Although both too-firm and too-soft mattresses can cause problems, experts say there is a sweet spot.
“A mattress that is responsive and on the firmer side is generally a good starting point for adjusting form,” says Cameron Yuen, DPT, CSCS, and director of rehab and training at Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy in New York City. “When mattresses are too soft, our body ends up shifting into shapes outside of a more neutral alignment by conforming to the mattress. If it’s too hard, our bodies end up shifting to find more support because the mattress is not helping.”
Bonney agrees, “Research has shown us that medium-firm mattresses are best because they provide sufficient support for the spine and relieve pressure on joints. Pillow-top mattresses can also relieve pressure.”
But when it comes to finding the right mattress for you, it’s important to remember that comfort is subjective. What feels soft to one person might be too firm for another, and your preferred sleeping position will be a big factor in determining how you respond to a certain mattress.
Still, Yuen suggests that your perception of comfort is key for getting a good night’s rest. “Comfort has to come first, as deep restful sleep is one of the most important components of recovery,” he says. “Secondary considerations for mattress selection include how well the mattress supports your joint alignment, how well it distributes pressure, and whether it allows for optimal blood flow.”