New Mattress Too Firm? 10 Best Tips on How to Soften a New Mattress

lady feeling the firmness of a mattress

Does your new mattress feel too firm? If the answer is yes, you’re likely struggling to sleep and looking for ways to make it softer. Before you start sounding off any panic alarms, know that every mattress feels firmest when it is brand new. 

Thus, even the soft mattresses can feel less comfortable when they first arrive at your home. It may require some time to break them in before you can have a feel of their softness. Sleeping through the discomfort for a few weeks could reduce the firmness to the right levels for you.

Alternatively, you can quicken the break-in time by walking across your bed for a couple of minutes each day. If you have naughty young kids at home, they’ll jump at the chance to wreak some havoc on your new mattress. Just invite them to jump and play on the bed.

The good news is that almost every mattress brand offers a lengthy trial period for new purchases. This should give you enough time to break into the mattress and determine how firm it is.

Signs that Your Mattress is Too Firm

When is the mattress too firm? This is a question many consumers ask themselves the first couple of days after a new mattress arrives. Firmness is a matter of preference but if you’re experiencing any of the signs below then your new mattress is probably too firm.

1. Waking up with Body Stiffness

Are you waking up with stiff joints and muscles all of a sudden? This could be a sign that your brand new mattress is too firm.

Excessive pressure from your sleeping surface can stiffen muscles and joints upon contact. This can lead to discomfort by the time you wake up in the morning. For instance, it is common for side sleepers to notice stiffer knees and shoulders when they lie down on overly firm mattresses.

2. Backache, especially in the Morning

man waking up with backache

Millions of adults around the world suffer from back pain. If a new mattress brings pain and discomfort in the spinal region, no need for a psychic to tell you that it may be too firm for you.

If you have a long history of back pain, a firm mattress can also aggravate the symptoms. This can result in higher levels of pain in the morning.

You can read this article from The Joint or you can check out our article we wrote on how to find the best mattress for back pain relief.

3. Tossing & Turning during the Night

It is normal to experience a bit of tossing and turning on a new mattress. However, if it is increasingly happening every night for weeks without progress, your mattress could be too hard.

This is even more alarming among those who’ve always slept fairly well in the past.

4. No Sink-in on the Mattress

No matter your body size, you should feel your footprint every time you lie down on any mattress. While brand new models normally allow minimal sinkage, you should still feel it to some extent. Otherwise the mattress may be too hard for you. 

However, if you’re failing to notice any sink-in on a new mattress even though you’re fairly big and tall, this could be a sign that the mattress is not soft enough.

5. It is more difficult to sleep(Insomnia)

It takes time to get used to a new mattress. A few weeks of sleep deprivation after bringing in a new model is pretty normal.

However, if you’re barely getting any sleep from your new mattress, its firmness rating may be excessive. This is especially true when you sleep better after moving to the sofa or guest room mattress.

Ten Steps on How to Make a Mattress Softer

You have concluded that your new mattress feels too firm for comfort and something has to change. Now you have 3 options on what to do if the mattress is too hard:

The first one entails returning it right away if you’ve just bought it. Using the mattress for a few weeks while you find ways to soften it is another option. Finally, you can splash the cash on another brand if the trial period for your excessively firm mattress model has already expired.

We believe that giving the mattress a few weeks to change your mind is the most convenient option. If you fail to experience any improvements in comfort, make sure to return it in time before the trial expires.

Here are a couple of tips to soften a firm mattress.

1. Allow Some Breathing Space

Allowing your new mattress to breathe is one of the best ways to soften it. Many people already do this for memory foam models due to the strong “new mattress smell” but not so much for latex and coiled spring models.

However, at least a couple of hours of breathing space can be beneficial. That is non-negotiable for mattress-in-a-box models.

Even if you don’t have the luxury of letting the new mattress breathe for a few days, waiting for at least 12 hours can help the components absorb some oxygen. This should faster make the mattress softer for your comfort.

2. Break it in

As we stated earlier, every brand new mattress feels firmer than it is. This is because it takes time for the component materials to adjust to your body size, shape, and sleeping position preferences.

Different models have specific break-in period requirements. Generally, experts believe you should allow at least 30 days for the mattress to get softer. This could be the only action needed for you to begin savoring the comforts of sleeping on the new mattress.

Sure, you may suffer disrupted sleep within that period. But you can at least stay hopeful that there could be light at the end of the tunnel.

3. Put Some Weight On It

Consistently walking across every inch of the surface is a tried and tested tip that can soften memory foam mattresses.

Also, making your mattress the go-to sofa can shorten the break-in period. Even when you’re not sleeping, you can always read, watch TV, and write in bed.

For coiled spring mattresses, we recommend placing books, boxes, and other heavy items on them. Just remember to move them around routinely to help with the mattress flexing process.

You could be in for a nice surprise within a few weeks or months.

4. Warm Up Your Room

Memory foam is temperature-responsive and this makes them one of the easiest materials to soften. Cranking up your room temperature a little can make the mattress softer during the break-in period.

But this tip can make your room warmer during summer and other hot periods of the year. This is why it is advisable to leave the room immediately after you turn up your bedroom thermostat. For the best results, you can layer up the mattress with blankets and other heavy bedding to keep it even warmer.

5. Flip or Rotate Your Mattress

Is your new mattress flippable? If the answer is yes, turning it over could give you a much softer sleeping surface. Flippable mattresses typically come with contrasting sides where one side is much firmer than the other. If the firmer side is harming your sleep, you can always switch to the softer side.

Also, rotating your mattress on the same side can be priceless. This is because the more you spend time on one side, the softer it gets.

Rotating the mattress also levels it up to prevent one side or the other from sagging.

6. Layer Up with Bedding

Are you looking for an instant solution to make your mattress softer without spending a penny? Layering it up with a couple of blankets might be a good idea. This can insulate your skin from contact with the firm mattress surface.

Even better if your blankets are made from fluffy materials such as faux fur or fleece. But in the absence of comfy blankets, comforters can be a great alternative. You can always lay a few on the bed so your body only feels the coziness of the comforter.

This can be a great short-term solution as you look for a more permanent option.

7. Add a Mattress Topper

Have you fallen in love with your brand new mattress and would rather keep it. If the firmness is your only problem, why not just add a soft mattress topper to the mix?

Mattress toppers come in different depths, sizes, and firmness levels. Choosing a softer topper or pad can give you more comfort than you ever imagined. Just place your topper or pad on top of the firm mattress and hitch a ride to Dreamland in peace.

Note that toppers which feature components such as wool, goose feathers, and memory foam tend to be the softest. If you choose memory foam, make sure it is at least 4 inches thick to offset the pressure from the existing mattress.

We found this amazing mattress topper from Sleep Innovations with thousands of 5-star reviews on Amazon.

8. Replace the Foundation

Getting a new foundation may not only allow you better sleep, but it can also make your mattress softer. Many of us stick to the same foundation until it begins making squeaking noises.

As stated earlier, box springs can make memory foam mattresses feel much firmer. This is because box springs are made for coiled spring mattresses.

If you’ve recently switched to memory foam, ordering a wooden slat or metallic foundation may be the way to go. This can faster make your mattress softer for better sleep.

Click here to read the article we wrote on how to find the best foundation for every type of mattress.

9. Speak to Customer Service

Every mattress brand integrates different components and industrial processes. This means speaking to the customer service department of your mattress brand can be helpful in many ways.

Firstly, they can offer custom tips to help you make the mattress softer quicker. Besides, many brands will be happy to ship free accessories that can help reduce the firmness of your mattress.

For instance, 30 days into your trial, Novosbed will happily ship a free Comfort Kit to soften your mattress. All you have to do is ask for it.

10. Return/ Buy a New One

Fortunately, the majority of mattress brands offer a sleep trial ranging from 90 days to a year. Hence, if all of the tips above fail, returning the mattress may be the best solution.

But what if you only conclude that your mattress is not suitable after the expiry of the free trial period? Well, you should go ahead and buy a new one. After all, life is too short to continue sleeping on a mattress that gives you aches and discomfort.

Why Does Your New Mattress Feel Too Firm?

There could be multiple reasons why your brand new mattress feels too firm. Having an idea of what they are can help you find the right solutions to get custom comfort during sleep.

Here are a few possible explanations for why your bed exerts so much pressure on your muscles and joints when you sleep.

1. It is Just New

Have you tried on a new pair of shoes? It can take some time before you’re able to walk around comfortably in it even when the size is correct. The time it takes to get comfortable walking in the shoes is known as the breaking-in period. This same concept applies to mattresses.

New mattresses feel firm when they first arrive from the factory. Even the softest models can be hard on your joints and muscles during the initial few weeks in your bed. But as long as you choose one with the right level of softness, the comfort levels it offers should increase over time.

2. Petite Body Frame

Mattress firmness is subjective. One model may feel soft to a sleeper but unbearably firm to another. Often, your body size can determine which level of firmness is suitable.

In our experience, petite people tend to prefer the softest mattresses. This is because their smaller frames are not able to sink into firm models properly. Instead of contouring to their bodies, the mattress just ends up lying underneath the sleeper.

If your brand new mattress feels too firm, it could be because of your petite body frame and not necessarily the mattress itself.

3. Side Sleeping

woman lying on her side in bed

Have you been sleeping on your side for ages or recently switched to that position for its well-known health benefits? Either way, side sleeping can make a mattress feel firmer than it is.

Sleeping on your side puts the hips and shoulders in direct contact with the underlying surface. Unfortunately, those body parts contain delicate joints and muscles which suffer bruises under the slightest pressure.

This can make even medium-firm mattresses feel like the hardest surfaces.

Have you seen the article we wrote on sleeping on your left side? Click here to check it out.

4. Room Temperature

Did you know that your room temperature can impact the firmness of your mattress? If the answer is no then you’re in for a surprise.

Memory foam naturally responds to their surroundings and the sleeper’s body. This is why they conform to each sleeper’s unique curves for spinal alignment and pressure-point relief.

Memory foam cells react to low room temperature by contracting to increase their firmness. This could be the reason why you’re still struggling to sleep after choosing a mattress model universally known for its softness.

5. Injuries or Health Problems

Did you know that your health can play a part in how firm a mattress feels? Even a medium-firm model can feel uncomfortable for injury patients as well as those suffering from conditions such as Fibromyalgia and Scoliosis.

Many health conditions can take a heavy toll on your joints and muscles. This can make the body so fragile that the slightest bit of pressure from your sleeping surface becomes unbearable. 

6. Your Foundation

What type of foundation do you sleep on? If none of the above reasons resonate then your foundation could be the reason why your mattress feels so firm. Note that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in terms of mattresses and foundations. 

For instance, box springs are more suitable for innerspring mattresses. If you maintain your old one after switching to memory foam, the wrong combination can artificially inflate the firmness of the mattress.

In the same way, solid or slatted wooden frames can make coiled springs and hybrid mattresses feel firmer than they are.

How to Avoid Buying a Mattress that is too Firm

Prevention is always better than cure. Ordering a mattress with the right firmness can save you lots of headaches, time, and money. Here are the critical tips to ensure you choose a mattress that feels just right in terms of firmness from day one.

1. Read Reviews from Verified Buyers

Reviews from verified buyers on Amazon and other websites can offer first-hand insights into the expected firmness level of a specific mattress model. However, just because one person says your preferred model is soft doesn’t mean it may be soft enough for you.

Again, firmness is subjective and often many factors go into what constitutes the right firmness or softness for a particular consumer.

The key is to find reviews from buyers with similar body sizes and preferred sleeping positions as you. If they rate a particular model as comfortable then you’re likely to feel the same way.

2. Talk to Mattress Specialists

Many mattress brands have specialists on hand to answer any questions and make the necessary recommendations before your order. Talking to your favorite brand’s specialists can help you work out the most suitable model for your needs.

This should enable you to get the firmness spot-on from the start.

3. Order a Custom Mattress

Made-to-order Mattresses ensure that your exact specifications in terms of size, cover material, and firmness are taken into consideration. This can guarantee that you end up with a mattress that offers comfort all night long.

While custom mattresses may be slightly more expensive than generic models, the right brand can give you good value for money.


We appreciate the fact that you took the time to read this guide. You now have every bit of information you need on how to make a firm mattress softer. Applying the tips above on your too firm mattress can boost your sleep and give you a well-deserved rest.

Remember, buying a mattress with soft-to-medium firmness is always the preferred option. But ending up with an too firm model is not the end of the world.

Gabriel Smith

Hello, my name is Gabriel and I LOVE to sleep. Okay, you’re right, a lot of people do like sleep. But my passion is actually not sleeping. My interest lies in the “theoretical part”. What to do before bedtime. What a good night’s sleep is. etc. In short, how to sleep well. I hope you share the same interest as me, and enjoy reading everything about sleep.

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