Mattress Firmness Scale

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Last Updated on Jun 13, 2022

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    The firmness of a mattress makes all the difference in the world. It is the reason you feel fresh or tired after waking up in the morning. This is also the most important deciding factor when choosing a mattress before buying. However, the mattress firmness scale can be a bit confusing to those who have no idea.  

    Read on to know all about mattress firmness, how it affects your sleep, and its importance. 

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    What Is Mattress Firmness?

    Well, it’s something you feel when you sit or lie down on a mattress. The firmness you feel, the support you get, and the comfort you experience is called mattress firmness. Finding the right mattress makes all the difference. If you are stuck with a mattress whose firmness isn’t what you need, then you are likely to develop sleep issues. 

    There are three types of mattress firmness, soft, medium, and hard. Depending on the need, you should choose a mattress. Understanding the firmness of your mattress can be tricky, and that’s why the industry offers a firmness scale that helps you to find the right mattress. 

    Mattress Firmness Scale

    The mattress firmness scale varies from 1-10. Let’s explore the firmness scale to understand how the rating scale works and which mattress is ideal for your body. 

    1 out of 10 (extremely soft):

    It’s really rare to find a mattress that ranks scale of 1. It is considered the softest mattress, and sleeping on it would be next to impossible. This kind of mattress would offer way too much sagging and sinkage and would disturb any sleeper. 

    2 out of 10 (ultra-soft):

    This kind of mattress is noted as ultra-soft, and finding such would be difficult. Again, since this is also way too soft, sleeping on such a mattress won’t be ideal. This kind of mattress would be very uncomfortable for most sleepers.

    3 out of 10 (very soft):

    Now, this kind of mattress would be a bit manageable for sleepers. Usually, memory foam mattresses have this level of 3 firmness scale. These mattresses will also sink but not as much as scale 1. These kinds of mattresses are great for deep pressure relief.

    4 out of 10 (soft):

    If a mattress has a firmness scale level 4, it means it is soft but comfortable and has a balanced feel. Here the sleepers would feel that they are sleeping on a soft bed but won’t feel stuck. This is great for side sleepers. 

    5 out of 10 (medium soft):

    These kinds of mattresses are medium soft, you will likely find the mattresses that come in bed-in-box label themselves as soft mattresses. You’ll find these mattresses to be sturdy, and these mattresses will have a base of poly-foam or spring and coils. 

    6 out of 10 (medium-firm):

    A mattress with a scale of 6 is called medium. Most mattresses present in the market come under this category. These mattresses are great for pressure relief and support. You’ll find coil spring mattresses in this category. 

    7 out of 10 (slightly firm):

    Mattresses with a scale of 7 are labeled as medium-firm. These mattresses are known for supporting the sleeper. People who like to sleep on their stomach or back should choose these mattresses for better support. 

    8 out of 10 (firm):

    Mattresses with a scale of 8 offer to push back to the sleeper and are labeled as firm. People who want some support or a firm mattress usually choose this mattress as it offers excellent back support. 

    9 out of 10 (very firm):

    Mattresses with a scale of 9 are labeled as hard mattresses. These are similar to scale 8 but do not offer sinkage or sagging feeling. You could call it a stiff mattress. People with back issues would find this mattress comforting as they are advised to sleep on such hard surfaces.

    10 out of 10 (ultra-firm):

    Mattresses with a scale of 10 are labeled as very hard mattresses. Finding such a mattress is not easy or common. These mattresses do not offer any kind of pressure relief. 

    What Is the Best Mattress Firmness?

    Firmness is a personal thing, and it varies from person to person. Why? Because everyone has different sleeping habits, preferences, and suggestions. Let’s dive deep into this by understanding the different sleeping positions and how they play an essential role in choosing the firmness of your mattress.

    Sleeping Positions

    • Back Sleepers

    Back sleepers should stick to medium-firm mattresses. If the mattress is too firm, it can hurt their hips and firm mattresses tend to misalign the hips and shoulders during sleeping. Soft mattresses would also not be a great choice as the bodyweight won’t be evenly distributed. 

    A medium-firm mattress aligns the body equally and also gives comfort to people with arthritis. This helps to elevate the pressure and relieves the body pain. 

    Ideal firmness scale: 6-7 

    Suitable mattress: Hybrid mattress

    • Side Sleepers 

    Side sleepers need a softer mattress that provides room to sink to relieve the shoulders, hips, and back during the sleeping hours. These mattresses support the lower back while it allows the shoulders to sink in properly. 

    A soft mattress can also be called a cushion firm mattress as it tends to support the side sleepers by cushioning the joints and reducing discomfort.

    Ideal firmness scale: 4 – 6 

    Suitable mattress: Memory Foam

    • Stomach Sleepers

    Stomach sleepers need extra firm mattress pads to sleep to give them the support they need. These sleepers need to align their hips with their shoulders; hence these people need an extra firm bed for better support. This mattress helps stomach sleepers to get the necessary support needed for a sound sleep.  

    Ideal firmness scale: 8 – 10

    Suitable mattress: Innerspring or Hybrid Mattress


    The weight of the body also plays an important role in choosing the right mattress. It is necessary to understand which mattress would support the body better. Let’s take a look at what kind of mattress people should choose. 

    • Heavy

    People with heavy bodies should choose a medium to firm mattress. This kind of mattress gives the necessary support a heavy body needs. People with heavy bodies should choose a medium to firm mattress. Heavy bodies put a lot of pressure on the mattress; hence they need a mattress that is a bit firm to handle their weight. The thickness also matters here, so make sure you use a mattress at least 10 inches thick. 

    • Light

    Lightweight people should sleep on soft to medium mattresses as they won’t put much pressure on them. If they sleep on a hard mattress, it would hurt their joints and cause body pain.  They need a mattress to sink in as it is their body’s requirement.


    There’s another reason why people choose a particular type of mattress, and the most common reason is body pain. People suffer from different types of bodies, and choosing the wrong kind of mattress can elevate that pain.  

    • Back Pain 

    People with back pain should sleep on medium-hard mattresses as these are built to support the back while contouring the rest of the body. So the mattress firmness for back pain should be between 5-8, and this again varies according to the body weight.  

    • Hip Pain 

    Hip pain is caused by improper spinal alignment, and hence for that reason, people with hip pain should sleep on medium to soft mattresses. These mattresses support the lower back while giving the necessary comfort to the body. 

    • Shoulder Pain 

    There could be many reasons for shoulder pain but sleeping on a hard mattress is one of them. This could even worsen if you sleep sideways. Therefore, if you have shoulder pain, you should consider a soft mattress as it supports the shoulder by giving the much-needed dip and the hips by being firm.  

    Mattress Types and Firmness Level

    Mattress comfort levels play an important role in your sleep. Now that you know, every mattress has its firmness, and there are three types of firmness – soft, medium, and hard. Let’s dig a little deeper into the details. 


    Any mattress that falls under the firmness category of 3-5 is labeled as soft. These mattresses are soft and give the sink-in feeling as soon as you lay on them. These are perfect for lightweight people as it offers great body-contouring and support. If you sleep on a soft mattress, you’ll feel less push back as the mattress would absorb you with softness. 

    Ideal mattress: Memory foam and innerspring mattress


    A mattress with a firmness scale of 6-7 is labeled as medium-hard mattress. These mattresses usually combine a soft foam top and firm bottom to give the body the support it needs. While you may experience some sinking but it won’t be that soft. In these mattresses, you can expect some pushback while you lay on them. That is why these are ideal for back sleepers. 

    Ideal mattress: Memory foam or Latex Mattress 


    A mattress that has a firmness scale of 8-9 is labeled as a hard mattress. There is no level of softness in these mattresses and you can expect a major pushback as you lay down. Such types of mattresses are great for people who have back pains. It lifts every part of the body and keeps it well-aligned. That’s why stomach sleepers like to sleep on hard mattresses. 

    Ideal mattress: Hybrid mattress

    Firmness vs. Support

    A lot of people think that there is no difference between mattress firmness and support. In fact, they think they both are the same. Just to be clear, it is not true. 

    As mentioned earlier, firmness is the instant feeling you get when you lay on the mattress. Support is how your mattress keeps your spine and the body. 

    When choosing a mattress, make sure you understand which mattress offers what support and firmness and, above all, which mattress makes you more comfortable. A mattress that supports your lower back might be as firm as you expect it to be. Hence, you should know the detailed features of the mattress before picking one.

    How to Choose the Firmness of a Mattress?

    The firmness of your mattress directly depends on a number of factors. Every person’s needs are different, and there’s a mattress for everyone. Below-listed are some of the points that should be considered before buying a mattress. 

    The sleeping position

    A mattress supports people mostly because of the sleep positions they chose. A side sleeper should choose a mattress that has a firmness scale between 3-6. Back sleepers should go for a firmness scale between 5-7, and stomach sleepers should choose a 7 scale mattress firmness. 

    The body weight 

    Bodyweight also plays an important role in getting a goodnight’s sleep. Heavy people should choose a thicker mattress to support their bodies. So an ideal mattress would be an inspiring mattress as it supports their bodies better. Lighter people can sleep on a soft mattress as it won’t give them any body pains. 

    Understand the firmness vs. support 

    When buying a mattress, you should understand that firmness and support are two different things. Make sure you get a mattress that supports your pressure points, even if it isn’t a firm one.

    Use the consultant’s help. 

    If you still can’t decide which mattress you should get or are getting confused between the features, you can ask the consultant at the shop. A salesperson would be able to help you decide better before you choose a firm or soft mattress.

    Summing It Up

    We are sure by now, you know all about the mattress firmness scale and how important it is to know about it. The next time some salesperson tries to push a mattress, you’ll know if it’s worth it or not. 

    Ultimately when buying a mattress, it would come down to what you feel. The firmness scale would help you understand the different mattress options, but you should choose the one you feel comfortable in. 

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