How Firm is Too Firm? It Depends on How You Sleep!

April 12, 2020

How Firm is Too Firm? It Depends on How You Sleep!

Watch this video on how you sleep affects the mattress firmness you should select.

Through the years, doctors’ recommendations about how firm a mattress should be have changed. In recent years, doctors have increasingly recommended a firm mattress, but is a firm mattress the right choice for everyone? Believe it or not, a firm mattress is not good for everybody, because we’re all different. When selecting the firmness of a mattress, one should consider body type, desired comfort, and more importantly how you sleep. By taking into consideration how you sleep (on your side, back, or stomach) when you select a new mattress can help you avoid unnecessary discomfort with your new purchase.

Side Sleepers

When you sleep on your side, you are more prone to pain around your pressure points, and it’s much easier for your spine to become misaligned over the course of the night. Because of this, we recommend a plush or medium-plush mattress for side sleepers. With a plush mattress, or a firmer mattress with a plush topper, your pressure points are able to sink into the mattress, helping keep the spine in line and relieving common aches and pains. 


If you select a mattress that is too firm, you could experience more pain in common pressure points, such as your hips and shoulders. Your back could also hurt from becoming misaligned. On the bright side, a firmer mattress can be made softer just by adding a topper.


Most mattress reviewers and manufacturers use a firmness scale of 1-10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. While you should remain on the softer side of the scale, most people will recommend that side sleepers stay within the range of 3-6 in terms of firmness.

Back Sleepers

Sleeping on your back is the healthiest, most natural way for your body to get rest. The spine is more easily aligned in this position, and pressure points will not be as much of an issue. If you deviate from your body’s ideal support and comfort, it can wreak havoc on your body. Because of this, back sleepers should consider a medium to medium-firm mattress to achieve maximum comfort over the course of the night.

If you find yourself going for a mattress that’s too soft or too firm, you could be setting your spine up for misalignment. This can lead to aches and pains throughout the day that will worsen over time.


On the 1-10 firmness scale, it is recommended that back sleepers select a mattress on the 5-7 range of the scale. But don’t sacrifice comfort for firmness; if the mattress doesn’t feel comfortable that’s going to lead to many nights of bad sleep.

Stomach Sleepers

While sleeping on your stomach is not recommended for most people, some still find it to be the most comfortable position throughout the night. Stomach sleepers are at risk of having their spine become misaligned at night, especially in the lower back. When you sleep on your stomach, your lumbar can sink too much or remain too high. Either of these situations can cause shooting pain in the lower back and aches throughout your body. Because of this, it is recommended that stomach sleepers choose a medium-firm to firm mattress.


The typical recommendation for stomach sleepers is to stay within the 6-8 range on the firmness scale, though going down to a 5 is ok, if needed. It’s more important for stomach sleepers to let a mattress sales associate know their sleep style when selecting a new mattress, given that stomach sleeping is less common than sleeping on one’s side or back.

So Now What?

While this guide provides recommended firmnesses for 3 different sleep styles, the actual mattress firmness you choose will be influenced by your personal preferences. When you visit a mattress showroom, be sure to tell your associate your preferences AND your typical sleep style so they can help find the best fit for you. If you have questions about mattress firmness or would like a recommendation, contact The Organic Bedroom in Raleigh, NC. The friendly staff at The Organic Bedroom loves helping individuals find the right mattress as well as achieve the healthiest sleep of their lives.





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