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The complete guide to changing mattress firmness

Goldilocks had it right – for epic shuteye, your mattress needs to be juuust right. Not too soft. Not too firm. No noisy springs. No annoying foams. 

The good news is it’s relatively easy to switch to a firmer or softer mattress – you just need to match it up with your body weight. 

Switching to something softer

If your current mattress feels unrelentingly hard, unyielding, and almost stone-like, your body likely craves a softer surface that truly cradles your shape. 

With an ultra-firm slab beneath you all night, you probably wake feeling aches radiating from sore pressure points at the shoulders, hips, and back – no wonder you rush for the coffee.

The key is finding a softness sweet spot suitable for your sleep style and body type. Here’s what to consider:

Mattress firmness levels.

  • Medium-soft: Best for strict side sleepers under 130 lbs. Conforms closely with pressure relief.
  • Medium: Accommodates most sleeping positions for people under 180 lbs—balances contour and support.
  • Medium-firm: Firms up support while still cushioning shoulders and hips. Best for stomach and back sleepers over 190 lbs.

Your weight matters.

When it comes to mattress compression, weight matters big time. See, the more lbs you’ve got, the more force you’re applying downward into that mattress all night long. Just think about it – a petite side sleeper weighing 130 lbs rests gently into the surface, while a larger back sleeper over 200 lbs crashes down with major heft.

So, as a rule:

  • If you weigh under 150 pounds, you can comfortably go for more cushioning and conforming mattress styles like soft and medium without sacrificing support.
  • If you weigh between 150-230 lbs, aim for a medium or medium-firm mattress to balance cushioning and support.
  • Over 230 pounds – avoid ultra soft/plush mattresses and go for a firmer feel. The firmer and more durable coils or foam are better to prevent excessive sinking that throws the spine out of alignment.

Key mattress technologies.

  • Memory foam contours closely to relieve pressure points.
  • Memory gel is memory foam with gel granules embedded to dissipate heat.
  • Latex foam compresses like memory foam but springs back instantly – this responsiveness makes it ideal for heavier people.
  • Pocket springs compress with your body, ensuring perfect contouring while preventing sagging. Great for everyone.

Tips for choosing softness.

Lie down on mattresses at local stores, focusing on how your shoulders, hips, and back feel. Softness is subjective, so focus on whether pressure points feel relieved. Understand mattress firmness ratings – a medium-soft mattress should rate at a 3-4 on the 1-10 scale.

Transitioning to a firmer mattress.

If you feel like you’re sinking too far into your current mattress, here’s help finding a firmer, more supportive option:

Mattress firmness levels.

  • Medium-firm: Provides even support with light conforming. Best for average-weight back and stomach sleepers.
  • Firm: Reinforced support for proper spinal alignment. Ideal for heavy people and strict back sleepers.

Your weight matters.

Heavier individuals need a firmer mattress for proper support. If you weigh over 230 lbs, soft plush mattresses will likely feel unsuitable.

Key mattress technologies.

  • Bonnell springs or open coils offer strong reinforcement and bounciness, making it easier for heavy people to move around.
  • High-density polyfoam or ‘reflex foam’ feels firm and resistant – perfect for back sleepers needing reinforced support.
  • Hybrid technologies combine pocket springs and generous foam layers, with ‘firm’ hybrids offering excellent support.

Tips for choosing firmness.

When you lie on a mattress, get a feel for whether your spine stays neutral and whether your hips and shoulders feel excessive pressure. Focus on how supported and comfortable you feel sleeping in your favourite position. 

With an understanding of mattress technologies and firmness ratings, you’ll be equipped to find your perfect match.

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