. But we’d argue they probably just haven’t found the right firm mattress.
The best firm mattress offers serious support, especially for back and stomach sleepers looking to keep their spines and bodies properly aligned throughout the night. This is in contrast to plusher mattresses with more give for better pain and pressure relief that side sleepers typically love. Firm mattresses typically don’t minimize (or “isolate”) motion transfer as well as their plusher counterparts, either, which can be a problem for anyone sharing a bed. But the best firm mattresses compromise on comfort and support, so they can satisfy all (or at least most) sleepers
We spent hundreds of hours—both asleep and awake—testing dozens of top-selling firm mattresses from budget mattress in a box brands, premium mattress makers, and everyone in between. These are the best firm mattresses worth buying in 2023.
Who Is a Firm Mattress Best for?
Like “comfort,” firmness is subjective. What’s firm to your significant other might feel too soft for you, and vice versa. Firmness can vary widely between manufacturers too. In general, these are the things to consider when shopping for a firm mattress:
Sleep position—whether you prefer to sleep on your side, stomach, back, or a mix of the three—is the biggest deciding factor in which mattress firmness is best for you. Stomach and back sleepers will want more support and a firmer mattress; side sleepers typically like soft/plush or medium-firmness models. There are no firm rules (pun intended), which is why we always recommend trying in person when possible, even if you ultimately plan to buy online.
While it’s ultimately a personal preference, heavier people tend to prefer firmer mattresses. Soft or plush models often don’t feel supportive enough, and they may feel as though they’re “sinking in.” Smaller or lightweight sleepers typically feel the opposite. They may find firm mattresses too hard and like they’re sleeping on top of the mattress rather than cradled in it.
Consider your partner
Those sharing their sleep space with a partner or child (or dog) will likely need to think about their mattress firmness preferences too. That usually means finding a compromise in the form of a medium-firm mattress in the 5-6 range on a firmness scale (with 10 being the most firm). Other options include mattresses with adjustable firmnesses or split mattresses where each partner gets a different firmness level.
How to Shop for a Firm Mattress Online
From firmness to comfort to how pressure-relieving a mattress is, there are many factors that go into finding the right one for you. That’s why it’s best to test-drive any new mattress in person, so you can try before you buy. But sometimes, that’s not an option. Maybe there isn’t a showroom near you, or you’re looking at a direct-to-consumer model that only sells online. Whatever the reason, it’s worth digging a little deeper before clicking that Buy button. At the very least, make sure whatever mattress you buy has a good return policy. The best firm mattresses include at least a 100-night in-home sleep trial, while some (like Saatva) offer a full year.
If you can’t be bothered to compare dozens of models (like we did), the Saatva Classic Mattress Firm (or Luxury Firm if you prefer something a little plusher) is the best firm mattress overall. It’s soft yet supportive, and we love the way it aligns our spine, whether sleeping on our side or back. Plus, the free delivery and setup with a whopping 365-night in-home trial mean zero risk that you’ll end up with a mattress you don’t like.
For the absolute firmest mattress on the market, Brooklyn Bedding’s hardwood-floor-like Plank Firm Luxe Mattress is your man. The double-sided design provides two options: Firm or Extremely Firm, making it perfect for heavyweight and back sleepers.
For budget-minded shoppers, Tuft & Needle’s Essential T&N Original Mattress is the best option. It’s firmer than average, with a good sleep surface for couples looking to compromise between too hard and too plush.
What to Look for in a Firm Mattress
A good firm mattress should be supportive enough for your body frame and weight. Like a good pair of shoes, it shouldn't feel like it's "digging in" to any part of your body. It should also adjust to your movements, and adapt to support you in any position. All of this is impossible to determine online, however.
Even if you plan to buy your next mattress online, check local retailers to see if your candidates are available in-store. If so, grab your favorite pillow (or two) and test-drive them before pulling the trigger. Nothing beats an in-person test nap. It’s the only way to know for sure if a particular firm mattress is right for you.
Keep in mind that almost any mattress feels good for the first few minutes, especially if you’ve already been walking around shopping for hours. To really test out a new mattress, you want to lie down in the position you typically sleep in—the position you’re most comfortable—for at least 10-15 minutes. That’s enough time for your body to tell you whether a particular mattress is firm and supportive enough for you.
How We Selected the Best Firm Mattresses
Our editors and sleep-obsessed writers spent hundreds of hours testing dozens of firm mattresses over the last year. We slept a lot (and sometimes we didn’t) to compare the overall comfort, support, quality, and price of every model. Plus, we looked at every in-home trial and return policy to know whether each manufacturer stood behind their product. In the end, we narrowed our top picks to the eight best firm mattresses of 2023.
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South Africa, and survived a near-miss great white shark attack in Mexico. His travel advice has appeared on the websites for Forbes, Travel + Leisure, CNET, and National Geographic. He loves the great outdoors and good bourbon, and (usually) calls Tulsa, Oklahoma home. Mike also enjoys speaking in the third person.
As Men's Health's Deputy Editor, Commerce, Christian Gollayan oversees all shopping content on menshealth.com. He relocated back to New York by way of Portland, where he was the Associate Managing Editor at TheManual.com. Christian's work has also been featured in InStyle, Food & Wine, the New York Post, and Tatler Asia.
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