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Remember how your grandmother’s mattress used to sink heavily in the middle? Can you remember the sound of the springs straining under your weight and you thought “how can anyone sleep like this?” Honestly, she probably didn’t, especially if she ever complained of back pain or arms that fell asleep before she did.

You’re investing in a mattress, and you know you don’t want that to happen, but you aren’t sure where to start. If you’re starting to get minor pain in your lower back when you wake up, or dead arms like grandma did, it might be time to upgrade to a medium firm mattress. We’ve put together a list of our favorite medium-firm mattresses, but first, let’s look at how to choose.

How Do I Choose The Right Medium Firm Mattress?

There are different scales for measuring firmness, but the most common is a ten point scale. One equals absolutely no support at all until you hit the floor (body pillows anyone?) and ten represents skipping the pillows altogether and passing out directly on the floor.

Medium firm mattresses fall anywhere between a six and an eight on that scale. Most of them have a pillow top or contouring layer to makes sure your curves are appropriately accounted for, but the layer underneath will give you a lot of pushback.

That support layer is critical if you’re a stomach or back sleeper because if there’s too much give in the top layers, you risk overextending your back or shoulders.

Aren’t Soft Mattresses More Comfortable?

Honestly, when most people say “soft” what they mean is “contouring.” Conventional styles of mattress didn’t have much contouring, so your body conformed to the shape of the bed and not the other way around. Soft style mattresses just had springs that were more giving. Since they were linked together, you tended to sink in a connected line instead of in individual spots.

That may have felt comfortable for a while, but again, you were still conforming to the mattress instead of the other way around.

Mattresses now have contouring layers on top that give way directly underneath your widest parts, but fill in around the spaces in your lower lumbar region or torso. At a certain point, they reach the support layer which pushes back. Your spine stays in a straight line, but you don’t experience dead arms.

What If My Partner Has Different Sleep Preferences?

Medium-firm is usually rated universally comfortable. You may fall too far on either extreme of the ten point scale, but most of us are somewhat in the middle. If you or your partner has back issues, the mattress will be plenty supportive while still feeling a bit plush on top.

If you’re really extreme from each other, you may consider a split mattress, but most people will find a medium to medium-firm mattress to be very comfortable without sacrificing any support for existing pressure point pain.

What If I’m Heavier Than Average?

Up to a certain point, medium-firm mattresses are able to withstand heavier weights without feeling too firm. Average modern mattresses are rated for a combined 300-400 pounds and about 250 or so pounds of individual weight.

If you’re heavier than that, you want to look for a medium firm mattress made particularly for the unique needs of heavier sleepers, or one that has a more significant weight limit. It’s not that the mattress won’t hold up. Your body will interact with the contouring layers much more heavily than a person of average weight, and the bed may feel firmer than you’d like.

What Type Of Mattress Is Best?

Innerspring mattresses have a reputation for being more firm. Modern innerspring mattresses still have contouring layers to offset the coil support layer, but the springs provide maximum push back.

Hybrid mattresses use a combination of coils, micro-coils, or dense support foams to provide contouring and support. Some of them use both coil and micro coil layers while others replace one of those with thicker layers of foam.

Memory foam mattresses have a reputation of being soft, but modern styles can be quite firm. Most now use different types of foams to achieve contouring and support. You can still find super soft memory foam mattresses that give you the traditional “hug,” but memory foam has come a long way in the medium through firm range.

What About Edge Support?

If you get a medium firm mattress, you want the entire mattress to feel the same from end to end. if a mattress isn’t adequately reinforced, you may experience more compression towards the edges making the middle of the mattress the “sweet spot.” The closer you are to the center, the more firm it will feel.

Reinforced edges are particularly crucial the larger the mattress because the layers have farther to support. Many companies use layers of foam or other materials that travel around the edge to help support the sides. You can use every inch of the mattress. No more fighting over the sweet spot.

Recommended Medium Firm Mattresses

Let’s take a look at our top picks and a few individual recommendations.

DreamCloud Mattress

DreamCloud offers only one mattress, and it’s a good one. It’s solidly medium firm, but it provides soft contouring layers that help your individual parts sink further into the mattress but fills in gaps and keeps your spine straight.

The company doesn’t have showrooms, but if you order a DreamCloud, you get 365 nights to try the mattress. If you’ve been sleeping on a terrible bed, it might take some time for your body to adjust and for old pains to fade away. A full year is an excellent trial period to see if your sleep indeed improves overall. If you don’t love it, you can return it for a full refund.

DreamCloud also offers a lifetime warranty against defects. For the first ten years, they will replace a defective mattress due to abnormal wear and tear or sagging. After ten years, they may repair or replace the defective mattress. Make sure your bed is fully supported so that you don’t void the warranty accidentally.

Our Top Pick

DreamCloud’s flagship mattress is an eight-layer hybrid. The cover material is a tufted Cashmere blend that feels super soft. The top two foam layers are contouring, one gel and one quilted, for a pillow style top that gives under the broadest parts of your body. The gel-infused layer redistributes heat away from your body and prevents it from gathering in the core of the mattress. The quilted layer is springy and feels soft but still responsive.

The next two layers are dense support foam that transitions your body from the contouring layers to the support of the coils. Individually pocketed coils provide pushback and give the mattress structure. A final layer of foam also provides the mattress with structural integrity and edge support.

Zenhaven Mattress

Zenhaven is part of the Saatva universe. It’s an all latex mattress designed to be an eco-friendly alternative to traditional memory foam. The latex layers are durable, responsive, and highly supportive.

The best part of the mattress is that it’s flippable. One side is a gentle firm (medium-firm) side, and the other is a softer side. Zenhaven gives you a 20-year warranty, and the latex is manufactured solely in the United States. The company offers free white glove delivery and mattress removal, so the entire transition is seamless.

Best Medium-Firm Mattress under $2000

The Zenhaven queen is about $1850 and is five layers of premium latex. There are contouring layers on the top (more on the luxury plush side and fewer on the gentle firm side). Targeted support layers have pinholes in the latex, so it’s softer underneath your shoulders and firmer under your legs and torso. This ensures your spine stays supported without sacrificing any of the contouring benefits, either for side or back sleepers.

Nectar mattress

Nectar is a four-layer, cooling all foam mattress that offers medium-firm support for those who have back issues or other pain during the night. Their materials are more eco-friendly than different types of foams, and the mattress seems to be a lot more durable than older styles of memory foam.

Nectar began because the founders hated their mattress shopping experience, so your mattress arrives compressed in a box right on your doorstep. No delivery people to coordinate and no mattress showroom markups.

They offer a 365-day sleep trial, so you can give your body time to adjust. You can figure out if the mattress really has improved your quality of sleep and give old pain time to go away.

Best Medium Firm mattress under $1000

Nectar’s quilted, gel memory foam provides a soft top that’s deceptively supportive. If you and your partner have different sleep preferences, this style of medium firm mattress is a good option.

It’s all memory foam but has none of the temperature issues of old memory foam. It wicks heat and moisture away from your body in the top layers. Underneath, a layer of ultra-dense support foam provides pushback to align your spine. None of their bed sizes are over $1000.

Lucid Mattress

Lucid is a line of memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses for a variety of sleep positions. They’ve been manufacturing mattresses since 2010 and have something for everyone in the family. They have a line of accessories available and a ten-year warranty against defects.

Latex is an excellent material for medium-firm preferences because it provides more response than traditional memory foam. You still get motion isolation and edge support, but the latex transitions your body better to the support layer.

Best mattress under $500

Lucid ten-inch latex hybrid mattress is an excellent budget medium firm option. Their full bed offers plenty of space and a one-and-a-half-inch gel foam gently contours to your curves while the latex underneath pushes back. Individually wrapped steel coils sit between two layers of memory foam, so you get all the support of a coil mattress with none of the pressure point pain.

It’s covered in a breathable knit cover and reinforced on the edges, so you get better edge support and little compression towards the sides.

DreamCloud

DreamCloud’s construction is strangely supportive to be so cushiony up top. Because there are so many layers, sleepers with different types of preferences don’t have to compromise much. The top feels very soft but doesn’t give way much. The coil layer ensures that you’re still getting full support.

Best Medium Firm Mattress For Side Sleepers

Side sleepers have a hard time with firmer mattresses because those sometimes force broader areas to compress. If you sleep in the “sprinter” position, you’re likely to overextend your back without some kind of “hug.”

DreamCloud’s layers can give you the soft give you need for your shoulders, but it has deceptively supportive bottom layers. It’s one of the few mattresses we’d recommend for side sleepers that won’t aggravate back issues.

Nuvanna Mattress

Nuvanna began out of a desire to improve the materials and quality of mattresses without adding extra cost. It’s an eco-friendly alternative to traditional mattresses, and the company’s mission is to strengthen communities by improving sleep on the individual level.

They have only one mattress option, but it’s a beautifully made, durable foam mattress. You can try it for 100 nights, and there’s a ten-year warranty for defects.

Best Medium Firm Mattress For Stomach Sleepers

The Nuvanna mattress provides a safe, non-toxic mattress for people who tend to put their face into the bed rather than on it. It has excellent edge support, so you can use the side to get comfortable. It’s on the upper end of the medium firm scale. It keeps you on top of the mattress but allows your shoulders to sink a bit. This keeps your spine aligned rather than overextended.

There are no toxic fumes or strange odors even with your face buried into the mattress.

Eight mattress

Eight makes some exciting mattresses. They use layers of memory foam plus a sleep tracking system that makes your mattress a smart mattress. If you’re prone to restless nights and interrupted sleep, the Eight can help give you valuable data to figure out why.

They have a 100-night sleep trial for all their mattresses so you can figure out if it’s actually helping. If you aren’t interested in the sleep tracking system, you can buy just the plain mattress for less.

The sleep tracker measures 15 different data points including light and REM sleep, temperature, and heart rate.

Best Mattress For Back Sleepers

Saturn’s three layers are constructed to reduce the amount of tossing and turning you do to get to a comfortable position. It uses three simple layers, a contouring layer, a transition layer that helps ease your body to the more dense support layer, and the support base that keeps your spine aligned and prevents too much compression.

Ghostbed Mattress

Ghostbed’s primary concern is cooling. The original and the Luxe both have proprietary gel-infused foams that help wick moisture away from the body and return the mattress to the ambient temperature of the room. Their all foam mattresses keep motion transfer to a minimum without losing any of the supportiveness.

Ghostbed gives you 101 nights to try their bed out and protects you from defects with a 20-year warranty.

Best Medium Firm Mattress for heavy people

Ghostbed isn’t made explicitly with heavier people in mind, but the original is a medium firm option with a weight rating of combined 750 pounds. This gives you a lot more room with the mattress without losing the contouring benefits due to extra weight.

The mattress will feel like a medium firm mattress even if you’re on the heavier end of the spectrum. The dense support layer is very durable and won’t collapse. The top layers are manufactured to contour the same whether you are an average weight person or a bit on the heavier side.

The original is still very cooling, so you’ll have better temperature regulation than you would with other types of mattresses.

Conclusion

If you need a firm mattress for a particular pressure point issue, but your spouse prefers something a bit softer, a medium firm mattress should satisfy both of your sleep preferences. Medium firm mattresses are pretty universally comfortable, and with top contouring layers, both partners should find they’re both supportive yet still cushiony.

It’s important to look at how the layers interact with each other so that your medium firm mattress doesn’t end up aggravating pressure points. If you have the proper contouring layer, you should still get a comfortable night’s sleep even if you’re a side sleeper.

Although medium-firm mattresses aren’t necessarily a guarantee to a better night’s sleep, one that has the proper support can help decompress your spine and lower lumbar region or prevent your shoulder from flattening and giving you dead arms. That alone should be cause for celebration.

Tim

Remember how your parents told you that you were going to sleep your life away? Well that would be perfectly fine with Tim. He's been in search of the most comfortable nights sleep for years and shares his findings with any willing ear.

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