Do You Need a Firmer Mattress? Here Is How to Tell.

Do You Need a Firmer Mattress? Here Is How to Tell.

Most adults have a definite preference when it comes to how firm they like their mattress. In fact, when we surveyed 1000 people, a majority of respondents preferred a bed with a medium feel, regardless of their main sleeping position. And while it’s true that a decent medium firm mattress is well suited for most people, your sleeping position and other factors are important to consider when selecting ‘the one’.

If you're not sleeping well on your current bed, you're probably wondering if your mattress is doing you justice. In certain cases, getting a firmer mattress might be the best option. Let’s dig deeper into what “firm” means, and who might benefit most from a firm bed.

What is a firm mattress?

Though mattress firmness is always subjective to the sleeper, there are a few characteristics that generally make a mattress feel firm to most people:

  • A thin layer of foam, quilting, or padding on top
  • A dense and sturdy base layer (often constructed from coils)
  • A feel that springs back and leaves little to no impression once you get off

There are a few reasons you might want to consider upgrading to a firm mattress.

You experience sagging or sinkage

One common indicator that you need more firmness is if you’re feeling too much sinkage on your current bed. This can happen if you have an older mattress but it might also be a sign that you just need something firmer to support you better.

You have mobility issues

A firm bed with less “sink” also enables better mobility on the mattress surface. So if you have an injury or health condition that makes it more difficult to get in and out of bed, or you change positions often during the night, a firm mattress is worth considering.

You’re a stomach sleeper

stomach sleeper

We were not surprised to find that 65% of the stomach sleepers in our survey like to sleep on a bed that is somewhere in the medium – extra firm range. Stomach sleepers are quite possibly the most challenged when it comes to finding proper alignment. Gravity will cause your hips and midsection to sink into the mattress, creating an exaggerated curve in your spine. A firmer mattress will put necessary pressure on those areas to encourage bodily alignment and in turn, prevent pain and soreness upon waking.

You’re on the heavier side

heavier sleeper

Larger individuals (generally those over 200 lbs) will naturally sink further into their mattress. Therefore, a plush or medium mattress may feel especially soft and suffocating. A firm mattress will offer necessary support and sturdiness without sagging or sinking.

You sleep hot

hot sleeper

Finally, if you tend to overheat while sleeping, a firm mattress could provide some relief. When you sink in excessively to your mattress surface, you may begin to feel hot and sweaty because so much of your body surface is surrounded. A firm mattress offers a bit more exposure to the air around you, resulting in a cooler feel. Plus, many firm mattresses are constructed with a coil base, which naturally provides better airflow than foam.

How to make a mattress firmer

So you’ve determined that you could benefit from a firmer bed but aren’t ready to purchase a new mattress? There are a few things you can try first to make your existing bed feel firmer.

Use a firmer foundation

mattress foundation

Changing the base that goes underneath your mattress can somewhat influence the feel you get from it. When choosing your foundation, you’ll want to look for one with a solid and even surface that supports the mattress. A platform bed with wide and closely spaced slats is our top recommendation. Another good option is to place a bunkie board on your existing frame. And if you’re looking for an extremely cost-effective route, you can even place your mattress directly on the floor (though keep in mind this solution can pose some challenges when it comes to cleanliness and getting in and out of bed easily).

Add a firm mattress topper

Toppers are available with a wide range of firmness levels and benefits. Placing a topper with a firm feel directly on top of your mattress can help give your bed more support.

mattress topper

Flip or rotate your mattress

If you have a mattress that is made to be flipped (check with the manufacturer if you’re unsure), now is the time to give this a try. Over its lifespan, a mattress will undergo some wear in the spots where you lie down most often. By flipping a mattress regularly, you’ll extend its usable life by ensuring that all sides are used equally. And if you’ve never flipped your mattress before, there’s a good chance the other side will feel quite a bit firmer than the one you’ve been sleeping on.

Many mattresses today are made to be rotated instead of flipped. If this is the case for your mattress (and it is if you have a Zinus!), it’s a good idea to rotate it 180 degrees a few times a year so that it wears evenly and doesn’t begin to sag or bow. After rotating, you may find that it feels a bit more supportive than before.

rotate your mattress

Decide if you need a new mattress

If you’re not achieving the firmness you’d like after trying these tips, it could be best to purchase a new firm mattress. Generally, you can use the following guidelines to determine if it’s time to move on from your current mattress:

  • Your mattress is over 10 years old
  • You no longer feel well rested after a night's sleep
  • Your body weight has changed dramatically since the time you bought your current mattress
  • Your mattress squeaks with movement
  • There is a noticeable sag or indentations where your body tends to rest
  • You're suffering from dust allergies

What if a firm mattress isn’t suited for me?

If you feel like a firm bed won’t be your cup of tea, our How to Choose the Right Mattress blog can help you decide what mattress type will fit your sleep position and preferences.