How to Choose the Right Mattress Firmness

Buying a new mattress is a big deal. You want something comfortable that will allow you to sleep well during the night and wake up refreshed every morning. Luckily, there are countless mattresses on the market to choose from. But too many options can also give you a headache.

Today we talk about one of the things that significantly impacts the overall comfort: mattress firmness. Read on to learn how we measure firmness, and how to pick the perfect option based on your body type and favorite sleeping position.

What Is Mattress Firmness?

Firmness is a measure of how soft or hard a mattress feels. It refers to the top layers, and this is what we usually think of when we talk about comfort. In contrast, beds are also rated for support abilities, and these mainly refer to middle and bottom layers.

Mattress manufacturers use different methods to measure and rate firmness levels. However, most of today’s products use a universal scale of 1-10, with 1 being the softest option and 10 referring to the firmest one.

When buying a mattress, you’ll most likely encounter labels like soft, medium, and firm. Here is what they mean.


When you lay on top of a soft mattress, you’ll experience the soft feel while you slowly sink into the bed. It has excellent contouring abilities and offers superb pressure relief.

Soft mattresses usually fall into the 2-4/10 range on the firmness scale. They typically have top comfort layers made of thick memory foam or quilted pillow tops that give them their characteristic soft feel and contouring abilities.


Medium-firm mattresses fall into the 5-7 range on the firmness scale. If you don’t see a number rating but only a “medium” label, that typically means the mattress has a firmness rating of 6.5, which is the industry standard for medium-firm mattresses.

Medium-firm mattresses combine soft top layers and a somewhat sturdier foundation. That combination offers some contouring, but the sleeper will mostly feel like they are resting on top of the mattress and not being closely hugged by it.

This is the most popular option as it provides an excellent balance between comfort and support, and it is best suited for most sleepers.


Lastly, we have firm mattresses that fall within the 8-9 range on the firmness scale. They usually have one comfort layer made from softer foam that sits on the base of pocketed coils or high-density polyfoam.

Firm mattresses offer plenty of support, and they push back when you lay on top. That feels like you are sleeping on top of the bed, and there is no sinking. This firmness option is usually the most durable, but it is not suited for everybody.

Choosing the Right Firmness

You are probably wondering: what is the best firmness for a mattress? Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer as it depends on personal preferences.

However, there are a few things you should think about when choosing your mattress. That includes your sleeping position and body type.

Sleeping Position

Let’s see the firmness you should seek depending on your preferred sleep position. If you tend to switch positions during the night, you should use your most common one as a reference point.

Back Sleepers

Experts usually recommend sleeping on your back as it allows proper spine alignment and provides the most benefits out of all sleeping positions. Although the exact firmness level depends on personal preferences, medium-firm mattresses are the best option for back sleepers.

A medium-firm mattress provides enough support and enough comfort. That allows your spine to fall into the natural alignment, which alleviates the pressure and pain from certain areas like hips, shoulders, and lower back.

Side Sleepers

Side sleepers typically sleep best on soft to medium mattresses, anywhere between 4-6 on the firmness scale. Most of your weight presses down on your shoulder and hip when resting on your side. That’s why you need proper support and cushioning to prevent discomfort and pain in these body parts.

Soft to medium mattresses will allow your body to sink in and experience needed pressure relief. Still, they offer enough support for your shoulders, hips, and lower back.

If the mattress is too firm, it won’t allow shoulder pressure relief, and your spine may fall out of its natural position, resulting in pain and discomfort. In contrast, if it’s too soft, your hips will sink in too much and cause lower back problems.

Stomach Sleepers

Stomach sleepers need extra support to establish neutral spine positioning and prevent hips from sinking in too deep. That’s why they usually prefer medium-firm and firm mattress options, typically in the 7-9 range.

However, you still need comfort, which is why you should seek a mattress with a soft top layer and a strong base. That’s why pocketed coils or hybrid are usually a better option than foam mattresses.

Body Type

Here is what your mattress firmness could look like depending on your body type and your body mass index (BMI):

Lightweight or below-average BMI.

If you fall into this group, you need a soft to medium-firm mattress. Going too firm will not provide sufficient contouring and pressure point relief, which could cause back pain.

Medium weight or average BMI.

People with average builds usually need a standard medium-firm mattress. However, you can go softer or firmer depending on your preferences. Keep in mind that the former may deteriorate quicker, while later may not offer the needed pressure point relief.

Heavyweight or above-average BMI.

You need a firm bed to support your body type and correctly position your spine. Soft and medium mattresses may wear down quickly, which is why you should go for the firmest option that provides sufficient comfort for restful sleep.

Where to Find the Right Mattress?

If you are looking for oversized beds, you should check out our online mattress store. Our selection of premium family-sized mattresses features the Alaskan king, Alaskan king mini, and Alaskan king shorty.

The Luxe is one of the favorite models of our clients as it brings you a mixture of premium materials combined with the crafting skills of our experienced artisans. On top of it, you can select your preferred firmness and get a personalized mattress that will transform your sleep.