How Firm Should A Mattress Be?

by Jane | Last Updated: September 27, 2017 When you buy something using the links on our posts, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

Sleep plays a significant role in how we perform our daily tasks. You can only settle for four or five hours of sleep each night for so long. Eventually, it will take a toll on your health and well-being.

If you’ve been going to bed on time but still waking up unrefreshed and tired, the problem might not be you. If you ever toss and turn at night or wake up with neck or back pains in the morning, your old mattress might be the culprit.

Do You Have Back Pain?

back pain

Back pain affects nearly 8 out of 10 people and, more commonly, those who are not in great physical shape complain about back pain. A lot of people spend too much time at work behind a desk unable to make time for exercise.

What About Your Mattress?

We aren’t saying that a good mattress will take the place of exercise, but there are different types of mattresses on the market and educating yourself on the options is always a smart thing to do. A great mattress won’t help you get in shape, but it will help with that back pain.

Memory Foam Is Best

memory foam mattress

Via MiFashionblog

Memory foam mattresses are the perfect choice for someone suffering from back pain. They keep your spine aligned to prevent back pain and discomfort while offering excellent pressure relief.

Memory foam mattresses cradle the major curves of your body, of which there are three.

The difference between memory foam mattresses and others, like innerspring coils, is that it contours your body. Your weight is distributed while you sleep, with the heaviest areas of pressure being your shoulders, hips, and heels.

If you sleep on your back or your side, innerspring coil mattresses do not offer the best support for the lumbar area of your body. There are many different options for memory foam mattresses available.

Check out these reviews by The Sleep Judge to see what memory foam mattress would work best for your specific back pain.

Your Sleep Positions

How you lay in your bed has a great deal to do with how your back feels the next morning, especially if the mattress is not right for you. When you sleep on a bad mattress, you are missing out on that solid sleep you need every day to revitalize. You might be mistakenly thinking that the problem is with your workload or diet when it could be something as simple as the bed you sleep in.

How firm should your mattress be? It all depends on how you sleep.

Back Sleepers = Medium Firm

back sleepers

If you sleep on your back, a position more susceptible to back pain, a medium firm kind of firmness should work for you. Sure, that spring bed you’ve been sleeping on for years may seem comfy at first, but as the night goes on, it puts more pressure on your spine.

With a memory foam mattress, the bed shouldn’t be too soft nor too firm. It should be in the Goldilocks Zone of “just right”. You shouldn’t feel like you’re sinking in, and you shouldn’t feel like you are sleeping on a slab of concrete.

Side Sleepers = Medium Soft

side sleepers

Side sleeping can reduce acid reflux and help increase blood circulation when you are pregnant. If you snore, sleeping on your side could help with that too. Unfortunately, if your bed is as hard as a rock, your pressure points are going to be all out of whack. Your shoulders and hips are also going to take the brunt of gravity, and a mattress that is too firm will make your night seriously uncomfortable.

If you sleep on your side, it’s best if you look into a mattress that falls in the medium to soft firmness range. This will help provide pressure relief for your hips and shoulders while still supporting your body and keeping it in proper alignment. These areas need the most help as they are where the majority of your weight is distributed, which creates a great deal of pressure when lying down.

Stomach Sleepers = Medium

stomach sleepers

If you are a person who sleeps on their stomach, well… we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is one of the unhealthiest sleeping positions you could possibly sleep in. Not only is most of your weight distributed on your lumbar and thoracic areas (your torso), this position also puts an enormous amount of pressure on your spine. The ideal thing to do would be to change your sleeping position, but we realize people are creatures of habit and that is more easily said than done.

If you can’t change your sleeping position, get a mattress that works best for that position. A medium memory foam mattress is the best firmness for stomach sleepers. If you get a mattress that is too firm, your spine will have a difficult time following its natural curve and, in the long run, you’ll be doing your spine more harm than good. If the mattress is too soft, your spine will arch and you could wake up with the same result: back pain. If you absolutely have to sleep on your stomach, make sure you hit the Goldilocks Zone of medium.

Other Choices

Just because we decided to focus on memory foam mattresses doesn’t mean there aren’t other options available. We just feel it is the best option for those suffering from back pain. You could get an innerspring mattress but if you would like to put some relief on your pressure point areas then coils might not be your best choice. Memory foam creates a contour of your body, which relieves the pressure point areas. Of course, if you don’t suffer from back pain then coils may work, if you are looking for a less expensive option.

Another option are latex mattress but they are more expensive, especially if you opt for one that is made from all-natural fibers. They tend to have more bounce and response and last a lot longer than memory foam.


There it is, our best advice on how a good mattress will benefit you. Having a good quality bed is important for getting a good night’s sleep so that you can be your best the next day. Treat yourself to a new mattress that is perfect for your body type and how you sleep.

Jane NeuAuthor: Jane Neu

Jane is the creator of Complete Home Spa – “It’s a good idea,” she said. But even she has been taken aback by its success. She lives with a cranky Englishman in a quiet countryside retreat. And in the past year, has become mom cat to a spunky rescue named Mina. Connect with her on Twitter @completehomespa.