This two-sided mattress by Brooklyn Bedding is the only truly firm one I've found since returning from Asia - if 'firm' is never firm enough for you, this one might actually work

plankPlank Mattress

  • After living in Taiwan for a spell, I had come to the conclusion that, by and large, no truly firm mattress existed in the western hemisphere.
  • Then Brooklyn Bedding's Plank Mattress arrived on the scene.
  • It's not only impressively (and, finally, sufficiently) firm, but it comes with "firm" and "ultra-firm" sides so you can find your own happy medium, or even switch back and forth if you so desire.
  • The Plank's price is also highly competitive on the "bed-in-a-box" market, ranging from $649 (twin) to $1,249 (California king).

Ever since I returned west after living in Asia, I've sought after a bed as firm as my favorite apartment there, which is to say something between a washboard and a poured concrete floor. Why, you wonder? No, I'm not a sadist, exactly. I just found that, especially while working upwards of 70 hours a week, seven days a week, it was suddenly much, much easier to wake up in the morning. And that was before I'd hook up my bedside intravenous caffeine solution.

Slinking into the sack for a precious few hours of sleep, you don't want to fool yourself into a slouch, from which nothing short of a backhoe truck can recover you, particularly if you tend to sleep on your back or stomach.

I'm a crash-where-you-fall sort of sleeper, and can be found slumbering in just about any position there is, but I probably wake up on my stomach most often.

The mattress connoisseurs over at Sleepopolis suggest that a firm mattress is generally more comfortable for most people, or at least those without considerable back injuries or pain: "For those not experiencing troublesome back pain, a firm mattress is will generally be more comfortable. When sleeping on a firmer surface, the bones absorb most of the pressure, meaning there is less stress on muscles, veins, and arteries. Muscles are less strained, and circulation is improved."

That article also goes on to point out that firmer mattresses, naturally, have less give, offering more lower-back support, which, in turn, leads to better, deeper breathing and oxygen flow. You know, that stuff that gives us our mammalian vitality.

But I've been sleeping on so-called "firm" mattresses in North America for most of my life, and I'd always felt that they sagged too much. I found myself lying on the cold hard floor to adjust my back at the beginning and end of a day. When I learned that Brooklyn Bedding was introducing Plank mattress, an eastern-hemisphere-inspired firm mattress, my ears perked up and my interest piqued. Tell me more, I demanded of the brand's gracious PR representative. A week later, the Plank mattress was at my door.

If "firm" isn't ever firm enough...

So as I was saying, I've missed my mattress in Taiwan that seemed to make a handful of hours' shuteye feel somehow sufficient, and I have since (inactively) kept an eye out for something of equal or greater value to me. This bed, whatever it was called, was so firm that the first and only time I jumped upon it, I had to check to make sure I hadn't broken anything (on myself). It was perfect. Again, I assure you, I'm not a sadist. And so on.

So, I lugged the Plank upstairs, cut it open, watched it inflate, and threw it on my bed frame, with the "ultra-firm" side up. I knew from the outset that I was going all in, and while I probably ought to have flipped it for your sake, I cannot feign having done it. No, the sleep on the "ultra-firm" side of the Plank was just too good (the brand calls it a 12/10 on the firmness scale, while the regular "firm" is rated as 10/10).

This is a fairly technical spring-free bed in a box with several layers at work. Of course, there are the two sides, but there's also a two-inch latex alternative foam (the brand's proprietary TitanFlex) for deep compression support, a seven-inch, high-density base foam for stability and durability, a one-inch layer of quilted memory foam to resist body impressions, and 1.5-inch and .75-inch quilted top layers on the firm and ultra-firm sides, respectively.

Plank offers an optional cooling mattress topper sewn into the bed, but I'd advise you opt out and just buy this cooling mattress pad by them instead, which I use (and love) on all my beds. That way, should tragedy strike, you can just toss it and not have to live with any embarrassing stains.

And, like other comparable and noteworthy brands, Plank (and Brooklyn Bedding) offers a 120-night risk-free trial and a 10-year warranty, so if you're really not happy, you have plenty of time to call the brand up and have them haul it away, which is not bad, especially when contrasted with the box-and-spring mattress woes of yore.

The bottom line

Short of sleeping on a hardwood floor, this is the most supportive and corrective mattress I've found in my trials of over half a dozen "bed-in-a-box" mattresses.

But then maybe I'm an outlier. I wasn't sure, so I enlisted the opinions (and sleeping expertise) of various friends and trusted guests.

My favorite, and perhaps the most succinct response (there were several overwhelmingly laconic responses along the lines of "good", which doesn't count for a lot), came from an old friend who lives aboard a 43-foot sloop in the lagoons and bays of Fiji: "I thought gentle rocking and a shot of rum were must-haves for my zzz's. Owen's house didn't move, he was out of rum, and I slept in way past our planned fishing trip, so I guess sleeping on the Plank proved me wrong!"

Buy the Plank mattress by Brooklyn Bedding from Plank Mattress for $699-$1,249 (Twin-Cal King)

Buy the cooling mattress pad from Brooklyn Bedding for $129

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