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.
Questions & Answers
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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 too-firm mattress may be the reason you’re waking up with muscle pain every morning. If the return period has expired, you’ll need to find a way to make your mattress softer. We cover several easy, inexpensive ideas below.
If your mattress is too firm, your quality of sleep can suffer. You may even wake up with unexpected aches and pains. Before you take any drastic steps, assess the situation.
Did you recently buy the mattress? If so, it may not be broken in yet. Most mattresses come with a trial period for this exact reason. Give it a little time to soften up before making a decision that may cost you money in return or restocking fees.
If the bed feels too firm even after breaking it in, consider returning it. Many mattress companies offer generous return periods. While it’s a pain to return something so big, it may be worth it if you’re uncomfortable with your purchase.
Has your mattress passed the return period or do you just not want to deal with the hassle? Don’t worry, there are other steps you can take.
Softening a Hard Mattress
Softening a hard mattress is easy with the following steps:
Check Your Base
Sometimes a too-firm mattress comes down to using the wrong base. A memory foam bed, for example, will feel hard on a box spring but cushiony on a solid foundation. Innerspring mattresses, on the other hand, provide the best support on a box spring. Always check with your manufacturer to determine what type of base you should use.
With any type of base, make sure it’s sturdy. A box spring shouldn’t be more than 10 years old and needs sturdy springs. A foundation should have even slats that be able to withstand the weight of the bed.
Break It In
While you probably shouldn’t do anything crazy like walk on your mattress, you will need time to break it in. If you have kids, let them have a little fun on the bed (they probably will anyway, right?). If not, simply sleeping in the same spots on the bed will soften it up naturally.
Warm Up Your Room
Are you the type who turns the heat down at night? Colder temps could make your mattress harder. Memory foam mattresses are especially susceptible to this. Try warming up the room a bit to see if your mattress feels more comfortable after a few days.
Add a Mattress Topper
You can transform the feeling of your mattress by adding a topper. They come in a variety of materials and types, allowing you to choose the right level of cushioning. Most people choose memory foam or pillow-top to soften up their mattress—just make sure to keep the thickness around 2 inches. Too much cushioning and you may not have the spinal support you need.
Rotate or Flip the Mattress
If you have a flippable mattress (not all are), try flipping it. If you sleep in the same area every night, you may wear down the cushioning part of the mattress. Flipping or rotating the mattress gives you an area of fresh comfort and decreases the mattress’ wear and tear.
Do Mattresses Soften Up?
Most mattresses take at least 30–60 days to break in. That’s why most mattress manufacturers require you to sleep on a mattress for at least a few weeks before returning it. The mattress you receive at home will be much stiffer than the one you tried in the store (or the one you read about online).
That’s a good thing. You’re getting a brand-new mattress that needs time to soften up. This is especially true with foam or hybrid beds. Foam takes time to break in and soften. Don’t give up after the first few nights—let your mattress settle in while your body gets used to the new mattress.
How to Tell If Your Mattress Is too Soft
A soft bed may be welcoming, but there is such a thing as too soft. If any of the following issues occur, you may have a bed that’s too soft:
- Waking with an aching back?
This could be a sign of spinal misalignment. Beds that are too soft don’t properly align your spine, which leads to chronic back pain.
Getting "stuck" in your bed
If you can’t easily get in and out of your bed, it may be too soft. While you want cushioning, you also need to be able to hoist yourself out of the bed without feeling as if you were swallowed up by it.
If you can’t seem to get comfortable, your body may not be getting the support it needs. While a too-firm mattress makes you feel like you’re sleeping on a board, a too-soft one doesn’t support your body, making it hard to get comfortable.
A mattress that won’t soften up over time isn’t a lost cause. With a few steps, you can make your too-firm bed softer and more comfortable. If you bought your bed recently and are truly unhappy, however, start by checking the return policy—you may be able to exchange or return the mattress for a more suitable option.
How to Fix a Too Soft or Too Firm Mattress
If yourmattress is too firm or too soft, it can be difficult to get comfortable. Luckily, there are a few ways you can hack your mattress to make it better, without necessarily spending a lot or buying a new one.
Your options will depend on the shape of your existing mattress and on how firm or soft you’d prefer it to be.
Make a Mattress Firmer
If your existing mattress is too soft, there are a couple ways to increase firmness. Keep in mind that if your bed has lost its supportiveness and is causing pain, these hacks may not make a major difference in comfort.
1. Check Your Foundation
If a mattress is not properly supported, it can be prone to sagging. Make sure your boxspring still offers firm, resilient support, or that your foundation is solid. Also ensure your steel frame is in good shape (kings and queen size often need center bars/feet for adequate support). If you use slats, ensure they aren’t sagging or broken, and that they’re no more than three inches apart. If your foundation isn’t in good shape, replacing it can improve firmness.
You may also place solid wood or particle board sheets between the mattress and boxspring to offer a firmer surface, or consider using a platform bed where the mattress rests directly on a solid wood base. The board trick can be used on just one half of the bed if only one partner has an issue with the softness.
2. Add a Firm Topper
Although mattress toppers are usually used to soften surfaces, materials like firm dunlop latex or compact wool can slightly improve firmness or at least improve supportiveness. Avoid softer foams and fibers, however.
3. Replace Layers
If your mattress has a zip-off cover, removable topper or replaceable layers, you may be able to swap overly compressed or worn out layers with new, more supportive ones. Professional upholsterers may be able swap and resew layers as well, though beds with glued layers are likely not swappable (and your warranty would likely be voided).
4. Rotate Your Mattress
If you haven’t done so recently, try rotating your mattress 180 degrees. You should do this every so often when you buy a new bed, as it will promote more even wear. If your bed is flippable, that’s an option as well.
5. Consult Your Warranty
If your mattress is still under warranty, you may be able to claim repairs or get a replacement. Most warranties do not cover moderate softening over time, but most do cover deep impressions or defects.
Make a Mattress Softer
Making a mattress softer tends to be easier than making a mattress firmer, so you’re in luck.
1. Use a Mattress Topper
There are all kinds of mattress toppers available that can add additional contouring or pressure relief to the surface of a too-firm mattress. This is by far the simplest way to correct a too-firm mattress.
Memory foam and latex excel and pain relief and prove durable, though wool, cotton, feather, and poly foam toppers are also popular as well. Sleep Like The Dead finds that the following types of toppers have the highest owner satisfaction:
- Memory Foam Toppers, particularly toppers under 2” thick with lower foam density
- Wool Toppers
- Down Alternative/Fiber Toppers
2. Break Your Mattress In
If your problem is a new bed that feels to firm, you may need to work on break it in. Walking across the surface of the bed for several minutes per day, continuing to sleep on the bed, and rotating it often can help.
3. Rotate Your Mattress
If your bed is feeling too soft where you normally sleep, rotate the mattress or flip it if it is two-sided. Just like with too-soft beds, this promotes even wear and can help your bed stay comfortable longer.
4. Warm it Up
If you are sleeping on a temperature sensitive memory foam mattress, excessive firmness could be due to a too cool room. A gently heated mattress pad or warmer room temperature could help soften the surface a bit.
These tips and tricks can help you get a little more life out of a bed or simply improve the comfort. But, if your bed is truly in bad condition (broken springs, impressions several inches deep, deep sagging), than these tweaks may not be enough. Remember, the average mattress is only designed to last around 8-10 years. For beds that are beyond toppers and tweaks, check out our guides to finding the best mattress and how to have a better mattress shopping experience.
If you have any other tried and true tips for making a bed softer or firmer, feel free to share below!
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I have traded out 2 mattresses so far and now hate the third. How in the world am I going to find one that works? I feel like I tried everything out there. I tried a firm Truenergy and a luxury firm with pillowtop- both too firm. Then tried plush and too soft. I may just have to suffer forever.
I was always comfortable on the floor watching TV. I decided to replicate that surface of carpet over cement. Over time, I slowly added a 24″ in. X 24″ in. board only where my hip lie. Then, I added a plastic tub mat, then a bath-size throw rug., all covered by a quilted mattress cover. Finally, THAT solved my sciatica lower back problem which I have had for ten years. Try different surfaces around your home such as a flattened cardboard box until you achieve the right hardness. These layers do not show through when my bed is made up. OH, what a relief it is!
I recently switched from softer to firm! Worst mistake ever! If u can buy something in between that provides support but also cushion so it’s comfortable to lay on but your body isn’t sinking into it! I was told to buy firmer bc I’m a belly sleeper, however it didn’t wrk out in my favor. I’m trying to decide whether to return it or try softening it up!
Return. Drained as iam am from spending 2000.00 on so called firm plush. First one was like sleeping on a bed of rocks. My husband likes his side, but it’s just too hard for mr.
I recently purchased a firm mattress because my older one was a softer plush. My older mattress is still comfortable, however, my back was aching after sleeping on it only a few hours so I thought maybe I needed firmer. I now have this new mattress that I find extremely uncomfortable because it feels so hard! Do I go through the trouble of returning it, if that’s possible or do I buy something to soften it up? Feeling a bit overwhelmed and that I made a bad decision with choosing firm!
Memory Foam Mattress Too Firm? Here’s How to Make It Softer
Memory foam is well-known for its ability to mould to your body shape and give it proper support. But after just a night of sleeping on it,many people will already conclude that it’s too firm.
We say give it a chance. It’s new and meant to feel firmer at the start.
The rule of thumb is tonever expect a memory foam mattress to be soft off the bat as it needs to be broken in before getting that desired plushness and comfort. Memory foam mattresses may require a longer break-in period due to the higher density of material per cubic foot.
Your new mattress needs your time and patience to adjust to you, and you to it. Just like introducing anything new in your life (new people, a new job, new shoes), an adjustment period is essential to break in and make yourself comfortable. Great things take time! If you end up gettinga great memory foam mattress, it’ll be worth it in the end.
How Long Will It Take to Break In A Memory Foam Mattress?
It can takeanytime between 2-4 weeksfor your body to adjust to any mattress. So before committing to any brand, make sure you know their terms and conditions!
If you wish to speed up the process, here are4 ways to make your memory foam mattress softer:
1. Just walk it off.
You can put in the extra effort towalk gentlyon your mattress a few times daily. Not only is it opportunity for exercise, but it’s also a proven way to soften your mattress. Putting a bit of weight on it is another option – like shoe boxes filled with stuff or hard-bound books stacked up together.
2. Warm it up.
Memory foam mattresses aretemperature-sensitive. This makes them able to react to body heat and mould to your body shape accordingly. They become softer in the heat and firmer in the cold. So, if you bought a mattress during winter season and can’t break into it, try turning the heat up. This should get your mattress softer in no time.
3. Sometimes only time will tell.
Spend as much time with your new mattress even AND especially if you still find it firm. Sit, read, eat, watch TV on it. Sleep on it every night regularly. They are bound to soften with body weight and temperature anyway, so sometimes you can only be patient and hope for the best.
4. Top it up (with topper!)
If after awhile you still find your mattress uncomfortable, maybe it’s time to consider a topper for extra cushioning. Make sure it’s soft and plush but still supportive. Some gel memory foam toppers can transform your mattress to a cloud-like haven without compromising support.
Great Sleep Takes Time
In due time, we hope you begin to appreciate the wonders of your memory foam mattress. It’s a bit of effort and patience combined but designed to be worth your while.
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
Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.
Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.
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