Plush vs. Firm Mattresses

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If you’re in the market for a mattress, one of the first things you’ll want to consider is the type of firmness you’re looking for in a bed. This will depend on your unique sleep and comfort preference.

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of plush and firm beds to help you find the right firmness for you.

Plush vs. Firm Mattresses: At a Glance

FeelSoft, plush, comfortingSecure, supportive, comfortable
ProsGood for light sleepers, helps align hips, may ease back painGood for spinal alignment, can benefit breathing, durable, versatile, 
ConsNot ideal for spinal alignment, not great for couples, fall apart faster than firmCan lead to lower back pain, not ideal for sore joints of muscles, hard to adjust to
Best forSide sleepers, stomach sleepers, combination sleepersBack sleepers, people with back pain, couples

Plush Mattresses 

What a Plush Mattress Feels Like

A soft mattress can feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud… or on a melting marshmallow. It all depends on the type of plush mattress you get.

Some plush mattresses boast a sturdy bottom layer and medium-strength coils for extra support. Others have light coils or low-resistance foam that will make you sink into them quite a bit.


  • Good option for light sleepers. Light sleepers might have an easier time dozing off on a soft mattress compared to a firm mattress. This might improve overall sleep quality and can leave you feeling more refreshed in the morning.
  • Can help align hips. Soft mattresses offer light support, making them a good match for people with hip pain.
  • May ease back pain. While firm mattresses are better for spinal health, soft mattresses’ light support might help alleviate lower back tension. Soft beds tend to be good at contouring your body’s natural curves, making it easier to find a comfortable position if you’re in pain.
  • More moveable. Memory foam mattresses are a popular option for folks who prefer plush beds. In addition to supreme soft comfort, foam mattresses are often easier to install and transport.


  • Not ideal for spine alignment. Plush mattresses don’t offer much support for your spine. Over time, this can lead to back or neck pain.
  • Might not be best for those who have a heavier body weight. Softer mattresses are prone to sinkage and sagging. That said, a firmer mattress might provide better comfort and support for people with heavier body weights.
  • Not always best for couples. Since soft mattresses sink towards the middle, they’re not always the best option for couples who share a bed.
  • Don’t last as long. Plush mattresses often break down faster than firm mattresses. That means you’ll have to replace your bed more frequently than you would a hard bed.
  • Tend to be more expensive. Soft mattresses are often pricier than firm mattresses. Psst. Don’t worry! You can still get a great deal. Check out our guide to the best soft mattresses for all budgets.

Who Should Get a Plush Mattress?

You might prefer a soft mattress if you:

  • Have hip pain
  • Have a lighter body weight
  • Experience chronic joint or muscle pain
  • Sleep on your side, stomach, or a combination of both

Firm Mattresses 

What a Firm Mattress Feels Like

Firm or hard mattresses are either very dense or have strong coils that provide maximum support for your back and body. When you lie down on one, it will keep your body strongly supported with minimal sinkage.


  • Better for your back. A firm mattress will provide better support than a soft mattress. This can keep your spine aligned when you lie down, reducing pressure on the back and other areas of the body. Over time, this can reduce back pain and may also improve your posture.
  • Better breathing. Sleeping on a flat, harder surface can reduce strain on your circulatory system. This can help your body take in more oxygen as you sleep. In turn, you may experience better blood flow and relaxation.
  • Might reduce stress. According to one study, sleeping on a medium-firm mattress might improve stress levels. The study also found that medium-firm mattresses helped decrease back pain, which may improve stress levels, too.
  • Great durability. Most firm mattresses are designed to stay sturdy over years of use. Also, they tend to last longer than soft mattresses. This can make them a better investment in the long run.
  • More versatility. If your firm mattress feels too firm, you can add a softer mattress topper or some support pillows to make the bed more comfortable.
  • Good for back sleepers. Because they offer a flat surface, firm mattresses are great for back sleepers.


  • Might lead to lower back pain. Even though firm mattresses are better for spinal alignment than soft mattresses, they can still cause back issues. Some folks say very firm mattresses can increase lower back pain and discomfort.
  • Not great for a sore body. If you have chronic musculoskeletal pain, a firm mattress might make matters worse. Soft mattresses will better conform to achy breaky joints or muscles. Just keep in mind, everyone’s different.
  • Can be hard to adjust to. If you’re not used to it, firm mattresses can take some getting used to. Most folks adjust in just a few days, but for others it might take longer.
  • Can cause issues for those with lighter body weights. People who have a low body weight might have a harder time getting used to a very firm bed. This might reduce sleep quality and lead to soreness.

Who Should Get a Firm Mattress?

You might prefer a firm mattress if you have:

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between firm and plush?

Firm mattresses provide strong support and help prevent motion transfer. They’re also ideal for folks who want back support.

Plush mattresses, on the other hand, offer shape-conforming support. The cushioned surface boasts cozy comfort, but they might not be best for those who need spinal support. 

Is plush soft or firm?

Plush mattresses are soft, and firm mattresses are hard.

Are firm or plush mattresses better for you?

Both firm and plush mattresses can help you get a great night’s sleep. However, firm mattresses are generally better for back health and can benefit your breathing.


Plush mattresses and firm mattresses can both provide supreme comfort. The best one for you depends on your specific sleep preferences. If you’re not sure what type of mattress is best for you, go to a local mattress store and try some out. Even if you don’t buy one that day, it’ll give you a better idea of what you want.