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Understanding Different Levels of Mattress Firmness- A Complete Guide

Understanding Different Levels of Mattress Firmness- A Complete Guide

Salman Qureshi |

When it comes to choosing a mattress, one of the most important factors to consider is firmness. The right level of firmness can help you sleep more comfortably and prevent pain. However, with so many different mattresses on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you.

This blog will provide you with a comprehensive guide to mattress firmness. We will discuss the different levels of firmness, what factors to consider when choosing a mattress, and how to find the best mattress for your individual needs.

What is Mattress Firmness?

Mattresses generally fall into a range of firmness levels, which can be categorized as soft, medium-soft, medium, medium-firm, and firm. Let's take a closer look at each level:

1. Soft: 

Soft mattresses provide a plush, sink-in feeling. They conform closely to your body's curves, relieving pressure points. Soft mattresses are often preferred by side sleepers or individuals who enjoy a "hugging" sensation while they sleep. However, they may not provide adequate support for some people, particularly those who are heavier or have back issues.

2. Medium-Soft: 

Medium-soft mattresses offer a balance between softness and support. They provide some contouring and pressure relief while maintaining a degree of firmness. This level of firmness is suitable for individuals who want a blend of cushioning and support.

3. Medium: 

Medium firmness is considered the universal firmness level that can accommodate a wide range of sleepers. It offers a balanced feel, contouring to the body without excessive sinkage. Back sleepers and combination sleepers often find medium mattresses comfortable.[1]

4. Medium-Firm: 

Medium-firm mattresses provide a firmer feel with minimal sinkage. They offer more support and are suitable for individuals who require additional spinal alignment or back support. Stomach sleepers and back sleepers often benefit from medium-firm mattresses.[2]

5. Firm: 

Firm mattresses have minimal give and provide solid support. They keep your body on a more even plane, which can be beneficial for back sleepers or individuals who prefer a firmer feel. However, some people may find firm mattresses too hard or uncomfortable, especially if they have certain pressure points or prefer a softer sleeping surface.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Mattress Firmness

There are a few factors you should consider when choosing a mattress firmness. These include:

1. Your sleeping position. 

Here's a breakdown by sleeping position:

  • Side Sleepers: 

Side sleepers typically need a mattress that cushions and contours to the body's curves, especially around the hips and shoulders.[3] Medium-soft to medium mattresses often work well for side sleepers as they offer pressure relief and promote proper spinal alignment.

  • Back Sleepers: 

Back sleepers generally require a balance of support and contouring. A medium to medium-firm mattress can provide adequate support to maintain a neutral spine alignment while offering some cushioning.

  • Stomach Sleepers: 

Stomach sleepers need a firmer mattress to prevent excessive sinking of the hips, which can strain the lower back. A medium-firm to firm mattress helps keep the body properly aligned and avoids potential discomfort.

2. Your body weight. 

Your body weight can influence how a mattress feels and how much support it provides. Here are some guidelines based on body weight:

  • Lightweight Individuals: 

If you have a lighter body weight, you may find softer mattresses more comfortable.[4] These mattresses offer sufficient contouring and pressure relief for lighter individuals without causing excessive sinkage.

  • Average Weight Individuals:

Individuals with an average body weight can generally choose from a broader range of firmness levels. Medium or medium-firm mattresses often provide a good balance of comfort and support.

  • Heavyweight Individuals: 

Heavier individuals typically require firmer mattresses to ensure proper support and prevent excessive sinkage. A medium-firm to firm mattress can provide the necessary support to maintain spinal alignment.

3. Your individual preferences. 

Ultimately, the best way to choose a mattress firmness is to try out different mattresses and see what feels most comfortable to you.

Additional Tips for Choosing a Mattress Firmness:

1. Consider the Materials Used in the Mattress: 

Different mattress materials can affect the overall feel and firmness. For example, memory foam tends to provide a contouring and softer feel, while latex offers a more responsive and slightly firmer surface. Innerspring mattresses often have a firmer feel due to the coil support system.[5]  Consider your preferences for materials and research how they contribute to the overall firmness of the mattress.

2. Take Your Time Testing Mattresses: 

When visiting a mattress store, don't rush the process of testing different mattresses. Lie down on each mattress for an extended period, spending several minutes in different positions. This allows you to assess the initial comfort and support levels and get a better sense of how the mattress will feel during a full night's sleep.

3. Sleep on the Mattress for a Few Nights: 

Many mattress retailers offer trial periods or return policies that allow you to sleep on the mattress in the comfort of your home for a specified period, usually a few weeks. This is an invaluable opportunity to experience the mattress over an extended period and ensure it meets your expectations. Pay attention to how you feel upon waking up, any discomfort or pain, and whether the firmness level suits your needs.


Choosing the right mattress firmness is a personal decision based on your individual preferences, sleeping position, and body weight. By considering these factors and testing out different mattresses, you can find the perfect balance of comfort and support to help you achieve a restful night's sleep. Remember, selecting the right mattress is an investment in your well-being and overall sleep quality.


Q: How do I know what mattress firmness is right for me?

A: Determining the right mattress firmness involves considering factors such as your sleeping position, body weight, and personal preferences. It's best to try out different levels of firmness and assess how they feel and support your body to find the optimal comfort for you.

Q: What are the different levels of mattresses?

A: Mattresses typically come in various levels of firmness, including soft, medium-soft, medium, medium-firm, and firm. These levels represent the degree to which a mattress compresses and provide different levels of support and comfort.

Q: What do mattress firmness levels mean?

A: Mattress firmness levels indicate how much a mattress compresses when you lie on it. Softer mattresses have more compression and offer a plush, cushioning feel, while firmer mattresses compress less, providing a more supportive surface. The firmness level determines the overall feel and comfort of the mattress.

Q: What mattress firmness do most people prefer?

A: The preference for mattress firmness varies among individuals. Some people prefer a softer mattress for a more contouring and cozy feel, while others prefer a firmer mattress for enhanced support. The most preferred firmness level often depends on personal comfort preferences, body weight, and sleeping position. It's essential to choose a firmness level that aligns with your specific needs for a comfortable sleep experience.