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How to make a mattress firmer

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There are several ways to firm up a mattress. One of the easiest ways is to use a mattress topper. You can also place your mattress on a solid foundation.

Is your mattress giving you that sinking feeling? A mattress should be comfortable whilst supporting your body correctly. But when a mattress is too soft or beginning to sag, it puts the body in an awkward sleeping position. This could cause aches and pains, disturb your sleep and make it difficult to turn over in bed.

There are several ways that you can make your mattress feel firmer. But doing so may create further problems. Side sleepers may find that sleeping on a firm mattress causes pressure around the shoulders and the hips.

woman sitting on firm orthopaedic mattress

Do you need a firmer mattress?

A common misconception is that a firm mattress is good for the back. Medical professionals would recommend firm mattresses in the past, but this advice has since changed.

If you suffer from a bad back, you need a mattress that provides the right level of comfort and support. That doesn’t necessarily mean a firm mattress. Of course, comfort is subjective, but mattress firmness should be mainly based on your body weight and build.

If the mattress is too firm, it can put the spine out of alignment, putting pressure on the shoulders, knees and hips. Your mattress should conform to the shape of your body. It should be comfortable whilst supporting your body correctly.

Sleep or comfort trials

If your mattress is relatively new and you’re finding it too soft, you may have the option to return it or exchange it for a firmer mattress. Many mattresses come with a risk-free comfort trial that typically ranges from 30 to 100 nights. You’ll need to check the store’s terms and conditions to see if you qualify.

When you buy a new mattress, it can take time for your body to adjust to it. So it’s best to try and persevere with your new mattress before you consider sending it back. It can take at least a month to get used to a new mattress, and it is normal for a new mattress to cause aches and pains while your body adjusts to it.  

Use a firm mattress topper

If your mattress is too soft, a mattress topper can provide an extra layer of firmness. It sits on top of your mattress and fits your mattress like a fitted sheet.

You would typically use a mattress topper to soften a mattress that’s too firm. But as mattress toppers come in a range of firmness’s, you can also buy a topper to make your bed feel firmer.

But purchasing a mattress topper for an old worn-out mattress is unlikely to improve your sleep. If your old mattress is lumpy or sagging, a mattress topper will take its shape and not support you correctly.

Place a piece of plywood between the mattress and the bed base

If your mattress sits on top of a sprung bed base, you can firm it up by placing a sheet of plywood board on your bed base. But by doing so, you compromise on the benefits a sprung bed base provides. A sprung bed base improves the overall comfort and support of the bed. It also cushions the mattress, which helps to extend its life.

If your mattress rests on top of a slatted bed frame, the gap between the slats may cause your mattress to sag. Placing a sheet of plywood board on top of the slats will prevent the mattress from sagging.

Good air circulation underneath the mattress is important to prevent mould and mildew build-up. You can achieve this by drilling some holes in the plywood board.

Replace your bed base

Using plywood board may seem like a cost-effective solution to firm up a mattress, but it is unlikely to improve your sleep if your mattress rests on an old worn-out bed base.

If your mattress is too soft or sagging, it could be because it is not correctly supported from the bed base. If the surface is uneven, the mattress will quickly take its shape. You should also check your bed base for squeaking, creaking or anything that might be migrating through the surface, like out of place springs that could damage the mattress.

If you decide to replace your bed base, ensure that the new bed base is compatible with your mattress. 

Avoid placing your mattress directly on the floor. Whilst this may seem like a cost-effective solution, sleeping closer to the floor exposes you to pests, dust and cold air. It also provides the perfect environment for mould and mildew because of the poor ventilation underneath the mattress.

Turn your mattress

Most people tend to sleep in the same position each night. Over time, dips and indentations can start to appear in the mattress, typically in the areas where most of the weight is concentrated. When a mattress has sagged, your mattress feels unsupportive, and you feel that you’re sinking to the bottom of the mattress. It can also make it difficult to turn over in bed.

Turning your mattress regularly will help to maintain an even sleeping surface. If you have a non-turn mattress with only one sleeping surface, rotating your mattress will also help.

Final thoughts

There are several ways to firm up a mattress, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will improve your sleep. It is a myth that a firm mattress is better for your back. Also, remember that firming up an old worn-out mattress is not a cheap substitute for buying a new bed.

Picture of About the author

About the author

Tony Brown is the founder and creator of The Bed Consultant. His career in the bed industry began in 2002. After graduating from university with a degree in Business Administration, Tony joined one of the largest independent furniture retailers in the UK as a bed consultant. Tony has helped thousands of customers find the perfect mattress.

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