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Plush vs Firm Mattress Comparison (Which is Best?)

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The never-ending debate between the plush and firm mattress has caused countless shoppers to wonder which bed is right for them. The large variety of products that the mattress market has to offer doesn’t do anything to make the decision any easier. Nevertheless, this uncertainty ends today as we go over the pros and cons of plush and firm mattresses to help you determine which option would be best for you.

Plush vs Firm Mattress: What’s the Difference?

The primary factor when it comes to mattress firmness is the thickness of the comfort layers. These layers are the topmost sections of a mattress and they have a significant impact on how the bed feels to you. Generally, softer mattresses have thicker comfort layers and firmer mattresses have thinner comfort layers.

A plush mattress tends to have a thick and cushiony comfort layer that allows you to sink into the bed easily. It also has a luxuriously soft feel to it and usually responds better to lighter sleepers as well as people who suffer from joint and other types of chronic pain. Side sleepers generally prefer a plush mattress.

Conversely, a firm mattress typically has thin comfort layers and is primarily made out of support layers which are stiff and durable. A firm bed also has very little give, meaning you won’t experience much sinking and cradling as you lay on it. Stomach and back sleepers usually favor firmer mattresses.

Both plush and firm mattresses have unique benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a look at some of their pros and cons below.

Plush Mattress


  • ideal for side sleepers
  • provides pressure point relief
  • offers enough cushioning for petite individuals


  • may not provide enough support for proper spinal alignment
  • not suited for larger individuals

Firm Mattress


  • great for back and stomach sleepers
  • generally sleeps cooler than softer models
  • suitable for heavier sleepers
  • provides strong support to promote neutral spinal alignment


  • may be uncomfortable for people with back pain or bad joints
  • not ideal for side sleepers or lighter individuals

Plush vs Firm Mattress: What Works Best For You

There are two main factors to consider when choosing between a plush mattress and a firm mattress: body weight and sleeping position. I’ll be thoroughly discussing each factor below to give you a better grasp on the topic and to help you choose the mattress firmness that fits your specific needs.

Body weight

It’s important to consider your body weight when looking for a mattress. One bed might feel perfect for you, but it could be uncomfortable for another person with a different body type. For example, an average weight individual (between 130-230lbs) sleeps on the Relaxed Firm version of the Saatva Loom and Leaf mattress and describes it as a pleasant experience. This model rates 6 out of 10 on the mattress firmness scale meaning it’s a medium-firm mattress and it suited the average-weight sleeper nicely.

However, a lighter individual (below 130lbs) who has slept on the same bed says it’s a bit too firm for their needs and rate it 8 out of 10 on the firmness scale. Two individuals slept on the exact same mattress but they each felt differently and gave it different firmness ratings. This distinction occurs because of the pressure different body types can apply to a mattress surface.

A firm mattress like Amerisleep’s AS2 might feel slightly softer for heavier sleepers because they apply more pressure to the mattress and experience more sinking. This often causes larger sleepers to go for extra firm mattresses that offer more support and less sagging.

Petite sleepers on the other hand, don’t exert as much pressure on the mattress as heavier sleepers do. They tend to experience less sinking and some softer beds may seem firmer to them, especially mattresses that are more responsive such as latex mattresses or innersprings.

In a nutshell, you should choose the mattress firmness that can comfortably support your specific body weight and maintain your spine in a relatively neutral position throughout the night.

Sleeping Position

Another important consideration when selecting the right mattress firmness is your preferred sleep position. In order to get your best night’s sleep, you should be able to determine what firmness or softness level you require to sleep comfortably in your favorite sleeping position. Let’s take a look at the common ones below.

Side sleeping

When lying on one side, your hips and shoulder are in contact with the mattress. If it’s too firm, it can cause too much pressure on these areas as well as pain and discomfort. Therefore, side sleepers are often advised to pick plush mattresses which provide more cushioning and pressure relief. However, if you’re heavier than average, then you may need a bed with additional support such as hybrid mattresses to avoid excessive sinking and to evenly distribute your weight across the mattress surface.

Back sleeping

Every back sleeper needs ample spinal support, especially in the lumbar area. A plush mattress might allow a back sleeper’s hips to sink and misalign the spine which could result in lower back pain and stiffness. That’s why firm mattresses are generally better for back sleepers because of the strong support they provide.

Stomach sleeping

The same can be said for stomach sleepers as they also need their spines to be well-supported and properly aligned. If you’re a stomach sleeper, you’ll most likely do better on a firm mattress like Nolah Evolution which will help prevent your lower back from arching and causing hip pain later on.

Combination sleepers

If you’re one of those people who switch from one position to another during sleep then you’re a combination sleeper. You should look for mattress with a nice balance of support, cushioning, and bounce. The support is for ensuring proper body posture as you sleep, the cushioning is for comfort and pressure relief, and the bounciness allows you to move around the bed with ease.

Plush vs Firm Mattress: Conclusion

Choosing between a plush and firm mattress can be a difficult task. Mattress firmness is quite subjective and there is no one perfect firmness level for everyone. Whether it’s a plush mattress or a firm mattress the best bed is the one that suits your needs as well as your personal preference.

A few things to keep in mind are that it’s better to avoid extremes (excessively soft or excessively firm mattresses) and to always take into account your weight and sleeping position. Consider both the support you need as well as what is most comfortable for you. All of this can help you make the best possible choice and ultimately improve your sleep quality as a result.

Psst… the sleep review industry is full of liars, sharks, and thieves. It’s a modern-day version of getting ripped off at your local mattress store. So, why should you trust us?