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Sleeping on a cloud doesn’t work for everyone.
In fact, some people would rather lay on a stiffer bed than on a squishy soft mattress. If you are one of them, you may find this guide helpful.
We are going to look at 5 best extra-firm mattresses and learn what aspects to consider when shopping. So, let’s get started!
A Quick Preview
Plank Mattress by Brooklyn Bedding
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Second Best Choice
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Best for Heavier Users
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Best Cooling Mattress
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Best for Back Pain Relief
Twilight by Helix
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List of 5 Best Extra Firm Mattresses
Editor’s Choice – Plank Mattress by Brooklyn Bedding
- flippable design with Firm and Extra Firm sides;
- comes with an optional cooling panel;
- minimalist design.
Tired of searching for a mattress that is firm enough to your taste? Or maybe, you aren’t sure which firmness you need? The Plank mattress by Brooklyn Bedding can be a solution in both cases. Its 2-in-1 firmness can help you choose the right feel and will offer unbeatable spinal support no matter what your final choice will be.
According to the manufacturer, the mattress has a Firm (8/10) and Ultra Firm (10/10) sides. The former offers just a drop of sinkage to relieve pressure in your back and shoulders, while the latter delivers a truly floating feel and offers some benefits for your circulatory system.
Now, beds like the Plank typically sleep cooler but you can ask for an additional cooling panel just in case. This panel is made of phase-change materials (PCMs) that can ensure comfortable sleep throughout the year.
Now, being one of the best extra firm mattresses, the Plank also comes with great edge support. Brooklyn Bedding states that they use the most durable and firmest foams in the industry, so you can expect a sturdy perimeter for a longer time.
Even though The Ultra-Firm side seems pretty hard at first, it’s quite supportive and comfortable to sleep on. And the regular Firm side can offer you a good level of pressure relief and proper spinal support.
- Those who haven’t decided yet. You can try both sides of the Plank mattress and find out which one brings you more comfort.
- Those who typically sleep hot on foam beds. Both Firm and Ultra-Firm sides offer you little to no sinkage and help dissipate the body heat. But you can make it even better by ordering a sewn-in cooling panel.
- Those who need a bed with sturdy edges. The edge support of the Plank can be compared to that of a medium-priced hybrid. If you love snoozing closer to the side or share a bed with someone, this mattress can please you.
- dense foam layers make the Plank a bit heavy;
- on the expensive side.
Second Best Choice – Saatva
- offers precise contouring thanks to the coil-on-coil construction;
- reinforced perimeter;
- additional lumbar layer for spine support.
Saatva is one of the best extra firm mattresses for a bunch of reasons, with the main being the luxurious quality of materials and high responsiveness.
This is one of the few innerspring mattresses on the market with a ‘coil on coil’ supportive construction — that is, two layers of springs placed atop each other.
The upper layer is the individually wrapped pocketed micro-coils, which are among the latest innovations on the market. They ensure pin-point conforming and eliminate motion transfer. The lower layer is made of a solid steel coil block. Its main features are increased stability, enhanced edge support, and anti-sagging design.
The brand also tries to make its product suitable for people with specific issues. Thus, the mattress has a reinforced foam pad in the lumbar area to help people with back pain make their sleep more rejuvenating.
So, if you’re a fan of a traditional bed with spring blocks but don’t mind a bit of luxury and comfort, then this model by Saatva will definitely appeal to you.
- Couples. Good edge support and anti-sagging design are essential if you share a bed with someone.
- Back pain sufferers. The sewn-in lumbar layer ensures better support for your lower back area and helps alleviate lumbar back pain.
- Those who appreciate a more traditional mattress feel. As an innerspring model, the Saatva feels quite bouncy and rigid, which could be a plus for those who like the feel of traditional beds.
- the coils may start squeaking over time;
- As the Saatva isn’t a mattress in a box, you might have difficulty transporting it into your bedroom.
Best for Heavier Users – Winkbeds
- four firmness levels, including one for heavy sleepers;
- zoned spine support;
- breathable materials.
Now, you must know how hard it might be to find the right mattress if you’re a large person…
Well, don’t worry, WinkBeds has you covered.
The Firm Plus model by WinkBeds is on this list of top-rated extra firm beds because it is designed specifically for heavy users.
The construction of this mattress is targeted to support larger loads and can withstand active use even of two heavy sleepers without sagging. The seven-zone support system of coils aligns your spine and provides enhanced support for the lumbar area.
Motion isolation is key if you have another sleeper by your side. In the WinkBeds, undisturbed sleep is achieved by using polyfoam as the base and edge support foam encasement around the coils. These two absorb unwanted motion, compensating for the bounciness of springs and latex.
By the way, the layer of latex is a great component of the entire construction, as it promotes a healthier microclimate inside the mattress. And the breathable Tencel cover quilted with gel-infused foam improve temperature regulation as well.
Overall, if you’re a larger person who loves sleeping atop the bed rather than getting stuck in it, then this is the mattress you need. It’s also a great option for hot sleepers.
- Large sleepers. The Firm Plus option features a latex layer for a more breathable construction, so it can offer just the right amount of cradling and pressure relief for heavier sleepers.
- Individuals with back issues. If you go for the standard Firm option, you will get a zoned coil layer that allows for more pinpoint support of the natural spine curves.
- Couples. Sturdy edges are the hallmark of the Winkbed, so the mattress offers uniform support and ensures that both you and your partner have enough space.
- the pillow-top’s padding might go flat over the years;
- might lack proper motion isolation.
Best Cooling Mattress – Novosbed
Novosbed holds a place in this list of the best extra firm mattresses because it can help you deal even with chronic hot sleeping and will turn your sleep into a blissful experience.
The mattress features a pretty basic all-foam construction with some twists. First, it uses open-cell foams that retain less body heat than traditional memory foam, thus promoting airflow between mattress layers.
Second, Novosbed is wrapped into a removable Tencel cover that feels soft and cool to the touch. Tencel fibers are derived from eucalyptus leaves, which makes the material hypoallergenic and harmless for your skin. Also, the fabric effectively wicks away moisture and prevents you from drowning in your sweat.
Finally, speaking of the supportive properties, Novosbed excels at providing support with some sinkage to relax your pressure points, which is especially great for the supine position.
Also, the bed has some bounce and doesn’t limit your mobility, which can be an advantage for some.
Overall, Novosbed is a comfortable mattress that doesn’t make you sleep hot and seems pretty long-lasting, so investing in it will pay off in the long term.
- Hot sleepers. The breathable foam and cooling Tencel cover combined with the floating feel make the Novosbed an almost perfect bed for those who are prone to overheating.
- Individuals with mobility concerns. The moderate motion response of the Novosbed allows you to get in and out of your bed more easily without interrupting the sleep of your partner.
- People with hypersensitivities. The hypoallergenic and washable cover will protect you from the dust mites and debris build-up, so this mattress won’t aggravate your allergies.
- takes time to adjust to your body because of dense foam layers;
- may feel a bit too bouncy for those who are used to the traditional memory foam feel.
Best for Back Pain – Twilight by Helix
- perfect edge support;
- offers pain relief;
- sleeps cool.
The last option in this review of the top extra-firm mattresses is the Twilight model by Helix. This mattress is just one of the many options available at Helix and it offers you four-layer support construction designed for a firmer feel without sacrificing proper pressure relief.
So, what’s so special about this mattress?
The supportive core of this extra-firm mattress for back pain consists of two layers of high-density polyfoam and pocketed micro coils between them for reinforced edge support and precise contouring. The upper layer is made of memory foam, which is actually the key element providing back pain relief.
The two-touch design of the cover fabric allows the air to penetrate inside the mattress to help you sleep cooler. The cover is also very pleasant to the touch.
Overall, I advise you to choose this mattress if you’re seeking relief for your aches and pains and want to pump up the quality of your sleep.
- Individuals with back pain. This firm mattress is a good choice if you need to support proper spine alignment and relax deep muscles.
- Couples. The Twilight has great edge support and ensures that the whole mattress area will be at your service.
- Those who struggle with hot sleeping. The hybrid construction and breathable two-touch cover fabric promote breathability and help withdraw your body heat.
- motion isolation could’ve been better;
- strict stomach sleepers might need something firmer.
How Is Mattress Firmness Measured?
Measuring the mattress firmness usually refers to the overall feeling you get when you first lie on the bed. Thus, defining the firmest mattress might be a daunting task if it’s based on subjective human preferences.
That’s why most mattress brands use a universally accepted firmness scale from 1 to 10 points, where 1 refers to a very soft sinking feel, while 10 is the hardest surface you can sleep on, such as concrete.
According to this scale, all mattresses are divided into three main groups:
- Soft (3-5 points out of 10). These mattresses are rather plushy and cradling. They offer you generous sinkage and conforming properties.
- Medium (5-7 points out of 10). These have a more balanced feel and adapt to your body weight evenly.
- Firm (7-9 out of 10). If you love the feeling of floating atop your bed and don’t seek much cushioning, then this is your choice.
Not all mattress brands follow this scale, though. Some refer to a reversed type, where 10 is the softest feel. So, keep that in mind or refer to mattress reviews when searching for needed firmness.
Pros and Cons of Extra-Firm Beds
Now, let’s talk about the pros and cons that define an ultra-firm mattress among models with different points on the scale.
The main advantages of extra-firm beds are:
- Lower price. This is because they often have fewer comfort layers than softer models. And fewer layers means the production process requires less resources and costs less.
- Longer lifespan. Firm beds are sturdier in construction and use denser materials for their core layers. This means they last longer and are less prone to sagging and indentations.
- Better edge support. If you’re a person who shares a bed with a partner or prefers to sleep close to the edge, enhanced edge support is what you should look for. Compared to softer mattresses, most extra firm models have less compression across the entire surface, including the edges.
- Less prone to odours. Because of the denser materials used, really firm mattresses can release fewer gaseous chemicals. They are also more immune to mildew development, which can also cause a funky smell to appear.
- Easier to move. Obviously, the more layers inside the mattress, the heavier it will be. That’s why if you buy a queen-sized mattress, larger king, or Cal king, you’ll still be able to move it with less effort than a thicker, softer mattress.
There are a few drawbacks of extra-firm beds you should know about:
- Minimal pressure relief. Because you don’t have much sinkage or hug when sleeping on a firm mattress, your pressure points aren’t cradled properly, especially if you’re a side sleeper.
- Sometimes extra-firm mattresses aren’t sex-friendly. The critical factor of the best bed for sex is the balance between motion response and cushioning. Firm mattresses, while being very responsive, might lack proper cushioning, which means that they can make up an uncomfortably hard surface for some people.
- Lower thickness. Again, the thinner the comfort layers, the thinner your mattress will be. Keep in mind that this just isn’t to everyone’s liking.
- Heat Retention. A softer mattress offers more sinkage and increases the area of contact between your body and the mattress. This leads to heat retention and may disrupt your sleep because of overheating. Most mattresses, however, are often devoid of this drawback.
Always refer to the overall feel when choosing the perfect bed. The best way to define whether a mattress is suitable for you is to test several options with the needed firmness level.
Is an Extra-Firm Mattress Right for You?
Now, after defining the key features of a bed, you need to make sure it’s the right option for you. Along with personal preferences, you’ll probably benefit from sleeping on an ultra-firm mattress if you’re a:
- Back sleeper. When sleeping on your back, your spine is in the most relaxed position. You need even support to maintain its natural alignment.
- Stomach sleeper. Although sleeping on your stomach is considered the least healthy position, for some people it’s the only way to ensure restorative sleep. So, if you fall asleep on your tummy, you might need a firmer bed that will support your lower back without creating awkward curves.
- Person with circulatory problems. An extra-firm mattress keeps your spine in the neutral position, thus reducing the pressure on your muscles, organs, and overall system. And since there are no pinched and squeezed blood vessels, you can maintain healthy blood circulation through the night.
- Back and joint pain sufferer. Although research mostly shows that medium firmness is best for people who experience back pain (1), some studies found that firmer beds may bring more pain relief than softer ones (2). Because they don’t offer too much sinkage, they can be beneficial for some people — for example, the elderly, who may have some difficulty getting in and out of bed.
- Heavy person. If your BMI is 30 or more, then softer mattresses will probably feel like a hammock for you. A firmer bed with a proper support system will distribute your weight more evenly.
- Hot sleeper. Again, a firm mattress won’t allow you to sink into it. Thus, you won’t be trapped in the heat.
Children may also benefit from sleeping on a firmer bed. As their spine and bones are still growing, they need to be properly aligned to prevent protrusions and scoliosis. Also, infants and newborns are recommended to sleep on firm surfaces to avoid the risk of suffocation and SIDS.
People Who Don’t Have to Sleep on an Ultra Firm Mattress
So, you’ve learned about the types of people who may receive the most beneficial sleep on a firm mattress. Now, you may want to check if you’re falling into any of the three groups of people who certainly need to choose softer beds, according to mattress reviews and science:
- Lightweight sleepers. Thin people just don’t have enough weight to sink into a firm mattress. Thus, their bed will seem even firmer for them, and even the presence of a pillow top layer won’t help them achieve the desired level of comfort.
- Older people. This is rather a controversial point. As mentioned above, elderly sleepers might benefit from a firm mattress if they suffer from chronic pains. Yet, the benefits of softer mattresses for older people are their cradling properties and ability to retain heat (due to the fact that thermoregulation impairs with age).
- Side sleepers. Side sleeping is the most common position among Americans. However, ultra-firm mattresses aren’t the best option to achieve good shut-eye if you’re a side sleeper (3), because you need more cradling for your protruding hips and shoulders. A softer mattress will serve much better for you. I’m a side sleeper, so check the picture below to get to know more about side sleeping on firm mattresses.
If you have acid reflux or suffer from sleep apnea, then your doctor or health practitioner might recommend sleeping on your side. In this case, a firm mattress will not be the bed of choice for you. However, make sure you consult your doctor first.
Checklist for Finding the Perfect Extra Firm Bed
Okay, so you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided that a firm mattress is the bed you want. Here are some other points to keep in mind before making your final purchase:
- Consider dual firmness. If you have a partner who has a totally different firmness preference, you’ll likely not want to purchase an extra-firm king mattress, unless you’re happy sleeping on the couch. Instead, consider choosing models with different firmness levels on both the left and right side. This allows for the needs of both partners to be satisfied.
- Add some layers. Remember that your perception of firmness may change as you get used to your new bed. Or, you may find the mattress feels too firm shortly after your free trial period expires. In this case, you may be able to alter the feel by adding a mattress topper or cushioning pad. You can add extra layers on top of the cover or place them under the cover if the mattress construction allows you to do that. Some brands offers this solution (Novosbed for example), here how it looks like:
- Choose a flippable mattress. If you are still not sure about the firmness you need, search for a flippable bed. These models have different firmness levels on both sides, so you can flip your mattress and use the second sleeping surface if you end up not liking the first one.
- Find the supportive pillow. A suitable pillow is as crucial for your rest as the mattress itself. For a firm bed, you might want to choose a higher, firmer pillow, especially if you’re a side sleeper. Softer models with a small loft won’t provide enough support for your neck, and you may wake up in pain.
- Get the most out of your free trial period. If you’re buying a bed online, you can make use of an extended trial period. Most online brands will gladly offer you this option, if you ask. During this period, you can expect a hassle-free refund if you find the mattress isn’t suitable for you. Typically, these trials vary from 90–120 days, which is pretty long compared to the standard return period in a brick-and-mortar store.
- Check the warranty coverage. After your trial ends, you may still be eligible for mattress replacement or a full refund if the purchased product appears to be defective. Most mattress brands guarantee the sagging depth will be not deeper than the level specified in the warranty conditions. If the mattress sags below that level, you can use the warranty to get a new mattress. Sagging is just one of the possible defects covered by warranty.
Remember that any spills or stains on your mattress will void your warranty and you won’t be able to return or replace your bed. For this reason, it’s important that you invest in a good quality mattress protector.
As you can see, even though you know your preferred firmness level of your ideal mattress, there are lots of other points to consider before buying a mattress. I hope that this guide has answered all the questions you might encounter when shopping and has given you several worthy candidates to consider as your next mattress.
Remember that extra-firm mattress definitely isn’t the most common choice. However, some sleepers — such as those who sleep on their stomach or are on the heavier side — may benefit from this firmness level. To make the most of your purchase, be sure to opt for models with denser foams that maintain their shape, or choose hybrids with a solid steel unit that typically feels firmer than individually wrapped coils.
Now, IMO, among all the mattress models, the Plank by Brooklyn Bedding is a solid choice. This mattress offers the luxury of two different firmness levels thanks to its flippable design, while sleeping comfortably cool, which so many users appreciate!
Do you know the firmness level of your current mattress? After reading this article, would you consider swapping it for a different one?
I’m curious to know — which model from this list is the most appealing to you?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
- Francisco M. Kovacs, Víctor Abraira, Andrés Peña, José Gerardo Martín-Rodríguez, Manuel Sánchez-Vera, Enrique Ferrer, Domingo Ruano, Pedro Guillén, Mario Gestoso, Alfonso Muriel, Javier Zamora, María Teresa Gil del Real, Nicole Mufraggi (2003, November 15). Effect of Firmness of Mattress on Chronic Non-Specific Low-Back Pain: Randomised, Double-Blind, Controlled, Multicentre Trial. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14630439/
- S. R. Garfin, S. A. Pye (February 1981) Bed Design and Its Effect on Chronic Low Back Pain–A Limited Controlled Trial. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6453325/
- Richard Shaehler, MD (2017, October 25). Considerations When Choosing a Mattress. Retrieved from https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/sleep/considerations-when-choosing-mattress
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