We've all been there, staring in the face of two mattresses, one softer and one firmer; they both felt comfortable in the 5 minutes you've spent laying on them, but which one is actually going to feel great when you wake up at 3:30 AM and can't fall back asleep? In recent years there has been a huge boom in the mattress industry. With the decreased cost of Memory foam mattresses, there are more competitors than ever, and with so many choices it can be hard to know which mattress will provide you with the best sleep. This presents a problem for many shoppers as a mattress is typically something that you don't buy more than every 5-10 years. The biggest decision that any new shopper will have to make is whether to buy a firm or a soft mattress, so do your research.
A Study by Research Triangle International and Drs. Andy Krystal and Jack Edinger from Duke University followed more 128 subjects through more than 16,000 night's sleep. First and foremost, they found that a mattress can feel firmer or softer for different people based on their weight and perception. For example, a person that weighs 250 pounds may describe a mattress as soft while the same mattress is described as firm by a person weighing 115 pounds. So, if you're a heavier person just assume that you'll need a firmer mattress to support you.
The bulk of their findings found that, on average, people liked mattresses that provided more support and were firmer than their softer counterparts. Of the 7 mattresses they tested, those that were the firmest and had the least motion transfer offered better sleep. These mattresses provide more support on your hips and joints which reduced pressure on your muscles. This in turn correlated to increased feelings of being rested upon waking and higher energy levels throughout the day.
So, back to what's right for you. When you're shopping for your next mattress (because it is a when and not an if) take into account that your weight, sleeping style, and preferences will determine what kind of mattress you want. If someone is advertising their mattress as a one stop shop or one mattress fits all beware. They may be tailoring their mattresses to a certain demographic or they may just be trying to maximize profits by not providing the needed selection to satisfy all shoppers needs. For those that aren't aware, it's cheaper to produce one mattress than deal with managing many different mattresses. Do your research, know your body, and most importantly find that restful night you've been longing for.