If you have back pain at night, you may be wondering whether an extra firm mattress could help. These mattresses are sometimes known as orthopedic mattresses and are often touted as the best cure for a bad back at night. However, they’re not suitable for everyone. It’s important to be sure that an extra firm mattress is the best choice for your needs before you buy one.

In this article, we’ll explain how to figure out whether an extra firm mattress is right for your sleep needs. We’ll let you in on all the inside secrets of how to choose the best extra firm mattress in 2020 with our top 5 extra firm mattress reviews.

What is an Extra Firm Mattress?

Extra firm mattresses are the firmest mattresses available. You can buy extra firm mattresses in a variety of types including innerspring, hybrid and foam models. Extra firm mattresses are sometimes referred to as orthopedic beds, and it’s important to be aware that this type of mattress will feel very hard to sleep on. However, some people find that this hardness is comfortable and can help ease back pain at night.

Extra Firm Mattresses and Back Pain

You’ll probably have heard the age-old advice that sleeping on an extra firm mattress is good for back pain. However, this isn’t always true. Extra firm mattresses can be helpful for people with back pain who sleep on their front or back because they distribute your weight evenly across the surface of the mattress and encourage your spine into a healthy alignment. This can significantly reduce back pain at night. However, some people will find an extra firm mattress is too hard to be comfortable. If you don’t feel comfortable, you won’t sleep well, so it’s important to be sure that an extra firm mattress feels good for you before you buy one. The simplest way to do this is to try one out instore.

Extra Firm Mattresses and Sleep Position

Whether or not you find an extra firm mattress comfortable is largely down to your sleeping position and body weight. People who sleep on their fronts and backs may find an extra firm mattress suitable, especially if they have a high body weight. However, some will simply find this mattress firmness is too hard. If this applies to you, a regular firm mattress may feel more comfortable and still provide the high level of back support you need.

Extra firm mattresses are not usually recommended for side sleepers. This is because they don’t allow the side of your body to sink in, which could put pressure on your hips and shoulders and actually make your back pain worse. Side sleepers who want firm support for their back should consider a luxury firm mattress, which is medium firm and also known as universal comfort. However, side sleepers with lower body weights will probably also find these mattresses too firm.

How to Choose an Extra Firm Mattress

There are plenty of extra firm mattress models out there, and it can be confusing to know which one to buy. Fortunately, there are some simple tricks to choosing a good extra firm mattress. In this section, we’ll explain all the factors you need to take into consideration to choose the best extra firm mattress for your needs and budget.

Materials

Extra firm mattresses are available in a wide range of materials. Many people prefer innerspring or hybrid extra firm mattresses because their coils provide a high level of support for your back. However, you may prefer a model that uses adaptable foam comfort layers to provide a little more pressure relief. If you want the best of both worlds, a hybrid model that combines supportive innersprings with adaptable comfort layers could be a good option.

Temperature

Sleeping at a comfortable temperature is important because overheating at night can disturb your sleep. So, it’s important to try and find a mattress that is breathable to allow heat to escape during the night. Mattresses with innerspring cores, including hybrids, are good options for sleeping cool because their construction allows air to circulate in the night which means heat can escape. If you choose a foam mattress or a hybrid with foam comfort layers, try to find one that uses sleep technologies to help it sleep cooler. Latex foam is more breathable than traditional memory foam. Alternatively, you could look for a mattress with memory foam layers infused with gel or other cooling materials that can wick heat away in the night.

Edge support

Edge support is the term given to the amount of reinforcement around the perimeter of the mattress. Mattresses with strong edge support are usually more durable because this reinforcement prevents them from sagging or losing their shape over time. It also means that you can lie or sit on the whole surface of the mattress, including the edges. Innerspring and hybrid mattresses generally have stronger edge support than all-foam models.

Motion isolation

Picking a mattress with good motion isolation is important because this prevents you from being disturbed by your partner’s movements during the night. As a rule, foam mattresses are best at limiting motion transfer. However, innerspring models using pocketed coils also usually do a good job of isolating motion because the springs move independently of each other. Innerspring mattresses using a traditional matrix design generally perform poorly when it comes to motion isolation because the springs are interconnected, although they are usually significantly cheaper.

Thickness

It’s important to take thickness into account when shopping for an extra firm mattress because thicker mattresses tend to be more supportive, which is especially important if you’re looking for a mattress to help with back pain. Heavier individuals tend to require thicker mattresses to provide the support they need. Thicker mattresses are also usually more durable, which is an important consideration if you don’t want to buy another mattress too soon. Another advantage of thicker mattresses is that they give a luxurious, hotel-style aesthetic which many people want for their bedrooms.

Base compatibility

It’s important to place any mattress on a supportive and suitable base or you could cause damage and void the warranty. If you want to use your existing bed frame, foundation or box spring, it’s important to make sure the mattress you’re considering is compatible with it. This is especially important if you have an adjustable bed as many mattresses are unsuitable for this type of foundation.

Sleep trial

Sleep trials are important because they allow you to return your mattress during a set time if you’re unsatisfied for a full refund. This is especially important if you haven’t used an extra firm mattress before and aren’t 100% sure that this firmness setting is right for you. It’s recommended to allow your body at least 30 nights to adjust to the feeling of a new mattress before returning. Many mattresses include a settling-in period with their sleep trials with this in mind, which means you’re obligated to use your mattress for a certain amount of the sleep trial before you can return it. You should check whether the sleep trial of any mattress you’re considering buying includes a sleep trial before you buy.

Warranty

Mattress warranties are important because they provide you with protection if you discover a manufacturing defect. Mattress warranties are usually 10 years long, but many companies offer warranties that are significantly longer than this or even cover you for as long as you wish to sleep on the mattress. These are sometimes called ‘lifetime’ or ‘forever’ warranties. It’s also important to check whether a mattress warranty is non-prorated. If it is prorated, you will be liable for paying fees if you wish to return your mattress or have it repaired under the terms of the warranty.

Where to Buy

You can choose to buy an extra firm mattress online or instore. Which option is best for you depends on your preferences.

Buying instore has the key advantage of allowing you to try out a variety of mattresses first before you buy. This means that you can feel reasonably certain that the mattress you’re buying is suitable for you. However, you’ll only have access to a limited range and could find yourself subjected to ‘hard sell’ tactics as many sales staff work on commission.

Alternatively, you could choose to buy a new mattress online. This makes some customers understandably nervous because it can feel risky buying a mattress you haven’t tried in person. However, there are some key advantages to buying online. Firstly, you’ll have access to the entire market if you shop online and will be able to compare products easily. You may also have access to various seasonal discounts that aren’t available if you buy in-person. Another key advantage of buying online is that you may be able to get a better mattress for your money. This is because some mattress companies only sell their products online, which cuts down on overhead costs which can be passed on to consumers in the form of savings.

If you decide to buy a mattress online, you should only ever consider mattresses that come with a sleep trial. This means that you will be also to return your mattress if you find that you don’t like it after all. Otherwise, you could find yourself with an uncomfortable mattress and no recourse to get a refund.

Top Rated 5 Best Extra Firm Mattress Reviews

Now that you know everything there is to know about extra firm mattresses, it’s time to find out which products you should consider. Here at Sleep Aim, our expert team reviews a wide range of extra firm mattresses and have been hard at work selecting the best five to recommend to our readers.

These mattresses are highly recommended because they score very highly when it comes to back support, which is usually the most important factor for people looking for an extra firm mattress. However, we’ve also taken into account various other factors including temperature control, warranties, sleep trials and pressure relief to create a list of extra firm mattresses that provide great value and comfort.

1. Avocado – Best Extra Firm Mattress for Back Pain

The Avocado Green mattress is a hybrid option combining an organic latex comfort layer with a supportive innerspring core. If your sleep needs change over time, you can add an optional pillow top for an extra fee to change the feel of your mattress. The Avocado Green mattress could be a good option for people on a higher budget who want to buy a natural, eco-friendly mattress without any harmful fire-retardant chemicals. So, why has this mattress topped our list of the 5 best extra firm mattresses to buy in 2020? Let’s take a closer look.

Key features

Zoned Innerspring Core: The bottom layer of this mattress is made from individually pocketed steel innerspring coils. These are arranged into five key zones to provide extra support where you need it most, which could be a key selling point if you suffer from back pain. This core section features a reinforced steel perimeter to increase edge support. This helps the mattress to keep its shape, increasing durability and allowing you to lie or sit on the edge of the mattress without damaging it.

Organic Latex Comfort Layer: The comfort layer on the Avocado Green mattress is made from GOLS-certified organic Dunlop latex foam. This material is sustainable and eco-friendly and provides excellent pressure relief and adaptability but with a more responsive feel than standard memory foam.

Organic Wool Layer: The Avocado Green mattress contains a layer of crimped, organic certified wool which replaces fire retardant chemicals as a natural flame barrier. This material helps the mattress to sleep cooler because it is highly breathable and can wick away moisture during the night. It also helps to guard against bacterial build-up and dust mites.

Pros
  • Strong edge support
  • Organic certified latex, cotton and wool
  • Good pressure relief
  • Optional pillow top finish
  • Free shipping
  • Generous 1-year sleep trial
  • 25-year warranty
  • Made in the USA
  • Eco-friendly
  • Sleeps cool
Cons
  • Higher-than-average price tag
  • You may be able to feel the tufting buttons in some positions

2. Plank Mattress

The Plank mattress from major retailer Brooklyn Bedding has an all-foam design and has a dual-sided construction that allows you to choose between two different levels of firmness. While this mattress is very firm whichever side you decide to sleep on, it features an adaptable comfort system that provides a good level of pressure relief to prevent soreness in your joints.

Key features

All-foam construction: The Plank mattress has a supportive core in its center made from 7-inches of high-density polyfoam. This material provides a high level of spinal support and is also very durable. The comfort system is made from a lower 2-inch layer of firm TitanFlex™ foam to provide deep pressure relief and a top layer made from quilted foam. The thickness of this layer varies depending on which side you sleep on.

Dual-sided design: The Plank mattress is flippable, allowing you to choose between a firm or ultra-firm feel depending on your preference. This difference in firmness is achieved by varying the thickness of the top comfort layer. The ultra-firm side has a 0.75-inch thick quilted top layer, while the firm side has a 1.5-inch thick layer.

Optional cooling panel: You can choose to add a cooling panel to your plank mattress which feels noticeably cool to the touch and can wick away heat while you sleep. This could be a key selling point if you want a memory foam mattress but are concerned about sleeping too hot. Bear in mind that choosing this feature will significantly increase the overall cost of your mattress.

Pros
  • Free shipping and returns
  • Dual-sided design offers a choice of two firmness options
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • Optional cooling panel
  • Good pressure relief
  • Reasonable price point
Cons
  • Some off-gassing
  • 30-day break-in period attached to the sleep trial

3. Loom & Leaf Mattress

The Loom & Leaf mattress is made by the major mattress retailer Saatva, which has a good reputation in the industry for making supportive and high-quality mattresses. The foams used in the Loom & Leaf are manufactured using an eco-friendly process to reduce its impact on the environment. This mattress is available in two firmness settings, ‘relaxed firm’ (which is towards the firmer side of medium firm) and ‘firm’. The firm option scores an 8 on the mattress firmness scale and is the most suitable if you’re looking for an extra-firm bed.

Key features

High-density support layer: The base layer of the Loom & Leaf mattress is made from several layers of dense polyfoam. This gives the mattress good stability and helps to provide a good level of support for your spine.

Gel memory foam comfort system: This mattress features two pressure-relieving comfort layers. The lower layer is made from Certi-Pur Certified memory foam that can mold to the shape of your body. The top layer is made from heat-wicking, gel-infused memory foam. This includes extra gel in the lumbar region to provide firmer support for your spine.

Organic cotton cover: The cover of the Loom & Leaf mattress is made from highly breathable organic quilted cotton to help the mattress sleep cool. It features a decorative trim made from gold damask fabric. Loom & Leaf treats its covers with a substance known as Guardin®, which is made from plants and provides protection against bacteria.

Pros
  • Cooling gel comfort layer
  • Additional lumbar support
  • Breathable fabric cover
  • Certi-Pur Certified
  • Good pressure relief
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • Free white glove delivery
  • 15-year warranty
Cons
  • May sleep hotter than some other gel memory foam beds
  • Not suitable for combi-sleepers

4. Saatva Classic – Best Extra Firm Innerspring Mattress

The Saatva Classic mattress is a hybrid model that combines an innerspring core with a cushioned pillow-top finish. This mattress is available in three firmness settings, and we recommend the firmest setting for people looking for an extra-firm mattress. The Saatva Classic is made using Certi-Pur certified foam and organic cotton, making it more environmentally friendly than many similar mattress options.

Key features

Supportive innerspring coils: The Saatva Classic mattress contains two layers of innerspring coils. The first is made from 416 triple-tempered innerspring coils for increased durability, breathability and support. The upper coil layer is made from individually pocketed coils to provide contouring and motion isolation.

Additional lumbar support: The Saatva Classic contains two additional back support components. A wire support zone in the lumbar region provides extra support for your lower back, while an additional layer of memory foam in the same area provides added pressure relief to prevent tension and soreness. This feature makes the Saatva Classic a good choice for people with back pain.

Reinforced edge support: This mattress features an edge support system made from polyfoam around the perimeter. This stops the mattress from sagging and makes it more breathable while increasing the surface area that you can sleep on.

Pros
  • Zoned back support
  • Breathable, cooling design
  • Luxurious pillow-top finish
  • Strong edge support
  • Limited motion transfer
  • Certi-Pur Certified
  • Eco-friendly
  • Made in the USA
  • Free white glove delivery
  • 120-night sleep trial
  • 15-year warranty
Cons
  • Very little contouring

5. Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress

Awara is a mattress manufacturer that’s committed to safeguarding the environment, so this mattress could be a good choice for people who want to make an eco-friendly purchase. This hybrid model combines organic, chemical-free Dunlop latex foam with an innerspring core to provide excellent support. This mattress is classed as ‘luxury firm’, which means it isn’t as hard as some of the other models on this list. This could be a major benefit if you want a firm feel with enough softness for good pressure relief, although it may not be firm enough for those looking for a true extra-firm or orthopedic mattress.

Key features

Thick innerspring core: The Awara mattress has a base layer made from soft fabric which includes four extra-strong handles to make it easier to move. This contains a 9-inch layer of individually pocketed innerspring coils. This is thicker than average and provides an excellent level of spinal support while helping the bed to sleep cool.

Latex comfort layer: The Awara’s comfort layer is made from 4 inches of organic Dunlop latex foam that is highly breathable. This layer is significantly thicker than the comfort layers on most hybrid mattresses which means you’ll experience improved pressure relief.

Euro Top cover: The Awara hybrid mattress is finished with a Euro Top cover made from ethically sourced wool and organic cotton. This layer is highly breathable and can wick away excess moisture during the night. It also provides additional cushioning, so the mattress feels a little softer than a standard firm mattress.

Pros
  • Excellent support and pressure relief
  • 365-night sleep trial
  • Free shipping and returns
  • Forever warranty
  • Sleeps cool
  • Eco-friendly
  • High profile
  • Rainforest Alliance certified
Cons
  • May not be firm enough for some shoppers looking for an extra-firm bed

FAQs

Extra-firm mattresses can be helpful for certain types of sleepers, but they’re not for everyone. Before you buy an extra-firm bed, it’s important to understand as much as you can about this type of mattress to make sure it’s the right choice for you. In this section, we’ll reveal some of our extra-firm mattress FAQs to settle any remaining queries.

Q: Is an extra-firm mattress good for back pain?

A: Many people find an extra-firm mattress is helpful for back pain because it provides strong support for your spine, helping it to remain in a healthy alignment. However, this only applies to front and back sleepers. People who sleep on their sides will find that an extra-firm mattress exerts too much pressure on their hips and shoulders.

Q: What is better- a firm or extra-firm mattress?

A: The answer to this question comes down to your sleeping style and sense of comfort. A firm mattress should provide enough support for most front and back sleepers to encourage their spine into a healthy alignment. However, some people prefer the extra support that an extra-firm mattress gives. These mattresses are sometimes known as orthopedic mattresses and could be suitable if you have a higher body weight or a back pain condition. That being said, many people will find extra-firm mattresses too hard, so it’s important to be sure that you like the feel of this firmness setting before you buy.

Q: How can I make my bed firmer?

A: If you already own a mattress that doesn’t feel firm enough and don’t want to buy a new one just yet, there are a few steps you can take to increase your bed’s firmness at home. The first thing you could try is putting a layer of plywood boards between your mattress and its foundation. A more drastic solution could be to place your mattress on the floor. You could also try adding a firm mattress topper. If you have a memory foam mattress, it is likely to feel softer in a warm environment, so you could try switching on the air-con to reduce the temperature in your bedroom and increase its firmness.

Q: Will a firm mattress get softer?

A: All mattresses soften somewhat over time. This is classed as normal wear and tear and is unlikely to be covered by your mattress warranty, but it can be annoying. You can prevent this from happening by rotating your mattress, so the head end is now at the foot a couple of times a year. This prevents you from wearing out one particular area of the mattress too quickly. Some mattresses can also be flipped which can help maintain its firmness for longer. As most hybrid and foam mattresses are not dual-sided, you should check that your mattress is flippable first.

Q: Can a firm mattress cause lower back pain?

A: Although firm mattresses have a reputation for easing back pain, they can actually cause back pain if the firmness isn’t suitable for your needs. If you sleep on your side, a firm mattress could cause too much strain on your joints which could cause back pain to develop or get worse.

Q: How do you know if your mattress is too firm?

A: If you wake up feeling stiff or sore in the morning, this can be a sign that your mattress is too firm for your needs. If you struggle to find a comfortable position and end up tossing and turning, this may also indicate that your mattress is too firm to feel comfortable.

Q: Is a firm mattress good for side sleepers?

A: A firm mattress is not usually suitable for side sleepers because it will put too much pressure on your hips and shoulders which can lead to pain. However, some side sleepers will find a ‘luxury firm’ (medium firm) mattress provides enough pressure relief to feel comfortable, especially if they have a higher body weight. However, side sleepers with low body weights usually need a medium mattress or softer to allow their body to sink in comfortably.

Q: What can I do if my mattress is too firm?

A: If your mattress is too firm but you don’t want to buy a new one, there are certain things you can do to soften it up. First of all, simply sleeping on your mattress night after night will cause it to gradually soften over time. You could speed this process up by walking on the mattress each day for a short time. Alternatively, you could consider buying a soft mattress topper.

Q: Can a bed be too firm?

A: If a mattress is so firm that it feels uncomfortable or puts pressure on your joints, then it’s too firm for your needs. It’s important to take your sleeping position, body type and personal taste into account before buying a firm mattress.

Q: Is it better to sleep on a firm mattress?

A: Whether it is better to sleep on a firm mattress depends on your needs. If you sleep on your front or back and have back pain, a firm mattress can help support your spine into a better alignment and reduce discomfort. However, side sleepers are unlikely to find a very firm bed comfortable. If the mattress feels too firm to be comfortable, you won’t sleep well.

Q: What are the benefits of a firm mattress?

A: Firm mattresses can be helpful for people with back pain who sleep on their front or back because they promote good spinal alignment. This can help to reduce back pain and help you get a better night’s sleep.

Q: Does a firm mattress get softer?

A: A firm mattress will naturally soften over time as you sleep on it. This could be an issue if you like the firmness of the mattress and find a softer mattress uncomfortable. You can prevent the softening of your mattress as much as possible by rotating it regularly so that you’re not constantly wearing down the same area of the mattress. If your mattress has a flippable design, you could also flip it now and then to slow down the softening process.

Q: How firm should a mattress be?

A: The answer to this question comes down to your sleeping position and body type. As a rule of thumb, people who sleep on their front or back usually need a medium firm or firm mattress to give good spinal support. Side sleepers usually prefer a medium mattress that allows their side to sink in comfortably and prevents hip and shoulder pain. However, side sleepers with higher body weights may prefer the support of a medium firm (sometimes known as ‘luxury firm’) mattress. You should use your knowledge of what feels comfortable to you when applying this advice.

Q: Is a firm or medium firm better?

A: Whether you should buy a firm or medium firm mattress comes down to several factors, so it’s impossible to say that one is better than the other. Generally, front and back sleepers with higher body weights or back pain are likely to find the extra support of a firm mattress comfortable. If you prefer a little more softness, are a combi sleeper or share your mattress with a partner, a medium firm mattress may be preferable because it will accommodate all sleeping positions reasonably well. Some side sleepers, especially those with higher body weights, will also find this firmness setting comfortable.

Q: Why does a firm mattress hurt my back?

A: If a firm mattress is hurting your back, this is a sign that it is putting too much pressure on your joints or causing spinal misalignment. This is more likely to happen if you sleep on your side.

Q: Which mattress firmness is best for your back?

A: Which mattress firmness is best for your back depends on your sleeping position and body type. If you are a front or back sleeper with back pain, you are likely to find that a firm or extra firm mattress helps. However, these mattresses could be too firm for side sleepers which could cause pressure and make back pain worse. Side sleepers with back pain should consider a medium or medium firm mattress to give them the back support they need without causing pressure.

Q: What is the difference between firm and luxury firm?

A: A luxury firm mattress is a little softer than a firm mattress. This firmness is sometimes called universal comfort and is classed as medium firm.

Q: How firm is a luxury firm mattress?

A: Luxury firm is another term used to describe medium firm mattresses, which are sometimes known as universal comfort beds. This is because they feel comfortable in the majority of sleeping positions. So, they can be a good choice for combi-sleepers and couples.

Q: Is luxury firm good for side sleepers?

A: Luxury firm mattresses are suitable for most side sleepers because they can accommodate most sleepers comfortably in any position. However, side sleepers with lower body weights may find that a luxury firm mattress puts too much pressure on their hips and shoulders.

Conclusion on The Best Extra Firm Mattress Reviews

We hope our guide on choocing the best extra firm mattress helps you to pick the right mattress for you. Extra firm or ‘orthopedic’ mattresses can be suitable options for people with back pain, especially if they sleep on their front or back because they provide a very high level of support for your spine. However, it’s important to be sure that an extra firm mattress is right for you before you buy because many people find these mattresses too hard to be comfortable. Fortunately, there are plenty of high-quality and supportive mattresses available in an extra firm firmness setting.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how to choose the right mattress and reading reviews of other extra firm mattress models, you’re in the right place. You’ll find a wealth of mattress review and comparison articles alongside helpful sleep resources here at Sleep Aim to help make the mattress buying process as simple as possible.

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