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Mattress Firmness Scale: How to Choose Which One’s For You?

For many years, mattresses have been some of the most worthwhile investment anyone can make in their lifetime. People spend a hefty amount of time on their beds, so it is just right that the one they purchase can provide comfortable sleep for a long time. However, despite being a must in many households nowadays, shopping for mattresses can be tedious, especially with countless options in the market.

Besides the many mattress brands to choose from, other factors must be considered when buying a new mattress. This includes the materials used, design, and even the price. Checking for these things can help you buy the best bedding that fits your needs. But the mattress firmness level remains one of the most crucial elements to look at before finalizing a purchase.

Mattress firmness has always been a tricky topic to discuss, particularly since each individual has their preferred bed stiffness rate. When it comes to firmness, a firm mattress might be comfortable for some but may not be comfortable for others. So, before investing in a new mattress, people must learn the concept of mattress firmness to choose the perfect one for them.

Understanding Mattress Firmness

The firmness level has been a crucial factor when purchasing new mattresses for years. In its essence, mattress firmness refers to the initial feel of the bed when someone is lying on it. A mattress’ firmness rate can show how soft or hard the mattress is and how it can provide support and comfort during sleep.

The firmness of the mattress is usually determined through a specific scale. But there’s also a simple tip to check while in bed. If there is too much space between your waist and the mattress, then the bed is too firm; but if you cannot reach into the space, it is a soft one.

Various factors determine the firmness of each mattress in the market. For starters, multiple brands have their own firmness scale, meaning the feel of a medium-firm mattress from one brand might differ from other manufacturers. In addition, the material used to make the mattress can also influence its firmness.

The Mattress Firmness Level

Each firmness level provides different types of support and comfort. Picking a mattress that does not give your body the refreshment it needs every morning might lead to spending more on a replacement mattress or a separate mattress topper.

Each manufacturer has their own firmness scales that determine how hard or soft their products are. However, there is also a globally accepted 10-point scale that gives consumers an idea of the possible feel of the mattress when they are sleeping on it.








Extra Soft


Medium Soft


Medium Firm


Extra Firm

The Common 10-point Mattress Firmness Scale

Extra Soft, Soft, and Medium Soft Mattresses

Also known as the “plush” bedding, this firmness level provides the most cushion to any type of sleeper. People who use this mattress level sink into the bed as the mattress contour to the individual’s body, giving that hugging sensation that some want during sleep.

But although mattresses at this level are technically the most comfortable to lay at, they can still be troublesome for numerous individuals. Heavier sleepers or those with disabilities might see that the hugging nature of soft mattresses is uncomfortable, especially if they feel stuck in the bed.

Medium-Soft to Medium-Firm Mattresses 

Probably the most popular firmness level around the globe, most brands offer mattresses in medium firmness. Unlike softer options, mattresses in these levels can provide more spinal support while reducing sinkage during sleep. These mattresses are also usually made of more durable materials, enabling them to last longer than softer options.

In addition, mattresses at the medium level are considered ideal for a wide array of sleepers. Some manufacturers even call medium-firm beds “universal comfort” due to their global popularity.

Firm to Extra Firm

Unlike other firmness options, mattresses at this level would make sleepers feel on top of the bed. The mattress has plenty of pushback, which means little to no body parts will sink while sleeping. Mattresses at this level provide optimal support for heavier sleepers, particularly those who weigh more than 230 pounds.

Firmer mattresses are usually built with thinner comfort layers, which means they do not contour to the sleeper’s body while sleeping. This can create a lot of stress at various pressure points, especially for side sleepers. However, with the significantly reduced sinkage, harder beds allow air to flow thoroughly in one’s body while sleeping, which helps dissipate warmth.

Factors to Consider when Choosing Mattress Firmness

No firmness level can satisfy everyone, and several factors must be considered when choosing a mattress. 

Body Weight

The most crucial thing to consider when buying a mattress is choosing a bed that adequately supports your body while sleeping. For example, lighter individuals (130 pounds or below) favor softer mattresses as they can give a comforting feeling during sleep. This can also help them have support for their back and necks without putting too much stress on different body pressure points. 

Meanwhile, heavier people (230 pounds or above) should go for firmer mattresses as they can fully support their weight while sleeping. Choosing softer options might result in the bed fully conforming to their body, which can be pretty uncomfortable for people on the heavier side. Fully sinking into softer mattresses will also result in heavier people not having the needed support for their spine, which can be troublesome after a long period. 

Sleeping Position

It is also vital to consider your sleeping position when purchasing mattresses. If you are a side or back sleeper, you will not go wrong with beds on the medium firmness level (4-6). This is because mattresses that are too hard can damage spinal alignment, while beds that are too soft can result in poor sleeping posture. Meanwhile, those who like to sleep on their stomach should consider getting firmer options (6-10) to avoid sagging in the midsection, which usually causes lower back pain. 

Other Factors to Look At

While your body weight and sleeping position remains the most crucial things to consider when shopping for a mattress, there are some other things you can look at before completing a purchase. For example, you can check the height of your pillows, as lower pillow lofts work better with softer beds, while high-loft ones are recommended for firmer mattresses. 

For married people, It will also help if you ask your partner if they have a preferred firmness for the bed. This is especially important for pairs with significantly different body weights and types. You can also consider the ventilation in your bedroom, as softer mattresses are usually made with materials that trap heat, which can be uncomfortable for many people.  


With many mattress firmness rates to choose from, it is essential that you know the difference between each firmness level. You must also understand the different factors that you and your family must consider, as it can help you make an informed decision and invest in a bed that can provide optimal comfort in the long run. 

And if you are looking for a reliable mattress that can help you get ready to tackle the day, check out the AiR SI Mattress by Nishikawa. It comes in medium-firm and firm levels and is made with a bumpy structure that easily conforms to your body, reducing the stress in various pressure points while sleeping. 

To see our products, visit our flagship hands-on store at 395 Santa Monica Pl, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Here, we can provide accurate mattress and head measurements and allow you to try our products to see what fits your needs best. If you have further inquiries, please get in touch with us by clicking here or calling (424) 278-0300.  

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