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How to Pick Your Perfect Mattress

Ready for a new mattress? Here’s how to find the one that suits you best.

Getting a good night’s sleep depends on a lot of different factors — comfort, stress level, room temperature – but to get it right, you’ve got to start with the basics and your mattress is the first building block to a restful slumber.

If you’re in the market for a new mattress and have recently taken a stroll down the aisle of a bedding store, you know that there is a dizzying array from which to choose. How do you know which mattress is best for you?

To start, says Arya Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, the mattress needs to support your body in a neutral position, one in which your spine has a nice curvature and your buttocks, heels, shoulders, and head are supported in proper alignment

"If the mattress is too firm, it will push on those main pressure points and take you out of alignment," Shamie tells WebMD. "If it’s too soft, those pressure points won’t be properly supported, so your whole body flops back." Both of these scenarios can lead to an achy morning.

Generally speaking, one type or brand of bed isn’t better than another, says Michael Breus, PhD, a WebMD sleep expert and author ofBeauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep.But he does find that a firmer bed seems to be better for people with lower back pain.

In fact, researchers in Spain studied people with long-term back pain and found that on a 10-point hard-to-soft scale people who slept on a medium-to-firm mattress (5.6 on the scale) had less back pain than those who slept on a softer mattress.

Is It Time for a New Mattress?

How do you know if the bed you’re sleeping on is the right one?

"If you wake up in the morning and have some low back pain and can stretch and get rid of it in 15 or 30 minutes, that means you’re on an inappropriate mattress for you," Breus says.

The right mattress, on the other hand, is one on which you feel no pressure, almost like you’re floating in air, Breus says.

If you’re looking for a new mattress, experts suggest testing it in the store and laying down on each mattress in the position in which you normally sleep. Breus suggests spending at least 10 to 15 minutes on the bed. And, bring your own pillow! The more you can replicate the way you’ll be sleeping on the mattress once you get it home, the better your chances of picking the right one.

Continued

Innerspring Mattresses

Innerspring mattresses are still by far the most widely used. They support you with coil springs, and in most built today, each coil is individually enclosed. This helps the bed weather years of use and prevents the coils from popping out of the mattress. On top of the coils are a wide variety of materials added for comfort, from pillow to latex to memory foam. It’s all a matter of preference.

Salespeople may try to sell you on the idea that more coils mean more comfort, but that’s not necessarily true, Breus and Shamie say.

"You don’t really need a coil count above 390," Breus says. Beyond that, the difference in feel is so small it would be difficult to notice.

Pros:There are plenty of innerspring mattresses on the market from which to choose. They range in firmness, the fluffiness of the pillow top, and in price to fit nearly every preference and pocket book.

Cons:There’s no direct relationship in most cases between price and comfort, but Shamie suggests steering clear of the cheapest innerspring mattress. If there aren’t enough springs and cushion to offer you proper support, he says, you’ll likely wake up with an aching back.

Conditions:For someone who is very overweight, spring mattresses may offer a firmer support, making them easier to get in and out of, Breus says. Firmer versions are good for people with back pain. But spring-based mattresses can be comfortable for almost anyone.

Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam mattresses are growing in popularity. They are made of layers of different densities of foam that respond to weight and temperature, and are known for comfort because they contour to the specific shape of your body. Memory foam toppers are also available.

Pros:By molding to the shape of your body as your weight shifts through the night, memory foam reduces pressure points, and relieves pain. Memory foam also absorbs movement, so if you sleep with a partner, you’re not likely to be disturbed by his tossing and turning.

Cons:One of the biggest complaints with memory foam mattresses is that because these mattresses are temperature sensitive, softening and molding with your body heat, they can make you feel extremely hot during the night. Breus also says memory foam mattresses have been known to emit an unpleasant chemical smell.

Conditions:"If you have a hard time getting comfortable, if you have chronic fatigue, or some type of muscle pain, then a memory foam mattress would work well for you, assuming you don’t have temperature issues," Breus says.

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Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses are made from either natural or synthetic rubber, and are known for providing a very firm, bouncy support that is uniform throughout the bed.

Pros:"Quite frankly, I think one of the best materials is latex," Breus says. He likes it for being very firm and supportive, but also for providing comfort similar to memory foam. Unlike the memory foam mattresses, however, Breus says latex pushes back, ultimately providing more support.

Cons:If you don’t like the feel of a firm mattress, latex is probably not the right choice for you.

Conditions: Either a latex mattress or latex mattress topper is great for relieving back pain because they offer the best combination of comfort and support, Breus says.

Air Mattresses

We’re not talking about the blow-up mattresses you put your holiday guests on for a few days. Higher-end air beds look like a standard innerspring mattress, but use air-filled chambers instead of coils, and are covered by a foam layer on top.

Shamie notes that air beds have long been used for patients with spinal cord injuries who are lying in bed for a long time. They can be adjusted so they don’t continue to press on the same areas of the body, which helps to avoid skin breakdown in patients who can’t move.

Pros:"Couples who have dramatic differences in their individual preference for comfort and firmness levels might do very well with an air mattress," Breus says. The reason is that the firmness of each side of the bed can be altered. If you like it firmer than your partner, these beds can be adjusted for that.

Like latex and memory foam, you can also find air toppers for your mattress.

Cons:Shamie says people sometimes fail to make their air bed firm enough and wake up with back aches. Less sophisticated air mattresses also pop up on one side when you sit on the opposite end. For that reason Breus says, you want multiple chambers so that doesn’t occur.

Conditions:These beds are particularly useful when sleeping partners have different needs. If one of you has a bad back, one side can be made firmer than the other to provide greater support.

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Adjustable Beds

These beds are able to bend and elevate at varying angles. As a result, the mattress has to be flexible. Different types of mattresses can be used on an adjustable bed – memory foam, latex, or air, for example. Spring mattresses are more difficult to use, however, because the springs don’t handle the bending well.

Pros:For people who have difficulty getting in and out of bed or who like to watch television in bed, Shamie says, adjustables can make life easier by moving you closer to where you need to be.

Conditions:If you suffer from sleep apnea, sleeping flat can make the condition worse by cutting off airways and causing the tongue to fall into the back of the throat, Shamie says. People who experience acid reflux can also benefit by sleeping in a bed that elevates their upper body.

Shamie also suggests adjustable beds for people with hip or back pain who have a hard time moving from a lying position to sitting up or standing.

Sofa Beds

When you have guests staying for a night or two, sofa beds come in handy. The mattresses in these beds tend to be very thin so they are flexible enough to fold and collapse into the couch. It’s a great convenience to have a sofa bed, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who raves about their comfort.

Pros:Sofa beds are convenient, especially if you have limited space. But from a health perspective, Shamie and Breus don’t see any advantages.

Cons:A night or two on a sofa bed is OK. But "this is probably the worst kind of bed you can sleep on long-term," Shamie says. The mattresses used in most sofa beds are very thin and the springs quite weak. "It really leads to an uncomfortable situation," Shamie says.

If you’re really tight for space and need a bed that folds up, Shamie says that futons, while not the most supportive, are better for your back than the typical sofa bed.

Conditions:There are no conditions for which a sofa bed will be helpful, according to the experts. But if you have a bad back or hips, these beds will be especially uncomfortable.

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When to Part With Your Old Mattress

Today’s mattresses are made to last a lifetime. But you probably shouldn’t plan on keeping yours for that long. Our bodies change over time, Breus says, so the mattress that was once a joy to sleep on may no longer feel comfortable a few years down the road.

In addition, mattresses collect dust mites, fungus, and other germs that can exacerbate allergies and impact your sleep patterns. After 10 to 15 years, it’s time to think about buying a new bed.

Ultimately, the experts say that the best bed for you is the one that feels most comfortable. And remember, Shamie says, "There’s no mattress that’s going to save your body when you get only five hours of sleep." In order to feel your best, you need to get enough rest… no matter what type of mattress you’re sleeping on.

Sources

Arya Nick Shamie, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery, Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center.

Breus, Michael, PhD, WebMD sleep expert and author ofBeauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep

Kovacs, FM.The Lancet, November 2003; vol 362: pp 1599-1604.

The Best Firm Mattresses – Top 6 Beds and Buying Guide

Our Research

Mattresses Considered
Hours of Research
Mattress Executives Interviewed
Sleep Experts Consulted

Quick Overview

When it comes to mattresses, softer does not always mean better. While many sleepers prefer beds that conform closely, others prefer to feel that they are lying “on” their mattress as opposed to “in” it. For example, heavier individuals and stomach sleepers often both prefer firmer beds. Overly soft mattresses sink too deeply beneath their bodies, compromising support and creating aches and pains. In addition to accommodating sleepers with certain preferences, firmer mattresses carry other benefits. They tend to be more responsive and better for sex, and often sleep cooler than mattresses that conform more closely.

Best Firm Mattresses
  • Editor’s Pick– Plank by Brooklyn Bedding
  • Best Value – Saatva
  • Best Luxury – Birch Mattress
  • Best Latex Mattress – Zenhaven
  • Best Memory Foam Mattress – Loom & Leaf
  • Best Hybrid Mattress – The WinkBed
  • Best Flippable Mattress – Layla Hybrid

Mattress firmness is evaluated using a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the least firm and 10 being the firmest. The vast majority of mattresses sold today fall between a 3 (‘Soft’) and an 8 (‘Extra Firm’). Below, we’ve reviewed the best firm mattresses of 2020, looking exclusively at those with a firmness rating of ‘Medium Firm’ (6) or higher. Our picks are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis. Read on to learn more about firm mattresses and discover the best mattress for you.

First Time Buying a Mattress?

Hop down to our Buyer’s Guide for a crash course on finding the best firm mattress.

Our Top 7 Picks

  • Flippable with two firmness options
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Strong, durable support
  • Sleeps cool and responds well

  • Multiple firmness options (4, 6, 7.5)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 15-year warranty
  • Strong, durable support
  • Good conforming and pressure relief

  • Medium Firm (6.5)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 25-year warranty
  • Natural, eco-friendly components
  • Consistent temperature neutrality

  • Durable, natural Talalay latex
  • Dual firmness design (4, 7)
  • Organic cotton and wool cover
  • Free White Glove delivery

  • Multiple firmness options (5.5, 8)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 15-year warranty
  • Excellent motion isolation and close conforming
  • Free White Glove delivery

  • Multiple firmness options (4.5, 6.5, 7.5)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Above-average responsiveness
  • Good pain and pressure relief

  • Flippable Design (soft (5) on one side, firm (7) on the other)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 10 year warranty
  • Good motion isolation for couples
  • Great pressure relief

The Best Firm Mattresses – Reviewed

Editor’s Pick – Plank by Brooklyn Bedding

Highlights

  • Flippable with two firmness options
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 10-year warranty
  • Strong, durable support
  • Sleeps cool and responds well

Tuck readers get 20% off the Plank Mattress with code: TUCKSLEEP20

Editor’s Pick Overview

Our Editor’s Pick is the Plank mattress from Brooklyn Bedding, a flippable mattress with one side that is ‘Firm’ (or 7 on the 1-10 firmness scale) and another side that is ‘Extra Firm’ (or 9). This makes the Plank one of the firmest mattresses available today. It is ideal for those who prefer firm mattresses that do not conform very much, which often includes stomach sleepers and those who weigh more than 230 pounds. The mattress is constructed with firm foam layers on both sides, as well as top quilted foam layers that provide a bit of cushioning.

The Plank also isolates motion isolation to a significant extent and produces no noise when bearing weight. This makes it suitable for couples who prefer firmer beds, particularly if one or both of the sleepers awaken easily due to movement or noise. Compared to other all-foam beds, the Plank sleeps fairly cool as well. This is due in part to its breathable cotton-polyester cover.

Brooklyn Bedding offers free shipping to customers anywhere in the U.S. The Plank is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The Plank is one of the firmest mattresses you’ll find today, with not just one, but two, firmness levels — both of which are accessible from the same mattress. This flexibility is designed for sleepers who aren’t quite sure of just how firm they need their mattress to be.

Recommended for:

  • Back and stomach sleepers.As a foam mattress, the Firm side of the Plank can provide some contour for back sleepers, while either firmness setting can work for stomach sleepers.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups.Either the ‘Firm’ or ‘Very Firm’ sides of the Plank mattress provides sufficient support for these sleepers.
  • People who prefer mattresses that conform very little.The Plank mattress maintains a flat yet comfortable surface.
  • Those who sleep hot.There’s no risk of sinking into this mattress and it doesn’t trap body heat.
  • Couples.The foam isolates motion well, reducing disturbances during the night.

Not Recommended for:

  • Side sleepers of below-average weight.The Plank mattress may not provide sufficient give to these sleepers, creating the potential for spinal misalignment.
  • Shoppers who want to be able to return their mattress quickly.Brooklyn Bedding requires a 30-day break-in period for their sleep trials.

Best Value – Saatva

Highlights

  • Multiple firmness options (4, 6, 7.5)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 15-year warranty
  • Strong, durable support
  • Good conforming and pressure relief

Tuck readers get $100 off the Saatva Mattress.

Best Value Overview

A mattress with an expensive price-point does not necessarily mean it is high-quality – and by the same token, many low-cost mattresses outperform their higher-end competitors in several key areas. Our pick for the firm mattress with the best value is the Saatva, an innovative coil-on-coil innerspring that uses two spring layers to provide exceptional comfort and sleeper support.

The comfort system contains pocketed coils, along with memory foam and polyfoam layers, while sturdy bonnell coils reinforce the support core very effectively. The result is a mattress that offers consistent body conforming and pressure relief, and also withstands sagging and indentations. The Saatva mattress also sleeps very cool, thanks in part to strong airflow throughout both coil layers.

The Saatva is available in three firmness settings – Medium Soft’ (4), ‘Medium Firm’ (6), and ‘Firm’ (7.5) – as well as 11 1/2″ and 14 1/2″ profiles. This product range should accommodate most sleepers regardless of their firmness preferences, body type, or sleep position. The two firmer options should be sufficient for anyone who prefers a firmer bed. The ‘Medium Firm’ design offers some conforming and is suitable for most sleepers between 130 and 230 pounds; and the ‘Firm’ option should be sufficient for anyone who weighs more than 230 pounds, including back and stomach sleepers.

Saatva offers free White Glove delivery – including in-home assembly and old mattress removal – to all customers in the contiguous U.S. Competing brands typically charge at least $100 for this service. The Saatva is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 15-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The Saatva mattress features an innovative construction in both ‘Medium Firm’ and ‘Firm’ settings, with a competitive price-point and perks like free White Glove delivery. Backed by a 15-year warranty, this bed will satisfy sleepers looking for a firm mattress and a good deal.

Recommended for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination).Different firmness settings allow sleepers to choose the best firmness rating for them.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups.A sturdy coil support core combined with a ‘Firm’ firmness setting will support sleepers of heavier body weight.
  • Back pain sufferers.While the ‘Firm’ is a true firm, the Saatva’s comfort layers provide adequate conforming for sleepers with back pain.
  • Those who tend to sleep hot.The Saatva sleeps cool, thanks to a breathable cotton cover and airflow-promoting coil core.

Not Recommended for:

  • Those who need to move or rotate their mattress frequently.The Saatva mattress is heavier than average.
  • Couples.The Saatva’s innerspring core does not absorb motion well, so sleepers may wake up from noise or movement if their partner shifts positions often during the night.

Best Luxury – Birch Mattress

Highlights

  • Medium Firm (6.5)
  • 100-night sleep trial
  • 25-year warranty
  • Natural, eco-friendly components
  • Consistent temperature neutrality

Tuck readers save $200 on a Birch Mattress.

Best Luxury Overview

Our Best Luxury pick is the Birch Mattress, a premium latex hybrid constructed from eco-friendly materials. The comfort system includes a top layer of natural and organic wool, followed by a secondary comfort layer of natural Talalay latex. These materials create a Medium Firm (6.5) feel that offers great support for back and stomach sleepers weighing at least 130 pounds, as well as heavier side sleepers.

The mattress also sleeps fairly cool thanks to its breathable organic-cotton cover, ventilated latex layer, and consistent air circulation through the pocketed coil layer. Because latex is naturally durable, the Birch Mattress has a longer-than-average expected lifespan, as well. The coils reinforce the bed nicely, resulting in minimal sagging in the sleep surface and sinkage along the edges.

The Birch Mattress has a price-point that is below-average compared to other latex hybrids. Birch also offers free shipping to all 50 states. The bed is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 25-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

With organic materials and an eco-friendly construction, the Birch Mattress is designed to provide a luxurious, breathable sleep experience for a very long time.

Recommended for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination).The Birch Mattress feels firm and supportive for stomach and back sleepers, while providing enough give for side sleepers.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups.Dense latex foams resist sagging and offer superior support for heavier body types.
  • Eco-conscious shoppers.Organic and natural materials are good for the environment, and provide a longer-lasting, more sustainable bed for the sleeper.
  • Hot sleepers.The Birch Mattress is made from naturally breathable materials that keep the mattress surface cool.

Not Recommended for:

  • Lightweight sleepers.The Birch Mattress may feel too firm for these sleepers.
  • Those looking for an extra firm mattress.As a 6.5 on a scale of 1-to-10, the Birch Mattress offers more of a middle-of-the-road firmness when compared to our other top picks.

Best Latex Mattress – Zenhaven

Highlights

  • Durable, natural Talalay latex
  • Dual firmness design (4, 7)
  • Organic cotton and wool cover
  • Free White Glove delivery

Tuck readers save $100 on the Zenhaven Mattress.

Best Latex Mattress Overview

The Zenhaven is an all-latex mattress that possesses a slate of features that make it a top choice for people who want a firm bed. The mattress has a distinct firmness feel on each side. The Firm side is a 7 on the 1-10 firmness scale, and the other side is a 4. This design gives people who generally prefer a firmer mattress a degree of flexibility in case their comfort preferences change.

The Zenhaven uses four layers of Talalay latex, a material that is known for its buoyant and springy feel. The two innermost layers are denser and serve as the support core for the bed. The two outermost layers are designed with fives zones, providing added responsiveness near the body’s major pressure points. The overall result is a firm sleeping surface that still relieves pressure and promotes spinal alignment.

The outer latex layers are aerated, letting air flow through to keep the mattress cool no matter which side you choose to sleep on. An organic cotton cover with an underside of organic wool provides additional comfort along with moisture-wicking for natural cooling.

The Zenhaven is manufactured by Saatva, who offers free White Glove delivery, which includes setup of the Zenhaven as well as removal of an old mattress. Once the Zenhaven is delivered, you have 120 nights to test it out and decide if it is the right fit for you. For the long-term, Saatva provides a 20-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The Zenhaven offers a ‘Firm’ (7) on one side, with a ‘Soft’ (4) on the other, making it a perfect fit for anyone who needs a firm mattress now, but may want something softer later.

Recommended for:

  • Sleepers of all body weights and sleeping positions.With its quality latex construction, the Zenhaven offers a durably firm mattress surface with sufficient contour for varying sleep positions.
  • People who like firmness flexibility.Sleepers can simply flip the mattress to enjoy a different firmness level.
  • Those who tend to sleep hot.Organic latex is naturally cool and breathable, while the organic cotton cover includes an underside of moisture-wicking wool.
  • Sleepers with allergies.This mattress is made from all-natural materials that are hypoallergenic and resistant to mold and bacteria.
  • Couples.The Zenhaven sleeps virtually silent and absorbs motion well.

Not Recommended for:

  • Those looking for strong edge support.You can experience sinkage when sitting on or sleeping close to the edge of the bed.
  • Sleepers on a budget.As an all-latex mattress, the Zenhaven does carry a higher price-point than other types of mattresses.

Best Memory Foam Mattress – Loom & Leaf

Highlights

  • Multiple firmness options (5.5, 8)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 15-year warranty
  • Excellent motion isolation and close conforming
  • Free White Glove delivery

Tuck readers save $100 off a Loom & Leaf Mattress.

Best Memory Foam Mattress Overview

The Loom & Leaf by Saatva is a memory foam mattress offered in two firmness options. These include a ‘Firm’ (8), making it one of the firmest foam beds available, as well as a ‘Medium’ (5.5) option for sleepers who prefer a balance of firmness and softness.

The Loom & Leaf is built with comfort layers of gel memory foam and standard memory foam that hug the body and alleviate discomfort without excessive sagging. The mattress also sleeps fairly cool compared to other foam beds, due in part to its organic cotton cover. Another key strength of the Loom & Leaf mattress is motion isolation. Because the mattress absorbs and minimizes transfer so well and is virtually silent, it is a good option for couples – particularly if one or both of the sleepers awakens easily due to motion or noise.

Because Saatva manufactures the Loom & Leaf, this mattress is available with free White Glove delivery for customers in the contiguous U.S. The mattress is also backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 15-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The Loom & Leaf mattress is an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, making it the firmest mattress on our list and one of the firmest foam mattresses you’ll find today.

Recommended for:

  • Side and back sleepers.Memory foam comfort layers offer these sleepers sufficient contour to feel comfortable, relieving pressure points.
  • Sleepers in the average and heavy weight groups.High-quality foams resist sagging, providing durable support for sleepers with heavier body weights.
  • Back pain sufferers.Two comfort layers of high-density memory foam deliver excellent pressure point relief.
  • Couples.All-foam beds like the Loom & Leaf absorb motion very well, preventing sleepers from being disturbed from their partner shifting or moving during the night.

Not Recommended for:

  • Those who tend to sleep hot.Due to the dense foams, the Loom & Leaf can have a tendency for trapping body heat.
  • Those sensitive to smell.The bed may have a strong off-gassing odor at first, but this should dissipate within a few days at most.

Best Hybrid Mattress – WinkBed

Highlights

  • Multiple firmness options (4.5, 6.5, 7.5)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Above-average responsiveness
  • Good pain and pressure relief

Get $200 off a WinkBeds mattress as a Tuck reader with code: TUCK200

Best Hybrid Mattress Overview

Most hybrid mattresses offer a balance of body-contouring pressure relief and robust support. The WinkBed is a standout in this category for several reasons. It is constructed with comfort layers of polyfoam, gel memory foam, and pocketed minicoils, as well as a compressed-cotton lumbar pad that targets pressure points in the lower back and hips. As a result, sleepers experience above-average pain relief.

Three firmness options are offered for a standard WinkBed: ‘Medium Soft’ (4.5), ‘Medium Firm’ (6.5), and ‘Firm’ (7.5). This range should accommodate most sleepers that prefer some level of firmness in their bed. Additionally, the WinkBed Plus is a ‘Firm’ option that is specifically designed for heavier individuals; it swaps out the memory foam and minicoil layers for a single layer of latex. All four versions of the WinkBed sleep fairly cool and provide great edge support. The mattress is fairly quiet compared to other hybrids, as well.

The WinkBed is somewhat expensive, making it a good pick for shoppers with bigger budgets, but it still falls short of the average hybrid’s price-point. WinkBeds offers free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S.; the mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty.

The Bottom Line.

WinkBed caters to all body types by offering not one, but two, true ‘Firm’ variations of their mattress. The WinkBed Plus suits individuals with above-average body weight, while the standard WinkBed supports individuals of below-average and average body weight.

Recommended for:

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination).Hybrid construction offers some contour for those who need it, while maintaining firm support for all sleep positions.
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy).While the WinkBed offers four different firmness options, the Plus and Firm models will be preferred by those looking for a harder feel.
  • Back and hip pain sufferers.Whether you go with the standard ‘Firm’ or the WinkBed Plus, the comfort layers contour to the body and alleviate pressure points.
  • Those who tend to sleep hot.The WinkBed regulates temperature well, thanks to a pocketed coil support core and a stretch-knit Tencel lyocell cover.

Not Recommended for:

  • Those who wake easily.The WinkBed has a bouncier feel and some motion transfer.
  • Shoppers who want to be able to return their mattress quickly if needed.The 120-night sleep trial includes a mandatory 30-night break-in period.

Best Flippable Mattress – Layla Hybrid

Highlights

  • Flippable Design (soft (5) on one side, firm (7) on the other)
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 10 year warranty
  • Good motion isolation for couples
  • Great pressure relief

Tuck readers save $210 on the Layla Hybrid Mattress

Best Flippable Overview

The Layla Hybrid is a flippable, luxury hybrid mattress with a ‘medium’ (5) firmness on one side and a ‘firm’ (7) feel on the other side.

This mattress features a comfort layer on each side consisting of copper-infused memory foam. This foam conforms closely to the sleeper’s body to relieve pressure points, while the copper infusion is designed to prevent the foam from trapping as much body heat, sleeping cooler. The support core consists of pocketed coils, making for a more supportive bed with more airflow than the original Layla.

The flippable design makes the Layla Hybrid perfect for those who have variable firmness preferences, or those aren’t quite sure which firmness is best for them. The Layla tested very well in motion isolation, pressure relief, edge support, and temperature neutrality, taking all of the best qualities from both foam and innerspring mattresses.

The Layla Hybrid comes with free shipping and a 120-night sleep trial, so you can try it before you commit to it. Additionally, it comes with a 10-year, non-prorated warranty.

Recommended for:

  • Sleepers of all body weights and sleeping positions.The two different sides allow for a variable firmness that should accommodate all sleeper types.
  • People who like firmness flexibility.The flippable design allows for sleepers to change their firmness setting from night to night.
  • Couples.The Layla sleeps silently and absorbs motion exceptionally well.
  • People with chronic pain.The close conforming memory foam in its comfort layers ease pressure points.
  • People who don’t like the feel of memory foam.The Layla hybrid has a traditional memory foam feel, which some people don’t like.
  • Shoppers on the Budget.The Layla Hybrid is a luxury mattress, and is somewhat pricey.

Best Firm Mattresses Buying Guide

Below, we share everything sleepers need to consider when buying a firm mattress, along with our best tips for buying a new mattress.

Buyer’s Guide for Firm Mattresses

What You Need to Know about Sleeping on a Firm Mattress

Mattress firmness refers to how the bed’s surface feels underneath a sleeper’s body, and is directly tied to the materials used in the topmost comfort layer of the mattress. At Tuck, we evaluate firmness in mattresses using a 1-to-10 scale, with 1 being the least firm and 10 being the firmest. However, most mattresses sold today fall between a 3 (or ‘Soft’) and an 8 (‘Firm’). When we talk about a firm mattress, we’re referring to beds with a rating of 7 or higher on this 1-to-10 scale.

Choosing the Best Firm Mattress

If we had to boil down what makes a great mattress, it’d be how well it keeps your spine aligned while you sleep. Your mattress’s ability to support proper spinal alignment is essential to feeling comfortable while you sleep, and well-rested upon waking up. Some sleepers require a firm mattress to achieve this, especially heavier sleepers and those who sleep on their back or stomach.

Heavier individualsprefer firmer mattresses because they provide more comfort and support than less firm options. With a softer mattress, heavier people can sink too deeply into the mattress surfaces, incurring aches and pains as their spine gets pulled out of alignment.

Stomach and back sleeperscan experience similar problems with soft mattresses. For stomach sleepers, their pelvis or belly area may sink into a softer mattress, creating a curve in their spine that leads to discomfort. While back sleepers can require more contour from their mattress, they need a mattress that prevents their hips from sinking too deeply.

Finally, firm mattresses typically offer a cooler sleep surface, since there is a reduced ability for the mattress to conform closely to the body and trap heat. This quality makes them a favorite amongthose who tend to sleep hot.

Selecting Your Firmness Level

Mattresses come in a variety of firmness levels. If you’re interested in a firmer mattress, a mattress that rates as ‘Medium Firm,’ ‘Firm,’ or ‘Very Firm’ will likely be what you are looking for. To hone in on the best firmness level for you, you’ll need to take into account your bodyweight and sleep position.

Let’s start with bodyweight. For the purposes of this page, ‘average weight’ is defined as 130 to 230 pounds. Generally speaking, people who are on the heavier side tend to prefer mattresses that are firmer, while those on the lighter side often choose mattresses with lower firmness ratings.

Pressure relief is a key reason for this trend. Firmer mattresses require more weight for sleepers to sink into the mattress and alleviate their pressure points, and people in the below-average and average weight groups may not weigh enough to enjoy these qualities. On the other hand, softer mattresses may sink too deeply beneath heavier sleepers, resulting in added pain and pressure.

The table below lists the most popular firmness ratings for below-average, average, and above-average weight groups.

Weight GroupMost Commonly Preferred Mattress FirmnessBelow-average (Less than 130 Pounds)4 (Medium Soft) and LowerAverage (130 to 230 Pounds)5 (Medium) to 6 (Medium Firm)Above-average (More than 230 Pounds)7 (Firm) and Higher

In addition to bodyweight, firmness may also be linked to the sleeper’s preferred position in bed. People who sleep on their side require mattresses that help align their spine and alleviate pressure points that commonly develop due to this position. Back-sleepers, on the other hand, sleep in a position that naturally aligns the spine and do not require a soft mattress as often. For this reason, back-sleepers tend to feel more comfortable on a firmer mattress than side-sleepers.

Stomach-sleepers in the average and above-average weight groups may also prefer firmer mattresses because they will not sink too deeply. If a mattress is too soft, then heavier stomach-sleepers may sink too far and experience neck and shoulder pain.

The table below represents firmness preference trends among sleepers based on bodyweight and sleep position.

Weight GroupPreferred Firmness for Most Side SleepersPreferred Firmness for Most Back SleepersPreferred Firmness for Most Stomach Sleepers
Below-average (Less than 130 pounds)3 (Soft) to 5 (Medium)4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)
Average (130 to 230 Pounds)4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)5 (Medium) to 7 or 8 (Firm)6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)
Above-average (More than 230 Pounds)5 (Medium) to 6 (Medium Firm)6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)

Ultimately, every sleeper is different when it comes to mattress firmness, and we highly recommend testing out mattresses with different firmness ratings in order to pinpoint the feel that is best for you.

Selecting Your Mattress Type

Due to their material composition, some mattresses are inherently better suited to providing a firm sleep surface than others. For example, hybrid, innerspring, and latex beds can provide dense, firm support, while memory foam beds tend to fall on the more cushiony side. However, there are exceptions to every rule, as our Editor’s Pick, the Plank, demonstrates. It’s an all-foam bed with a true ‘Firm’ (7) rating.

To help you find your ideal mattress type, below we review the different types of mattresses, and evaluate their suitability for sleepers seeking a firm mattress.

Foam Mattresses

Best Firm Foam Beds:

Mattress Brands
Mattress Brands

Foam mattresses are made entirely of foam, with higher-density polyfoams in the support layer and polyfoam and/or memory foam comfort layers. Higher-density foams beget a firmer feel, and they tend to be more durable, too. Sleepers looking for a firm mattress will want to keep an eye out for higher-density foams, particularly in the comfort layers. These will provide conforming and pressure point relief, while still feeling quite firm.

Average price (Queen):$1,044.16

Expected lifespan:5 to 6 years

Benefits for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Still able to offer contour for sleepers with chronic pain, while maintaining a firm surface
  • Foam absorbs motion and noise, offering a quiet sleep environment
  • Widely available

Drawbacks for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Tendency to trap heat
  • Potential for sagging, so sleepers may need to buy a new mattress sooner vs. later
  • Minimal edge support

Latex Mattresses

Best Firm Latex Beds:

Mattress Brands

Latex mattresses can be made entirely of organic latex, or with a mix of natural or synthetic latex foams. These mattresses naturally have a denser quality to them, especially those made from Dunlop latex. Both types of latex offer some contour to sleepers, but Talalay latex can have a bouncier feel, so sleepers looking for firmness often prefer Dunlop.

Average price (Queen):$1,970.51

Expected lifespan:7 to 8 years

Benefits for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Dunlop latex has a firm, dense feel
  • Latex provides some contour and support, without sinking too deeply
  • All-natural latex beds are hypoallergenic, providing more restful sleep for those with allergies

Drawbacks for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Expensive, especially all-natural models
  • Potential for sagging with synthetic models
  • Minimal edge support

Hybrid Mattresses

Best Firm Hybrid Beds:

Mattress Brands
Mattress Brands

Hybrid mattresses feature pocket coils in their support core, which is surrounded by base polyfoam. The comfort layers are made of latex and/or memory foam. Hybrid mattresses vary in firmness depending on the comfort layers. The coil support core offers some contour, while still having a dense feel overall. If the comfort layers feature higher-density foams, or thinner foams (as our top Hybrid Mattress Pick, The WinkBed, does), the result is a firm feel appreciated by those who prefer a firm mattress.

Average price (Queen):$2,076.70

Expected lifespan:6 to 7 years

Benefits for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Offer some contour for sleepers, while still maintaining a firm and relatively cool sleep surface
  • Excellent edge support for those who like to sit on the side of their bed
  • Good support and pressure relief

Drawbacks for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Depending on construction, can be heavy and difficult to maneuver
  • Typically more expensive
  • Some potential for noise

Innerspring Mattresses

Best Firm Innerspring Beds:

Mattress Brands

Innerspring mattresses have a support core made of innerspring coils, with foam comfort layers on top. The suitability of a particular innerspring mattress for firm sleepers will often come down to the plushness of the comfort layers, as the support coil grid offers uniform support with minimal contour.

Average price (Queen):$1,037.97

Expected lifespan:4 to 6 years

Benefits for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Strong edge support
  • Inexpensive
  • Widely available
  • Sleep cool for most

Drawbacks for firm mattress shoppers:

  • Minimal conforming and pressure relief
  • Shorter-than-average lifespan
  • Noise potential

Other Considerations for Sleepers Interested in a Firm Mattress

Firm mattresses offer unique benefits (or drawbacks, depending on your perspective). Below we share some of the construction and performance qualities shared by most mattresses rated as a 7 or higher on the firmness scale. Take a look and evaluate whether qualities will improve or detract from your sleep experience

Longer Lifespan/Less Sagging

Softer mattresses are prone to premature sagging or indentations in the sleep surface that can cause back pain and pressure over time. Firm mattresses are less susceptible to sagging and indenting, and typically last much longer.

Lower Thickness

One reason mattresses are firm is a lack of additional foams and other cushioning materials in the comfort layer. As a result, they tend to have low profiles compared to soft mattresses.

Less Expensive

The cushioning and padding that makes softer mattresses thicker is also the reason why many of these models have higher price-points compared to firmer mattresses.

Minimal Conforming and Pressure Relief

Sleepers do not sink as deeply into the surface of a firmer mattress, which may result in less pressure relief compared to softer mattresses.

Sleeping Cooler

When sleepers sink into a mattress, this can limit airflow and cause the surface to feel uncomfortably hot or warm. Firmer mattresses have better airflow and sleep cooler — although this also depends on the comfort layer materials, as foam and latex mattresses tend to retain more body heat from sleepers and feel much hotter than innersprings or hybrids.

Fewer Odors

Off-gassing smells are a common complaint regarding mattresses with high concentrations of foam. Firmer mattresses tend to have less foam, meaning they produce less off-gassing odor.

May Be Too Firm for Sex

When it comes to evaluating mattresses for sex, the top-rated models — usually Medium or Medium-Firm — offer a balance of comfort and responsiveness. Firm mattresses may be responsive but many lack the cushioning to accommodate comfortable sex.

Lower Weight/Easier to Move

Not surprisingly, mattresses with more layers tend to weigh more than those with fewer layers. For this reason, firmer mattresses tend to be lighter and easier to move than their softer counterparts.

The table below rates Soft, Medium/Medium-Firm, and Firm mattresses based on the performance factors described above:

Performance FactorSoft (4 and Lower)Medium to Medium Firm (5 to 6)Firm (7 and Higher)
LongevityPoor to FairGoodGood to Very Good
ThicknessThickestThickerLeast Thick
Average PriceHighMedium to HighLow to Medium
Conforming and Pressure ReliefFair to GoodVery GoodPoor to Fair
Heat RetentionPoor to FairGoodVery Good
Off-gassingPoor to FairFair to GoodGood to Very Good
SexPoor to FairVery GoodFair
Easy to MovePoor to FairFair to GoodGood to Very Good

Tips for Buying and Maintaining a Firm Mattress

If you have determined that a firmer mattress is right for you, please review the following tips for purchasing a suitable model and keeping it in good shape.

Take Advantage of Sleep Trials

Many manufacturers offer mattress sleep trials, which allow customers to test out their mattress for a given length of time (typically 90 to 120 nights). The customer may then return the mattress for a full or partial refund before the sleep trial ends. In some cases, they may also be able to exchange their mattress for a model with a different firmness rating. If you are unsure about your specific firmness of choice, then a sleep trial can be highly beneficial. All of the firm mattresses on our list offer sleep trials of 100 nights or more.

Consider Dual Firmness

Let’s say you prefer a firmer mattress but your partner would rather sleep on a softer surface. Some manufacturers offer ‘dual-firmness’ mattress designs that feature different firmness ratings on each side of the bed to accommodate couples with varying preferences. These options tend to be more expensive than standard, single-firmness mattresses, but dual-firmness can be invaluable for some couples.

Shifting Firmness Preferences?

A flippable model may be best. Although they are not common, some manufacturers offer flippable mattresses with different firmness ratings for each comfort layer and a shared support core. This is a suitable option is you prefer sleeping on a firm mattress some — but not all — of the time. Our Editor’s Pick, the Plank mattress by Brooklyn Bedding, is a flippable mattress.

Know What’s Covered in the Warranty

Most mattress warranties consider sagging and indentations as long as they measure to a certain depth (1? to 1 1/2?, in most cases). One thing that is not covered under most mattress warranties: changes in the owner’s firmness and comfort preferences. So if you decide the firmness of your mattress is not right for you after the sleep trial has ended, you may not be able to replace or exchange it at a reduced rate.

Match Your Pillows & Bedding

The right pillows and bedding can enhance the sleep experience on a firm mattress.

Because sleepers don’t sink as deeply into firmer mattresses, they often require thicker, high-loftpillowsfor cushioning between their heads and the sleep surface. Medium- and low-loft pillows, by comparison, may not provide enough cushioning and can lead to increased neck and shoulder pain. Usually, the right pillow height depends on your sleep position. When sleeping on a firm mattress, you’ll still want to take your sleep position into account, and then add a bit more loft for comfort.

  • Back sleepersbenefit from medium- and high-loft pillows, depending on the space between their back/shoulders and neck. These pillows should be tall enough to prevent the head from falling back and wrenching the neck out of alignment; however, they should also be plush enough to let the head sink just enough to stay straight with the neck. Shredded memory foam and gel-infused foam work well for firmer mattresses. See our picks for the best pillows for back sleepers.
  • Stomach sleeperssleep best with low-loft pillows. These provide cushioning for the head, without causing the head or neck to twist back and up, and out of alignment with the rest of the spine. When sleeping on a firm mattress, choose a low-loft pillow with special attention to the materials. The filler should be soft enough to allow the head to sink into the pillow, but the material needs to be durable and supportive throughout the night. Premium down and latex pillows are good options. See our picks for the best pillows for stomach sleepers.
  • Side sleepersfind comfort from the tallest pillows of all. Mid-loft or high-loft pillows are best. Ideally, the height of the pillow should match the width between the shoulder and the neck. Then, look for filler materials that keep their shape throughout the night. Otherwise, you’ll find your face sleeping on the hard mattress surface. A thick memory foam, feather, or buckwheat pillow will provide comfortable support on a firm mattress. See our picks for the best pillows for side sleepers.

If you eventually find your mattress to be too firm, and your sleep trial had ended, you can soften your bed by using a mattress topper with a lower firmness rating. In addition to improved comfort, some toppers can also add support. A wide range of mattress toppers are sold today. These include low-priced options like fabric, fiber, and feather toppers, as well as more expensive memory foam, latex, and wool toppers.

Ways to Firm Up Your Old Mattress

Ways to Firm Up Your Old Mattress

Related Articles

  • 1 Make a Mattress Firmer With a Bed Board
  • 2 Do Beds With Slats Need a Box Spring?
  • 3 The Difference Between Plush and Pillow Top
  • 4 Do Mattresses Have Expiration Dates?

Over time, a mattress can become uncomfortable from uneven wear. You can make your mattress more comfy by firming it up to create a more supportive, even sleeping surface. Whether you prefer an extra-hard bed or simply need to tweak a soft mattress, you’re on your way to a more restful night’s sleep when you firm up your mattress.

Top It

Add a special pad to make the mattress more comfy. A thicker mattress pad provides increased comfort and greater support over a thinner one. Choose from either a latex or memory foam pad to top your old mattress. Latex foam pads are available in a variety of thicknesses to add the firming support level you need with a soft feel. Likewise, memory foam mattress pads are available in assorted densities but conform to your body’s shape to give you support where you need it.

Board It

Place a bed board between the mattress and box springs. A bed board typically consists of a solid piece of plywood or several wooden slats tucked inside a canvas cover. You can purchase a bed board or make one yourself, but either way, the bed board should be as long and as wide as the mattress to provide complete underlying support.

Box It

Exchange existing box springs for a new replacement. Because a mattress and box springs work together as a unified shock absorber, if you don’t currently have a set of box springs, adding this foundation gives your mattress immediate firmness. Box springs are designed with strong steel coils to deliver support; the best box springs compress and slightly give when you apply pressure to them. You can add years of comfort and usefulness to a mattress with quality box springs.

Turn It

Improve the firm feel of an old mattress without spending a dime. It’s important to rotate and flip your mattress at least once every six months to avoid impressions and sags from sleeping in the same spot every night. If you have a pillow-top mattress with the pillow only on one side, you can’t flip the mattress but you can rotate it 180 degrees to more evenly distribute your body weight over the top of the mattress.

Soft, medium or firm mattress tensions explained.

Updated 2020: Getting the right tension, or firmness, for your mattress, really is the first thing you need to establish when buying a new mattress. Not all mattresses are the same and more often than not people choose the spring tension thinking it will give them the ‘true feel’ of the mattress. Which is completely wrong. The mattress spring tension is based solely on your body weight which is where most people make mistakes. It’s the fibres on top that create the feel of the mattress.

The true mattress feel is not just based on the spring tension but more importantly, the fillings layered on top. Click to view hand made mattresses.

Mattress firmness is often poorly described by mattress retailers. They often confuse comfort and spring tensions on their mattress listings but there’s an easy way to ensure you get the right support and comfort from your mattress.

What mattress firmness should I choose?

Firstly, in the mattress industry, there has to be a precise definition of soft, medium or firm which there isn’t. You’ll see all sorts of sliding scales and rating but without knowing whats exactly inside that mattress it’s just a guess.

This is because most of the time the retailers are using the spring tension to explain the relative firmness of the mattress which is incorrect. Most mattress firmness ratings are based on the upholstery layers on top of the spring unit. So when you’re looking for a medium-firm mattress you need to be looking at that upholstery as well as the spring tension to work out the right mattress tension.

The best way to choose what firmness of mattress you need

  • Identify what spring tension your bodyweight requires
  • Pick the comfort layers (ie mattress fillings) and how they will feel

However, most retailers won’t tell you this as they want you to make a far quicker decision. Using the spring tension incorrectly in this way allows them to cut to the chase when making the sale. This often leads to you choosing a mattress that could be entirely unsuitable for your bodyweight. We give you our expert guide on how to avoid picking the incorrect mattress.

1. What spring tension should I choose?

Spring tensions of a mattress are usually described as Soft, Medium or Firm. This gives the illusion that the mattress itself with feel this way.This is incorrect.These three tensions are directly linked to your body weight on the mattress. So the very first question you need to ask is which spring gauge is made to match my bodyweight. This means you will have the exact amount of support needed during the night.

In a high-end mattress, different spring tensions will be available.

Spring TensionWire diameter (Gauge)Weight Range
Soft1.2mmBespoke Tension (Please Call)
Medium1.4mmUpto 16 stone
Firm1.6mm16 stone plus
Extra Firm / Orthopaedic1.9mm20 stone plus

A high-end mattress will enable you to have either a soft, medium or firm spring depending on your body weight. View our tailored spring tension mattresses.

What about standard spring tensions?

If you’re looking at an entry-level mattress with only one spring tension it is usually a 1.4 gauge wire on the medium side. This is because it suits the largest number of sleepers as most people fall into this bracket.

The support from all similar spring foundations is relatively the same, particularly if the same spring gauge (thickness of wire) is used. One thing that’s essential is to ask and find out the spring gauge or tension of any mattress you are buying. Where possible and if your budget allows you should always opt for a tailored spring tension like our Artisan Range of hand made mattresses.

How heavy are you?

Your body weight plays a huge part in choosing the right mattress. Without considering this you are simply guessing as to which spring and tension you need. Retailers rarely ask this and will want to avoid getting into too much detail with you. They do this to keep the sale quick and simple. This often results in you ending up with a really unsuitable mattress and a nightmare trying to exchange it with them.

A light person will find an orthopaedic mattress rock hard, whereas a heavier person may find it just right. So what kind of mattress would be chosen for the heavier person who is asking for a firm mattress believing that this would be the only option for them?

This is where the expertise of the retailer should come into play.

Tailored Spring tensions separate entry-level average mattresses from the sublime. Click to view tailored mattresses.

We can help identify the correct spring tensions for you – no more guessing

Another thing to bear in mind is that mattress tension is also relative to the size of the mattress a single mattress will be firmer than a double mattress, a lot firmer than a king size and much firmer than a super king, and of course vice-versa. The bigger the span of the mattress the ‘softer’ it will feel. So going out to buy a mattress bigger or smaller than the one you are looking to replace will have a direct influence on the mattress tension. This is where you may need specialist advice and we can help prevent you from guessing.

Choosing the correct spring tension is vital – Click to choose a tailored mattress spring

As if that wasn’t enough there is also the fabric to consider. Mattresses that have a final layer of latex or foam will always have a soft knitted fabric to face the mattress. Whereas final layer polyester will usually have a damask (woven fabric) to face the mattress.

When manufacturers want the mattress to have a softer overall tension, then they would use a knitted fabric rather than a Damask. However, care needs to be taken with cheaper polyester knitted fabrics when compared to Damask. A Viscose Damask if far more breathable and hardwearing than any knitted or quilted cover.

Mattress firmness vs support

There is a clear misunderstanding in the bed industry about perceived firmness and support. Often the two words are used interchangeably. We can’t stress enough how these two words have very distinct meanings and are not the same thing.

The support unit of your mattress is nearly always dictated by yourweightandheight.

This is because spring units are manufactured with certain load or weight tolerances. This means they are made to take a certain amount of weight to load (compress) and unload (extend) correctly. If you imagine the force you must apply to a standard spring to compress it and then how much force is needed to be removed before it will extend, this sometimes helps understand this principle.

High-end mattresses will allow you to choose your own spring tension or even a split tension

Most people mistakenly confuse the spring tension with how the mattress will feel

It’s essential that you know the weight limit that can be applied to the spring to work out if it is going to be suitable for you. Even if you want the firmest mattress possible, a spring that is too firm ie has too wide a gauge for your body weight, will never give you proper support. You will merely rest on the top of it like sleeping on a hardwood floor. The spring units sole purpose is to compress and extend to accommodate your weight, lumps, bumps, elbows and wriggling needs.

Unfortunately, there is no standard soft spring tension, accepted medium spring or defined firm spring tension (with the exception of orthopaedic springs which are all 1.94mm 12 gauge spring). Each manufacturer will have their own definition.

Our medium springs, for example, will accommodate a 10 stone sleeper up to 16 stone in the Origins range, there is some give and take with this, such as an 8-9 stone sleeper and a 16-17 stone sleeper, but this then requires some more careful thought about the upholstery layers.

Ask the mattress retailer what the spring tolerance is

You simply must ask mattress manufacturers what the spring weight tolerance is. Below we have listed our Artisan Spring tolerances, as we offer three tensions. This should give you an idea of the kind of detail you require. With this, there are exceptions which are rare, so if in doubt please get in touch with us.

Artisan Spring TensionWeight Range
SoftAvailable as a Bespoke Product (Please Call)
MediumUpto 16 stone / 101kg
FirmOver 16 stone / 101kg

2. Mattress Fillings as the comfort layer

Once you’ve established if the spring support unit is suitable for you, then the mattress upholstery layers on top of this spring unit will give you a better idea of the ‘perceived overall firmness’. These are also known as the comfort layers of a mattress.

The upholstery or mattress filling layers provide the choice on the overall firmness you require from your mattress. This is where most people make mistakes. As they focus on the spring unit alone they pay little attention to the Type, GSM (how much each layer weighs) and Blend of the mattress fillings.

This is where the real choice lies. You can have two medium tension springs, suitable for say a 13 stone sleeper, in two mattresses but topped with different upholstery layers will give one say a medium feel and one a much softer or firmer feel. This is where you need to apply all your knowledge to work out how the top layers of the mattress will feel.

Durable and soft British Wool is a medium feel comfort layer

  • Foams for example in our Origins Reflex give a firmer feel in the upholstery layer.
  • British fleece wool and cotton in the top layer of the Artisan Luxury will give a really soft feel to the mattress.
  • Horsehair will give a firmer feel in the comfort layers like our Artisan Bespoke
  • Alpaca fibre and Bamboo are some of the softest fibres as in our Artisan Bespoke 003

Yes, the support unit plays a part, but this is really set by your weight, whereas the upholstery can give you the option of either a softer or firmer feel in the top layer, the layer you’re immediately lying on.

Upholstery is the main area that gives a mattress either a soft, medium or firm feel – not the spring unit

Each of our product descriptions in the shop gives an idea of how the mattress will feel for your bodyweight. At present, we believe we are the only retailer to do this. Below is an example for the Origins 1500 mattress and what the perceived firmness will feel like.

Upholstery LayerFibre TypeHow it will feel?Price Point
PolyesterSyntheticSoftCheap
White FibreSyntheticSoft/MediumCheap
Recycled Fibre / Eco FibreSyntheticMediumCheap
Memory FoamSyntheticMedium/FirmMid Price
Igel / Hybrid FoamSyntheticMedium/FirmMid Price
PolycottonSynthetic/Natural BlendSoft/MediumMid Price
LinenSynthetic/Natural BlendMediumMid Price
Wool (Pure)NaturalSoft/MediumHigh-End
Cotton (Pure)NaturalSoftHigh-End
HorsehairNaturalMediumHigh-End
MohairNaturalMedium/FirmHigh-End
HempNaturalMediumHigh-End
Latex (100% Natural)NaturalMedium/FirmHigh-End
CoirNaturalFirmHigh-End
FlaxNaturalFirmHigh-End
Coarse CashmereNaturalFirmHigh-End
BambooNaturalSuper SoftExpensive / Exclusive
HorsetailNaturalFirmExpensive / Exclusive
AlpacaNaturalSoftExpensive / Exclusive
Cashmere (Pure)NaturalSoftExpensive / Exclusive
VicunaNaturalSuper SoftExpensive / Exclusive

What makes a soft mattress?

Soft mattresses are usually made up of softer upholstery fibre fillings. These fillings have high of and offer little in terms of support. Wool, Alpaca, Cotton and Soft Polyester on their own will make for a very soft feel mattress. These are usually layered with other fibres to help firm up upholstery layers.

We have two soft mattresses in our ranges. These are the Origins Comfort 1000, our entry-level pocket spring model and then our Artisan Luxury handcrafted calico pocket spring model. These have really soft upholstery in the top comfort layers ensuring that deep sink and soft feel.

The Origins Comfort is one of our softest mattresses Our Artisan Luxury is our softest mattress with deep 100% Natural Fillings

What is a medium feel mattress made of?

The most popular mattress tension and feel is medium. The good all rounder in terms of tension. Not too soft and not too firm.

Medium feel mattresses use a blend of softer fibres like wool with more resilient ones such as Coir, Horsehair, Mohair and other fibre blends. These firmer layers off support alongside the spring unit and help provide that medium feel where you sink slightly but are supported more than a soft tension mattress.

Our medium feel mattresses are the Artisan Naturals, Artisan Bespoke 004 & Artisan Bespoke 003. These all have incredibly deep comfort layers using fibres that provide a medium feel in the upholstery layers. All of these mattresses are available in either a soft, medium or firm spring tension which is dictated by your weight.

The Artisan Naturals is our Best Seller The Artisan Bespoke 004 is 100% Natural and HandmadeThe Artisan Bespoke 003 features Alpaca and English Wool.

What’s inside a firm mattress?

Firm feel mattresses utilise predominantly robust natural fibres such as Horsetail, Flax, Polycotton, reflex foam and dense upholstery layers. This provides noticeably more support than softer wool-based fillings to give a mattress that firm feel. For most people firm feel mattresses can cause backache if you’re not used to them. So unless you’ve always had a firm mattress you may want to consider a medium feel.

Our Artisan Bespoke and Resilience models are our firmest models. The Artisan Bespoke is a handcrafted calico pocket sprung model whereas the Resilience range is a foam-based contemporary model. Bear in mind these are generals and your weight plays a part in how firm you will perceive these.

Artisan Bespoke with a firmer feel Our firmest mattress the Resilience

Ultra firm or ultra-soft mattresses

There are some people who really do prefer a rock hard mattress (ultra firm) or an all-engulfing ultra-soft mattress. If this is you, then let us know your preference, making it easier for me to select a product within your price range that will be suitable for you. Our resilience range is our firmest mattress we sell and is ideal for either people over 18 stone or lighter sleepers who want a super solid but two-sided mattress.

We repeat what we say in the article here on what-can-you-expect-for-your-money that initially you should be looking for the best combination of components you want that your money can buy. When establishing whether the bed is soft, medium or firm you need to look at the upholstery layers.

When choosing a mattress firmness you need to identify the spring tension based on your body weight and then focus on the mattress fillings to establish how firm the mattress will feel overall. Retailers want you to base this on spring tension because its quicker and easier them to sell you a mattress. However, doing it this way is completely wrong and the chances are you will end up with a really uncomfortable mattress.

Our expert team can assist you in calculating what spring tension you require for your body weight and how the upholstery layers will feel. So get in touch for tailored help on 0161 437 4419 or drop us a message below.

Plush vs. Firm: Which Mattress Comfort Level Is Right for You?

One of the first questions you’ll likely encounter on the way to picking out a new mattress is how plush or firm you want the mattress to feel. Sounds simple enough, right?

Not necessarily. It can be difficult to choose between a plush vs. firm mattress. “Mattress firmness is a comfort term,” says chiropractor Robert Oexman, director of the Mebane, N.C.-based Sleep to Live Institute, which leads research on how the sleep environment affects sleep quality. Firm, plush, soft, and their many variations (think: cloud-like or cushiony) are subjective qualities meant to describe how a mattress might feel to any one individual.

The trouble is, there’s no industry standard or uniform specification used to measure firmness, meaning that one company’s “medium firm” mattress could be just as firm as another’s “extra firm” mattress. And even if there were a standard scale, the same mattress firmness will feel different to different people depending on body size and muscle mass, Oexman explains. “When an elephant lies down on a mattress, for example, it’s going to feel different than when a mouse lies on that same mattress,” he says.

So what’s a mattress shopper to do? First, understand a little bit more about what firmness or softness in a mattress really means, and how it differs from that other essential quality, support.

A mattress doesn’t need to be firm to be supportive

When deciding between a plush vs. firm mattress, consider your specific needs. At minimum, a mattress needs to provide the right support for a person’s body weight, size, and shape. A person who weighs 300 pounds is going to need a more supportive mattress than someone who weighs 120 pounds, Oexman says.

But support comes from the core of the mattress—the denser bottom layers of foam in foam mattresses and the spring system in an innerspring mattress—not from how firm or plush the surface, of “comfort,” layers feel.

Oexman defines support as the ability to adopt a variety of positions throughout the night while maintaining your spine in a relatively “neutral” horizontal position. In other words, you want to avoid the U-shaped curve you’d get from sleeping in a hammock, as well as the unnatural bend you’d experience if you lie on your stomach on the floor all night. Instead, your spine should be supported in its natural S-shaped curve and your ears, shoulders, and hips should be aligned.

A soft or ultra-plush bed can still provide plenty of support, Oexman says, so long as the layers underneath are appropriate for the person who’s sleeping on it. “You can still go ahead and sink into it enough to get the support you need,” he says. (Here’s how to match your mattress to your body type.)

Learn More About Saatva Mattresses

Saatva Classic Innerspring

Our flagship luxury mattress is expertly engineered with coil-on-coil construction for durability, a layer of memory foam for enhanced back support, and a cushiony Euro pillow top for extra comfort.

Loom & Leaf Memory Foam

Premium memory foam, handcrafted in the U.S., with eco-friendly materials. Breathable organic cotton, cooling spinal gel, and layers of high-density support foam assure a cool, comfortable night’s sleep.

Zenhaven Latex Mattress

100% Talalay latex responds to every curve for pressure-free support and responsive comfort. Talalay latex is supple, resilient, and durable, for the ultimate in elevated sleep. (It’s naturally hypoallergenic too.)

Is a plush vs. firm mattress best for you?

Think of firmness as how the mattress feels when you first lie down on it. That’s a function of the top layers—what they’re made of, the number of layers, and the thickness and density of the foam or padding. While lack of support is what causes you to wake up with back or shoulder pain or feeling like you didn’t get a great night’s sleep, Oexman says, comfort plays a role in how quickly you fall asleep versus how much you toss and turn once your head hits the pillow.

While there’s no definitive standard, many mattress companies (including Saatva) rate the firmness of their products on a 10-point scale. Typically the higher the number, the firmer the mattress, from 3-4 at the low end to 7-8 at the high end. Not surprisingly, the majority of people tend to prefer mattresses that fall in the middle of the firmness scale—also called “universal comfort” or “hotel style.”

Different sleep styles need different comfort levels

When it comes to mattress firmness, another important consideration is the way you typically sleep. If you’re a side sleeper, for example, you have concentrated pressure points in contact with the mattress: your shoulder, hip, and outside of your knee and foot. In that case, a sleep surface that’s a little bit plusher or softer and lets you sink in provides better pressure relief.

If you’re a stomach sleeper, you’ll probably do better on a medium to firm mattress, which will help prevent arching in the back (and potential pain later on). And if you’re a back sleeper, count yourself lucky: You will likely sleep well on most mattresses, as long as it’s not so soft or firm that it throws your spine out of neutral alignment. (Here’s more advice on how to match your mattress to your sleep position.)

Bottom line: Whether you’re waking up with aches and pains or it’s simply time for a new mattress, think support first. Then, for your best night’s sleep, choose the firmness or softness that feels most comfortable to you. You can’t go wrong.

Ready to buy a new mattress? Read our mattress guide for advice on choosing the right one for you.

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