The firmness of a mattress describes - as the name suggests - how soft or firm a mattress feels.
This could be soft and fluffy like a cloud (or, at least, what we all imagine when we think about diving into a cloud) or as hard as a table 🌥
Differences in mattress firmness are caused by the use of different materials and their respective densities.
Unfortunately, there is no uniform industry standard for a mattress's firmness rating.
And this is where the confusion sets in.
Some brands use terms like H2, H3, and H4. Others simply describe their mattresses as 'softer' or 'firmer'. And others, again, refrain from specifying any degree of firmness and call their mattresses one-fits-all universal types of medium firmness.
How are we supposed to make sense of that? 🤔
Don't worry; we came up with a grand solution, which we dive into further below.
For now, it's important to remember that there are different types of mattresses.
These are generally memory foam mattresses with lots of body-contouring support, cushioning and extra padding.
They are popular with people looking for superior comfort and relaxation and give you that sleeping-on-a-cloud feeling.
You'll often find mattresses that have an upper comfort layer of memory foam to provide extra squishiness.
These are the perfect in-between, mattresses that are not too soft and not too firm.
Medium-firm mattresses will suit most people.
We could describe these as your marshmallow mattresses: still soft and squishy, but with a lot more firmness than a cloud.
Firm mattresses generally offer high levels of support and durability.
They are well-suited to athletes and people struggling with back pain and tension.
These are your sleeping-on-a-table mattresses, but, of course, there are also various levels here and not all tables are hard as concrete.
Creating a firmness scale
There are many factors that can influence how firm a mattress feels and, as we've just discovered, you can't always rely on a brand to give you an exact degree of firmness.
This is why we've created the Sleep Hero firmness scale.
We've found this especially useful for bed-in-a-box mattresses 📦
As you'll be buying your mattress online, you can't rely on the general feel of a mattress as you would if you were buying from a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer.
We use our firmness scale in all our mattress reviews and buying guides to help you figure out which is the perfect mattress for you.