The Softest to Firmest Mattress Types Listed Out – The Bedding Planet

The Softest to Firmest Mattress Types Listed Out


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Are you looking for a new mattress and you already know what level of firmness that suit your body the best?

Then this post is definitely for you.

In this post I’ve listed out the softest to firmest of the most common mattress types available on the market. I’ve done this to help you make an easier decision when it comes to choosing the correct mattress type.

For instance, if you know that you require a mattress that is on the firmer side, then there’s no reason for you to search among mattress types that usually gravitate towards being on the softer side, and vice versa.

This post will help you find the mattress types that will suit your firmness level needs the best.

The Softest to Firmest Mattress Types

How The Research Was Conducted

Before we get to the nitty gritty of laying out the softest to firmest mattress types, let me first explain how I came up with the results.

First of all, it was not easy to make these comparisons as the differences between the firmness levels of most mattress types are very slight. However I managed to do it, and here’s how:

  1. I created a Google Sheets document and made a list of the top 20 rated mattresses under each mattress type. (I.e. top 20 memory foam mattresses, top 20 innerspring mattresses, 20 hybrid mattresses etc).
  2. I then researched all these mattresses and noted down which firmness level that each of them had available. I noted down how many offered only soft options, how many offered all options, and how many offered only firm options.
  3. I then had enough data to compare each mattress type and to create a list ranging from the softest to the firmest mattress types, which you will find in this post.

Now that you know my research method, let’s get to the results:

The Softest to Firmest Mattress Types

Below is a detailed comparison that will help you make the right choice when it comes to choosing a mattress type that suits your firmness level needs. The table shows the softest to the firmest of the different mattress types.

Mattress TypeGeneral Firmness Level
Memory Foam mattressesSoft
Hybrid mattressesMedium
Adjustable air mattressesMedium
Innerspring mattressesFirm
Latex mattressesFirm

*I want to be clear on one thing: Even though my list states that one mattress type is soft, while another one is firm, this is not 100% set in stone. For instance, there are memory foam mattresses available in firmer options, as well as there are latex mattresses available in softer options.

My findings are simply, that in general, one mattress type will gravitate more towards a typical firmness level showed by my research. With that said, if you know that you need a soft mattress, it will be much easier for you to look in the foam, hybrid and adjustable air mattress section to find just that.

Below I have listed out these mattresses mentioned in the table, explaining them more in depth, and providing our top recommendation for each.

Memory Foam Mattresses

Foam mattresses, such as memory foam and polyfoam are the softest mattresses in the market compared to other types.

Memory foam for instance is a temperature-sensitive mattress type that allows you to “sink in” a little as you lie down, with the sense of soft foam filling in around your body’s contours and curves. When a warm body presses into it, it activates the foam, softening it. Memory foam gets its name from the fact that it “remembers” a recently pressed form by maintaining its impression for a few seconds.

NASA contractor Charles Yost invented memory foam mattresses in the 1970s as a softer and more supportive chair option for aircraft pilots and passengers. It’s since been used in NASCAR vehicles, wheelchairs, shoe insoles, and various other products.

Since then, the memory foam mattress has exploded in popularity, becoming the most preferred among today’s direct-to-consumer bed-in-a-box providers.

Who Should Buy a Memory Foam Mattress?

Memory foam is known for its excellent pressure relief since it can support common painful pressure areas like the shoulders and hips.

It also provides superior motion isolation compared to other mattress types, reducing motion transfer because motion generated on one side of the mattress is effectively absorbed and does not flow over to the other side.

Softer memory foam is best for side sleepers, while firmer memory foam is better for stomach and back sleepers. Memory foam is popular among people who weigh 130 pounds or less, especially the softest ones. Heavy sleepers may prefer a firmer mattress, such as one with coils, because they provide greater support (more about that later).

Four Types of Memory Foam

Traditional memory foam is popular for providing pressure relief for people with joint and backaches and overall warmth for those who love being softly caressed by foam while sleeping. Heat retention and possibly movement problems for people who like to change sleep positions throughout the night are two disadvantages.

Open-cell foam is designed in the same way as typical memory foam but features an open pocket structure of “cells” inside that promotes ventilation and helps to wick away heat. It adapts to your body’s heat to help you sleep cooler at night while also reducing off-gassing.

Gel-infused or cooling foam can also combat regular memory foam’s heat retention. It could require using a completely different gel layer or injecting gel microbeads that absorb and spread heat from your body. Other cooling materials, such as graphite, bamboo, copper, and phase-change material, can also be employed.

Polyfoam is a light, airy cloth that is inexpensive, simple to create, and often used in couch cushions. It’s also more comfortable to sleep on than other kinds of foam. It’s sometimes utilized under or between layers of other foam as reinforcement. The disadvantages are that it isn’t always very durable and may allow more motion transmission.


Our Recommendation

We recommend the Saatva Modern Foam Mattress. You can learn more about it here.


Hybrid Mattresses

Hybrid mattresses are medium firm mattresses as they most commonly combine innerspring and foam mattresses plus a few more components to create an extraordinary multilayer masterpiece. These mattresses combine memory foam and coils and provide good motion isolation and excellent contouring.

Hybrids are sometimes referred to as the “best of both worlds” since they relieve pressure like memory foam mattresses while providing solid support with coil systems. While hybrid mattresses are essentially innerspring with memory foam layers, the current models usually include a core of individually wrapped pocketed coils rather than any previous coil systems.

Because each model’s structure differs substantially, customers should look for the most important aspects, such as sleeping position, weight, temperature, and any back or joint problems. Our selection of the best hybrid mattresses caters to many buyers.

Some hybrids may have their own set of drawbacks, depending on the quality and brand. Some people may “sleep hot,” sag prematurely, or have poor edge support even with a coil system and improved ventilation. Some of them may be a little costly.

Who Should Buy a Hybrid Mattress?

Because hybrids are available in various stiffness levels, they appeal to a wide range of people. When choosing one, shoppers should consider their body size and preferred sleeping posture.

Sleepers who weigh 130 pounds or less and side sleepers will benefit from a softer model, whereas individuals who prefer to sleep on their backs or stomachs or weigh more than 230 pounds will benefit from a firmer model.


Our Recommendation

If you’re interested in a hybrid mattress, one of the best out there is the Puffy Lux Mattress. You can learn more about it here.


Adjustable Air Mattresses

This is another medium-level mattress with firmness levels that allow you to adjust the firmness level in different bed regions as desired.

Air chambers in the central support core are used to alter the firmness of the mattress. When a pump (remote control, manual, or app-powered) is activated, the air chambers inflate or deflate, depending on your settings. Your mattress will become firmer as the number increases.

This type of customization can encourage proper spinal alignment, eliminate snoring, and help with pain reduction and increased comfort. When properly maintained, adjustable air mattresses can last for years.

Most of these mattresses feature one to four air chambers. However, some may have more. Padding or foam is typically found on the top layer of adjustable air mattresses; however, more complex ones may include coils or other features as well.

The disadvantages of adjustable air mattresses are that they can be noisy and pricey. Because of the mechanical nature of their construction, they may break down more frequently than other mattresses, and repairs may be pricey.

Who Should Buy an Adjustable Air Mattress?

These mattresses can accommodate practically anyone, regardless of body type, preferred sleeping position, or other circumstances, because they are changeable.

Those who suffer from aches and pains typically find that adaptability helps them feel better. Couples will benefit from the ability to customize both sides of the bed, and combination sleepers will benefit from changing the settings as needed.

These mattresses are likely to be more expensive than most other mattress options, so individuals looking for a cheap mattress should seek elsewhere.


Our Recommendation

If you’re interested in an adjustable air mattress, we definitely recommend the Saatva Solaire. It’s a qualitative, durable and highly rated air mattress. You can learn more about it here.


Innerspring Mattresses

Innerspring mattresses are harder compared to foam, hybrid, and adjustable air mattresses but softer than latex. These mattresses are made with an inner coil structure, hence “innerspring.”

They are known for their support and advanced air flow. Coils are typically made of tempered steel and heat-treated to increase durability. Innerspring mattresses of the best grade contain up to 1,000 or more coils.

Innerspring coils come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including:

  • A single continuous inner coil.
  • Multiple distinct coils are pocketed individually in fabric. These move separately, providing more motion isolation and comfort.
  • Bonnell coils feature an hourglass shape. They’re tough and sturdy; however, they’re slightly noisy when pressed. This coil is one of the most cost-effective.
  • Offset coils are hourglass-shaped with squared sides and provide excellent support and contouring. These coils are quieter and more comfortable, but they are also more expensive.

Who Should Buy an Innerspring Mattress?

Back and stomach sleepers will likely prefer the innerspring’s support, although they are not optimal for side sleepers, unless the mattress has a soft layer on top of the coils. People who “sleep hot” prefer them because of their good airflow. Finally, folks weighing more than 230 pounds may appreciate coils’ supportive durability, as coils have a firmer, bouncy sensation.

Innerspring mattresses aren’t ideal for people looking for the silence in a mattress because they tend to become noisier over time (though this isn’t always the case with newer models). Innersprings are not ideal for couples that move around a lot during sleep because of their weaker motion isolation.


Our Recommendation

One of the best innerspring mattresses (with some hybrid techniques included) is the Nolah Evolution 15, which you can read more about here.


Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses are well-known for their durability, often outlasting conventional mattresses hence the hardest mattresses available. Latex is a rubbery substance derived from the sap of rubber trees.

Latex is famous for its durability, dust mite resistance, hypoallergenic, and antibacterial characteristics when used in its natural state. Synthetic latex is also widely used since it closely resembles the properties of natural latex.

Latex is robust, breathable, and supportive, with exceptional ventilation. On the other hand, synthetic latex is not naturally hypoallergenic and can produce visible off-gassing.

One of two procedures can be used to create natural latex for mattresses: the Dunlop or Talalay method. The Dunlop is the more straightforward, producing harder, denser latex with more bounce and consistency than a newly baked pound cake. The Talalay process produces latex with a softer texture, similar to angel food cake, and is considered more luxurious than Dunlop, with a price tag to match.

The negative of latex is how heavy it can be, so expect to require more than one person to help you transport it between rooms in your house. It can also be costly.

Who Should Buy a Latex Mattress?

Combination sleepers, hot sleepers, and people who like to shift positions frequently will benefit from latex mattresses. They provide foam comfort without the shaping that might make some sleepers feel trapped in one position or spot.

Latex mattresses are naturally hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant, making them excellent for asthma and allergy patients. They also emit very little off-gassing, bringing chemical odors into your house at zero to hardly detectable levels.

Dunlop latex, in particular, is beneficial for people with back problems since it is stiffer. Talalay latex is perfect for side sleepers and those who need extra pressure relief and can’t feel comfortable on too-firm mattresses.


Our Recommendation

If you’re looking for a high quality latex mattress we recommend the Saatva Zenhaven Latex Mattress. You can learn more about the mattress here.


Related reading:

Final Thoughts

There you have it, a list of the softest to firmest mattress types. From the research I conducted I found that the list above is as accurate as it can get.

Now, as stated earlier, take the list for what it is, a guiding light. After all, many of these mattress types will have multiple firmness level options to choose from, but in general, they will all gravitate more towards the firmness level stated in the list above.

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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