Firm vs Medium Firm Mattress: What’s Best for You?

10 min read
10 min read

Mattress shopping is an overwhelming affair, and since they influence sleep, understanding their general characteristics may help with the overall judgment. Furthermore, when it comes to mattresses, one-size-fits-all is not always the best option. The suggestions from the near and dear ones aren’t always helpful either. Henceforth, people usually tend to gravitate towards firm or medium mattresses.

So, firm vs medium mattress: which one is better? And for whom?

Before getting to that, understanding a mattress’ characteristics applies to the understanding of firmness level. It outlines a mattress’s essential features and tends to significantly impact sleep.

Mattress Firmness Scale

Firmness is the cushioning factor of the mattress. And the firmness scale offers a better understanding regarding which level from 1–10 offers what range of firmness, where 1 is the softest and 10 is the firmest mattress.

Mattress Firmness
Scale
Firmness Description
Extra soft
1
Sinks significantly and conforms closely to the body
Soft
2-3
Sinks and conforms considerably close to the body
Medium soft
4
Sinks and conforms relatively close to the body
Medium
5
Sinks less and conforms noticeably
Medium firm
6-7
Conforms moderately and sinks subtly
Firm
8-9
Doesn’t sink visually and conforms minimally
Extra firm
10
No visible sinkage or conforming

Difference Between Firm and Medium Firm Mattress

Firm vs. medium mattress is a comparison that may not seem significant theoretically but can make a substantial difference when experienced, even though the difference between firm and medium mattress is just one degree on the firmness scale.

Parameter
Firm Mattress
Medium Firm Mattress
Support
Firm mattresses offer exceptional support with limited sinkage
Medium firm mattresses offer reasonable support with less sinkage
Comfort
Firm mattresses have thin comfort layers that don’t contour closely
Medium firm mattresses have an adequate comfort system
Coolness
Firm mattresses are less likely to trap heat
Medium firm mattresses do not trap much heat
Durability
Firm mattresses are highly durable
Medium firm mattresses can last longer than soft mattresses
Ideal for
Stomach sleepers and heavier individuals
Combination sleeper and light or average individuals

What Is a Firm Mattress?

A firm mattress features a stiff and rigid surface than a soft or medium mattress, generally ranging from 8-9 on the firmness scale. Although they do not conform or contour, they provide excellent support for areas like the back.

A firm mattress may generally consist of a thin comforter (upper) layer, which offers whatever minimum to no sinkage a sleeper feels, along with a thick-sturdy support base that holds up the mattress structure and provides proper support to the sleeper.

Even though a mattress’s firmness is determined by its construction and material, a mattress made of foam does not necessarily mean it will be soft. As a result, firm mattresses come in a variety of styles, including innerspring, hybrids, and even foam.

Additionally, since firm mattresses do not need much material for padding, they tend to be less pricey. Firm mattresses, on the other hand, are difficult to find and can be found at various retailers.

Benefits of a Firm Mattress

Here are some of the benefits of sleeping on a firm mattress.

Support and Stability

Firm mattresses are relatively popular and offer exceptional support to sleepers weighing over 230 pounds. They also provide equal weight distribution throughout the mattress surface, which keeps the sleepers from sagging into or rolling off the mattress. 

Cool Night

Since they do not contour closely to the body and have minimal sinkage, they are less likely to trap heat. Thus, allowing the air to circulate freely around the body, providing an incredible night’s experience.

Durable

While purchasing a mattress, one question must be highlighted twice: do firm mattresses last longer? Materials used to construct firm mattresses are often thick and highly durable. This makes the mattress firmer and allows the mattress to last longer.

Disadvantages of a Firm Mattress

While there are quite a few benefits, firm mattresses also have some serious drawbacks.

Builds Pressure Points

Since firm mattresses are pretty firm, they sometimes tend to develop pressure points, especially around the hips and shoulders. Therefore, it is uncomfortable for side sleepers.

Uncomfortable for Lighter Individual

Since firm mattresses do not conform closely to the body, which may also lead them to exacerbate existing pain, besides, individuals weighing under 230 pounds will find the firm mattress uncomfortable.  

Who Are They Best For

Since comfort is subjective, not everyone will find a firm mattress suitable, except for a few.

Stomach Sleeper

People sleeping on their stomachs are most likely to feel pressure on their backs, and sleeping on a soft mattress might strain it further. Since stomach sleepers put pressure on the pelvis, the soft mattresses will allow it to sink, straining the back. Therefore, it is recommended to sleep on a firmer surface that prevents straining and allows proper spine alignment. 

Heavier Individual 

Research shows that body pressure distribution determines the optimal density of the sleep surface, which confirms that the mattress stiffness depends on the body build. Therefore, a firm mattress will help the heavier individual stay “on top” while experiencing minimal to no contouring. 

What Is a Medium Firm Mattress

The medium firm mattresses feature moderate sinkage and more support than the soft and firm mattresses. It ranges from 6-7 on the firmness scale. They conform and contour considerably, offering the perfect balance of support and plushness.

Medium firm mattresses typically consist of a soft comforter layer (upper layer) that allows the mattress to be soft enough. The mattress has a sturdy and supportive core base system, which makes the mattress firm and durable. 

Furthermore, materials used for the construction of medium firm mattresses are latex (very eco-friendly), polyfoam, memory foam, and fiber are common. As for the support core system, it might have a dense foam layer or pocket coil system to provide the required firmness. 

Above all, medium firm mattresses usually use less substantial padding and can therefore be lower in price. However, the demand and popularity of medium firm mattresses may also impact the price, which can be somewhat competitive.

Benefits of a Medium Firm Mattress

Here are some of the significant benefits of medium firm mattresses.

Prevents Overheating

Since medium firm mattresses tend to conform and contour less closely, they are less likely to trap heat. Therefore, it allows the sleeper to experience a cool and comfortable night.

Provides Proper Alignment

Similarly, their considerable conforming and contouring keeps the sleeper’s body from collapsing unnaturally into the mattress. As a result, proper support for areas such as the hips and shoulders is essential.

Durable 

Medium firm mattresses are typically made of high-quality, long-lasting materials that prevent premature sagging and deterioration; the mattress will last longer than any other softer mattress.

Disadvantages of a Medium Firm Mattress

Below are the disadvantages of medium firm mattresses.

Too Soft for Heavier Individual

Individuals with bigger builds might need an extra-supporting mattress like a firm mattress, and though a medium firm mattress falls more on the firm side, it is still a medium firm mattress. Therefore, sleeping on a medium mattress might distort their sleeping posture, resulting in soreness in the body.

Too Firm for Lighter Individual

Likewise, sleepers with petite frames or smaller builds may find the medium firm mattress uncomfortable. Since it can create pressure points rather than relieve them. However, there are softer options available, such as medium-soft mattresses.

Who Are They Best For

Medium firm mattresses are versatile and have many plus points since they are almost everyone’s first choice. However, the following section discusses who they are best suited for.

Combination Sleeper

Not everyone will wake up in the exact position they slept in, and this is a fact. Medium firm mattresses are versatile and can accommodate every sleeping position, making them suitable for combination sleepers that change positions through the night.

Average Sleeper

Petite sleepers find soft mattresses comfortable, and people with big frames find firm mattresses comforting. And since pressure is one of the gold standards of mattress performance, average sleepers, too, have a suitable mattress type: medium mattresses. 

Couples 

Finding a mattress when a person sleeps alone is easy since it would only require one person’s consideration and preferences. However, when a partner is involved, then it might get tricky since it is sporadic for people to have the same choices.

And with a medium firm mattress, the main attributes of accommodating every sleep position and less motion transfer make it an ideal mattress for two people sleeping together. Therefore, couples gravitate towards medium mattresses more.

Firm vs Medium Mattress for Back Pain

Getting a good night’s sleep for a good morning is necessary. However, the morning that starts with groaning can hardly count as a ‘good.’ And though there could be various reasons for the back pain. However, if the pain subsides after a little activity, then people should take heed of their mattress’ firmness.

In fact, the firm vs medium mattresses is the comparison where the firmness degrees vary. They are both said to be good for back pain. But which of these two is the better choice?

A study reported that a firm mattress is beneficial for back pain. But another study was subsequently provided, which stated that a mattress with medium firmness improves non-specific lower back pain. In addition, another piece of clinical data shows the study that medium firm mattresses are more suitable for providing better back support than firm mattresses.However, above all else, comfort is subjective, and the two main aspects that dictate the mattress’ comfort level are the body type of the sleeper and their sleep positions. Henceforth, people should consider these factors while purchasing a mattress. In addition, medium mattresses come in both softer and firmer types, so based on the body type and other factors, people should consider their purchasing choices.

How Firm Should My Mattress Be

As aforementioned, pressure is the gold standard of the mattress, and body type with preferred sleeping postures are the factors that can give a better idea of the suitable mattress’ firmness. However, there are also other factors that are equally important and must also be considered before making a choice.

 

Sleeping Positions

The sleeping position determines which part of the body is compressed against the mattress and to what extent. And choosing the right firmness level will help the area against the mattress get relaxed and comfortable, consequently providing better rest. 

 

Side Sleeper

Side sleepers put considerable pressure on their hips and shoulders, and sleeping on a firm mattress may build up pressure in the said areas. Therefore, soft or medium mattresses are the best choices.

 

Back Sleeper

Back sleepers require more support than just conforming while sleeping. Since, on the soft mattress, the back may strain and misalign, whereas, on the firmer mattress, it may distort. So, a medium firm mattress, which may provide adequate cushioning and considerable support, is a better choice.

 

Stomach Sleeper

Stomach sleepers need precise support since their posture may easily collapse on an inadequate mattress, which may allow the back to bend unnaturally. Therefore, firm or medium firm mattresses are better for stomach sleepers.

 

Combination Sleeper

A combination sleeper is restless and will need a mattress that is versatile enough to offer universal comfort and accommodate every sleeping posture. For this reason, a moderately firm and adequately contouring mattress, that is, a medium mattress is an optimal choice.

 

Body Type

Based on the body type, the comfort and firmness might be determined since every individual applies different amounts of pressure to the mattress in accordance with their weight.

 

Petite

People in this category weighing 130 lbs or less usually favor soft mattresses ranging from 1–5 on the firmness scale, which can provide better or considerable conforming and contouring (depending on their situations and conditions). 

 

Average

People weighing 130 lbs. to 230 lbs. have an average body type. They usually prefer soft or medium mattresses, ranging from 2–6 on the firmness scale. It allows them to better or moderately conform and support them (as per their choice and situations).

 

Heavy

People with a bigger body build are considered heavier individuals. They prefer and also recommend mattresses ranging from 7–10 on the firmness scale. A firm or medium firm mattress will balance and support their body type without letting it collapse into the mattress.

 

Temperature Neutrality

Some mattresses tend to trap heat, such as soft mattresses made of foam materials. Since they conform closely, they trap body heat, consequently reflecting it back to the sleepers. Henceforth, a mattress that conforms moderately or concisely is the optimum choice.

 

Odor

Mattresses made of synthetic materials waft chemical odors. Although these odors may dissipate after a few days, if an individual is sensitive to smell, then this off-gassing may cause specific symptoms like headaches, nausea, dizziness, or allergic reactions.

 

Durability

Soft mattresses are known to deteriorate faster than firm mattresses since the soft layers may get indented and sag over time. Therefore, checking the durability of a mattress before purchasing is a plus.

 

Price

Firm mattresses consist of a thin comfort layer and therefore require less material for manufacturing and, consequently, cost less. And in comparison, soft mattresses consist of multiple layers, require more materials for manufacturing, and therefore are pricey.

Try Awara Medium Firm Mattress

Today, there is a renewed awareness of overall health and wellness. Where good sleep is an essential element, and mattresses play a vital role. Therefore, require a suitable mattress.

The AwaraSleep 13-inch mattress, with 2 inches of organic Dunlop latex and premium coil spring, will provide the right amount of bounce and overall well-being. Because natural and organic materials make all the difference; in addition, according to research, latex mattresses reduce peak pressure, so that’s a plus.

Their mattresses’ firmness lands at medium-firm (7) on the firmness scale, making them a comfortable choice for back, side, and stomach sleepers. This means that the mattress is comfortable regardless of posture. AwaraSleep offers a 365-night trial period and a forever warranty to the original owner/customer.

And because of the natural latex, the mattresses produce minimum to no odors, providing overall well-being for the sleeper and the earth. Moreover, as a hybrid, it offers excellent support and contouring, allowing maximum breathability, less motion transfer, and undisturbed restful sleep.

Final Thought

When it comes to shopping, innumerable choices can spin your head. Therefore, follow the aforementioned tips and points to narrow down the research. 

Furthermore, firm vs medium mattress collation may not display vast differences, but they are different in the central aspect. That is firmness by one degree and performance. And along with personal preferences, it is important to consider other factors while purchasing a suitable mattress.

Also, remember to take advantage of the sleep trial since a new mattress requires some time to adjust. It helps to know whether the mattress is going to work or not

Firm mattresses are often preferable for back sleepers because they provide a more sturdy and even surface. As a black sleeper, you would want to go with something in the 5-7/10 range.

The firmness level of a mattress is dependent on the number of layers of the material used. So, yes, different materials come in all firmness levels.

You can use several ways like placing a mattress topper, using plywood, rotating or flipping the mattress, and investing in a new bed frame or slats can help you make your mattress firmer or softer.

Medium firm and firm mattresses provide the best cooling. Memory foam mattresses retain more heat, and hence you should stay away from them if you want to sleep cool.

Take a Sleep Quiz

Find out if a memory foam, hybrid, or latex mattress is the right mattress choice for you.

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Meet Our Review Board

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Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

David Bridge

Sleep Coach

Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians

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Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

David Bridge

Sleep Coach

Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians

Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

David Bridge

Sleep Coach

Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians