A lot of things have been said about mattress softness and how it relates to our health. A lot of people swear that a soft mattress will ruin your back, but at the same time hard beds can prove uncomfortable for first-time users.
Choosing the right mattress is not as simple as just picking between hard and soft. Nor is it true that soft beds are inherently bad and hard beds are perfect for everybody. There's a lot of factors that play a role in what's the right bed for you, from sleeping position, weight, and even if you have a bed companion. Your pillows also play an important role in sleep quality. So let's clear some misconceptions and let you find the ideal mattress firmness.
Mattress hardness is a scale
Mattresses don't just come in "hard" and "soft" with no in-between values. Mattress firmness is measured on a scale and, at the end of the day, most options on the market won't be completely soft nor impossibly hard. The firmness scale of mattresses starts at 1 where the softest possible beds would be ranked and end at 10 for the complete opposite of the spectrum.
That said, the two ends of the scale are rarely produced as a bed; with a rating of one, it would just sink under your weight, while a mattress with a value of 10 would feel about as comfortable as the floor.
With that in mind let's take a closer look at the mattress firmness scale so you can get a better grasp on how hard or soft beds can get:
- 1: The softest mattress possible, your body would sink considerably, and as such beds are rarely produced at this scale.
- 2-4: These mattresses are firmly in the soft category. They let your body sink to a degree but the higher the number goes the firmer they'll be. One of the most common mattress categories.
- 5-6: These are what most people call "medium-firm" or "medium-soft" mattresses. Your body will still sink to a degree but they'll be considerably firmer than most soft beds, it's a middle point in all senses and can be useful for people who aren't sure how they'll handle a hard mattress.
- 7-9: At this scale, mattress hardness starts ramping up. These beds are designed to have next to no sinking, they hold their shape, and as such you'll feel like you are sleeping "over" them and not "into" them. When people talk about hard mattresses they refer to this range.
- 10: The firmest mattress possible. They would offer next to no sink and as such you aren't likely to see one with this rating.
If you can't decide which mattress firmness you need, why not get a mattress that can be BOTH soft or firm? Check out our adjustable iSense mattresses, like the Refresh Energex Foam Mattress or the Revive Hybrid Premier Mattress. Each one uses 12 small air cylinders to adjust the firmness levels in the mattress. If you're looking for individualized sleeping comfort, you should try an iSense bed today!
Advantages of a hard mattress
While it isn't true that a hard mattress is immediately better than a soft one they do have their own set of perks. If you sleep on your back or stomach, these mattresses will provide better support and as such keep your back straight when sleeping.
On top of that, hard mattresses stand out when they handle more than one person at a time. The softer a mattress is the less weight it will handle, and when two people sleep together the overall weight will increase. If you will be sharing a bed, picking a mattress with weight support above your weight can be ideal.
Advantages of a soft mattress
Despite what we mentioned, mattress softness can positively impact multiple aspects of your life too. Soft mattresses are ideal for side sleepers because the sinking they provide allows their backs to rest at a more comfortable angle compared to a hard bed.
And contrary to popular belief, many people with back problems would likely benefit from a softer bed too. If you have a pre-existing back condition a hard bed might prove uncomfortable and even painful to sleep in.
How to pick the right mattress for you
There are three main factors you should keep in mind when choosing your mattress softness and those are Weight, Position, and Comfort. We have mentioned weight a bit during this article and that's because all beds will eventually compress.
A soft bed will feel soft for everybody at first, but the heavier a person is the faster it will compress, and eventually, it'll simply become too soft. On the other hand, a hard mattress might feel unbearable for a kid, but a heavier adult will cause more pressure, and as such, the bed will feel softer.
All beds have a listed estimate of what human weight they support, and it is always good to check this information before making a purchase. Someone who weighs less than 120 lbs will experience next to no issue on soft beds. While someone above 250 lbs might prefer to invest in harder mattresses to avoid bed compression. Couples will increase the weight load by default, so keep that in mind too.
Your sleeping position is the next key point as it'll directly affect not only your back health but how likely you are to fall asleep. Harder beds tend to be problematic in this category because as good as they are for back and front sleepers, side sleepers will struggle to fall asleep on them. The lack of sinking affects sleepers in this position and can be counterproductive in the long run. Soft beds tend to fare overall better; they are ideal for side sleepers but, provided you pick a soft bed on the firmer end of the scale, back and front support should be great as well.
Of course, if you are buying a bed then you want to pick something that will enable you to sleep well. A mattress that claims to be perfect for your back but is a struggle to sleep on will not serve much of a purpose. Many people love sleeping on hard mattresses but, if you are not used to it, you can still buy a soft mattress and get health benefits.
Pick a soft mattress with a firmness rating close to 5, make sure you are in its weight range, and look for a model that offers good support. Support and mattress hardness are not the same, so you can find mattresses optimized for sleeping while remaining on the softer end of the firmness scale.