Experts Corner

Mattress Firmness Scale: Our Guide to Mattress Firmness

October 4, 2023   By Ecosa Dream Team

If you’ve even gone shopping for a new mattress, you’ll know it’s no joke. It’s a constant weighing of pros and cons until you find the perfect fit.

One of the biggest and most important questions when mattress shopping is: how do you know which firmness level is right for you?

Mattress firmness is a highly subjective and personal matter. That’s why things like mattress firmness scales exist to try to provide some kind of universal guide when it comes to different firmness options.

At the end of the day, the only way you’ll really know if a mattress is the right firmness level for you is to try it for a few months and see how you feel (Ecosa offers a 100 night trial on all of our mattresses for that very reason).

We’ve gone ahead and put together this guide to help you determine the right firmness level for your needs so you can shop for your next mattress with confidence.

The Firmness Scale

The mattress firmness scale typically ranges from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. But here’s a curveball: mattress feels can vary based on the type of mattress you choose, be it memory foam, innerspring, or a plush hybrid mattress.

1 (Very Soft)Unsupportive for both light and heavy people due to excessive sagging.

The extra soft sleeping surface will be uncomfortable to lie in.
2-4 (Soft to Medium-Soft)A significant but decent amount of sinkage.

Good for sleepers who like feeling ‘hugged’ or those who prefer a plush mattress.

A well-constructed mattress may offer ample pushback while being soft.
5-7 (Medium to Medium-Firm)A good balance of support, firmness, and comfort.

Also considered as the ‘universal comfort’ for sleepers of any sleeping style.

The best type of mattress for chronic back pain.
8-9 (Firm)Great overall support that’s still comfortable.

A firm bed is recommended for most heavy sleepers.
10 (Very Firm)The firmest may be too firm for comfort.

It might create sore joints instead of relieving them. 

Mattress Firmness & The Role of Materials

Different mattress materials provide varying levels of firmness:

  • Memory Foam: A memory foam mattress contours beautifully to the body, providing pressure relief. It adapts based on your body weight and heat, which means a personalised sleeping experience.
  • Innerspring: Known for pushback, innerspring mattresses offer bounce. While they might not offer the contouring of memory foam, they’re durable and provide good support.
  • Hybrid: A combination, usually of foam layers and springs, offering both contouring and pushback.

Choosing the Best Firmness Level

1. How Your Weight Affects Your Mattress Choice

Recommended body weight to sinkage ratio

Think of your body weight as a key player in picking the right mattress. If you’re on the heavier side, you’ll press down on the mattress more.

So, imagine being over 90 kilograms and lying on a super soft mattress; you might feel like you’re sinking too deep! Lighter folks usually love soft to medium mattresses.

Heavier folks? Medium-firm to firm beds might be the ticket. It’s all about making sure your pressure points (like your hips, knees, and shoulders) feel comfy, not too sunk in or too raised.

2. Your Sleeping Style Matters

The way you sleep can point you to your ideal mattress:

  • Side-sleepers: Soft to medium mattresses can be great. They mould to your body nicely, especially around hips and shoulders. Say goodbye to shoulder pain!
  • Back-sleepers: These folks often like medium-firm to firm mattresses. These help spread your weight evenly and keep your spine straight.
  • Stomach-sleepers: A medium-firm to firm mattress works wonders. It keeps the hips up and the spine straight. Just be sure not to strain your lower back area.

3. Got Back Issues? Here’s a Tip!

If you’ve got back problems, your mattress choice is super important. Research says that those with back pain often feel better with medium-firm mattresses compared to the super firm ones.

To keep your spine straight and comfy, pick a mattress that suits both your body and how you sleep. And if you’re ever unsure, chat with a doctor to get their advice.

4. Age and Getting Out of Bed

Your age can play a role in your mattress choice, especially if you find it tricky getting out of bed. If you sink too much into your mattress, standing up can be a chore! Older folks might find it easier with medium-firm to firm mattresses.

Also, think about the mattress size and how high your bed is; it can make a difference in getting up with ease.

5. Sharing the Bed? Here’s a Thought

Choosing the perfect mattress becomes a team game if you’re sharing it with someone. What feels just right for you might not for them. Some couples even go for two separate mattresses put together, each with their own firmness level. So, chat, test, and find that happy middle ground!

Remember, the right mattress should give you a good night’s sleep, keep your spine happy, and feel just right for you. And with so many mattress brands out there offering trial periods, you’ve got time to find your match! Happy snoozing!

Note: Firmness Doesn’t Equal Support

When hunting for the best mattress, it’s crucial to differentiate between firmness and support. While they might sound similar, they address different aspects of your sleep quality.

  • Firmness is about the initial feeling you get when you lie down. It’s the softness or firm feel of the sleeping surface. Some sleepers like the cushioning of a softer mattress, while others lean towards firmer mattresses for a more solid surface. Then, you’ve got the variety in-between: medium soft, plush mattress, or the extra soft mattresses that are like sleeping on a cloud.
  • Support, on the other hand, delves deeper, literally. It refers to how a mattress promotes spinal alignment and reduces sinkage, ensuring your body maintains a neutral alignment throughout the night. Support is rooted in the mattress’s core and top layers. It involves the comfort layers, whether a plush pillow top or intricate foam layers, that conform to your body type, relieving pressure.

Basically, just because a mattress has a high firmness rating, it doesn’t automatically mean it offers the best support.

Some medium-firm options, for example, might not adequately relieve pressure points despite seeming like a safe choice on the mattress firmness guide. Conversely, the softest mattress can still offer impeccable support if crafted with the right firmness options and layers.

Personal preference plays a big role, too. What feels supportive for one might feel too hard or too plush for another. That’s why, when choosing a new mattress, it’s essential to consider both firmness and support in tandem. Your body type, sleep habits, and any specific needs will guide you towards your ideal firmness and support level.

Mattress Firmness Scale FAQs

What level of firmness should my mattress be?

The right firmness level for your mattress often depends on your personal preferences and body type. For instance, heavier sleepers might lean towards firmer options, while lighter individuals may opt for softer ones. Combination sleepers, who switch positions through the night, might benefit from a medium-firm mattress that offers a balance of support for different sleeping postures.

Is a firm mattress better for your back?

While a firmer mattress can provide substantial support, it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer for back health. Some people find relief from lower back pain with extra firm mattresses, especially if they’re among the heavier sleepers. However, the key is ensuring proper spinal alignment. If the mattress is too firm for your body type and sleeping position, it might not provide the contouring needed for neutral spinal alignment.

How do I know if my mattress is too soft or firm?

If you wake up with pain or numbness in pressure points like hips or shoulders, your mattress might be too firm. On the other hand, if you feel like you’re sinking in too deep, causing misalignment of your spine, it might be too soft. It’s crucial to find the right firmness level that supports your body without causing pressure.

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