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How to Choose the Right Mattress Firmness

Everyone wants to have that perfect, cloud-like, luxurious mattress that makes it easy to lie down and drift off to sleep right away.

Yet, when it comes to buying the perfect mattress, it isn’t that simple.

It can be difficult to identify what it is about one bed that makes you feel comfortable, while other mattresses leave you with aches and pains the next morning. It can be even more difficult to diagnose what the exact problem is with a bed that you don’t like.

So, what is it that makes one bed feel perfect while the next one feels uncomfortable?

Here’s a quick and simple mattress firmness guide to help you choose the right bed for your body type and sleeping style.

Mattress Firmness vs. Support

Let’s start with a simple definition of mattress firmness: Mattress firmness is how comfortable you feel when you lie down. It is your initial impression of the bed, not how you feel the following morning after sleeping in the bed for several hours.

Firmness is often confused with support. Support is about how the bed keeps your spine aligned. Ideally, mattress firmness and support will work together to offer you comfort and proper spinal support.

One of the reasons it is so difficult for your mattress to do this is because the human spine isn’t perfectly straight. The spine is curved and so is the body around it.

The top level of your mattress should be soft enough to accommodate the curves of the body while the underlying layers should offer enough support to keep the spine properly aligned.

Rating Firmness

Measuring mattress firmness can be difficult because comfort is so subjective. Some mattress manufacturers use a scale of one to ten. Typically, a rating of one would be very soft while ten would be very hard.

Firmness is a spectrum with many intervals in between, but generally speaking, most beds can be categorized as soft, medium, and firm.


Soft mattresses are often described as cloud-like, plushy, and luxurious. A very soft mattress is one that you sink into. Depending on the level of softness, you might sink into the bed a little or a lot.

Soft mattresses make a good first impression, but it is important to know that they can have their downsides. They tend to generate more heat than firmer mattresses. This can make them unappealing to warm sleepers. Because people sink into them, they can also be difficult to move in.

Many people associate comfort with softness, and this leads them to choose a soft mattress because soft sounds like a quality of comfort, yet soft mattresses are some of the most commonly returned beds because in many cases soft is much softer than people initially thought it would be.


Medium firmness mattresses tend to be the most widely purchased kind of mattress. In fact, about 80 percent of people sleep on a medium firmness mattress.

In general, medium-firm mattresses accommodate most sleep styles, and they are a good compromise between soft and firm. If you share a bed with someone who has very different sleep needs, a medium firmness mattress can be a good middle ground.


Firm mattresses have less cushion than other mattresses, and they offer very little sink. They tend to be ideal for those who want to well supported and do not want to sink into their bed.

While most mattress shoppers tend to choose soft or medium firmness, firm mattresses are often the best choice for the widest variety of sleepers because of their superior support.

And if you end up purchasing a mattress that’s too firm, it’s easy to soften the mattress with a mattress topper.

Universal Firmness Mattresses

Most mattress companies make mattresses in only one level of firmness.

Universal firmness mattresses aim to create a perfect balance between support and comfort. These beds tend to be the appropriate firmness for most people, and it greatly simplifies the purchase process because buyers are faced with fewer options.

The most ideal universal firmness usually falls somewhere between 6 - 8 on the overall firmness scale. For example, the PerfectSense 10” Memory Foam Mattress is rated 7/10 on the universal firmness scale.

Sleep Position

Women laying on PerfectSense Mattress
Posture Demonstration
Posture Demonstration 2
Posture Demonstration 3

Depending on how you sleep, a certain firmness of mattress may be better suited to your sleep habits.


Because different sleep positions place weight on different pressure points in the body.

Stomach Sleepers

Firm beds are the best mattress firmness for stomach sleepers.

People who sleep on their stomachs will put most of their weight on their pelvis. If the bed is too soft, the pelvis will sink too far into the bed, which can put unwanted pressure on the lower back.

Side Sleepers

Softer beds are the best for side sleepers.  The cushier topping on these beds allows the shoulder and hip to sink into the mattress while still supporting the waist and spine.

Those who sleep on their side are often the same people who like to tuck their arm under their head. If the arm goes numb in this position, the mattress is too firm to accommodate that sleep style.

Back Sleepers

Those who sleep on their back will find that the widest variety of beds work for them. Medium or Universal  firmness tends to be a good fit for most people who sleep on their backs.

If you are the kind of sleeper who changes positions often in the night, you might want to consider a medium or universal firmness mattress. These mattresses offer the greatest versatility because while they might not be the most ideal for certain sleeping positions, they are not necessarily bad for any sleep positions.


Another factor to consider is body weight and mobility. The more you weigh, the more you will sink into your mattress. Soft beds in particular can be easy to sink into and not so easy to get out of. If you have mobility issues, a firmer mattress will be easier for you to get out of.

If you weigh less than 130lbs, you should consider choosing a mattress that is slightly softer than you think you’ll need. Most beds are designed with a heavier “average” person in mind. Lighter people tend to perch on top of the bed as opposed to sinking into it.

By contrast, those who weigh more than 230lbs should consider firmer mattresses.  This will better support them, allowing for a more comfortable night’s sleep.

There is a slight difference in how body weight is distributed between men and women. Women tend to carry the majority of their weight in their hips, and this will be the point of their body that sinks the deepest into the bed.

PerfectSense Mattress Box

What if you buy the wrong bed?

Comfort is subjective, and that means that even if you’ve done your due diligence, it is still possible to buy a mattress that you don’t find comfortable. So, what do you do if you buy the wrong bed?

You can always make a bed that is too firm softer by adding a mattress pad or topper. Sometimes a marshmallow-like layer of foam is all you need to turn a bed that makes you ache into your favourite cozy spot.

It is more difficult to make a bed that is too soft more firm, although there are some mattress pads that help to make beds firmer. Often, the best solution for a mattress that is much too firm or much too soft is to return it.

PerfectSense offers their customers a 100-night trial window in which you have the option to return the bed if you aren’t satisfied. Over the course of three months, you can take your time and make a decision about whether or not your new bed is giving you a good night’s sleep.

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