The 5 Best Extra-Firm Mattresses Of 2022 For Back & Side Sleepers
While every sleep setup should share a few key similarities to maximize sleep quality—such as minimal light and noise pollution—other factors are personal. One preference that's likely to vary from person to person? Mattress firmness.
A few factors can affect the right mattress firmness for you, including your sleep position, body weight, and any issues with chronic pain. Beyond that, the best mattress firmness really comes down to personal preference. So while the thought of snoozing on an extra firm mattress may not be for all, it's a fairly popular pick for those who sleep on their stomach or need more support.
Who should sleep on an extra-firm mattress?
Side sleepers beware—an extra-firm mattress is not for you. Chiropractor Kevin Lees, D.C., of The Joint Corp previously told mbg that "a mattress that is too firm may cause shoulder and hip pain, as well as change the spinal alignment."
That's because side sleepers put pressure on their shoulders and hips, which needs to be counteracted by the mattress. An extra-firm mattress won't provide this responsiveness, making them a hard sell. However, stomach and back sleepers can find an oasis in this solid construction.
The firm base keeps your spine in a neutral alignment when lying on your stomach or back, preventing your risk of aches and pains. The extra-sturdy construction is also ideal for those who weigh more than 230 pounds, which is often the max weight considered for many designs.
Of course, you're the best judge of how firm you want your mattress to be. Take advantage of trial periods and free returns to find the right firmness level for you.
What to look for in an extra-firm mattress:
- Price: It's possible to find an extra-firm mattress on a budget under $300, but there are plenty of splurge-worthy options available, too.
- Warranties: Your mattress is an investment, so it's important to find a design that's constructed to last. A warranty is a great way to suss out what's built for the long haul.
- Sleeping position: Stomach and back sleepers will love the support offered by an extra-firm mattress, which helps maintain proper alignment by reducing the sinking common in softer constructions.
- Weight limit: An extra-firm mattress can be a great option for people who weigh more than 230 pounds, but it's important to look at the weight limit to ensure the construction offers enough support.
How do brands measure firmness?
Brands typically rate mattress firmness on a scale of 1 to 10. A lower number indicates softer cushioning, while higher numbers point to an extra-firm design. While nearly all mattresses feature a comfort layer made with cushioning or responsive foam, soft mattresses tend to have thicker comfort layers versus the thinner layer on firm designs.
Although many brands use the same 10-point scale, there is no universal metric for firmness. As a result, it's important to read into the construction of every mattress to better understand how it may fit your preferences.
How we picked:
Unfortunately "firmness" varies by brand, so the label extra-firm isn't always enough to ensure the mattress has zero give. To get as close as possible, we only selected mattresses at the top 20% of the firmness scale for each company.
We focused mainly on mattresses made of GOLS-certified organic latex and GOTS-certified organic cotton. However, when that wasn’t possible we looked into manufacturing processes to make sure the mattresses were environmentally conscious.
We prioritized items that came with exceptional reviews. Overall positive experiences and representative responsiveness earned extra points.
Your mattress is a long-term relationship. Each featured pick has a long trial period (and even longer warranty) to ensure you love the mattress that you've chosen.
mbg's picks for the best extra-firm mattresses of 2022:
Best foam: Plank by Brooklyn Bedding
- Optional cooling cover
- Flippable design for customized firmness
- Doesn't have great edge support
How It's Made: Plank's name should tip you off to everything you want to know about this flat design. The flippable mattress gives just two options to sleepers: firm and ultra-firm. According to the brand, achieving anything more firm than the "ultra-firm" side would require you to sleep "directly on the floor."
What that really means? Each side of the memory foam mattress has a different type of cushioning. One side has less than an inch of pillow cushioning, while the other provides twice the cushioning and a 2-inch foam comfort level.
How It Arrives: Unlike an actual plank, this foam mattress rolls into a slim spiral and ships in a box. The all-foam design weighs less than 105 pounds, so it can easily be moved around the home. Just know a few buyers did complain of a strong off-gassing smell.
What Customers Say: More than 2,000 people have reviewed this mattress, yet it still has a nearly perfect rating with 4.8/5 stars. Most shoppers were relieved to find an ultra-firm mattress that actually delivered on a no-bounce claim.
Best latex: Avocado Latex Mattress by Avocado
- Sustainable materials
- Heavy-duty handles for easy movement
- Needle tufted by hand
- Shipping fee to Alaska & Hawaii
- Weighs at least 95 pounds (and up to 185)
How It's Made: The most eco-friendly mattress in the line-up, this sleek pick is entirely biodegradable. The 9-inch mattress is primarily composed of GOLS-certified organic Dunlop latex, which is harvested from Avocado's personal farms.
Each dense layer of latex is cut into a patented zigzag wave pattern. While this sounds unconventional, it actually creates three pressure-relieving zones throughout the mattress with different levels of responsiveness. The end result is the optimal spine-aligning design that's endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association.
How It Arrives: Your new latex mattress arrives in a box, which should be moved to your ideal location before opening. If you get too excited and unbox in the wrong location, the mattress has handles for easy repositioning (a must considering the hefty weight). Plus, the focus on natural materials without flame retardants or chemicals means there won't be a funky scent from your new purchase as it expands.
What Customers Say: Most reviewers can't get enough of this firm pick, earning it a 4.5/5 rating. In fact, the biggest complaint from shoppers was that the mattress was too firm—which means it'll be just right for those seeking an extra-firm option.
Best hybrid: Saatva Latex Hybrid Mattress
- Free in-room delivery & setup
- Good motion isolation
- Charges a fee to return
- Body may imprint quickly
How It's Made: If you want the firmness of memory foam but aren't ready to give up on an innerspring design, this hybrid model from Saatva is the ideal pick. It pairs individual pocked recycled steel coils with sustainably sourced Talalay latex for a firmer hybrid option. While it won't be as firm as all latex options–a great thing for side sleepers—it still offers five ergonomic zones to prevent dipping and maintain spinal alignment. The breathability and edge support are almost just a bonus.
How It Arrives: White glove service is the name of the game for Saatva, which delivers and sets up its luxury mattresses free of charge. Another perk? No funky smells, as the mattress is GREENGUARD Gold and eco-INSTITUT® certified to be free of pollutants & emissions.
What Customers Say: Reviewers gave this sleek design a nearly perfect rating with many calling it the "best bed" they've ever slept on. Similar to with other designs, the main complaints were that it was too firm.
Best with same-day shipping: Sleep On Latex Pure Green Organic Latex Mattress
- No assembly required
- Quilted, sewn & packaged in brand factory
- Free returns
- Not recommended for use with box springs
- Shorter warranty than other brands
How It's Made: Stay sustainable without spending a fortune; this all-natural pick is made with entirely organic materials. The 8-inch latex mattress is broken into two layers—a sturdy base and less dense comfort layer—to offer the optimal amount of pressure relief.
Despite this sturdy construction, you won't need to worry about the mattress overheating thanks to the layer of temperature-regulating wool batting surrounding the exterior. Bonus: Free returns means you can swap between the two firmness levels to guarantee that you've made the right pick.
How It Arrives: Each hand-sewn mattress is compressed and shipped to your door in recycled packaging, with orders shipped out the same day Monday through Friday.
What Customers Say: Customers loved not dealing with the smell of chemical off-gassing and couldn't stop commenting on the firm support. The customer service also earned shout-outs from satisfied shoppers.
Best affordable: Zinus Pressure Relief Extra Firm iCoil® Hybrid Mattress
- Independent coils
- Comes in a box
- Memory foam
- 250-pound weight limit for twin
How It's Made: The foundation of most extra-firm mattresses is pure memory foam—but this Zinus design tries something different. It opts for individually encased heavy-gauge springs, which both reduce motion transfer and provide customized spinal support. This innerspring base is then covered with two layers of CertiPUR® US Certified memory foam. The first is a dense foam for edge support, while the latter is a comfort layer without too much give.
How It Arrives: Don't be alarmed when a compact box arrives at your door. Each mattress is compressed into a slim roll, which takes about 72 hours to expand upon arrival. While some reviewers warned of an off-gassing smell from chemicals, many said it dissipated quickly.
What Customers Say: This extra-firm design has more than 5,700 perfect ratings and is one of Amazon's most popular picks. Among these rave reviews, a shopper with chronic pain wrote that "life has been so much better" since purchasing this mattress, which never sags and always returns to its original shape.
The firmness of your mattress typically comes down to preference—and from there it's easy to find the right design for you. Whether you want a hybrid mattress or simply prefer an option made with sustainable materials, we've got the best extra-firm mattresses for every sleeper. And once you've treated yourself to a better mattress, put the cherry on top with these cooling sheets for perfect night's sleep!
Jack Byram is a freelance writer who covers health and wellness. He’s also spent a lot of time reviewing everything from tech gadgets to home goods, and writing about them for varying outlets. He’s a graduate of Fordham University with a Bachelor’s in English. He’s also pursuing a degree in Meisner based acting.