Choosing the perfect firmness for your bed is something you’ll need to consider whether you have memory foam, latex, or innerspring bed. Your bed’s mattress firmness is defined by how soft or hard your mattress feels.
Some sleepers will need a softer sleeping surface to contour their curves. Others may require a sturdy surface to support their body weight. Finding the right mattress firmness will depend on your sleeping position and body type, but some other factors might come into play.
Let’s dive in and look at plush and medium mattress types to see if these beds are the right fit for you. Later will look at the benefits and drawbacks of each and provide you with some other choices.
About the Firmness Scale
A great way to determine what mattress will be best for you is by learning about the firmness scale. Firmness is measured on a scale from 1-to 10, with 1 being soft and 10 being extra-firm.
Take a look at where plush and medium mattresses land on the scale:
- Soft or plush is 2-4
- Medium-soft is 4
- Medium is 5-6
- Medium-firm is 6-7
- Firm is 7-8
- Extra-firm is 8-10
As you may have noticed above, plush mattresses rate about a 2 or 3 on the firmness scale. These beds are popular because they can be especially good for sleepers with joint or muscle pain. Their conforming nature is due to their extra plush comfort layers.
Typically, plush mattresses have ultra-soft comfort layers that are about 2 inches thick. These layers provide the perfect surface for sleepers to sink into the bed and experience contouring comfort. Plush mattresses are also about 12 to 14 inches thick.
Who Are Plush Mattresses For?
You should know that plush mattresses aren’t the best for all sleepers. They are usually only recommended for side sleepers and lighter sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds. Let’s see if a plush mattress is the best choice for your sleep needs.
Side sleepers will more than likely enjoy the comfort of plush beds. Since side sleepers put large amounts of pressure on their shoulders, they need a mattress to provide them with more cushioning and relief.
A softer bed will provide contouring for sensitive areas like your neck and side to reduce muscle tension. Side sleepers who use firm beds will usually have a harder time getting comfortable.
Light sleepers will experience more comfort on plush beds. Soft beds are responsive and offer more compression than other mattresses. Smaller individuals will sink into these beds, but it will not cause the mattress to sink. Heavier sleepers will probably sink too far into a plush bed and feel highly uncomfortable.
Individuals With Pre-Existing Conditions
Sometimes a firm bed can be just what a sleeper needs to relieve their back pain, but the surface can feel ‘too’ firm for others. The sturdiness of firm mattresses can cause pressure to build up in your hips, shoulders, and lower back. In this case, a plush bed might be comfier. So, making the swap may provide more compression and improve your sleep quality.
Benefits of a Plush Mattress
- Good choice for side sleepers
- Warm sleeping surface
- Pressure point relief
Drawbacks of a Plush Mattress
- Prone to sinking and sagging.
- Not compatible with plus-size or stomach sleepers.
- Potentially shorter lifespan
- Surface can be too hot for some
Those looking for an amazing plush memory foam mattress that won’t overheat or take forever to bounce back into place should consider the AS5 by Amerisleep. This mattress offers much more responsiveness and temperature control than most plush mattresses. This makes it perfect for hot sleepers who need tons of pressure relief.
How It Feels
The AS5 features Bio-Pur® foam. This foam swaps some petroleum products for plant oils. That makes a plant-based foam that fixes a lot of the problems inherent to traditional memory foam without injecting even more synthetic ingredients.
You’ll notice when lying down that the AS5’s sleep surface is much cooler than that of a typical all-foam mattress. It’s also much more responsive, springing back into place as soon as you change sleep position.
The first layer of this mattress is the Refresh Cover that helps dissipate your body heat by turning it into healthy far infrared energy.
Next comes the comfort layer of pressure-relieving Bio-Pur® foam. This highly contouring foam cradles your pressure points for all-night comfort. The next layer of Active Flex material adds even more pressure relief without sacrificing buoyancy.
Next, the HIVE® transition layer offers targeted pressure relief. Each of its five zones offers the perfect balance of cushioning and support to keep your spine aligned and your body lifted.
Finally, the Bio-Core® layer offers firm support to counter all the soft layers and ensure you don’t sink into the bed. This ultra-dense foam also increases the lifespan of this mattress to a full two decades, which is why it sports a 20-year warranty!
If you are looking for a mattress with a nice balance between soft and firm, then a medium mattress is your best choice. Medium mattresses are about a 5 or 6 on the firmness scale.
They have soft comfort layers like plush beds, but they respond quickly to pressure. This can be great for sleepers who want a bed with a little give, without too much sinkage.
Who Are Medium Mattresses For?
A medium mattress will accommodate most sleepers, but some individuals will not find them comfortable. Here we’ll look at who should use a medium mattress.
Combination sleepers are better suited for medium beds because these beds will accommodate differing positions. A mattress with a medium firmness will provide enough sinkage for a side sleeper.
Plus, they do an excellent job of easing the tension in your neck and shoulder muscles. These beds are also sturdy enough for back sleepers and will keep your spine properly aligned.
We will mention that some back sleepers will not feel comfortable on a medium bed. Plus-size sleepers, in particular, will probably have trouble getting comfy. These beds will likely sink or sag due to too much-added pressure.
Lightweight and Average Sleepers
Lightweight and average-sized sleepers are under 230 pounds and will be able to get comfortable on a medium bed. Medium beds are less responsive than softer ones, which prevent sagging and sinking. They also have better edge support, so the perimeter of your bed will not wear down as quickly.
A plus-sized sleeper (weighing more than 230 pounds) will still feel a bit of sinkage on a medium bed. For this reason, we recommend you purchase a medium-firm or firm mattress if you fall into this category.
Medium beds accommodate most body types, and sleeping positions are an excellent option for couples. If one person is a back sleeper and the other person is a side sleeper, these beds will be able to promote the proper spinal alignment for both positions.
It will also do an excellent job isolating motion transfer depending on what type of mattress material you choose. Usually, memory foam and latex beds offer excellent motion isolation to lessen sleeping disruptions. It’s pretty rare to find a medium innerspring mattress.
However, if you choose an inspiring bed, keep in mind that these beds are not the best for motion isolation. It’s common for the bed to squeak when you switch positions, which could ultimately cause disruptions for you and your partner.
Benefits of a Medium Mattress
- Accommodate different sleeping positions
- Don’t sink as much as soft beds
- Contouring abilities
Disadvantages of a Medium Mattress
- Not the best for plus-size sleepers
- It may not be the best for back sleepers
Those looking for a medium mattress with a little extra support should consider the Zoma Mattress. This memory foam mattress was designed by athletes for athletes. But it can be fantastic for any sleeper with an active lifestyle, whether you hit the gym every day or have a physically demanding job.
How It Feels
The Zoma sports a highly breathable cover, gel memory foam, and a layer of bouncy foam to create more responsiveness. This means you can toss and turn all night without worrying about overheating or waiting for body impressions to go away.
The medium feel also offers tons of versatility. It’s a great compromise for many couples. And it can support the widest variety of sleep positions so that combo sleepers can change things up without worrying about lack of cushioning or support.
The first layer of the Zoma is the breathable AirCloth cover. This ventilated performance fabric wicks away body heat and sweat to keep you cool all night long.
The gel memory foam comfort layer underneath the airy cover enhances the cooling comfort by pulling heat away from your body and deeper into the mattress. It also offers three zones of cushioning to offer targeted pressure relief to each body area.
The ReactivTM layer comes next. This layer helps to increase the gel memory foam’s responsiveness, so it jumps right back into place. This means you can toss and turn to your heart’s delight without waiting for the bed to catch up.
Finally, you’ll find a layer of durable Support+ foam. This foam provides tons of lift to ensure you won’t sink down into the bed and your spine remains in healthy alignment. It also means this bed will resist sagging and soft spot development for a full decade.
Plush vs. Medium Mattresses
Now that you’ve learned a bit about medium and soft mattresses, let’s take a look at a few more factors to help you choose between the two.
If you are a hot sleeper, we recommend choosing a medium bed. Medium beds do not have extra thick comfort layers that retain heat. Since it is more of a sturdy surface than the plush layers of a soft bed, it will probably keep you cool at night.
Soft beds tend to retain a lot of heat and will more than likely cause hot sleepers to sweat, making bedtime super uncomfortable. However, if you enjoy the comfort of a warm and cozy bed, you shouldn’t run into any problems.
You should always consider your body type before you purchase a new mattress. If a mattress is too firm for your body type, it will make your sleep extremely uncomfortable. You may even spend extra time trying to get comfy each night, or worse, and you could have trouble getting enough sleep each night.
In turn, if someone heavier chooses a too-soft mattress, they may not provide enough support.
If you are an average-sized sleeper (weighing between 130 to 230 pounds), a medium mattress is the best choice. Medium beds are a good combination of softness and semi-sturdy support. A lighter sleeper might want to choose a mattress that is a bit softer for extra cushioning and pressure point relief. Heavier sleepers will most likely need a firmer mattress.
Sleeping position will also play a huge role in the quality of your sleep. You’ll want to always choose a mattress to accommodate your favorite sleeping position or multiple positions if you’re a combination sleeper. Here is a breakdown of the mattress firmness you should choose based on your sleeping position:
Back sleepers will probably prefer a medium bed. These sleepers require a sturdy surface to keep their hips and back from sinking.
Plush mattresses are a popular choice for side sleepers. The soft layers can be beneficial for relieving tension on pressure points but will also support your neck and back.
Stomach sleeping is not always the best position to achieve good sleep. We suggest that you try your best to avoid this position and transition to side or back sleeping.
If you cannot sleep in another position, you will need a firm. So it’s best to steer clear of both plush and medium mattresses. A firmer mattress will keep your chest and hips from sinking while you sleep. This will take some strain off of your back.
Combination sleepers will often switch positions throughout the night. Medium beds may offer enough support for sleepers who transition between back and side sleepers, but it may cause issues for those who sleep on their stomach. It will be better to choose a firm mattress for more support.
Cheap mattresses do not always provide the best support, and they wear down faster. That’s why it’s essential to choose beds made with durable materials. A quality mattress should last between 7 to 10 years.
It’s worth mentioning that soft beds tend to sag and sink over time. They are made with extra-plush material that can sag when too much pressure is added to the surface. So it may be a safer bet to get a mattress with a sturdier surface like a medium bed.
Other Types of Mattresses
If a plush or medium bed doesn’t seem like the right choice, you have a few other options at your disposal. Here we look at other mattresses to keep an eye out for while you’re shopping.
Firm beds are the best options for plus-size sleepers. These beds are pretty thin, with most mattresses ranging around 10 to 12 inches thick with 1-inch comfort layers.
Firm beds do not compress as much as soft beds, but they can provide a sturdy surface for sleepers who need extra back support. Firm beds have exceptional edge support, so sleepers will be able to lie in these beds without worrying about sagging or sinking.
Extra-firm mattresses are the firmest mattress on the market and rate a ten on the firmness scale. These mattresses do not have much cushioning and are usually about 10 inches thick. Extra-firm beds have a simple construction since they don’t feature advanced cushioning systems compared to softer beds.
The plush and medium mattress will probably only work for light and average sleepers. Heavier sleepers should choose firmer mattresses since these offer good support for sensitive body areas like your back and neck.
We should also mention that just because you are a light or average sleeper doesn’t mean you’ll love the comfort of a plush or medium bed. Always check with your mattress manufacturer to see if they offer sleep trials. This way, you can test out your mattress comfort before you commit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Medium and soft mattresses accommodate different types of sleepers. Softer beds are usually better for lightweight sleepers, while medium beds can accommodate both light and average-sized individuals.
Softer beds are not always the best choice for couples since they don’t accommodate all body types. Medium beds offer more of a sturdy surface which can be great for couples with average and petite body types.
A plush mattress rates between a 2 or 3 on the firmness scale. Compared to medium mattresses that rate a 5 or 6 on the fitness scale, plush beds are much softer.
However, if you are looking for a bed softer than medium but firmer than a plush bed, you should look at a medium soft bed. Medium-soft beds rate about a four on the firmness scale. These beds may be a little hard to find, but they are a nice balance between plush and medium beds.
Firmer mattresses are typically a better choice for sleepers with back pain. Sometimes a sturdier sleeping surface keeps your back from sinking so far into the mattress. It may also prevent your hips and spine from falling out of alignment.
Soft mattresses may offer some relief, but firmer beds are usually the better way to go.
Plush mattresses tend to be a bit more expensive than medium mattresses. This is because plush beds are constructed with multiple layers of cushioning material to create that cloud-like surface.
Comfort layers can be made with wool, cotton, memory foam, or down. Depending on the mattress material and how thick the layer is, the price tag can be a bit higher.
Typically, a quality mattress will last 7 to 10 years, depending on the mattress materials. Soft beds don’t always last this long. These mattresses are prone to sagging and sinking and may not have the best edge support.
They will likely wear down faster, mainly if an immense amount of pressure is applied. For this reason, we suggest that lighter sleepers use these beds to prevent sagging from occurring over time.
Pick a quality mattress over cheaper ones because budget items aren’t always made with durable materials. A medium bed has a bit more give and may be able to provide better support over the years.
Like soft mattresses, a medium mattress should last 7 to 10 years. Medium mattresses may sag over time, but not as quickly as plush beds.
A plush mattress is an excellent choice for side sleepers and lighter individuals. The soft comfort layers provide a surface with more cushioning to ease tension in the arms, shoulders, and neck.
Lighter individuals will also enjoy the plush comfort of a soft bed since they apply just enough pressure to these mattresses without causing them to sink.