Plush vs Firm Mattress: What’s Best For You? - Amerisleep (2023)

Mattress firmness comes down to the thickness of the comfort layers—the uppermost layers on a bed and what you’ll feel beneath you when sleeping. Plusher mattresses have thicker comfort layers and firmer mattresses have thinner comfort layers.

Plush and firm beds are on opposite ends of the mattress firmness scale—the mattress ranking system from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. Choosing between a plush and a firm mattress primarily comes down to two factors: your body weight and sleeping position.

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What’s a Plush Mattress?

Plush vs Firm Mattress: What’s Best For You? - Amerisleep (2)A plush mattress has a thick and cushiony comfort layer. Softer beds respond well under minimal body weight and have a luxuriously soft feel.

The extra padding of a plush bed is excellent for relieving pressure points and pain. Pressure relief is significant for side sleepers, whose shoulders and hips experience pressure build-up when sleeping. Therefore, the best mattresses for side sleepers are often plush to minimizes discomfort around the shoulders and hips while promoting proper spinal alignment.

If you change positions throughout the night, a plush mattress can work in your favor. That said, plush beds that are pillow top or Euro top mattresses may hinder movement slightly, with a sleeper’s body sinking into pillowy surface.

Similarly, individuals who struggle with joint or muscle pain—such as the elderly or people with chronic pain—may prefer a soft mattress to soothe discomfort and alleviate pressure.

Petite people who weigh less than 130 pounds usually sleep well on a plush mattress. Lighter people place less pressure on a bed, thus firm beds with minimal cushioning will only lead to pressure, pain, and difficulty sleeping. Since plush beds have lots of cushioning and respond well to minimal pressure, petite people won’t experience discomfort and potential pain.

Who Should Use a Plush Mattress?

  • Side sleepers
  • Combination sleepers
  • Petite people
  • Joint or muscle pain sufferers

What’s a Firm Mattress?

Plush vs Firm Mattress: What’s Best For You? - Amerisleep (3)Firm mattresses have thin comfort layers and are primarily made out of support layers—stiff and durable mattress layers. Firm beds have very little give, meaning you won’t sink much in bed and won’t feel overly cradled. Firm beds also provide excellent support to keep your spine aligned and prevent pain.

A bed with minimal cradling and lots of support works well for back and stomach sleepers. On softer beds, back and stomach sleepers are at risk of their hips sinking and throwing their spines out of alignment. This only leads to lower back pain, stiffness, and trouble sleeping. In most cases, the right mattresses for back sleepers are medium to medium-firm.

People who weigh over 230 pounds may also prefer a hard mattress over a plush one. Heavier people naturally place more pressure on their beds and need more pushback to stop them from bottoming out. For a large person, a firm bed won’t feel stiff; instead, it will cradle their body comfortably.

Who Should Use a Firm Mattress?

  • Stomach sleepers
  • Back sleepers
  • Overweight people

Plush vs Firm Mattress: What’s Best For You? - Amerisleep (4)

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Quick Guide: A 30-Second Summary

Best Plush MattressAmerisleep AS5
Best Firm MattressAmerisleep AS1
Best Medium-Firm MattressAmerisleep AS2

At Amerisleep, we offer nine different mattresses ranging from plush to firm. What sets us apart from other mattress brands are our eco-friendly materials, CertiPUR-US® certification, and great prices.

With every Amerisleep mattress, you receive free shipping and returns, a 100-night sleep trial, and a 20-year warranty.

Best Plush MattressAmerisleep AS5

Our Amerisleep AS5 is the softest model we offer, perfect for side sleepers who enjoy a luxuriously plush bed.

Mattress Highlights

  • Plant-based memory foam for soft, relaxing cushion
  • Active Flex comfortably offsets the memory foam top
  • Sturdy base foam and targeted support limits sinkage

Recommended For

  • Side sleepers
  • Petite, average, and plus-size sleepers
  • Hot sleepers

If you’re interested in a plush mattress, check out our Amerisleep AS5, the softest model we offer. The AS5 has a 14-inch profile and four layers—3 inches of Bio-Pur®, 2 inches of Active Flex, 2 inches of Affinity foam, and 7 inches of Bio-Core®.

All Amerisleep mattresses have a ventilated mattress cover. It’s built to dissipate heat and moisture so you don’t overheat or wake up in a cold sweat. The covers are also removable for easy care.

We made the top of the mattress with Bio-Pur® comfort foam, our proprietary plant-based memory foam. During the manufacturing process, we replace part of the petroleum oil with castor oil. This way, Bio-Pur® has minimal to no off-gassing and is naturally cooler than other types of memory foam.

Most soft beds are uncomfortable and unsupportive for large sleepers, but we added the Active Flex layer to our bed to make the bed usable for people of all sizes. Active flex adds softness and adaptability to the belt; it instantly cradles your body when you lay down, but if you shift positions or get out of bed, the layer quickly springs back to shape.

The AS5 contains the Affinity layer with HIVE® technology for zoned support, with hexagonal cutouts strategically placed to be softer around the shoulders and hips, but firm around the head, back, and legs. With this layer, the bed provides even support to your body and minimizes pressure point pain.

The Bio-Core® base is a supportive foam. It’s durable enough to support the upper layers and prevent the bed from sagging quickly.

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Best Firm MattressAmerisleep AS1

Our AS1 mattress is the firmest model we offer. It is so firm that it only suits a small pool of sleepers, providing the support stomach sleepers need to sleep comfortably.

The firmest mattress we offer at Amerisleep is the AS1 and it’s one of the best for stomach and back sleepers. The AS1 is 10 inches thick and has a two-layer design: 2 inches of Bio-Pur® and 8 inches of Bio-Core®. The bed features the same lightweight mattress cover as our other mattress models.

With a true firm mattress, sleepers won’t experience uncomfortable sinkage around the hips and lower back. Still, the AS1 mattress has a thin layer of Bio-Pur® to prevent pressure points around your joints.

With the majority of the AS1 being made from Bio-Core®, the bed is incredibly supportive. This layer enhances the bed’s firmness and supports your body. It also protects the bed from growing soft or saggy, even with nightly usage.

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Best Medium-Firm MattressAmerisleep AS2

  • Price Range

    $949 to $1998

  • Mattress Type

    Memory Foam

  • Firmness

    7 out of 10 (Medium-Firm)

  • Availability

    All sizes

  • Warranty

    20 Years

  • Thickness

    12 Inches

Some back and combination sleepers may find the AS1 too firm to suit their needs. For those sleepers, we recommend the more balanced feel of our AS2, which features targeted pressure-relieving cushion in the shoulders and hips.

Mattress Highlights

  • Plant-based memory foam layer for firm cushion
  • Five zones of targeted support and pressure relief
  • Structural base foam provides sag-free support

Recommended For

  • Back sleepers
  • Select stomach and combination sleepers
  • Plus-size individuals

If you need a firmer bed, but a true firm bed doesn’t meet your personal preference, a medium-firm may be better. The AS2 is our medium-firm model and works well for back sleepers, people with back pain, and stomach sleepers.

The bed is 12 inches tall and contains:

  • 2 inches of Bio-Pur®
  • 3 inches of Affinity with HIVE®
  • 7 inches of Bio-Core® base

You may be wondering how the AS2 is any softer than the AS1 considering their comfort layers are the same thickness. However, the Affinity layer with HIVE® adds extra cushioning to the AS2 to relieve pressure and support the lumbar spine.

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The Bio-Core® base supports the two other layers while resisting sags and soft spots.

We also offer the AS2 Hybrid for sleepers who enjoy a firm, springy mattress.

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Other Mattress Firmness Options

Firm and soft mattresses aren’t necessarily right for everyone, so shoppers may want to consider their other options. Some shoppers enjoy medium mattresses most of all, thanks to their versatility. We have guides comparing medium mattresses to firm and soft feels:

  • Firm vs. Medium Mattress
  • Plush vs. Medium Mattress

There are also medium-soft and medium-firm mattresses offered for in-between feels.


Are firm beds uncomfortable?

No, firm beds should not be uncomfortable so long as they are compatible with your sleeping position and size.

When you get a new firm mattress, it may initially feel uncomfortable, especially if you were previously using a softer mattress. In this case, we recommend continuing to use your mattress for at least 30 days—the average adjustment period for a new mattress.

If you are still experiencing problems with your firm mattress after 30 days, it’s likely best to replace your mattress with something softer.

Are plush beds bad for you?

There’s a common misconception that firm beds are good for you while plush beds are bad for you, but this is untrue. Plush beds and firm beds are simply suited for different sleepers.

If you are petite, a combination sleeper, or side sleeper, plush mattresses should offer a good level of cushioning for your needs. However, if you sleep on your stomach or back, the cushioning and sinkage may cause your spine to curve unnaturally, thus leading to pain and discomfort.

Do firm mattresses last longer?

Most mattresses last about 7 to 10 years, regardless of it being plush or firm. Your mattress firmness does not play a role in its lifespan.

The crucial factor in your mattress’s longevity is its construction and what it’s made from. Your mattress’s support layer—the layer built to prevent sagging and wear—should make up at least 50 percent of your mattress’s construction.

So, if your mattress is 12 inches thick, the support layer should be no thinner than 6 inches. Any less than this can lead to rapid wear and sagging, meaning you’ll have to replace your mattress sooner.

Do hotels use plush or firm mattresses?

Most hotel mattresses are within the medium to the medium-firm range. Such extreme mattress firmnesses—such as plush or firm—are unlikely to suit a majority of guests, leading to complaints. Medium and medium-firm mattresses are more of a middle ground for most people, thus being suitable for hotels.

Which mattress firmness is best?

There is no best level of firmness, so the “best” firmness for one person can be the worst for another person. Different mattress firmnesses are available to suit a variety of needs, including your sleeping position, size, and whether or not you share your bed.


While plush and firm mattresses can be great, remember that plush and firm are not the options available. They are on either end of the mattress firmness scale, but you can find different firmnesses within this scale, including medium-soft, medium, and medium-firm beds. These beds offer less extreme features and the average person usually sleepers better on them.


How do you know if I need a firm or plush mattress? ›

Body weight

Generally speaking, heavier people prefer firmer mattresses. Soft foams may sink in too much for comfort and adequate support. Conversely, lighter sleepers may sink in less and find firm beds to be uncomfortably hard, so they generally prefer soft to medium firm options.

Is it better to sleep on a firm mattress or plush mattress? ›

For those not experiencing troublesome back pain, a firm mattress is will generally be more comfortable. When sleeping on a firmer surface, the bones absorb most of the pressure, meaning there is less stress on muscles, veins and arteries. Muscles are less strained, and circulation is improved.

What mattress firmness is healthiest? ›

In general, side sleepers should look for Medium Soft to Medium Firm mattresses that can cushion their impact points. Back and stomach sleepers should look for Medium Firm to Firm beds that have only light conforming.

Who are plush mattresses best for? ›

Mattresses that offer a plush, cloud-like feel are appealing to many sleepers. People who weigh less than 130 pounds often feel most comfortable on soft mattresses because they cradle and contour to the body.
Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers.
  • Side and back sleepers.
  • People who weigh 230 pounds or less.
17 Nov 2022

Do hotels use firm or plush mattresses? ›

What firmness of mattresses do hotels use? In most cases, you'll find a medium to a medium-firm mattress in your hotel room. And for a good reason. Medium-firm mattresses are generally good for any type of sleeper or any body type.

Can a mattress be too plush? ›

A mattress that is too soft will cause you to sink and hurt your back and spine while you sleep. Persistent morning back pain is an indication that your mattress is too soft to firmly support your body.

Are firm or plush mattresses better for side sleepers? ›

Therefore, the best mattresses for side sleepers are often plush to minimizes discomfort around the shoulders and hips while promoting proper spinal alignment. If you change positions throughout the night, a plush mattress can work in your favor.

Should a side sleeper get a plush mattress? ›

If you are a side sleeper, you should look into purchasing a plush or medium mattress. You will need the extra comfort layers to provide pressure relief for your hips and shoulders.

Why do people prefer firm mattress? ›

Firm mattresses are more supportive than soft mattresses and hold up the body, rather than letting it sink in too far. Lying on a firm mattress, most people will feel like they are sleeping “on top” of the mattress, and they should have no real issues moving around on the mattress.

What level of firmness is a plush mattress? ›

There's no industry standard for firmness levels, but the approximate mattress firmness scale is from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest—plush mattresses are generally a 3 out of 10.

What firmness is best for back pain? ›

When in Doubt, Go 'Medium-Firm' Research is limited, but in one study, researchers assigned new mattresses to more than 300 people with low back pain. They used either "medium-firm" or "firm" mattresses for 90 days. Those in the medium group reported the least amount of discomfort.

What percentage of people prefer a firm mattress? ›

What Was the Result? Firm mattresses were the winner, with 65.1% of respondents saying they prefer a firm mattress and 34.9% saying they like plush or soft mattresses.

Is a plush bed too soft? ›

A plush mattress is one that's soft—it gently cradles your body as you drift off to sleep. Most bed types can come in a plush softness. This cushiony mattress type isn't for everyone, though. Many sleepers need a firmer bed for maximum comfort.

Do plush mattresses wear out faster? ›

Do plush mattresses wear out quickly? Mattress durability isn't correlated to firmness, but rather the quality of materials. Better materials usually increase how long a mattress lasts. A high-quality plush mattress should last just as long as its firmer counterparts, so roughly about 7 to 10 years.

Do plush mattresses cause back pain? ›

Is a soft mattress bad for your back? It is if it's so soft that it doesn't support your spine. If you sink into the mattress so that your hips are lower than your shoulders, your mattress may be too soft and could be contributing to back pain. Keep in mind that weight is a factor when it comes to mattress firmness.

Is plush or medium firm better? ›

Petite and average-sized side sleepers will likely do best on a plush mattress (3 of 10 on the firmness scale). Heavier side sleepers and average-weight side sleepers who like a firmer feel should consider medium-plush mattresses (4 of 10).

What type of mattress is best for back pain? ›

Memory foam and latex mattresses are often considered the best options for back pain, as they conform to your body, cradling pressure points while supporting your spine and keeping it aligned.

What's the difference between luxury firm and plush? ›

Luxury Firm could also be defined as “Cushion Firm”. Luxury Firm Mattresses are typically recommended for Stomach and Back Sleepers. Plush Mattresses are best defined as medium comfort and a “compromise” between partners with different sleeping styles.

Is firm or plush better for back pain? ›

Is a soft mattress good for back pain? The best mattress for back pain is one that promotes a healthy spinal position. When the hips and shoulders are in line, the muscles in the back can relax. A medium-firm to firm mattress offers the most relief from back pain.

Why do people sleep with plush? ›

Forty percent of adults admit to still sleeping with a stuffed animal or blanket from their childhood. Just as it does for children, a stuffed animal can provide a sense of comfort and security to adults in times of extreme stress, Jagoo says.

What is the difference between a firm bed and a plush bed? ›

A firm mattress is any mattress that provides you with strong support, while a plush mattress offers more cushioning and feels easier to sink into. The level of firmness you need in your mattress depends on your body weight, sleep style, joint health, and personal preference.

What firmness of mattress is best for side and back sleepers? ›

A medium-firm mattress is an excellent choice for combo sleepers because they typically strike a pleasant balance between pressure relief and support. They're soft enough to provide pressure relief to the shoulders while sleeping on the side and firm enough to support the hips whilst dozing on the back.

Can Side sleepers use firm mattress? ›

Side Sleepers

This group needs a soft mattress that provides plenty of room to sink in for deep and cuddly pressure relief at the shoulders, hips, and lower back. A mattress that offers zoned support might be a good fit for these sleepers.

What type of firmness is best for side and back sleepers? ›

Firmness is not the same as support and all levels of firmness can be supportive. Most sleep positions do well in the middle with side sleepers ranging softer and stomach sleepers a bit firmer. Back sleepers do well in the medium to firm range.

What comfort level is a plush mattress? ›

What is a Plush mattress? The Plush comfort level is the softest. It offers the highest level of conformance to the body which relieves the most pressure from the body's pressure points. This is recommended for those who sleep on their side, as doing so can put more pressure on the shoulders and hips.

Is a soft or firm mattress better for hip pain? ›

In general, a medium-soft to medium mattress is better for hip pain, while a firmer mattress is better for back pain. A softer mattress can help to relieve pressure on the hips and allow them to rest more comfortably.

What firmness does a side sleeper need? ›

What firmness level is best for side sleepers? Side sleepers need a mattress with soft or medium firmness. If it's too firm, you'll be putting pressure on areas like your hips and shoulders, which may cause you to wake up with pain.

Do doctors recommend a firm mattress? ›

If you have joint pain, doctors tend to recommend mattresses with the following features: medium-firm or firm support for healthy spinal alignment. reinforced padding, foam, or coils in the middle third of the mattress for lumbar back support.

Do you need a softer mattress as you get older? ›

Should You Get a Firm Mattress? Seniors often need a mattress with excellent pressure relief to help reduce pressure points in key areas like the shoulders, hips and back. Generally, a medium to medium firm mattress will provide this optimal level of support and help alleviate back and joint pain.

Do firm mattresses sag less? ›

Firm mattresses and high-quality mattresses are less likely to succumb quickly because their materials are usually denser. This means that it will take longer for them to break apart and begin to sag. Mattress size can also come into play.

Why is my plush mattress so firm? ›

A brand new mattress will often be firmer – sometimes much firmer – than it will become over time after the “break in” period. This firmness is caused by the foam layers. As you continue to sleep on your mattress, the pressure from your body will relax the foam and mold it more and more into your sleeping form.

What kind of mattress is best for lower back and hip pain? ›

If you sleep on your side or on your back, a medium-firm memory foam mattress may provide enough support to keep your spine straight through the night and help relieve hip pain. But if you sleep on your stomach, a pillow top mattress or hybrid with an innerspring might fit your needs better.

How do you know if your mattress is too hard? ›

Here are a few of the main signs that your mattress is too firm for you:
  1. It doesn't contour to your body.
  2. It feels uncomfortable.
  3. You wake up with back or neck ache.
  4. You get a better sleep when you sleep on a softer mattress elsewhere.

Why does lower back hurt after sleeping? ›

If you feel lower back pain every morning after sleeping, your sleep position3 could be at fault. Sleeping in an unsupportive position can increase pressure on your spine and lead to back pain. When you sleep on your stomach, you are more likely to twist your neck out of alignment with the rest of your spine.

Why are plush mattresses more expensive? ›

2. Plush mattresses are usually more expensive than firm ones because… In order to achieve that cloudlike sensation of sinking into a soft sleep surface, plush mattresses are often constructed using multiple layers of cushioning material.

Do side sleepers need firm or soft pillow? ›

Side sleepers – Side sleepers need a firmer pillow with medium loft to support their cervical spine at rest. Pillows that are too thick or too thin will disrupt the natural curvature of their neck, and can lead to cramps and pain over time.

Are hotel beds plush? ›

Do hotels use soft or firm mattresses? Most hotel beds have medium-firm mattresses, which fall roughly in the 5-8 range on the 1-10 mattress firmness scale.

Is Ultra Plush mattress good for side sleepers? ›

Yes, an ultra plush mattress is ideal for a side sleeper with back pain or someone who was already experiencing it while sleeping on a firmer mattress since they help relieve pressure points.

Do firm beds last longer? ›

Do firm mattresses last longer? Firmness doesn't determine the lifespan of your mattress. Instead, your mattress's lifespan is based on the quality of materials. Most mattresses last between 7 to 10 years, regardless of their firmness.

Are plush mattresses good for lower back pain? ›

A mattress that is too plush will sink the most where the body is the heaviest — the lumbar region and hips. Without enough support, an uneven mattress surface will cause the spine and hip joints to fall out of alignment, resulting in pain.

Do plush mattresses hurt your back? ›

Plush mattresses can be good for back pain sufferers who are lightweight or sleep on their side. For these sleepers, a plush mattress lowers tension and relieves pressure points located along the back and spine. However, plush mattresses aren't ideal for all sleepers who have back pain.

Is plush good for side sleepers? ›

These layers contour to your hips and shoulders, cradling your body throughout the night. Sleepers often describe this feel as if they're “sleeping in” or getting hugged by their bed. Plush mattresses are a great option for side sleepers. On the opposite side of the spectrum, a firm mattress has a harder surface.

Which type of mattress is best for back pain? ›

Memory foam and latex mattresses are often considered the best options for back pain, as they conform to your body, cradling pressure points while supporting your spine and keeping it aligned.

Do plush mattresses get softer over time? ›

All mattresses get a little softer within the first 50 to 60 nights of regular use. This is called the natural break-in period. However, this natural break-in doesn't make it an uncomfortable mattress, rather it tempers down the extra firmness of a new mattress.


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