8 Ways to Make Your Firm Mattress Softer

Written by: Andjela Kastratovic
Updated: 06/29/2023

Do you have trouble falling asleep and keep waking up with back pain? Your uncomfortable mattress is likely the culprit. 

But what can you do about it? Do you have to get a whole new mattress? 

There’s no need to. We have some tricks up our sleeve. 

How to Make a Firm Mattress Softer

You can try a couple of things to make a mattress softer. 

Break It In

When you get a new mattress, it might initially feel firmer than expected. But don’t worry; there are ways to soften it for maximum comfort. 

Sleeping on it night after night helps distribute the fillings and improve overall comfort. If you want to speed up the process, try walking on it daily or having fun jumping on it. But don’t do it too much because it can damage the mattress! 

Memory foam usually takes some time to break in and make the bed feel more comfortable. Most mattress companies recommend giving it at least 30 to 60 days to fully break in for a comfortable sleep experience, which is why a lengthy sleep trial is necessary. 

Use a Soft Mattress Topper

Investing in a mattress topper is one of the quickest and most affordable ways to make a mattress softer. These sit on top of your bed and instantly add extra comfort.

Various materials are available for mattress toppers, including latex, memory foam, wool, cotton, feather, polyfoam, and down alternatives. 

Look for a thickness of around two inches and a lower density for that extra plush feel. What is the best mattress topper? A memory foam mattress topper is the best choice if you’re looking for something soft with extra pressure relief. But if you need something a bit firmer and more responsive, look for a latex mattress topper.

You could also invest in a mattress pad, but these aren’t as effective as mattress toppers. A mattress pad is way thinner.

However, remember that they can’t fix a sagging mattress – if the support layers are down, you’ll need to get a new mattress.

Flip or Rotate Your Mattress

Flipping or rotating could help make your bed softer, but it’s also used to extend your mattress’s lifespan. 

Just make sure to follow the instructions the mattress company gives you! Not every mattress should be rotated, and many modern mattresses aren’t flippable. You don’t want to void the warranty!

But if it can be flipped or rotated, regularly flipping a double-sided mattress helps maintain its ideal firmness by evenly distributing the fillings, and rotating a bed by 180 degrees can help even out wear and tear. 

Increase the Room Temperature

Some materials are temperature sensitive the warmer it gets, the softer they feel! 

You’ll notice this if you have a new memory foam mattress. A warm room can make a big difference because memory foam responds to hot temperatures, but it can also work for other similar materials. You can also get a heated blanket to speed up the process! 

Another trick to make a mattress softer is to put a bottle of warm water under it before bedtime. This should heat the mattress enough to soften it and keep it soft throughout the night, thanks to your body heat. 

Change Your Sleeping Position

Want to make your existing mattress feel softer? Changing your sleep position can do wonders! 

Some sleep positions work better on firmer surfaces. For a softer feel, try sleeping on your back or stomach. Back sleepers need a supportive mattress, and stomach sleepers should sleep on a hard mattress that won’t mess with their back.

On the other hand, side sleepers need a softer mattress to accommodate their sleeping habits, like a memory foam bed. 

Get a New Bed Frame or Box Spring

Your bed might feel firmer than usual because of the bed frame or mattress foundation! 

It’s time to check your frame and slats! Solid slats provide firmer support, while sprung slats offer a softer touch. If your mattress feels too firm, consider investing in a frame with sprung slats that move with your mattress. 

Different bed bases can also make a hard mattress softer. Memory foam feels firmer on a box spring foundation and softer on a solid foundation or platform bed, and a typical innerspring mattress has to use a box spring for support.

Check the mattress instructions so you don’t void the warranty! 

Use the Sleep Trial (if There Is One)

If you recently purchased your mattress, check if it’s still within the sleep trial period. 

Check with the manufacturer to see if it’s still on. If it is, you can exchange your mattress for a softer model. 

Many online mattress companies offer trial periods, allowing you to test the bed in your home. Most sleep trials last 100 nights, but they can be shorter or longer. 

Get a Softer Mattress

And if all else fails, you’ll need to do your research and get a new bed altogether. 

The firmness of the sleep surface plays a vital role in your spinal health and overall sleep quality. If your bed is worn out, sagging, or excessively firm, it can lead to body stiffness and restless nights. 

If you’re looking for a softer bed, go for memory foam or a pillow top mattress.

If you need help finding the best mattress, check out our guide, How to Choose a Mattress. 

How to Know if a Mattress Is Too Firm

Here’s how you’ll know if your current mattress isn’t cutting it in the firmness department.

  • Pain in the morning: If your morning pain goes away after a couple of hours, your mattress is the likely culprit.
  • Too much pressure on your joints. If you feel too much pressure on your knees, hips, or shoulders when lying down, you need a softer mattress with more pressure relief. 
  • General discomfort: if you can’t get yourself to fall asleep because every position feels uncomfortable, your mattress is likely to blame. 
  • You sleep better on other beds: If you fall asleep on the couch and realize it’s the best sleep you’ve had in a while, your mattress is likely too firm. 

Do any of these sound familiar? It might be time to make your mattress plush. 

Why Mattress Firmness Is Important

The mattress firmness level is often rated on a scale from 1 to 10, ranging from extra soft to extra firm. According to data, 47% of sleepers prefer medium-firm mattresses, but your preference may differ.

If your mattress is too hard, it can lead to discomfort, back and joint pain, and even affect your posture and spinal support. This can negatively impact your sleep, resulting in a restless night and affecting your daily life. 

And if it’s too soft, it’ll mess with spinal alignment! 

If you want good health and quality sleep, you need to get a mattress with the proper firmness level for you. 

How to Choose the Perfect Mattress Firmness

Finding the perfect mattress firmness is critical to a good night’s sleep, and it’s essential to consider various factors. 

Here are some key points to keep in mind.

Sleeping Position

Different sleeping positions require different firmness levels. Here’s a little breakdown!

  • Back sleepers: if you sleep on your back, you should opt for a firm to medium-firm mattress that keeps your spine aligned and provides proper support.
  • Side sleepers: look for a medium-soft mattress with a solid support layer. It should relieve pressure on your hips and shoulders while keeping your spine aligned. Memory foam mattresses are often a good choice for side sleepers.
  • Stomach sleepers: your mattress should be medium-firm or firm to maintain spinal alignment and stop your midsection from sinking into the mattress. Innerspring mattresses, hybrids, and latex can do a good job for stomach sleepers.
  • Combination sleepers: focus on your preferred position and make sure to pick a mattress that’s supportive and responsive. A hybrid mattress with a medium-firm feel can be a good choice for combination sleepers.

Body Weight

But mattress firmness is more than just your sleeping position – it’s also about how much you weigh. Here’s what that looks like. 

  • Lightweight sleepers (under 130 pounds): opt for a softer or medium-soft bed. This firmness level provides enough support and comfort without putting too much pressure on your joints. 
  • Average-weight sleepers (between 130 and 230 pounds): consider a medium or medium-firm bed. It should offer a balance of support and comfort, not letting your body sink in too much or too little. 
  • Heavyweight sleepers (over 230 pounds): look for a firmer mattress that will give you ample support. The firmer surface helps prevent sinking and will provide you with better support. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need a Firm or Soft Mattress?

Determining whether you need a soft or firm mattress depends on a couple of things, but the three most important are your sleeping position, body weight, and preferences. 

You must choose a mattress that provides the appropriate support and comfort for a good night’s sleep. Remember, individual preferences can vary. You might like softer mattresses that will let your body sink or firmer mattresses that are more supportive.

Do Firm Mattresses Get Softer?

Firm mattresses become slightly softer over the first 50 to 60 nights of use. This natural break-in period helps temper the initial extra firmness of a brand new mattress without compromising its comfort. There’s another reason why having a lengthy sleep trial helps! 

Can a Firm Bed Cause Back Pain?

A mattress that is too soft or firm can cause back pain. Too much firmness affects your pressure points, making pain worse, while a bed that’s too soft can’t align your spine properly. 

That’s why it’s essential to find a mattress with the right firmness. How can you do that? Check out our Mattress Firmness Guide to find out more! 

Final Thoughts

There are a couple of ways to make your bed feel softer. You can add a soft mattress topper, flip it, or break it in. Or take some less conventional steps, like increasing the room temperature, relying on your body heat, or changing your sleeping position. 

Now you’re ready to make your mattress softer and say goodbye to restless nights or back pain!

Reviews written by:

Andjela Kastratovic - Co-editor

Anđela is a content writer by the day and an Illustrator by night. She loves anything creative, but sleep takes the cake – that’s why she enjoys writing for Anatomy of Sleep so much!

While in high school, she got accepted for her dream job – a ‘professional sleeper’. Her job was to test new mattresses from a local mattress brand and write reports on the quality of sleep. Ever since then, she’s been in love with reviewing mattresses and putting her compelling research into ultimate buyer’s guides. While not exploring the latest brands, she likes to illustrate and spend time with her dog and friends.