How to Choose Mattress Firmness

How to Choose Mattress Firmness

You toss and turn in your sleep, wake up feeling tired or can’t sleep straight through the night. The problem may not be you — it may be your mattress. Whether you’ve had your mattress for a while or don’t feel your current one is providing the support and comfort you need as you sleep, it’s time for an upgrade.

Along with the size of your mattress and your budget, another essential consideration is mattress firmness. Mattresses come in a range of firmness options perfect for any sleeper, but you have to know which firmness suits your needs. Since you spend so much of your time sleeping or in bed, picking out the right mattress is crucial. While some mattresses are good for a range of sleepers, it’s best to think about what suits your needs the best. Read on to learn why mattress firmness is important along with different firmness styles for different sleepers. You’ll be sleeping better in no time!

person waking up

The Importance of Choosing the Appropriate Mattress Firmness

A mattress is an investment, and neglecting to choose the right firmness could leave you with buyer’s remorse every night you go to sleep. Taking the time to learn about different mattress styles and how to choose mattress firmness will ensure you’re making the right choice.

To choose the right mattress firmness, it helps to know the different styles available. Think about mattress firmness on a scale from one to ten, with:

  • 1-2: Ultra-plush or very soft.
  • 3-4: Plush or soft.
  • 5-6: Medium-firm.
  • 7-8: Firm.
  • 9-10: Extra firm.

Some people sleep better on a plush mattress, others benefit from a firm or extra-firm one. Choosing the appropriate mattress for your needs can help to improve:

1. Your back: No matter the position you sleep in, you may put strain or pressure on your back. The right mattress will provide support for your spine. You may experience less back and neck pain or fewer posture issues that sleeping on the wrong mattress may create over time. Along with that, you may notice fewer headaches and less stiffness throughout your back.
2. Your joints: Along with your back, your joints will find comfort on the right mattress. Your hips and shoulders will see the most benefit from the appropriate mattress firmness, but your whole body may feel more comfortable. You may wake up less stiff or achy if your mattress gives you the right support.
3. Your overall physical health: If you suffer from sleep deprivation, you’re likely to experience weight gain and high blood pressure, which can lead to more serious health issues over time. The appropriate mattress firmness will help you get more sleep, improving your physical health overall. While your mattress isn’t the only factor that affects how you sleep and your physical health, it does play a major role.
4. Your mental health: When you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you feel tired and sluggish. You may find it challenging to focus throughout the day, which, in the long run, can contribute to memory issues. A lack of sleep may affect other aspects of your mental health. You might feel depressed or stressed out when you’re not sleeping well. With the right mattress, you might notice an improvement in your mental health.

When you sleep better, you feel better — it’s as simple as that. While other factors affect how well you sleep, your mattress plays a significant role. You may think the most comfortable option would be an ultra-plush or plush style mattress, but you may wake up more uncomfortable with those options depending on how you sleep and other needs.

couple laying on bed

How the Right Firmness Can Improve Your Sleep

Once you choose the right mattress firmness, you may see a difference after a night of sleep. A comfortable, new mattress can help you:

  • Fall asleep more quickly.
  • Sleep through the night.
  • Toss and turn less often.
  • Wake up less often.
  • Wake up in less pain.
  • Feel more rested.

You don’t want to have to struggle to fall asleep only to wake up still feeling tired. The quality and firmness of your mattress can help you drift off and sleep well through the night. The appropriate mattress firmness can:

1. Reduce pressure points: Depending on how you sleep and the type of mattress you have, you may notice less pressure on different areas of your body. When you lay down to sleep, any part of your body in contact with a mattress could come in contact with pressure points in the mattress. The right firmness will spread pressure evenly throughout your body, whether that be along your back or on your hips and shoulders.
2. Provide orthopedic support: Certain orthopedic mattresses provide the maximum support available. You’ll feel less stress on your joints or back, leading to less pain when you wake up in the morning.
3. Increase comfort: Even if your current mattress doesn’t cause any back or joint pain, a new mattress might be more comfortable in general. Mattresses can wear out over time, becoming less comfortable or supportive.

Those benefits will ensure that you wake up rested and ready for the day. You won’t toss and turn as much if your body is comfortable throughout the night.

What Position Do You Sleep In?

When mattress shoppers come into a showroom, they often lie on their back to test a mattress. If you don’t sleep on your back, lying flat on a mattress may not help you get an idea of how comfortable it is. You may be more likely to choose an ultra-plush option because it feels softer, but that may not be what your body needs. To get an accurate sense of how a mattress feels, you should lie in the position you usually sleep in. If you move around a lot in your sleep, try to think of which position you most often turn to, especially as you get comfortable falling asleep. Once you get a new mattress in the right firmness, you may toss and turn less throughout the night, giving you a primary sleeping position.

There are three general sleeping positions. While you may curl up or spread out in any of these positions, the main consideration is what part of your body you lie on as you sleep. Learn more about each sleeping position, along with the mattress firmness that works for each one:

Back sleepers need good support. Choose a mattress between the five to seven range, either medium-firm or firm.

Many people who sleep on their backs appreciate a memory foam mattress. Memory foam gives your back the support it needs as it contours to your spine when you lie down for the night, eliminating pressure points that may cause pain to certain areas of your back. Memory foam can also provide long-term support and maintain its structure longer than other materials, like springs.

When you sleep on your side, you may find that you often have joint pain, especially in your hips and shoulders. No matter which side of your body you sleep on, you want a combination of comfort and support. A softer mattress will distribute support along the side of your body instead of creating pressure points on your hips and shoulders, which probably have the most contact with your mattress when you sleep on your side.

Side sleepers should choose a mattress in firmness range between three and six, either plush or medium-firm. You don’t need as much support as someone who sleeps on their back. Instead, you need a mattress that contours you more to distribute support along your side.


Stomach sleepers can put a strain on their spines compared to people who sleep on their backs or sides. A mattress that’s too soft won’t provide your body the support it needs if you sleep on your stomach, causing your spine to curve. You might wake up with back pain, stiffness and eventually develop posture issues.

If you plan on continuing sleeping on your stomach, choose a mattress that provides adequate support. A style between five to seven, the same as what back sleepers need, will provide enough firmness to support your spine.

Overall, testing a mattress in the showroom with the position you usually sleep in will help ensure you make the right choice. You could use the tips above to purchase a mattress online, but if you’re able to visit a store to try before you buy, you’ll be happier with your purchase.

Popular Mattresses by Firmness

Lancaster Mattress offers a range of mattress firmness styles, perfect for different sleepers. Get to know some of our most popular options in each firmness category.

Extra Firm

An extra firm mattress provides the most support of any style. If you sleep on your back and have back problems, you may find that an extra firm mattress gives you the support you need. Our customers love these extra-firm mattresses the most:
• Stearns & Foster® Estate Collection in Hurston Luxury Firm
• Stearns & Foster® Estate Collection in Rockwell Luxury Firm

While an extra-firm mattress works for some people, many sleepers want a mattress with a little more give. If you prefer a bit more comfort, we have plenty of other options that meet your needs.


For a firm mattress that provides support with a bit more comfort, our costumers love the Sealy Conform Performance Collection in Fondness Cushion Firm. This and other Sealy options provide distributed support along with reinforced areas. You’ll get firm and durable support that lasts for many years. Choose a firm mattress if you’re a stomach or back sleeper who prefers comfortable support over plush comfort.


mattress with medium firmness can work for almost any type of sleeper. If you share your bed with a partner, you may want to choose a medium option that suits both of your sleep needs. At Lancaster Mattress, we offer the Sealy Essentials Collection in Memory Foam. This style features high-density gel memory foam, suitable for any sleep position. Because memory foam provides long-lasting support and comfort, you can purchase with confidence. Rest assured that your new mattress will provide the benefits of the right mattress firmness for many nights to come.


plush mattress is great for side sleepers or anyone looking for comfort over strong support. Side sleepers love to get comfortable with these plush options:

• Sealy Response Performance Collection in Merriment Plush
• Sealy Response Essentials Collection in Merry Plush
• Sealy Hybrid Performance in Copper II Plush

An average plush mattress will provide some support, but if you have back problems or are sensitive to pressure points, you should choose medium or firm over this option.

Ultra Plush

An ultra-plush mattress provides cloud-like comfort you can sink into at the end of your day. Our customers love to indulge in these ultra-plush options:

• Stearns & Foster® Estate Collection in Hurston Luxury Plush
• Stearns & Foster® Lux Estate Collection in Cassatt Luxury Plush
Again, this style isn’t ideal for those with back problems and back or stomach sleepers. While ultra-plush mattresses include memory foam to provide support and reduce pressure points, the main feature of these styles is plush comfort.

couple with mattress

Lancaster Mattress Can Help You Choose the Right Mattress Firmness

Now that you have a better idea of how to choose mattress firmness, take the tips above with you to the Lancaster Mattress store nearest you Lancaster Mattress store locations. Try before you buy to get the best possible firmness for how you sleep.

Give us a call today or visit one of our showrooms in Ephrata or Fruitville Pike in Lancaster to get a feel for the mattress firmness that’s right for you. Or, for your convenience, you can order online. Get comfortable and get a good night’s sleep with help from Lancaster Mattress Company.