Firm vs. Plush Mattresses

What Are the Differences?

Differences Between Firm and Plush Mattresses

Choosing the perfect mattress can be a complicated process, especially as more and more options become available on the market. It’s important to find a mattress that promotes good sleep health. Firm mattresses offer the most support to sleepers, while plush mattresses provide a soft surface that hugs the curves of your body.

Mattress composition makes a substantial difference in both feel and support. Support layers are generally stiffer and less flexible, providing the solid feeling of a firm, supportive mattress. Conversely, comfort layers are soft, padded and more accommodating. The thickness of your mattress’s comfort and support layers determines how firm or soft it will feel.

Overview

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Understanding the differences between firm and plush mattresses can help you choose the best comfort level for your sleep style, so you can wake up well-rested and refreshed.
Understanding the differences between firm and plush mattresses can help you choose the best comfort level for your sleep style, so you can wake up well-rested and refreshed.

Firm Mattresses

Firm mattresses typically contain less padding with fewer comfort layers and more substantial support layers. One of the advantages of a firmer sleep surface is helping to keep your neck and back in alignment throughout the night.

Additionally, a firm mattress may benefit your muscles and circulation. Firmer surfaces also keep you from sinking into your mattress while you sleep, helping to prevent back, shoulder and neck pain.

Firm mattresses are usually thinner due to the absence of added comfort layers.
Firm mattresses are usually thinner due to the absence of added comfort layers.

Plush Mattresses

Of course, the most obvious benefit of a plush mattress is comfort. A cozy, pillow-soft sleep surface can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you’re a restless sleeper who frequently changes positions at night, a plush mattress helps respond to your body and keeps you comfortable.

In addition to their characteristic softness, the best plush mattress or ultra-plush mattress provides support that contours to your frame. For some people, body-hugging sleep surfaces alleviate stress on pressure points. In addition, plush mattresses conform to hip, shoulder and knee joints, which is often a relief after a long day.

A plush mattress is generally thicker and includes more comfort layers and padding than a firm mattress.
A plush mattress is generally thicker and includes more comfort layers and padding than a firm mattress.

Choosing Between Firm or Plush Mattresses

Buying a mattress can be an overwhelming process at first but deciding between plush vs. firm mattresses depends largely on your own needs and preferences. If you need back and spine support while you sleep, opt for the best firm mattress within your budget. However, a cushiony plush mattress may provide pressure point relief if you have hip, shoulder or knee issues.

Many mattress-in-a-box companies now offer extended trial periods with the purchase of a new mattress, allowing you to experience mattress comfort levels firsthand to decide if it’s the right fit. Trying a mattress for yourself lets you feel the difference between firm and plush mattresses over time so that you can find the best option for your sleep style.

Choosing between a firm or plush mattress comes down to your personal wants and needs for a good night's sleep.
Choosing between a firm or plush mattress comes down to your personal wants and needs for a good night's sleep.

Using a Firm Mattress

Firm mattresses can be beneficial to a variety of sleepers, including:

  • Back and stomach sleepers: If you sleep on your stomach or back, a mattress with too much give can take your spine out of alignment, and may cause stress and discomfort. A firm mattress may help keep that alignment in place while you rest, promoting a peaceful and healthier night’s sleep.
  • Plus-size sleepers: Heavier bodies typically put more pressure on a mattress during sleep. Soft mattresses may let sleepers sink too far, forcing the body to rest in awkward positions that can lead to pain and discomfort. A firm mattress can provide a more stable sleep surface with better support for plus-sized people.

Using a Plush Mattress

A softer, more responsive plush mattress offers comfort and support for an array of sleepers, such as:

  • Side sleepers: Sleeping on your side may expose your hips and shoulders to stress as they support your body weight while you sleep. A plush mattress can help diffuse that pressure by enveloping joints, giving you a more comfortable and supportive sleep surface.
  • Older sleepers: Joint pain is a common ailment among older people, and a plush mattress helps cushion and cradle critical pressure points.
  • Children: Once your child is out of the crib and ready for a bed of their own, you may want to swap the firm crib mattress for something a little softer. A plush mattress can be more comfortable for kids and help maintain good spinal alignment as they grow.
Plush mattresses are a great choice for side sleepers and those with joint pain.
Plush mattresses are a great choice for side sleepers and those with joint pain.

Is It Better to Sleep on a Hard or Soft Mattress?

Choosing between firm vs. soft mattresses comes down to personal preference. How you sleep and how you want your bed to feel are the most important considerations. Both firm and soft mattresses provide different levels of comfort, support and stability, so take your time and try a few different mattresses to find the one that delivers a perfect night’s sleep.