Finding the right firmness

for your mattress

BICO über die Härtegrade von Matratzen

We all want to have a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. But some are not so lucky. Are you one of the many who occasionally wake up with tension or back pain? Physical complaints and a lack of rest during sleep are just two of the potential consequences of an unsuitable mattress firmness. To help you address this, we are shedding some light on the most important questions surrounding firmness ratings: what are the firmness ratings, what are the differences between the various ratings and what determines the optimum firmness for you?

A good sleep system is crucial

A sleep system is the combination of bed frame, slats, mattress and pillows. Ideally, all these components should complement one another to evenly distribute pressure across the entire bed surface and provide support or relief to specific parts of the body that need it. A good sleep system has a positive impact on your body and your sleep and will cause neither back pain nor circulatory problems. You can tell whether your sleep system is good and whether you are lying correctly on your mattress because your spinal column will not sag, but form a straight line. Similarly, a good sleep system will not cause any uncomfortable pressure points on your body, which can, for example, cause your arm to fall asleep.

Härtegrade einer Matratze sind entscheidend

So what is a mattress firmness rating?

The firmness rating is a measure of the resistance of a mattress. It provides information on how firm or soft a mattress is. Most mattresses are available in three to five firmness ratings (H1-H3 or H1-H5), where H1 is the softest. However, firmness rating specifications are not standardised, and can consequently differ quite significantly from manufacturer to manufacturer, and from model to model.

H3 or H4? What makes one rating different from another?

What makes a mattress firm or soft? Or, in other words: what are the differences between the individual ratings? The following components are used to define whether a mattress falls into firmness rating 1 or 5:

The mattress type:

The firmness rating of a mattress depends on various factors, including the type. For example, mattresses can be made of viscoelastic foam, cold foam or latex or have inner springs.

The compression hardness, i.e. the resistance of the material:

The more force needed to push into the mattress, the higher its firmness rating.

The ability of the mattress to return to and hold its shape:

This refers to the ability of the mattress to support your body properly, rather than letting it simply sink in without offering any resistance, and to return to its original shape when you get up.

The interaction between the mattress and the frame:

A frame is the base for the mattress and can impact the firmness of the surface of your bed. It gives you the possibility to tailor your mattress to take account of various needs, for example pregnancy, pain, injury or weight gain.

Too hard or too soft? How can you find the mattress with the right firmness?

An optimum firmness rating and matching zoning are important to hold your spinal column in an orthopaedically healthy position and to provide support for or relieve strain on your body. In order to ensure that your body is supported or relieved in the right places, your mattress should have a zoned structure that meets the needs of the various parts of your body: head, shoulders, the natural curvature of your lower back, hips and legs. You will know whether you have a mattress with too low a firmness rating, i.e. where the mattress is too soft, as it will not provide you with enough support and your hips, for example, may sag into the mattress. Consequently, your spine will not be lying in the optimum position. Conversely, if the firmness rating is too high, your hips may not be able to sink into the mattress as needed and your shoulders may bend inwards. Whether too hard or too soft, the wrong mattress can lead to back pain and tension. When you lie on a mattress that is too hard, your body senses your discomfort and tries to find another position to relieve this. This may cause you to turn multiple times during the night, disturbing your sleep or even waking you up. If your blood flow is impaired due to pressure in the wrong place, you may even suffer from circulatory problems.

Der Härtegrad H3 oder H4 entscheidet massgebend

Personal factors for finding the ideal mattress firmness rating

Mattress firmness is very personal and depends on the following factors, which differ from person to person:

Ratio between body weight and height:

Relatively light people are generally recommended a softer mattress, while relatively heavy people tend to need a firmer mattress.


Shoulder, waist and hip characteristics (e.g. wide shoulders, slim waist and hips) affect the weight distribution of your body

Sleeping position:

Do you sleep on your back, side or front?

Personal firmness preference:

For restorative sleep, we strongly recommend that you consider your individual needs and preferences when choosing a mattress. For this, you should seek expert advice and test out different mattress firmness ratings. When testing out a mattress, make sure that your shoulders and hips can sink in and your spine is straight. For those who sleep on their back or side, your lower back should be supported on the mattress in such a way that there is no space between the surface of the bed and your body. Ultimately, you should be able to relax when lying on the mattress, without feeling any areas of pressure on your body. If this is not the case, you are not lying on a mattress with the right firmness rating for you.

Supportive measures for more comfort in bed

If you want even more comfort when sleeping, it may be worthwhile putting a topper on your ideal mattress. This not only provides softer comfort when lying down but also protects your mattress at the same time.
And if you and your partner need two different firmness ratings, and therefore two mattresses, you can avoid the unwanted gap by using a joint mattress cover or bed connector.

In summary

Firmness ratings are very personal. You should therefore choose a rating that meets your personal needs and preferences. To find the right firmness rating for you, we recommend you test out a mattress. This will allow you to feel the actual level of comfort offered by the mattress and decide whether the firmness rating matches your individual needs and characteristics.