Is It Better To Sleep On A Firm or Soft Mattress?

Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

We spend a third of our lives sleeping, and mattresses play a major role in our sleep quality. It is imperative that we sleep on a mattress that meets our sleeping requirements to ensure that we have a pleasant night’s sleep. Sleeping on a mattress that is of inferior quality or not ergonomically designed, or a mattress that is too firm or soft can lead to back pain, joint pain, poor posture, and most importantly, sleep deprivation.

Is It Better To Sleep On A Firm or Soft Mattress?

Lack of sleep or inadequate sleep may cause a host of health problems such as a compromised immune system, chronic headaches, weight gain, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and more.  Therefore, it is essential that we pick a bed that suits our sleeping needs based on our weight and sleeping position.

Whether you’re a side, stomach, or back sleeper, or someone who sleeps in all positions—there is a mattress designed for your specific needs. This article will help you determine the ideal comfort level for your mattress, whether it be firm or soft.

What Makes A Mattress Comfortable?

What Makes A Mattress Comfortable?

Everyone yearns for a good night’s sleep at the end of a long day, and it isn’t easy to have one if you don’t have a comfy and inviting mattress. Additionally, you need a mattress that will provide adequate support to your spine and keep it in a safe, neutral position. Your bed should also cushion your pressure points and relieve tension from your muscles, leaving them in a more relaxed state necessary to have a good sleep.

When you lie down on the bed, make sure your hips and shoulders don’t sink too far into the bed. If you ignore it, your spine will be misaligned, and if left unchecked can result in lower back pain and stiffness when waking up in the morning.

Another thing you need to take into account while deciding on the right mattress is your body weight. Your body weight will determine the correct firmness level for you. If you’re a lightweight sleeper, a mattress with a softer surface will work best for you as it contours nicely around your body. For taller and heavier sleepers, a firmer bed is the right option to prevent them from sinking.

Nonetheless, your body weight shouldn’t be the only thing to factor in when deciding between a firm and a soft mattress. There are advantages and disadvantages of both firm and soft beds, and we will take an in-depth look throughout this article.

If you’re looking for the best mattress without spending a fortune, say under $1000—we have some great choices you can look into.

The Difference Between a Firm and Soft Mattress

The Difference Between a Firm and Soft Mattress

When shopping for a new mattress, you probably have seen that every new mattress has a “firmness level.” You might ask how this mattress’s “firmness level” gets determined. Most manufacturers use a standard firmness scale ranging from 1 to 10—with 10 being the firmest and 1 being the softest. That said, you won’t be finding any mattress rated 10 as those are extremely hard. Likewise, there aren’t mattresses rated as 1 because those are extremely soft beds.

Typically, a firm mattress ranges from 7 to 9 on the firmness scale, whilst a soft mattress ranges from 2 to 3 on the firmness scale. A firmer mattress doesn’t tend to give in easily. That explains why the surface stays even and sinks very little while sleeping. Soft mattresses, on the other hand, compress quickly and easily when pressure is applied. Sleepers will experience sinking when resting or sleeping on a soft bed.

1. Mattress Types and Firmness:

Mattresses are made from different materials, and the firmness level of the mattress depends on the materials. The following are the four most commonly used mattress types and their firmness levels:

2. Memory Foam Mattresses:

Memory foam comes in several firmness options. The memory foam used in mattresses can be either too firm or too soft, depending on the manufacturing process. Prior to buying a memory foam bed, check the type of memory foam used in the mattress and the layers supporting it. That way, you can find the firmness it provides.

3. Latex Foam Mattresses:

Latex foam comes in two types—Dunlop and Talalay latex. Dunlop latex foam has a firmer firmness, which explains that mattresses made from Dunlop are considered medium-firm. Meanwhile, Talalay latex foam is treated with additives to give it a soft to medium feel. Both materials are elastic and offer a slight bounce.

4. Hybrid Mattresses:

These mattresses have a secured coil base and a foam comfort layer. The foam comfort layer provides a cushion. So check the type of foam used on the top of the mattress to determine the firmness level.

5. Innerspring Mattresses:

Innerspring mattresses come with coil springs at the base that give their firm feel. These beds typically have a thinner comfort layer than hybrid mattresses and are classified as either medium-firm or firm.

The Pros and Cons of Firm And Soft Mattresses

The Pros and Cons of Firm And Soft Mattresses

The major and most noticeable advantage of a firm mattress is support. Firm mattresses tend to offer more support than soft mattresses by not letting the body sink too deep into the mattress. Most people say lying or sleeping on a firm mattress feels like sleeping “on top” of the mattress. While sleeping on a firm mattress, there are no issues when moving around or changing sleeping positions on the mattress. Another pro of owning a firm mattress is that sleepers don’t sink very little, they tend to be cooler than soft mattresses because the body is exposed to the moving air around the bedroom.

Though firm mattresses provide better support, they aren’t the best choice for relieving back pain and joint pressure.  Side sleepers when sleeping on a firm mattress might experience discomfort on their shoulders and hips. Many people admit sleeping on a firm mattress is downright ‘uncomfortable’, though this is subjective.

Now let’s talk about soft mattresses. If you’re looking for a mattress that offers pressure relief, soft mattresses are the way to go. Soft mattresses are ideal for side sleepers as they help reduce extra pressure from the shoulders and hips. Most people deem soft mattresses as comfortable because sleepers tend to sink a bit on them. If you want some great soft mattresses for your home, check out our recommendation of the best futon mattresses here!

However, there are some caveats. Look, soft mattresses can be soft and pressure-relieving, but they don’t provide support instead of firm mattresses, especially for back and stomach sleepers. They’re also not suitable for taller and heavier folks, and by heavy folks, we mean people who weigh more than 230 lbs.

That’s not all. Because people sink into a soft mattress, they might find it uneasy and uncomfortable to switch sleeping positions and move around at night. They also complain that sleeping on a soft mattress is hot because a major section of their body isn’t exposed to the bedroom air because of sinkage.

At A Glance: Firm Mattress vs Soft Mattress

At A Glance Firm Mattress vs Soft Mattress

A firm mattress is best for:

  1. Heavy sleepers (those weighing 230 lbs. and over)
  2. Back and stomach sleepers
  3. Hot sleepers

A soft mattress is ideal for:

  1. Lightweight sleepers (those weighing 130 lbs. and lower)
  2. Side sleepers
  3. Sleepers with joint pains and arthritis
  4. Sleepers requiring pressure relief
  5. Sleepers looking for contouring

Who Should Choose A Firm Mattress

Who Should Choose A Firm Mattress

Stomach sleepers: People who sleep on their stomachs require a mattress that provides adequate support across their whole body, especially below their hips. A firmer mattress should provide the required support under the hips keeping the spine in a neutral position.

1. Back sleepers:

A medium-firm mattress works best for most back sleepers because, unlike an all-firm mattress, a medium-firm mattress allows their hips to sink slightly. If a mattress is too soft, the person may sink too much into the mattress, which isn’t good for back sleepers in the long term.

2. Larger or heavier people:

Sleepers who are tall and heavier usually need a mattress that provides better support than a soft mattress. Firmer mattresses offer more support and don’t sink, which makes them ideal for handling higher body weights. If you’re looking for the best mattress for heavy people, check out the mattresses for heavy people here!

3. Hot sleepers:

As I mentioned earlier, a firm mattress is cooler than a soft mattress because the sleeper is ‘lying’ on the top of the mattress and exposed to more air. Sleepers who dislike being hot while sleeping should also avoid soft mattresses made of memory foam as they trap body heat and relay it back to sleepers.

4. People with physical mobility issues:

Anyone having problems moving around because of injury or health complications should sleep on a firm mattress. It is a lot easier to change sleeping positions and get in and out of bed on a firm mattress.

Who Should Pick A Soft Mattress

Side sleepers often complain of discomfort on their shoulders and hips because of excessive pressure on the joints. Soft mattresses offer improved pressure relief compared to firm mattresses.

1. People with joint or hip pain:

A soft mattress is a good option for sleepers struggling with joint or hip pain. A soft mattress made of memory foam can do wonders to reduce and alleviate the pain in those areas.

2. Sleepers who like to sink into their mattress:

Soft mattresses allow sleepers to sink into the mattress. So, if you’ve happened to be one of those people, get yourself a soft mattress. Futon mattresses are a great option to consider if you’re looking for soft mattresses. We have some great recommendations, so check out the futon mattresses for your home!

3. Sleeping with a partner/couple:

A soft mattress with memory foam can better handle and transfer motion than a firm mattress. This is important as you don’t want to disturb your partner while moving around or changing your sleep position on the mattress.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between a firm mattress and a soft mattress shouldn’t be difficult. Choosing a firm or a soft mattress depends on his or her personal preferences and sleeping needs. So, decide whether you want a firm mattress or a soft mattress, and pick it from there!

See More Resources:-


Jennifer R. Heller

She is a writer at Sleeping Park, the leading source for sleeping products and information. She has spent her time researching sleeping health topics, testing out new sleeping merchandise, and interviewing experts in the field to create informative articles on all things related to sleep. She also writes about her findings in blogs published with every piece she writes on the site. Jennifer also has an economics degree and enjoys using her knowledge of supply and demand to help customers find their perfect mattress match. Jennifer likes to read or travel overseas when she's not at work or hanging out with her family.

More Posts - Website

Leave a Comment