How Firm Should My Mattress Be?

The firmness of a mattress describes the level of comfort it provides but is not indicative of how much support the mattress will provide. There are varying degrees of firmness as mattresses can range from extra firm to ultra plush.

The Goldilocks’ Principle

For the most part medicine and experience recommend mattresses that are neither too hard nor too soft. A mattress must support the body in a position where the natural curve of the spine is properly aligned and not pushed one way or the other. An excessively firm mattress pushes on pressure points and moves the body out of alignment while an excessively soft mattress causes the body to sink unsupported into an uncomfortable position.

Mattresses for Back Problems

Generally medium firm mattresses are better for people with back problems than softer mattresses. Mattresses from either extreme tend to do more harm than good. A medium firm mattress with a soft, thin pillow generally offers the ideal amount of support and cushioning for a good night’s sleep.

Pressure Points and Capillaries

A firm mattress pushes against pressure points throughout the body and excessive pressure disrupts sleep. Moreover, a firm mattress also reduces the flow of blood through the capillaries one is lying on for an extended period. Every time the blood flow is significantly reduced the brain sends a message to the body to shift positions – each time disrupting sleep momentarily. The harder the mattress, the more often we need to shift positions to remain comfortable. A medium firm mattress therefore promises fewer sleep disruptions.


As your choice of mattress impacts the quality of your sleep, it is a good idea to stay away from extremes and test your options. Of the mattresses in the medium firm range, test the mattress in the position you normally sleep in and stay in that position for at least ten minutes to get an accurate estimation of how the mattress will feel when you’re settling in to go to bed.

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