Do you sleep on a very firm futon or other unusually firm mattress?
July 10, 2019 7:48 AM   Subscribe

So I need a mattress that is extremely firm - like, far firmer than most people sleep on. I'm considering futons and have questions.

Last year I got a Saatva mattress, their firmest option. For the first few months it was fantastic and my back pain all but disappeared. The coils are fine, it hasn't sagged...but the extremely thick "luxury" foam pillowtop has softened with use, I'm sinking more deeply into it and my back problems are returning. I don't think there's anything wrong with the mattress; I think this is normal softening.

I need a really, really firm mattress that will not soften with use. I have had extremely bad luck with mattresses in stores (and I want a flippable non-pillowtop mattress in any case.) I've slept on a high-end firm latex mattress that was still too soft. I need something that is more than, eg, a camping pad but is still very firm. I can't just sleep on the floor or a very thin camping pad - I've tried.

So anyway...I'm considering futon mattresses. I have been looking at these.

Do you sleep on an extra firm futon? Do you sleep on an extra firm mattress? Where did you get it? How long is it likely to last? What has your experience been?
posted by Frowner to Shopping (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just to think very far outside the box, is it feasible or even desirable for you to sleep on something naturally firm (i.e. hardwood floors, carpeting), possibly with some minimal comfort covering, i.e., a blanket or some minor cushioning? Or even something like a gym or yoga mat? Or is that swinging the pendulum too far the other way?
posted by WCityMike at 8:01 AM on July 10

When we were shopping for mattresses at a company that builds them to order, they showed us one that seemed like a wooded platform with a few inches of padding. This was just to indicate the range they were capable of creating.

Seek out a custom builder to see if they can make something for you.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 8:04 AM on July 10

I've been using a cotton-and-wool futon from Soaring Heart for the last sixteen years and it's still going strong. It's been great for my back and I absolutely love it, though I flake out more than I should on the regular flipping and airing that the manufacturer recommends. If you wanted to think slightly outside the box but not go all the way to a yoga mat, consider a shikibuton on a tatami mat.
posted by sculpin at 8:11 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]

I slept for awhile on a 3-inch memory foam mattress topper placed onto a box spring. I tried the topper on the floor but that was no good, but on top of the box springs it was great. Though I only used it for about 3 months, so not sure about long term suitability. The firmest mattresses I ever slept on were in China, and I loved them, not sure how to get that type again. The bed my wife and I sleep on now is the firmest one we found in like five different stores--it's still adequately firm after 7 years but was expensive.
posted by skewed at 8:52 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]

Ive slept on an old traditional 5" futon, which is heavy, thick cotton batting. It has very little give and other than a floor was the firmest thing I've ever slept on. I hated it but it sounds perfect for you. The cotton batting lasts forever, much longer than foam or spring mattresses. Any traditional Japanese bedding store carries these.
posted by ananci at 8:59 AM on July 10

My futon is going on 30 years old, and is still super comfortable and hard. My FIL often will sleep on the floor rather than a "strange" mattress when he's away from home, but he loves the futon.

You linked one, but it has foam in it, and I think that will cause issues. I think you want one that ananci mentioned, traditional futon, cotton batting.

My teenager has claimed it now.
posted by Ftsqg at 9:34 AM on July 10

Adding.. This place looks much like the one I bought my futon from.
posted by Ftsqg at 9:35 AM on July 10

You could try out a Big Fig Mattress they are intended for heavier people and are extremely firm (especially for a non-obese person). I got one a couple of months ago and have been pretty happy.
I would definitely recommend buying their foundation/box spring if you want to use their mattress. They work very well together and I believe you are a lot more likely to have success with warranty issues.
The warranty is 20 years and covers body impressions that remain that are over 1" deep.
posted by DJWeezy at 9:37 AM on July 10

I love sleeping on a very firm futon, but I'm not too happy with my current one. If you go for a futon, AVOID the "premium/supreme" styles with a combo of foam and cotton. The one I bought a couple of years ago felt great in the store, but soon developed a definite valley in the middle. My next futon will be the classic pure cotton version again.
posted by maudlin at 10:29 AM on July 10

I previously slept on a very firm futon mattress from Cotton Cloud in Portland. I'm not quite sure which one I have, but it's still going strong after 18 years. (It's currently our guest bed.) If I had to guess, I probably have the Hawthorne or the Pearl. Mine has no springs, and it's not foldable.

The mattress I currently sleep on is blissfully firm, and over 20 years old. It's a standard spring mattress. It was given to my spouse long before I was in the picture, and it doesn't show its age at all. It was probably the cheapest of cheap mattresses - think back room at a discount furniture place. I've added a super-thin mattress pad to it, but otherwise, it's great.
posted by hydra77 at 11:15 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]

When my wife's L5-S1 herniation was at its most gruesome, we found that the hardest memory foam mattress from IKEA was surprisingly helpful (and comparatively affordable). It will sink a tad bit when you're on it, but it still felt like lying on a concrete slab, in a good way. Subjectively speaking, it did seem like that sweet spot a level up from a camping pad.

I forget the name of the model – we moved and had to leave it behind – but they could tell you at the store and let you test it.

FWIW, I slept on a hard futon for years and I found the lumps that develop to be annoying. Maybe it was just mine that did that, though.
posted by Beardman at 1:05 PM on July 10

Agree with a cotton and/or wool futon mattress. We had one from White Lotus Home that was hard as a rock and flippable (although heavy). Ours was 10+ years old and still going strong when we sold it on Craigslist prior to a move. Don't get anything with foam, which will inevitably break down over time.
posted by baby beluga at 1:07 PM on July 10

We sleep on a proper Japanese-style futon (from a UK company, so I can't be helpful there, but about 40 - 50mm thick if I remember correctly) on top of a pair of 10mm thick yoga mats and it's comfortable in a very firm sort of way - I also get achey if I sleep on mattresses for too long. The other advantage is that every morning I or my wife roll it up and stand it in the corner and we have an extra room we wouldn't otherwise have because it would be taken up with bed.
posted by Grangousier at 4:54 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]

I sleep on a Japanese-style futon (purchased at a Japanese furniture store in Japan.) The futon is on top of a thin pad, and it's very firm. There's a bit of give from the pad underneath, but like... you couldn't jump on it if you tried, and you don't sink in at all. My sleep quality doesn't vary noticeably on almost any surface (it sucks, but it sucks the same amount on anything) so I literally bought the cheapest one, that's probably your best bet (since the more expensive ones tend to be cushier.)
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 9:05 PM on July 10

I am on my second firmest they had in the store futon mattress (this is over a 20 year plus span), and they definitely work better for my back than the prior regular mattresses I used. The failure mode for futons is usually to get gradually harder over time as they compact, versus softening as your bed did, so this might be a good fit for you.

I can't say anything about the specific models you linked too, mine is just cotton all the way through, with no foam or topping of any kind. My first futon had a 5" mattress, which lasted probably about a decade for me a single not very heavy person using it, but was pretty overdue when I changed it out. My current futon mattress is an 8", and at a bit over the decade mark is still just fine. My boyfriend has a similar one that is about 15 years old, and still quite comfortable to me. I suspect that, like most mattresses, if you are heavier, or have more than one person using it, it may not last as long, but I think futons overall do last longer than regular mattresses.

My one recommendation is to try to keep up with the recommended turning and flipping schedule- my current futon is thick/heavy enough that it is quite difficult to flip with just one person, so I don't do it as often as I should, but if you skip the flipping completely you will end up with a depression if you always sleep in the same place, which will reduce the lifespan considerably.
posted by Dorothea Ladislaw at 9:16 PM on July 10

Seconding WCityMike - why complicate life if the basics (i.e. the floor with some minimal padding of your choice) is sufficient for your needs?
posted by 7life at 11:57 AM on July 11

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