Choosing a Firm vs Soft Mattress: The Position in Which You Sleep Matters

Choosing a Firm vs Soft Mattress: The Position in Which You Sleep Matters

Trying to pick a new mattress these days has never been harder.  Due to the pandemic and the government mandated lockdowns, many showrooms are shut.  Usually, one would visit a store, try a few mattresses and eventually narrow down to the one that felt the best.

But, even when showrooms were open, often we would discover our choice was wrong after a few night’s with the new mattress at home!  What felt great in the store, would be uncomfortable and still cause back and neck pain.  In reality, it’s tricky to pick the right firmness level for your back by just trying it in a showroom for a few minutes.

For these reasons, today, many of us are turning to online stores to buy a mattress.  Most of these online stores only offer one model.  However, when you have some choice of firmness level, it’s critical to understand which firmness level will be best for your body.

While firmness level is subjective to a certain degree, we can break up firmness levels in 5 basic categories.  90% of mattresses will fall into these 5 categories:

1. Soft
2. Medium-Soft
3. Medium
4. Medium-Firm
5. Super-Firm

The right firmness level should give your spine the right support and reduce pressure-points.  Neither soft nor firm is necessarily bad for you.  Let’s take a look at sleep position: The position in which you sleep is one of the most important factors that influences the firmness level you should choose.

Side sleepers will have pressure points at their hips and shoulders.  The mattress should compress down in these areas in order not to stress these joints.  Therefore, typically a Medium or Medium-Soft mattress works best.  For side sleepers, the area that needs the most support tends to be around the ribs or upper abdomen.  Soft mattresses, while plush and luxurious, don’t provide enough support in this area, and can cause upper back pain.

Stomach sleepers should also avoid any kind of Soft mattress.  Your stomach and buttocks will sink into the mattress the most since they tend to be heaviest parts of our body.  This position can provide a wonderful stretch to the back – which tends to be hunched over during the day – but anything longer than a few minutes in this position puts the spine into a harmful U-shape.  Stomach sleepers should choose a Medium-Firm mattress.

Back sleepers expose their body to fewer pressure-points.  Sleeping on your back is probably the best way to sleep, if you can change your habits.  Back sleepers, however, have to be careful about providing adequate support to the lower back, where we have the natural curve to our spine.  You want your spine to be supported so that your muscles are not firing all night, trying to hold up your body.  A Medium or Medium-Firm mattress is best for back sleepers.

In reality, we can sometimes be more than one of these types of sleepers on any given night.  Ask yourself in which position do you have the deepest sleep.  In addition, consider some other factors that will influence the best firmness level for your body:  for example, the amount of pressure-relieving foam (like gel or memory foam) in the mattress, and if you’ll be using the mattress on an adjustable base.  To dive deeper into these factors, don’t hesitate to call one of our sleep experts and receive a free consultation.  Click here to book an appointment, email, or call 1-866-413-4169.