Key Takeaways
  • Plush mattresses offer a soft sleeping surface that alleviates pressure and isolates motion. They are topped with thick layers of adaptive materials that closely contour the body and allow it to sink. Plush mattresses may be a good choice for side sleepers, people who weigh less than 130 pounds, and some back sleepers.

Many people compare sleeping on a plush mattress to sleeping on a cloud. Thanks to a thick layer of cushioning, plush mattresses allow sleepers to sink into them, providing a distinct “body hug” feel.

If you find most mattresses too firm, or if you wake up with pain in your shoulders and hips, you might consider investing in a plush mattress. However, when choosing a mattress, it’s important to take into account your sleeping position, body weight, and personal preferences to determine whether or not you would feel adequately supported. We discuss what makes a mattress plush, what mattress firmness is and how we measure it, and who the prime candidates for a plush mattress are.

What Makes a Mattress Plush

Plush mattresses are intended to feel soft. They usually have thick comfort systems—that is, one or more layers at the top of the mattress designed to alleviate pressure and isolate motion. While firmer mattresses have comfort systems that are 1 to 3 inches thick, the comfort layers in plush mattresses are often 4 or more inches thick.

Two common types of plush mattresses are pillow-top and Euro-top mattresses, which have comfort layers in a separate compartment that is sewn onto the top of the mattress. Many plush mattresses feature adaptive materials that cushion and contour to your body—for example, latex, polyfoam, and memory foam.

If you are considering buying a mattress, be aware that what feels soft to one sleeper may feel firm to another. Some mattresses marketed as plush may not feel soft to you. If you’re unable to try a mattress before buying it, you might consult numerical firmness ratings to get a sense of a mattress’ plushness.

Mattress Firmness, Explained

Mattress firmness describes how soft or hard a mattress feels. The degree of firmness is usually determined by a mattress’ comfort system. Softer mattresses tend to have thick comfort layers made from materials that easily compress, while firmer mattresses have thinner comfort layers made from materials that are more resistant to compression.

It’s important to note that firmness and support are not the same thing. Support refers to a mattress’ ability to promote spinal alignment, and it’s largely determined by the base layer of a mattress, known as the support core. This layer, which often contains innerspring coils or high density polyfoam, provides height, offers stability, and prevents sagging. Both soft and firm mattresses can and should offer good support.
Because how soft or firm a mattress feels is subjective, we use a 10-point mattress firmness scale to compare mattresses. We consider mattresses with a rating of five or below to be plush.

Mattress Firmness Scale

Firmness LevelFeelDescription
1Extra SoftExtra soft models have comfort layers that completely compress beneath the weight of a sleeper.
2-3SoftSoft mattresses offer considerable sinkage and contouring.
4Medium SoftMedium soft models still conform to the body but offer some resistance.
5MediumMedium models sink less but offer some contouring.
6Medium FirmMedium firm mattresses sink only a little and have minimal cushioning.
7-9FirmFirm mattresses offer hardly any contouring and sinkage.
9-10Extra FirmExtra firm models don’t noticeably contour or sink at all.

Who Is a Plush Mattress Best For?

Plush mattresses feel comfortable to some people and not to others. Sleep position, body type, and personal preferences are important considerations when determining what mattress firmness is right for you. Plush mattresses generally work best for side sleepers, some back sleepers, and people under 130 pounds.

Side Sleepers

If you are a side sleeper, a plush mattress might be a good choice for you. Sleeping on your side puts pressure on your shoulders and hips, and this position can also make it difficult to keep your spine in alignment. A plush mattress that offers both cushioning and support can relieve pressure points and facilitate a good sleep posture.

Back Sleepers

While most back sleepers prefer firmer mattresses, some enjoy sleeping on plush surfaces. Back sleepers with soft mattresses may find that their abdomens sink too deeply into the mattress, causing an over-pronounced curve in the lumbar region of the spine. This could lead to back pain. If you’re a back sleeper who prefers a plush mattress, consider searching for a model with zoned support to prevent sinking of the midsection.

Lightweight Sleepers

If you weigh less than 130 pounds, you may prefer sleeping on a plush mattress, regardless of your sleep position. Many sleepers in this category find that medium firm to firm mattresses do not adequately compress or conform to their bodies, causing discomfort at pressure points and leading to aches and pains. On the other hand, a plush mattress with a thick, soft comfort system is able to provide cushion and contouring to lighter bodies.

Plush Mattresses

  • Cloud-like cushioning and contouring
  • Pressure-point relief for side sleepers
  • Ability to compress beneath sleepers under 130 pounds
  • Better motion isolation for people who sleep with partners or pets
  • Tendency to trap body heat
  • Increased likelihood of midsection sinking, which can cause discomfort for back and stomach sleepers
  • Weak edge support in some models
  • Decreased longevity in pillow-top and Euro-top models
Learn more about our Editorial Team

Learn More About Mattress Information

How to Move a Mattress

By Lauren Fountain March 6, 2024

How to Make Your Bed More Comfortable

By Lauren Fountain February 2, 2024

Mattress Shopping

By Logan Foley May 22, 2023

How to Buy a Mattress Online

By Lauren Fountain May 22, 2023

What Is a Hybrid Mattress?

By Jenna Tidd May 22, 2023

Mattress Information

By Lauren Fountain May 12, 2023

How to Check Your Mattress for Bed Bugs

By Lauren Fountain March 2, 2023
close quiz
We Are Here To Help You Sleep.
Tell us about your sleep by taking this brief quiz.

Based on your answers, we will calculate your free Sleep Foundation Score and create a personalized sleep profile that includes sleep-improving products and education curated just for you.

Saas Quiz Saas Quiz