Firm Vs Soft Mattress

Soft wins for comfort, firm for support.
Firm Vs Soft Mattress
Tom Greenspan
December 21, 2022

As a reader-supported website, we're able to keep it free. Buying something through a link on this page might earn us commissions. Thanks for that.

It would appear to be an easy choice to choose between two mattresses, but when it comes to it, you can be faced with a deluge of information and different mattresses that can be bought online that sends you into a tailspin. To decide the best mattress for you, you should be armed with some basic information.

Selecting the wrong mattress based on a criterion that is not correct for you and your body could end up in a world of pain. If you sleep with a partner who has a different body shape and weight to yours, the problems with buying a mattress go from easy to complicated.

This article explores mattresses and how they can affect your body. Should you compromise with your new mattress or stick to what's best for your body and spine alignment? We answer frequently asked questions and provide factual information so you can make the correct decision.

Let's dive in.

Where do you start?

A good mattress is the cornerstone of a restful night's sleep, so picking the one that's best for you is a significant choice. 

You devote a third of your life to it, and poor sleep has an impact on other aspects of your life as well. A healthy, restful night's sleep is crucial for well-being and good health.

The market has a vast selection of mattresses, which makes making a choice more complex than ever. Choosing between a hard or soft mattress is also among the most important when purchasing a mattress. Both options have advantages and disadvantages. 

Therefore the decision is very subjective but critical.

What constitutes a good mattress?

Aside from personal choice, your spine health is a crucial consideration when selecting a good mattress. Even when you are horizontal, the three small curvatures in your spine needs to be maintained. But you also need to be comfortable.

A supportive mattress will maintain the neutral alignment of your body. This ensures that your spine maintains a modest natural bend and that your head, shoulders, buttocks, and heels are aligned. 

You should feel no pressure on a premium mattress like you're floating. The correct mattress over time can help muscles unwind, promote greater sleep, and even enhance posture. 

Compared to the mattress with less support, that can cause back pain, especially at the base of the spine, and can generally prevent you from getting a good night's rest.

How can you tell if a mattress is firm or soft?

You can use a scale based on body weight, so it should apply to most people looking to purchase a mattress that is right for their needs.

The mattress scale is easy to understand and groups mattresses into sets that will interest you for your body size:



Who should buy this mattress

  • Soft
  • 1-2
  • Petite individuals and side sleepers
  • Medium-Soft
  • 3-4
  • Petite individuals, side sleepers, and combination sleepers
  • Medium
  • 5-6
  • Petite individuals, back sleepers, combination sleepers, and couples
  • Medium-firm
  • 7-8
  • Plus-sized individuals, individuals with back pain, back sleepers, and stomach sleepers
  • Firm
  • 9-10
  • Plus-sized individuals and stomach sleepers

A spectrum rather than a simple dichotomy of two categories might be used to describe how a mattress feels. Because of this, there are many options, which can be both good and bad.

From every material, any type of mattress can be produced. The tension of the mattress's overall design determines whether a mattress is firm or soft. 

The perceived firmness of a mattress may also be influenced by an additional layer or piece of foam with a completely different density.

Don't be confused between density and the softness or firmness of a foam mattress.

As a rule of thumb, a premium mattress will provide you with higher quality materials that will carry over into how comfortable and supportive the mattress is across the spectrum.

How do you know which is best for your body?

Assuming you do not have any skeletal problems, you can rely on the body type and weight of the sleeper for selecting a mattress.

Here is a fuller explanation of the firmness chart:

Soft 1-2

The most cushioning of any mattress is provided by soft mattresses, which range from a 1 to a 2 on the mattress scale. Your body sinks into plush mattresses, which closely encircle it.

The ideal mattress for people with less weight to support and side sleepers is often soft. While petite sleepers require a softer bed to properly cushion the body because it doesn't put as much pressure on the bed, side sleepers need extra cushioning to prevent pressure points on the stomach and hips.

However, there can be too much sinkage and contouring. Very soft mattresses are, therefore, typically rare. In reality, most mattresses advertised as soft are more medium than soft.

Medium-soft 3-4

Soft mattresses are far less prevalent than medium-soft mattresses, which range from 3 to 4 on the firmness scale. In order to prevent sinking and feeling trapped in bed. Medium-soft mattresses still closely conform to your body but are more durable and have a thinner comfort layer than soft mattresses.

For people who need padding to minimize pressure buildup but don't want to feel trapped in their bed, as they could on a soft mattress, medium-soft mattresses are an excellent alternative. 

In general, adults who sleep on their sides and are 130 lbs and less do well with medium-soft mattresses. It is a good mattress for a young adolescent.

Medium 5-6

Medium mattresses, which range in firmness from 5 to 6, offer the perfect amount of support and cushioning. Because they work for so many different people, they are a very popular mattress firmness. Nearly all companies, even those with few mattress options, will provide a medium mattress.

Medium mattresses are supportive enough to accommodate multiple postures while not being too cushiony to make movement difficult for those who frequently change positions during the night.

Medium-sized beds are the finest mattresses for couples with various body shapes and sleeping positions. 

Additionally, medium mattresses are still soft enough for small people to utilize without discomfort.

Medium firm 7-8

The firmness of medium-firm mattresses ranges from 7 to 8, and they offer just enough cushioning so that you may sleep soundly without sinking into the mattress.

Most of the time, a medium-firm bed is most comfortable for back sleepers. Additionally, a medium-firm mattress is firm enough to prevent sinking in your bed if you weigh more than 230 pounds. 

In addition, medium-firm mattresses are an excellent option if you experience persistent back pain to reduce your suffering.

Firm 9-10

The stiffest and firmest beds are those with solid mattresses. Both their base layers and comfort layers are thin.

Extra hard beds (10) are not as hard to find as soft beds as extra soft beds (1). Most individuals find extra firm mattresses to be a little too rigid, and they run the risk of making you uncomfortable with aches, pains, and pressure points.  The more typical mattresses are standard firm, such as (9).

Although some individuals might assume that the word "firm" indicates discomfort, firm beds can be comfortable. It depends on your size and sleeping posture whether you'll be comfortable on a firm bed.

Body weight dictates so much about comfort. A firm bed will compress and feel comfortable to those of you who carry more pounds.

In order to support their bodies and keep the bed from bottoming out, larger sleepers typically require a firmer sleeping surface. Similar to side sleepers, back and stomach sleepers require a firm bed to avoid their lower backs and spines sinking and misaligning their spines.

What are the advantages of a firm mattress?

A firm mattress is typically more pleasant for people who do not have severe back problems. There is less strain on the muscles, veins, and arteries when sleeping on a firmer surface since the bones take up the majority of the pressure. Circulation is enhanced, and muscles are less taxed.

A firm mattress prevents your lower back from compressing, enabling you to breathe more deeply as you sleep.  Less drooping may indicate that the body's weight is distributed more evenly, indicating that no area takes the heaviest load. Because they offer a more level and sturdy surface, firm mattresses are typically preferable for back sleepers. Additionally, a firmer mattress is usually better for stomach sleepers.

Do firm mattresses have any negatives?

Transitioning from a softer to a firm mattress can initially feel extremely painful. With time, this becomes typically less obvious.

A firmer mattress can worsen the pain for people with specific back issues like arthritis and scoliosis. This is why doing your homework on mattresses before buying one is crucial.

What are the advantages of a soft mattress?

Those with pre-existing back issues or who experience back pain on a regular mattress are typically advised to switch to a softer mattress. 

Additionally, lighter people should use them because a harder mattress may wind up not compressing at all for them, making sleeping a nightmarish proposition.

Since they better cushion the shoulders and hips, softer mattresses are typically preferable for persons who sleep on their sides. A softer mattress also helps to correct the spine when lying on the side.

Do soft mattresses have any negatives?

A soft mattress can actually cause back problems for back and stomach sleepers, as well as those who are heavier, even though they may appear more comfortable and opulent. For those who share a bed, soft mattresses can be problematic. The imbalanced sleep surface may result from the heavier spouse sinking further in. It can be challenging to find a toughness that appeals to both sides. Soft mattresses may occasionally have a shorter lifespan than hard ones. 

Although many models still have good durability, even with a softer feel, since all types of mattresses tend to become softer with time, beginning from an already soft foundation might make mattresses untenable in certain situations over some time.

What's the best mattress for a couple?

According to data, more than 132 million adults in the United States are married, while more than 18 million single people live with a spouse. Finding the ideal mattress to share with a spouse is essential to achieve high-quality sleep.  Finding a mattress that satisfies both sleepers' requirements for support and comfort can be difficult, though. The finest mattresses for couples should also be motion-isolating to lessen sleep disruptions, make little to no noise, and being favorable to sexual activity.

What mattress is best for being intimate?

When deciding on the best mattresses for sex, remember that while bouncy mattresses may not be everyone's favorite type of bed, they may be just what you need to liven up your sex life, depending on the mattress's construction and firmness level.

For instance, a mattress with inner individually-wrapped coils is bouncy because it has a bouncy support system. A hybrid mattress fits the same description.

A hybrid mattress may be more comfortable than an innerspring mattress since it is less springy. That's because an innerspring mattress' upper layers are made of memory foam, polyurethane, or organic cotton, which are thinner.  On the other hand, a hybrid mattress has thicker outer layers constructed of strong materials like natural latex. The bounce of a memory foam mattress might not be as high as that of an innerspring or hybrid mattress. The best latex mattress falls within the same category.

Although latex and memory foam mattresses offer support and pressure relief, they might not be as enjoyable during sex. On the other hand, hybrid mattresses strike the ideal balance of comfort and bounce for pressure relief, support, and closeness.

Responsive mattress for sex

The way a mattress reacts to pressure and movement is referred to as its responsiveness. A mattress's responsiveness significantly impacts a couple's sexual experience because lovemaking entails a lot of movement. A responsive mattress conforms to pressure spots while giving sleepers the most support possible. Couples may relax and enjoy their time together in bed without worrying about injuring their knees, wrists, backs, or other body parts.

Because rubber is naturally bouncy, latex mattress foams are very responsive. The most responsive and supportive mattress is created when individually wrapped coils are joined to create a hybrid mattress. 

On the other hand, even premium memory foam mattresses conform to the pressure points of the user's body. A memory foam mattress is less responsive and bouncy than a latex mattress.

The bottom line

Although only one piece of the jigsaw, mattress firmness is essential. Every sleeper has a different experience with hardness. Keep in mind that firmness—which refers to how soft or hard the bed feels—and support are related even though firmness and support are different. Even if you are statistically more likely to choose a medium-firm mattress, you might discover that softer or harder options are more comfortable for you. 

Your weight, sleep posture if you sleep with a partner, and any pain you may be experiencing will all play a role in choosing the proper firmness.