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If your new mattress appeared to be too firm, don’t fall into despair:
You can break it in and make it comfortable for sleeping just in a couple of days.
The first thing to do would be to air the mattress out thoroughly, especially if you bought a bed in a box. Also, you can try other tricks, such as warming up your bedroom, applying weight on your mattress, or even changing the bed frame to a more suitable one.
Have no idea how exactly you should perform these steps? Then here are the detailed tips on how to break in a new mattress.
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Which Mattress Type Is the Quickest to Break In?
Most mattresses have a break-in period, regardless of their type, which means most of them will feel a little firmer when they’re brand new. However, some mattress types become pliable and adjust to your body more quickly. Let’s see what you can expect from each type.
- Innerspring mattresses. The basic construction of an innerspring mattress includes a layer of coils — either solid or individually wrapped — and a comfort layer made of soft foam or fiber padding. Thanks to that, innerspring beds usually break in more quickly but also wear out more quickly than other mattress types.
- Memory foam mattresses. The classic ‘hug’ of memory foam mattresses is the result of foam layers of different density stacked atop each other. The larger the number of layers, the more rigid the mattress may feel initially, and the denser the foam, the more time it will take for it to soften. But because foam is temperature-sensitive, it won’t be hard to break in a firm foam bed.
- Latex mattresses. Natural latex is more elastic and breathable than memory foam. That may be the reason why latex beds may have a bit shorter break-in period than foam ones. But the important thing is, the feel of a latex mattress that has broken in won’t differ too much from the one that has just been delivered to you. Note that all of this doesn’t apply to synthetic latex, though.
- Hybrid mattresses. The break-in period for hybrid mattresses may vary significantly, depending on their construction. For example, models with coils will break in faster than those made of a foam and latex combination. The coil gauge and foam density may also increase or decrease the duration of the break-in period, so there’s really no way to estimate general timing for all hybrid mattresses.
How to Break In a New Mattress: Common Ways
Now, let’s go through the steps you can take when your new mattress is too firm so that you could speed up the break-in period.
Air It Out
Simply letting your mattress expand properly may help a lot. This can work for any type of mattress, but beds in a box that come in a vacuum-sealed plastic wrap will benefit from airing out the most. Here’s what you need to do:
- Put your mattress out of the box and place it on your bed base.
- Unroll it and remove the plastic wrap.
- Wait the required time (in some cases, more time may be needed).
The air filling the pores of the mattress material will make your mattress less rigid and more adjustable to your body. To speed up the expansion process, create the directed airflow around your mattress by doing one of the following:
- opening up the windows and doors;
- putting a fan closer to one side of the mattress;
- turning the AC unit on.
Generally, you need to wait 2-4 hours for the mattress to expand completely, but you may want to increase the waiting period up to 8-10 hours if possible.
Apply Pressure or Weight
Another universal method for breaking in your mattress more quickly is applying the pressure on it. You can do this in several ways:
- rolling across the mattress surface like a rolling pin;
- walking on it from side to side;
- squishing the mattress with your hands (if it’s not too thick);
- stacking a few piles of books or barbells (assuming you have them) on the mattress surface.
Warning: If you own a mattress with coils, it’s more advisable to crawl on your hands and knees rather than walk, as too much weight concentrated in one area is more likely to damage the coils. Also, don’t let your children jump on a new bed. Jumping creates the shockwave of pressure in the mattress layers, which can damage the materials instead of softening them.
Warm Up Your Bedroom
This method works great for memory foam mattresses. As mentioned above, traditional memory foam is a temperature-sensitive material: it becomes softer in the warm environments (or from the contact with your body heat) and feels more rigid in cold rooms. While temperature sensitivity of memory foam is typically considered a complaint (2) because it contributes to a shorter lifespan, you can use this feature in your favor. Adjust your thermostat a few degrees higher than usual and allow the mattress to suck in the warm air. This will make the foam more adjustable to your body.
Change the Bed Base
Different types of bed foundations may alter the final feel of your bed. Traditional box springs generally make the mattress firmer because the coils inside them provide a rigid surface for your bed to rest on. And if your mattress also has coils, this combo may result in an uncomfortably firm surface. So, be sure to check if your mattress foundation is compatible with the mattress type you choose. Today there are many types of bed frames and foundations, so pairing your mattress with a good bed base shouldn’t be a problem.
Here’s the trickiest part of the break-in period: While breaking in your new mattress, you’ll probably have poorer sleep than you used to have. Sometimes you might even feel like sleeping on a couch will be better for you than waking up sore from a firm mattress. But don’t be hasty here. Consistency is key for making the break-in period pass more quickly.
When Should You Give Up?
Sometimes, after you have tried a hundred different methods, your mattress might still feel too stiff. That can be a sign that you have chosen the wrong mattress type or have picked an unsuitable firmness level. And that’s when you might want to start thinking about returning it (or exchanging).
Now, most manufacturers offer a sleep trial that typically lasts for around 100 nights. Additionally, there’s almost always a mandatory break-in period (30 days in most cases). So, if after those 30 days your mattress still feels uncomfortable, you can return it. Don’t rush to apply for a refund only after a couple of weeks.
Additional Tips to Make a Mattress Softer
Once the break-in period ends, you are likely to get used to how your mattress feels and start sleeping better. But what if this doesn’t happen? What if your mattress isn’t already new but still feels overly firm? Here’s what you can do.
Invest in a Mattress Topper
A mattress topper is a layer of memory foam, polyfoam, or latex which you put on top of your mattress to add more cushioning. There are many different types of mattress toppers today, and each of them comes with different features. But they’re all similar in one thing — they can make your bed more comfortable and mask possible imperfections of your mattress surface. If you want to change how your mattress feels, be sure to choose a thicker topper with a soft feel, and you’re all set.
Also read: TOP 6 Best Mattress Toppers for Side Sleepers in 2023
How to choose the Best Mattress Topper for Lower Back Pain Relief and 5 product recommendations
Rotate Your Mattress Regularly
Sometimes, rotating your mattress — so that your foot section is under your head and vice versa — might help you make it softer. Generally, the wear and tear of the mattress is uneven. Thus, some areas may become softer faster than others, and hence, these others would start feeling firmer in comparison. To even out the wear and tear, it’s advisable to rotate your mattress every 3-6 months.
And what about flipping a mattress, you may ask? Today, only traditional innerspring mattresses and dual-sided models can be flipped so that you could use both of their sides (1). Any other type of mattress is crafted unflippable and will fail to support you if you use it with the base layer facing up.
Do you have to break in a new mattress?
If you feel comfortable on your new mattress, you don’t have to break it in. But if it feels too firm for you, it will have to go through the break-in period.
How long to break in a new mattress?
The average duration of a break-in period for most mattresses is 30 days.
How to tell if a mattress is too firm?
The first sign of a too firm mattress is the lack of contouring. If the mattress doesn’t hug your body and if you feel back pain upon awakening, these are the signs of a too firm bed.
- Amber Merton (December 17, 2012). Top 10 Memory Foam Mattress Complaints. Retrieved from https://www.plushbeds.com/blogs/green-sleep/top-10-memory-foam-mattress-complaints
- Julie Sprankles (April 18, 2018) The Old-School Mattress Mistake You Might Be Making. Retrieved from https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/modern-foam-mattress-flip-rotate-advice-257794