What Does The Mattress Comfort Scale Mean For YOU?

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The Mattress Comfort Scale Demystified

If you’ve been searching around the internet for a new mattress, you will have come across mattresses being rated “7”, or “plush” or “luxury firm” or “9”. There is a confusing amount of number ratings and salesy sounding descriptions. What do they all mean? And which is the right level for you to choose? Let me demystify the mattress comfort scale for you so you can choose your next mattress with confidence.

I’ve got a video summary of the article at the bottom of this page if you prefer to watch a video instead.

Here’s The Scale

mattress comfort scale

As you can see, the scale most commonly runs from 1 through to 10, with 1 being the absolute softest you can imagine and 10 being the hardest. As I write this, I’ve not come across a mattress rated a 1, nor have I come across a 10. I’ll share info on the softest and hardest mattresses I feel happy recommending further down in the article.

Smack in the middle is (obviously) 5, which you could describe as medium.

You’ll see I’ve noted the rating of 7 on the image, that’s because the overwhelming majority of the mattresses you can buy online have a firmness rating of 7, which you could describe as medium firm. Why is 7 so popular? Seven is a firmness level a lot of people can feel comfortable with. It’s not so firm that those who prefer a softer bed could feel uncomfortable, and it’s firm enough for those who like a really firm bed to feel supported. Basically, it’s a good middle ground for people who share beds and have different comfort preferences.

So What About Other Descriptions Companies Use?a comfy mattress with the right firmness for you

You might see mattresses described as “plush” or “luxury firm” or any other such flowery words. What do these mean?

Unfortunately, it can totally depend on the company!

In general terms, I say that a “plush” mattress will feel softer than a “luxury firm” mattress, but that “luxury firm” means that it has a touch of softness to it.

Confused much? Most companies should also give you a number rating alongside their worded description, which will help you get a more objective idea of its rating. Reading reviews of other users can also give you an idea of how most people find the firmness of the mattress (keep in mind that everyone will experience a mattress differently, so don’t let the odd negative comment put you off – this is why I read all the comments and analyze them for you in my reviews to give you an idea of what MOST people think)

If you’re feeling unsure about the firmness of the mattress you’re considering, make use of the online chat feature that many companies have. The online mattress world is a competitive one, and a big positive of this for you as a customer is that they are often really responsive on live chat to give you good customer service. Talking the mattress through with a real person can be very helpful if the online description is leaving you cold.

So How Do I Choose What’s Right For Me?

Everyone has quite different needs when it comes to mattress firmness. If you are of average weight and sleep in a variety of positions, you’ll probably find that a mattress rating around 7 is indeed the right choice for you.

Here are some of my favorite mattresses rated at around the 7, or “medium- firm” mark:

stomach sleepers need a firmer mattress

There are situations where a standard “7” mattress will not be right for you. These are:

  • If you are an average weight or lighter person and you like to mainly sleep on your side. In this scenario, you may find that you just don’t get enough pressure relief from a medium firm mattress, and you get pins and needles in your shoulder. You need a softer mattress, rated around a 5. Nolah is a perfect mattress for you, in fact it’s made with side sleepers in mind. Read about it here. The Puffy Royal is slightly firmer at around a 6, and is also extremely comfortable. It also has more features than pretty much every mattress I’ve ever researched. Read about Puffy Royal here.
  • If you are a heavier person, you will need a firmer mattress. A mattress rated around 8 or 9 will probably work really well for you. If you sleep on a mattress that is too soft, you risk sinking right through the comfort layers of the mattress and hitting the support core. It sounds strange, but this will make a soft mattress feel really firm and uncomfortable for you. I’ve got a list of seven mattresses which I recently updated that are great options for you here.
  • If you mainly sleep on your stomach, you will also need a firmer mattress. When you sleep on your stomach, a lot of weight is going through your hips and pelvis: this requires a firm mattress to support your spine to stay aligned so you don’t wake up with back pain. I’ve got more information for stomach sleepers here.

So What’s The Firmest And Softest Mattress I’ve Come Across?

The softest mattress I’m happy to recommend to you is the Layla mattress. It’s a foam mattress that is rated about 3, which is pretty soft! The cool thing about Layla is that it’s actually a flippable mattress: it has a firm foam comfort layer on the underside of the mattress so you can try out two different feels in one mattress. The firm foam layer is quite thin though, and Layla has mainly been designed to be used on the soft side. Read about it here.

The firmest mattress I’m happy to recommend comes from IDLE Sleep, and is rated a very firm 9. You can read more about it in this article.


Got questions? If you need any help with comparing mattress firmness or unraveling company marketing speak, leave me a comment and I’ll help you out.


Emily Johnstone

Emily is the creator and owner of bestmattressforyou.com. Emily's scientific background gives her an analytical, critical, and discerning eye to bring unbiased, thorough, and helpful content to the site. Your good sleep is her top priority. Find out more about Emily and bestmattressforyou.com here.