What to Do When Your Mattress Is Too Soft or Too Firm

Couples often disagree on how firm their mattress should be, but when she wants soft, he wants firm, what to do, what to do? These disagreements may be precipitated by chronic pain, different sleep positions, weight differences or simply just what each considers comfortable. Sleep is a very individual experience and couples often have difficulty compromising on a mattress, but don’t want to miss out on intimacy either. Learn more about solutions you can implement to create win/win sleeping experience.

Top 8 Mattress & Sleep Issues for Relationships

First, know that if you sometimes would rather kick your significant other off the bed than snuggle, you aren’t alone. Bed time involves two different individuals compromising in one space. But, most of us like the company of our partner just the same. So, we seek out solutions to make nights more restful together rather than sleeping in separate beds. The good news is that for most issues, there are ideas you can use to restore peace.

Problem: She wants soft, he wants firm.

Because individuals often have different body weights and frames, it is highly likely that a lot of couples will want different levels of firmness in their beds. While it seems like one person must always compromise, that doesn’t have to be the case.


  • Memory foam mattresses and latex mattresses in queen and king sizes can sometimes be ordered with different levels of firmness on each side of a single bed to accommodate two people (Click the links to see our reviews and recommendations).
  • Split-chamber beds like softside waterbeds allow each person to create their own level of comfort. Waterbed chambers can be ordered with different degrees of fiber filling and motion as well depending on preference.
  • If buying a new mattress isn’t an option, using a twin XL memory foam topper on one side of the bed can provide added softness. You can place the topper below the fitted sheet to limit moving around, but this will still be a little awkward due to height discrepancies. Keep in mind toppers are also not effective on a mattress that sags or has support issues.
  • The least popular option is to consider two single twin beds. However, Twin XL is exactly 1/2 of a standard king bed so two mattresses of this size can be placed side-by-side in a king frame.

Problem: Health problems require modified sleeping or mattress positions.

There are several injuries and disorders that might require a person to have on portion of their body elevated during sleep. Often, their partner may not need the same adjustment and it can be awkward and cumbersome to stack up pillows. This usually results in someone sleeping in the recliner to get some peace.


  • Home adjustable bases allow users to flex the head and feet sections, and come in split king and queen sizes for couples.  Modern models resemble boxsprings in appearance and often have luxury features like massage. Their price is often similar to a high end mattress ($1000-5000), but these products are usually designed to last for several years. If long-term conditions like acid reflux, sleep apnea, and edema are a concern, or even if you are both perfectly healthy, an adjustable base can be one of the best investments for a couple’s long-term happiness in the bedroom.
  • If you are on a budget or just need a temporary solution, bed wedge pillows can allow one person to raise their head or feet without intruding on the other.

Problem: You feel smothered in bed.

Usually people fall into one camp or the other: either they like to snuggle all night or they want space to spread out. If you are the latter, being cramped in bed can seriously impact sleep.


  • Buy the largest mattress that will comfortably fit into your bedroom. Queen sized mattresses account for the most sales; however they do not provide as much room per person as an individual has even on a twin sized bed (even your toddler has more space than you!). For this reason if the room is large enough, many couples prefer to buy a king sized bed which gives each person nine additional inches of sleeping area.
  • Unless either of you are very tall (over 6 feet), a standard king size bed will probably prove preferable to a California king. The difference is that Cal king beds are 4″ longer than standard, but at the expense of 4″ in width.

Problem: One of you is hot (but not in a good way).

If you give of more heat than the Saharan sun at noon but your partner swears they are in Antarctica, sleeping disputes can become a problem. We all have a certain comfort zone, and unfortunately for couples they can be quite opposite.


  • Use separate comforters with different blanket weights.
  • If you have a waterbed, install separate/dual heaters.

Problem: Your partner acts out scenes from Rambo in their sleep or has a different schedule.

When your significant other moves around a lot at night or maintains different hours, it can mean lost sleep, especially if you have hard time drifting off again.


  • Memory foam mattresses are well-known for their ability to reduce motion transfer. Demonstrated by the old marketing clips of a person jumping near a glass of wine, foam absorbs motion rather than dispersing it. Spring mattresses, however, often jostle and shake the whole surface when one person moves.
  • This is another circumstance where using individual comforters can also help, as the tugging and comfort hogging issues are eliminated.

Problem: You have different sleep position preferences.

While about 2/3 of people are side sleepers, there is still that odd 1/3 of the bunch that prefers back or stomach sleeping. If you have different preferences, it is important to understand how sleep position relates to support needs.


Problem: One iota of light can prevent you from sleeping.

Additional problems may be encountered by couples such as preference for clocks, nightlights or watching television in bed. Sleep science suggests that pitch black rooms invite the highest quality sleep, but televisions and electronics can be hard habit to break.

  • Set a TV timer. Many televisions come with a sleep function that automatically turns off after a set time. Agree on a time that works for both of you and put the TV to bed.
  • Turn cell phones face side down so they don’t light up the room with every update.
  • Use an eye mask to shut out ambient lights, or blackout curtains if light source is external.
  • Consider a motion activated night light or under bed light to reduce light pollution.

Problem: Your partner’s secret nickname is Snorezilla.

Noise can be a definite sleep-stealer, and for many, snoring is about as irritating as it gets. But you don’t have to banish your partner to a snore-atorium, necessarily.

  • The most obvious solution is to use earplugs or headphones. White noise machines or ambient noise phone apps can drown out snoring enough to take your mind off it.
  • Slightly elevating your upper body can reduce snoring, another benefit of an adjustable bed. Some like the Leggett and Platt Prodigy even have a Snore Button, which gently adjusts your partner to stop the noise.
  • If the snoring is really loud or it sounds like your partner stops breathing sometimes, bring it to their attention. It could be benign, but it indicative of sleep apnea or other issues that have medical solutions.

Getting quality sleep is important for nearly every aspect of our lives. Indeed, poor sleep can lead to relationship issues just as much as health issues. With the options that are available, today’s couples can both enjoy comfort at night without separate rooms. If you are having to compromise or not getting the sleep you need, consider the solutions and talk with your partner about the best plan of action. Of course, choosing a mattress is another battle in itself, but it is good to at least be aware the customizable options exist and that sleep technology is on your side.

It’s also a great idea to do your research on different styles of mattresses that may help solve your problems before any of them actually rise.

Anything we missed? Feel free to share your questions or advice for others with mattress dilemmas.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

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