Which is Better? A Firm or Soft Mattress?
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We all hate spending our well-earned money on a new mattress, but the time comes for everyone. Getting a good night’s sleep is a key to happiness.
Before shopping for a new mattress, try to understand whether you sleep better on a softer or firmer mattress.
You live a third of your life sleeping. Having a restful sleep is essential for your health. Good mattresses provide a solid basis for good sleep, and choosing the best mattress is necessary.
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What’s the difference between a firm mattress and a soft mattress?
There are so many mattresses available to purchase that it can be challenging to make the final decision. A common choice when shopping for beds is between a firm and soft mattresses. Neither option has any advantages or disadvantages, but the decision is very personal.
You will find more sub-categories within each category, but we are only interested in firm vs. soft. A firm mattress will feel more rigid when you touch or push it down. Soft mattresses tend to have more give and will compress easier.
These helpful tips will guide you in choosing a firm vs. soft mattress depending on factors like your sleep position, body weight, and preferences. Hip pain, shoulder pain, and back pain are also factors.
Mattress companies typically use a standard firmness scale of 1 to 10 (soft to extra firm).
Choosing a Mattress: Soft or Hard
Getting the right mattress for you can help alleviate hip and shoulder pain. In some cases, this joint pain may be caused by your mattress not being suitable for you. When you are deciding which mattress is right for you, there are many options.
If you are on the heavier side, a firm mattress will support you, align your spine, help you breathe better, and improve your circulation.
If you are lighter, a soft mattress will still support you, protect your back, and give you a more luxurious sleep. The great thing is that technology is constantly improving, and any negatives associated with a firm or soft mattress are being eradicated.
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Benefits of soft mattresses
There’s a little pressure relief at the top for soft bed frames. The softness helps reduce pressure on shoulders and hip muscles. Similarly, people generally say soft beds are more comfortable.
A softer mattress generally provides space between you and the mattress floor. A soft cushion will quickly form like a glove and protect your curves. Soft mattresses offer the following advantages.
Cozy, Luxurious Feeling
Soft mattresses are famous for the gentle, dense foaming when laid out. Because they are incredibly thick and generally thicker, soft mattresses are often associated with some people with luxury hotels.
Works well for Petite Individuals
Petite adults with less than 130 pounds on the bed need a soft mattress for proper body support. Soft beds are ideal for people with lightweight as they are easier to contour and responsive to lower pressures.
Reduces pressure points
Sometimes, stiff mattresses can cause pressure to accumulate in the lower back, pelvis, hip, or shoulder area. A soft mattress hugs the body perfectly, distributes weight, and relieves tension and joint pain. The soft feel can lead to healthy sleep.
Drawbacks of a Soft Mattress
Typically, soft mattresses promote sinkage. However, sprained or damaged spine areas may cause the curve to become excessive. If you’re looking for soft mattresses, ensure they have cooling properties like breathable plant-based foam, cooling gel microbeads & copper infusions.
It can be uncomfortable for back and stomach sleepers.
Back sleeping requires a stable surface so that it does not sink. When stomach and back sleepers use too soft mattresses for long hours, they will eventually suffer from low back pain and may be forced to sleep with difficulty.
you sink into softer mattresses
A soft mattress is not usually capable of taking heavier weight and is not always ideal for proper sleep positions. If someone sinks into a soft mattress, it can be harder to move around and move during the night.
What is a firm mattress?
Firm mattresses range from 6 to 11, according to mattress firmness standards. This type of mattress is heavier in its pressure resistance than the soft one — this means they remain firm in shape, and the sleeping position is lower.
Firm beds are generally smaller than soft mattresses and are 10 or 12 inches thick. The sleeper benefits from the bed’s solid structure while retaining the lightweight contours that ensure comfort. The comfort layer is approximately 1 inch thick.
Advantages of a Firm Mattress
Mattresses have several advantages. The soft bed distributes weight evenly to ensure that not just the spine can absorb every pressure on the rest of the body. Since these beds don’t sink, spinal nerves can remain stable and neutral.
Suitable for back and stomach sleepers
Back sleepers usually prefer a firmer mattress that keeps the head straight on the shoulder and prevents sinking. When spines are neutral, they allow body relaxation and healing.
We naturally shape our spine, but if we sleep, stomach curves can be exaggerated. Most people prefer not to sleep in their stomachs. Over time pressure on the back of the neck may cause chronic pain.
Suitable for heavy sleepers
Those weighing more than 200 pounds will experience more sinkage. Heavy people may slip under the mattresses if the mattress is too soft.
Sinking may even make sleeping hard and cause difficulty shifting positions at night. The restriction on movement can cause a low level of air circulation and respiratory problems. Having firm mattresses allows the heart to expand and the blood to circulate efficiently.
A plush mattress provides more warmth in their shape. A soft bed can cause heat or sleep disruptions. A firm bed means more air flows through a mattress so that your sleeping isn’t disturbed by sweat. If you like to sleep cooler, do not get a plush bed.
A firmer mattress is an excellent option for those with diabetes. A firmer surface keeps the muscles lifted rather than sunk to allow better circulation and healing. The tightly contoured shape provided by soft mattresses might restrict movement.
Drawbacks of a Firm Mattress
Firm mattresses aren’t ideal for every person.
Too firm for small sleepers
Lightweight sleepers (under 140 lbs) don’t sink much into a mattress, so a solid mattress may not fit their curves well. Smaller people may have more significant pressure or pain when they sleep with a firm cushion.
Can Feel Uncomfortable Initially
Changing to soft mattresses is uncomfortable. However, when you adjust your firm mattress, it can be beneficial. Even if a firmer bed is better for your body, it will take roughly 30 days until the body will adapt to the newly created sleep surface.
Can Worsen Arthritis, Joint, and Scoliosis Pain
A firm mattress can also cause pain in joints and arthritis. A person with arthritis may require mattresses that contour better with their curves.
Choosing a Mattress – Back pain
It is generally accepted that a firm mattress is better for people who suffer from back pain. It is also suitable for preventing back pain. A firm mattress will support and align your spine.
When you sleep up to 8 hours a day (I wish), you want your spine and other joints to be supported. If you are on your back or on your side, the pressure is spread through your body, making you less likely to wake up with any pain. Side sleepers need to be especially mindful of their sleeping position.
The other benefit of aligning your spine is breathing better through the night. The weight in your body is dispersed evenly, which means that your internal organs are relaxed and not compressed. The better you can breathe, the better you are going to sleep.
Is sleeping on an extra firm mattress good for you?
A mattress should provide a flat surface and a smooth surface while the sleeping person rests. It supports your body in good positions and stops your back from curving, as with softer pillows.
Is it better to sleep on a harder or softer mattress?
If you don’t have back problems, you’re probably more comfortable with soft mattresses. When the bones sleep on the softest surfaces, they absorb most pressure, reducing muscle, vein, and arterial strain. Muscles feel softer, and the circulatory system improves.
If you are on the lighter end of the spectrum, you can still enjoy an aligned back while taking advantage of the softness of a plush mattress. A lighter person will not sink down as far with a soft mattress.
The spine will be aligned, and they can take advantage of the softness of a soft mattress.
A soft mattress is also better for those who sleep in the fetal position and still allows for alignment of your spine. A hard mattress is better for sleeping on your back. It would help if you tried not to sleep on your front as your spine will be out of alignment, and you can strain your neck.
What firmness of mattress do hotels use?
Hotels typically use hybrid or innerspring mattresses, which have around a medium firmness range.
Do firm mattresses get softer?
Are Firm Mattresses Soft? Generally, all mattresses feel more relaxed after 60 to 90 nights of regular use. These periods are referred to as natural break-ins.
The other thing which you can think about is combining the two. You can have the best of both worlds if you buy a firm mattress and add a soft, plush top layer. The firm layer will help to protect you while you sleep, especially if you are bigger, while the soft top layer will add more comfort to your sleep.
You can also choose a medium firm mattress. Medium firm mattresses are neither too firm nor too soft.
Comfort Layer vs. Support Layer
Mattresses have several layers which are thick and provide enough support to relieve stress. The support layers help create different experiences depending on what sensations the manufacturer wants.
A memory foam layer is a popular option. A problem with memory foam mattresses is they trap body heat. I know ours does.
Softer surfaces provide a soothing feel and can help alleviate aches and pains.
The support layer is typically more substantial and provides stability when adjusting the spine. The layer of support is essential to keep yourself from getting agitated.
What’s the best mattress for you?
The perfect mattress is whichever one helps you fall asleep the quickest and improves your sleep quality.
I would recommend trying out a few options to see how they feel. In general, your body can adapt to a firmer mattress over a short period, so if you are ever in doubt, that is the way to go.
See tips on how to clean your mattress.
Erin is the mother of identical twin girls and their slightly older brother. She is a domestic engineer, and previously had a career leading customer service teams for a major HVAC company. Cleaning without harsh chemicals, and cooking easy and usually healthy meals are part of Erin's daily life. She volunteers with youth leaders, and genuinely wants to help others win. Erin has a degree in Communications, with a focus on Broadcast Journalism.