Person asleep on bed with dog.

Bed Firmness Scale

Understanding the firmness scale will help you find the one that’s “just right” for you.

Once upon a time, a rather tired girl with golden hair and a taste for trespassing sought rest in the home of a family of bears. But tired or not, Goldilocks knew she would have to find the right mattress firmness to ensure a good night’s sleep. Father Bear’s mattress was “too hard!” and mother bear’s was “too soft!”. It was only when she found the baby bear’s bed that she found a mattress that was “just right!” and fell asleep.


Now, a lot has changed since Goldilocks’ day – there are endless choices of firmness and softness, and many of us choose the convenience of shopping from the comfort of our own homes. So, how do you ensure you find one that is “just right” for you? And when you don’t have the same ability to physically test the mattress out (as our little criminal Goldilocks did), how do you choose the ideal firmness to provide the right level of comfort and support?


To help you make sense of it all, we’ve put together this bed firmness guide. But, if you already know you’re ‘Team Father Bear’ and love a firmer bed, check out our award-winning Sleep Firm mattress. 

Why does bed firmness matter?

Aren’t all mattresses the same? Not necessarily. The firmness of your mattress can have a big impact on both your quality of sleep and your overall health.


For example, if you suffer from chronic back pain, you may find that a firmer mattress helps to alleviate some of your discomforts. On the other hand, if you tend to sleep hot, you may prefer a softer mattress that doesn’t trap body heat.


In short, the firmness of your mattress is a personal preference that can make a BIG difference in your sleep quality and overall health.

The Mattress Firmness Scale


Graphic of a firmness scale rated from 0-10.


If you’ve been looking for a mattress for a while, you’ve probably come across various terms that describe a mattress’ firmness. These include “plush,” “firm,” and “extra firm.” But what do these terms really mean? And more importantly, which one will provide you with a good night’s sleep?


The mattress firmness scale is a way of classifying mattresses based on their level of support and softness. It runs from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest.


Most mattresses fall somewhere in the middle of the scale, around a 5 or 6. But depending on your preferences and sleep needs, you may prefer a mattress on either end of the spectrum.


Your personal preferences play a big role in how soft or firm the mattress will feel to you – what may feel like the perfect balance of comfort and support to one person may feel like sleeping on a bed made of marshmallows to you! While people may report different firmness levels from the same mattress, similarities are more often. The firmness chart is there to help you understand firmness levels and make the right decision on firmness for yourself and your family.

Understanding Mattress Terminology


Hands lifting up mattress.


When shopping for a mattress, you’ll come across various terms that describe the bed’s firmness. These include “plush,” “firm,” and “extra firm.” But what do these terms really mean?


Here’s a quick breakdown of some common mattress terms and their implications for firmness:


Plush: A plush mattress is one of the softer options on the market. These mattresses are typically best for side sleepers, providing ample pressure relief for the hips and shoulders.


Soft: Soft mattresses are, as you might expect, softer than average. These beds are often a good choice for side sleepers and people with chronic pain, as they provide excellent pressure relief.


Medium: Medium mattresses strike a balance between soft and firm. They’re a good choice for all types of sleepers, as they provide a mix of comfort and support.


Medium Soft: As the name suggests, a medium soft mattress is softer than a traditional firm mattress but not as soft as a plush mattress. These mattresses are a good option for combination sleepers who need a little bit of extra support for their back and joints.


Firm: A firm mattress is one of the firmer options on the market. These mattresses are best for stomach sleepers, as they provide ample support for the hips and spine.


Extra Firm: As the name suggests, an extra firm mattress is firmer than a traditional firm mattress. These mattresses are typically best for stomach sleepers who need a lot of support for their hips and spine.


How to Choose the Right Mattress Firmness for You



There’s no easy answer to this question. It depends on a host of factors, including your sleep position, health conditions, and personal preferences.


For example, if you sleep on your side, you’ll likely want a softer mattress that contours to your body and don’t put too much pressure on your hips and shoulders. But if you sleep on your stomach, you’ll likely want a firmer mattress that keeps your spine in alignment.


If you have any health conditions that a certain type of mattress could aggravate, it’s always best to consult your doctor before making a purchase. For example, if you have arthritis, a very soft mattress could worsen your pain, while a very firm mattress could also aggravate your joints. Let’s explore these determinants in more detail:

Body Weight


Your weight also affects how firm or soft a mattress will feel to you. People who weigh more than 130kg tend to prefer firmer mattresses, while those who weigh less than 58kg often prefer softer options.


If you fall somewhere in the middle of this firmness rating, you may find that a firm or soft mattress is comfortable, depending on your sleep position, health conditions, and personal preference for mattress feel.

Sleeping Position


Cat asleep on couch.


Your preferred sleeping position can also affect how firm or soft you like your mattress. For example, side sleepers tend to prefer softer mattresses that provide pressure relief for their hips and shoulders, while stomach sleepers often prefer firmer mattresses that prevent them from sinking too deeply into the mattress.


Here’s a quick breakdown of mattress firmness recommendations for different sleep positions:


Side sleepers: 3-7 on the mattress firmness scale


Back sleepers: 5-7 on the mattress firmness scale


Stomach sleepers: 7-10 on the mattress firmness scale


If you sleep in multiple positions, you may find that medium or medium-firm mattresses are the best options, as they will provide adequate support and pressure relief no matter how you sleep.

Health Conditions


Some health conditions can also play a role in mattress firmness. For example, people with chronic pain often prefer softer mattresses, as they provide more pressure relief. People with conditions like fibromyalgia or arthritis may also find a soft mattress more comfortable.


On the other hand, people with conditions like lower back pain often prefer firmer mattresses, as they provide more support for the spine.

Body Type


Your body type can also affect how firm or soft a mattress feels. For example, people who are larger and have more muscle mass often prefer firmer mattresses, while people who are smaller and have less muscle mass often prefer softer options.

Sharing the bed with a partner, kids or fur babies


If you share the bed with a partner, kids or pets, you may want to consider a firm to medium-firm mattress. This will provide enough support for all sleepers and minimise any disruptions throughout the night.


Partner disturbance is also an important factor to consider when choosing a bed. Firmer mattresses are often better at minimising the disruption caused by others’ movements in bed.

Final Thoughts (Before We Head Off to Bed!)


Man laying on his side asleep on a uncovered mattress.

The best way to find the right firmness for you is to lie down on the mattress in a store or take advantage of a company’s trial period if they offer one. This will allow you to see how the mattress feels and decide if it’s the right option for you.


No matter what firmness level you choose, make sure you do your research and buy from a reputable retailer. A quality mattress will last you for years and support your health, so it’s worth investing in one that’s comfortable and meets your unique needs.


We hope this guide has helped you better understand the bed firmness scale and how to choose the right mattress firmness for you. And if you’ve discovered through this article that you’re best suited to a firm mattress – we can help! 


Sleep Firm: Award-winning Firm Mattress In a Box


Uncovered mattress with pillows and throw blankets on top, in a bedroom setting.


Sleep Firm has created the first real “retail store mattress” that comes in a box, and it’s made right here in Australia. Designed specifically for sleepers who prefer firm support, our award-winning Sleep Firm mattress is endorsed by the Australian Spinal Research Foundation and comes with 15 year warranty. 


Shopping for a mattress needn’t be an un’bear’able task. Order your Sleep Firm mattress in a box today and get a great night’s sleep delivered to your door! 


No, Sleep Firm does not manufacture a soft mattress. We specialise in one design – a firm mattress that provides support for the spine and prevents sinking.

There can be a significant difference between firm and medium-firm mattresses. A firm mattress will provide more support for the spine, while a softer mattress will provide more pressure relief.

If you’re shopping online, most retailers will provide a firmness rating for each mattress. This can help guide your decision, but keep in mind that firmness is subjective and what feels firm to one person may feel soft to another. 

The best way to work out if a mattress is right for you is to do plenty of research into the design and materials, read some reviews to see what real people are saying and take advantage of a trial period so you can try out the mattress for an extended period at home.

Yes, we do! We understand that firmness is subjective and what feels firm to one person may feel soft to another. That’s why we offer a 100-night trial period. This way, you can try out the mattress in the comfort of your home and decide if it’s the right option.

If you’re unhappy with the mattress for any reason, just let us know, and we’ll arrange for a swap over to a design that suits your needs better.

We want you to be 100% happy with your Sleep Firm mattress, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

A few things make Sleep Firm’s mattress stand out from the competition. Firstly, our mattress is made from high-quality materials designed to provide support and durability. It features 5 zones of firmness that provide different levels of support for the head, shoulders, hips, and legs. This ensures that the mattress provides optimal support for the spine regardless of your sleep position.

Secondly, our mattress is designed to be breathable and temperature-neutral. This means that it won’t make you too hot or too cold during the night, and you’ll be able to sleep comfortably without waking up sweaty or uncomfortable.

Finally, our mattress comes with a 100-night trial period, so you can try it out in the comfort of your own home and make sure it’s the right option for you. We also offer an extended 15-year warranty, so you can rest assured that your mattress is built to last.

Our mattress design is very firm, so it’s perfect for people who need extra support for their spine. If you’re looking for an Australian-made, firm mattress made from high-quality materials with a trial period, then Sleep Firm is the perfect option.