Which is better for you: a firm or soft mattress?

Everyday a customer asks, which is better for you: a firm or soft mattress? My customers want a simple answer. They want me to come down firmly (pardon the pun) on the side of firm or soft. The truth is every person is different and may require a different sleep surface. Thankfully, there so many mattresses, from ultra soft to brick hard to anywhere in between. Here are 3 ways to choose your mattress firmness:

Choose firm or soft based on your weight

Mattresses are designed to support the average American adult, weighing 250 lbs. If you are on the heavier side, a firm mattress will support you better and last much longer. You don’t have to choose a rock hard mattress, but stay in the firm to medium-firm range. Stay away from pillow-tops. Pillow-tops do not hold up as well over time and they will soften, providing you less and less support as the years pass. If you are small or petite, you may need the extra cushioning of a softer mattress.

Choose firm or soft based on your preferred sleeping position

Nearly everyone has his or her preferred sleeping position. This sleeping position may not be the best for your health, but you can use it to choose your mattress type, firm or soft. Generally side-sleepers prefer a soft mattress, while back and stomach sleepers prefer a firm sleep surface.

firm or soft
Serta Perfect Sleeper Redwin Firm, our firmest mattress

Choose firm or soft based on science

What does science say about mattress firmness? Not surprisingly, scientists don’t agree on what mattress choice is best for every person. In a blog post I wrote last year, titled “What’s the best mattress?” I explored several small-sample scientific studies that found medium firm mattresses were best for relieving low back pain and helping people sleep better. However, that’s not the final word! Some scientists claim that a harder mattress is best, because a hard mattress offers your bones necessary resistance during sleep. Your bones work to support your body overnight, allowing your muscles to relax completely while you sleep. When your bones have resistance, your spine doesn’t sink into an awkward angle, and your circulation and breathing improves. Still there is another school of thought that promotes a soft, cushiony bed for the best night’s sleep.

There are so many options for you when shopping for a new mattress. Take your time and test a firm or soft mattress for 10 or fifteen minutes to see which suits your body best!


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