- How Sleep Works
- Sleep Disorders
- Sleep Resources
- Sleep Health
- Sleep Medicine
Firmness is one of the most important considerations when selecting a new mattress. The optimal firmness for an individual sleeper depends on multiple factors, including his or her height, weight, and preferred sleep position. Firmness is usually measured using a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the least firm and 10 being the firmest. Most mattresses made today range from 3 (or ‘Soft’) to 8 (or ‘Extra Firm’).
A softer mattress may be more suitable for people who are lighter than average (less than 130 pounds), as well as those in the average weight group (130 to 230 pounds). Firmer mattresses do not conform as closely for these individuals, which can result in discomfort in the neck, shoulders, lower back, and other sensitive areas. Side sleepers also tend to prefer softer mattresses; this sleep position requires cushioning in the shoulders and hips in order to align the sleeper’s neck, spine, and pelvis. Improper alignment can lead to aches and pains.
It’s also important to note that people in the heavy weight group (more than 230 pounds) often do not feel as comfortable on softer mattresses because they tend to sink too deeply, which compromises mattress support and typically causes discomfort. For the purposes of this guide, a mattress is considered soft if its firmness falls between ‘Extra Soft’ and ‘Medium.’ On the corresponding 1-10 firmness scale, this would mean a bed that measures anywhere from 1 to 5.5.
Read on to learn more about guidelines for choosing a softer mattress, as well as our top picks for the best soft mattresses sold today. Our picks are based on verified customer and owner reviews, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
Best Soft Mattresses
Editor’s Pick – Puffy Lux Mattress
Best Value Soft Mattress – Layla
Best Luxury – Brooklyn Bedding Spartan
Best Soft Memory Foam Mattress – Bear Mattress
Best Soft Latex Mattress – Brooklyn Bedding Bloom
Best Soft Hybrid Mattress – WinkBed
With a wide range of softer mattresses available today, choosing a standout can be somewhat difficult. We’ve selected the Puffy Lux Mattress as our Editor’s Pick for a few reasons. For one, it provides deep, consistent body conforming without excessive sagging. The 6-inch comfort layer that consists of gel memory foam, polyfoam, and temperature-resistant polyfoam hugs the sleeper to alleviate aches and pains in their neck, shoulders, back, and other sensitive areas. It can also improve spinal alignment for side sleepers. With a ‘Medium Firm’ feel (or a 6 on the 1-10 firmness scale), it is suitable for most sleepers who weigh 230 pounds or less.
The Puffy Lux Mattress is also a good choice for people who tend to sleep hot on other all-foam beds. The gel-infused comfort layer cools off the interior of the bed, making it temperature-neutral for most. Another advantage of the Puffy Lux Mattress is its edge support. Many softer mattresses tend to develop sinkage around the perimeter somewhat quickly, but the Puffy Lux Mattress has a sturdy support core made of high-density polyfoam that helps keep the surface free of sagging and indentations. The mattress also isolates motion transfer very well and does not produce any noise when bearing weight.
Customers in the contiguous U.S. qualify for free shipping when they order a Puffy Lux Mattress. The bed is backed by a 101-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty.
Many sleepers like softer mattresses most nights, but may also prefer a firmer surface some of the time. Flippable mattresses can be beneficial to sleepers with shifting preferences; these beds typically have different firmness settings on each side, and can be flipped over to adjust the feel. Flippable beds tend to be somewhat pricey due to their complex construction and durable design, but the Layla Mattress – our Best Value pick – is available for less than $900 in a Queen size, making it relatively inexpensive.
The Layla has one ‘Medium Soft’ (4) side and one ‘Firm’ (7) side. Each surface is built with comfort layers of copper-infused memory foam, a material that sleeps fairly cool and generates a stronger blood flow in sleepers with poor circulation. The softer side also has a layer of convoluted polyfoam, giving that surface noticeable padding. The shared support core is made of high-density polyfoam, which reinforces the bed very well and helps prevent indentations in both surfaces. The Layla Mattress is also very lightweight, making it easy to flip and adjust
Customers in the contiguous U.S. qualify for free shipping when they order from Layla. This mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty; both are considered longer than average.
The Spartan by Brooklyn Bedding – our Best Luxury pick – is a mixed-foam hybrid available in three firmness settings: ‘Soft’ (3.5), ‘Medium’ (5.5), and ‘Firm’ (7.5). The ‘Soft’ option is ideal for sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds, as well as side sleepers, while the ‘Medium’ design also provides close conforming and extra cushioning for back sleepers and those who weigh 230 pounds or less. Additionally, the Spartan has a 13 1/2 inch profile, making it much thicker than the average mattress.
The Spartan is constructed with a performance-fabric cover designed to alleviate aches and pains, and also speed physical recovery after long runs and arduous workouts. The foam comfort layer is infused with copper, which offers natural cooling and improved bloodflow for people with poor circulation. A pocketed coil support core reinforced with high-density foam ensure minimal sagging on the sleep surface and less sinkage around the edges of the bed. Good air circulation through the coils helps keep the bed cool, as well.
The Spartan has a relatively high price-point, making it a good pick for shoppers with bigger budgets. Brooklyn Bedding offers free shipping throughout the contiguous U.S. The mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
The Bear Mattress stands out as our best soft memory foam mattress thanks to its notable contouring, advanced cover material, and its competitive price point. While it falls as a 6.5 on the firmness scale, it nevertheless feels soft because of the cloud-like cushioning of the comfort layer.
The comfort layer in the Bear Mattress is made with stacked layers of graphite-gel memory foam and a responsive polyfoam. The memory foam layer provides excellent hug to relieve pressure points, providing a soft and welcoming feel to the mattress. The graphite-infused foam works to reduce heat retention and to prevent motion transfer across the sleeping surface. Beneath these layers is a support core made with high-density polyfoam.
A key feature of the Bear Mattress is the cover that is a blend of polyester and Celliant, a specialty textile. Celliant helps to capture heat from the body and convert it into infrared energy. The FDA has certified Celliant as a medical device because of its ability to boost blood flow, and this may help with muscle and tissue recovery during the night. For this reason, the Bear Mattress is especially popular with athletes and people who suffer from aches and pains.
The Bear Mattress is available at a competitive price point, especially for a product with an innovative textile material like Celliant, and free shipping is included in the purchase price. Bear provides a 100-night sleep trial to test out the mattress in your own home, and a 10-year warranty cover the mattress should any defects arise in materials or workmanship.
Latex mattresses are popular for many reasons, but most models tend to be noticeably firmer than their memory foam counterparts; this is because latex is usually springier and more responsive than memory foam. However, the Bloom Hybrid from Brooklyn Bedding offers multiple firmness options, including ‘Soft’ (3.5) and ‘Medium’ (5.5) settings that should be sufficient for soft mattress seekers. Both of these designs provide close body conforming, which often leads to good pain/pressure relief and improved spinal alignment for side sleepers.
The mattress is constructed with a top layer of organic cotton and natural wool, followed by a 3-inch comfort layer of natural Talalay latex. These materials are not only eco-friendly but also highly breathable; as a result, the Bloom Hybrid sleeps cool and comfortable for most. An 8″ pocketed coil support core encased in high-density foam reinforces the entire bed by maintaining a sag-free surface and minimizing sinkage around the edges. Compared to other hybrids, the Bloom Hybrid also isolates more motion transfer and produces less noise when bearing weight.
Brooklyn Bedding offers free shipping to customers anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The Bloom Hybrid is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
Hybrid mattresses often provide a good balance of body conforming, temperature neutrality, and sleeper support – but many are made on the firmer side. The WinkBed is a notable exception. It is available in a ‘Medium Soft’ (4.5) setting, along with three firmer options including the WinkBed Plus, a ‘Medium Firm’ model specifically made for heavier individuals.
The WinkBed provides above-average support with its innovative coil-on-coil construction. The comfort system features layers of polyfoam, gel memory foam, and pocketed minicoils, along with a compressed-cotton lumbar pad for targeted back pain relief. The pocketed coil support core is encased in foam to help prevent sagging and reinforce the edges. The WinkBed also isolates motion fairly well and, like many hybrids, provides good air circulation through its coil layers that allows the bed to maintain a comfortable sleep temperature
The WinkBed will ship for free in the contiguous U.S., and White Glove delivery is offered for an additional fee. The mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty, both of which are much longer than average.
Mattress firmness indicates how the surface of a bed feels beneath the sleeper’s body. The cover and comfort (or topmost) layer of a mattress affects firmness to the greatest extent. At Tuck, we measure mattress firmness using a 1-to-10 scale, with 10 being the firmest and 1 being the least firm — although the vast majority of mattresses sold today fall between a 3 (‘Soft’) and an 8 (‘Firm’).
This page will discuss mattresses that rate as a 4 (‘Medium Soft’) and lower. Soft mattresses are generally most popular among side-sleepers due to improved spinal alignment and pressure relief, as well as lighter individuals who do not experience as much conforming on firmer models. However, softer mattresses have also been linked to certain disadvantages, such as high body heat retention, more off-gassing odor, and shorter overall lifespan.
This section will discuss various physiological factors — such as bodyweight and sleep position — that often indicate a sleeper will prefer a softer mattress. But first, a disclaimer: every sleeper is different, and this information applies to most — but not all — mattress owners. We highly recommend testing out a wide range of mattress firmnesses in order to determine your preferred rating before finalizing your purchase.
Let’s begin by talking about bodyweight. For the purposes of this page, the average sleeper weighs between 130 and 230 pounds; ‘below-average weight’ signifies anything less than 130 pounds, and ‘above-average weight’ applies to anything greater than 230 pounds. Bodyweight is one physical factor that generally correlates to firmness: people who weigh less tend to prefer softer mattresses, whereas heavier people often feel most comfortable on a firmer mattress.
Reasons for this correlation include conforming and pressure relief. Mattresses that are softer tend to sink more deeply beneath sleeper’s bodies; in contrast, firmer mattresses will not sink much (if at all) unless the sleeper weighs enough. For this reason, people in the below-average and average weight groups often feel most comfortable on softer mattresses because they can experience the full sinking effects, which can alleviate pressure points along the body, and less comfortable on firmer mattresses that do not sink as much or relieve pressure to the same extent. Alternatively, people in the above-average weight class may sink too deeply into a softer mattress, and this can lead to more pain and pressure. For this reason, heavier individuals tend to feel most comfortable on firmer mattresses. The table below includes the most popular firmness ratings for each of the three weight groups.
|Weight Group||Most Commonly Preferred Mattress Firmness|
|Below-average (Less than 130 Pounds)||4 (Medium Soft) and Lower|
|Average (130 to 230 Pounds)||5 (Medium) to 6 (Medium Firm)|
|Above-average (More than 230 Pounds)||7 (Firm) and Higher|
Sleep position also affects firmness preferences, since softer mattresses that conform more closely can also improve the sleeper’s spinal alignment. The back-sleeping position naturally aligns the spine on its own, and sleepers who choose this position may not need their mattress to aid spinal alignment. Side-sleepers, on the other hand, sleep in a position that creates an unnatural curvature in the spine. Those who sleep on their side require enhanced support in the neck, shoulders, lower back (lumbar), and hips in order to reduce pain and pressure. For this reason, side-sleepers often prefer Soft or Medium mattresses.
Most stomach-sleepers find soft mattresses somewhat uncomfortable. This is because they sink too deeply, causing them to turn their heads in order to avoid lying face-down on the sleep surface, and this can increase pain and pressure in the neck and shoulders. For heavier people who sleep on their stomachs, a softer mattress can be especially problematic because a high percentage of their weight may be located in their stomach. Stomach-sleepers in the below-average weight group, on the other hand, may feel comfortable on mattresses rated as Medium Soft because they provide some conforming without too much sinking.
The next table lists preferred firmness levels for different sleepers based on bodyweight and sleep position.
|Weight Group||Preferred Firmness for Most Side Sleepers||Preferred Firmness for Most Back Sleepers||Preferred Firmness for Most Stomach Sleepers|
|Below-average (Less than 130 pounds)||3 (Soft) to 5 (Medium)||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)|
|Average (130 to 230 Pounds)||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)||5 (Medium) to 7 or 8 (Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)|
|Above-average (More than 230 Pounds)||5 (Medium) to 6 (Medium Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)|
Next, let’s discuss some of the different construction and performance factors shared by many mattresses that rate as a 4 or below on the firmness scale.
The table below evaluates Soft, Medium/Medium-Firm, and Firm mattresses based on these performance factors:
|Performance Factor||Soft (4 and Lower)||Medium to Medium Firm (5 to 6)||Firm (7 and Higher)|
|Longevity||Poor to Fair||Good||Good to Very Good|
|Average Price||High||Medium to High||Low to Medium|
|Conforming/Pressure Relief||Fair to Good||Very Good||Poor to Fair|
|Heat Retention||Poor to Fair||Good||Very Good|
|Off-gassing||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good|
|Sex||Poor to Fair||Very Good||Fair|
|Easy to Move||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good|
Now that you have determined that a softer mattress is most suitable for your sleep needs and preferences, let’s go over a few tips for buying the right model and maintaining it for years to come.