Firm vs Soft Mattresses: Which Do You Need?

M & N MattressBack Pain, Beds, Improve Quality of Sleep, Mattress Buying TipsLeave a Comment

Image of mattress being placed in a bed frame

Buying a new mattress can change the quality of your life. It’s a bold statement to make, but it’s true!

Mattresses have come along way in recent years, and the quality and firmness of your mattress will have a major impact on the way you sleep, and the way you feel when you wake up in the morning. Many people sleep for years on a mattress that is either too soft for them or too firm for their needs. They wake up feeling sore and stiff, or unrested and unwell. Waking up this way each day affects the rest of the day. 

Buying a new mattress is an investment in your wellbeing. If you are thinking about purchasing a new mattress, we encourage you to take some time to consider what firmness is right for you – it’s a good idea to come into a mattress store and “test drive” a few out for yourself. 

We hope this basic guide will be helpful to get you started.

Soft vs Firm Mattress

Did you know that most mattress companies use a scale from 1-10 to rate the firmness of the mattress? With 1 being the soft end of the scale and 10 being the firm end.

A mattress’ firmness is determined by the materials it’s made of and how it is constructed. For example, a mattress made with innerspring interior and no comfort layer is going to be much firmer than a mattress with a three-inch foam comfort layer.

Mattresses today are mainly made of one of three types of materials/construction – innerspring, latex, and foam – or a combination of these materials. This list is in order from firmest to softest.

But it also depends on the quality and construction, and the density and thickness of the materials. It’s a lot to unpack.

How Do You Sleep?

Before you decide on the materials, it’s also important to understand what your sleep needs are. Some questions to consider include:

  • Do you sleep alone or with a partner? 
  • Are you a side, back, or front sleeper?
  • Do you currently wake up each morning feeling rested?
  • Do you have chronic pain like sore joints or a sore back in the morning?
  • Do you feel comfortable and able to relax when you lay down at night? 

If you know the answers to some or all of these questions, it will be easier to determine where to start when you begin shopping for your next mattress.

Firm Mattresses

A mattress that qualifies as firm, or higher on the 1-10 scale, provides more support than a soft mattress. In other words, firm mattresses hold the body on top of the mattress, rather than letting it sink in. If you compare lying on a firm mattress to a soft mattress, most people will report that they feel like they are sleeping “on top” of the mattress. A firm mattress is easier to move around on and it also allows more air to flow, so it is a good option for anyone who sleeps hot. 

Firm mattresses are often made with innersprings or high density latex, and are good for:

  • Stomach and back sleepers
  • Larger people
  • Hot sleepers 
  • People with mobility issues

Soft Mattresses

A soft mattress can feel like you are sinking down, in fact the first time people lay down on a soft mattress and begin to relax, it can feel sort of strange, like the mind doesn’t know when you’re going to stop. Foam and latex are generally the material found in soft mattresses, or at least a “comfort layer” of these materials. The great thing is that if a mattress is too firm, you can always soften it up with a mattress topper that adds a layer of softness. 

Soft mattresses absorb more of the body’s weight, allowing it to relax in a different way. Especially for people who have chronic pain in their joints or spine, a soft mattress can bring about some relief. People often describe soft mattresses as cozier or more comfortable. These mattresses are good for:

  • Anyone with chronic pain or sore/stiff joints
  • Side sleepers
  • Couples

Soft or firm — it really does come down to personal preference. Since a mattress is a big investment and can affect the quality of your life, we encourage you to come to our mattress store and try a few out for yourself.