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How Firm Should a Mattress Be For a Back Sleeper? – The Bedding Planet

How Firm Should a Mattress Be For a Back Sleeper?

Mattress firmness is a tricky topic to discuss. This is because everyone feels firmness differently. Same with any feel factor, firmness is subjective.

Your personal choice varies depending on your weight, size, and body shape.

However, there are several standards you can use to determine the firmness of a mattress, thanks to the firmness scale.

For a back sleeper, a medium-firm mattress will work best for you. You require a mattress that will provide enough support and align your spine to keep your hips, lower back, and shoulders comfortable.

Read on to learn more about mattress firmness and the optimal level for your as a back sleeper.

What is Mattress Firmness?

The firmness of a mattress refers to how it feels when you first lie down on it. Are you resting on top of the mattress or sinking into it? Are you getting excess pushback, or do you realize that the materials conform to your body curves? These are some of the questions you may ask to know if a mattress is soft, medium-firm, or firm.

The mattress business uses a “firmness scale” with a range of 1-10 to assist its customers in understanding what firmness is. A mattress with a score of 1/10 is the softest in the world, while one with a score of 10/10 is the firmest. As a point of comparison, the industry standard for medium firmness is a score of 6.5/10.

But, for the time being, let’s look at how soft, moderately firm, and firm mattresses feel.


Soft mattresses are usually rated between 3-5/10 on the firmness scale. Their top layers, often known as “comfort” layers, usually include cushioning materials such as quilted pillow tops or thick pieces of memory foam. Some of their outstanding features are feelings of profound sinkage, body contouring, and pressure alleviation.

A soft mattress won’t give you much pushback, so you’ll feel more “in” it than “on top.” Softer mattresses are recommended for side sleepers or those who require additional support at the hips, shoulders, and lower back. The Layla, Helix Sunset, and Nectar mattresses are popular soft mattress options.

Medium Firm

Medium-firm mattresses range between 6-7/10 on the firmness scale. Soft foam top layers are usually combined with tougher foundations of either high-density poly foam or pocketed coils in these mattresses. This achieves a pleasing combination of pressure relief and support, a preference for many sleepers.

You may feel some sinkage on a medium-firm mattress, but you’re more likely to feel lifted up and out of bed. As a result, medium-firm mattresses are ideal for combination sleepers and back sleepers, who can benefit greatly from the added movement. DreamCloud, Saatva, and Leesa Hybrid mattresses are among the best medium-firm mattresses.


Finally on the list is firm mattresses, normally rated between 8 and 10 on the firmness scale. Soft or plush fabrics are rarely used in the comfort layers of these mattresses; instead, a thin layer of soft foam is layered on top of high-density poly foam or springs. As a result, firm mattresses can provide excellent support.

Every part of your body should be raised straight on the bed with plenty of pushback on a firm mattress. These mattresses’ added heft is essential to strict stomach sleepers and heavy persons. The Helix Dawn, Brooklyn Plank, and WinkBed mattresses are some of the excellent firm mattresses on the market.

How Do You Know if Your Mattress is Too Firm as a Back Sleeper?

1. If you wake up with neck, shoulder, or back aches.

Your mattress is certainly too firm if you wake up in the morning — or during the night — with discomfort at certain pressure points, such as your shoulders, hips, or knees.

Foam and hybrid mattresses are excellent for relieving pressure points. When you add an adjustable foundation to the mix, you’ll be able to enjoy comfort in many ways!

2. Your mattress is too firm for your favorite sleeping position if you suffer numbness or tingling in your arms and hands.

It’s no fun to wake up in the night with a tingling foot or a dead arm. It might be a little unsettling when you can’t figure out what’s going on in that drowsy zone between sleep and wake.

An improper sleeping position or a too firm mattress is a common cause of this problem.

3. If you wake up exhausted, it’s possible that your mattress is too firm.

Sleepless nights cascade other issues, ranging from poor immune function to health problems to simply feeling too tired to accomplish many things you enjoy. It’s unlikely that you’ll get a full night’s sleep if you’re tossing and turning throughout the night trying to identify a comfortable position.

You may realize this since you are unable to sleep at night, or if you sleep with a partner, they will notice. A partner can help you determine how much steady sleep you’re receiving. Do your restless movements or snoring wake them up?

4. If your mattress doesn’t conform to your body completely when you get into bed, it’s too stiff.

This relates to the first element on our checklist: pressure points. Consider your spine as you lie down. It should be at a neutral, straight level as you sleep.

How do You Know if Your Mattress is too Soft as a Back Sleeper?

1. If you wake up with a stiff and uncomfortable lower back.

This is the most common symptom that your ordinary mattress is excessively soft. You’ll notice it right away when you wake up after a long night’s sleep.

A sore at the lower back can be caused by various daily activities, such as lifting heavy objects or sitting in an incorrect posture for lengthy periods.

Stretch for about 15 minutes if you have a tight and aching lower back in the morning. If the pain and soreness disappear, your old mattress likely is to blame.

2. You can’t seem to find a comfortable sleeping posture.

Tossing and turning before sleeping can result from anxiety, stress, and poor health. The length of time it takes you to find a comfortable sleeping posture is determined by your mattress. If you’re continuously shifting your posture to relax your muscles, then your mattress is too soft.

3. You consider sleeping on your couch.

Your mattress is too soft if you fall asleep on the couch and avoid your bed. Also, if you prefer sleeping in a friend’s guest room or a hotel bed, it’s possible that your mattress has to be replaced.

4. You wake up with shoulder or neck pain after sleeping on your stomach or back.

Even after investing in a comfy pillow, if you still have shoulder and neck ache, it could indicate that your lower body is sinking too deep into the mattress.

Those who sleep on their stomach should be cautious about the firmness of their mattress because it puts additional strain on the upper back, neck, and jaw; this sleeping posture needs abnormal twisting.

5. It isn’t easy to get in and out of bed.

Are you finding it difficult to get in and out of bed anytime you want? Your mattress may be too soft if you have trouble getting out of bed or feel stuck. This could also be if you’re having trouble getting into bed since you’re sinking to your mattress’s bottom support layer.

6. You feel groggy throughout the day.

When you wake up tired and feel the same all day, it’s a sign that you didn’t get enough good sleep. Although there are a variety of causes for this, one of them could be a particularly soft mattress.

7. Your mattress is too soft if you toss and turn in bed with aches and pains.

If you are a side sleeper, a soft mattress may be the best option; make sure it doesn’t throw your spine out of proportion but instead relieve pressure points.

Related reading:

Why Spine Alignment is Important

Optimal Functioning

The brain and the spinal cord make up the central nervous system. Some reflex movements are also possible without the involvement of the brain. As a result, any misalignment of the vertebrae can create mobility issues or nervous system issues.

The central nervous system will function properly when the spine is well aligned. Therefore, you’ll be able to accomplish the correct range of motion and other body functions like feelings.

Optimal Metabolism

Good posture can only be realized with proper spine alignment, providing a conducive digestive system environment. As a result, most persons with bad posture experience digestive issues because their abdominal organs, especially the digestive tract, are compressed.

Reduce the Risk of Spine Disorders

Misalignment of the spine can lead to serious health problems over time. You may find it difficult to engage in everyday activities at this stage. Spine misalignment puts you at risk of the following problems:

  • Joint stiffness
  • Slouching posture
  • Permanent bone or joint deformities
  • Vertebral column fractures
  • Sciatica

How to Achieve a Neutral Spine as a Back Sleeper

Place a cushion horizontally under your knees to create a slight bend when lying on your back. Bend your knees to relieve the pressure on your low back.

Fold up a small towel and place it under your low back for further support.

Choosing The Right Mattress Firmness Level as a Back Sleeper

Back sleepers make up a smaller percentage of the population, accounting for about 10% to 15% of the population. Many people, especially those with lower back problems, do not enjoy enough support. This can lead to snoring and other sleep-related issues, such as sleep apnea.

Therefore, for back sleepers, a medium-firm mattress is recommended. Choose a stiffness range of 5 to 8, with pocketed coils with a latex top being an excellent option.

A-List of Different Mattress Types Suitable For Back Sleepers

DreamCloud Mattress: The DreamCloud Mattress is a hybrid mattress with foam layers on top and a supporting coil structure underneath. Back sleepers will appreciate the even combination of cushioning and support, especially those who prefer beds with a plush, comfortable layer.

Nectar Mattress: The Nectar Mattress is an all-foam bed with a medium firmness of level 6. It comes with a feel that supports the hips and shoulders of most back sleepers and ample cushioning to prevent excessive pressure build-up. In comparison to other high-quality foam beds, it also comes at a relatively reasonable price.

GhostBed Flex: This is a hybrid mattress that provides optimum cushioning and support to your body. Also, it comes with a pocketed coil support core that provides a medium feel and support.

Birch Mattress: Birch mattresses have proven to be popular with back sleepers, and for a good reason. These mattresses are supportive and responsive, letting back sleepers sleep without sinking too deeply in areas where sleepers tend to bear an uneven amount of weight.

Saatva Classic Mattress: This mattress is designed with CertiPUR-US certified foams and recycled steel coils. The coils provide support to your spine and keep it aligned throughout the night.

Mattress Types to Avoid For Back Sleepers

As said earlier, back sleepers require medium-firm mattresses for their comfort. If a mattress is too firm or too soft, it will not provide back sleepers with the required support and comfort. Below are some of the mattresses that may not work for back sleepers.

Casper Original: This mattress has three layers of targeted support and a breathable design to allow enough airflow through the mattress.

Layla Memory Foam: Layla Memory Foam mattress is CertiPur-US certified and flappable with a firm and soft side.

Plank: This is one of the firmest mattresses available, with a rating of 8/10. It is designed with foam layers on the sides and a dense core at the center.

Helix Dawn Mattress: Helix dawn mattress comes with three layers on top of coils and has a firmness scale of 8-9/10. Nevertheless, this mattress ensures that your spine is aligned correctly to stop heavier sleepers from sinking.

Leesa Original Mattress: With a firmness level of 7/10, Leesa Original mattress is only suitable for side sleepers. It can create a balance of support and comfort.

Niklas Lampi

My name is Niklas and I'm the author and content operator at The Bedding Planet. I've always had a big interest in bedding and more specifically sleep. If I find something that makes me sleep better, whether that's a lifestyle change or a better bedding environment, I'm ready to share it with the world!

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