It used to be thought a firm mattress was the best mattress for back pain. But in reality, everyone needs a different level of firmness.
Side sleepers, for example, actually do better on a soft mattress because it provides more contouring and cradling under their shoulders and hips.
If your new mattress feels too firm for your liking, don’t despair. There are a few things you can do to soften it up. We’ll go over how to tell if your mattress is too firm and the top six ways you can soften up your mattress.
How to tell if your mattress is too firm
It’s possible your mattress is too firm for your sleeping preferences. This could be due to your sleep position, the type of mattress you sleep on, or your ideal mattress firmness level.
For some people, a softer mattress is the key to getting better sleep. There are a few ways you can tell if your mattress is too firm. These include:
- You wake up with lower back pain, shoulder pain, or neck pain. If your pressure points aren’t properly cushioned during the night (particularly if you’re a side sleeper), a mattress that’s too firm might be to blame.
- You wake up feeling tired. It can be hard for your body to get a good night’s sleep if your sleep surface is too firm. If you’re constantly waking up tired, it may be time to reconsider your mattress firmness.
- Your mattress doesn’t contour to your body. If your mattress doesn’t conform to your body when you get into bed, that’s a sign your mattress might be too firm for you.
All of these signs are a good indication that it’s either time for you to purchase a new mattress or use some of our top six tips and tricks to soften up your current mattress.
6 ways to soften up your mattress
If you think your mattress is too firm, there are a few things you may be able to do to make it feel softer. These include:
- Give it time to break in
- Get a soft mattress topper
- Flip your mattress
- Check your thermostat
- Check your bed frame and slats
- Invest in a new mattress
Below, we’ll go into detail about each of these tips so you can determine if you can make your mattress softer.
1. Give it time to break in
Remember that most mattresses have a break-in period that might be a couple of months long, after which it will feel softer. But it’s not only the mattress that takes time to soften up and mold to your body. Your body also needs time to adjust to your new mattress.
Even if you know for sure it’s better for you, your body will need time to get used to it. That said, if your mattress is still uncomfortably firm after a month or two of sleeping on it, contact the manufacturer and see if you can exchange it during the trial period.
2. Get a soft mattress topper
If your mattress is past the trial period, you can get a mattress topper to soften things up. A mattress topper can be made of memory foam, latex, or can be filled with down or a down alternative. They’re usually 1-3 inches thick and come in different levels of firmness.
The different materials of mattress toppers will have different properties. Memory foam toppers provide great pressure relief and come in several different levels of firmness, depending on the density of the foam.
Latex toppers will have a springier feel to them, and down or down alternative toppers will give you an extremely soft, even cloud-like surface to sleep on (but may not provide enough support for some people).
Don’t confuse mattress toppers with mattress pads. Pads are much thinner than mattress toppers and while they can provide a layer of cushioning, their primary purpose is to protect the mattress from wear and tear.
3. Flip your mattress (if it’s flippable)
Most mattresses made today aren’t designed to be flipped, but a small number are. Check with your manufacturer before you flip yours. If yours can be flipped, you may find that one side of the mattress is softer than the other.
For example, our Zenhaven latex mattress was specifically designed to be flippable and has two different comfort levels: a softer comfort level on one side and a firmer comfort level on the other.
4. Check your thermostat
Some mattress types, like memory foam mattresses, soften up in warm temperatures. If your room is too cold, consider adjusting your room temperature just a bit (not too much, as you won’t be able to sleep well if the temperature is very high). Use a heated blanket or flannel sheets to warm it up a bit more.
5. Check your bed frame and slats
Your bed frame could be affecting your mattress firmness. If your mattress feels too firm, the culprit might be solid slats. Many people invest in things like solid slats or box springs to avoid sinkage on soft foam mattresses. However, this can make you feel like you’re sleeping on a firmer mattress.
To soften up your mattress, consider looking for a bed frame with sprung slats, as this may offer more cushioning throughout the night. Sprung slats are gently raised or curved planks of wood that extend across your bed frame. As these slats bend under the pressure of you and your mattress, they absorb shock and could therefore potentially offer up a slightly softer mattress feel.
6. Invest in a new mattress
When all else fails, it may be time to invest in a new mattress. Ideally, your perfect mattress will match up with your preferred sleeping position and improve your sleep quality. In fact, you should aim to replace your mattress every seven to 10 years, depending on the type of mattress.
It’s best to choose a high-quality mattress for increased spinal alignment, support, and sleep quality. Poor-quality mattresses don’t usually last long and may make it difficult to achieve good sleep.
Time for a new mattress? See what Saatva offers
Saatva Classic Innerspring Mattress
Our flagship luxury mattress is expertly engineered with coil-on-coil construction for durability, a layer of memory foam for enhanced back support, and a cushiony Euro pillow top for extra comfort.
Loom and Leaf Memory Foam Mattress
Premium memory foam, handcrafted in the U.S. with eco-friendly materials. Breathable organic cotton, cooling spinal gel, and layers of high-density support foam assure a cool, comfortable night's sleep.
Zenhaven Latex Mattress
Natural latex responds to every curve for pressure-free support and responsive comfort. Natural latex is supple, resilient, and durable, for the ultimate in elevated sleep. (It's naturally hypoallergenic too.)
Find the right firmness level for your sleeping position
Choosing the right mattress firmness level for your sleeping position can go a long way toward ensuring you’re able to sleep well. Each sleep position has an ideal mattress firmness level that will provide support to your pressure points when needed but still feel comfortable.
Here’s how to choose the best mattress firmness level and mattress type for your sleep position, whether you’re a back, side, or stomach sleeper.
Back sleepers usually sleep best on medium-firm mattresses or firm mattresses. These mattresses provide the right amount of lower back support during the night. On the other hand, mattresses that are too soft won’t provide the proper amount of support for your lower back and hips.
When it comes to mattress types, innerspring mattresses and hybrid mattresses are both good options for back sleepers. They’re both available in the medium-firm to firm range and typically have added lumbar support to keep your spine in neutral alignment while you sleep.
Side sleepers need extra cushioning to help alleviate pressure from their back, hips, and neck throughout the night. They usually do best on a softer mattress. Generally, side sleepers should choose a mattress that’s soft to medium-firm.
The best mattress for side sleepers is one that contours to your body for pressure relief. Consider a memory foam mattress or latex mattress. Both of these mattress types have excellent contouring properties for side sleepers.
Stomach sleepers often have the hardest time finding a mattress that offers the proper level of support. Typically, stomach sleepers will benefit from a firm to extra firm mattress because it offers the most support possible for their lower back.
Stomach sleepers should consider choosing an innerspring mattress or hybrid mattress to help keep their spine in neutral alignment while they sleep.
Check out more comfortable mattresses with Saatva
Sleeping on a mattress that’s too firm can be uncomfortable. If you find your mattress is too firm for your liking, there are a few things you can do to fix it. However, you should prioritize finding the correct type of mattress for your sleep preferences if you want to ensure good sleep night after night.
Saatva offers a variety of high-quality mattresses and bed accessories that are durable and comfortable. You can take our mattress quiz to discover the best mattress type for your sleep position and preferences.
All of our mattresses come with a 365-night sleep trial and industry-leading warranty so you have plenty of time to decide if the mattress is right for you.