May is Better Sleep Month — a good time to revisit the age-old soft vs. firm mattress dilemma. According to the Better Sleep Council, fifty-one percent of Americans said they prefer a “firm or very firm” mattress while 49 percent like their mattress “soft or very soft.” This means the average couple has about a 50-50 chance of agreeing on mattress preference.
When we talk about firm vs. soft, we are really talking about the top layer’s feel of the bed, not the actual support level. Wherever we may fall on the firm/soft preference spectrum, our goal should be a mattress that allows our spine to maintain its natural curve and aligns with our hips, neck and head without any painful pressure points.
Where do you fit in?
- Firm mattress lovers: Sleep experts say you are likely to be a back or stomach sleeper with an average-to-heavy body type. You prefer a flat, even surface and the spinal support it provides. You may struggle with back pain when you sleep on soft mattresses.
- Soft mattress lovers: You’re probably a side sleeper with a light frame. You like to sink into extra cushioning because a firm mattress creates uncomfortable pressure points on your hips and shoulders. You also may suffer from painful joints that are eased by a padded surface.
Mattresses come in a range of comfort levels, depending on the materials used and how the components are assembled. Firmness is generally rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (soft to firm) based on the amount and type of cushioning materials.
If you are a house divided when it comes to mattress firmness, finding a mattress that will help you both sleep soundly and comfortably may be easier than you think.
A growing number of companies offer mattresses with one firm side and one soft side, ensuring pressure relief for a variety of body types. Others offer mattresses with adjustable firmness.
There is also the option of a split king, with each side equal to a twin-XL-size mattress, so that a couple can personalize each side of the bed to their preferences. If you choose this path, consider buying a bed bridge connector/convertor — a piece of foam or fabric that covers the split between the beds and often includes straps to hold the two side-by-side sleep sets together. Note: Two twins together create the width of a king but are five inches shorter than a king. Two XL twins together are equal to a king mattress in width and length. See my blog on mattress sizes.
Another low-budget solution: Consider a firmer-than-your-partner-prefers mattress and then add a plush twin topper to one side for the soft-bed lover.
Whatever solution you ultimately agree on, before you buy a new mattress, check our directory of participating companies to be sure it contains CertiPUR-US® certified foam. This is your assurance that the foam is made without chemicals of concern and is low VOC emissions (less than 0.5 ppm) for indoor air quality.