Mattress Firmness Guide – What Firmness is Healthiest?


What is the best firmness for a mattress? For most sleepers, medium-firm mattressesoften rated between five and seven on the firmness scale—offer a decent balance of comfort and support.

Why Does Mattress Firmness Matter? A firm mattress relieves pain and promotes restful sleep after a long day. Firm mattresses support your spine and joints, fit most sleeping positions, and are comfortable.

How do I know what firmness of mattress I need? The best mattress depends on your weight, sleeping position, and preference. Heavy sleepers need a firmer bed, while lighter prefer a softer one. Back and stomach sleepers prefer harder mattresses, while side sleepers prefer softer ones.

We will walk you through a mattress firmness guide for Understanding the Mattress Firmness Scale, from extra soft to extra firm, to help you choose your mattress firmness.

What is Mattress Firmness?

The firmness of mattress means how soft or firm it feels to lie on. Support is the ability of the bed to maintain your spine’s alignment, prevent pressure spots, and support your body.

Finding the right mattress firmness guide is essential for ensuring your spine stays properly aligned, reducing aches and pains, and allowing you to sleep soundly through the night.

To begin with, let us talk about how soft, medium, and firm mattresses feel.


Extra soft or soft mattresses offer a luxurious feel and little pushback, rated 1 through 3 on a mattress firmness scale. Softer mattresses are generally preferred by strict side sleepers or those needing extra shoulders, hips, and lower back comfort.


A medium mattress firmness typically falls in the middle (5) of the firmness scale (1-10), offering a balanced level of support and comfort.

It suits a wide range of sleepers by providing adequate cushioning without sinking too deeply. This level often caters to both back and side sleepers, promoting spinal alignment and pressure relief.


A firm mattress has less given and is stiffer to the touch. When you put pressure on a softer mattress, it will give way more easily. Being aware that mattress feel isn’t just two groups is essential. It’s more of a range. This could be good or bad because it means many options exist.

On a scale from 9 to 10, the firmest beds give you the most support, the least amount of sinkage, and the least amount of curves or cushioning. Some people find it hard to sleep on them, but people who sleep on their backs or stomachs usually find them very comfy.

Understanding the Mattress Firmness Scale

A comfort measure from 1 to 10 can help you understand how firm a mattress is. 1 means the mattress is soft, and a 10 means the mattress is firm.

What level of firmness should my mattress be? Let us look at the mattress firmness guide on a chart showing how firm a mattress is: Extra soft mattresses (1-2) are rare because they don’t provide much support.

Firmness FeelFeelIdeal For:
1-2 out of 10Extra SoftLightweight Individuals
Side Sleepers
3-4 out of 10SoftLightweight Individuals
Side Sleepers
5 out of 10MediumSide Sleepers
Back Sleepers
Stomach Sleepers
Heavyweight Individuals
7-8 out of 10FirmBack Sleepers
Stomach Sleepers
Heavyweight Individuals
9-10 out of 10Extra FirmBack Sleepers
Stomach Sleepers
Heavyweight Individuals
  • Extra Soft 1-2 out of 10: The ideal mattresses for light-side sleepers are extra soft. A bed this soft will probably not support larger sleepers well enough. This stiffness may not provide enough support for lightweight back or stomach sleepers.
  • Soft 3-4 out of 10: Soft mattresses have more padding and shape to help ease pressure points. They fit close to the body, so they’re suitable for people who sleep on their sides or are light and need extra warmth.
  • Medium 5-6 out of 10: Medium beds are suitable for a broader range of sleepers because they are firm. This firmness might be good for light sleepers lying on their stomach or back and somewhat heavy sleepers sleeping in any position. People who are more significant and sleep on their side may also do well with these beds.
  • Firm 7-8 out of 10: A firm mattress is probably not the best choice if you sleep light. People who sleep on their stomach or back and have moderate weight might like how hard this mattress is. This mattress is also great for heavy people who sleep in any position.
  • Extra Firm 9-10 out of 10: The best firm mattress for back discomfort has little sinkage and a firm sensation. They give firm support and are suggested for stomach sleepers and persons who weigh more. They may, however, be too difficult for certain people and cause discomfort.

What Firmness Level is Right for You??

What is the ideal bed firmness? Most people will be comfortable on a bed, about 6.5 out of 10 on the industry standard scale for medium-firmness. Handle soft mattresses with care. People who like to sleep often see the word “soft” and quickly move toward it.

Here’s a breakdown of how different factors can guide you to the perfect firmness level:

1. Sleeping Positions

A medium mattress is neither too soft nor too firm. For couples that sleep in different positions, it’s ideal. Medium-firm mattresses have more “give” than firm mattresses but are more supportive.

What firmness is best for all sleep positions? Your preferred sleeping position significantly influences the comfort level that’s right for you:

  • Stomach Sleeper: If you’re a stomach sleeper, you’ll generally find a medium-firm to firm mattress most comfortable. This level of support can help prevent your back from arching, which can lead to discomfort.
  • Side Sleeper: Side sleepers often prefer a softer mattress to cushion pressure points like the shoulders and hips. A medium to medium-soft comfort level is typically the best choice.
  • Back Sleeper: A medium to medium-firm mattress is recommended for those who sleep on their backs. This provides the necessary support for proper spine alignment and comfort.

2. Sex

Men tend to weigh more than women, so firmer beds may appeal to them. If you’re heavier, try something firmer to avoid spinal misalignment.

What mattress firmness is best for your body? Your sex can influence your preference for a bouncier or less responsive mattress surface:

  • Male: Many men prefer a slightly firmer mattress with more support and responsiveness.
  • Female: Women may prefer softer and more cushioned mattresses for enhanced comfort.

A medium to medium-soft comfort level may be a better fit for both.

3. Weight

Does weight affect mattress firmness? Your body weight plays a significant role in determining the ideal comfort level:

  • Heavy: Heavier individuals typically find a firmer mattress more comfortable as it provides better support and prevents excessive sinking.
  • Light: Lighter individuals may prefer a softer mattress, which allows for better pressure relief and comfort.

4. Pain

Back discomfort is often best treated with medium-firm mattresses with zoned support, but not always. A new mattress may not permanently relieve back pain, so see a doctor.

If you experience specific pain or discomfort, your choice of comfort level can help alleviate or worsen these issues:

  • Back Pain: The mattress firmness scale for back pain patients often ranges from a medium to medium-firm mattress. It offers the support needed for proper spinal alignment.
  • Hip Pain: A softer mattress can relieve the sensitive hip area if you have hip pain.
  • Shoulder Pain: Soft to medium-soft mattresses are suitable for individuals with shoulder pain, as they offer gentle support and alleviate pressure.
  • Neck Pain: People with neck pain may find medium-firm to firm mattresses more comfortable as they promote proper neck alignment.

Mattress Firmness vs. Support

Firmness” describes how a mattress feels, whereas “support” describes whether or not it helps with good spinal alignment.

Are firm mattresses more supportive? Firmness is essentially the function of the comfort system, whereas the core more heavily influences support. Support is not determined by firmness, yet the two can affect one another.

How to Choose Your Mattress Firmness?

How do I know what firmness of mattress I need? Below, we’ll review some methods to match people with the right firmness.

  • Consider your Sleeping Position: Your preferred sleeping position – whether a side, back, or stomach sleeper – can determine the ideal firmness level. For instance, mattress firmness for side sleepers typically benefits from a softer for better pressure relief, while back or stomach sleepers may prefer a firmer surface for adequate support.
  • Consider your Weight: Your body weight can influence a mattress’s feeling. Heavier individuals might find firmer mattresses more comfortable as they provide better support, while lighter individuals may prefer softer ones for contouring comfort.
  • Consider your Body Type: Body type, including factors like broader shoulders or hips, can impact mattress preference. For broader body types, a softer mattress might offer better conformity, while those with narrower frames might prefer a firmer surface for support.
  • Do you Move at Night? Medium firmness may be a good compromise if you shift positions frequently during sleep. It balances support and contouring, catering to various sleeping positions without causing discomfort.
  • Is Still Confused? Go with the Majority: Opting for a medium-firmness mattress is often a safe choice. It accommodates a broad spectrum of sleepers and tends to satisfy the majority’s preferences.
  • Avoid Soft Mattresses: While soft mattresses can seem cozy initially, they may lack the necessary support, potentially leading to back pain or discomfort, especially for those needing more spinal alignment and support.

Conclusion – Mattress Firmness Guide

Choosing the right mattress firmness is crucial for a good night’s sleep. You can find the perfect balance between comfort and support by considering your sleeping position, body type, and personal preferences.

Now that you’re well-informed about the mattress firmness guide, you’re ready to make a choice that suits your unique needs.

FAQs – Mattress Firmness Guide

What Determines the Firmness of a Mattress?

Common materials include fiber, latex, polyfoam, and memory foam. The mattress feels softer with thicker comfort systems composed of more conforming materials and firmer with thinner layers made of less pliable materials.

Does one mattress firmness fit all?

The hardness you choose may depend on your body type. Because each person provides varied pressure to the sleep surface based on their weight, the identical mattress may feel softer to him and harder to her.

Are firm mattresses better?

Firm mattresses support the spine better, preventing it from slipping out of alignment. This can reduce lower back discomfort and improve posture. Additionally, a firm mattress might minimize the incidence of persistent back pain.

Can I make a firm mattress softer?

A mattress topper is the most popular and immediate way to soften a firm mattress. Mattress toppers add comfort. Softer topper firmness instantly improves mattress comfort.

Are soft mattresses more comfortable?

A soft mattress may be more comfortable for overweight or joint-pain patients than a firm one. Not all firm beds provide the finest back support. Again, finding the correct assistance is vital.

Is a firm or medium mattress better?

For optimal support, pick a firmer mattress for heavy sleepers. If you sleep on your stomach, choose a firmer bed. Medium Mattress: A medium mattress is ideal if you sleep on your side or back and are average weight.

What firmness of mattress do hotels use?

Most hotel mattresses are medium-firm to meet the needs of as many people as possible. Firm beds also tend to last longer than soft ones, and hotel owners need to choose mattresses that will last.

Is sleeping on a firm or soft mattress better?

Soft mattresses suit side and back pain sufferers, whereas hard mattresses are excellent for stomach and back sleepers and heavier people. It would help if you chose a firmness based on your particular liking.

Does memory foam always mean soft?

Most of the time, high-density memory foam (5-7+ lb/ft³) lasts longer and is stronger than low-density memory foam (3–4 lb/ft³). Memory foam mattress with a medium density (4-5 lb/ft³) is a good mix of comfort and longevity.

About the author

Best Mattress Advisor Editorial Team

Our dedicated team of experts, with more than two years of experience in the bedding industry, is committed to helping you achieve your best sleep yet. From in-depth reviews to comprehensive guides, we cover almost every aspect of sleep products, including mattresses, pillows, bed frames, and accessories. Explore our website and discover why we're the go-to resource for all things sleep-related.

Add Comment

Best Mattress Advisor Editorial Team

Our dedicated team of experts, with more than two years of experience in the bedding industry, is committed to helping you achieve your best sleep yet. From in-depth reviews to comprehensive guides, we cover almost every aspect of sleep products, including mattresses, pillows, bed frames, and accessories. Explore our website and discover why we're the go-to resource for all things sleep-related.

Get in touch

As the body rests and recovers, sleep is an important part of the daily routine. When you sleep, comfort is decided by a mattress. A healthy sleep night will lift your mood, too. Only one hour of sleep will make you cranky the next day.

Follow us for Upcoming Updates that can help you taking Comfort to your life.