How to Know If You Need a Hard or Soft Mattress

Posted March 24, 2020 by in Health + Fitness
Woman stretching in bed

Having the right mattress can have a huge impact on your overall health. Do you consistently wake up after a full night’s sleep feeling worse than you did when you went to bed? There’s a good chance that you’re sleeping on the wrong kind of mattress for you.

Mattresses are an expensive investment, so how do you know which kind is right? Is it better to sleep on a hard or soft mattress? Keep reading and we’ll look into the pros and cons of both:

bed with white sheets

What Makes For a Good Mattress?

Of course, everyone has their own preference for what type of mattress they prefer. Beyond this, though, one of the most important things to consider when picking a mattress is whether it keeps your spine in a neutral position.

Your spine has three natural slight curves that need to be supported while you sleep. The ideal sleeping position will keep your head, shoulders, buttocks, and heels in alignment.

Picking the right mattress is important because over time it can lead to better sleep, relaxed muscles, and improved posture. It can also significantly decrease your stress levels.

On the flip side, if you sleep on the wrong mattress for too long it can damage your sleep quality and lead to back pain. There’s nothing worse than waking up after a long night’s sleep to find that you have a crick in your neck or a weird feeling in your shoulder. Investing in the right mattress can have a huge impact on the health of your spine.

Soft vs. Firm Mattress: What’s the Difference?

If you start mattress shopping, you’ll quickly learn that the terms “soft” and “firm” represent ends of a spectrum rather than two separate categories.

This can leave you with almost too many options to choose from. It’s best to try out a lot of different styles to see what’s best for you, but you’ll also want to go into mattress shopping with a sense of whether you’re looking for a more firm or soft mattress.

How soft or firm a mattress is depends on the general tension or spring tension within the mattress. If you are trying to outfit an existing mattress, adding a memory foam topper can give the sensation of sleeping on a firm mattress.

Benefits of Sleeping on a Soft Mattress

Softer mattresses certainly feel more luxurious when you plop down on them for the first time. If you have been having back problems with a standard mattress, a soft mattress might help you get a better night’s sleep and reduce your back pain.

If you’re a side sleeper, a soft mattress might be the right choice for you. This is because soft mattresses offer a better cushion for your hips and shoulders, as well as keeping your spine in better alignment.

If you’re thinking about switching to a softer mattress because of shoulder pain, check out this article about the best soft mattress and how to prevent shoulder pain while sleeping.

Drawbacks of Sleeping on a Soft Mattress

If you tend to sleep on your back or your stomach, softer mattresses might actually cause bad problems for you. They can also be problematic for heavier people as they might not offer enough support.

If you share a bed with another person, softer mattresses can cause problems. If you and your partner have very different body weights, the heavier of the two of you might sink in further and create an unbalanced sleep surface for the other.

Soft mattresses don’t always last as long as firm mattresses. Because most mattresses get softer as time goes on, starting with a softer mattress can leave your mattress with a shorter lifespan.

Benefits of Sleeping on a Firm Mattress

If you aren’t a person that experiences back pain, firmer mattresses will typically be the more comfortable option. Firmer mattresses put less stress on your muscles, arteries, and veins because your bones absorb most of the pressure. They can also help improve your circulation.

Another benefit of firm mattresses is that they can help keep your lower back from collapsing. This means that you can intake more oxygen while you’re asleep.

Firm mattresses can ensure that no one part of your body is sagging more than the others, therefore absorbing a disproportionate amount of the pressure.

If you tend to sleep on your back, a firmer mattress is probably the better option for you. The same goes for stomach sleepers, who benefit from the more even and stable sleep surface.

Drawbacks of Sleeping on a Firm Mattress

Does anybody idealize the notion of living a luxurious life and sleeping on a hard mattress? Firm mattresses can feel less comfortable at first, especially if you’re switching from a softer mattress. Usually, though, you adjust to the newer, firmer mattress as time goes on.

People with specific back problems might find that firmer mattresses make their problems worse.


If you’ve started the mattress shopping process, you’ve probably been wondering things like How firm should my mattress be? or Is it better to sleep on a hard or soft mattress?

The answer is: it depends. Like most things in life, there isn’t a universal answer for everyone. While personal preference does come into play, the most important thing is that your mattress supports your spine and keeps your body in alignment.

Did you find this article about the pros and cons of sleeping on both firm and soft mattresses helpful? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more helpful articles: