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Best Soft Mattress: 2020 Buyer’s Guide

Lara Vargas

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One of the most significant misunderstandings about mattresses involves their firmness levels— you might not realize the firmness of your bed has less to do with personal preference and more to do with your sleeping position.

Firmness refers to the responsiveness and pressure the mattress provides. Different types of firmness will focus on different pressure points, helping to keep your spine in a neutral alignment.

If you’re a side or combo sleeper, this guide will help you find the best mattress available for you on the market today. To begin, we’ll provide our editors’ top picks. Then, we’ll break down the specific criteria and features you should look for when shopping for a new mattress.

After reading this mattress review, you’ll understand everything you need to know about soft beds. Then you can make an informed buying decision.

Best Soft Mattresses

MattressHighlightsPrice
BEST SOFT MATTRESS OVERALLAmerisleep AS5
The AS5Amerisleep
Breathable Bio-Pur® layer is 10x more responsive than traditional foam.
$1539Buy Now
Purple Hybrid Premier
PurpleHybrid Premier
Contains 4 inches of Purple's® innovative Smart Comfort Grid™ for ultimate cushioning.
$2999
Nolah Signature 12 Inch Mattress
NolahSignature 12”
Includes Nolah's proprietary AirFoam™ to regulate your temperature and alleviate pressure points.
$1569

Best Soft Mattress Overall: Amerisleep AS5

Amerisleep AS5 BEST SOFT MATTRESS OVERALL
Amerisleep AS5

Amerisleep’s softest, thickest mattress offers five zones of support, relieving pressure in sensitive areas while also supporting your spine and back muscles.

Receive 30% off an Amerisleep mattress

Enter promo code AS30 at checkout

Get discount
Best mattress features
  • Bio-Pur® foam is CertiPUR-US® certified, meaning it contains no harmful materials and trace amounts of VOCs.
  • Responsive Active Flex layer keeps the bed from feeling too soft, making it easy to move.
  • Breathable Bio-Pur® foam stays cool even as it conforms to your body with its hug-like cushion.
Recommended for...
  • Heavier people looking for a soft mattress.
  • Eco-friendly shoppers interested in plant-based foam.
  • Shoppers who want the protection of a thorough 20-year warranty.

If you’re looking to invest in a good night’s sleep, the Amerisleep AS5 is a solid choice. This mattress is the only Amerisleep model with an Active Flex comfort layer. Active Flex gives the bed a bit of bounce and makes the AS5 supportive enough for plus-size sleepers, too.

The top layer is Bio-Pur® foam, which is more breathable than traditional memory foam. Bio-Pur® foam has additional air space between the particles of foam than conventional memory foam, which is what allows it to be more breathable. However, even though it’s more breathable, it doesn’t sacrifice any support or motion isolation.

Customers will also find the Bio-Pur® foam less dense than traditional foam, so it regains its shape faster. While it takes some memory foam mattresses a whole minute to return to shape, Bio-Pur® foam returns to shape within three or four seconds. Because Bio-Pur® foam is relatively responsive, you won’t feel “stuck” when sleeping at night.

Additionally, Bio-Pur® foam does not have a traditional memory foam smell, often caused by volatile organic compounds. Amerisleep uses plant-based materials, which eliminates VOCs.

The third layer is an Affinity layer with HIVE® technology, providing critical pressure point relief.

The bottom support layer is Bio-Core® foam. This support foam is high-quality, eco-friendly, and designed not to sag after years of use. Amerisleep designed this layer with durability and longevity in mind. Although Bio-Core® foam goes through the eco-friendly manufacturing process, it is not a plant-based material.

In terms of the firmness scale, the AS5 is the softest Amerisleep option available. If you’re looking for something medium-soft, check out the company’s AS4 model.

Amerisleep backs their beds for 20 years against sags as little as .75 inches in depth.

Once your mattress is delivered, you have 100 nights to test it out and decide if it meets your sleep needs.

Purple® Hybrid Premier 4"

purple.4 mattress PURPLE® HYBRID PREMIER 4"
Purple® Hybrid Premier 4″

Purple’s most luxurious mattress balances a soft, thick comfort layer with bouncy coil support.

Best mattress features
  • Grid-like comfort layer adapts to a sleeper's movements and position.
  • Patented hyper-elastic polymer has a long expected lifespan, keeping your mattress from wearing out too soon.
  • Unique grid design has hundreds of air channels for a cool night's sleep.
Recommended for...
  • Side sleepers who tend to sleep hot.
  • Sleepers looking for a soft yet bouncy spring mattress.

The Purple® Hybrid Premier 4″ mattress uses proprietary Purple Grid™ grid technology to provide you with a soft, supportive bed. Purple’s® grid-shaped layer relieves pressure points and is, as the company describes, “soft where you want it, and firm where you need it.”

The open grid design promotes airflow, helping to keep you cool at night. Purple’s® innovative grid also isolates motion and adapts with your body while you sleep.

In this model, the Purple Grid™ is 4 inches thick, so it offers plenty of cushioning comfort and allows for deep compression. The grid sits on a set of responsive support coils, which relieve pressure and add years of durability to the bed.

All of the materials in Purple mattresses are non-toxic. The Purple Grid™ is Purple’s® patented hyper-elastic polymer, which is guaranteed to last at least a decade under Purple’s® warranty.

Purple® backs their mattresses for a decade covering indentations greater than 1 inch. The cover of their beds has a separate warranty, protecting it for two years against faults in the workmanship.

Every Purple® mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial to test the bed and ensure it’s a fit.

Nolah Signature 12"

nolah original 10" NOLAH SIGNATURE 12"
Nolah Signature 12″

The flippable mattress has a soft side suited for side sleepers and a firm side well-matched for back sleepers.

Best Mattress Features
  • AirFoam keeps cool as it contours to your body.
  • Responsive foams keep you from ever feeling trapped in your mattress.
  • Flippable two-in-one mattress design lets you choose different sleeping surfaces.
Recommended for...
  • Sleepers who want to choose between back and side sleeping.
  • Shoppers looking for a value mattress with a lifetime warranty.

Side sleepers will want to check out the Signature 12″ from Nolah. Like the Layla mattress, this bed is flippable so it’s either firm or soft. The top layer of the mattress on the soft side is an extra-thick, 2.5-inch Nolah AirFoam. This foam has a contouring design to fit your body comfortably without “trapping” you like traditional memory foam tends to do.

The next layer is a high-resilience foam that’s 1.5 inches thick. This layer has a healthy bounce and is more durable than latex. The third layer is a 7-inch high-density breathable base.

Because the mattress is flippable, the bottom layer is 1-inch firm support Nolah AirFoam designed for those who sleep on their backs.

The Nolah 12” mattress is covered by a lifetime warranty protecting you against sags greater than 1 inch. Every Nolah mattress comes with a lengthy 120-night sleep trial, free shipping, and free returns.

How to Choose the Best Soft Mattress

Before you purchase a new mattress, do some research, and consider these factors while you shop.

Mattress Size

One of the first things you’ll want to consider when shopping for a new mattress is its size. Whether you prefer a large bed or don’t need much space, you’ll want to make sure it fits in your room.

You’ll also need to ensure it fits on your existing frame or box spring. Otherwise, you’ll have to buy a new base, which will drive up your cost considerably. The standard sizes for mattresses are as follows:

  • Twin: 38 inches x 74 inches
  • Twin XL: 38 inches x 80 inches
  • Full: 54 inches x 75 inches
  • Queen: 60 inches x 80 inches
  • King: 76 inches x 80 inches
  • Cal King: 72 inches x 84 inches
  • Split King: Two Twin XL mattresses side-by-side, with the total dimensions equalling 76 inches x 80 inches

Firmness

You’ll also find firmness ratings when reviewing mattresses. Oftentimes, companies rate their beds on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the firmest. Most beds fall within the 3-8 range on this scale, as beds rated below a 2 don’t offer practical support and those above an 8 are hard as a rock.

Ratings with a 3, 4, or 5 are considered soft or medium-soft. These mattresses are much more consistent, balanced, and reliable. Combo sleepers will want to focus on beds with these ratings.

If you are a side or combo sleeper who prefers to have a bit more firmness, you could probably get away with a 6 rating. This medium-rated mattress is firm with a slight degree of softness.

Don’t forget, body type plays a significant role in the perception of firmness, so don’t forget to take your height and weight into consideration.

Sleeping Position and Style

Once you’ve figured out which size mattress you need, you’ll want to determine which style is best. Beds come with different firmness levels, which can have a tremendous impact on how well you sleep at night and whether you wake up pain-free in the morning.

Research shows “one size fits all” does not work when it comes to mattresses. Instead, consumers need to make sure to match the bed to their body type and sleep style.

Back sleepers, for example, should sleep on a firmer mattress to keep their spine straight and prevent their hips from sinking and tightening. On the other hand, side and combo sleepers are best suited for a medium to soft bed. If the bed is too hard, they’ll end up sleeping in a “U” shape, propped up by their shoulders and hips.

The best mattress for back and stomach sleepers is one that will support their body weight and spinal alignment.

Combo and side sleepers, on the other hand, will find more pressure relief from a softer mattress. If you are a side sleeper who has been waking up with back pain, it could be because your mattress is too firm.

If combo and side sleepers go to bed on a mattress that’s too firm, their shoulders will lock up, throwing their spine out of alignment. Side sleepers will want a soft bed with a bit of sinkage, allowing their back to sink into a neutral spine alignment.

A soft bed may feel more comfortable when you lay down on it initially. But it may not be the best for your health in the long run. You should only purchase a soft mattress if you’re a side or combo sleeper.

Experts suggest it takes around 30 days to get used to a new mattress. If you’re just now discovering a soft bed is best or your sleeping style, be sure to give it a fair chance.

You may find you wake up sore or achy in new areas. This is merely your body getting used to the new mattress. If you purchase one of the best soft mattresses and it’s still not comfortable after a month, only then should you consider returning it.

Mattress Materials and Types

Another critical factor to consider is the type of materials the mattress companies use to make the beds.

Some options include memory foam mattresses, innersprings, and hybrids, which combine both an inner coil system and foam layers. There are many different types of foam mattresses available. For instance, some companies offer gel memory foam, while others use polyurethane foam.

Usually, the best soft mattresses are memory foam. Research has shown around 80% of those with a foam bed were satisfied with their mattresses, while less than 60% were satisfied with their traditional innerspring mattress. Innersprings tend to be too bouncy, which reduces motion transfer. These mattresses do nothing to relieve pressure points, and it can be challenging to get comfortable.

Innerspring mattresses also tend to sag over time. The coils compress in the areas where you sleep the most. As the mattresses sag, they won’t provide the support you need to sleep soundly and comfortably through the night. Fortunately, today’s memory foam manufacturers have invested a lot in their product’s design.

Memory foam mattresses are quite supportive. The beds have “bounce,” which means they return to their natural position; this is one of the reasons why memory foam mattresses can be compressed and shipped in a box.

When you take the mattresses out of the box, the foam expands naturally. Memory foam also absorbs motion. By contrast, an innerspring mattress tends to squeak when you move. Memory foam is silent and reduces how much movement you feel.

Memory foam mattresses “reset” themselves every night, so you can get a comfortable and supportive night’s sleep. You don’t have to worry about flipping a memory foam mattress like you do a traditional innerspring mattress.

Most of today’s memory foam is high-density and reliable. Companies often offer warranties spanning at least a decade, if not longer.

When shopping for memory foam mattresses, you’ll find many manufacturers use various types of foam. At the very least, you’ll want to ensure it has a CertiPUR-US® label to meet basic environmental standards. This foam has low volatile organic compound emissions, which means you won’t impact your indoor air quality nearly as much. These mattresses also do not contain:

  • Mercury
  • Lead
  • Formaldehyde
  • Phthalates

Some companies offer organic mattresses as well. If you’re worried about dust mites or allergens, you may want to look into companies that use natural materials in their beds. There are numerous certifications available to prove how “clean” or “safe” a memory foam mattress is.

Cooling and Airflow

When you go to sleep at night, your body lowers its internal temperature. Keeping your body temperature lower can help you sleep more soundly. Experts recommend you sleep in a cold, dark room. You should set the thermostat between 60 and 67 degrees to achieve the desired temperature

However, your mattress may make it more challenging for your body to maintain a low internal temperature. Older mattresses are not breathable. Instead, they trap body heat, which can cause a restless night’s sleep.

Fortunately, hot sleepers now have a solution. Many manufacturers make new mattresses with breathable materials designed to encourage airflow. If you’re someone who typically wakes up sweating, look for a new bed with these modern materials.

Budget

Today’s best soft mattresses can range from $250 to upwards of $1,500. This doesn’t account for things like pillows, sheets, and bed frames. You should have no problem finding a mattress with the features you want in the price range you need.

Pay close attention to the materials the manufacturers use as well as the trial period and warranty offered. These perks can provide exceptional value when ordering your mattress.

Sleep Trials and Warranty Information

You may think you need to spend hours at a local store trying to figure out which type of mattress is best for you. But this is not the case.

Today, companies offer what’s known as bed in a box mattresses. You can order the bed online, and it will ship to your door within a couple of business days. Once you take it out of the box, the memory foam expands until you have a full-sized bed.

These manufacturers provide in-home sleep trials with their beds. Experts say it takes at least 30 days of sleeping on a new bed for you to determine whether it’s comfortable and the right fit for you.

The standard in-home trial for a bed-in-a-box is 100 nights, although some companies will offer up to a year. If you don’t like the bed, many manufacturers allow you to return it free of charge, no questions asked.

Many companies offer extended warranties on the mattress as well. A 10-year warranty is standard, although some offer a lifetime warranty. Having a bed guaranteed to last a lifetime can help offset any budget concerns you may have.

Mattress Toppers

If you’re looking for a soft mattress, one of the options you may come across is a mattress topper. These toppers allow you to place a layer of foam or other cloud-like materials — typically a few inches thick — onto the top of your existing mattress. They claim to provide a plush feel at a fraction of the cost.

But there are a few problems with mattress toppers. First and foremost, they tend to be made of cheap foam. Cheap foam tends to be flammable while also retaining heat.

More importantly, they don’t work well with old, saggy mattresses. You might feel as though a topper is comfortable. But they’re not addressing the root cause of the problem, which is an overall lack of edge-to-edge support in the mattress.

Mattress toppers are no more than a Band-Aid. Although they are cushioning pillow tops that may work in a pinch, they don’t address the root cause of the issue.

You’re better off investing in a reasonably-priced soft mattress than trying to fix your sleep problems with a mattress topper.

Conclusion

If you find yourself struggling to sleep at night, it may be time for you to buy a new mattress. Side or combo sleepers will want to specifically look at soft beds. These provide contouring features to help support the spine. Side and combo sleepers will want soft mattresses instead of medium-firm or firm mattresses. Those mattresses will cause them to sleep in a “U” shape.

When shopping for a new mattress, there are a few features you’ll need to consider. In addition to the size of the mattress, you’ll need to think about things like the materials used to make the mattress. If you’re searching for a soft mattress, consider memory foam options that are low in VOCs.

Once you have your mattress, try it out for a few weeks. There’s an adjustment period associated with any new bed, especially if you’re switching from a firm one to a soft one.

Give your new mattress at least 30 days before you determine whether it’s the right option. By following these steps, you can obtain the best soft mattress and enjoy a better night’s sleep.

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