Soft vs Firm Mattresses: Which is Best for a Restful Sleep?

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Finding the right mattress doesn't just stop at a fluffy, cloud-like feel. While comfort is crucial, it's important to dig deeper and understand what your body truly needs for a restful night's sleep. This includes the question that often divides sleepers: soft or firm mattress?

We explain the distinctions between softer and firmer mattresses in this article to help you choose the best type of mattress for your needs.

What Identifies a Firm or Soft Mattress?

To begin with, the majority of mattress manufacturers rate how firm their mattresses are on a scale of 1 to 10, with 6.5 being considered medium-firm. Anything that is greater than 6.5 will be firmer, while anything that is lower than 6.5 will be softer.

The Firmness Scale

Mattress firmness scale

  • 1/10: very soft, allowing the body to fully sink in. This level of softness is rare in mattresses.
  • 3-5/10: Usually ideal for side sleepers weighing less than 130 pounds.
  • 4/10: a plush surface that conforms well and is medium soft.
  • 5/10: medium, with minimal sinkage and a good mix of stiffness and conformity.
  • 6/10: moderately hard, less conforming, and medium firmness.
  • 7-8/10: firm, free of sinkage, and usually favors sleepers weighing more than 230 pounds.
  • 9/10: extra firm surface that does not conform. This firmness is rare in mattresses.

If you need further need elaboration on mattress firmness levels and how to choose the right firmness for your preferences, click here.

Soft Mattresses

Advantages

  • Pressure Relief: Soft mattresses can precisely contour your body, providing pressure point alleviation. This function is especially useful for people who suffer from joint discomfort or have sensitive regions such as the hips or shoulders.
  • Spinal Alignment: A soft mattress encourages optimal spine alignment by adapting to your body's natural contours. This might be beneficial for persons who have back problems or prefer a more encompassing experience when sleeping.
  • Helps in the Relief of Joint and Muscular Pain. Soft mattresses are not too firm, making them perfect for people who suffer from joint and muscular pain. It makes it easier to support the joints and muscles.
  • Can Aid with Hip Alignment. Because soft mattresses give light support, they are an excellent alternative for individuals suffering from hip discomfort!
  • Back Discomfort may be Relieved. A softer mattress may help with back discomfort that worsens with surface pressure. A person's lower back pain might be relieved by using light support!
  • Motion Isolation: Soft mattresses often perform well in terms of motion isolation. If you share your bed with a partner who moves about a lot during the night, a soft mattress can absorb the motion, reducing interruptions and enabling you to sleep uninterrupted.

Disadvantages

  • Support: Soft mattresses might not offer appropriate support, especially for people who have certain health concerns or back difficulties. A lack of firmness can generate a sinking sensation, perhaps leading to spinal misalignment which leads to discomfort or pain.
  • Early Sagging: Soft mattresses are more susceptible to early sagging, especially if they are of inferior quality or lack sufficient support mechanisms. This can shorten the mattress's overall lifespan, necessitating more frequent replacements.
  • Limited Mobility: The softness of a mattress might make it difficult for certain people to shift positions or quickly get in and out of bed. For individuals who prefer a more responsive surface, the sinking sensation might produce a sense of being "stuck" in the mattress.
  • Is not usually suitable for couples: Couples have varying levels of comfort and demands. A softer mattress may be unable to fit each individual.
  • Is not usually suitable for heavier bodies: it may find feel unpleasant. Because softer mattresses allow the sleeper to softly sink into the mattress.

Who Should Choose a Soft Mattress?

  • Side sleepers: Finding a mattress that helps ease pressure points on the hips and shoulders is a goal for everyone who sleeps on their side. Side sleepers should be aware that soft mattresses often offer better pressure alleviation.
  • People with pain issues: Soft mattresses may be an excellent fit for people who suffer from joint or hip discomfort. A soft mattress with memory foam can help to lessen and relieve discomfort in such places.
  • People who like to sink into their mattress: Soft mattresses allow people to sink deeply into the mattress. A soft mattress is recommended for anyone who loves to sleep "in" their mattress.
  • Is an excellent choice for light sleepers:. Light sleepers may have difficulty falling asleep on a firm mattress. This makes softer mattresses an excellent choice, and they may increase their overall sleep quality.

Firm Mattresses

Advantages

  • Spinal Alignment: A firm mattress provides improved spine support, facilitating optimal alignment while sleeping. This is especially useful for people who suffer from back discomfort or desire a more supportive sleeping surface.
  • Pressure Point Relief: Firm mattresses uniformly distribute body weight, limiting the possibility of pressure points. This is especially beneficial for people who have joint or muscular pain since it reduces discomfort and promotes improved sleep quality.
  • Reduces the strain on your circulatory system, allowing you to get more oxygen while sleeping. You can relieve strain on your circulatory system by sleeping on a firm mattress. This finally improves blood flow throughout your body!
  • Stress levels may be reduced. Sleeping on a firm mattress has been found in studies to reduce stress levels. Because many forms of pain may be alleviated with the correct bedding, stress levels will fall as the discomfort subsides.
  • Are more long-lasting and durable. Firm mattresses are designed to be robust and to keep people from sinking into them. This, in turn, guarantees that your mattress will survive for many years.

Disadvantages

  • Comfort Preference: Firm mattresses are excessively inflexible and unpleasant for some individuals. A firm mattress may not give the appropriate amount of comfort and coziness if you want a softer and more velvety sleeping surface.
  • Motion Transfer: Firm mattresses sometimes have less efficient motion isolation, which means that movements made by a sleeping companion may be more obvious. If you are sensitive to motion disturbances or have a spouse who regularly changes positions during the night, this might potentially disrupt your sleep.
  • Lack of Contouring: Firm mattresses provide less contouring and may not adhere to the body's contours as well as softer mattresses. This might be a drawback for people who want a more encompassing and cozy sleeping environment.
  • Adapting; You may need to make changes to fit the demands of your body. Because a firm mattress can be difficult to adjust to, you may need to use a mattress topper or pillows to help your body adjust to the mattress itself. This, in turn, may raise the entire cost of the purchase.

Who Should Choose a Firm Mattress

  • Stomach sleepers: People who sleep mostly on their stomachs require a mattress that provides adequate support throughout their bodies, particularly beneath their hips. A firm mattress should give enough support beneath the hips to keep the spine in an appropriate neutral posture.
  • People who like to sleep on top of their mattress: Firm mattresses prevent individuals from sinking too deeply. As a result, they are a better fit for folks who want to sleep on top of their mattress.
  • Hot sleepers: Firm mattresses are often cooler to sleep on than soft beds. Softer mattresses, particularly ones with memory foam, can retain body heat and reflect it back at sleepers. On a firm mattress, this is considerably less likely.
  • People with mobility issues: Anyone who has difficulty moving around due to an injury or health issue may benefit from a firm mattress. A firm mattress will make changing positions and getting into and out of bed much simpler.

Should you choose a firm or a soft mattress?

Body weight

When selecting a mattress firmness, weight must undoubtedly be considered. A bigger individual may experience significant discomfort on a too-soft mattress because they may sink in unevenly, putting the spine and body out of alignment, resulting in poor sleep and, eventually, pain.

A lower-weight individual will have difficulty sleeping on a too-firm bed since a firmer mattress may not conform sufficiently to give adequate support for the smaller body. This can also cause the body to be out of alignment, resulting in sleepless nights and uncomfortable mornings.

Sleep position

When selecting a mattress firmness, it is critical to consider sleep positions. The firmer mattress is great for back and stomach sleepers because it keeps the spine straight in a more natural position. A softer mattress will cause the stomach to sink deeper than the body for stomach sleepers, and the lower back to sink deeper if you sleep on your back. This results in unequal body support, which puts the spine out of alignment.

The softer mattress will provide extra comfort for side sleepers by cradling regions such as the shoulders and hips to assist in keeping the body straight and aligned.

A medium-firmness mattress is recommended for persons who toss and turn or for bedmates who sleep in various positions. This sort of bed will relieve pressure points while also conforming to the body in all postures.

Preferences

There are various personal preferences when it comes to mattress selections, regardless of discomfort or size. While some people love the comfort of snuggling into bed at night, others like the sensation of floating atop a bed.

One should consider the style of the bed as well as the firmness of the mattress. A hybrid mattress may give firmness with its coils while also providing a soft layer on top, giving you the best of both worlds.

It is critical to be able to test out the mattress before purchasing it to determine whether it is the appropriate fit for you, with the option of a free return if it isn't.

FAQs

Are firm mattresses better for health?

A firm mattress prevents your lower back from compressing while sleeping, which may allow for higher oxygen absorption. Less sagging indicates that the body's weight is distributed evenly.

What kind of mattress is best for back pain—firm or soft?

Those who suffer from back discomfort should opt for a mattress that is neither too firm nor too soft. To keep the spine in its native neutral posture. A medium-firm mattress should ensure that the user sinks just enough into the mattress.

Which kind of mattress is best for side sleepers—firm or soft?

Soft beds are typically best for side sleepers because they provide more contour underneath shoulder and hip pressure points.

Does a firm mattress soften over time?

Firm mattresses generally take 30 to 60 days to break in, after which they soften but do not feel much different. This time of break-in is natural and will not harm your mattress. Firm mattresses go soft after several years of use.

Should my mattress be firm or soft?

Although neither hard nor soft mattresses are "best," some individuals prefer one over the other. Firm mattresses are preferable for stomach sleepers, hot sleepers, and people who want to sleep "on top" of their mattress. Soft mattresses are ideal for side sleepers, couples, and anyone who prefers to sink into their mattress. This is determined by the individual and their chosen sleeping patterns.

What happens if you sleep on too firm a mattress?

If your mattress is too firm, it may not be very pleasant for you and may cause back and joint problems. If you don't believe your spine is adequately supported, it might be impacting your posture.

Conclusion

The right mattress will relieve pressure points, allowing the body to sleep peacefully and wake up pain-free. There are advantages to both firm and soft mattresses, but bear in mind that while selecting the proper hardness, you must consider any discomfort in your body, as well as your sleeping posture and body weight.

Remember that the greatest mattress will keep the head, shoulders, back, and even feet aligned as it molds to the body. This helps the body to mend and revitalize while resting, allowing you to sleep better and wake up calm and refreshed. Using a trial period helps you to buy a mattress with confidence, knowing that you can return it for free if you are not completely satisfied.

Dom Abraham

Dom Abraham

As the lead content writer at Sleepiverse. Dom pours his heart into writing mattress reviews, bedding product reviews, and medically-reviewed health articles. Dom is from Portugal and likes to spend his free time writing on the beach as it gives him a sense of comfort. Aside from writing mattress reviews in front of the soothing beach view, Dom likes to experiment with new amazing food ideas.