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Different Types Of Firmness In Mattresses

Oct 28, 2022

charming woman sleeping in bed at home | Different Types Of Firmness In Mattresses | Featured

Are you aware of the types of firmness in mattresses? If your backache is any indication, this might be the first time you’re hearing this.

RELATED: 5 Highly-Recommended Imported Mattress From Serta

Mattress Firmness Guide | Types of Firmness in Mattresses

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What Is Mattress Firmness?

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Mattress firmness is a firmness scale that ranges from very soft to very firm. Some mattress manufacturers may call this the comfort level.

It describes how soft and plush or how hard and resistant your bed may feel.

You will come across this term as you go mattress shopping. In addition to advertising features and benefits of each mattress, manufacturers will also inform you of the firmness level of the mattress.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) and the Sleep Advisor (SA) also use quantitative firmness scales ranging from 1-10 to categorize mattress comfort levels.

The mattress firmness scale by the NSF ranges from extra soft to extra firm.

  • 1 – extra soft
  • 2-3 – soft
  • 4 – medium soft
  • 5 – medium
  • 6 – medium firm
  • 7-9 – firm
  • 10 – extra firm

While the SA mattress firmness scale is as follows:

  • `1-2 – extra soft
  • 3-4 – soft
  • 5-6 – medium
  • 7-8 – firm
  • 9-10 – extra firm

While there is no standardized mattress firmness guide, there are three general levels you need to know—soft, medium, and firm.

Soft Mattresses

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Soft mattresses are usually made of foam layers and similarly soft pressure-relieving layers. Because these mattresses are relatively plusher, they’re better suited for sleepers weighing under 60kg.

At 60kg, lighter sleepers may experience pressure relief, adequate spinal alignment, and body contouring without sinking too deeply within the mattress layers.

Because soft mattresses excellently absorb even the deepest pressure points, they’re ideal for side sleepers. If you weigh below 60kg, are curvy, and have prominent pressure points (e.g. broad shoulders, small waist, wide hips), a soft mattress might be the perfect fit for you.

On the other hand, because they’re usually made of soft materials, some sleepers may find it challenging to move around on this bed. Take this into consideration if you use your bed for intimate moments.

You may not count on this mattress firmness type to help prop you up. Without any push back, this mattress may not be ideal for those nursing an injury or pregnant women.

If you’re sold on soft mattresses, look for one with a foam encasement that wraps around the perimeter of your mattress. This will help stabilize your movements, prevent sagging, and keep you from rolling off your bed.

Have a sinking feeling about this mattress type? You’re not alone.

Not a lot of sleepers find these comfortable and very soft to soft mattresses are harder to find in the market.

Medium-Firm Mattresses

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Medium mattresses, in contrast, are far more popular and much more agreeable to the general population. They’re ideal for those weighing between 60kg to 104kg.

You can find medium-firm mattresses made of foam, springs, or other mattress types.

Many medium-firmness mattresses come with pressure-relieving comfort layers like latex or memory foam with springs or dense foam at the base.

They’re a meet-in-the-middle type of mattress, balancing plushness and firmness as well as catering to many types of sleepers. If you have a sleeping partner, a medium-firm mattress may cater to each of your sleeping preferences.

Whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach, mattresses within the medium firmness range may provide you with great spinal alignment and pressure relief.

Firm Mattresses

photo of sleeping man | firm mattress

Firm mattresses are ideal for heavier sleepers over 104kg.

They have a lot less give and are typically made of spring mattresses. And because spring coils are more durable than single foam mattresses, you could get more winks out of a firm mattress.

A firm mattress may not conform as well to the contours and curves of your body. But this is not true of all firm mattresses.

You can find many spring mattresses that simultaneously provide pressure relief and a firm sleeping surface.

Pocket springs conform to the contours of your body while giving you reliable, burly support. Hybrid mattresses pair this with multiple comfort layers to provide additional pressure relief and to bolster spinal alignment.

Fret not if you’re a candidate for a firm mattress but prefer plusher beds!

A firm hybrid mattress can still give you a soft and heavenly sleeping surface without sacrificing any of the support.

Hybrid mattresses, those with spring coils at the base topped with various supportive comfort layers, excel at providing sturdy support, promoting spinal alignment, all while giving you a luxurious sleeping experience.

Shop our top picks here.

RELATED: What Is A Pocket Spring Mattress?

Choosing the Firmness Type of Your Mattress

Body Weight

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Consider your weight group when choosing a mattress:

  • < 60kg – soft mattresses
  • 60kg-104kg – medium-firm mattresses
  • > 105kg – firm mattresses

If you have a sleeping partner and you fall under different weight groups, consider getting a medium-firm mattress. A firm mattress with additional comfort layers and a pillow top could give you or your lighter partner adequate pressure relief and a bouncier bed.

Sleeping Position

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Back sleepers may find all types of firmness in mattresses comfortable.

Side sleepers may benefit more from medium-firm mattresses since these provide better pressure relief.

When you lie on your side, your shoulders and hips press deeply into your body. A mattress that is too firm may not absorb these pressure points. It also risks throwing off your spinal alignment and leaving you with body aches in the morning.

You can also try out some soft mattresses if you like extra bouncy beds and usually sleep on your side.

Stomach sleepers fare better with medium-firm to firm mattresses. These hold your midsection up and help keep your spine aligned.


a woman asleep in a bed | firmness scale

If you have arthritis or are susceptible to body pains, focus on looking for a mattress that keeps your spine aligned.

A misaligned spine can put a lot of pressure on your joints and leave the rest of your body sagging and unsupported.

Choose a mattress that cushions your shoulders and hips. Your body should sink deeply enough into the mattress that it comfortably cushions and relieves pressure from these areas.

Also, consider your pillow loft if you’re struggling with neck and shoulder pain. A bolster pillow can help support the upper half of your body.

Go with a soft or medium-firm mattress for your hip or lower back pain. These mattresses have enough give to relieve pressure off of your hips and help keep your lumbar area aligned and relaxed.

Sleeping Partner

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A medium-firm mattress is a safe middle ground for those with sleeping partners with opposing preferences.

But if you do, invest in a mattress with additional comfort layers that could accommodate each of your needs.

Mattress Firmness Is Not All There Is to It

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Choosing your perfect mattress is as personal as choosing your sleeping partner.

In addition to choosing the firmness type of your mattresses, also consider the following when buying a mattress:

  • What kind of mattress do you want? Foam? Spring? Hybrid?
  • What’s your sleeping preference?
  • What’s your favorite sleeping position?
  • What’s the size of your room?
  • Do you have a sleeping partner?
  • What’s your height? Your partner’s height, if any?
  • Are you pregnant? Or do you expect you will be in the near future?
  • Are you nursing an injury?

The Verdict: Deciding among the Different Types of Firmness in Mattresses

Don’t let the name fool you!

A softer mattress is not synonymous with a less supportive mattress. Neither does a very firm mattress make for a more supportive bed. Mattress firmness is just one aspect of the support your bed can give you.

Just think of the types of firmness in mattresses as different levels of give.

Softer mattresses with a lot of give will deeply absorb your pressure points. However, sink too deeply and your mattress won’t give you any support at all. But lighter sleepers may find that this strikes the balance between plush and supportive.

Firmer mattresses give you hardy support—not a hard sleeping surface. These mattresses are excellent at holding up your weight, especially for heavier sleepers. They also offer ease of mobility for all types of sleepers, which also makes them comfortable for more intimate moments.

Now that you’ve learned the different types of firmness in mattresses, do you think you’re closer to finding the perfect match? Or do you want to learn more about choosing the best mattress for you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you!