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How Do I Know If I Need a Soft or Firm Mattress?

It can be hard for people to know whether they need a soft or firm mattress. The testimony of family or friends cannot always be relied upon since individuals have different preferences and needs. A mattress that feels comfortable on a quick test in the store might not be as comfortable after eight hours on it. Below are some tips to help figure out what type of mattress is best.

Account for Body Size

The body size of the sleeper is an important factor in determining how soft or firm a mattress should be. Smaller people may prefer softer mattresses because they may not weigh enough to create much “give” on a firmer mattress. People who have heavier builds may be uncomfortable as they sink into a soft mattress. For them, a firmer mattress may give way as much as a softer one does for a smaller person.

Back Pain

The recommendation for someone with back pain is generally a firm mattress. A firm mattress will tend to keep the spine straight and prevent the person from sinking into the mattress, which can create a strain on the lower back. However, a firm mattress can create more pain for some people who suffer from conditions such as scoliosis or arthritis. Furthermore, as Consumer Reports points out, some research has contradicted the conventional wisdom that a firmer mattress is always best for lower back pain. Some people may find the greatest comfort from a combination, such as a firm mattress with a thick, soft mattress topper.

Sleeping Position

Individuals who sleep on their sides may be more comfortable on softer mattresses since this will cushion their shoulders and hips. People who sleep on their stomach or backs may be uncomfortable on a softer mattress. There are also many variations along the spectrum from soft to firm, and some of those might be best. For example, a medium-firm mattress might be best for those who tend to change positions often while they are sleeping as it provides a good combination of support and molding. One other consideration may be whether or two people will be sleeping on the mattress. Movement from another person may be more noticeable on a soft mattress.

Put It to the Test

Comfort and whether a mattress offers a good night’s sleep is very subjective. It may take several nights to discover that even though it fits all the criteria, a mattress just isn’t the right choice for an individual’s comfort. The final choice needs to be made by the one that will be sleeping on the mattress. A mattress should be chosen that has a generous return policy in case a person decides that what looked right on paper wasn’t right for a good night’s sleep after all.

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Getting a sufficient amount of restful sleep is a quality of life issue, so choosing the right mattress is important. The above criteria can help narrow down the choices, but ultimately the best way for people to decide whether they need a firm or soft mattress is by trial and error.