Mattresses come in many different levels of firmness. A common question when searching for a new mattress is…'is it better to sleep on a hard or soft mattress?' Here is what you need to know and how the right level of firmness in your mattress can help ensure you get a night of healthy sleep.
How Do Mattress Manufacturers Decide What Firmness A Mattress Is?
Mattress firmness may depend on several elements. For example, qualities like spring tension and the firmness of the comfort layers and top fabrics can all contribute to how firm a mattress feels.
Different mattress makers have different ways of categorising their mattresses and their firmness. However, most mattress makers use categories to give you an understanding of what to expect from your mattress.
For example, mattress maker Dormeo rates its mattresses across the following categories:
- Extra Firm
This range is typical of mattress manufacturers. Silentnight has similar categories, though it chooses to concentrate on soft-medium through to extra firm.
Some makers, like Nectar, use a 10-point scale where one is the softest and 10 is the most firm a mattress can be. For example, the Nectar mattress sits at a 6.5. This rating, Nectar explains, equals a medium-firm sleeping experience.
There is some variation between companies on how they decide what constitutes the firmness for their mattresses. However, mattress descriptions usually have labels like soft or firm and can be used as a guide.
Who Will Benefit From A Softer Mattress?
While there are exceptions, it’s a general rule that the less you weigh, the more likely you are to find a softer mattress that will fit your needs better than a firmer one.
Side sleepers may find that because they are putting a lot of weight on their hips and shoulders when they sleep, a softer mattress can provide more comfort.
Older people may also find that a softer mattress gives them better cushioning for their joints, though they may prefer a mattress closer to the medium to medium-firm side for its back support.
Who Will Benefit From A Firmer Mattress?
If you weigh more than average, you will likely find a firmer mattress is more pleasing to sleep on because it will support you better.
For people who sleep on their fronts, Dormeo recommends a firmer mattress, too. You may also benefit from a mattress topper that can add a little cushioning to your sleep experience, though this is a matter of personal taste.
Back sleepers may find that they can have their pick of mattresses so long as the mattress gives them proper spine support. Try starting with a medium-firm mattress, as these tend to be a sweet spot for many sleepers.
Firmer mattresses may also suit you if you deal with back pain because a firm mattress gives your spine and hips extra support.
My New Mattress Feels Firmer Than The Rating Suggested. Why?
If you’ve just bought a new mattress and have tried it for a few nights, you might be wondering why it feels a bit firmer than you were expecting.
Mattress manufacturers recommend giving your new mattress about a month before you make a judgement on its comfort levels. This waiting period is for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, your mattress may soften slightly in that time and give you an experience more in line with what you were expecting.
Secondly, new mattresses are often quite a bit firmer than the old mattress they are replacing, and you might notice the contrast more at first. But, with more time sleeping on your new mattress, you may find you grow used to the new firmness.
The Firmness of My Mattress Still Feels Wrong
It happens relatively infrequently, but sometimes you may get a mattress whose firmness level is not at all what you were expecting. This discrepancy can be down to a fault with the materials. It could also be that the wrong mattress was sent to you.
If you feel that your mattress is not meeting your expectations and suspect there may be a problem, contact your mattress company. They should be able to help you solve the problem or give you the next steps you can take toward a solution.
What if My Partner and I Have Different Firmness Preferences?
While we once had to compromise on mattress firmness, the good news is that mattress makers now have multi-firmness mattresses.
These mattresses offer customisable components that you can easily interchange to get different firmness levels on different sides of your bed.
This customisation means if your sleep partner loves a softer sleep surface but you need firm support, multi-firmness mattresses can meet your needs.
The answer is, only you can judge that.
We recommend thinking about your weight, your health and sleep style, and using those factors to narrow down your list of firmness choices. But, one of the only ways to know for sure what mattress will suit you is to try a mattress out.
Most bed stores will allow you to try mattresses before you buy them and will be able to discuss your comfort needs. Online retailers like Nectar also offer extended sleep trials so you can get a feel for a mattress in your own home.
What mattress firmness do you enjoy best? We’d love to hear your thoughts below on whether a firm or soft mattress is best.