Plush Vs Medium Mattress: What Is the Difference?

10 min read
10 min read

The comfortability of your mattress decides the quotient of your sleep quality. A critical factor in deciding the comfortability is the firmness of your mattress. However, it is not a one-size-fits-all parameter. Some like an ultra-soft mattress, while others prefer a firmer and more rigid surface. It leads to the time memorial debate between plush vs medium mattress.  

Today, mattresses are available in a wide variety of firmness levels. Hence, it can be daunting for any mattress shopper to nail the perfect mattress for a sublime sleep experience.  

To help you, we would analyze and highlight the difference between plush and medium mattress to decide which would suit you best. Keep reading!

Mattress Firmness Scale

The firmness of any mattress is measured on a firmness scale. It indicates the mattress’s balance between its cushion and support. Mattress Firmness scale have a value of 1 to 10, with ten being the firmest. 

Generally, you would find mattresses ranging in the firmness scale of 3 to 8, with three being the softest and eight being the hardest.  

Plush mattresses are the softest mattress available with cushioning support. A mattress softer than plush mattresses are also available, but they barely offer any support. Likewise, the medium mattress strikes a near-perfect balance between cradling and support. Mattresses firmer than this tend to have a lot of lift but little cushioning.  

Difference Between Firm Plush & Medium Firm Mattress

Basis
Medium Firm
Firm Plush
Support
It has a balance between support and cushion to render a sleeping feel that is neither too hard nor too soft.
It has a soft feel but is not overly soft. It also has enough support to make for a comfortable sleep.
Softness
Its surface is neither too hard nor too soft.
It has a soft surface that gives you a feeling of sinking.
Pressure relief
Provides pressure relief and some cushioning.
Provides both pressure relief and cushioning.
Ideal for
deal for all types of sleepers except plus side weight people.
Ideal for side sleepers and sleepers below 130 pounds.
Durability
Quite durable
Less durable comparatively
Price
Less expensive comparatively ($1000-$2000)
Expensive ($1500-$3000)

What’s a Plush Mattress?

You can easily recognize a plush mattress if it compresses under your body while cradling your joints and other pressure points. While providing plenty of soft cushioning, plush mattresses would also offer you adequate support. They give you a sinking feel while sleeping.  

Generally, the plush mattress has a firmness level of 3 or 4.  

Construction of Plush Mattress

A plush mattress is often 12 to 14 inches thick. It has softness rendering and pressure-relieving layers on top of its support core. The plush feel of the mattress is achieved in many ways. 

  • A single layer of thick plush foam is used over the support layer.  
  • Multiple layers of soft foam are used.  
  • Padding is done with different materials of varying thickness and densities like wool, cotton, fiberfill, etc.  
  • A pillow top is added over the comfort layer. 
     

Pros of Plush Mattress

A push mattress offers several benefits like 

  • It offers excellent support to relieve arthritis and joint pain due to its plush comfort layers.  
  • Its light support also works well in relieving hip pain.  
  • It reduces tension on your body’s pressure points for a more comfortable feel.  
  • With its adequate cushioning support for your back, neck, and shoulder, you will likely experience relief from back pain, especially in the lower back.  
  • Generally, a soft mattress has a warm sleeping surface. Hence, it keeps a cold sleeper cozy throughout the night.  
  • These mattresses, like the plush memory foam mattress, are often lightweight comparatively and hence, easier to move.  
  • It is ideal for lightweight people as it does not sink too much for them. 
     

Cons of Plush Mattress

On the flip side, a plush mattress is: 

  • More vulnerable to sagging and sinking.  
  • Its softness does not support or improve spinal alignment.  
  • It might not be too ideal for couples who have different sleeping positions. Couples usually prefer a medium firm mattress as it can accommodate most sleeping positions.  
  • It can be uncomfortable for stomach and back sleepers due to its high compression and sink.  
  • These mattresses cannot support sleepers over 130 pounds well and are not ideal for overweight people.  
  • These tend to be more expensive than the traditional ones. A good plush mattress can cost you anywhere between $2000-$3000.
  • The answer to ‘do plush mattresses last longer?’ is no. They are not so long-lasting comparatively and need replacement every few years. However, a quality mattress might last 7 to 10 years. 
     

Who Are They Best For?

Not all sleepers would find a plush mattress ideal for them. A few sleeper types who would love a plush mattress are: 

  • Side Sleepers 

Side sleepers tend to apply immense pressure on their neck and shoulder. Plush beds provide the right cushioning to ease the tension from those parts and extra cushioning to other sensitive body parts. It also helps reduce muscle and joint pain.  

  • Lighter Sleepers 

Light and petite sleepers find plush mattresses more responsive and experience better contouring with more compression but without any sinking or sagging feel. Hence, they find it far more comfortable than any firm mattress, which might feel too hard.  

  • Individuals With Pre-Existing Conditions

If you are already suffering from lower back pain, arthritis, joint pain, etc., then a firm bed might leave you highly uncomfortable. A firm mattress might lead to a pressure build-up in your hips, shoulder, and lower back.  

In contrast, the plush comfort of a soft bed would offer better contouring and more restorative rest to people with pre-existing conditions. 

What’s a Medium Mattress?

As evident by its name, a medium mattress strikes a balance between the hard and soft mattress. It is neither too soft like a plush mattress nor as hard as a firm mattress that feels like a plank of wood.  

A medium mattress gives more lift than a plush mattress and does not compress much. It still cradles your joints and provides sturdy support without the sinking feeling.  

On the firmness scale, medium mattresses are rated 5 or 6. 

Construction of Medium Mattress

These mattresses generally have an equal proportion of supporting materials and cushioning materials. Hence, they remain soft but respond quickly to pressure.   

Their design combines several comfort layers with a support core like coil, foam etc.

Pros of Medium Mattress

A medium mattress with its balance of cushion and support offers several advantages like

  • It provides the right contouring and support without the sinking feeling of a plush mattress.  
  • Due to its proper cushioning, it protects the body from pain and pressure build-up.  
  • It is ideal for all types of sleepers and body types.  
  • With less motion transfer, the mattress is suitable for couples. 
     

Cons of Medium Mattress

A few noteworthy drawbacks of a medium mattress are:

  • A medium mattress is not ideal for a plus-size sleeper as it tends to sink too much under their weight and get ruined.  
  • Sleepers suffering from chronic back pain will likely experience more pain and discomfort on a medium mattress due to the back sinking a tad more. 
     

Who Are They Best For?

A medium mattress is ideal for a plethora of sleepers. A few of them are 

  • Combination Sleepers 

Because of its balance between cushioning and support, the medium mattress is ideal for those who tend to toss and turn and change their sleeping positions at night. No matter what position you sleep in, you get adequate support, particularly for sensitive areas like the hip and back. Simultaneously, its cushioning remains optimum and helps you easily transition from one sleeping position to the next.  

  • Lightweight and Average Sleeper 

People below 130 pounds are categorized as lightweight sleepers, while those from 130 to 230 pounds are considered average sleepers.  

Both these sleepers would love the medium mattress as it would be soft for them. Simultaneously, it would be unresponsive enough to cause no sinking and sagging.  

  • Couples

Because a medium mattress can accommodate all sleeping positions and almost all body weight sizes except the heavy, it is an ideal choice for couples.  

Furthermore, the mattress has less motion transfer. Hence, couples can sleep comfortably with minimal sleep disturbances. 

Plush Vs Firm Mattress for Back Pain

Today, back pain is such a prevalent issue that we take it as part and parcel of our lives. But it can take a severe turn if ignored.  

One of the leading reasons for back pain is the unhealthy sleeping posture triggered by an unsuitable mattress. Given that, you might wonder, ‘Is a firm mattress better for your back?’ or a plush mattress would work better. 

The panacea for it boils down to proper support. The spine needs to remain neutral when you sleep as it helps reduce tension from the vertebrae and supports the back’s natural curves to keep it relaxed. 

An overly soft mattress might cause too much sinkage in the pelvic area, while an excessively firm bed would offer zero sinkage. In both cases, the natural position of your spine would be distorted.  

To resolve back pain issues, select a mattress that offers you a near-perfect balance of firmness and cradling based on your sleeping style and body weight.  

For most purposes, a medium mattress works far better than a soft mattress in relieving back pain. 

How Firm Should My Mattress Be?

The firmness of your mattress is a matter of personal preference. Nevertheless, there are several things to consider while hunting for a mattress that would help you lead an active and well-rested lifestyle. A few of them are 

Sleeping Style 

Your sleeping style is a crucial determinant of the type of mattress you should choose.  

If you are a side sleeper, you should choose a soft mattress as it cradles your hip and shoulder joints and provides enough contouring and support to your body weight.  

However, if you are a combo sleeper, back sleeper, stomach sleeper, or if you have a sleeping partner, a medium mattress would be a perfect choice.  

An extra heavy person should opt for a much firmer mattress to get the proper support.  

Body Type

Your body type is decided by your weight. People below 130 pounds are called petite sleepers, while those above 230 pounds are called plus-size sleepers. The other sleepers weighing between 130-230 pounds are called average sleepers.  

Petite sleepers find it hard to get sufficient compression from their mattress that cradles their joints. The issue is countered well by both medium and plush mattresses. Such sleepers should avoid firm and extra firm mattresses as they barely offer any compression.  

Average sleepers can choose any mattress according to their preference since their body weight barely impacts the firmness needs. The prime factor to consider for them is their sleeping positions.  

Plus size sleepers stand directly opposite petite sleepers. Because of their excess body weight, plus-size sleepers end up getting too much compression from their mattress. It causes far more sink than the healthy benchmark and causes their spines to move out of alignment. Given that, a firm mattress works for them as it neutralizes their compression and offers enough support to keep their spine in neutral alignment.  

Sleeping Partner 

You and your partner will likely have different weights and different sleeping positions. Hence, you might have different firmness levels and comfort needs. In that case, a medium or a medium-firm mattress can be the most intelligent choice for restful sleep.  

Mattress Type  

Each material used to construct the mattress has its peculiarities, advantages, and drawbacks. For instance, memory foam is known for its generous hug, while latex is quite resilient. Hence, the layers of materials used to lend the cushioning and support will also decide how comfortable you would be in that mattress.  

Budget  

The budget decides the quality of materials used in the mattress. That, in turn, decides the firmness, quality, and comfort level of the mattress.  

While you need not break your bank to get a quality mattress, you should not go for cheap quality ones. They would never provide the right firmness level and would also not last long. It’s only a decent quality mattress that would offer you the right firmness.

Conclusion

We hope that by now, you understand the ins and outs of a plush and medium mattress and can effortlessly choose the best mattress for you. A plush mattress would work best if you need more cushioning, while a medium mattress tends to lean towards better support. Ultimately, the final decisive factors are your body weight and sleeping postures.

While many use the terms interchangeably, mattress firmness and support are not the same things.  

By mattress firmness, we mean how hard or soft the mattress feels when you sleep on it. In contrast, mattress support implies the level of proper spinal alignment offered by the mattress.  

Any mattress’s firmness is measured on a scale of 1 to 10. But it does not define its support. Generally, the mattress core layer decides the support offered by it, while its comfort layers decide its firmness.

A firm mattress works better for a back sleeper than a soft mattress as it provides more support to maintain proper spinal alignment. A soft mattress would offer more sink that might not provide proper spinal alignment. However, it also depends on the brand, quality, and body weight.  

Choosing a medium firmness mattress would be an ideal choice.

The medium mattress has a decently long lifespan, especially compared to plush mattresses that have a short lifespan. It is because they are less prone to sinking and breakdown than plush mattresses.  

However, medium mattresses have a shorter lifespan compared to firm mattresses. Moreover, the lifespan of both soft and medium mattresses is shortened if a plus-size person sleeps on them.

You can cover it with a mattress topper with a firm feel. Another way to keep it firmer is to flip and rotate it periodically. Sleeping on the same side of the bed tends to make that area sink and even sag.  

Flipping and rotating the mattress causes even wear and tear and allows the sagged portion to restore itself.

Firm mattresses tend to get soft over time as you sleep on them. But, suppose it is so firm that it is highly uncomfortable. In that case, you can top it with a mattress topper crafted with plush materials. You would have a softer bed.

Generally, a firm mattress is better for the back as it offers the right balance of support and cushion. But it should be of good quality and not too firm as that can cause misalignment of the spine.

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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 healh 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

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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