Which mattress firmness should I choose? | Bedshed
Sleep & Health

Which mattress firmness should I choose?

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Are you familiar with the look of disgust on someone’s face when they witness your joint cracking routine? Or the amusement when an older person hears you complain about your sore back? General stiffness and pain can get tiresome and might feel hopeless - but have you considered that it might be caused by the wrong mattress firmness? 

If you’re keen to wake up pain-free, then you might be wondering ‘which mattress firmness should I choose?’, and that’s where our tips will come in handy.

What is mattress firmness?

Put simply: mattress firmness is how the mattress feels. When you lay down, does your body sink down or do you feel a push-back sensation? Are you resting on top of the mattress or is it moulding to the curves of your body? By observing these factors, you can determine whether the mattress is firm or soft. 

When people are describing mattresses, they often use ‘firmness’ and ‘comfort level’ interchangeably, but as comfort is entirely subjective it’s important to look at a few elements. The cliché of the perfect ‘cloud-like’ mattress isn’t actually accurate, as an extra-soft mattress like that wouldn’t be suitable for all sleepers. Your preferred mattress firmness will depend on your sleeping position, your health and weight, and whether you sleep with anyone else.

How is mattress firmness categorised?

To make things easier for customers, mattresses are usually scored on a ‘firmness scale’ which ranges from 1-10. This means you can figure out what score usually suits your body and sleeping habits and then seek it out each time you buy a new mattress. A score of 1/10 is the softest mattress you can imagine and a score of 10/10 is the firmest (but it’s rare to find mattresses with these extreme scores as they would be basically un-sleepable).

Common firmness scores: 

Soft 3-5/10

Think memory foam, quilted pillow tops, and comfort layers. These softer options are the sort that let you sink in, the mattress contouring to your body and offering pressure relief.

Medium 6-7/10

The best of both worlds. Medium-firm mattresses usually have foam top layers and firm foundations of high-density foam or springs. This combination allows for a bit of contouring while retaining some firm back support.

Firm 8-10/10

There are no extra soft layers or plush materials here, it’s all about providing a solid push-back and a firm surface. A firm mattress usually has a thin layer of comfort foam on top of high-density foam or springs.

The difference between firmness and support

The amount of support a mattress can provide will be different depending on who is sleeping on it. For instance, a mattress with a firmness score of 8 might give the perfect support for a stomach sleeper, but then cause discomfort and pressure for a side sleeper. 

Support is determined by how well the mattress aligns your spine and this will be different depending on your sleeping position. When you’re well-supported, your spine is lifted into a comfortable, neutral position. Just see how you feel when you lay down, does your spine feel supported all the way from your shoulders to your hips?

Which mattress firmness should I choose?

What to consider when choosing mattress firmness

Sleeping position

Side sleepers: If you sleep on your side, then a soft to medium-firm mattress (or 3-6/10) will be the best choice. The softness will contour to the curve of your hips and shoulders and provide support in the right places.

Back sleepers: A medium-firm to firm mattress (or 5-7/10) is ideal for back sleepers, as they need more push-back for even support. 

Stomach sleepers: When you sleep on your stomach you need extra lift around the hips, so a medium-firm to firm mattress (or 7-10/10) is perfect.

Pain points

Mattress firmness can either help to relieve pain or it can make it worse. For example, if you’ve got chronic back pain, then the recommended choice is a medium-firm mattress - as it relieves pressure points more than a firm mattress will. Research the recommended firmness for your pain points or even talk to your GP about what they think will work best.

Sleeping companions

When you share a bed with someone else - partner, kids, or even pets - then choosing mattress firmness isn’t just up to you. If you’re a side sleeper and your partner’s a stomach sleeper, then you may have to compromise and go for a medium-firm mattress that provides both contouring and firmness.

Body type

Weight and body shape are also major considerations. If you’re a heavier individual, you might find mattresses softer than some reviewers will score them, so a 7/10 might feel like a 5.5/10 for you. Also, think about your body type, because if you carry more weight in your midsection then you’ll need a firm mattress with zoned support for spinal alignment.

Need an expert’s help?

Bedshed assistant

Don’t sacrifice your sleep health – if you’re feeling a bit confused or just don’t want to forget anything, then feel free to visit us in-store and one of our mattress experts will help you choose the right mattress, or try our handy Mattress Selector online.

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