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Plush vs Firm Mattress: What’s Best For You?

By: Christina Davies
Updated on: April 05, 2024

  • Mattress firmness ranges from 1 (softest) to 10 (firmest), with plush mattresses falling on the softer end (typically 1-3) and firm mattresses at the firmer end (usually 7-10).
  • Ideal for side sleepers, combination sleepers, petite individuals, and those with joint/muscle pain, plush mattresses offer cushioning and pressure relief.
  • Suited for stomach sleepers, back sleepers, and heavier individuals, firm mattresses provide support and spine alignment to prevent discomfort.
  • The Amerisleep AS5 is a top plush mattress for side sleepers, while the Amerisleep AS1 is recommended for those seeking a firmer sleep surface specifically designed for stomach sleepers.

When it comes to selecting a mattress, one of the most vital factors to consider is its firmness. Mattress firmness refers to how soft or firm a mattress is or how firm a mattress feels when you lie down on it. Plush and firm mattresses are two popular options, each offering special benefits and catering to different sleep preferences. This article will explore the differences between plush and firm mattresses, discuss who they are best suited for, and provide recommendations for the best plush and firm mattresses on the market.

Understanding Mattress Firmness

Mattress firmness is measured on a scale level from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. Plush mattresses typically fall on the softer end of the scale, while firm mattresses are on the plusher mattresses on the firmer end. The firmness of a mattress is determined by the thickness of its comfort layers, which are the uppermost layers of the bed that provide cushioning and support.

Plush Mattresses

Plush mattresses have thicker comfort layers, making them softer and more cushiony. These beds are ideal for sleepers who prefer a luxurious, sink-in feel. The extra padding of a plush mattress provides excellent pressure relief, making it a popular choice for side sleepers. Side sleepers often experience pressure build-up around their shoulders and hips, and a firm or plush mattress helps alleviate this discomfort by contouring to their body shape.

In addition to side sleepers, plush mattresses are also suitable for combination sleepers who change positions throughout the night. The softness of the mattress allows for easy movement and minimizes disruptions during sleep. Individuals who struggle with joint or muscle pain, such as the elderly or those with chronic pain, may also benefit from a plush mattress as it provides a soothing and comfortable sleep surface for joint pain.

Furthermore, petite individuals who weigh less than 130 pounds often find plush mattresses to be the most comfortable option. These individuals exert less pressure on the bed, and a plush or firm mattress may cause discomfort and difficulty sleeping. The cushioning of a plush mattress ensures proper support and prevents pain and pressure points.

Firm Mattresses

On the other end of the firmness scale, firm mattresses have thinner comfort layers than hybrid mattresses and are primarily made up of supportive layers. While they may not provide the same level of sink-in comfort as plush mattresses, firm beds offer excellent support and alignment for sleepers. They are particularly suitable for stomach and back sleepers.

Stomach and back sleepers require a mattress that keeps their spine properly aligned to avoid lower back pain and stiffness. The firmness of a mattress prevents excessive sinking of the hips, ensuring proper spinal alignment. Additionally, firm mattresses provide adequate support for individuals who weigh over 230 pounds, as they need more pushback memory foam mattresses to prevent bottoming out.

It’s worth noting that while firm mattresses may initially feel firm, a well-made bed should still have sufficient support and comfort. The thickness and quality of the supportive layers play a significant role in the overall feel and durability of the soft mattress itself.

Who Should Use a Plush Mattress?

Plush mattresses are ideal for individuals who prefer a softer and more cushiony sleep surface. Here are the key sleepers who can benefit from a plush mattress:

  • Side Sleepers: Plush mattresses provide excellent pressure relief for side sleepers, minimizing discomfort around the shoulders and hips.
  • Combination Sleepers: If you change positions often during the night, a plush mattress allows for easy movement and adaptability.
  • Petite Individuals: Those who weigh less than 130 pounds exert less pressure on the mattress, making plush beds more comfortable and supportive.
  • Joint or Muscle Pain Sufferers: Plush mattresses offer soothing comfort for individuals with joint or muscle pain, providing relief and reducing pressure points.

Who Should Use a Firm Mattress?

Firm mattresses are best suited for sleepers who prefer a more supportive and less sink-in feel. Here are the key sleepers who can benefit from a firm mattress:

  • Stomach Sleepers: Firm mattresses provide the necessary support to prevent excessive sinking of the hips, ensuring proper spinal alignment for stomach sleepers.
  • Back Sleepers: Sleepers who prefer lying on their backs need a mattress that supports their spine properly and avoids experiencing lower back pain.
  • Overweight Individuals: Heavier individuals naturally exert more pressure on the mattress, and a firm bed provides the necessary support and avoids bottoming out.

Best Plush Mattress: Amerisleep AS5

Plush vs Firm Mattress, firmer mattress

If you’re in the market for a plush mattress, the Amerisleep AS5 is an excellent choice. Here are the key features and specifications of the Amerisleep AS5:

  • Price Range: $1649 to $3398
  • Mattress Type: Memory Foam
  • Firmness: 3 out of 10 (Soft)
  • Availability: All sizes
  • Warranty: 20 Years
  • Thickness: 14 Inches

The Amerisleep AS5 is designed for side sleepers enjoying a plush bed. It features four layers of high-quality materials, providing exceptional comfort and support:

  • Bio-Pur® Comfort Foam: The top layer of the AS5 is made of plant-based memory foam, offering soft and relaxing cushioning. It is cooler and has minimal off-gassing compared to traditional memory foam.
  • Active Flex: This layer adds responsiveness and adaptability to the mattress, ensuring that it quickly adjusts to your body movements.
  • Affinity Foam with HIVE® Technology: The Affinity layer incorporates HIVE® technology with hexagonal cutouts to provide zoned support. It offers softer cushioning around the shoulders and hips while maintaining firmness around the head, back, and legs.
  • Bio-Core® Support Foam: The base layer of the AS5 is a durable and supportive foam that prevents sagging and maintains the overall structure of the mattress.

The Amerisleep AS5 also features a ventilated mattress cover that dissipates heat and moisture from the same mattress, keeping you cool and comfortable throughout the night.

Other Mattress Firmness Options

While ultra-plush beds and firm mattresses are popular choices, they may not be suitable for everyone. Other options are available if you’re looking for a different level of firmness. Medium mattresses offer a balanced feel that caters to a wide range of sleep preferences. Additionally, there are medium-soft and medium-firm mattresses that provide an in-between feel for those who want a compromise between plushness and firmness.


Are firm beds uncomfortable?

No, firm beds should not be uncomfortable if they are compatible with your sleeping position and size. It’s important to give yourself an adjustment period of at least 30 days when transitioning to a new mattress to allow your body to adapt to the change in firmness. If you continue to experience discomfort after this period, it may be best to consider a softer mattress.

Are plush beds bad for you?

There is a common misconception that plush beds are bad for you in sleep position while firm beds are good. However, this is not necessarily true. Plush beds are ideal for certain sleepers, such as side sleepers and individuals with joint or muscle pain. On the other hand, plush beds may not be suitable for stomach or back sleepers, as they can lead the spine to curve unnaturally, leading to pain and discomfort.

Do firm mattresses last longer?

The firmness of a mattress does not directly affect its lifespan. The durability and longevity of a mattress depend on its construction and the materials used. A well-made mattress with a supportive base layer should last between 7 to 10 years, regardless of its firmness level. It’s important to choose a mattress made with high-quality materials and sturdy construction to ensure long-lasting performance.

Do hotels use plush or firm mattresses?

Most hotels use medium to medium-firm mattresses to cater to a wide range of guests. Extremely plush or firm mattresses may not be suitable for the majority personal preference of guests, as everyone has different comfort preferences. Medium and medium-firm mattresses offer a middle ground that is generally comfortable for most people.

Which mattress firmness is best?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the mattress firmness scale, as the best mattress firmness varies from person to person. It ultimately depends on your sleep preferences, body type, and position. Selecting a mattress that offers adequate comfort and support for your specific needs is important.

Conclusion – Plush vs Firm Mattress

Choosing the right mattress firmness is crucial for getting a good night’s sleep. Plush and firm mattresses offer different comfort levels and support, catering to different sleep preferences. Plush mattresses are ideal for side sleepers, combination sleepers, petite individuals, and those with joint or muscle pain. Firm mattresses provide excellent support for stomach sleepers, back sleepers, and individuals who weigh over 230 pounds. Consider your sleeping position, body type, and personal preferences when selecting the right mattress firmness. Remember to choose a high-quality mattress with a supportive base layer to ensure long-lasting comfort and durability.


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