Here at Homes & Gardens we've spent hundreds of hours searching for the best mattresses. However, we've found there's a bit of a gap in the market. Most mattress manufacturers seem to focus on making the softest beds possible.
At first glance, a squishy, soft bed looks like a good thing, but if you like to sleep on your front, or get hot in the night, there's nothing worse than that sinking feeling. It can also play havoc with your back, and I know this first-hand. Years of playing rugby are catching up to me, and if I'm in a soft bed my lower back won't thank me in the morning.
A firm mattress can solve all of this, and these are best firm mattresses we've tested. It's been a tough call, but we've whittled down our tests of the best mattresses to just three options. We know exactly how good they are, so you can find a firm mattress that you know will work for you.
Alex is Head of eCommerce at Homes & Gardens and spends his days trawling the internet for the latest product launches and deals, as well as testing homes products in our specialised test facility. Before H&G, he worked for several other consumer magazines reviewing homes goods and garden tools. He likes his mattresses on the firmer side, so he's well-placed to assess the best firm mattresses.
Best firm mattress
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Why you should buy it: the best mattress for tackling back pain
Why we love it
I'm going to go against the grain of mattress advice here, but I know I'm right, so I don't care. Most guides will say that memory foam doesn't work for front and side sleepers, and is a poor choice if you want a a firm mattress. That's not the case with the Nectar Memory Foam mattress.
In our guide of the best mattresses, this memory foam marvel is our choice for the best mattress for tackling back pain. I think that's because its also the best firm mattress you can buy. While the website ranks it as a 6.5/10 on the spectrum between soft to firm, we think it's much firmer than that. However, don't think that it's like sleeping on a stone. Like all memory mattresses, it gets more comfortable as you break it in.
Casey found that it's supportive but comfortable. She remarked that it was great for sleeping on her front, as it ' sank underneath my chest area when I laid on my front, allowing for some breathing room'. She also found that it alleviated some of the pain of her fibromyalgia. While you should be very careful about buying a mattress to improve the symptoms of back pain (and more on that below), there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that it's helped some people relieve their discomfort. It also has excellent motion-isolation, which we test by setting out a full glass of water and rolling around. None was spilled, so you won't notice if your partner turns over in the night.
Good to know
This mattress has some of the infamous off-gassing odor that comes with memory foam mattresses, but it faded after a couple of days.
Casey's Nectar Memory foam mattress review goes into more detail.
Nectar Memory Foam Mattress |
was $1049, now $699 with free Serenity Sleep bundle worth $599 at Nectar (opens in new tab)
Our pick for the best memory foam mattress around, the Nectar memory foam mattress is already 33% off. The deal is made even sweeter with more than $500 off a set of pillows, bedding and a mattress topper.
There's more detail in our full Nectar Memory Foam Mattress review.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Why you should buy it: The most comfortable and supportive mattress on test, made-to-order and set up in your bedroom for free
Why we love it:
This is the best mattress you can buy, bar none. A hybrid mattress, the Saatva comes in three firmnesses – Plush Soft, Luxury Firm, and Firm. We tested the Luxury Firm, and found a medium-firm design that suits side, front and back sleepers. It's more towards firm than medium and a look at Saatva's website shows that some buyers who opt for the firm find it too hard. We think Luxury Firm is the best call for most readers.
Expert tester Jaclyn found an incredible luxury feel that was perfect for sleeping on her back and side. A strict stomach sleeper will likely prefer something firmer, but if you're a combination sleeper, this will still offer good support. It has unbelievable pressure relief, so you'll barely notice if you turn over in the night, as well as near-perfect edge support motion isolation, so you won't be woken by your partner stirring. It also sleeps cool, so it's a good choice if you get hot in the night.
Good to know:
It's impossible to avoid the price of this matteess - it's pretty expensive. We also aren't fans of the $99 return fee if you don't like the mattress, and the relatively short 1-year warranty.
Jaclyn's Saatva Classic Mattress review goes into more detail.
Saatva Classic Mattress |
was $1,995, now $1,595 for Queen (opens in new tab)
Saatva have just dropped their President's Day discount, active now through to the end of February. Save $400 on any mattress over $1000, and grab a discount on our top-rated mattress.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Why you should buy it: Top-notch eco-credentials
Why we love it:
Our favorite organic mattress, the cover of the Avocado is made with a combination of GOTS-certified cotton and wool as well. The latex layers that that make up the core of this mattress are are farmed from sustainable farms.
Latex is one of the best materials for a firm mattress. The top latex layer is comfortable, but doesn't yield much. This means that this mattress is on the firm side of medium, so it's an excellent option if you want back support or like to sleep on your stomach. It gently molds to your body but with none of the sinking sensation you get with plush beds.
Not only is latex supportive, but this natural material harvested from trees is also a particularly good choice for those with allergies. This mattress is free of chemical adhesives and the wool cover is a natural fire-retardant.
Good to know:
Our reviewer Antonia found that this was just slightly too firm for her preferences, but found it was perfect medium-firm with a the pillow-top. However, this is an extra cost.
Antonia's Avocado Green Mattress review covers all the detail.
Avocado Green Mattress|
was $1,999, now $1,799 for Queen with code SAVE10 at Avocado (opens in new tab)
Our pick for the best organic mattress, Avocado's eco-friendly Green Mattress is made of 100% GOLS-certified organic latex, wool, and cotton. It delivers a great night's sleep thanks to 1,414 pocketed support coils arranged in 5 zones.
Can a firm mattress help back pain?
Yes, but our usual qualification applies. If you suffer from back pain, speak to a doctor. Back pain can be caused by thousands of different conditions and should be discussed with a medical professional.
There's no guarantee that a new mattress will solve back pain. You could spend thousands of dollars on a mattress to relieve your back only to find that your new, expensive bed does nothing for your discomfort.
With that said, I've personally found that if I'm sleeping on a mattress softer than my own - if I'm in a hotel, or visiting family - then it can exacerbate back pain. Exacerbate is the key word. Unless you're sleeping on a broken mattress, no mattress can cause back pain, but a soft mattress can make bad pain worse.
All of this means that a firm mattress can help back pain, but it won't remove it. Manual labour, the wrong office chair, incorrect form in the gym, or just random back luck can cause back pain. A firm mattress is a great help, but don't expect any miracles.
Can side sleepers use a firm mattress?
Absolutely, I know this first hand. I'm a side-sleeper, but I also like firmness to support my back. The pay-off is that my mattress is a little less forgiving on my joints in the night, but I'd much rather have slight pressure than limited support for my back.
My advice here is to just do whatever feels comfortable. Don't feel hemmed-in by mattress marketing jargon. The best bed for you is whichever you find most comfortable. Some of us are just built against the grain of mattress advice, and as long as you're comfortable, it doesn't matter.
Do heavier people need a firm mattress?
As above, there's no one-size-fits-all answer here, but it tends to be the case that heavier people benefit from a firmer mattress. Soft mattresses compress more than firm ones, so if you weigh more than average, you might find that a soft mattress sags and becomes lumpy. That means that firm mattresses provide much better support if you're heavy. It's a good idea to check weight limits on any mattress you buy. The Nectar mattress featured above is rated for up to 650lbs, so if you're single, it will work, but might not if both you and your partner are heavier than average. We haven't tested it yet, but Saatva's Luxury Hybrid HD (opens in new tab) is a version of the mattress featured above that's specifically designed for heavier couples.
As Head of eCommerce, Alex makes sure our readers find the right information to help them make the best purchase. After graduating from Cambridge University, Alex got his start in reviewing at the iconic Good Housekeeping Institute, testing a wide range of household products and appliances. He then moved to BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, assessing gardening tools, machinery, and wildlife products. Helping people find true quality and genuine value is a real passion.
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