Soft or hard mattress?

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Sleeping on a hard or soft mattress can mean the difference between waking up refreshed or sore and poorly rested, so choosing the right support for your needs is essential.

Types of mattresses

Unfortunately, deciding which mattress to buy based on hardness level is far from straightforward. Indeed, the same model can be both comfortable for one person and uncomfortable for another.

The factors to consider are different from resting postureto continue with the physical characteristics of the user and all back problems or other parts of the body.


1. How do we know if we need a firmer or softer mattress?

2. Hard mattress: pros and cons

3. Soft mattresses: pros and cons

4. Some factors to consider

4.1 Body weight

4.2 Rest position

4.3 Being in a relationship

4.4 Personal preferences

5. How is mattress hardness measured?

6. Does a firm mattress soften over time?

How do we know if we need a firmer or softer mattress?

Mattress Pressure Point Test

To get off on the right foot in choosing a mattress, you have to be clear about the needs you intend to satisfy. behind the decision of replace the old mattress there is, almost always, the appearance of muscle pain or other problems that worsen the quality of sleep. From the analysis of these disorders, we can understand whether it is better to soft or hard support.

If we struggle with frequent pain in the shoulders or pelvis it is highly likely that a softer mattress can better relieve pressure in the aforementioned points. On the contrary, if the problem concerns the back or the contracted muscles in the lumbar region, it is advisable to try a support of greater rigidity.

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Hard mattress: pros and cons

Pocket springs

As I have already pointed out, a sufficiently rigid support keeps the spine aligned and prevents the body from sinking. This is also the reason why a person of solid build (from about 90 kilograms) should opt for a firm mattress that can support their weight and avoid sinking dangerously.

Hard support also facilitates nocturnal movements because the body remains raised, promotes the dissipation of heat and relieves the feeling of heat. Because of these characteristics, a rigid mattress is better suited to positions on the back or on the stomach.

On the other hand a support too hard it does not benefit people with joint pain in the shoulders and hips. Indeed, the problems are likely to increase. For this reason there are hybrid mattressesable to satisfy both needs.

Soft mattresses: advantages and disadvantages

Best memory foam mattress

A soft mattress, in general, offers a better reception to those who sleep on their side. With this specific posture, greater pressure is generated on the shoulders and hips, which require support capable of more evenly distributing the weight located on these parts of the body.

The main disadvantage of a soft mattress is body sagging. The pleasant initial feeling of welcome can quickly turn into discomfort due to back pain caused by spinal misalignment, as well as increased body temperature and sweating.

These problems are accentuated when the weight of the user increases or when they sleep in a supine or supine position. When resting on the back, the risk is of excessive curvature, while on the stomach, hyperextension of the spine could occur. Again, my advice is to buy a hybrid mattressable to solve both problems.

A few factors to consider

Each mattress has specific features that work best for certain types of people. Manufacturing companies assess a series of factors to meet the specific needs of the population.


Choose the mattress according to the weight

There is a big difference between the needs of a person weighing 50 kg and a person who weighs more than 90 kg on the scale. A light person usually finds a soft mattress. Indeed, by choosing a rigid support, the low pressure exerted does not activate the internal layers and creates the sensation of resting on a wooden board.

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Conversely, a person weighing more than 90 kg struggling with a soft mattress ends up collapsing. This causes respiratory problems and excessive sweating, but above all it forces a posture that is harmful to the back. In this case, the support must be all the more rigid as the weight of the body is important, in order to guarantee an adequate maintenance. In this case, I recommend a Spring mattressable to adequately support the spine.

Rest position

Spinal alignment

It is good to choose the stiffness of the mattress according to the posture adopted during sleep. Soft mattresses adapt better to those who rest on their side, obtaining an effective adaptation to the profile of the body and reducing the risk of joint pain in the shoulders and hips. When you sleep on your back or stomach, firm support keeps your hips elevated and prevents damaging flexion or hyperextension of the spine.

Be in a relationship

best mattress for sex

When you are in a relationship, the discourse becomes more complicated for 2 reasons. First, because there is often a big difference in weight between the partners. Second, some mattresses are better than others for having sex. For the question of the difference in weight, it is advisable to buy 2 single mattresses of the same height, but with different hardnesses and reception characteristics, in order to satisfy both partners. Regarding relationships, I suggest you read my article dedicated to how to choose the mattress for making love.

Personal preferences

Net of any physical problem, we must not lose sight of the feeling of welcome that we want to feel when going to bed. If we can’t bear to feel the body
casting too soft a substrate is not recommended.

How is mattress hardness measured?

To help the consumer in his choice, companies adopt specific classifications of stiffness. Although there is no reference standard, manufacturers have complied by proposing the following scales:

  • classes H1 to H5
  • classes 1 to 10
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Either way, the lower number indicates a softer mattress. However, it should be clarified that products of different brands belonging to the same class do not necessarily offer the same rigidity.

THE ergonomic mattressesespecially those of memory foamare made up of multiple layers that work in synergy to provide the user with a good level of body comfort and spinal support.

The softer layers with lower density are positioned at the top and have the function of reducing pressure points on the body by distributing the weight adequately. The innermost layers, on the other hand, must create the support necessary to provide stability to the spine and allow it to be properly aligned.

Does a hard mattress soften over time?

The mattress tends to decrease its stiffness over time due to wear and tear. Are the materials polyurethane foam, natural latex or pocket springsthey lose some of their qualities under the effect of continuous stress, offering a flexible and softer support.

However, hardness can also vary for other reasons unrelated to deterioration. A memory foam mattress, for example, is somewhat temperature sensitive. Memory foam softens on contact with a heat source, so if the room is very hot the substrate will be softer than usual.

The hardness of the mattress can also be affected by the bedspring. A pocket spring model requires a net different from to that of a memory foam or latex mattress. Therefore, it is good to check the conditions of the support base and possibly replace the box spring or the slats with a product suitable for the mattress that we want to buy.

Health tips

This article was produced under the direction of Dr. Pierpaolo Camellispecialized in Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Osteopathy.

Dr. Pierpaolo Cameli, consultant doctor of the site

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