Does A Mattress Soften Over Time?

by Véronique Raymond
mattress review

All new mattresses will soften over time whether you purchase a firm mattress or a soft one.

Every type of mattress will have a different break in period and a different aging timeline, too.

While there is nothing you can do to entirely prevent a mattress from softening (they aren’t built to last forever), there are some things you can do to help you enjoy your mattress for a little bit longer.

Let’s take a look at why a mattress softens, how different types of mattresses age differently, and what you can do to combat it.

 

Is Your Mattress Softer? This Is Why

Mattress softening happens for two main reasons: the break in period and natural aging. A mattress will almost always feel a little uncomfortable when you first bring it home, even if it is a soft mattress. You’ll likely wonder why your brand new mattress feels different than it did in the store. The reason for this is that it is brand new and hasn’t gone through a break in period like the mattresses in the store. Natural aging will occur over a period of several years to as long as two decades. Every mattress is different, and it depends on a number of other factors. Let’s investigate.

The Break In Period

The entire purpose of a sleep trial is to allow you enough time to get an accurate sleeping experience on a new mattress. When a new mattress comes out of the box, it will be firmer than it is intended to be. This is done on purpose, because a mattress will naturally soften as it experiences compression. Every time you lay on a mattress, you compress the layers inside, and with enough repetition, these layers will fall into their natural state and allow you to get the good night’s sleep you crave.

During this break in period, which can last anywhere from 30 to 90 days depending on your mattress type, you may feel that the cushioning is inadequate and may even wake up with lower back pain or joint pain. However, if you give the mattress enough time to soften initially, you’ll find yourself sleeping on the same bed that you tried out in the mattress store. Side sleepers will find this process the most uncomfortable because of the greater need for pressure relief around joints, but every sleeper should be happy with their mattress by the end of the trial period.

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Natural Aging

Natural aging is a process that occurs in every mattress type, whether you buy a memory foam mattress, latex mattress, innerspring mattress, hybrid mattress, or any other variety. The rate at which age occurs will vary from 5-7 years with standard innerspring mattresses to as many as 25 years with a latex mattress. The warranty will be indicative of the average lifespan of a certain mattress type.

Natural aging occurs for a number of reasons. Many mattress materials are sensitive to temperature, and exposure to your body heat for an extended period of time every night can weaken the materials. Some materials break down faster than others (natural latex is longer lasting than synthetic, for example), and the level of protection on a mattress will also affect how quickly it ages. If it is exposed to heat, moisture, dirt, or other contaminants, the material will break down more quickly. As a result, you’ll notice changes in mattress firmness and overall feel.

 

How To Combat A Softening Mattress

An aging mattress can be a worrying thing; it sure isn’t cheap to replace a mattress, and it can take a while to feel comfortable in a new bed, even if it is the best mattress you’ll ever sleep on. If your old mattress is starting to soften and you don’t like the new mattress feel, there are some things you can do to extend the life of the current mattress.

Add A Mattress Topper

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Adding a mattress topper is one of the easiest things you can do to improve the feel of an over-soft mattress. They come in many sizes, materials, and thicknesses, and they are much more affordable than an entirely new mattress. A mattress topper’s main job is to change the firmness level of your bed, so they are an excellent addition to a mattress that has softened; most mattress toppers are soft themselves, but they have the support and comfort than an aged mattress has lost.

Memory foam toppers are the most popular, but there are a number of other varieties including latex, gel foam, wool, down, and others. You’ll still have the benefits of contouring around pressure points and a nice comfort layer to sleep on, but you’ll also still experience the familiarity of a mattress you’ve slept on for years.

Change Sleeping Position On The Bed/Rotate the Mattress

If you sleep by yourself and aren’t dedicated to one side of the bed, switching sides periodically will help your mattress wear evenly and extend the lifespan of the mattress. If you sleep as a duo, rotating the mattress will have a similar effect. Since you and your partner will have different body weights, body shapes, and sleeping positions, rotating the mattress can help prevent body indentations from forming and can reduce the rate at which the mattress softens in certain areas over time.

Flip The Mattress If Possible

Flipping your mattress is one of the best things you can do prevent a premature trip to your nearest mattress retailer. Not all mattress types can be flipped because of their layered composition, but many can. Flipping a mattress means will essentially provide you with a completely untouched sleeping surface. Foam layers will be able to decompress on the other side of the mattress, and if you do this on a semi-regular basis, you’ll be able to prevent softening of the mattress quite significantly. It is the best way to ensure your high quality mattress STAYS the right mattress for you over a long period of time.

Use A Bed Frame With Slats

Many bed frames on the market do not come with slats, and this can affect the long term durability of your mattress. Adding that extra support underneath your mattress will take some of the pressure away from the supportive structures within your mattress to reduce sagging and softening over time.

Sleep In A Cooler Room

Lowering the temperature of your thermostat can actually help make a mattress firmer. Just like firmer mattresses will soften if exposed to higher temperatures, lowering the temperature can help make a mattress feel firmer and less prone to softening over time. This will be more effective with a foam bed than spring mattresses, for example, because the material is more temperature-sensitive, but it can work to a degree in any mattress type.

Use A Box Spring

Putting a mattress directly on a bed frame or the floor is not recommended; a box spring is an important component of most mattresses to improve the supportive structure and ensure the load from a person is distributed equally and doesn’t apply too much force to the materials inside your mattress.

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