Best Medium-Firm Mattress
When your mattress is too soft or firm, you might struggle to sleep and then feel fatigued or in pain during the day. Medium-firm mattresses have a balance of cushioning and firmness to help sleepers rest pain-free. They’re not so soft that you’ll sink, yet not so firm that you could be sleeping on concrete.
The best mattress differs from person to person, but medium-firm mattresses may you help sleep cooler and are ideal for couples, and stomach or back sleepers. If you’re one of these, take a look at our favorite medium-firm mattress.
Our Recommendation: Zoma Hybrid
Our Zoma Hybrid mattress is designed to promote muscle recovery and deeper sleep. The 12-inch mattress is medium-firm and contains pocketed coils underneath memory foam layers.
The Zoma Hybrid is encased in our AirCloth, a stretchy performance knit cover. It’s not only breathable, but moisture-wicking to keep you cool and dry throughout the night.
The top layer of the Zoma Hybrid is 2 inches of gel memory foam built to keep you cool and minimize motion transfer. We designed it with three separate zones for targeted support. It’s more solid and firm around your back and hips, but soft around your head and legs. This way, each body part is sufficiently cradled, evenly distributing body weight and reducing pressure.
Underneath this layer is 2 inches of Reactiv™ foam. This transitional foam contours to your body and is responsive, adding an extra bounce to the memory foam to prevent you from feeling trapped in bed.
Our mattress’s support layer is made from 7 inches of pocketed coils. This layer helps align your spine and provide great edge support for your mattress. The pocketed coils maximize the mattress’s breathability and bounce.
At the base of the mattress is a sturdy 1-inch foam for the coils and comfort layers to rest on.
The foam in Zoma mattresses is CertiPUR-US® certified, meaning it meets strict standards regarding off-gassing and the materials used. The production process for our foam and mattress also greatly exceeds the Clean Air Act Standard.
Zoma mattresses are made in the USA. We offer free shipping and returns for all of our mattresses along with a 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty in case of wear.
How is Mattress Firmness Measured?
Firmness is measured on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being ultra-soft and 10 being ultra-firm. On that scale, medium-firm is a 6 out of 10. The scale determines the amount of cushioning and give a mattress has when you lay on it.
In technical terms, firmness is measured by ILD rating, or Indentation Load Deflection. It measures the amount of pressure needed to compress a layer of foam on a mattress by 25 percent. ILD is rated from 0 to 50, 0 being the softest and 50 being the firmest.
Manufacturers test ILD ratings using a weighted ball on a mattress. The heavier the weight needed to compress the mattress, the higher the ILD rating and thus, the firmer the mattress. Medium-firm mattresses fall between a 29 to 31 ILD rating.
When looking into mattress firmness, it’s important to note that firmness and support aren’t the same thing. Support is how well a mattress aligns your spine, while firmness refers to how soft or firm a mattress feels.
Mattress Firmness Scale
Here’s the rundown of all mattress firmnesses and their place on the firmness scale, including medium-firm:
- 1-2: Ultra-soft
- 3: Soft
- 4: Medium-soft
- 5: Medium
- 6: Medium-firm
- 7-8: Firm
- 9-10: Ultra-firm
Types of Medium-Firm Mattresses
Although you’ve already settled on a mattress firmness, you now need to decide which mattress type is best. If you’re looking for some serious bounce, a hybrid mattress might be the right choice, but if you want a cushiony, pressure-relieving bed, look into memory foam or latex mattresses.
Memory foam mattresses are luxurious with a hug-like feel. Many people love memory foam because it cradles the body’s curves exceptionally well, relieving pressure and isolating motion. Traditional types of memory foam are prone to sagging, overheating, and rapid wear, but modern memory foam has been modified to be cooler and more durable.
Hybrid mattresses are a combination of innerspring and foam mattresses. They have become increasingly popular because they have the support and bounce of an innerspring, but the pressure relief and contouring of an all-foam mattress.
Hybrid mattresses feature a pocketed coil support layer for bounce and increased airflow. The fabric casing for each coil also ensures they are quiet, durable, and won’t break through the mattress like they often do in a traditional innerspring mattress. To be considered a hybrid mattress versus simply an innerspring, there must be at least 2 to 3 inches of comfort foam in the mattress.
Latex foam is a natural and durable material made from the sap of rubber trees. It provides great pressure relief and cradling while still maintaining a decent bounce.
Natural latex is a bit more expensive compared to memory foam or poly-foam. You can find synthetic or blended latex for cheaper, however, it’s not as durable as genuine latex and the synthetic materials are potentially toxic.
Latex foam has also been compared to memory foam numerous times. If you want to learn more about their similarities and differences, read our memory foam vs. latex guide.
Innerspring mattresses have been around since the 1800s and are one of the firmest types of mattresses. They have a spring support system and a pillow top made from wool, cotton, or foam—though these foams aren’t as durable most modern foams.
While innerspring mattresses are extra firm and supportive, compared to newer mattresses, innerspring mattresses are outdated and uncomfortable. The pillow tops aren’t great for pressure relief and don’t provide proper cradling, while the coils can be squeaky and prone to breaking.
Who Should Use a Medium-Firm Mattress?
Although how comfortable you are in bed is somewhat subjective, there are general recommendations for who should use what type of mattress. The biggest factors regarding mattress firmness are bodyweight, sleeping position, and whether or not you share a bed.
Stomach sleepers are typically comfortable on medium-firm or firm mattresses because they’re firm enough to keep their spine neutrally aligned. On softer mattresses, stomach sleepers’ hips are prone to sinking, curving their spine incorrectly.
An ideal mattress for back sleeping supports the spine while molding to the back’s curves. Back sleepers will definitely enjoy medium-firm mattresses for their mildly cushioned, but even surface.
In softer mattresses, back sleepers’ are at risk of hyperextending their spine, eventually leading to chronic pain. Medium-firm mattresses keep their backs aligned with their spine and properly supported, preventing pains, aches, and stiffness.
A mattress’s breathability is primarily based on the materials in a mattress rather than the firmness, so soft mattresses aren’t necessarily hot and firm mattresses aren’t necessarily cool. More than firmness needs to be considered if you’re looking for a cooling mattress.
However, if you’re already a hot sleeper, the cushioning on a soft mattress might be a bit smothering, making you feel hotter and disrupting your sleep. A firmer mattress, like a medium-firm, is still soft enough for comfort but isn’t so soft that you’ll feel engulfed in its cushioning.
A mattress for heavy sleepers needs to be supportive enough to take on the extra weight. People who weigh over 230 pounds need firmer mattresses to be properly supported and prevent bottoming out while lying in their primary sleeping position. Plus-sized sleepers might enjoy a medium-firm mattress to prevent them from sinking uncomfortably and feeling stuck in their bed.
On the contrary, petite sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds will likely find medium-firm mattresses too firm, resulting in pressure points and stiffness.
Medium-firm mattresses are always a good option for couples with different firmness preferences because they usually fit most sleeping positions and provide good motion isolation. Some even consider medium and medium-firm mattresses to be “universally comfortable.”
That said, consider what you and your partner’s firmness preferences are. If you’re a side sleeper and they’re a petite back sleeper, a medium-firm mattress may be too firm. But if you’re a plus-size side sleeper and they’re a stomach sleeper, medium-firm works well.
However, if you and your partner’s firmness needs are completely opposite, getting a split mattress may be the better solution.
Benefits of Medium-Firm Mattresses
Many sleepers love medium-firm mattresses for their balance of cushioning and firmness since it suits many sleeping positions. Not only that, but this mattress firmness level can reduce pain and improve circulation. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of sleeping on a medium-firm bed.
Minimizes Back Pain
According to a 2015 study, medium-firm mattresses are best if you struggle with back or lower back pain. In a 2010 study, 27 women experiencing back and shoulder pain noted their pain greatly reduced after switching their current mattresses out with a medium-firm mattress.
Medium-firm mattresses are well suited for back sleeping, one of the best positions for relieving back pain. Back sleeping on a medium-firm mattress promotes healthy spinal alignment and minimizes pressure build-up, reducing any back pain you may face.
Solid Edge Support
When a mattress has poor edge support, the firmness is uneven; you’re likely to only experience the proper firmness near the center of the bed. Most medium-firm mattresses tend to have excellent edge support and reinforced edges, meaning you have more usable surface area.
With better edge support, it’s easier to sit or lay towards the edge of the bed without the risk of falling. Also, it’s easier to get in and out of bed, especially for the elderly or individuals with limited mobility.
Improves Sleep Quality
When using a medium-firm mattress suited for your sleeping position, you may find yourself sleeping deeper and for longer. According to a 2009 study, sleepers who switched to medium-firm mattresses reported getting better sleep.
Improves Blood Circulation
If your mattress causes specific pressure on any specific body part, such as your lumbar spine, hips, or shoulders, the pressure can block blood circulation, causing numbness and discomfort. The gentle cushion of a medium-firm mattress can limit pressure, reducing tensions on the muscles, veins, and arteries.
Warranty and Sleep Trial Offers
Reputable companies will stand behind their mattresses by offering reliable warranties and sleep trials. It’s always best to look for mattresses with hefty warranties and sleep trials to protect your purchase.
Warranties are guarantees from companies to protect your mattress from workmanship defects and sags beyond a certain depth, usually between 0.5 to 3 inches. For mattresses, warranties can last somewhere between 5 years all the way up to a lifetime warranty.
Companies have specific guidelines you must follow to keep your warranty intact, such as using certain foundations and not staining your mattress.
With the rise of online shopping and bed in a box mattresses, sleep trials are a must. They take the risk out of buying online and give you a sufficient amount of time to decide if your mattress is right for you. Even with in-store shopping, lying on a mattress for five minutes isn’t the equivalent of breaking in a new mattress and using it at home.
Sleep trials typically last between 30 to 365 days depending on the specific company. Most companies recommend trying out your mattress for at least 30 days—the approximate time it takes to break in a mattress—before deciding whether or not you like it.
If you decide to return your mattress, many mattress companies offer free returns and either donate or recycle your used mattress.
What’s the Best Firmness for a Mattress?
There’s no specific best firmness for mattresses, though some people might argue medium or medium-firm mattresses are best because they’re considered “universally comfortable” and suit most sleeping positions.
In actuality, the best firmness for you is based on your sleeping position, size, and whether or not you share a bed. We’ve already established medium-firm mattresses as suitable for back, stomach, and plus-sized sleepers, but other sleepers have different needs.
A mattress for side sleeping should provide more plush give than what a medium-firm bed can provide. Side sleepers are typically most comfortable on medium or medium-soft mattresses since they provide extra cushioning for sleepers’ widest body parts, the hips and shoulders.
Combo sleepers. switch between positions throughout the night. A medium mattress for combination sleeping is typically the most comfortable option.
Petite sleepers weighing less than 130 pounds should pick a mattress firmness somewhat softer than what’s recommended for their sleeping position.
Frequently Asked Questions
Firmness and comfort aren’t the same, meaning a soft mattress isn’t the peak of comfort and a firm mattress doesn’t feel like sleeping on a stack of bricks. Firmness affects the amount of cushioning on a mattress, but the amount of cushioning you need to be comfortable is subjective.
For instance, a stomach sleeper using a soft mattress will notice their spine twisting incorrectly and causing immense discomfort. Similarly, plus-sized sleepers may feel trapped and unable to move properly on a soft mattress versus a medium-firm one.
So, based on your sleeping position and size, a medium-firm mattress can be more comfortable than a soft mattress and vice versa. For more information, check out our plush vs. firm mattress guide.
All mattresses wear out eventually, though how long a mattress lasts is dependent on the quality of its materials and construction more than the mattress’s firmness. High-quality soft mattresses should last just as long as firmer models. Both firm and soft mattresses will eventually wear down and need to be replaced.
Yes, some mattresses don’t have enough cushioning depending on the sleeper’s size or sleeping position. Without enough cushioning, a person can develop pressure points and wake up sore on some mattresses.
If you’re a petite or side sleeper, you’ll likely find medium-firm mattresses too hard and painful. Instead, a medium or medium-soft mattress is a better choice for petite or side sleepers.
If your mattress is too firm and you’re unable to return it, a soft mattress topper provides needed cushioning for sleepers.
If replacing your mattress is out of the question, there are a couple of easy ways to firm up your current mattress.
Adding a firm mattress topper to your mattress is arguably the most effective way to alter your mattress’s firmness. If you’re looking to drastically alter your mattress’s current feel, a thicker topper (3 inches or more) is best, but if you just need a little extra boost of firmness, a thinner topper (1 or 2 inches) is ideal.
Another easy way to firm up your mattress is by placing a bunkie board between your mattress and its current foundation. Bunkie boards are 1 to 3-inch planks of plywood built to bolster your mattress and enhance its firmness.
Most sleepers will find a medium-firm mattress perfectly comfortable. That's why it's often considered a "universally comfortable" bed, along with medium mattresses. However, stomach sleepers may benefit from choosing a firm bed over a medium-firm mattress for better torso support.
Is a Medium-Firm Mattress Right For You?
If you’re in need of extra support, but still want a bit of cushioning for your body, consider a medium-firm mattress. They offer an even surface to prevent stomach, back, and hotter sleepers from sinking into their beds. Some couples and plus-sized sleepers will also enjoy the balanced feel of a medium-firm mattress.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.