Looking for a Soft Mattress? Here’s What You Should Know
You spend one-third of your life in bed, so choosing a mattress that offers quality sleep is critical. No one can tell you which mattress is best for you. That’s up to you to decide because comfort is subjective. If you’ve decided that a soft mattress is what you want, this information can help guide your decision.
We’ll show you the pros and cons of sleeping on a soft mattress, whether soft is a good choice for your health, which materials there are to choose from, plus our top five soft mattress reviews and choices. As an educated consumer, you’ll be better prepared to select the best mattress for your needs.
What Is a Firm vs. Soft Mattress?
Soft mattresses are often referred to as “plush” in bedding terminology. How firm or soft a mattress feels is subjective to the sensations of each sleeper, but the industry uses a scale of 1-10 to evaluate mattresses. The assigned number can guide you, but how a bed feels to you is what’s important.
A mattress rated with a lower number should feel softer and the higher the number, the firmer the mattress was designed to feel. Mattresses are usually constructed with multiple layers that work together to deliver a sensation of softness versus firmness.
Below is a general guideline on softness and firmness of mattresses.
|1||Extremely soft||A plush mattress should let you feel that you’re “sinking in” to the bed.|
|2-3||Soft||A soft mattress with the “sinking in” quality that’s not quite so plush.|
|4-6||Medium||A less plush mattress with less “sinking in” feeling, but is still soft.|
|7-9||Firm||A harder mattress that doesn’t “sink in” and feels less soft.|
|10||Extremely firm||A hard mattress that doesn’t let you “sink in” and isn’t plush or soft.|
Our Top Five Soft Mattresses
|Luxi 3-in-1 Adjustable||Foam||Variable||$899-$1,599|
|Alexander Signature Hybrid||Hybrid||3||$799-$1,499|
|Saatva||Innerspring||3, 5-6, and 8||$599-$1,399|
|SleepOnLatex Pure Green||Latex||4-5, 6-7, and 8||$649-$1,699|
*Price will vary based on mattress size from twin to California King and optional accessories chosen.
Is a Soft Mattress Right for You?
Good sleep is a function of many factors including mattress choice, good sleep posture, sleep position, age, weight, health, and other concerns. The sensation of softness is distinctive to each person, and the mattress that feels perfectly soft to you might feel too soft or too firm to someone else. If you have a firm mattress now and aren’t sleeping well, it might be time to give a softer bed a try.
If you wake with pain in pressure points such as your shoulders and hips, your mattress may be too firm. Your weight also factors into what feels soft or firm. Bear in mind that what feels soft in a showroom might not feel as soft at home. That’s why sleep trials are important to long-term satisfaction. Here are some guidelines on who should consider a soft mattress and who should stick with firm.
Soft mattresses may be better for:
- Side sleepers
- Colder sleepers
- Lower BMI/Lighter weight
- Older people
- Sleep apnea sufferers
Side sleepers are the most common. A study from The Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service showed that 69% of people sleep on their sides in one position or another. On your side, a softer mattress better cushions your hips, neck, and shoulders than a firmer sleep surface. However, you also don’t want a mattress that’s too plush, or you might throw off spinal alignment.
Colder sleepers are those that get chillier at night versus those that wake sweaty and kicking off the covers. An underactive thyroid or other medical condition might leave you cold at night, or you might just be one of those people that feels cold more than others. Softer mattresses cradle you and insulate using your body heat to keep you warm.
Lighter weight people have a lower BMI, and that means you will experience mattress firmness in different ways than heavier people. The more you weigh, the more you’ll sink into the comfort layers of a mattress. Firmer mattresses will be less comfortable the less you weigh so you’ll likely want a mattress that’s plusher if you have low BMI.
Older people may enjoy a softer mattress. Because seniors tend to run colder, a plusher bed lets you sink in and enjoy the insulating benefits. Thicker comfort layers protect joints that grow more fragile with age. You may be more sensitive to pressure from a firm mattress and may sleep better and wake with less soreness if you have a softer bed.
Sleep apnea sufferers should sleep on their sides according to Dr. David Schulman of the Emory Sleep Center. Risk factors for sleep apnea include Down syndrome, chronic sinusitis, enlarged tonsils, and excess body weight, among others. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), though, is caused by improper sleep posture. No matter the cause, side sleeping is preferable, and a softer mattress may help.
Soft mattresses may not be a fit for:
- Stomach and back sleepers
- Heavier people/Mid-to-high BMI
- Hot sleepers
- Back pain sufferers
- Arthritis sufferers
Stomach and back sleepers make up about 20% of the population, according to a study in the UK. If you sleep on your stomach or back, a soft mattress may let you sink in too deep which throws off the natural “S” curve of your spine. When your sleep posture isn’t correct, you can wake up with back and body aches, and firmer beds are better for those who sleep face up or face down.
Heavier people don’t sleep as well on softer beds. Research from the Sleep to Live Institute shows the higher your BMI, the worse you sleep. If you’re heavier, a softer mattress may let you sink in excessively producing a hammock effect which throws your spine out of alignment. You may struggle to change position when you’re hammocked, and this can increase discomfort.
Hot sleepers typically do better on firm mattresses because less sinking in means you stay cooler at night. Research in Sleep Medicine Review show body temperature should drop two degrees at night when you’re in an optimal sleep cycle. If you run hotter when you sleep, your sleep won’t be as restful, and a firm mattress might be preferable for air circulation reasons.
Back pain sufferers were once thought to benefit from very firm mattresses. This theory was debunked by extensive research which shows that medium-firm beds are preferable for low back pain. Soft mattresses might not work as well because the “sinking in” effect that others find comfortable might not offer quite as much support for spines that are prone to pain.
Children from birth sleep on firm surfaces for safety reasons as is the case with crib mattresses. Transitioning to a softer mattress might throw off their sleep. Children’s sleep patterns evolve as they age, and their sleep needs can vary widely depending on growth cycles. Studies show that kids need more sleep during growth spurts and consistency of sleep surface is key.
Arthritis sufferers might seem better candidates for soft mattresses, but research from the Cleveland Clinic indicates otherwise. A mattress with a firmer support layer (the inner layer of the bed) and a softer upper comfort layer (the top part) may offer greater sleep comfort to those with achy joints. Firmer mattresses also allow easier sleep position shifts which can keep joints from locking.
Benefits of a Soft Mattress
Selecting the best mattress should be about your personal preference, sleep style, and what is comfortable to you. With that in mind, consider these benefits of soft mattresses:
If you like a mattress that conforms closely to your body, then a soft mattress is better. Softer comfort layers will cradle your body and let you enjoy that “sinking in” sensation that many people prefer. Firm mattresses are not known for conforming to your body. The best plush mattress for you may come with soft comfort layers to conform and cradle your body while you sleep.
Sleeping too hot will wake you up, according to sleep studies. However, being too cold at night can also wake you and disrupt your circadian rhythms and sleep cycle. Piling on blankets can help those that run colder, but a softer sleep surface that allows greater “sinking in” will use your body temperature to insulate and keep you warmer at night if that’s your preference.
Comfort while sitting up.
For those that sit in bed to read, watch TV, or surf the internet with their tablet or laptop, you might find that a very firm bed will not be comfortable. A softer mattress will let you sink in and find a better position for your back. Consider a plush mattress or ultra plush mattress with pillow top comfort layers along with good pillow choice for frequent bed-sitters.
Improved motion isolation.
Plush mattresses, such as memory foam products, are the best for motion isolation. If you sleep with a spouse or partner and they move a lot at night, a firm mattress is problematic because you may feel every move they make. Choosing a softer mattress protects you from the bounce and wave feel that comes when the other person moves.
Less stress on pressure points.
If you wake with pain in your hip, shoulder or neck and have a firm mattress, a softer bed might be the answer. Plusher comfort layers take the pressure off areas that push into the mattress surface while you sleep. A soft mattress that cradles your body without excessive “sinking in” can lessen pain on waking.
Although there is a seemingly infinite variety of beds on the market, there are only four types of mattresses. Once you understand that, it becomes simpler to evaluate the options, and cut through sales jargon. Each of these types of mattresses is available in soft options. There are pros and cons to each type of mattress materials that can influence your buying decision.
The four types of mattresses are:
There are three types of foam used in this type of mattress: polyurethane foam, memory foam, or a blend of both. Foam mattresses are not organic or all-natural. They are created by a chemical process and are wholly synthetic. Despite the similarity in their basic materials, polyfoam and memory foam are drastically different in feel and how they sleep.
Polyfoam comes in three types: regular, high density (HD), and high resiliency (HR). Regular polyfoam is cheaper and less comfortable than HD and HR foam. HD foam is denser, and HR foam is more elastic and responsive. Both memory foam and polyfoam are available in different levels of softness. Memory foam is made denser and thicker by additional chemical processing.
Innerspring mattresses are the oldest type of modern sleep surface. Innersprings are coils of wire attached to each other to form the inner layers of the bed. Comfort layers are applied on top as a buffer between the coils and the sleeper. There are four types of mattress coils: Bonnell, offset, continuous wire, and pocket coils.
The comfort and responsiveness of an innerspring mattress varies by coil quantity, how the coils are attached to each other, the thickness of the wire, and the angle of the coils. As a rule, innerspring mattresses are firmer than the other three types of mattresses. However, the softness of an innerspring bed depends on the thickness and quality of the top comfort layer.
Latex mattresses can be natural, synthetic, or a combination of the two. Synthetic latex is the result of a chemical process while natural latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree. To make a latex blend, sap and chemical latex are combined. Latex beds were once too costly for average consumers, but now they are more affordable and come in an array of softness and firmness levels.
Latex mattresses offer greater conformity which can help you wake without pain in pressure points. Because it’s heavy and dense, latex is durable so the mattress may last longer. Latex sleeps cooler than foam and is more responsive. The top comfort layers of a latex bed determine the relative softness of the sleep surface, but many options are available.
As the name suggests, a hybrid mattress is a combination of the other three types of materials. The support layer is pocket coils which are springs inside individual sleeves that are sewn or glued to one another. Comfort layers on top of the coils can be made of memory foam, latex, or some combination of these materials.
Innerspring beds tend to be bouncier and transfer motion so pairing these with foam comfort layers reduces unwanted movement. The top foam layer cradles your body for comfort and softness while the springs below support proper sleep posture and spinal alignment. Hybrids usually sleep cooler than a foam-only bed because the innersprings provide greater air circulation.
Best Soft Mattress Reviews
Selecting a mattress is about what feels good and helps you achieve your best sleep. Your sleep position, weight, and health conditions should factor into your decision. Our top five recommended soft mattresses offer selections in an array of preferences and cost. Read these detailed plush mattress reviews to see materials, construction, pros and cons, and why each mattress made our list.
Construction: The Helix is a hybrid mattress with four layers. The layers include two inches of dynamic foam with features that mimic both latex and memory foam. There are two inches of pocket micro coils and two inches of transition foam plus a four-inch layer of support foam. The arrangement of these layers will vary because the mattress is custom built to your specifications.
Pros: One of the selling points of the Helix is their proprietary algorithm applied to answers from a sleep quiz. Your answers and the algorithm determine how the four layers are positioned to achieve what Helix believes is the best sleep surface for you. Reviews show the mattress allows good air circulation and sleeps cooler thanks to a thinner mattress pad that gets you closer to the comfort layers.
Cons: Because Helix is a newer company, there is no track-record to determine durability and useful life of their mattresses. The customization aspect is interesting, but since sleep comfort is so subjective, it’s hard to know ahead of time what you’ll get. Because it’s a new company, there is no Better Business Bureau ranking yet. Also, Helix doesn’t offer old mattress haul away as some companies do.
Why Choose Helix: The 100-night sleep trial allows you time to evaluate, and the made-to-order design means you’ll it’s made to your preference. Shipping is free, and there’s a 10-year warranty. In addition to the sleep quiz, you can ask Helix for specific modifications to further refine the bed. The price point is reasonable at just $600 for a twin up to $1,195 for a California King, particularly when you consider it’s a personalized product.
Construction: The Luxi 3-in-1 Adjustable Mattress is all-foam with four layers that can be re-arranged to customize to your preferences. There are 3.5 inches of memory foam with support balance technology. Another layer is 1-inch of standard memory foam and a layer of 1.5-inch Dunlop latex foam. There is a second 3.5-inch layer of support foam, and all are encased in a thick cover boosted with fiberfill.
Pros: The biggest selling point of the Luxi is that it’s customizable and adjustable in your home. You can unzip the cover and rearrange the layers to optimize the bed to your preferences. The 1000-night sleep trial is unparalleled in the industry. The patent-pending support balance technology in their memory foam is unique because it offers cooler sleep and enhanced support.
Cons: All that customization comes at a slightly higher cost, so this might not be a fit for all budgets. Luxi has only been around since 2015, so there’s no track-record to rate durability. While some consumers will love the ability to customize the bed, others might find it a hassle and prefer a bed without this option. The company doesn’t offer installation or old mattress haul-away services.
Why Choose Luxi: The density of the foam in the Luxi is above-average which indicates durability. It comes arranged at medium-firm but includes instructions to rearrange layers to achieve greater softness. Reviews show the sensation of limited motion transfer is appreciated as is the coolness compared to other memory foam beds. The extensive sleep trial is reassuring, and the price is mid-range at $799-$1,299 for twin up to California king.
Nest Bedding – Alexander Signature Hybrid
Construction: This five-layer hybrid mattress uses some of the most innovative materials on the market. The top layer is 1.5 inches of gel infused memory foam topped with quilted thermal phase change fabric. Under that is 1.5 inches of endurance foam over 1.5 inches of copper-infused foam. The fourth layer is 1 inch of support foam with a base of 8 inch thick pocketed coils for support.
Pros: The copper-infused foam, gel materials, and phase change fabric offer excellent cooling sensation. The high-density foam and premium coils offer a great combination of comfort with alignment. The comfort layers let you sink in and enjoy a good contour experience for pressure relief. It ranks high among customers for motion isolation as well. The Alexander is also well-rated for sex.
Cons: Because of the materials, it’s a heavier mattress so it won’t be easy to move by yourself. The return policy doesn’t kick in until after a 30 night break-in period. Nest doesn’t offer in-home installation nor will they help get rid of your old mattress. The mattress doesn’t resonate well with stomach sleepers, but back and side sleepers like it. The cover can’t be removed and washed which some other brands offer as an option.
Why Choose Alexander Signature: Unlike some other brands, the Alexander has handles to help move it which is a plus since it’s heavy. At the cost of about $800 for a twin ranging to $1,399 for a California King, there are lots of features for the price point. It offers the bounce that you usually only get from an innerspring bed with the contour and comfort you expect from a luxury memory foam product.
Construction: The Saatva innerspring bed comes in a softer option, and the European pillowtop gives a plush feel. The softest option is rated at a firmness of three. There are five layers starting with 1.5 inches of foam in the pillowtop over a thin memory foam layer. Under that is four inches of individual pocket coils for contour and under that are steel Bonnell coils for durability surrounded by an edge support system.
Pros: The reviews of the Saatva rate it as an affordable luxury bed that sleeps cool because of the innerspring with a soft feel on the thick European pillowtop. Buyers also appreciate the in-home setup. The bed is made to order, and customer service is excellent. The sleep trial is generous at 120 days, and the warranty is 15 years non-prorated which is promising.
Cons: Because the company is newer, there’s no established track-record. You must be home to take delivery of the mattress which can be inconvenient. The bed is heavy which indicates quality, but it might be difficult to move around without assistance. It takes up to 18 days to get the bed and delivery runs $99. If you purchase an adjustable base, it cannot be returned or refunded.
Why Choose Saatva: The home delivery and set-up make it hassle-free. Saatva’s unique Fairness Replacement Option lets you keep the original bed and get a new one at a prorated discount if you have problems. The bed has a luxury feel that would cost much more in a showroom. The price is reasonable considering the concierge service and quality of construction starting at $599 for a twin and up to $1,399 for a California king.
SleepOnLatex Pure Green
Construction: As the name says, this is a latex mattress. It is made with large blocks of high-quality latex. There are two heights available, 7 and 9 inches, and the taller one has an extra 2-inch layer of soft Dunlop latex. Both have a base of a 6-inch layer of Dunlop latex and 1-inch thick quilted wool cover. Both height options are available in three firmness options with the softest rated at 4-5.
Pros: One of the biggest selling points is that the Pure Green is an all-natural latex bed. The mattress in its softest configuration offers nice contour and comfort and relieves stress on pressure points. The cover is 100% organic cotton and New Zealand wool. This is very affordable for a natural mattress, and the elasticity of the foam provides support without resistance.
Cons: SleepOnLatex doesn’t list the specs on their latex foam, so density and ILD factors are not easily discernible. The lack of information makes it difficult to compare it to other similar latex products. Because it’s all-latex, this is a very heavy mattress and may be difficult to move. Because this is a newer company, there is no long-term durability data to assess how long the mattress will last.
Why Choose SleepOnLatex Pure Green: If you’re a side sleeper and want an affordable all-natural bed, Pure Green might be for you. Shipping is free, and you need not be at home to accept delivery. The 100-night sleep trial doesn’t have a break-in period, so you can return it immediately if you don’t like it. The mattress ranks high among customers for conformity and motion isolation for undisturbed rest and runs $649-$1,699 depending on size.