How We Test: Body Weight

There are many factors that contribute to whether or not a mattress hits that just-right level of comfort. You can probably recall a time when you’ve had the best night’s sleep on a mattress, yet your sleeping partner woke up complaining of aches and pains from the very same bed. Two different people may experience a mattress differently, and body weight is one of the biggest contributing factors that comes into play when determining the comfort of a mattress.

That’s why we personally test each mattress we review. Keep reading to learn more about how we assess mattresses based on body weight. 

Why is it Important to Consider Your Body Type?

Your body weight determines the amount of pressure put on a mattress, which then impacts its firmness, support, and comfort. 

Imagine you place two objects on a mattress—one is a small paperback book and the other is a 20 lb weight. The book is going to appear to float on top of the mattress with no apparent sinking. The weight is going to sink into the mattress. The heavier object adds more pressure to the mattress, while the lighter-weight object adds less pressure. 

The pressure difference can result in two different experiences of the same mattress. A medium-firm mattress, for example, could feel soft to a heavier person, firm to a lightweight person, and comfortable to an average-weight person.

How We Test For Body Types

The Mattress Clarity reviewers range in height and weight. This is great news for our reviews, because it means we can offer a wide range of perspectives. Before publishing a review, both Marten and Elisa take naps on the bed and rest in different positions. 
Sleeping on the Purple NewDay
Marten, who is 6’7,” is much heavier than Elisa, who is 5’3”. Because of this, Marten often thinks the mattresses feel firmer than Elisa does. The two reviewers will compare notes and share their thoughts so the published review is as inclusive and thorough as possible.
Awara Premier Mattress Review Side Sleeping

The Best Firmness Level For Each Body Type

We explained how body weight can influence the comfort level of a mattress. But another factor that can help determine if a mattress will feel supportive and comfortable is sleeping position.

Your personal preference for sleeping on your side, back, or stomach can help you determine the best firmness level. 

  • Side sleepers usually distribute most of their body weight along two pressure points—the shoulder and hip. Soft mattresses often feel more comfortable for side sleepers.
  • Stomach sleepers typically prefer firm mattresses because they help promote the proper spinal alignment. A mattress that is too soft can cause sleepers’ hips to sink out of alignment, which can lead to lower back pain. 
  • Back sleepers generally prefer medium-firm mattresses. As long as it’s supportive, a medium-firm mattress can keep their spine properly aligned. 

When you factor in your sleeping position and body type, finding a mattress that feels supportive and comfortable becomes much easier. 

Here at Mattress Clarity, we use a firmness scale that ranges from 1-10, with 6.5/10 representing the industry standard of medium-firm. The following charts will help you identify the type of mattress that will work well for you:

Side Sleepers

Body WeightFirmness
Lightweight (under 130 lb)6/10
Average (130 – 230 lb)6.5/10
Heavyweight (over 230 lb)7/10

Back Sleepers

Body WeightFirmness
Lightweight (under 130 lb)6.5/10
Average (130 – 230 lb)7/10
Heavyweight (over 230 lb)7.5/10

Stomach Sleepers

Body WeightFirmness
Lightweight (under 130 lb)6.5/10
Average (130 – 230 lb)7/10
Heavyweight (over 230 lb)8/10

Combination Sleepers

Some sleepers start slumbering in one position and wake up in another. If you fall asleep on your side each night but wake on your back, you may be a combination sleeper. The best mattress for combination sleepers is one that’s supportive enough to keep your spine aligned and soft enough to cushion your joints.

If you can’t use your sleeping position to identify the best mattress firmness, you may want to select a mattress in the middle range for your body weight.

  • Lightweight: medium (6-6.5/10)
  • Average weight: medium-firm (6.5-7/10)
  • Heavyweight: firm (7/10 or higher)

Your sleeping position can impact more than how your mattress feels; it can also affect sleep quality, health, and pain. Many experts say that stomach sleeping is not the best sleeping position. If you regularly rest on your stomach, you may want to consider making some modifications. 

What’s the Best Type of Mattress for Your Body Type?

Mattress manufacturers use a variety of materials. Here are a few of the most popular mattress types and how they feel for each body type:

Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses are made from a material known as visco-elastic polyurethane foam that is soft and absorbent. Memory foam responds to heat and pressure and is known for its ability to mold around your body. Memory foam is a great material for side sleepers because it offers plenty of pressure relief. It’s also a good choice for lightweight and average-weight sleepers, but it may not be the best option for heavyweight sleepers who need a bit more support.

Who it’s for: 

  • Side sleepers
  • Lightweight or average-weight sleepers
  • People who need lots of pressure relief


Latex mattresses are made from the sap of rubber trees. Latex has a unique feel that is often described as buoyant or bouncy. In contrast to the sinking sensation offered by memory foam, a latex mattress offers a lifted, supported sleeping sensation. 

Latex mattresses tend to feel firmer than memory foam beds. Some models are entirely made out of latex, while others are latex hybrids featuring innerspring support layers and latex comfort layers. Lightweight side sleepers may prefer the light and airy Talalay latex, while heavier back or stomach sleepers may prefer the sturdier, firmer feel of Dunlop latex. Latex mattresses may not work well for side sleepers who desire a soft, sinking experience to better cushion and protect joints. 

Who it’s for:

  • People who prefer a bouncy and responsive feel
  • Those who need more support

Memory Foam Hybrid

Memory foam hybrids offer the pressure-relieving benefits of memory foam, without many of the drawbacks. The combination of supportive innerspring coils and soft foam layers makes these mattresses more universally comfortable for all body types and sleeping positions. They also tend to sleep cooler than many all-foam beds.

Who it’s for: 

  • All body types and sleeping positions
  • People who prefer a balanced foam feel


Innerspring mattresses offer ample support, and they tend to feel firmer than other types of beds. Innerspring mattresses have coils in the support layer and some thin padding on top, often in the form of a pillow top. Innerspring mattresses work well for stomach sleepers and heavyweight people, but they may not work well for lightweight people and side sleepers. 

Who it’s for:

  • Stomach sleepers
  • Heavyweight people
  • Fans of firm mattresses
  • Those who like bouncy beds


What’s the best mattress for lightweight people?

Lightweight people, those who weigh less than 130 lb, typically prefer soft and medium-firm mattresses. That’s because lightweight people put less pressure on mattresses, which can make the bed feel firmer than it would to an average-weight or heavyweight person. Soft and medium-firm mattresses should offer enough support and pressure relief for lightweight people.

What’s the best type of mattress for your body?

The best type of mattress for your body is one that accommodates your body weight, preferred sleeping style, and personal preferences. Lightweight people and side sleepers often feel more comfortable on soft mattresses, and heavyweight people and stomach sleepers typically feel more comfortable on firm mattresses. Back sleepers and average-weight people generally prefer medium-firm mattresses.

How do I know what kind of mattress I need?

After determining the right mattress firmness based on your body weight and sleeping position, consider mattress materials to help determine what kind of mattress you need. Some mattress materials, like memory foam, feel slow-moving and plush. Other materials, like latex and innersprings, feel responsive and bouncy.

What’s the best mattress for heavyweight people?

Heavyweight people, those who weigh over 230 lb, typically prefer firm mattresses. That’s because heavier people put more pressure on mattresses and need extra lumbar support in order to maintain the proper spinal alignment. Take a look at our list of the best mattresses for heavy people for some good options.

Elisa Regulski

Elisa is the Editor of Mattress Clarity, where she analyzes sleep products and appears in review videos. A certified sleep science coach, Elisa's sleep tips have appeared in Readers Digest, Homes and Gardens, and 21 Oak. She earned a M.A in Mass Communication from Texas State University and a B.F.A in acting from Oklahoma City University.