Mattress Firmness Guide: All You Need to Know

November 18, 2021 | Casper Editorial Team

Mattress firmness plays a huge role in your perception of the perfect mattress. In which case, you might be wondering how to decide between a firm vs. soft mattress. So, how do you find the right mattress firmness? 

In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about mattress firmness, outline the various firmness level options, and help you determine the type of firmness that’s right for you and your new mattress. 

Whether you decide that a firm mattress is your saving grace for a good night’s sleep or a soft mattress is what you need to drift into cozy slumber, Casper has the right mattress for you.

What Is Mattress Firmness?

Essentially, mattress firmness is a fancy way to talk about how hard or soft your sleep surface is. Understanding what your preference is on a mattress firmness scale can help you determine the right mattress for you. What one person may consider hard as a rock, another may consider soft as a cloud for their mattress type

But the first step to finding your perfect mattress on the bed firmness and comfort scale is to know what levels of firmness exist.

What Are the Levels of Firmness for a Mattress?

The easiest way to think of mattress firmness is by using a comfort scale from 1-10, with one being the softer mattress and 10 being the firmer mattress. Let’s take a look at the levels in a mattress firmness chart:1

  • Extra soft mattress (1-2) – These types of mattresses are rare, as they offer almost no firmness. In fact, this is probably where you’d rank waterbeds.
  • Soft mattress (3-4) – Sometimes referred to as a plush mattress, these are mattresses that make you feel like you’re sinking into them.
  • Medium firm mattress(5-6) – Medium firmness mattresses blend the advantages of both firm and soft mattresses. You still sink slightly, but many sleepers find this option to provide a more supportive feel in a sleep position.
  • Firm mattress (7-8) – A firm mattress, like the Casper Original, can provide heavier sleepers with additional support. To best understand how this firmness level compares to a medium firm, check out our in-depth comparison on firm vs. medium mattresses.
  • Extra Firm mattress (9-10) – This ideal firmness level provides the firmest option, which most people find too hard to easily fall asleep on. However, heavier sleepers sometimes find this to be just right for support.

But firmness isn’t the only aspect to look for when choosing your ideal mattress. For a truly restful slumber, you also want to find a mattress with the right amount of support.

The Difference Between Mattress Firmness and Mattress Support

While it’s easy to think a firmer mattress means more support (as firmer mattresses often feel more supportive), these two terms aren’t exactly interchangeable.

Mattress firmness refers to the upper layers of your mattress that you feel when you first lie down, while mattress support refers to the base and core layers. So what’s the difference?

The base and core layers of your mattress will have more of an effect on your spinal alignment and relieving pressure than the upper layers.2 This means you can have a firm mattress with poor support or a soft mattress with good support.

As an example, let’s look at the Casper Wave and the Casper Nova mattresses. Both use a hybrid base of springs and foam to offer maximum lift and support. However, our Wave mattress maximizes that support to provide you with relief from pain, whereas our Nova mattress maximizes softness to enhance your comfort.

What Is the Right Firmness for You?

While it may be tempting to choose a mattress with medium firmness since it falls in the middle of the scale (and, according to Goldilocks, may be just right), there are other factors to consider when deciding the level of firmness that will best fit your sleep preferences.3 

Let’s explore some of these factors below. 

Sleep Position

We all sleep differently and that can affect what feels comfortable to us. Depending on the position you sleep in, certain levels of firmness may be better suited for you. For instance:

  • Side sleepers – Your hips and shoulders will likely thank you if you opt for a mattress with a little more give. A soft firmness level may be a good fit.
  • Stomach sleepers – To keep your spine aligned and make sure your hips don’t sink below your head, a firm mattress may be the way to go.
  • Back sleepers – As your weight is evenly distributed when you lie on your back, any mattress firmness could work for you.
  • Toss and turners – If you move around during the night, it might be best to stay in the middle of the mattress firmness scale.


Weight is another important aspect to consider when choosing your mattress firmness. Ultimately, the more you weigh, the more you will sink into a mattress. This means firmer options may feel more comfortable for those who weigh more, while soft options may provide enough firmness for those who weigh less.

Find Your Perfect Mattress Firmness With Casper

At Casper, we strive to make mattresses that fit any sleeper. But no mattress is right for everyone. That’s why we offer a variety of mattresses so you can find the level of firmness, support, and comfort that best suits you. 

Whether you’re into soft, medium, or firm mattresses, we can help you level up your sleep (and leave those waterbeds behind). Try out a Casper mattress today. 


  1. Sleep Advisor. Mattress Firmness Guide. 
  2. The Mattress Nerd. Mattress Firmness Guide. 
  3. Slumber Yard. Mattress Firmness Guide.