Does your mattress feel too hard or soft? If so, you may be sleeping on a bed with the incorrect firmness level. Mattresses are rated on a firmness scale, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest.
Mattress firmness is determined by construction and materials and the thickness of the comfort layers (the top layer of your bed). Sometimes, the right firmness level will depend on your personal preference. A mattress with the right firmness level will provide adequate support and alleviate pressure points throughout the sleeper’s body. However, there are a few factors to consider before you make your purchase.
In this article, we’ll look at the differences between firm and medium mattresses.
While you’re shopping for a new mattress, you may notice that each bed comes with a firmness level. Below, we outline the mattress firmness scale to help you understand what to expect when you lay on your mattress.
- Soft is 3
- Medium-soft is 4
- Medium is 5
- Medium-firm is 6
- Firm is 7
- Extra-firm is 8
What’s a Firm Mattress?
Firm mattresses are between 7 and 9 on the firmness scale. These beds provide a sturdy sleeping surface and do not compress as much as other mattresses. When you sleep on a firm surface, it promotes a neutral spinal alignment, better posture. Plus, it reduces back pain.
Firm mattresses are usually thinner than other mattress types, with a depth of 10 to 12 inches thick. They also have comfort layers about 1 to 2 inches thick, offering a bit of contouring for sleepers.
Benefits of a Firm Mattress
Firm mattresses do a great job of keeping your weight distributed evenly and providing a sturdy surface. In this next section, we look at the advantages of sleeping on a firm bed.
Firm beds may improve blood circulation for some individuals. When you sleep on a firm mattress, your bones absorb more pressure, meaning less strain on your muscles and arteries. With less stress on your body, more blood flows throughout your body, improving your circulation. A soft mattress could restrict movement because of the sinkage and impair your circulation.
Suitable for Plus-Size Sleepers
Plus-size sleepers need a bed to distribute their weight across the surface of their mattress properly. Sleeping on a firmer bed will prevent sinking and keep the torso lifted and aligned with the shoulders. Some plus-size individuals may even need an extra firm bed to achieve a good night’s sleep.
Accommodates Stomach and Back Sleepers
Stomach and back sleepers will experience greater support sleeping on a firm mattress. When you lie on your stomach sleepers, it can cause your pelvis to sink into your mattress.
Though we do not recommend sleeping in this position if you can not transition to back or side sleeping, it’s best to sleep on a firm mattress. Back sleepers will also feel comfortable sleeping on a firm bed as it provides excellent lumbar support.
Disadvantages of a Firm Mattress
Some sleepers complain that firm mattresses do not provide enough sinkage. Less compression could be a problem for lightweight and side sleepers who need cushioning for better pressure point relief. Side sleepers, especially those at a lighter weight, may find that firm mattresses don’t provide enough contouring and it may cause hip or shoulder pain.
Additionally, sturdy sleeping may cause individuals with pre-existing health conditions like arthritis, joint, and back pain.
Those looking for a mattress on the firmer side that still has a little give and a lot of contouring should check out the AS2 by Amerisleep. This mattress has a feel that hovers between a medium-firm and a true firm.
So the AS2 can still support stomach sleepers and heavier sleepers. But it’s also perfect for back sleepers because it has just the right amount of give.
How Lying Down Feels
The first thing you’ll notice when you lie down on the AS2 is its amazing contouring. For a firmer mattress, this one has a super adaptable sleep surface. It can follow the shape of your body even as it keeps you lifted and supported.
This is all thanks to Amerisleep’s proprietary Bio-Pur® foam. This plant-based memory foam is one of the most contouring foams on the market. Thus, it can alter its shape to take yours regardless of mattress firmness.
The Bio-Pur® foam is also highly breathable and much more responsive than traditional memory foam. That means active sleepers and hot sleepers alike can enjoy the cool, bouncy feel of the Amerisleep AS2.
The AS2 starts off with a comfort layer of highly contouring Bio-Pur® foam. This is the layer that provides the pressure relief and contouring present in the mattress. It’s also the layer that breathes to keep you cool.
Next up, you’ll find the HIVE® transition layer. This layer offers five different zones of support and pressure relief so that every individual area of your body gets exactly the right amount of each. This keeps your spine aligned and pressure points protected.
Finally, the Bio-Core® support layer is the heart of this mattress. It is the layer that keeps you lifted onto the sleep surface and supports your body weight. It’s also the layer that ensures the AS2’s industry-leading 20-year life expectancy.
All this amazing comfort is wrapped up in the Refresh Cover. This highly breathable cover helps increase the mattress’s cooling power by converting your body heat into far infrared energy!
What’s a Medium Mattress?
A medium mattress provides a nice balance between firm and soft mattresses. These beds rate about a 5 or 6 on the firmness scale and respond quickly to pressure due to their soft comfort layers. However, medium beds are less likely to sink than plush mattresses and provide better support for all sleeping positions.
Benefits of a Medium Mattress
If you’re having trouble deciding if you need a medium mattress, it’s best to know what type of sleepers these beds accommodate. Below, we offer some insight on who should choose a medium mattress.
Excellent Choice for Combination Sleepers
Medium beds are an excellent choice for a combination sleeper. Combination sleepers need a bed to accommodate their ever-changing sleeping positions. A mattress with medium firmness provides enough sinkage for side sleepers while also offering good support for your hips and back.
Lightweight and Average Sleepers
Lightweight sleepers (less than 130 pounds) and average sleepers (130-230 pounds) will also find a medium mattress comfy. A medium is responsive enough to prevent average sleepers) from sinking and putting pressure on the spine while also providing good compression for lighter sleepers.
Since medium beds accommodate different sleeping positions, you and your partner should be able to sleep comfortably. For example, if you are a side sleeper and your partner is a stomach sleeper, a medium bed will prevent sinking and promote a better spinal alignment for both positions.
Plus, medium beds tend to have less motion transfer than other mattresses, so you should experience limited sleeping disruptions.
Disadvantages of a Medium Mattress
There are a few disadvantages to purchasing a medium mattress. A medium mattress may not be a good option for heavier individuals, as it might offer too much compression. It’s common for a medium bed to sink under the sleeper’s body weight and ruin your mattress.
Sleeper with low back pain sufferers may also experience discomfort from sleeping on a medium bed. Your lower back may collapse on a bed and aggravate your back pain. It may be a better choice to choose a firm mattress since they provide better lumbar support.
If you’re looking for a mattress with a little more compression that still has a good amount of support, check out the Zoma Mattress. This sports mattress was designed by athletes for athletes, but it’s perfect for anyone with an active lifestyle. It’s also a great foam mattress for sleepers who like to toss and turn during the night.
How It Feels
The Zoma features the super bouncy Reactiv™ layer. So it’s highly responsive, especially for an all-foam mattress. That means active sleepers who want a memory foam mattress will likely do well with this one because they won’t have to deal with body impressions or slow response time.
The Zoma’s medium feel also makes it a highly versatile mattress. So it’s perfect for combo sleepers who like to change things up while they sleep. It’s also a great choice for couples who need to compromise a little on firmness and feel.
The first layer of the Zoma Mattress is its AirCloth cover. This ventilated cover works with the gel memory foam comfort layer to provide the perfect combination of breathability and thermoconductivity. That way, it keeps cool air moving around you and pulls your body heat down into the mattress all at the same time.
The gel memory foam layer also provides contouring and pressure relief for the Zoma. So you can sleep easy with your pressure points cradled and your spine aligned. The memory foam also features Zoma’s Triangulex™ tri-zoned support system that offers the right pressure relief to each area of your body: head/shoulders, middle, and knees/feet.
Next up, you have the Reactiv™ layer. This layer of highly responsive foam bounces back underneath your body without transferring motion. So you’ll never have to wait for your mattress to regain its shape when you move.
Finally, a durable core of highly dense Support+ foam keeps your body lifted on top of the sleep surface and fights sinkage all night long.
Choosing the right mattress may seem a bit difficult however you should consider your sleeping habits while shopping. The wrong mattress could leave you waking up with back pain or interference with a good night’s sleep. Side sleepers are better suited for medium mattresses as they have a bit more give than firm beds.
A medium mattress will provide a bit of cushioning for your shoulders and neck, reducing tension on your pressure points. Back sleepers and stomach sleepers may feel more comfortable on a firm mattress. Firm beds do not sink as much as medium beds and will help keep your spine aligned.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best mattress for chronic back pain suffers from a firm bed. Firm beds promote healthy spinal alignment and keep your hips from sinking too far. This, in turn, may help improve the quality of sleep.
It may take a few weeks for a firmer mattress to soften. The best way to soften a firm bed is by sleeping on it night after night, and you’ll experience some softening over time. In the meantime, you can use a mattress topper to make your sleeping surface a bit softer.
Back sleepers are usually most comfortable on a firm bed. A firm mattress will prevent the heavier portions of the body from dropping too far into the mattress while maintaining a neutral position. Some sleepers may prefer a bed with a little more give. A medium-feel bed will provide more cushioning for sleepers.
Additionally, these beds limit over-flexion of the spine while still supporting your shoulders, hips, and lower back. Both medium and firm beds are good choices for back sleepers, and the decision will ultimately come down to your personal preference.
It takes a couple of nights for your mattress to soften; however, the firmness level of your bed will not change. Instead, your body should adjust to the bed’s feel.
As a result, it may feel a little bit more comfortable to sleep on your bed over time. After some years of use, your mattress may begin to lose support, but it should still maintain its firm feel.
Typically, firm mattresses have a longer lifespan than softer ones. Though soft beds are plush and luxurious, they are prone to sinking. On the other hand, a firm mattress may offer more support for sleepers and do not wear down as quickly. Most mattresses should last between 7 and 10 years. So, you’ll want to find a bed made with high-quality materials to prevent damage.