A common misconception in the mattress world is that a firmer mattress in inherently better. But the idea that a firmer mattress offers more support is untrue. For example, try sleeping on your floor. That is about as firm as it gets but most of us wouldn’t feel very comfortable sleeping on the floor. While a floor is firm, it doesn’t offer great support. What mattress ends up working for you depends on various factors (weight, shape, your overall preference, and more). So don’t worry, if you are looking for the best soft mattress, there are options out there for you.
But not all soft mattresses are created equal. There are things to consider (such as materials, brand history, and product warranty). To help you find the right soft mattress, we put together this post. Again, this article is focused on finding the best soft mattress. If you are interested in reading about our recommendation for best bed overall, check out our article on how to find the best mattress for you.
In this article, we will go over:
- Our Top 5 Soft Mattresses
- Reasons to Get a Soft Mattress
- Mattress Materials to Consider
Finding the Best Soft Mattress
Because of advances in foam technology in the past decade, many of the best soft mattresses are available from online retailers. Foam mattresses can be easily compressed and shipped, and many major online retailers offer lengthy trials and help with shipping if you want to return the item. By reading bed in a box reviews you can see online retailers can offer high-quality products at a fraction of the price.
Here are the top five soft mattresses.
One of the leading mattress companies in the United States, Amerisleep has five firmness levels in their mattresses. The AS5, at 14 inches thick, is the softest available mattress from this prominent company. It is also one of their most supportive mattresses. Amerisleep’s AS5 is made of (from top to bottom):
- A cover made partially with Celliant®, a material FDA-determined to promote better sleep.
- 3 inches of Amerisleep’s plant-based Bio-Pur® foam
- 2 inches of Amerisleep’s bouncy, highly responsive, latex-like Active Flex layer
- 2 inches of their HIVE® technology, a layer clinically-proven to reduce pressure points by up to 48%.
- 7 inches of a durable foam core, this mattress is a great combination of comfort and support.
Tempur-Pedic Cloud Luxe
Tempur-Pedic is a well-known brand name within the industry. Tempur-Pedic pioneered memory foam mattresses in the 80s and 90s. They now have a long list of models, such as the Contour, the Flex, the Adapt Series, and the Cloud. The Cloud line is their line of soft mattresses, and the Cloud Luxe is one of Tempur-Pedic’s softest mattresses.
Approximately 13.5” thick, the Cloud Luxe first layer is “extra-soft TEMPUR-ES®” material. Beneath that is a layer of support and then the base layer. While Tempur-Pedic does not disclose exactly what kind of foam (nor their foam’s density or ILD or thickness), this particular model is known for its extreme softness and pressure relief. Interested in learning more about Tempur-Pedic? We have an entire post dedicated to Tempurpedic mattress reviews.
Soft hybrid constructions are the specialty of money-saving, highly customizable mattress company Helix. The company’s website helps you find the best mattress for you by starting with a quiz; this helps Helix design a custom combination of foam, coils, and cooling technology, so you get the perfect bed. If other options have felt hard but have sagged too much, working with Helix can help you get a mattress designed for your body.
For those who want the best of both worlds – truly firm and cushiony soft – consider the Zenhaven brand mattress. Like the Layla, this mattress is designed to be flipped, with one firmer side and one softer side. The softer side is truly a plush option, making you feel like you’re asleep on a cloud.
This plush mattress goes back to innerspring technology but uses modern approaches to layering so your mattress will last longer while feeling softer. There are two layers of coils rather than one larger one, with layers of foam in between so the mattress supports your body’s shape without sagging uncomfortably or fighting your weight the way a firm mattress would.
Reasons to Get a Soft Mattress
When you don’t get enough of the right kind of sleep, you are more likely to spend your days suffer through a day feeling foggy and exhausted; you may have a hard time thinking clearly, reacting quickly, or making decisions; you’ll have a harder time remembering important things; you’ll be easily distracted; and you’re more likely to feel stressed and irritable. On a short-term basis, these problems can be uncomfortable; on a long-term basis, however, they can turn into more significant health issues.
Some studies have linked long-term sleep deprivation to other chronic or life-threatening health conditions.
- Heart disease
- Bone loss
- High blood pressure
Although many insist that firm mattresses are the best, this is far from accurate. The benefits you get from your mattress can vary greatly, depending on what your physical needs are and what position you sleep in. People who may benefit more from soft mattresses include the following:
Do you sleep on your side? Sleeping on your side is the most common position, according to sleep science. Per a United Kingdom sleep study, about 70 percent of people sleep on their side for most of the night. While firm mattresses support the curve of the back in people who sleep on their backs or stomachs, a hard mattress can be rough on the spine’s natural curves when you sleep on your side. In contrast, soft mattresses let the hips and shoulders sink into more natural alignment, allowing the body to relax into proper support.
Do you have a low body mass index (BMI)? People who have a BMI of 18.5 or lower, which is considered underweight, may require an extra cushion to support their frames. This is especially true for people who are underweight due to a medical issue, even if they have healed from it. Being underweight contributes to joint pain and feeling cold. Sleeping on a softer mattress allows for body heat to stay close to the body, greatly reducing the impact on joints and muscles.
Do you experience sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition, primarily impacting the quality of sleep, which in turn raises stress, blood pressure, and heart rate, and lowers cognition, learning, and memory abilities. As much as 20 percent of American adults suffer from sleep apnea but do not know it. One recommended way to avoid sleep apnea is by sleeping on your side, which may mean finding a soft mattress to support your body and to help you remain in that position for much of the night.
Mattress Materials to Consider
As new types of materials are created and tested, mattresses seem to be made of dozens of special foams, lattice or comb structures, and fabrics. All of these mattress materials can impact the longevity, quality, and softness of your mattress.
Steel coils create the spring-based support system inside this type of mattress. Coil or spring mattresses are associated with being firm or very firm mattresses since they give a little and do not have as much padding as foam mattresses. However, the number, gauge or size, and design of the coils can vary by the mattress, creating different sensations of firmness versus give.
Between 600 and 1,000 coils will make a firmer mattress. However, fewer springs may lead to wearing out over time. While this leads to a mattress with more give and a sensation of more softness at first, you may end up being poked by springs as the top layers of upholstery lose their cushion.
Regardless of what the interior of the mattress consists of, this type of mattress will typically feel softer because of the additional layers of padding and upholstery on top. There are a variety of foam and fiber materials used to make this layer, and some may feel plusher or more pillow-like than others.
This may be a combination of coil supports and foam mattress – often polyurethane, memory foam, or latex. There may be a layer of gel or honeycombing to create more softness or a layer of thicker, firmer foam to add more structure. For people transitioning from a very hard or firm mattress in search of a soft mattress, the hybrid mattress may be a good in-between step while still providing enough give for the body’s curves.
Specialty Foam Mattress
This approach to mattresses is becoming increasingly popular with internet mattress retailers since they are easy to pack tight and ship to customers in smaller bags. There may be several different types of foam layered on top of one another for different levels of heat dissipation and comfort. Typically, these will conform to your body’s shape more easily, cradling your back, legs, shoulders, and head in a comfortable, hammock-like way.
This is a type of foam mattress, but gel foam is sprayed between other foam or upholstery layers to create levels of softness or firmness. The foam may contour to the sleeper’s body, creating a sensation of softness while still providing support. Gel foam mattresses tend to allow for better heat dissipation.
Memory Foam Mattress
Also called viscoelastic mattresses, these types of mattresses are made from high-density polyurethane, contouring closely to the person’s body, ideally without too much give. Foam density can be adjusted for people who want firmer mattresses.
Like other types of foam, these mattresses use latex-based foam to create the support structures in the mattress.
Airbeds and Waterbeds
Waterbeds are no longer trendy, and air mattresses are usually considered temporary sleep solutions for guests or camping. Both these types of mattresses can be firmer or softer, depending on how much they are filled and how thick the plastic part of the mattress is. The true benefit of both these beds is that they are easily adjustable for firmness compared to other mattresses that must be replaced.
Soft mattresses tend to have a plush layer added on top with a stronger or firmer foam core and firm base – perhaps made from foam or using coils or springs in older mattresses. This arrangement of three primary layers allows for maximum compression, creating true softness.
Mattress Material and Lifespan
The lifespan of the material is also an important consideration. Although sleep specialists and mattress manufacturers tend to recommend changing your mattress every 7 to 10 years, the actual material your mattress is made of can determine how long you should wait. Different materials have different lifespans.
- Latex lasts about 12 years.
- Memory foam and hybrid mattresses both last about 10 years.
- Innerspring mattresses last around 8 years.
- Pillow top mattresses last around 6 years.
The quality of these materials can also dramatically impact lifespan. However, too often, soft mattresses are considered to have shorter lifespans than firmer mattresses. This may be due to the sinking effect: soft mattresses start out cradling the body, allowing a lot of sink into the mattress, but, over time, sagging can become uncomfortable.
However, it is important to note that older models of mattresses – both the innerspring and pillow top varieties – last less than a decade, while newer materials and certain types of foam tend to last longer. A more modern approach to a soft mattress, made from foam, could be a great solution to the problem of a perceived shorter lifespan.
The Best Soft Mattress Can Improve Sleep
Maybe you’ve been told for years that the best mattress is a firm mattress. This is no longer the case, thanks to advances in mattress technology. You don’t have to sacrifice physical support for softness anymore. Newer foam and coil technologies mean you can get the perfect soft, plush mattress for the best night’s rest.
- The Better Sleep Council: https://bettersleep.org/sleep-extras/consequences-of-poor-sleep/
- The Sleep Help Institute: https://www.sleephelp.org/best-firm-mattress/
- (June 6, 2018) KTAR News.http://ktar.com/story/2094431/the-best-mattress-for-your-sleeping-position/
- The Better Sleep Council: https://bettersleep.org/mattress-education/mattress-types/
- (March 2018). Consumer Reports. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/mattresses/buying-guide/index.htm
- (February 5, 2018). Super Comfy Sleep. https://supercomfysleep.com/best-soft-mattresses/
- (June 12, 2018). The Sleep Advisor. https://www.sleepadvisor.org/best-soft-mattress/