Mattress Comfort and Support

Mattress Comfort and Support

You will often see references to mattress comfort and support.  When in the market for a new mattress, these terms refer to two different aspects of a mattress that will have a huge impact on your long-term sleep experience.  A rule of thumb for you is that Support regards your back, and comfort is for your body.  A ‘firm’ mattress does not necessarily provide the proper ‘support’ for your back- a mattress can feel firm, but if the mattress structure does not support you properly, you will still wake with a sore back and a poor sleep experience.  Let’s take a look at Support and Comfort.

Mattress Support:

Support refers to how well the inner structure of your mattress resists the downward pressure put on it by your body weight and pressure points.  By the ‘inner structure’ we mean the type of mattress- ie: Innerspring, Memory Foam, Waterbed, etc.  A good mattress, regardless of type, will respond to the weight against it by providing proper upward resistance (support) to provide a sleep environment that keeps your back in proper alignment.

Mattress Comfort:

Mattress Comfort level is provided by the materials layered on top of the mattress structure.  The comfort of a mattress can be orientated towards a harder (firmer) or softer (plush) feel.  Most manufacturers have developed comfort scales to describe the hard or soft orientation and feel of their mattresses to consumers.

We are going to take a more in depth look at Mattress Comfort-

Mattress Comfort Levels-

Mattress comfort levels essentially form a range.  For our purposes we will start at ‘1’ Extra Firm (Very Hard) and proceed to a ‘10’ Ultra Plush (Very Soft).  You may find a manufacturer uses 1 as Plush and 10 as Firm, but this will give you a point of reference.  Most manufacturers have a number of mattress lines that when broken down have models that will provide an array of choices across the spectrum.

Mattress Comfort Spectrum-

  • 1 Ultra Firm-the firmest: this mattress would have the feel of sleeping on the living room floor or a table top.  You will rarely if ever find a true ‘1’, but we use it as a baseline for the firmest end of the scale.
  • 2 to 4: Firm- If you can fall asleep on your carpeted floor and wake up feeling good, this is probably the mattress comfort level for you.  These mattresses feel hard to very hard.  You will see terms like Firm, Luxury Firm, and Very Firm to describe this level of comfort.
mattress comfort of extra firm pillow top

An Extra Firm Pillow Top Mattress

  • 4.5 to 6.5: Plush- We begin to see terms like Plush Firm and Plush.  You will also see more Pillow Top options and even Euro top towards the softer end.  This range is great for the sleeper who is between the ends of the comfort scale or if two partners have differing sleep comfort needs, a compromise if you will.
  • 7 to 9: Conforming Softness/Very Soft- These beds are very soft, like a water bed, they are generally Pillow or Euro-Pillow tops and you most often see terms like Very Plush, Ultra Plush.
mattress comfort of super plush

Super Plush Pillow Top Mattress

  • 10: Super Plush/Soft- This would be like sleeping on a cloud.  This rating is similar to a 1 in that it really is more of an ideal than an actual available mattress.

The materials used in creating the comfort layer of a mattress have an impact on the desired feel.  For firmer mattress comfort levels you will see pads and higher density memory foams used.  As we move up the scale to the softer levels you will find materials like soft memory foam, Gels, wool, silk and cashmere.

For a great example and links to comfort scales, you can go here.