The most important factor when selecting a mattress is choosing the right firmness level. The best firmness level depends on your personal preferences and different factors including your sleeping position, weight or height. Measuring the firmness level is done on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 as the least firm level and 10 as the firmest level. Most mattresses that are made today have their firmness level in a range from 3 (or ‘Soft’) to 8 (or ‘Extra Firm’).
For people who are lighter (less than 130 pounds) and who are average weight (130 to 230 pounds) a suitable choice would be a softer mattress, because firmer mattresses don’t have good conforming, and can ultimately cause discomfort or even pain in the lower back, neck, shoulder or other areas that are also sensitive.
Side sleepers also prefer to pick softer mattresses, because this position of sleeping needs good cushioning in the shoulders and hips in order to properly align the spine, pelvis, and neck. Improper alignment causes aches and pains in these areas.
People who are heavyweight (more than 230 pounds) most of the time don’t feel very comfortable on soft models because they have a tendency to sink too deep in the bed. With too much sinking, the bed’s support is compromised, and as a result, heavier sleepers can experience a lot of discomfort.
To find out more about factors that you need to consider if you’re choosing a softer mattress, read our guidelines in the article and our top picks for the best soft mattress you can find on the market. Our top 6 choices of the best soft mattresses are based on verified buyer and owner reviews, and of course, on our intensive product research.
Nest Bedding Alexander Signature Hybrid
- Multiple firmness options (3, 5.5, 7.5)
- Lifetime comfort guaranteed
- Lifetime warranty
- Strong edge support
The Nest Bedding Alexander Hybrid Mattress was made for back sleepers of different weight, especially for people with average weight (130 to 230 pounds) who want softer or firmer beds. The mattress comes in three firmness settings: ‘Soft’ (3), ‘Medium’ (5.5), and ‘Firm’ (7.5).
The mattress has a very breathable cover that contains strategically-placed copper-infused foam, giving the bed its cooling capabilities you need while sleeping. The cover can’t be removed, like in most beds, but it does, however, have a natural feel due to its combination of cotton and polyester. The rest of the bed is made from five layers designed to keep the bed cool, relieve pressure points and conform to the body. The first two layers have gel memory foam and polyfoam infused with copper. These layer are responsible for keeping the bed cool and also, to improve the blood circulation of your body. The third layer is meant to adjust your spine while participating in the cooling process. It gives suitable adjustment of the pressure points on your back, allowing you to feel comfortable while sleeping. The layer below this gives deep compression support, while enabling airflow through the mattress. The fifth and last layer is there to support all of the layers on top of it. Apart from the layers, the bed also has great support at the edges.
The Alexander Signature Hybrid has a lifetime comfort and warranty that will guarantee you can return the bed at any point and get a partial refund. Full refunds are available within 100 days of the date of purchase. But, there is nothing to worry about, because the mattress has an long lifespan, unlike the hybrid standards. With its luxurious design, the mattress is considered as one of the best hybrid mattresses with multiple firmness options available. It is very good for side and back sleepers in every weight group (heavy, average, light), individuals who tend to sleep hot and couples.
- Flippable with dual firmness (4, 7)
- 120-day sleep trial
- Lifetime warranty
- Very good motion isolation
- Close conforming and great pressure relief
For people that have oscillating firmness preferences, it is very hard to find a mattress that will be the best fit. The Layla Mattress is one of the best flippable mattress and one of the best memory foam models available on the market, with a ‘Soft’ (4) side and a Firm (7) side. This model is great for people who require a softer surface and for those with oscillating preferences.
The bed’s cover is made out of 66% polyester, 30% viscose, and 4% lycra, a combination that makes the bed very comfortable and soft. The sides have layers of copper-infused memory foam that help improve circulation in your body and maintain temperature neutrality. Being a flippable mattress, it has two sides that have different firmness settings. The side that is ‘Soft’ has a layer made of convoluted polyfoam, put there for better cushioning. Nonetheless, both sides share a support core with high-density polyfoam. The mattress is also very light, which makes it easy to just flip the mattress and change the firmness setting.
Based on previous experiences from people who have purchased The Layla mattress, it produces almost no noise and does a good job at isolating movement, making it a great option for couples or individuals who are awoken easily. The product is also very useful for people who sleep on the side and back in all weight groups (heavy, average, light), individuals with back and hip pain, and especially for people with oscillating firmness preferences. Along with this mattress comes a 120-day sleep trial and a lifetime warranty.
The New Purple
- Multiple firmness options (4.5, 5.5, 6.5)
- 100-day sleep trial
- 120-month warranty
- Innovative hybrid construction
- Close conforming and good pressure relief
The New Purple was introduced last year (2018), and since then it has proven itself as a very reliable and great hybrid mattress. It has very innovating and comfortable comfort layers as Purple’s core product. It is available in three firmness settings: ‘Medium Soft’ (4.5), ‘Medium’ (5.5) and ‘Medium Firm’ (6.5).
This mattress has a great comfort system that contains buckling-column gel located in the polymer ‘Smart Grid’. Apart from that, the Medium Soft model also has a four-inch comfort layer, while the Medium model has a three-inch comfort layer. The Smart grid is very durable, which contributes to the long lifespan of the mattress. And the buckling-column gel has good conforming to your body and effective relief of pressure points, as many customers have confirmed. The support core of the mattress has a pocketed coil that produces little noise and gives robust edge support. And the bed has great motion isolation and temperature regulation, as many sleepers have stated.
The bed’s price is above the average price of a hybrid bed. It should be noted that the price also varies depending on the thickness and firmness level. Because of its price, it most suitable for buyers that have a bigger budget. Purple has free shipping available in the U.S. for the New Purple mattress. The mattress is very suitable for side and back sleepers in all weight groups (heavy, average, light), individuals that sleep hot and have back pain problems.
- Multiple firmness options (4, 6, 7.5)
- 120-day sleep trial
- 180-month warranty
- A support system that is very strong and durable
- Great responsiveness and bounciness
The Saatva is one of the best innerspring mattresses that gives excellent responsiveness. Each of the different firmness settings – Medium Soft (4), Medium Firm (6), and Firm (7.5) is made for sleepers with different preferences and weight groups.
The bed’s cover is made from 100% organic cotton that makes the entire bed very soft and breathable. It gives additional pressure relief on the most important part of the body with the quilting and the added strip of memory foam. The support layer here is located at the bottom of the mattress. In order to give proper support, it has steel coils that are individually wrapped to give the bed better responsiveness. The comfort system has a pocketed coil layer and the Bonnell spring support core, all of which are responsible for the great comfort and the bouncy surface with minimal sinking. Below the cover is a convoluted layer of foam, put there to give additional pressure relief and to enable airflow that helps with cooling of your body. This layer is also a transition between the soft pillow top and the coils below. The coil layer is the primary support of the bed. The coils are individually wrapped to give some bounce to the bed and good motion isolation.
Bounciness of the mattress can be considered as a good and bad factor. The plus side of a bouncy bed is that getting in and out of bed and moving around it, is easy. But it is not good when you sleep with your partner, because the bounciness might wake up either your partner or yourself. However, that is not the case with the Saatva model that gives you the perfect bounce you need without the motion transfer. This is due to the individually wrapped coils beneath the memory foam layer, put there designed to help with lower back pain.
For all of their products, Saatva has White Glove delivery available for any location in the U.S. and a free in-home bed assembly and old mattress removal included, something that the other manufacturers charge an extra fee for. Furthermore, the mattress has a warranty of 180 months that is much longer than the average, and a 120-day sleep trial.
Tomorrow Sleep Hybrid
- Multiple firmness options (4, 6)
- 365-day sleep trial
- 120-month warranty
- Strong edge support
- Great temperature neutrality
The Tomorrow Sleep Hybrid bed is one of the most popular hybrids beds available on the market. It is available in two firmness options: Medium Soft (4) and Medium (6). This model is the best memory foam product that deals with problems of excessive sinking and sleeping hot.
The mattress is made with memory foam, but the comfort layers have gel memory foam, along with the standard memory foam. Because of these materials, these layers have great conformity close to your body and are responsible for easing pains and aches in the back, neck, shoulders, hips and other sensitive areas. The bed sleeps very coolly with the cover made out of phase-change material, made for those who sleep hot.
Both the Medium Soft and Medium Firm models have a very thin and breathable cover made out of a stretchy combination of polyester and nylon. The models also have the same support system. However, these models have differences in their comfort layers. The Medium Firm model’s top layer is made of memory foam that contributes to the pressure relief and temperature regulation, while the top layer of the Medium Soft is made of memory foam with phase change material on top of it, which is also good for pressure relief and gives additional contouring to your body. Both models have a gel memory foam layer underneath the top layer. This layer is very soft and it contributes to the pressure relief. The only difference in this layer is that this layer is much bigger and softer in the Medium Soft model. The Medium Firm also has a bounce foam layer underneath this one, that has a slow response to pressure and keeps you from sinking too deep into the mattress.
Both of the models have a good support system with a pocketed coil support core that is located in the foam, in order to minimize sinkage and to reinforce the edges of the bed. Pocketed coils are responsible for airflow and the cooling of the mattress. It also has good motion isolation that is much better than in other hybrids. And the bed makes very little noise, which is great for couples that are awoken easily.
Ultimately, the Medium Soft model should provides more pressure relief than the Medium Firm model, making it a better fit for side sleepers. Tomorrow Sleep, a subsidiary of Serta Simmons has free shipping in the U.S. and White Glove available for an additional charge. It also has a 365-day sleep trial, one of the longest trials for any mattress brand, and a 120-month warranty.
- Flippable with dual firmness (4, 7)
- 120-day sleep trial
- 240-month warranty
- Very close conforming to the body
- Cool sleeping
- Excellent motion isolation
Many people have oscillating firmness preferences and have trouble finding a mattress that is suitable. Because of this, many brands offer flippable mattresses that have different firmness settings. The Zenhaven by Saatva is the best latex mattress with different firmness settings on each of the bed’s sides. One side is a Medium Delicate (4) and the other Firm (7).
The mattress has many layers that are made of all-natural Talalay latex, that comes from from rubber trees, and has the ability to absorb CO2 during the production of the mattress. The mattress features dual comfort layers that are made from Talalay latex. The comfort layers share the support core that is made from a a firmer and denser Talalay latex. The Talalay latex is a great material that makes the bed feel very soft, with its consistent cell structure. The bad has great motion isolation and quick responsiveness to help ease pain and pressure. Additionally, the model has great support for the body, and it conforms to every curve of the body. With the Zenhaven’s Talalay latex, you will have a wide range of health benefits due to the bed’s hypoallergenic properties and resistance to dust mites, mold and microbe organisms. There are also no resilient organic blends or any other unhealthy substances that are usually put in chemical-based bed foams.
The soft and breathable cover is made from 100% organic cotton, covered in all-natural wool that wicks the moisture away from the mattress. Underneath the cover there is a plush layer with Talalay latex responsible for the subtle sinking feeling you get from the mattress. The layer under this one gives a nice bounce and supports the structure, allowing you to change sleeping positions without any difficulties. Like it was mentioned before, the mattress has two firmness setting on each of the sides. The side of the mattress that is softer has latex that adjusts closely to the place of pressure relief and is responsible for minimal motion transmission. The other side, which is firmer, is better responsive and responsible for the minimal noise making.
Because of its natural qualities, it a great option for environmentally friendly mattress shoppers. However, with the price being a bit high it is intended for shoppers with bigger budgets. Nevertheless, Saatva gives free shipping in the U.S. for all of its products and free White Glove delivery with the option to have the old mattress removed from your home and the new one assembled. Along with that, the Zenhaven has a 120-day sleep trial and a 240-month warranty.
Soft Mattress Buyer’s Guide
The firmness level of a mattress shows how the bed ’s surface feels on your body. The comfort layer and the cover are the ones who are responsible for the overall firmness of the bed. Firmness is measured with a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the least firm and 10 the firmest. However, most of the mattresses sold on the market today are between a 3 (‘Soft’) and an 8 (‘Firm’).
In this part of the article, we will talk about soft mattresses that have a firmness level of 4 (‘Medium Soft’) and lower. Soft mattress models are the best for people who sleep on the side because it improves the alignment of the spine and pressure points. It is also good for lighter people because soft mattresses give them good conforming, which they can’t get with firmer mattresses. But, soft mattresses do have some downsides. They have a lot more off-gassing odor, high body heat retention, and most importantly, a shorter lifespan.
Who Sleeps Best on Soft Mattresses?
You might be wondering what can a soft mattress offer you and who would sleep on one. In this part, we will address different physiological factors, like the weight of a person and how he or she sleeps, which are usually good indications that the sleeper might like a softer bed. Of course, every person is different, and the information that we will give applies to most mattress buyers, but it certainly does not apply to all buyers and owners. It is important to test mattresses with different firmness levels to find out what you prefer before buying the final product.
The first factor we will consider is weight. For the purposes of this article, we will treat the average weight to be between 130 and 230 pounds, and therefore, above-average will be anything over 230 pounds and below average will be anything less than 130 pounds. The weight of a person is one physical factor that is directly linked to the firmness of a mattress. People with above-average prefer a firmer mattress, while people below average weight prefer a softer mattress. The reason behind this preference is the pressure relief and conforming of a mattress. Models that are softer have a tendency to sink deeper when in contact with a body, and firmer models will only sink if the sleeper has enough weight. Because of these people who have low or average weight won’t sink easily, and therefore, feel comfortable in a softer mattress. They can experience the effects that a soft mattress can give. A soft bed will relieve pressure and give good conforming to the body, and especially the spine. However, people who have more weight can sink too deep into a mattress model that is soft, and experience more pain and pressure. It is because of this that they feel more comfortable on firmer mattresses.
The table underneath will give you the most popular firmness ratings for each of the three weight groups we talked about.
|Weight Group||The Usual Mattress Firmness Preference|
|Average (130 to 230 Pounds)||5 (Medium) to 6 (Medium Firm)|
|Above-average (More than 230 Pounds)||7 (Firm) and Higher|
|Below-average (Less than 130 Pounds)||4 (Medium Soft) and Lower|
Another factor that influences firmness preferences is the position a person sleeps in, because softer mattresses conform more closely, and ultimately improve the alignment of your spine. Sleeping on the back is best for spine alignment, and back sleepers might not need a mattress for spine alignment. However, people who sleep on the side create a curvature in the spine that is not natural, and because of that require a product with enhanced support in the lower back, hips, neck, and shoulders, to help reduce pressure and pain. That’s why people who sleep on the side generally prefer mattresses with a Soft or Medium firmness. As for those who sleep on their stomachs, it’s common that the majority of them don’t like sleeping on soft beds. Stomach sleepers often find soft mattresses uncomfortable because they sink too profoundly, which forces them to turn their heads to not lay face-down on the bed and they experience increased pain and pressure in this kind of position. This is especially problematic for heavier stomach sleepers, as a high percentage of their weight is usually concentrated in the stomach area. However, people who have below-average weight might feel comfortable on a Medium Soft mattress because they give very good conforming with very little sinking.
The table below gives you information on the preferred firmness levels for people with different weight and sleep position.
|Weight Group||Best Firmness for Side Sleepers||Best Firmness for Back Sleepers||Best Firmness for Stomach Sleepers|
|Average||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)||5 (Medium) to 7 or 8 (Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)|
|Heavy||5 (Medium) to 6 (Medium Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)|
|Light||3 (Soft) to 5 (Medium||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)|
General Qualities that Soft Mattresses Have
After reviewing the factors that a soft mattress has, let’s go over some of the performance and construction factors that many mattresses of 4 or below firmness level have.
- Shorter Lifespan: Because softer mattresses usually have much more cushioning layers in the comfort system, these layers tend to sag or form indentations. After some time, these can make sleepers encounter increased pain and pressure.
- Higher Price-point: Softer bed usually have a lot of latex or memory foam layers in their comfort systems, which often increases the price of a mattress. Firmer beds have fewer layers in their comfort systems and are the cheapest options.
- Thickness: As a result of a higher number of comfort layers, softer mattresses have a tendency to be much thicker than firmer models.
- Conforming and Pressure Relief: As we’ve mentioned before, softer mattresses usually give great conforming and pressure relief for people with below-average and average weight, due to the fact that they sink deeply, but not too deep. People with above-average weight can sink too much and that’s why they usually pick a Medium to Firm mattresses.
- Harder to Move: Softer models that have more layers in their comfort system are often heavier, and because of this, they are harder to move. This factor also depends on the type of a mattress. Some models, like memory foam ones, are usually lighter than other soft models like innersprings, because of the weight and density of mattress components.
- Sleeping Hot: There are two reasons to why sleeping is somewhat uncomfortable on a softer mattress. We have already mentioned the first reason – sinking deeper than in firmer mattresses. This is uncomfortable because it can restrict airflow on the surface and create a body heat trap. The second reason is that models that have multiple foam and memory foam layers are much softer and warmer than firmer models with just one or maybe two foam layers. This happens as a result of body-heat-retaining properties of the foam.
- Lack of Responsiveness: Responsiveness of a mattress refers to how quickly the product responds to the body of a person. The lowest responsiveness is with softer mattresses, because of the close conforming. As a result, these models aren’t responsive enough for sex like the Medium/Medium Firm models, which have the perfect balance of responsiveness and softness.
- Odor: Some products can emit smells, most commonly known as off-gassing, when they are unpacked. The majority of these odors disappear after a day or two, but some models can have more unpleasant smell that lasts longer. The models that tend to be the softest, with memory foam and polyfoam, are the ones that are often long-lasting and contain unpleasant smells.
Tips for Buying a Soft Mattress
After looking at the characteristics and factors to consider for having a soft mattress, we will now focus on buying this kind of product. If you have decided that a softer mattress is what you need, take a look at some tips or buying the right model, and what comes with it.
- Sleep Trials: The majority of manufacturers actually give permission to buyers to take part in sleep trials. After a purchase has been made, the buyer can test out the mattress for determined period of time (usually 90 to 120 days). If buyers decide that they do not want the mattress and wish to return it before the trial ends, they can do it and get either a full or a partial refund. In some cases, buyers can exchange their current product for a different model.
- Warranty Coverage: Because it is common, manufacturers have a product warranty that covers excessive sagging and indentations to a certain depth (usually 1″ to 1 1/2″, but in some cases even lower). When softer mattress starts to sag or indent too soon, you can have it repaired or you can replace it at very minimal cost.
- Dual Firmness Mattresses: Like with most things, couples tend to disagree about the firmness rating of a mattress. Many couples have sleep problems which makes choosing the right mattress for both sides difficult. For this reason, some manufacturers have made mattresses that have different firmness setting on each side, to fulfill the request of couples who can’t agree on a firmness level. These dual-firmness beds are very comfortable and practical, but can be relatively pricey.
- Flippable Mattresses: Aside from the dual-firmness models, a limited number of manufacturers have flippable mattresses. This sort of flippable mattress design has two comforts layers, but each of them has a different firmness rating that share a support core. In order to adjust or change the firmness of the mattress, you just need to flip the mattress over.
- Firmness Influences Your Pillow Selection: The most common problem with softer beds is sinking too deeply, and because of this, these models do not need much cushioning for their head. Putting excessive padding leads to creating pressure and pain in the neck and shoulders. Because of this, thinner pillows are more recommended for softer mattresses.
Ultimately, a soft sleeping surface can be a good option for you if you have average or below-average weight. A soft mattress is also good for people who sleep on the side.
Iva is an art historian and an art lover who always had a passion for writing and sleep! When she is not researching and testing new mattresses on the market, you can find her binge-watching TV shows, eating tons of junk food or playing with her dog Bart.