How To Pick Mattress Firmness?

Choosing the right mattress firmness is a critical factor in achieving a good night’s sleep. To select the proper mattress firmness, you should consider your primary sleeping position, body weight, and personal comfort preferences. A medium-firm mattress is often recommended as it provides a balance of support and comfort for the average sleeper; however, those who sleep on their side may prefer a softer mattress to relieve pressure on the hips and shoulders, while stomach or back sleepers may benefit from a firmer surface to maintain spinal alignment. It’s essential to test mattresses when possible and look for models with a good return policy so you can try the mattress at home and ensure it meets your needs.

Understanding Mattress Firmness Levels

Mattress firmness is usually rated on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being extremely soft and 10 being extremely firm. Here’s a brief overview:

1-2: Extra Soft – Provides a plush feel and deep contouring.
3-4: Soft – Offers significant cushioning and conforming.
5-7: Medium to Medium-Firm – The most universally comfortable range, providing a balance of support and pressure relief.
8-10: Firm to Extra Firm – Gives more surface support and less conforming.

Sleeping Position and Firmness

Your sleeping position significantly impacts the firmness level you might find comfortable:

Side Sleepers usually require softer to medium mattresses that cushion the shoulders and hips.
Back Sleepers often benefit from medium to medium-firm mattresses that support the lower back.
Stomach Sleepers tend to need medium-firm to firm mattresses to prevent the midsection from sinking too deeply.
Combination Sleepers who rotate between positions might prefer medium firmness for versatility.

Body Weight and Firmness

Your body weight affects how much you compress the mattress surface:

Lighter Individuals (<130 lbs): Softer mattresses are often more comfortable because they allow for enough sinkage to relieve pressure.
Average Weight Individuals (130-230 lbs): A medium to medium-firm mattress is often suitable to balance comfort and support.
Heavier Individuals (>230 lbs): Firmer mattresses tend to provide better support and prevent excessive sinkage that can lead to spinal misalignment.

Factors To Consider When Selecting Mattress Firmness

Personal Comfort and Preferences

At the end of the day, the right firmness is about what feels most comfortable to you. Some people simply prefer the enveloping hug of a soft mattress, while others want the sturdy feel of a firm surface.

Material Types

The construction and materials of a mattress influence its feel. Memory foam, for example, tends to cradle the body, while latex and coils provide more resistance and bounce.

Pain and Pressure Relief

If you have specific pain concerns, such as back or joint pain, the right firmness can alleviate discomfort. Generally, proper alignment and pressure relief are key.

Motion Isolation

If you sleep with a partner, consider how the firmness affects motion transfer. Softer materials typically absorb movement better, reducing sleep disturbances.

Temperature Regulation

Firmness can affect how hot a mattress feels. Softer mattresses that hug the body can restrict airflow and retain more heat, while firmer options tend to sleep cooler.

Trial Periods and Guarantees

Many mattress companies offer sleep trials and return policies. Use these to your advantage by testing out a mattress firmness for several weeks to determine suitability.

Long-Term Considerations

Mattresses soften over time. If you are on the border between two firmness levels, consider how the feel of the mattress might change with use.

Testing and Adjusting Mattress Firmness

Trying Out Mattresses

Whenever possible, lie on a mattress for at least 15 minutes in your usual sleeping position. This trial can provide a good initial indicator of comfort and support.

Top 5 Mattresses Recommended By

Adjustable Firmness Mattresses

Some mattresses are designed with adjustable firmness, allowing you to change the feel according to your needs, a beneficial feature for uncertain buyers.

Mattress Toppers

If your current mattress is too firm, a soft mattress topper can provide additional comfort without the need for an entirely new mattress.

Exchange Policies

Make sure to inquire about the store or manufacturer’s exchange policy, should the mattress firmness not be to your liking after a few weeks of use.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Ignoring Sleep Position

Don’t overlook the importance of your sleeping position when deciding on firmness – it can lead to discomfort or pain if neglected.


More expensive does not always mean better when it comes to mattress firmness. Focus on comfort and support rather than price alone.

Not Checking Reviews

Utilize customer reviews and feedback to gauge the longevity and satisfaction with different firmness levels.

Assuming Firmer is Always Better

While a firm mattress can provide excellent support, too firm of a mattress for your body type and sleep style may create pressure points and discomfort.

Finishing Thoughts

Picking the appropriate mattress firmness is a gateway to sleep satisfaction and overall well-being. It is indeed a personal choice that should be made considering your unique sleeping patterns, body type, and comfort preferences. Remember to take advantage of sleep trials, remain cognizant of your sleeping posture, and don’t hesitate to choose what feels best for your body. After all, the goal is to wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free. By thoughtfully assessing your needs and considering the factors discussed, you’ll be well-equipped to select a mattress firmness that offers the perfect balance between comfort and support for a restful night’s sleep.


  • Ollie Lane

    My name is Ollie Lane, the zestful spirit and sleep enthusiast editor at GoodSleepHub. Blending my expertise in Sleep Technology with a dash of whimsy, I'm all about transforming your nights from blah to ta-da! I believe great sleep is a blend of science, art, and a bit of fairy dust. When I'm not knee-deep in the latest sleep gadgetry or jotting down notes for my next blog post, you can find me strumming on my ukulele or chasing after my mischievous beagle, Benny. My approach to sleep is like my music: playful, innovative, and always in tune with your needs.

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