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How to Make a Mattress Firmer in Easy Steps

Because firming up an unsupportive mattress doesn’t have to mean splurging on a whole new mattress altogether.
When a mattress starts to soften is when your sleep quality can start to go haywire. Without the proper support, pressure on your joints can start to take its toll, leading to tossing and turning throughout the night, pain or discomfort while sleeping, pain or discomfort in the morning and fatigue throughout the day. With a mattress as such a large investment, though, purchasing a new one at the first signs of softening and loss of firmness isn’t always an option – if quality is important to you, even the best value mattresses can come at a sizable price tag. If replacing a softened mattress just isn’t in the cards for the time being (whether for financial or other reasons), don’t fret just yet! Here, we’ve compiled a list of the top ways to help restore firmness to a mattress – browse our tips below for practical ways to stay on budget (and supported throughout the night)!

Why Do You Need to Firm Up a Mattress?

Sometimes, a mattress can start to soften in the middle (where the majority of your weight rests during sleep) without you even noticing it. When this happens, the indentation in the middle of the mattress is often so slight, that it can make almost no difference in the way the mattress feels; your bed is still comfortable, and by all appearances, you’re getting the support you need. If this describes your current situation, be wary: just because you feel comfortable doesn’t mean your spine is getting the full support it needs.

Night after night, sleeping on a too-soft mattress, no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable it feels, can thwart your spinal alignment, place tremendous pressure on your joints and strain your back muscles – all of which can lead to more troubling matters down the road, including difficulty falling and staying asleep. Long story short: if there is visible softening in your mattress (even an inch of indentation counts here), look into the ways for firming it up as quickly as possible to avoid headache (and backache, and neckache!) in the future.

How to Make a Mattress Firmer

Lower the Temperature

Lower the temperature of a room to make a mattress firmer – yes, you read that right! Cooler temps condense matter; the lower the thermostat, the more dense (and the less expansive and airy) the contents of a mattress will be. While the notion that the climate of a sleeping environment can have an effect on mattress support might seem like a stretch, it’s actually science-based (and not as far-fetched as it sounds). Of course, mattress material type has an effect on how susceptible to change the mattress as a whole is; on the chance that your mattress does contain such kind of responsive material, though, this tip is worth the try!

Check the Layers

Sometimes, a mattress that is starting to lose its firmness means that only one or two layers of the mattress is starting to lose its firmness; and sometimes, individual layers of a mattress can be replaced by calling the manufacturer. Warranty and type of mattress matter here (you’ll need a warranty that covers replacement parts and/or the kind of mattress that contains replaceable layers). This is another trick that may or may not work for you, depending on the kind of mattress you own, but on the off chance that you do have the right kind of mattress for it, it’s worth the try.

Add a Topper

A mattress topper is another quick and easy fix to make a mattress firmer. Simply buy a new mattress topper to add on to the top of a softening mattress. Make sure the topper is a firm comfort level, as some come in plush or soft comfort levels. You may also want to invest in a gel topper (as opposed to the more common foam), gel being denser and oftentimes firmer than foam.

Replace the Box Spring

A very old box spring or foundation may indeed be the culprit, especially if the foundation itself is loose, wobbly or sagging. Fixing the problem is easy; a new box spring (make sure the foundation is a King for a King mattress, a Queen for a Queen mattress, and so on) solves the problem in a cinch.

Rotate the Bed

If it’s been a year or longer since you’ve rotated your mattress by hand, do this step now! Rotating a mattress all the way around so that where your head rests now will be where your feet rest will shift the areas where you place the most amount of weight and pressure on the mattress, helping the layers to more evenly distribute and creating a firmer feel.

Change Your Sleeping Position

If you really want to shake things up, try changing the way you sleep. If you currently sleep on your side, get in the habit of sleeping your back at least every other night to give your mattress space to shape up and more evenly distribute your weight.

Flip the Mattress

Flip the mattress over so that the surface that once touched the box spring is now facing up. Note: a high percentage of mattresses made today are not designed to be flipped, so attempt flipping only if your mattress is older and you know it can be flipped.

Lose the Box Spring

Placing a mattress directly on a hardwood floor without a box spring will ensure there’s no movement whatsoever from a potentially loose foundation. Placing a mattress directly on the floor, however, isn’t always recommended, especially since most mattresses need space underneath to prevent moisture harboring, so try it at your own discretion!

Replace the Mattress

Last but not least, replace the mattress altogether. If you tried every trick in the book and your mattress is still causing you aches and pains due to a loss of firmness, there’s no sense in prolonging the deed any further. Buying a new mattress is an investment that pays off in more ways than one.

How to Make a Mattress Softer

Sometimes, a mattress can be too firm, leading to an extremely uncomfortable surface and making it hard to get a good night’s sleep every night. This happens mostly when the wrong comfort level is chosen for a mattress – those who prefer a softer feel should choose a plush comfort level, while those who prefer a firmer feel should choose a firm comfort level. New mattresses can also feel firmer when you first bring them home. If you tried a mattress in-store and then bought it only to find that the one you’ve brought home is a lot firmer than the store model, give it time: it may take a couple of weeks for the mattress to truly “settle” and contour around your body.

Here are some more tips for softening up a too-firm mattress:

  • Always try the mattress before buying. Skipping this step is a no-no if you’re particular about mattress feel – if you don’t know exactly what you’re getting before purchasing a new mattress, there’s a high chance you’ll end up unhappy with the comfort level.
  • Try a plush topper. You’ve bought a mattress, given it a few weeks to months, and it’s still too firm for your liking – at this point, your best option is to try a plush mattress topper to give it some pressure relief. You can also swap a topper for a padded mattress protector for a thinner layer of padding.
  • Opt for a pillow top. Did you know that many mattresses come with the option of pillow tops? This means that if you find a mattress make and comfort level you like but wish it was a tad softer (in other words, if you feel  you are in between comfort levels, where a medium mattress is too plush and a firm mattress is too firm), the same mattress may be available with an added top soft layer for plusher comfort.
  • Give it time. As stated above, it’s a given that a new mattress will feel firmer the first few weeks. It’s also a given that the floor models will feel softer than the one you take home. The more use a mattress gets, the more its layers get broken into, so give your new mattress a few weeks to reach its most comfortable. (By the way, if the notion that new mattresses get softer over time scares you, because you want to keep a firm comfort level for as long as possible, opt for a firm mattress or extra-firm mattress, as these are designed to keep up the high-support layers for years.)
  • Replace the mattress. Sometimes, when a mattress’s (dis)comfort is to the point that it is causing you sleeplessness, the best thing to do is to replace the mattress altogether. Compared to the easier steps (like buying a topper), buying a new mattress might seem like a hassle, but it’s the kind of hassle that’s worth it in the long run.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.