There was a point in my life where I was having difficulty sleeping. I woke up feeling more pain around my body, tossing and turning, and with the strain that can last for hours! Moreover, you'll be surprised with what the reason was: My mattress was TOO soft!
That's right, people! Your mattress firmness is one of the most critical factors to your sleep quality. After all, it's what supports your entire body weight, ensuring that it carries you without it being too stiff or hard. However, this would all work out only if you had the optimum firmness according to your needs.
There's no "one firmness level fits all" type of mattress. We're all different kinds of sleepers that require the specific type of firmness.
However, because of the many products with varying degrees of firmness, it can be quite confusing choosing the right one! How will you know which firmness level is ideal for you? Well, there are certain things you need to think about, such as:
You will need to emphasize on these factors, so you know which is comfortable and supportive enough for you! Once you've got that figured out, then read on as I show you everything you need to know about a mattress' firmness and the best mattress recommendations per firmness level!
Table of Contents
- What Is Mattress Firmness?
- Firmness vs. Support
- Soft and Firm? Is This Suitable For Everyone?
- Scale Of Firmness
- For Sleeping Position
- Consider Choosing Best One For Specific Purposes
- Your Budget
- Wrapping It Up
- Top Buying Guides
- Top 5 Reviews
What Is Mattress Firmness?
Before we get into the ideal firmness levels for your sleep, let's first define what mattress firmness is in the first place!
We all know what firmness means, which refers to the stiff feel of your mattress as you lay down on it. The soft or firm feeling of your mattress comes from its comfort layer. You can find this layer beneath the sleeping surface.
Today, there are many kinds of firmness levels, as well as materials you can choose from as your comfort layer. Popular ones include polyfoam, latex, memory foam, or other cushioning materials that keep your body free from pain or discomfort.
It's crucial for people to get the right level of firmness, as the wrong one would lead to body pain in the long run. A mattress that is too soft or too firm can cause joint discomfort or back and shoulder pain. It might also cause heat retention, which results in more discomfort and lack of quality sleep.
There is more to a firmness level than just soft and firm. More metrics distinguish, as well as various degrees which can make or break your sleep.
However, take note that the firmness level preference is highly subjective. Meaning, a level 4 on the firmness scale may be soft for you, but too firm for others. It's the reason why many people are still confused about firmness ratings and the support needed for them! It's why I want to discuss all the mattress' firmness levels to ensure that no one gets confused as I post various purchasing guides with scales and different degrees of support.
Firmness vs. Support
You've probably heard of the mattress support as well, thinking that it's similar to the firmness level. However, one thing to take note is that they are NOT the same!
The support of a mattress refers to how efficient it is in keeping your spine aligned. Nevertheless, the firmness level refers to how comfortable you feel, or how soft or hard the mattress is.
Yes, there is a relationship between both support and hardness. However, it's best to think about it separately as a mattress which relieves pressure points and keeps your spine aligned is supportive regardless of its softness or hardness.
Remember that while firmness is subjective, the support of a mattress isn't. You'll always want a supportive mattress which can properly align your spine to prevent body pain and conditions in the long run. However, the firmness of a mattress can make or break your comfort and sleep quality!
Soft and Firm? Is This Suitable For Everyone?
You've probably heard of mattresses being "extra plush" or "extra firm." It may be difficult to know how to comprehend these terms since companies have different definitions of "medium-firm" and the like.
Here's an overview of the basic rate of firmness:
When it comes to figuring out what firmness level you need (either soft or firm), there is actually a universal comfort rate, which is what would suit the majority of sleepers. 80% of sleepers most prefer firmness levels between 5 to 7.
While that is the universal comfort, you do have to realize that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all and that this is only a starting point in selecting and testing out mattresses.
It's important to understand these levels of firmness before making your final decision. The next section will be a more in-depth version of the firmness scale!
Scale Of Firmness
I'm sure you won't be able to figure out what kind of mattress you need immediately based on the basic rate of firmness I showed you. So here are the necessary and detailed requirements for each type of firmness level, as well as mattresses I recommend for it!
Extra Soft (1-2)
While an extra soft mattress may seem enticing at first, it's definitely not a firmness level I would recommend! Here at ASleepyWolf, our products are not recommended for this level at all. Why? Because while this might be very plush and comfortable at first, it won't be able to give you the sleep comfort you need.
Not only will you be sinking down too many times, making it difficult to get out of bed (not great for pregnant, overweight, or seniors!), but it also causes heat retention. So it's too soft AND hot. Furthermore, the softness might even push your spine out of alignment, which would cause back pain in the morning.
Moreover, since mattresses tend to soften over time, it will be inappropriate to continue using this as it gets even softer than usual.
A soft mattress is beneficial, but that depends on your sleeping position! This firmness level is best for side sleepers as it reduces the pressure and weight put on your shoulders and hips. However, back and stomach sleepers might find this uncomfortable and too soft, as it would sink down, unable to provide the support needed to prevent body pain.
This is an optimal level of firmness, so you can find a ton of mattress brands that offer it. However, here at ASleepyWolf, I suggest the Layla Sleep Memory Foam Mattress.
What makes the Layla Sleep Memory Foam Mattress an amazing soft mattress is its absolute comfort and versatility. It isn't just your typical soft mattress, but it can also convert to a medium-firm one by just flipping it to the other side. That way, I have two firmness levels according to what I feel like I need for the week or month.
However, I'm going to focus on the softer side of it. It's indeed plush and feels quite luxurious, similar to a bed in a hotel. You don't sink into the point you can't get out of bed, but it conforms to your body so well that it can still relieve those pressure points, which is fantastic for side sleepers!
Just like what I mentioned above, the medium-firmness is what we call the universal comfort for the majority of sleepers. It would fit the category of all sleeping positions and problems while you rest. I would best recommend it for back and stomach sleepers who require more firmness for spinal alignment while keeping things comfortable enough for better sleep.
I can suggest many brands on this firmness level, such as a quality pillow top mattress. However, it's best to check out the best 15 rates mattresses on the market suggested by the editorial team of ASleepyWolf.
The editor's pick goes to the Tuft and Needle Adaptive Foam Mattress. This is one of the best mattresses for just about anyone, as it offers the universal comfort thanks to its adaptive foam. I was impressed from start to finish, as it expanded quickly and had me wow on its comfort level when I first laid down on it!
For starters, it's the perfect balance of soft and firm. It has a slightly plush feel to it which has the foam conform to my body, but I notice that it doesn't sink in too much so it can adapt to whatever sleeping position I take in that night without causing any pain or numbness.
All in all, it's definitely worth the price!
This is still a good firmness level for those who want something harder to match their supportive mattress without sinking in, but without much complaints of it being like you're sleeping on cardboard. However, side sleepers won't get much comfort from it because of the achy feeling it will bring to shoulders and hips in the morning. Stomach and back sleepers, nevertheless, will appreciate the firmness as it keeps their spine appropriately aligned.
Since this is another great firmness level for most sleeping positions, there are many hard mattresses available to purchase. Here at ASleepyWolf, I would best recommend the Sleep Innovations Taylor Memory Foam Mattress!
What I love about the Sleep Innovations Memory Foam Mattress is that it has the optimum hardness I need but the memory foam layer that keeps me in comfort and support. While it does sink down a bit, I noticed that I wake up better and without any back or neck pain!
This mattress is also extremely durable and built to last. Even after a year of using it, there is no sagging and remains firm to this day.
Whether you're a heavier person, a stomach or side sleeper, or a couple who want the perfect mattress for sex (it's quiet!), this is it.
Extra Hard (9-10)
While you might think that a hard mattress helps with keeping your spine aligned, it may not work for those who want comfort. A mattress at such a high firmness level is only suitable for those with individual cases, such as overweight people, those who share the bed for motion isolation, as well as those who sleep on their stomach for optimum support.
An extra firm mattress is beneficial, but not for everyone. It does help with additional support, and you won't sink down on it compared to softer mattresses, but it will take quite some time to get used to. I recommend that you get something softer unless you are on the heavy side or sharing the bed.
Quick Comparison Table
For Sleeping Position
Besides the firmness levels described, there is another factor that would determine the type of mattress you need: Your sleeping position!
Take note that each sleeping position would fit a different level of firmness. Here are the central sleeping positions and what firmness level is best for it
Side sleeping is one of the most common positions, favored by many because of its comfort and benefits. Those who sleep on the left side will experience less acid reflux and heartburn while having better digestion. It also still keeps your spine aligned, as long as you sleep on your side correctly! However, it does put a lot of pressure and stress on your shoulders and arm, causing pain or numbness in the morning.
Because of the pressure you put on one side, you'll want something soft enough to sink into your pressure points, alleviating pain. It allows more pressure to spread around your shoulders and hips, keeping a neutral spine position to lessen any potential back pain! A mattress with firmness level 3 or 4 will do just the trick!
Sleeping on your back is pretty great on your spine, as your back is straight and won't be bent to any contortions. Plus, it has cosmetic benefits since your face won't be squished to your pillow. However, it's not the best for those with sleep apnea or constant snoring!
While it's great on your back, you'll still need to support proper coming from a quality mattress. It should be firm enough to align your spine without it being too uncomfortable.
If you're looking for a good mattress, then it's best to get a medium-firm to firm level (between 5 to 7), which would be able to distribute your weight evenly while providing better support for your back.
Sleeping on your stomach is definitely a no-no, as it has more disadvantages than any good! While it does help ease up snoring, it can cause neck strain and lack of airway since your head is facing your mattress (or turned to the side for air).
However, some of us can't help sleeping on our stomachs, which is why it's best to focus on a mattress which allows keeping us comfortable and our spine aligned adequately without too much pressure on the ribs and stomach.
A quality mattress with firmness levels between 4 to 6 is just right, as it's firm enough for the support and prevents sinking in, but soft enough to sleep well with ultimate comfort.
Consider Choosing Best One For Specific Purposes
Remember that the firmness of your mattress is an essential factor for specific purposes as well, with each particular case having a consistent firmness for better comfort and health.
If you are carrying a child, the chances are that you'll feel uncomfortable because of the extra weight and uneven distribution of it. I recommend that you invest in a mattress with medium-firmness, which is about a level 5 or 6.
You will require more support, and since you are heavier than the typical person (and presuming you're sleeping with a partner), then it's best to get a mattress with a thickness of 12 inches or more.
I recommend that seniors sleep on a firmer mattress made of latex or memory foam. This will help lessen back pain and help with arthritic joints. For seniors who are unable to lie flat, adjustable mattresses are best.
Because seniors will need more support for their back or neck pain from certain conditions, then a thicker mattress is best, though one can suffice with a thinner mattress of 10 inches if they are solo sleepers and have the quality comfort layer for both optimum firmness and support.
If you're a couple who wants to have some fun in bed, then it's best to have a firmer mattress with more thickness for a better bounce and durability. While you should get a firm mattress, getting something between levels 4 to 8 are great, with a latex mattress being a great material as it has great responsiveness for your positions and makes smooth movements for sex.
You'll want much support for both your bodies as you try out different positions (while getting good sleep after!), which is why a mattress of 10 inches or more is best.
The mattress you need will all depend on your weight
Those who are on the heavier side will require a firmer mattress, preferably a firm to a very firm level which will conform to their size while providing support without sagging down too much. A thicker mattress is best, as you'll need more help the heavier you weigh. Mattresses thicker than 11 inches are recommended.
For those who are lighter, a firmer mattress may end up being uncomfortable as it's too "hard" for them to sleep on. I recommend something softer, around soft to medium-firm. Lighter people won't need a very thick mattress, an average of 10 inches will do just fine.
The above are just four of the many cases that we have researched and synthesized. If you would like to learn more about how to choose the "BEST FIT + BEST QUALITY" mattress in other cases, refer to the article in detail here >>>
In addition to these factors of mattress firmness, it's also recommended to look into your budget. How much you're willing to spend determines the type of mattress you can buy.
Here at ASleepyWolf, there are five specific segments to help you out:
- Under $200
- Under $300
- Under $500
- Under $1,000
- Luxury Product
While I don't recommend getting these kinds of mattresses for long-term use, they do the job if you're on an extreme budget or need something for the guest room, as the product won't be used often.
This is a better price range for those who need a mattress to sleep on every night. While it may not have the most durable material or optimum firmness level, you can still sleep soundly.
You have more firmness options here, but it may not feel as plush and durable compared to those that come at higher prices. However, it's a massive upgrade with better quality compared to cheaper versions.
This is the ideal price range as you can choose many firmness options and are assured they will last longer, with the support and extra features you need for comfort.
Now, this is the ultimate upgrade- for those who can afford it! Though very expensive, you have the hotel-like feel that offers excellent sleep and support.
Wrapping It Up
When it comes to choosing a quality mattress, the first thing you look at shouldn't just be the brand name and price! You should look into its firmness and support. This is what can make or break your sleep and overall body pain.
Remember to think about the different factors mentioned at the first part of the tutorial. As long as you figure out what you need based on those factors, you'll be able to find a mattress ideal for your needs AND budget quickly.
At ASleepyWolf, our team ensures to provide the informative and helpful content for all of you to get the best answers. That way, you'll be able to choose the mattress according to what you need and want.
Hopefully, this article on mattress firmness and the best recommendations per degree informed you on what's required for your future mattresses. So don't wait any longer and look into any of these recommendations and take note of this tutorial now!
If you have any questions or want to share your tips and reviews of mattresses, then comment below. Your thoughts are much appreciated!