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Soft mattresses get a bad rap, don’t they? You might remember the way your parent’s thin, sagging mattress felt and think “I’ll never have a soft mattress!” but that’s not quite the way to think about it.

In the old days, mattresses had linked inner springs that were firmer or softer. Regardless of how firm or soft they were, the coils moved as a unit. Your body still conformed to the shape of the mattress rather than the other way around.

Newer styles of mattress use a combination of layers to provide support while still offering proper support for your spine. Even soft mattresses have this support layer, but usually, the layers of contouring materials are much higher than in firm mattresses.

How Do I Choose The Right Soft Mattress?

Softness is usually measured on a ten point firmness scale. Soft mattresses rate around a three or four on that scale so you get a “hug” like you would with a pillow or traditional memory foam. Side sleepers generally prefer a softer mattress because it allows the shoulders to sink further into the bed without compressing.

Softer mattresses are also great if you have no existing sleep issues or pain and you frequently change positions in the middle of the night. Having more of a hug helps discourage position changes. You’re less likely to wrench a muscle while trying to find a better position.

For most people, this “hug” means contouring rather than a truly soft mattress.

Aren’t Firm Mattresses Better For Sleep?

Not necessarily. Old style soft mattresses weren’t very supportive because they used interlocking springs that dipped under the weight of a person. Many mattresses now use individually pocketed coils to increase supportiveness without losing the softness, or denser memory foam underneath soft contouring foam provides structural support and keeps your spine aligned.

If you sleep on your stomach or you have back problems, you might want a medium or medium-firm mattress at least with a contouring pillow top, but a soft bed isn’t inherently bad for your sleep.

What If My Partner And I Have Different Sleep Preferences?

It’s tough to find a mattress if you’ve got vastly different sleep preferences, but there are some things you can do. First, you could invest in a split mattress with two different sleep preferences. Sleep number is one example or Helix in the bed-in-a-box industry.

Another thing you can do is invest in a memory foam mattress with zoned support layers. These use different methods, but the basic idea is softer in areas where you’re naturally more broad and firmer under places like the lower lumbar region that need more support.

A third option is an adjustable bed with a zero-gravity choice. This removes pressure from your back and decompresses the spine. If your back issues are minimal, you might test this out to see if it does prevent spinal pressure.

You might find that a soft to medium mattress satisfies your criteria if neither partner has any current sleep issues that require a firm mattress. Again, what you remember of soft mattresses from yesteryear may not be true today.

What About Heavier People?

If you’re significantly heavier than the average person, purchasing a soft mattress can be a difficult task. Your body weight reacts differently to beds, so you need a mattress that considers your unique needs. There aren’t many mattresses out there that accommodate larger people, but check for mattresses rated for individual weights of at least 250 to 300 pounds or a combined weight of closer to 600 pounds and over.

These mattresses won’t collapse under the extra weight and lose support entirely or feel firmer than you like because your body is interacting solely with the support layer.

What Type Of Soft Mattress Is Best?

Generally, memory foam has a reputation for being softer, but this isn’t necessarily true anymore. Sure, some memory foam models are incredibly soft with multiple contouring layers that give way, but even hybrid and innerspring mattresses now have the possibility of being on the softer side without wrenching your spine.

Instead of looking at mattress type, look at how the layers interplay with each other and how others rate the feeling of the mattress. You might not need to go with memory foam if you don’t want to.

You need a top layer that helps regulate heat (if you sleep hot) and that gives way to your shoulders and hips if you’re a side sleeper. The bottom layers can be dense foam if you prefer no bounce or motion, or a combination of springs and foam if you like the response of a conventional innerspring but hate the motion transfer.

Recommended Soft Mattresses

Let’s jump into the recommendations!

Amerisleep Mattress

Amerisleep has a range of mattresses that are eco-friendly alternatives to expensive showroom mattress. They use all memory foam with reinforced edges to reduce compression. You can choose from medium-firm options or soft options.

The blend of foams reduces the build-up of heat at the core of the mattress. You sleep cooler and don’t toss as much looking for a cool spot on the bed. The layers discourage position switching, so you’re less likely to wrench your back in the night. For most of their mattresses, you feel less “stuck,” however, and more contoured.

Our Top Pick

The Amerisleep AS5 is the softest mattress in their line. It rates at about a three or four on the ten point firmness scale and is 14 inches deep. Celiant cover materials have reactive fibers that wick away heat and moisture, so you sleep cooler even with the memory foam hug.

The “bio-pur” layer stays cooler than regular memory foam. Underneath is the active flex layer that gives you more bounce than traditional memory foam. It can be a softer mattress, but it’s really responsive, so you don’t feel like you’re stuck.

The next layer has zoned support for more pressure relief underneath your shoulders and hips. The bottom layer is dense support foam. This is a soft mattress, make no mistake, but your spine stays straight and dips in your body such as your lower lumbar decompress.

Zenhaven Mattress

Saatva created the Zenhaven mattress to satisfy a need for a safer, non-toxic mattress. It’s all Talalay latex and manufactured in the United States. There’s no off-gassing and no weird odors.

Zenhaven mattresses are flippable. One side is a gentle firm feel, and the other is luxury plush. The softer side features more contouring layers for a softer feel but still has a firm support layer to keep your spine straight and the lower lumbar region from overextending.

Zenhaven offers white glove delivery and mattress removal for free, so your transition to your new mattress is seamless. You have 120 days to try your new mattress out before deciding if you like it. If you don’t, you can return it at no cost to you.

Best Soft Mattress Under $2,000

Zenhaven’s softer side is rated at about a four on the ten point scale and provides a more delicate, pillow-like feel. The inner support foam prevents compression on the sides so that every part of the mattress is usable.

Latex is more responsive than traditional memory foam, so you won’t feel as much dead foam. Latex is also more durable and breathable. The layers freely circulate air between them, so your temperature stays a bit cooler.

Muse Mattress

If you aren’t sure what mattress to get, Muse can help you out with their sleep quiz. Their mattresses come in three firmness options, and each one uses a phase change material that quickly disperses heat away from your body. The first layer is temperature regulating gel-infused foam for further cooling.

The next layer is breathable, responsive foam. It’s customized to your firmness preference but allows air circulation. The foundation foam is dense and supportive. Each model of the mattress has this same dense support layer, so you don’t sink too far and lose spinal alignment.

Best Soft Mattress Under $1,000

The soft option from Muse is excellent for couples who have somewhat different sleep preferences. Although it feels softer than the other two styles, Muse has maintained the supportive features across all three mattresses. Your spine stays in place, but if your partner is a side sleeper, shoulders won’t compress.

The queen is a bargain as well, putting this mattress at a very affordable price tier.

Zinus Mattress

Zinus got started as a solution to snoring. They began to offer different types of mattresses at budget prices, and now you have options for more problems than just snoring.

Zinus mattresses are available in a variety of retail outlets, but their prices are still in the very affordable range. You can find green tea and charcoal infused beds for cooling and odor protection, a variety of soft to firm options, and both memory foam and hybrid styles.

Best Soft Mattress Under $500

The Green Tea Pressure Relief Memory Foam mattress is an excellent alternative to ultra-expensive luxury mattresses without losing any of the benefits. The material is infused with charcoal and green tea, both of which are antibacterial and resist odor. If you tend to sleep hot, this mattress regulates your temperature during the night and helps you prevent odors from sweat and moisture.

It’s a plush feel but still very supportive underneath. It also has good edge support. The Queen is only about $340, so your wallet stays intact. It’s a luxury mattress for an ultra-budget price.

Amerisleep

The Amerisleep mattress is an ultra-soft option, but they actually have a few different soft options. If you’re alone, you could opt for their softest one (AS5). If you sleep with a partner who prefers something a little firmer, you could choose something like the AS4, which is a medium-soft choice.

Best Soft Mattress for Side Sleepers

We have two recommendations here depending on the conditions of your side position. The AS5 is the softest option and is best for exclusively side sleepers. The contouring layers allow the maximum give underneath shoulders while filling in the gaps around your waist.

The AS4 is a medium soft mattress. If you occasionally sleep in a different position than your side, or your partner has a variety of sleep positions, one step up from their softest option may be a better choice overall than the luxury plush feel of the AS5. It’ll still feel really soft but give a combination sleeper (or partner) a little more pushback.

DreamCloud Mattress

DreamCloud uses eight layers of adaptive foams and coils to give you a bed that’s strangely soft, yet ultra supportive. It’s a luxury brand with an affordable price tag and one of the best sleep trials in the business, 365 days. There’s also a lifetime warranty. For the first ten years, they’ll replace a defective mattress. After that, they may repair and recover the mattress instead of replacing it.

We can’t recommend a genuinely soft mattress for stomach sleepers. Soft mattresses might not offer the same support and put you at risk for overextending your spine and putting pressure on your upper back and shoulders.

Best Soft Mattress for Stomach Sleepers

Instead of an actual soft mattress, the DreamCloud is a medium firm mattress that has more of the soft feel without losing any of the support. The gel and quilted foam layers on top allow you to sink a bit and feel a slight bit of “hug,” but the dense support foam and coils underneath keep your spine nice and straight.

Helix

Helix is a strange beast. They offer one type of mattress, but that mattress is customized based on a sleep quiz you take right at the beginning. The different memory foam layers are rearranged to be more or less cooling, softer or firmer, and a few other details.

They create your mattress specifically for you. It’s one of the most affordable ways to get a customized mattress, and they even split larger sizes for couples that just cannot decide on a happy medium.

Best Soft Mattress for Back Sleepers

We can’t in good conscience recommend a soft mattress for back sleepers. Back sleeping positions often accompany back pain and there’s little wiggle room once that begins to happen.

If you or your partner experience these kinds of pain and need to sleep on a firm mattress, but the other partner prefers soft, we recommend a split mattress from Helix to accommodate both types of preferences without causing damage to your bodies.

Ghostbed

Ghostbed’s primary concern is cooling. The company uses ice layers, foam with extra pickets of gel infusions, to quickly wick away heat. On the Ghostbed Luxe, the material itself is woven with cooling fibers that regulate heat and promptly return the mattress to the ambient temperature of the room.

They have two options, the classic and the Luxe. The Luxe uses a few more layers than the traditional and is more focused on providing extra cooling. It’s slightly softer than the classic.

Ghostbed gives you 101 nights to try out the mattress before deciding if it’s the right one. They also have a 25-year warranty to protect you from mattress defects. The mattress arrives compressed right to your door, so you don’t have to coordinate shipping and delivery.

Best Ghostbed Mattress for Heavy People

We can’t recommend a genuinely soft mattress for people who are heavier than average because the mattress cannot support any extra weight. However, we can recommend a mattress that feels a little softer without losing the needed support.

The Ghostbed Luxe is a slightly softer mattress with more layers to keep you cooler. If you have trouble with temperature during the night, the ice layers and cover material are excellent for reducing heat buildup in the mattress despite the extra “hug.”

The Luxe is rated for a combined weight of up to 750 pounds. If you’re heavier than average, you’ll still get the feeling of the Luxe without blowing through the contouring layers too quickly and the mattress feeling too firm.

Conclusion

Going for a soft mattress doesn’t mean giving up support. Look at the way layers interact with each other to figure out if a soft bed can still fit your needs without losing any of the pillow feel. While soft mattresses aren’t automatically more comfortable, they have come a long way in terms of balancing the luxurious feeling with being much more supportive.

Even hybrid and innerspring mattresses can feel softer now, but as you saw on the list, memory foam is still the ruler of the soft yet supportive mattress game. As long as the support layers push back and prevent your spine from twisting into weird shapes, a soft mattress is mostly universally comfortable.

Tim

Remember how your parents told you that you were going to sleep your life away? Well that would be perfectly fine with Tim. He's been in search of the most comfortable nights sleep for years and shares his findings with any willing ear.

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