5 Sure Shot Ways to Test the Perfect Mattress Firmness in Store

by SleePare

By Dustin Morgan | 4 Minute Read

The best way to test mattress firmness is to try it in the store. All the written descriptions in the world aren’t a substitute for touching and feeling the mattress. Just like a picture of an ice cream cone is beautiful to look at, it’s so much better when you can actually taste the ice cream.

One of the first things to choose after the size of the mattress, is the firmness. This is your personal preference. It should be determined by your comfort level. There isn’t a universal comfort level.

Want To Try Them For Yourself?

1. Lay on the Mattress

If you want to be sure about a mattress, go into the store to test it out. Lay down for at least 15 minutes. Take a nap, no one will mind. Use the sleep position you are comfortable with at home. This should give you a good idea if this is the mattress you want to sleep on every night. You cannot overstate the comfort of your mattress. It just can’t be too comfortable. And if you and your partner desire different firmness feels, many mattresses now feature dual sided comfort. Check them out. We want everybody to be happy and be able to get a restful slumber.

Mattress firmness and mattress support are not the same thing. They are often used interchangeably but that is incorrect. Let’s look at the difference. Firmness is subjective while support is not.

Mattress firmness is whether you think the bed is soft or hard. You determine it by touch. There is no one answer. It is up to you to decide how it feels to you.

Mattress support tells you how well it allows the spine to maintain its alignment and evenly distribute weight. Proper mattress support is crucial to the resting body. Lack of support may result in muscle ache, back pain, stiffness, and lack of sleep.

So when mattress shopping you will need to give firmness and support your consideration.

2. Sleep Position

It’s time to snooze. Are you on your back? On your side? On your stomach? The position you sleep in is really important for picking the perfect mattress firmness. Sleeping position should play a leading role in deciding which mattress you want to buy.

  • A side sleeper usually finds more comfort on a softer mattress. The best mattress for side sleepers should conform to the body, taking the pressure off the hips and shoulders, aligning the spine so that the muscles relax. If you wake up with shoulder or hip pains, your mattress isn’t good for a side sleeper. To allow your body to sink into the mattress, a softer and thicker comfort layer is needed, 2 inches at minimum.
  • A back sleeper usually finds more comfort on a medium firm to firm mattress. You should look for a mattress that will support the spine and cradle your neck. The firmness and comfort level will vary based on personal preference, but it has to have ample support for natural alignment and support for your back. Sleeping on your back makes natural alignment much easier for the body, especially the head, neck, and spine. A mattress with a lot of support is important to keep the body in consistent alignment all night. This sleeping position can also cause or worsen lower back pain if the mattress doesn’t provide the right kind of support.
  • A stomach sleeper usually finds more comfort on a medium firm mattress. You don’t want to sink too deeply into the mattress. If it’s too soft, you can cause your spine to curve: the weight from your abdomen, which is the heaviest part of your body, can put pressure on your spine. The spine is no longer in a natural symmetry when your back is out of alignment, and this can create different health issues related to tingling and numbness in limbs, tossing and turning, back and neck pains, and sleep loss.

The desired firmness level varies from sleeper to sleeper, depending on body, weight, and personal preference.

3. Weight

Mattresses respond to weight. Generally speaking, a 130 pound person should consider a mattress that is softer on the firmness scale, while a 200 pound person shouldn’t lean toward the softer side. A softer mattress may hug a heavier person a bit more than is comfortable. The inverse is true for firmer mattresses. The 130 pound individual won’t sink in comfortably enough on a firmer mattress.

If you’re very large, you should shop for a thicker mattress that provides better deep compression support. Additionally, heavy sleepers may find that softer mattresses create too much sinkage and hug due to the increased weight and pressure. Lighter sleepers typically engage more with the top layers and less with the base and core layers. Look for mattresses that have top layers that are plush to meet your firmness preference.

4. Firmness Scale

It’s important to note that individual preference is subjective, but there is a numerical mattress firmness scale to help you understand what to expect when you lay on a mattress. The scale runs from 1 to 10 and covers the three common mattress firmnesses: soft, medium, and firm. If you have trouble deciding what firmness is best for you, the most popular is in the middle. The 6 out of 10 range. As many as 80% select a mattress in the middle firmness range. It offers a broad appeal.

5. Go Meet the Mattress Experts in the Store

Talk to the people that work in the store. They are very familiar with all of the mattresses. They understand subtle differences and can offer recommendations as needed. The experts should be able to answer any questions and guide you to the right mattress for your sleep and comfort needs. Do your online research and once armed with that knowledge, go to the store. They really want to help you select the perfect mattress that’s just right for you.

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe it is, but when it comes to mattress shopping, nothing is better than going into the store and testing them out yourself.

Dustin Morgan

Dustin Morgan


Dustin is the lead content creator at SleePare. With a degree in Computer Science and extensive experience reviewing mattresses, curating comparisons and advising on "best of" guides, he's truly a mattress technology expert.

Dustin has perfected this method by personally testing over 200 different mattresses, so he's not only able to discern the overall value of a specific bed, but to assign its value to different types of sleepers.

Along with creating honest and straightforward mattress features, Dustin enjoys creating pieces aimed at helping people get their best sleep ever.

When he's not creating helpful content, Dustin enjoys jogging, fishing, hunting and playing video games in and around his Virginia home.