Choosing a Firm vs Soft Mattress: 

The Position in Which you Sleep Matters!

By Adarsh Shah

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 the choices 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 nights with the new mattress at home!  What felt great in the store, would be uncomfortable, cause back pain, and keep us tossing & turning.

It is tricky to pick the right mattress by just trying it for a few minutes, or shopping online.  However, the right firmness level has a major impact on the quality of your sleep and the health of your back.  It’s critical to understand which firmness level will be best for your body.

The 5 Major Firmness Levels: The right firmness level should give your spine adequate support and reduce pressure points.  Neither soft nor firm is necessarily bad for you.  While firmness level is subjective to a certain degree, we can segment firmness levels into 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 Impact of 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 ideal mattress should gently cushion these areas without stressing them.  Meanwhile, the ribs and upper abdomen need the most support.  Soft mattresses, while plush and luxurious, do not provide enough support in this area, and can cause upper back pain.  For side sleepers, typically a Medium or Medium-Soft mattress works best.

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 the heaviest parts of your body.  Sleeping on your stomach for anything longer than a few minutes can put the spine into a harmful U-shape.  Stomach sleepers should choose a Medium-Firm mattress.

Sleeping on your back is probably the best way to sleep, if you can change your habits.  Back sleepers expose their body to fewer pressure points.  Back sleepers, however, have to be careful about providing adequate support to the lower back, where you have a natural curve to your 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.

To learn more about what impacts sleep quality, don’t hesitate to get a free consultation from a sleep expert.  Visit to book an appointment, email