5 signs you should be sleeping on a medium-firm mattress, not a firm

A man in yellow sweater rubs shoulder as he has shoulder pain
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The best firm mattresses can be great for providing extra support and sturdiness, but they aren't for everyone. If you suspect your current mattress is too hard for you, then there are some common signs that tell you it's time to switch to a medium-firm bed instead. 

Our guide to the best mattresses features lots of firm beds ideal for those who need added support in the hips and lower back, such as back, stomach, and plus-sized sleepers. However, a medium-firm mattress can suit a wide range of sleepers, as it provides the perfect balance between support and comfort. 

Here, we'll break down the common signs that you should be sleeping on a medium-firm mattress, not a firm one. Plus, if you spot any of these signs, we'll show you the best medium-firm mattresses to buy ahead of the Memorial Day mattress sales.

What is a medium-firm mattress?

A medium-firm mattress is a bed with a firmness rating of between 6 and 8 out of 10 on the firmness scale (10 being the firmest). Sometimes called a luxury-firm mattress, a medium-firm bed is a popular option as it can provide universal support and comfort to most sleep positions, especially back sleepers. It's slightly more cushioning than the best firm mattresses (which are usually 8 to 10 out of 10 on the firmness scale), so it's ideal for those who want the sturdy support of a firm bed but with added comfort. 

5 signs you should be sleeping on a medium-firm vs firm mattress

1. You struggle to sleep on your side

The best mattresses for side sleepers almost always have a plush, medium-firm feel to add extra cushioning for the knees, hips, and shoulders - the three key pressure points when side sleeping. Firm mattresses are not recommended to side sleepers, as they don't offer enough soothing pressure relief in these areas.

If you like to sleep on your side, but find it difficult to sleep in that position lately, then it may be a sign your mattress is too firm. It's especially telling if your shoulders are pressing against the mattress instead of sinking into it.

2. You have shoulder and hip pain 

A man sits in bed with shoulder pain

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If you do manage to sleep on your side when lying on a firm mattress, it's likely that you'll start experiencing aches and pains in your shoulder and hips. If your shoulders are pressing against the mattress, and the bed provides zero pressure relief, then this will likely lead to shoulder pain.

While it's true that a firm mattress can support the hip region when lying on your back or stomach, making sure that the spine is properly aligned and preventing lower back pain, side sleepers need something more comforting and supporting from a medium-firm bed.

3. You wake up with neck pain, too

Woman rubs neck as she has neck pain

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Firm mattresses don't have the best pressure relief, and can actually create more pressure points. One such pressure point is the neck, which may become sore or stiff if it isn't soothed by medium-firm pressure relief. If a firm mattress isn't providing enough comfort to the hips, shoulder, and back, this can affect the curves of the neck and cause a lot discomfort. 

4. It's taking longer to fall asleep

When you're told to think of the perfect dream bed, most people will picture a cloud-like, ultra-soft bed that feels like cotton candy. That's because comfort is high on the mattress shopping list, as everyone wants to be soothed to sleep. A mattress that's too firm won't provide that relaxing, cushioning feel that a medium-firm can bring, so if you're struggling to get comfortable and fall asleep at night, a rock-hard mattress may be to blame. 

5. You're experiencing numbness

A close up image of a pair of hands - one massaging the other

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If you're getting a tingling sensation in your arms, hands, and feet, this may be caused by pressure building in the points of your body that press against the mattress. This pressure build-up is usually seen when sleeping on a too-firm mattress and can lead to nerves becoming compressed, which then leads to a tingling, numb sensation in your pressure points. 

The top 3 medium-firm mattresses to buy

1. Nectar Memory Foam Mattress: $699 $349 at Nectar

1. Nectar Memory Foam Mattress: from $699 $349 at Nectar
Our Nectar mattress review finds this to be a medium-firm mattress that's outstanding value for money, providing a balanced feel for side and back sleeping. This is the new evergreen 40% off Nectar mattress sale is being rebranded as a Memorial Day discount, but it's always there so you don't have to be too strategic about when you buy. You'll get a 365-night trial with the Nectar Mattress, plus a forever warranty and free shipping and returns.

2. Purple Mattress: $999 $899 at Purple

2. Purple Mattress: from $999 $899 at Purple
The best mattress in a box for pressure relief, the Purple mattress was praised in our Purple mattress review for its durable responsive sleep surface and excellent temperature control. It has a medium firm feel (7/10), that's ideal for most sleepers. The standard Purple mattress deals, like the current one, usually knock $100 or $200 off, depending on the size. Extras include a 100-night sleep trial, 100-night sleep trial, and free shipping and returns. 

3. WinkBed Luxury Firm:$1,349 $849 at Winkbeds

3. WinkBed Luxury Firm: from $1,349 $849 at Winkbeds
The WinkBed mattress review loved the edge support and firmness options, with the luxury-firm option ideal for most sleepers. The regular WinkBeds deal takes $300 off and knocks the price of a queen size Plus model down to $1,699. This is rarely ever changed, so it's unlikely that you should wait for the Memorial Day sales to buy.  

Frances Daniels
Sleep Staff Writer

Frances Daniels is a Sleep Staff Writer at Tom's Guide and her role includes covering all mattress and sleep news, in addition to mattress reviews and buyer's guides, plus sleep accessories such as pillows and mattress toppers. Frances is a PPA-accredited journalist and is hugely interested in the relationship between good sleep and overall health. When not writing about mattresses and sleep for Tom's Guide, Frances enjoys writing about women's issues, health and wellbeing, the environment, and her native Wales.