Whats The Difference Between A Firm And Soft Mattress
When shopping for a new mattress, you have likely noticed that each one comes with a firmness level. But, how is this level determined? Many brands rely on a standard firmness scale from 1 to 10with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. Firm and soft mattresses are at opposite ends of this scale. That said, youll rarely find mattresses rated as a 10 or a 1 because those are extremely firm and extremely soft beds that arent commonly made.
A firm mattress rates between a 9 and a 7 on the firmness scale. These beds have very little give, so the surface tends to remain even and allows for little sinking.
A soft mattress rates between a 2 and a 3 on the firmness scale. These beds compress quickly and easier when pressure is applied. Most sleepers experience some level of sinking when resting on a soft bed.
How Do I Know If My Mattress Is Causing Back Pain
Because back pain can be caused by many things, its often difficult to pinpoint whether or not your mattress is the culprit. If your back pain is worse in the morning, thats a good sign that your mattress isnt providing proper support. You may also find yourself tossing and turning throughout the night. Additionally, if your mattress is more than seven years old, thats another clue it might be time to invest in a new one.
Soft Vs Firm Mattresses
In this article, we define mattress firmness and discuss the pros and cons of soft vs firm mattresses so you understand which is right for you.
Buying a mattress is a very personal decision and selecting one from the wide variety of types of mattresses available today can feel like walking through a maze. Breaking the options down can simplify your decision. One of the most important aspects to decide on early in the shopping process is firmness. This choice will depend entirely on your preferences, sleep position, size, and budget. In this article, were discussing mattress firmness, including what it is, the pros and cons of soft and firm mattresses, and pointers for choosing a firmness level that works well for you.
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How Does Mattress Design Affect Back Pain
Mattress design can affect back pain both positively and negatively depending on how the mattress materials interact with your body type, body weight, and dominant sleeping position.
Below is a breakdown of how the materials, support, and layer design can affect your back pain and your potential comfort levels:
How Old Is Your Mattress
Dr. Perry warns that mattress springs break down over time, which makes your bed softer. This can aggravate a patients back, he says.
Based on this, does it makes sense for you to get a new mattress, or can you reduce pain and stiffness with your old one? While this is likely to vary among individuals, medical research may help shed some light on the question:
A study in Applied Ergonomics measured the comfort and quality of sleep for 27 patients with low back pain and stiffness. The participants recorded their sleep comfort and quality in their own beds for 21 days and then with a prescribed bedding system, which they used for 12 weeks. The study found that the participants showed progressive improvement in back pain and stiffness on the new mattresses and their quality of sleep improved significantly.
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Mattress Types And Firmness
Different types of mattresses utilize different materials, which can also affect the firmness. The following are the four most common mattress styles and the firmness levels you can expect with each.
- Memory Foam Mattresses: Memory foam is available in several different firmness options. Depending on the manufacturing process, memory foam can be either soft or extra firm. When shopping for a memory foam bed, look at the type of memory foam used and the layers supporting it to determine the firmness it will provide.
- Latex Foam Mattresses: There are two types of latex foamDunlop and Talalay latex. Dunlop tends to have a firmer firm, and these beds are typically considered medium-firm. Talalay latex is generally treated with additives to give it a soft to medium feel. Both materials have a natural elasticity that offers a slight bounce.
- Hybrid Mattresses: Hybrid mattresses have a stable coil base and a foam comfort layer. The type of foam used in the top of the bed will determine the firmness you will experience.
- Innerspring Mattresses: The coil springs in the base of an innerspring bed give it a firm feel. These beds tend to have a thinner comfort layer, so they are classified as either medium-firm or firm.
Are Firm Or Plush Mattresses Better For Your Back
The type of mattress you use is an important part of maintaining back health. And if you already suffer from back pain, the choice is even more important. Which type is the best? Are firm or plush mattresses better for your back? The information you find here will help you understand the type of mattress you need. Youll be equipped with the knowledge to choose the best mattress for your back.
Firm vs. Plush Mattresses
Lets start by defining these terms because they get thrown around in different ways by the mattress manufacturers.
Firm Mattresses: Theres actually good consensus about what a firm mattress is. While not being stiff, it is the hardest type of mattress youll find in most brands. If its an innerspring mattress, it may have more coils than comparable medium or soft mattresses. The coils may be tighter so they compress less, producing a firmer feel. Traditionally, a firm mattress was believed to be the best choice for those with a bad back.
Plush Mattresses: In most cases, a plush mattress will be on the softer end of the spectrum. The problem arises when some manufacturers put a plush pillow top over a firm or medium mattress. For our purposes, a plush mattress is nearer the soft end of the range made by most mattress companies.
The Best Mattress for your Back
Are Firm or Plush Mattresses Better for your Back?
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Cons Of A Medium Mattress
While medium mattresses are very beneficial for some individuals, they dont work for everyone. A medium mattress may not be firm enough to support somebody who experiences consistent back pain, as their back may sag and cause their spine to misalign. They may also feel a tad too soft for heavier sleepers since they require sturdier support to resist sinkage and remain resting in comfortable alignment.
Differences Between Firm And Soft Mattresses
Mattress firmness is rated on a scale of 1-10, from softest to firmest. Soft mattresses are fluffier and sink in when you lie on them. Firm mattresses are harder and have less give. Most people actually prefer something in the middleabout medium-firm.
The firmness scale is a great starting point to compare mattresses. But keep in mind that firmness is a very personal thing.
Different body types experience firmness differently. For example, a heavier person will find that many mattresses feel softer than their rating. That’s because heavy people put more weight on the mattress, so it softens and sinks in.
In general, innerspring beds tend to be firmer, while foam beds are typically softer. But you can definitely find soft or firm mattresses of any type.
Some mattress brands actually have multiple firmness levels for you to choose from. The Saatva Classic, for example, comes in soft, medium-firm, and firm. If you’re in the market for a comfortable innerspring mattress, be sure to check them out.
Is a firm or soft mattress better for back pain?
Most people find that a medium-firm mattress adequately supports them. But depending on your weight and sleep style, you might have different needs.
Why does firmness even matter when shopping for a new mattress? Find out below how your bed’s firmness level affects your body.
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How To Tell If Your Bed Is Causing Back Pain
According to Spine-Health, there are correlations between getting a good nights sleep and alleviating back pain. For example, if youre not sleeping well, your body cannot produce the correct hormones needed to heal your body as you sleep, thus alleviating pain. Here are some telltale signs that your bed may be the culprit:
What Mattress Do Chiropractors Recommend
If you suffer from chronic back pain, then you need the Saatva Classic mattress. This hybrid innerspring mattress is made out of eco-friendly materials that work in tandem with a supportive coil-on-coil system to give you a luxurious sensation.
Leading chiropractors in the United States heavily recommend this mattress. It even comes with the seal of approval from the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations. The reason it’s so good is due to how top engineers incorporated 5 key layers to provide you with the ultimate in comfort.
- Luxury Euro Pillow Top
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Is My Mattress Right For Me
A good mattress provides comfort and support. Comfort is the level of cushioning you feel around your pressure points. Support is how well your mattress keeps your spine aligned.
To figure out if your mattress has good support, lie on the mattress and ask yourself:
- Side and back sleepers: Do my shoulders and hips gently sink into the mattress while my lower back stays supported?
- Stomach sleepers: Does the front of my body lie flat without any sagging?
If the answer is yes, congratulations! Your mattress provides good support. If not, you might need a firmer mattress if your body sags into the mattress. If you feel a lot of pressure on your body, your mattress is probably too firm.
To see if there’s enough comfort, ask yourself:
- Are my limbs falling asleep?
- Is there any discomfort in my shoulders or hips?
If yes, try a softer mattress to take the load off your pressure points. If not, you can go as firm as you’d like as long as it isn’t uncomfortable.
Wake up with back pain that goes away after stretching for 15-30 minutes in the morning? This is a sign that it’s time for a new mattress.
Better For Your Back: Firm Or Soft Mattresses
If you were to ask a group of consumers whether they prefer a soft or firm mattress, most of them will report that they rather the soft mattress. If you were to ask this same group of consumers which is better for their back, a soft or a firm mattress, most of them will incorrectly reply that the soft mattresses are better. Unfortunately, this is because many people wrongly equate the softness in a mattress with its potential for providing adequate support to them while sleeping.
Many people wonder how comfortable mattresses, that enable you to sleep straight through the night, could be bad for your body. While we all want to sleep on mattresses that have some level of comfort to them, it is important to purchase a mattress not only based on how comfortable the top layer is. When perusing the vast mattress options, you should also consider what materials the internal layers of your mattress consists of. Firm support mattresses, such as those offered by memory foam mattresses, are far superior to the unreliable support provided by metal spring mattresses.
A previously stated, the very popular memory foam mattress can sufficiently provide the firm support needed for you to be able to sleep better and to wake up feeling fully rested and ready to take on the day. There are a few requirements to a good memory foam mattress to be on the lookout for when considering buying them.
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Cons Of A Soft Mattress
In some cases, soft mattresses may be less durable due to sagging. They can make aches and pains worse for stomach and back sleepers, and heavyweight individuals may find that theyre not supportive enough. Extremely soft mattresses can also cause trouble for couples. If one partner is heavier and sinks further into the mattress, the other partner can experience an uncomfortable, uneven sleeping surface.
Best Flippable: Layla Hybrid
If you suffer from indecisiveness, youll find the Layla Hybrid mattress quite a relief. The Layla Hybrid is one of the few flippable mattresses on the market with a medium firm side and a firm side. Along the top of each side of the mattress is a layer of memory foam that gives you a nice plush feel and cushions your pressure points. The memory foam topper is thicker on the softer side but thinner on the firmer side, so you can take your pick. The medium firm side is recommended for average side sleepers, but the firm side for heavier side sleepers in need of more support.
This versatile mattress also features a zone support layer that hugs the body and responds to any movement . And with a high-density foam that surrounds its innerspring core, the Layla Hybrid provides extra support in your middle, which tends to be where most of our weight concentrates when we lie down on our sides. You get contouring comfort without too much sinkage, and your spine stays in alignment . This helps side sleepers with hip pain wake up feeling a lot less achy.
- Mattress Type: Hybrid
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Is Firm Or Soft Mattress Good For Scoliosis
While choosing a mattress for individuals with scoliosis, normally a firm mattress gives the best comfort for the curved back. However, again this depends on the sleeping positions most comfortable for the individual. If an individual with scoliosis is a side sleeper then a firm mattress may not be a good idea as it may lead to interrupted sleep with a firm mattress and in such cases a soft mattress would be of choice.
In case if the individual prefers to sleep on the back then a firm mattress is the best in cases of scoliosis. For majority of adults with scoliosis pain, the important factor to consider while sleeping and to get a restful sleep at night is that there should be no pain whatsoever. For this reason, sleeping on the back with a firm mattress not only alleviates the pain but provides the best position for the spine where the muscles can relax and the individual can get a good nights sleep. In case if the individual is a side sleeper then a plush mattress is what is required which not only provides support for the shoulders and the neck but also provides support for the back which is required in cases of scoliosis.
Sleeping on the stomach is something which most physicians recommended to avoid for various medical reasons especially in cases of scoliosis, as it puts more pressure on the spine and tends to make the scoliosis worse.
Best Mattress For Sleep Apnea
Research has shown that mattresses with a mild degree of head-of-bed elevation , otherwise known as adjustable mattresses, may be particularly beneficial for people with sleep apnea. This type of mattress allows the person to elevate their head enough to improve airflow and prevent obstruction without interfering with sleep.
For people with hip or shoulder pain from osteoarthritis, a mattress that provides proper support and cushioning for your joints may be best. Research suggests that people with generalized back pain may want to choose a medium-firm or self-adjustable mattress that helps with spinal alignment.
If you have questions about which mattress would be best for your condition, talk to your healthcare provider or physiotherapist.
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How Does Sciatica Affect Sleep
The sciatic nerves originate in the lower back and run through the buttocks, back of the legs, and soles of the feet down to the toes. Sciatica is the result of a problem with the sciatic nerves, most often a pinched or irritated nerve caused by a herniated disc. Risk factors for sciatica include poor posture, injury, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, arthritis, or bone spurs.
Sciatica is often described as a radiating pain that starts in the lower back and travels down the back of the legs and sometimes the feet. It can present as numbness, tingling, throbbing, heat, inflammation, sharp pain, aching, or even muscle spasms in the areas affected by the sciatic nerve. These symptoms can be mild or severe, acute or chronic, and they often occur only on one side of the body. Patients may find some relief with anti-inflammatory drugs or by applying ice, but for severe cases, surgery is sometimes required.
Many people with sciatica find it difficult to find a comfortable sleep position. Lying down can put pressure on the hips and lumbar area, leading many people to experience flare-ups when trying to sleep or upon waking up after lying in the same position all night. People with sciatica require a mattress that can distribute body weight and support the lower back in order to help take pressure off the sciatic nerves.
Is A Soft Mattress Good For Your Back
A soft mattress can bring much comfort to those who are suffering from back pain. Side sleepers also find a soft mattress to be ideal, a quality soft mattress will allow the hips to sink while still providing pressure relief. A soft mattress can be good for your back, providing its designed to offer pressure relief.
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