Can soft mattresses cause problems?

Last Updated on January 22, 2022

We all know the feeling of sinking into your bed after a long day, but if you’re sinking too far, you may be doing more harm to your body than good. While there’s nothing wrong with preferring a softer sleep surface, everybody needs a certain amount of support to promote healthy spinal alignment.

Beyond just preference, choosing the right firmness level comes down to your specific sleep needs, body type, weight and sleeping position. That’s why in today’s guide, we will discuss can soft mattresses cause problems, what kind of problems can arise, what are the signs your bed might be too soft and what are the pros and cons of softer mattresses.

Can soft mattresses cause problems?

What problems can a soft mattress cause?

The mattress firmness you choose can depend on your sleeping position, body weight and personal preferences. Understand that every firmness comes with its own problems, and that’s why you should find one that works for you. Firmer mattresses aren’t always the solution!

With that said hot sleepers need to remember that soft mattresses typically allow your body to sink in deeper, wrapping around you and possibly making you overheat. If you tend to sleep hot, maybe choose a different firmness and get a soft mattress topper instead.

You can be faced with another problem with weight. Heavier people may sink in too much and end up putting unnecessary pressure on their joints. Yes in the end it comes down to personal preference, but if your weight is above 8-10 stones, we suggest you opt for a medium-firm or firm mattress to receive proper spine alignment.

Your sleep position can impact your firmness choice as well. Back, side and combination sleepers can use softer products, but we don’t recommend them to stomach sleepers due to potential sinkage.

The last issue you can face is the price. Since soft mattresses are one of the hardest types to make, they have many materials inside them with multiple foam layers that drive up the price.

What problems can a soft mattress cause?

5 Signs you are sleeping on a mattress that’s too soft

As we’ve mentioned above, various issues can arise when your sleeping surface is softer. However, we’ve created a list with five signs that can help you determine if yours is softer than needed. They are the following:

1. Stiff and sore lower back

We can easily say that the most common symptom of a bed that’s too soft is a stiff and sore lower back.

Typically, this happens first thing in the morning, after you’ve slept for hours (prolonged stay). There can be plenty of causes for lower back pain. Overall, persistent morning aches and pains indicate that your bed is the problem.

2. Neck or shoulder pain

People that mainly sleep on their stomachs need to be particularly careful with the firmness of their mattresses. That’s because stomach sleepers already put extra strain on their neck, jaw and upper back due to the unnatural twisting required in that specific position.

Back and side sleepers can afford to sleep on a softer mattress, but the same can’t be said for people that sleep on their stomachs. That’s why we highly recommend you pick the right type of pillow for your sleep position to avoid experiencing neck and shoulder pains.

3. Hard time getting comfortable in bed

Tossing and turning every once in a while is a pretty standard thing. However, you have to keep in mind that stress, anxiety and even poor health can be contributing causes to sleeping disorders such as insomnia

That’s why your mattress plays an essential role in how long it takes you to get comfortable in bed at night. If you find yourself constantly readjusting, it might be a sign your muscles cannot fully relax, which is a key sign your sleeping surface is too soft.

4. Struggle to get in and out of bed

How difficult is it for you to get in and out of your bed? If you have that stuck feeling while laying down in your bed and have a hard time pulling yourself up and off of it, this could be a sign it is too soft. 

Certain materials contribute more to the stuck feeling, such as memory foam. However, there are high-density memory foam mattresses that will still provide the hug-like feeling without you having to sink in too deep.

5. Feeling of sinking in too deep

Generally speaking, most mattresses manufacturers that pride themselves in creating high-quality products in the bedding industry use three or more layers of construction. Normally, that consists of a top comfort layer, a middle transitional layer and a bottom support layer. 

The comfort and transitional layers of modern mattresses are designed to provide contouring comfort for the curves of your body. However, if you are having the feeling of sinking all the way down to bottom support layers, your bed is definitely too soft or worn out. No one wants an uncomfortable mattress, so it might be time for you to replace your bed!

Body aches and pains

Side effects of sleeping on a soft mattress

Your mattress plays a crucial role in helping you fall and stay asleep. A bed that’s too firm or too soft isn’t supportive enough, or just plain uncomfortable can often be all it takes to prevent you from getting those eight hours of sleep a day you need.

If you are concerned about the effects your bed is having on your health, take a look at the ten most common side effects that can occur:

Back pain

Does your back hurt? While a wide range of different things, from sports injuries to joint issues, can cause back pain, a low-quality bed can often force you to sleep in an unnatural position for your body that twists and strains your back.

That’s why if you need to awkwardly twist to feel comfortable in your bed, it is a sign you might not be getting the required support, which can lead to injuries.


Individuals that don’t get enough sleep or often wake up during the night have a higher risk of becoming obese than their peers. The drowsiness and lack of energy caused by sleep deprivation can often lead to overeating and gaining weight.

If you feel hungrier during the day but haven’t increased your activity level, a poor quality bed could be blamed. In general, you should be able to fall asleep within 30 minutes or less. If that’s not you, consider replacing your bed or adjusting your lifestyle.

side effects of sleeping on a soft mattress


It shouldn’t be any surprise, but low quality sleep will usually leave you feeling tired and exhausted. If your bed prevents you from falling asleep, it could affect your alertness throughout the day.

While it’s typical to feel a little tired during the afternoon and particularly late in the evening, early or extreme drowsiness isn’t normal.

Weak immune system

Have you ever noticed that you’re more likely to become sick when you haven’t slept enough? Tossing and turning in bed due to the sinkage feel can lead to less rest, leading to a weaker immune system.

A weak immune system makes you more likely to get caught by a wide range of illnesses, from fevers to the common cold. That’s why you should keep yourself protected against illness with a mattress that gives you the right comfort and support for great sleep.

Heart conditions

If you can’t get eight hours of quality sleep per night, it could have a negative effect on your cardiac health. According to a European Heart Journal study, people that sleep for less than seven hours have a 48% higher risk of developing heart disease.

And let’s be honest, that’s not an insignificant amount. When you cut your sleep short or fail to enjoy a full night’s sleep because of an uncomfortable bed, you could increase the risk of developing heart disease. Also, short sleep is associated with a heightened risk of stroke and high blood pressure.

Memory issues

It’s no surprise that your memory starts to fade after a bad night’s sleep. However, the long-term effects of sleep deprivation on your memory are less well known but just as worrying.

Sleep plays a fundamental role in creating memories. When you’re sleep-deprived, you won’t just fail to recall memories – you’re also less likely to form memories to remember the events that happened to you at that time.

Side effects

Premature ageing

Have you ever noticed black circles under your eyes after you wake up from a bad night’s sleep? If your mattress keeps you awake, it could affect your skin in both the short and long term.

Reduced libido

The less you sleep, the lower your sex drive is likely to be because you will have less energy. Research shows that lack of sleep has a serious negative effect on the sex drive. The same study also discusses that it can lead to lower-than-normal levels of testosterone in men.

In addition to a lower sex drive, lack of sleep can lead to erectile dysfunction and a reduced sperm count.

Why does mattress firmness matter?

Are you wondering why you should care about how firm your mattress is? Because the right firmness can help prevent back pain and improve the quality of your sleep. 

Lying with your spine in a crooked, unaligned position for eight or more hours every day is a big contributor to back pain and can ruin your sleep. That’s why finding an option with the right firmness for you is so crucial.

Bottom line

Finding a supportive soft mattress can be challenging, but you have to remember to find the right balance between support and softness to get a refreshing and peaceful night’s sleep. Think about the materials, support, motion isolation and cooling properties so that you can find the right bed for you.

Know that soft mattresses come with their pros and cons, meaning your choice is crucial. Understand that a product that’s too soft, can come with side effects, so don’t forget to think about your needs, body type, weight and sleeping position when making the decision. 

Isabelle Harris
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