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What is a Plush Mattress?

What is a Plush Mattress?

Mattress Guides
Read Time: 5 minutes
  • A plush mattress is characterized by a soft feel with a firmness level of around 3 to 4 out of 10, achieved primarily through a soft foam comfort layer. In contrast, a pillow top mattress features an additional layer of padding sewn on top of the mattress’s comfort layer, providing two layers of padding.
  • Plush mattresses are well-suited for side sleepers, as they offer cushioning for pressure points, promoting joint comfort. Additionally, petite sleepers may benefit from plush mattresses, preventing excessive sinkage.
  • Stomach sleepers and plus-size sleepers, typically over 230 pounds, may find firmer mattresses more suitable. Firmer mattresses help maintain spinal alignment for stomach sleepers and provide ample support for heavier individuals, preventing excessive sinkage and potential back pain.

A lot of people confuse the term “plush mattress” with a pillow top mattress or even a plush mattress topper, but “plush” and “pillow top” are not interchangeable terms. While pillow tops are plush, they’re a bit different than a mattress with a plush feel. Below, we’ll talk about those differences and discuss which could be right for you.

Plush Mattress vs Pillow Top

Plush Mattress

A plush mattress is a mattress with a soft feel: a firmness level of around 3 to 4 out of 10 (on the mattress firmness scale, 1 is softest, but it’s rare to find a mattress this soft—it would have no support). The soft feel can be achieved in a couple of different ways.

A plush foam comfort layer is the most common way to create a soft or plush mattress. Foam is both supportive and cushioning, and a soft foam comfort layer can cradle your pressure points and cushion your body. The best soft mattresses also have enough bounce or responsiveness to prevent over sinking and spinal misalignment.

Manufacturers may also use other plush materials in their comfort layers, like wool, down, or gel, but these materials aren’t as common as foam.

Pillow Top

A pillow top or Euro top is an extra layer of extra padding that goes on top of the mattress’s comfort layer. That’s the main difference between the two: a plush mattress has a soft comfort layer, while a pillow-top mattress has an attached top layer that sits above the comfort layer, meaning the mattress has two layers of padding.

While it is possible to find hybrids with a pillow top, they’re most commonly seen on innerspring mattresses. Most innerspring beds have a thinner, less supportive comfort layer, so higher-end innersprings will have an attached pillow top as a way to counter the pressure caused by the coil support layer.

Pillow top mattresses can have tops made of foam, but they’re also made of natural or synthetic fibers like down, fiberfill (typically polyester or other synthetic fibers), wool, cotton, and more.

Who Should Sleep on a Plush Mattress?

Whether you need a plush or firm mattress will depend on your body type and sleep position.

Soft mattresses are ideal for several types of sleepers. The best mattresses for side sleepers are often plush because they cushion and protect the joints.

When you sleep on a firm surface, the lack of compression can create pressure on the joints, causing pain and so-called “pressure points” in the shoulders, hips, knees, and other areas that push up against the mattress. Conforming surfaces are a vital part of soothing mattresses for pressure points.

Mattresses for petite sleepers are often plush because these sleepers tend to experience minimal sinkage. If you’re under 130 pounds, you might have a hard time finding a mattress that compresses enough for you. Plush mattresses offer less resistance, ensuring lightweight sleepers don’t feel like they’re sleeping on a slab.

Of course, your personal preferences are a key factor. Even if you’re not a side sleeper or a petite person, if you find that a softer mattress alleviates your pain or improves your sleep, you should go for it.

Who Shouldn’t Sleep on a Plush Mattress?

There are a couple of types of sleepers who should go firmer. The best mattresses for stomach sleepers are firm because the pelvis sinks into the bed in the “free fall” and other belly-down sleep positions, causing lower back pain by overarching the spine. Medium-firm to firm mattresses help counter this effect by keeping the pelvis lifted onto the bed and promoting spinal alignment.

Mattresses for plus-size sleepers should also be firmer. If you’re over 230 pounds, you might need a firmer mattress to get enough support and avoid too much sinkage. For this group, softer mattresses can over-compress and cause back pain.


Is it possible to get a plush hybrid?

Yes! The feel of the mattress is decided mostly by the type and firmness of the foam in the comfort layer. Since hybrid mattresses have a pocketed coil support core topped with a foam comfort layer at least 2 inches thick, they can come with memory foam or latex foam comfort layers of every firmness level (including soft). This means hybrids can be just as plush as any latex or memory foam mattress.

Can innerspring mattresses be plush?

Innerspring mattresses are typically made softer by the addition of a pillow top, but they can have a plush comfort layer instead. Just remember, if an innerspring mattress has pocketed coils and a thicker foam comfort layer, it may actually be a hybrid (and vice versa). Some manufacturers use the terms interchangeably, even though they’re not.

Which is better, foam or other pillow top materials?

If we had to pick between the two, we’d have to give the edge to foam. Memory foam has a lot of contouring power, meaning it can offer you customized support by altering itself to fit your unique shape. Pillow top materials like cotton or fiberfill are not nearly as flexible, and they can’t alter their shape to fit yours. They’re also not as naturally supportive as foam.

Gel memory foam and natural latex foam are also more cooling than a lot of common pillow top fills like down, wool, polyfill, and more. Breathable fills like cotton might give you some extra cooling power, but they won’t have the support to match it. For all these reasons, if you have the choice between foam and other, more traditional pillow top fills, we’d suggest the foam.

Are pillow tops and Euro tops the same thing?

Euro tops are a type of pillow top. The main difference between regular pillow tops and Euro tops is that Euro tops are sewn underneath the mattress cover, eliminating the gap between the comfort layer and the top layer and giving the mattress a more uniform look.

Meanwhile, regular pillow tops are sewn on top of the mattress cover. This leaves a noticeable seam between the pillow top and comfort layer. However, since regular pillow tops are unencumbered by the mattress cover, they can contour a bit more effectively than Euro tops.

Will a topper make my current mattress plush?

You can definitely increase the softness of your mattress using a mattress pad or mattress topper. Just make sure you’re getting a quality plush memory foam mattress topper that is still supportive and contouring. It also helps to find a topper with a non-slip grip to prevent it from shifting around whenever you move, especially if you’re going to be sleeping on it on a nightly basis.

Bottom Line

Plush mattresses can be great for side sleepers, petite sleepers, and sleepers who prefer a little extra pressure relief. Just watch out for an overly plush mattress if you’re on the heavier side or you sleep on your stomach. Both of these factors could indicate you need to go up a firmness level (i.e. if you want a softer feel, you might consider a medium mattress) to avoid excessive sink.

Harrison Wall is Sleep Junkie’s business strategist and sleep analyst. He also authors posts on bedding and mattress accessories. Harrison regularly coordinates with new mattress companies and tests their products to determine what really helps you get better rest and have brighter mornings.

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