How to Make a Firm Mattress Softer
I like a softer mattress, and here are all the tricks I’ve learned to get a better night’s sleep!
I have never been an adherent to the school of the firm mattress. A bed should be about comfort. It should be a refuge from the harshness of the world and a place to relish sweet dreams. There are many things you can do to make a firm mattress softer, let’s start with the cheapest and work our way up.
1. Use a Foam "Egg Crate" Mattress Topper
This is what my mother always called those foam pads that you can put on your mattress. In college, my roommate had never seen one of these, until I threw one on her spartan bed to cushion her bony body. They are the cheapest way of softening up a bed. I recently bought one for around $20 at Wal-Mart. Of course, they vary in thickness, so the more you pay, the thicker of a foam pad you’ll get. Throw it down on the bed, top with sheets, and you’re done!
2. Use a Feather Bed
The classic choice, a featherbed is made up of bird down mixed with larger feathers to make a fluffy, soft nest for your bed. There is a very wide price range when it comes to featherbeds. You can go down to your local Bed Bath and Beyond and pick one up for $70, or you can go to Macy’s and buy a $400 Charter Club featherbed.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when shopping for a featherbed, however. The first is the percentage of down the featherbed has. You want a high percentage of down in a featherbed, because more down means less larger feathers. These larger feathers can prove crunchy and will poke out of the fabric, pricking you when you are just dozing off.
Another thing to consider is the thickness, or fluffiness, of a featherbed. Your weight will compact the bed a bit, though it can be fluffed back up. A cheaper bed will not wear well over time and will be flat as a pancake in a few months. A good featherbed will resume its shape after a good fluffing, however, and will last many years.
3. Buy a Memory Foam Topper
The new kid on the block, memory foam is what the astronauts sit on during takeoff. Memory foam is made of polyurethane that’s chemically altered to be very dense. It’s also responsive to heat, making it softer in warm spots and harder in cool areas. Because memory foam is so dense, it can be very heavy, but it is also very supportive.
Memory foam, unlike feather beds, does not have as large a range of quality. Yes, some memory foams may be softer than others (marginally), but there aren’t factors like down percentage to encounter. The key quality to consider while searching for a memory foam topper is thickness. The thicker the memory foam the more support, and the further you are away from your hard mattress. Memory foam runs from about $110 for a 1/2" topper to $800 for a full-on mattress. Many in between sizes exist, usually made in half-inch increments.
Memory foam can also be considered a good investment, because it retains its shape and lasts a very long time. (I’m talking about "it may come with you to your next mattress" long time).
4. Use a Combination of These Methods
I personally enjoy the best of both worlds. On my bed, I have a hybrid feather and memory foam topper. The memory foam provides a half-inch base while feathers are on top. The feathers provide a pillow-like feeling, while the memory foam provides curve-hugging support. I bought this about a year ago, and the topper is still going strong. For about $110, I consider it a very smart investment in a good night’s sleep. Keep your eye out on places like eBay and Overstock.
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Where can you find this hybrid? I’ve looked everywhere. Is there a brand name or another name for it?
I have a memory foam pad and I really like it. My husband loves the feel but isn’t very fond of how hot the memory foam makes him.
9 years ago from Washington
Ava-I agree, memory foam takes a little getting used to, but once you do you can never go back!
Ava Da Luca
Memory foam is really the way to go it last a really long time and feels great. Make sure to go to a place where you can try it out first though some people don’t really like the feel of it.
9 years ago from slovenia
lots of good information, it helped me a lot.
keep up that good work
9 years ago from Minnesota
MMMmm-memory foam. I wouldn’t go back to anything else. Great hub, thanks for the ideas!
9 years ago from Sunny Florida
Great options, there’s nothing worse than tossing and turning all night on an uncomfortably had bed. Thanks for the information.
Interesting read, but I can’t understand anyone wanting to make a mattress softer. I love my firm Millbrook bed and I hate staying in hotels where the mattress always seems to have too much give.
For me, firmer is always better 🙂
Memory foams might make the mattress a lot firmer. Latex foams might be a better choice since these mattresses usually have lesser density. Try looking for a latex pad. What is great about latex is that it offers a combination of upper back support and lower back comfort. Many people are in need of this type of comfort.
thanks . this really helped becuz i was going to buy the new TEMPURPEDIC CLOUD SUPREAM it cost around 2,000 but now i can get a soft mattress without paying all that mony:)
10 years ago from California
You have a lot of great ideas for softening a firm mattress. It almost makes you think that if you are going to err on the firmness of your mattress when you are buying a new one, you should error on the side of firmness, because you can always soften it up. Nice hub.
10 years ago from Washington
BM-Try Overstock.com, they always have an interesting selection of bedding goods for a reasonable price.
Where can I get a memory foam + fiberbed hybrid in queen size or memory foam and down. Ive looked evryhere but I cant seem to find it
10 years ago from Washington
Model Girl- Wal-Mart and Bed, Bath and Beyond are both good choices, as is Target. Sometimes you can score good deals at stores like Ross and TJ Maxx too!
Pretty Model Girl
10 years ago from Tempe, AZ
You know, this is a really good idea. I hate my mattress now, it’s so uncomfortable. Other than Overstock, where’s a good place to pick up a topper in person?
fat boy bean bag
Its fairly a good job. I think I got what I was looking for. Its really nice now to shop for mattress. As there are a variety of mattresses so difficult to choose one. But thanks to your hub which helped me in this regard. Thanks once again.
11 years ago from Bend, Oregon
Lots of options! Nice job on this Hub. Makes me want to go shopping.
ps. I love your avatar with your dog!
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How To Make A Mattress Softer
A few ways you can make a firm mattress softer and more accommodating.
Did your new bed turn out to feel more like a bench than a cloud? Don’t worry, we have some tips for you to make your mattress softer and more comfortable.
So you made the mistake of testing mattresses at the end of a long day, when anything would have been comfortable as long as you were off your feet. Now your bed has arrived and it’s too firm. Or maybe you switched up sleeping positions to your side, and now you need a mattress that will accommodate for your arm instead of pressing against it and giving you a dead limb to wake up to in the morning. Or maybe a partner moved in and they need a softer bed to sleep on. Whatever the reason might be, rest assured there are plenty of simple options to soften your bed up.
Let’s first talk about the reasons why having a softer mattress can be so important, and then we’ll go over some options for making your bed softer.
Why Firmness Level Is Important
Keep in mind that when we mention firmness in our Slumber Yard mattress reviews, we are doing so in a relative manner. Firmness is a term that is largely dependent on weight and body type. The more one weighs, the more they’ll sink down into a mattress and then the softer it will feel for them. Same goes for petite individuals, but just the opposite—the less you weigh, the more you’ll find yourself laying on top of the mattress, instead of in it. Because of this, petite people may have a harder time than others finding a soft-feeling mattress.
With some select mattresses, though, we’ve found that heavy individuals will actually sink through the comfort layers of the bed and end up laying more on top of either the poly foam or coil base layers, which will make the bed feel quite firm. This is a sign that you need a thicker, more supportive mattress.
Sleeper type is also super important when taking into consideration the firmness level of your mattress. Back and stomach sleepers usually need a firmer surface that will support their hips and shoulders to keep their spine in a neutral alignment. If the bed is too soft, back and stomach sleepers might find their hips sinking too deep in the bed, which makes the spine arch. Side sleepers will need a softer mattress that will be more accommodating for their hips and shoulders. If you sleep on your side on a mattress that is too firm, it will constrict the blood flow in the arms and hips, which can leave them feeling tingly or even cause you to lose feeling.
Many people find a soft mattress to be much more comfortable than one that is on the firm side. This can be extra important for those with conditions like scoliosis or fibromyalgia. Considering we spend a third of the day sleeping, which adds up to us spending almost a third of our lives sleeping, we should do so in comfort. Also, keeping the spine in proper alignment, whether sleeping on your back or on your side, is very important for the overall health of your body. Keep this all in mind as we talk about the different options you have when it comes to softening up a mattress.
Options For Softening Up Your Mattress
Break it in.If your bed is new and feels too firm, it may just need more time to break in a bit. Just like new shoes need to be worn in, so does your mattress. You can break it in by simply sleeping on it night after night like you normally would, or if you want to speed up the process, you could literally walk around your bed for a couple minutes a day. You could even have your kids (or borrow your sister’s kids) come and jump on it to soften it up quicker. Most mattress companies state that it can take up to 60 days to break in a new mattress. Novosbed won’t even accept returns before the first 60 days, and then offers to send you a Comfort+ Kit (a free foam topper) if you feel the firmness of the bed isn’t soft enough for you.
Try to break the mattress in quicker
Check your trial period.More often than not, online mattress companies will have trial periods where you can test out your new bed in your own home before you fully commit to it. Most often companies offer a 100-night trial period, but some brands have extended trials. Nectar, for example, offers a year long trial period. If you got your mattress recently, check and see if it’s still under its trial period because it might be eligible for a free return and refund, and most companies will come and remove the mattress for you, as well.
Flip or rotate your mattress.If know your mattress is flippable, try out the other side. Some mattress companies like Layla have different firmness levels per side, so the other side of the bed may be softer for you. Also, we always recommend rotating your mattress seasonally to prevent against sagging or permanent indentations. When your bed has permanent indentations, it can mean that the comfort layers of the bed are compressed, making them feel firmer. Try rotating it so that the heavier parts of your body like your hips and shoulders are in different spots. Keep in mind that sagging and impressions can be a sign it’s time to get a new mattress, though.
Warm it up.Some common mattress materials, like memory foam or airy polyurethane foam, can be temperature sensitive. Much like how memory foam allows your body to sink into the foam as it absorbs your body heat, a warm room will help the whole bed to soften up. Try adjusting your thermostat, using a heated blanket, or switching to flannel sheets to warm things up.
The warmer the memory foam bed is, the softer it will appear
Get a mattress topper.There are tons of great options on Amazon, and they’re much cheaper than getting a new bed altogether. There are different types of mattress toppers available that can add extra pressure relief or body contouring. We specifically recommend a thick memory foam topper, a goose down topper, or a wool topper for a softer feel. Be aware that egg crate style toppers can sometimes have too much texture and can annoy sensitive sleepers. You could also get a mattress pad, but toppers are thicker and more plush.
If all else fails, get a new mattress.Like we talked about in the intro, the firmness level of your mattress is very important for your spinal health. Having a bed that’s worn out, sagging, or much too firm can lead to body stiffness or trouble sleeping, which can lead to other issues. If these tips and tricks offered aren’t helping, it can mean it’s time to just get a new bed. Feel free to take our Mattress Finder Quiz if you need some help figuring out which bed might be best for you.
What Can You Do To Make A Hard Bed Softer & More Comfortable?
Life is too short to spend it sleeping on a bed that doesn’t make you feel like a million bucks.
If you just bought a mattress and it seems overly firm, you’ll need to figure out a few things:
- Does it feel hard just because it’s new? Will it soften up over time?
- Did you buy something that simply isn’t right for you?
In the first case, you’ll be happy with your bed in no time. I’ve got a few tips that’ll help you break in your bed so it’s more comfortable.
If your situation is more like the latter, you’ve got a tough decision to make. Returning something this bulky (and personal) is a pain the rear. And some companies have more generous return policies than others, so you might not even be part of the return window.
Since you’ve already got the thing in your house, perhaps there’s a way to salvage the situation andmake your firm mattress softer.
Making Your Firm Mattress Soft
Check Your Foundation
If you’ve recently bought a mattress and it feels to firm, the first thing you should do is check your foundation. The reason is that not all types of mattresses are suited for different types of foundations. For example, if you recently switched from an innerspring bed to memory foam, you’ll need to ditch the box spring.
On the other hand, if you have something that’s not memory foam, then a box spring foundation can make your bed feel softer. This is something to keep in mind if perhaps you don’t have a box spring.
As a general rule, remember that box springs are designed for innerspring mattresses. Just as the name implies, it’s a box with springs inside that function as motion isolators for bouncy and disruptive coiled beds.
The foundation itself can be either a solid or slatted platform. Platforms tend to make a surface firmer, so if you’re feeling especially uncomfortable and you have a foam bed you may want to consider an adjustable base that may not be as hard.(See our top mattresses for platform beds here.)
Stepping on the Bed
A brand new mattress may be firmer than you anticipated, but you can easily soften it up by taking a few steps. Literally. You can break it in by sleeping on it night after night, and you’ll experience some softening over time. However, if you want more comfortable sleep sooner, you can walk across the top of it every day, preferably for several minutes at a time, and that should soften it up quicker.
It probably goes without saying, but I recommend doing this procedure without shoes, so that everything stays clean.
Use a Mattress Topper
Buying a topper is one of the quickest, most effective, and cheapest ways to make a hard surface softer. By adding a supportive layer to the top of your bed, you can enhance pressure point relief and contouring. There are different materials available, including latex, memory foam, wool, cotton, feather, polyfoam, and down alternative.
The most popular option is memory foam. If you go with this variety, get something that is under two inches thick and a lower density for extra softness. (See our guide on memory foam density.)
Warm it Up
This tip works if you’re sleeping on a memory foam mattress. Because memory foam responds to external temperatures, a warm room will make it softer, and a cold room will make it harder. If you’re sleeping in a chilly bedroom, consider upping the thermostat a few degrees to make things warmer.
Rotate and Flip It
If your mattress can be rotated or flipped, this option might provide some relief. It won’t work for pillowtop beds, but most others are flippable. You have two options:
- Rotate it 180 degrees. Now the area that supported your head will now support your feet and vice versa.
- Flip it over so that the top side is facing down.
Just like you rotate your tires regularly for even wear, the same should be done for your mattress.
Making Your Soft Mattress Firm
Check Your Foundation
If your bed is getting older, the first thing you should do is check your foundation to make sure everything is intact and there hasn’t been excessive wear and tear. Without a solid foundation, you’re likely to feel the uncomfortable effects of a sagging mattress.
If you have a boxspring, check to make sure that it feels firm and resilient. If not, it’s time to have it replaced. If you have a platform with slats, check to make sure that none of them are broken, sagging, and they’re no more than three inches apart. Anything more and the bed won’t have enough support, which will create a sagging or sinking feeling.
Here’s a cool life hack that’ll only cost you a couple of bucks: put a thin board, like plywood, between the mattress and the boxspring. You’ll get a firmer surface, and if you and your partner have different preferences, you can just put the board on one side of the bed.
Make it Cooler
As you know, memory foam responds to temperature. Since you can make a mattress softer by warming it up, the same is true when you want to make it harder. Cooling the room down to a lower temperature will stiffen up the material and make your bed feel firmer.
Rotate and Flip It
While this tip was mentioned as a way to make a hard mattress softer, it’s usually more effective for making a soft and saggy cushion feel firm again. Because we tend to sleep in the same area of the bed, it’s not unusual for it to have indentations and body impressions that rob your body of support.
By rotating or flipping it, you may be able to find a spot that has the firmness you’re seeking.
Mattress Topper (again)
It’s a lot easier to use a topper to make a firm bed soft than the other way around, but it is still possible. There are a couple of materials that will subtly enhance the firmness of your mattress, though it won’t be dramatic. The materials you should look for are Dunlop latex and compact wool. Avoid foams, as they’ll have the opposite effect.
Does our bed have a removable zipper cover? If so, you may be able to take out old, saggy layers with fresh, firm ones. You may need to get the help of a professional, and make sure you double check your warranty. Manufacturers tend to void a warranty if you’ve materially altered their products.
How to Make Your Bed Comfortable
Have you ever had one of those days where you long for the moment that you can get home, crawl under the blankets, and relax? Pure heaven, right?
I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to ensure that my bed is the most comfortable space in the house is through a special layering technique. Each part of is a delightful sensation of softness and luxury.
Here are my top four go-tos for a comfortable night of sleep:
- Soft flannel sheets: In cooler weather, nothing beats the coziness of flannel sheets. When the weather heats up, I switch to jersey, t-shirt sheets. They are so soft!
- Add a memory foam mattress topper: Side sleepers tend to need more pressure relief on their hips and shoulders. A topper made out of memory foam provides the perfect amount of cradling support.
- Add a mattress pad cover: Get a quilted variety that holds your topper in place while doing double duty as an extra layer of padding.
- Get a body pillow: Sometimes I like to snuggle, but I don’t always want some hot, sweaty human with dragon breath taking up my space. That’s why I love my body pillow. I get all the benefits of a snuggle partner without any of the drawbacks(You can check out this one that we’ve reviewed earlier).
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a hard bed cause back pain?
Beds that are too hardortoo soft can both cause back pain. In the case of one that is too firm, you’ll find that it’ll push on your pressure points (hips, shoulders, and torso) and cause misalignment. One way to tell if your mattress is too hard is if your arm falls asleep even though you’re not putting much weight on it.Here you can see some of the picks that can relieve back pain.
Why does a new mattress feel firm?
Some types of mattresses feel firm when they’re brand new, and they can take some time to settle. This is especially true for memory foam. Some online companies compress their beds in a box for shipping. When a company does this, you’ll find that it will already be soft.
However, if your bed arrives fully intact, expect a bit of an adjustment period. It might be 30 days or more. Just like when you buy shoes and have to break them in to get rid of that “new” feeling, the same holds true for this type of product.
Does adding plywood underneath the bed make it firmer?
Yes, absolutely! You only need to do this if you have boxsprings. Otherwise, a solid platform frame will have the same effect.
Can I make my memory foam mattress firmer?
Yes, there are a few ways to make a memory foam bed feel firmer. The first is to sleep in a colder room. Cooler temperatures firm up the foam material. Another thing you can do is get a firm topper.
Whether you got a new bed that doesn’t match your expectations, or you have an old bed that’s starting to show its age, you can use one or more of these tips and make your sleep experience something that you actually look forward to each night.
Sources and References:
- The influence of bed firmness on sleep quality – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- 3 Signs Your Mattress Is Too Soft – health.com
Author: Sleep Advisor
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How to Make a Firm Memory Foam Mattress Softer
Memory foam mattresses are popular because of the amount of all-over support they provide for the neck, shoulders, joints, and other pinch points on the body. This support helps to relieve pressure and promote blood circulation so you can get a good night’s sleep.
But some people might find a memory foam mattress to be too firm—especially if they have recently made the switch from a standard spring coil mattress. It may take these folks anywhere from several weeks to several months to get used to the change. Meanwhile, that’s a long time to have to deal with restless nights brought on by an overly firm mattress, so here are some tried and true tips for making memory foam softer.
- Use a mattress topper. Adding more layers between your body and your memory foam mattress is a great way to make your bed more comfortable. A foam or latex mattress topper in a lower density than your mattress can provide the support you need along with the softness you desire. As an alternative, try using a wool, down, or cotton mattress pad for comfort.
- Alter the base support of your memory foam mattress. If you’d rather not use a mattress topper, then consider making the base support of your mattress softer. Chances are, the base is extremely rigid, which in turn makes the foam mattress feel overly firm. Placing more pliable material, such as particleboard, a thin futon pad, or even egg-crate foam, between the mattress base and the mattress could solve your problem.
- Warm up your mattress before bedtime. Some memory foam mattresses are temperature sensitive and soften as they get warmer. Turning on an electric blanket or electric mattress pad about 20 minutes before bedtime should help make your memory foam mattress a bit more pliable than usual.
- Walk or crawl on your mattress for several minutes every day. Because memory foam cradles the body, you’re less likely to toss and turn in your sleep. This is great for getting quality Z’s, but doesn’t help break in the mattress any faster. To speed up the process, try walking or crawling on the mattress for several minutes every day,
Mattress pads (or other ways to make that rock in the crib softer)?
Mattress pads (or other ways to make that rock in the crib softer)?
Okay, mommas and poppas. I fucked up. I’ve been co-sleeping with my 10-month old for, well, 10 months. It’s just not working anymore. My husband and I have to take shifts. One of us sleeps with baby half the night while the other sleeps in the spare room. We usually trade off around 2 a.m. We haven’t slept in the same bed as a couple in 10fuckingmonths. We both work and have to get up around 6 a.m. We’re not getting any sleep for the 4ish hours we’re in bed with baby. I do always put baby in his crib to start out. Sometimes we get an hour, sometimes we get four. He rarely sleeps in there past midnight or 1 a.m. though. And who wants to fight with a 10-month-old to go back in the crib at 1 a.m. when you have to work in just a few short hours and he’ll fall right asleep if you put him in bed with you? No one. I’ve noticed that lately, baby is starting to wake up as soon as we lay him in the crib, and I really think it’s because it’s hard and uncomfortable and he’s used to our cozy bed. My question: Have any of you ever tried mattress pads for the crib to make it softer and more comfortable? If so, which ones do you like? Also, if you have any other suggestions, I’ll gladly take those (except CIO . I know it works for some but I’m not into it). I bought baby a glowworm that plays lullabyes but it hasn’t been much help so far.
Edit: missing werds
Edit: Thank you so much for all your suggestions! I think we may try a thin layer of fleece under his sheet since it’s warm and soft but not too puffy. Seems like a good place to start. Someone mentioned being a nervous nelly and maybe this is all a bad idea. I totally understand that too. That’s why my son is stuck in my room at 10 months old; I refused to let him leave my side at night for fear something would happen. I’ve lost so much sleep just staying up to watch a sleeping baby. He’s so big and so mobile now though, and I’m confident in his ability to sleep safely on a softer surface than his crib mattress (he’s in my super soft bed every night). I’d NEVER put my son in any kind of situation that I felt was unsafe for him. ALL of your considerations and suggestions make sense and I thank you.