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When a consumer goes mattress shopping there are typically two things on their mind — comfort and affordability. While these are extremely important factors in purchasing a mattress, starting with proper support is crucial.
Knowing how to choose mattress firmness will help you get started in your research. Whether you prefer a soft or firm feel, your satisfaction with the mattress’ level of firmness plays a significant role in your sleep quality and long-term health.
Mattress Firmness Levels
Mattress firmness refers to the mattress’ ability to conform to your body. Mattresses can range from soft to medium to firm. Medium can be further split into medium-soft and medium-firm.
On the firmness scale, mattresses can range from 1-10, 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest.
Let’s break it down.
A soft —or plush — mattress is flexible and easily conforms to the body. When you lay on it, you should sink in, but not so much that you struggle to get up and out of bed.
These mattresses are great for light sleepers — especially those who sleep with a partner. This is because a soft mattress absorbs motion, so if your partner is tossing and turning during the night, you are less likely to wake up.
Firmness scale: 1-2
The downside of a soft mattress is it doesn’t necessarily provide substantial postural support, especially for those who require back, shoulder, or neck support. This is why support should be your first consideration, followed by mattress comfort. Medium-soft mattresses are better equipped for those who enjoy a soft comfort layer for pressure-point relief but need more core support than a regular soft mattress provides.
Firmness scale: 3-4
Medium-firm is a popular choice for those who desire a middle ground between plush comfort and stable support. While it contours to your body, there is also a substantial amount of sturdy support. Because the medium-firm mattress is made of more durable materials than softer mattresses, it also tends to have a longer lifespan.
Firmness scale: 5-7
Firm mattresses are the most supportive, but rigid mattresses on the market. They’re commonly perceived as being uncomfortable because they aren’t as flexible, but that’s not the case. It simply means that the mattress doesn’t conform (or conforms very little) to the weight of your body.
Firmness scale: 8-10
How To Pick Mattress Firmness
If you’re not sure which type of mattress you’d prefer, there are a few other factors to consider.
- Mattress category. Memory foam mattresses tend to be softer, while innerspring mattresses tend to be firmer — and of course, there are some that meet in the middle. Stay open to all types of mattresses while shopping and let science determine which is best for you through our bedMATCHⓇ quiz. It’s always smart to ask your mattress sales rep questions along the way.
- Sleep position. In terms of sleep position, side sleepers are usually better suited for softer mattresses, while stomach and back sleepers are better suited for firmer mattresses. This is because the rigidity of a firm mattress helps keep stomach and back sleepers spines in alignment throughout the night. If stomach or back sleepers sinks too far into a soft mattress, they could easily hurt their backs since their bodies would be in a slight U-shape for hours on end.
- Weight. People who weigh less (under 140 lbs) typically prefer softer mattresses. This is because their weight doesn’t significantly puncture the surface of the bed, so they don’t sink to an uncomfortably low level. On the other hand, people who weigh more (200+ pounds) tend to prefer firmer mattresses because they remain on an even surface and the durability of the mattress can better support and uphold the pressure of their bodies.
The majority of people fall somewhere in the middle, favoring medium-soft and medium-firm mattresses. Knowing how to choose the firmness of a mattress can be tricky since there are so many options, so it’s good to have a preconceived notion of what you want.
Take Out The Guesswork With bedMATCHⓇ
We spend one-third of our lives on our mattress, which is why it’s one of the most important investments a person makes. You wouldn’t purchase a car without knowing it’s a good fit — so why would you do the same with a mattress?
Take the guesswork out of mattress shopping and trust science. bedMATCHⓇ, our diagnostic sleep system, objectively analyzes your sleeping preferences and needs by taking measurements like your weight, height, and preferred sleeping position. Like magic, it will match you with your perfect mattress — that has the perfect firmness level for you.