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How to break in a new mattress

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Applying gentle pressure to your new mattress can help speed up the breaking in process. Sleeping on your new mattress each night will usually suffice, but you can also try gently crawling over it. It can take at least a month to get used to a new mattress. By then, it should start to feel softer and more comfortable.

Buying a new mattress should improve your quality of sleep. But like a new pair of shoes, it can take time for your body to adjust to a new mattress. It may feel uncomfortable at first or even cause back pain. But after several weeks of use, your new mattress will settle and give your body the support it needs.

If you’re finding your new mattress uncomfortable, the advice provided in this article may help to break it in faster.

discontent young lady cannot sleep, lying under bed sheets

Can you sleep on a new mattress straight away?

As tempting as it is to use your new mattress straight away, it’s important to let it air for several hours before use. Most new mattresses are wrapped in polythene during transit and sometimes release a slight odour when the packaging is removed. This is because the treatments used during the manufacturing process cannot escape from the airtight packaging. The smells are normal; they are harmless and are no cause for concern.

If you notice a smell from your new mattress, lay it down flat and allow it time to air in a well-ventilated room so that the odour can disperse. Ensure all packaging is removed and open the doors and windows to allow good air circulation. Also, remove or pull back any bedding the new mattress may be in contact with to help speed up the process.

Also, bear in mind that some mattresses come rolled up or compressed. These will need to be unrolled and flattened for several hours before use so that they can expand to their true dimensions.

Why does my new mattress not feel like the one in the store?

If you’ve bought your mattress in-store, you may find that it feels different to the one that you tried out in the showroom. There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, showroom models are typically softer due to the number of people who test them out on a regular basis. Some showroom models may be months, if not years old and will be much more worn in. You may even find that the mattress you tried in the showroom may be of a slightly different specification to the one that you’ve purchased. For instance, it could have a different covering, slightly changing how it feels to lie on.

Secondly, your mattress may feel different if it is paired with a different bed base to the one in the showroom. For instance, a sprung bed base will make a mattress feel softer. While a slatted or solid top bed base will make a mattress feel firmer. This is why it is generally best to buy the mattress and bed base together.

Thirdly, you’ll be wearing extra layers of clothing when you lie on the mattress in the showroom. This essentially creates a barrier between you and the mattress and may not give you a true feel for the mattress.

Finally, if your mattress has been on order or kept in stock for some time, it may feel different if you have put on weight.  

How long does it take to adjust to a new mattress?

In general, it can take at least a month to get used to a new mattress. By then, it should start to feel softer and more comfortable.

It can take some time for your body to adjust to a new mattress. Some people adapt quicker than others. It’s going to feel significantly different to your old, worn-out mattress. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon to find a new mattress uncomfortable or even cause back pain, even though it may be supporting your body correctly. This is because you would have become accustomed to the feel of your old mattress.

The type of mattress you choose can also make a difference in the adjustment period. For instance, if you’re switching from a traditional sprung mattress to a memory foam mattress, it may take longer to adapt due to the unique feel of the memory foam material. A memory foam mattress reacts to body heat and gradually moulds to the body. Some people may find this sinking in feeling strange at first. Some memory foam mattresses may also feel warmer to sleep on. As memory foam cradles the body, heat can sometimes get trapped within the mattress. In contrast, a traditional sprung mattress will immediately conform to the body and will generally feel cooler to sleep on.

Likewise, if you’re moving from a soft to a firm mattress or vice versa, it can also take some time for the body to adjust to a different feel.

Apply some pressure

Initially, your mattress is likely to feel firmer than you anticipated. This is perfectly normal as it will take time for your new mattress to soften to the expected level. Applying gentle pressure to your new mattress can help speed up the breaking in process. Sleeping on your new mattress each night will usually suffice, but you can also try gently crawling over it.

Do not bounce up and down on the mattress, as this can damage its components. Also, avoid sitting on the edge of the mattress where possible, as this may cause further damage.

Check your bed base

If your new mattress sits on an old bed base, it is unlikely to be getting the support it needs. Worse still, it could invalidate your mattress guarantee if the bed base is unsuitable or worn out.

It’s important to check your existing bed base as this can be one of the main reasons your new mattress feels uncomfortable. Firstly, check the alignment of the bed base, looking for signs of sagging or dipping. If it is uneven, your new mattress will simply conform to its shape. Carefully check your bed base for squeaking and creaking. Also, check its surface to ensure none of the components, such as the springs are migrating through.

If your new mattress is sitting on a slatted base, you will need to ensure that the gap between the slats does not exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations. Otherwise, your mattress may end up sagging between the slats.

Mattress settlement

After sleeping on your new mattress for several nights, you may start to notice dips and indentations on its surface. This tends to be more prominent in the areas where most of the body weight is concentrated.

Mattress settlement is perfectly normal and is no cause for concern. Turning your mattress regularly, particularly during the first few weeks of use will allow the mattress to settle evenly. Even non-turn mattresses may benefit from being rotated from time to time.

Your new mattress should come with care instructions that provide guidance on how it should be turned. It’s important to follow the instructions so that the new mattress performs as expected.

Can you return a mattress if you don’t like it?

If after persevering with your old mattress, you’re not happy with how it feels, you may have the option to send it back. Many manufacturers offer an extended trial period, where you may be able to return or exchange an uncomfortable mattress. But remember to check the full terms and conditions beforehand.

Final thoughts

Breaking into a new mattress can be frustrating, especially when it does not initially perform as expected.  All mattresses need to settle, so give it time, and your new mattress should give your body the support and comfort it needs.

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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