5 signs you need a plush mattress instead of a medium-firm bed

Blonde woman holds arm while sitting on a medium-firm bed
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Medium-firm beds are a popular option for a lot of sleep styles. However, they're not for everyone, and a plush mattress may be the better option for other sleepers. So, if you currently own a medium-firm bed and have noticed a change in sleep quality, there are some signs that tell you to switch to a plush mattress instead.

Plush beds are the best mattresses for soothing pressure relief, providing  more comfort and sink-in softness than medium-firm beds. Mattresses with a medium-firm feel are great at delivering a balance between comfort and support, but some sleepers need more of one than the other. 

Here, we'll break down the top five signs you should be sleeping on a plush mattress, not a medium-firm one. Plus, if you recognise any of these signs but don't have the budget for a new bed, we'll show you the plush bed toppers to buy ahead of the Memorial Day mattress sales.

What is a plush mattress?

A plush mattress is any bed with a firmness rating of four (or under) out of 10 on the firmness scale, with 10 being the firmest. Plus mattresses, also called medium-soft mattresses, are ultra-cushioning and provide a sink-in soft, cloud-like comfort. Some of the best mattresses for side sleepers tend to have a medium-soft rating as they cushion the key pressure points when sleeping on your side.   


1. It's hard to sleep on your side 

The harder the mattress, the harder it is to sleep on your side. If you're naturally a side sleeper but find that you can't sleep in that position anymore without feeling uncomfortable, it's likely that your medium-firm mattress isn't providing enough cushioning relief along the key side-sleeping pressure points: shoulders, hips, and knees.

Plush mattresses, on the other hand, provide soothing pressure relief in these areas, allowing your shoulder and hips to be hugged by the bed. 

2. You’re experiencing stiffness and joint pain 

Woman rubs neck as she has neck pain

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If you do manage to sleep on your side, you may have experienced joint pain - especially in your shoulders. If your joints are pressing against a mattress that's too firm, this can build up pressure with little relief and lead to soreness and aching. The neck can also suffer, with the neck becoming sore or stiff if it isn't relieved.

Plush beds provide extra pressure relief to cradle and soothe aching joints. A medium-soft feel comforts the hips, shoulders, and back, so the curves of the neck won't become pressure points. 

3. You like the “hug” of memory foam  

Medium-firm beds are ideal for those who love to feel supported, striking a balance between comfort and firm support akin to a classic innerspring bed. Many of the best hybrid mattresses have a medium-firm feel with added bounce and responsiveness delivered by their tier of springs akin to an innerspring. 

However, some sleepers prefer a soft, sink-in feel and don't enjoy feeling as if they're "on top of" the mattress. Plush mattresses usually have a quilted pillow top, and have a lot of comfort layers, usually made from body-hugging memory foam. 

5.  Your arms and shoulders start tingling 

A man in yellow sweater rubs shoulder as he has shoulder pain

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're getting a numb or tingling sensation in your arms and shoulder, this may be because they're pressed too hard against the medium-firm mattress. This creates building pressure and can lead to nerves becoming compressed, which then leads to a tingling, numb sensation in your pressure points. 

On a plush mattress, your arms and shoulders will sink into the mattress surface rather than pressing against it, eliminating the pins-and-needles sensation.

5. You're not getting enough sleep

Women relaxed asleep in bed

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Sometimes the most common sign you need a softer mattress is the most obvious one: you're finding it difficult to go to sleep. If you're uncomfortable on a mattress that isn't right for you, you're going to need some extra time to settle and ease into the bed and fall asleep. Sometimes, a medium-firm mattress can take weeks or even months to break in, while some petite or side sleepers never get used to it.

Plush mattresses offer sink-in softness from the very beginning, so you're body is immediately cradled from night one. 

The best plush mattress toppers to add to a medium-firm bed

Puffy Deluxe Mattress Topper: $152 at Puffy

Puffy Deluxe Mattress Topper: was $179 | $152 at Puffy
The Puffy Deluxe Mattress Topper is available in both firm and soft, so spring for the latter if you're in need of some plushness. Our Puffy Deluxe Mattress Topper review loved how it stays in place for restless sleepers, cradling memory foam, and removable, washable cover. Right now it's down to $195 (was $229) for a queen-size., and you'll also get free, fast shipping, 101-night sleep trial, and a lifetime warranty. 

Viscosoft Serene Hybrid Mattress Topper: $149.95 at Viscosoft

Viscosoft Serene Hybrid Mattress Topper: was from $199.95 | $149.95 at Viscosoft
Voted "most plush" in our best mattress toppers guide, the Viscosoft Serene Hybrid is a fantastic mattress topper for delivering a plush yet still supportive sleeping experience. Our Viscosoft Serene Hybrid Mattress Topper review loved the cushioning support for couples and motion isolation for couples. It also comes with a 90-day trial period and an option to choose a 3 or 4-inch profile; note that the latter will cost more

Casper Comfy Mattress Topper: $179.10 at Casper

Casper Comfy Mattress Topper: was from $199 | $179.10 at Casper
Our Casper Comfy Mattress Topper review praised the cloud-like comfort for side sleepers and excellent temperature control for hot sleepers. The 10% off discount isn't the best Casper deal we've seen on this topper (it's been 25% off in the past), but it still comes with a 5-year warranty, free shipping, and a 30-night sleep trial. 

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.