How to Make Your Mattress Firmer: Tricky but Possible!

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tips to make soft mattress firmer

Maybe you picked a mattress that turned out to be softer than expected, or perhaps it has softened over time and isn’t as supportive as it used to be. Your mattress may have worn off and lost its structural integrity and firmness over the years. Perhaps you’ve put on some extra weight, or a change in sleeping position is what’s making the mattress feel softer.

There are numerous reasons why your mattress feels softer. 

However, truth to be told, you’ve limited options to firm up your soft mattress. You may find several websites mentioning a dozen ways to stiffen your mattress; I can bet none works. You see, there are several ways to soften the mattress, not the other way around.

That said, I’ll cover a few options you can try to make a mattress more firm.

First, why firming up the mattress is tricky.

The most common internet advice you’ll get to make the mattress firmer is to put a thick and firm mattress topper. While this is partly true, it may not always work.

A mattress topper can’t support you more than what’s supporting it (your mattress). So no matter how firm a topper you place on the mattress, if the mattress is soft, the topper would also sink in. It’s like if the house’s foundation is weak, putting a new roof wouldn’t help – isn’t it?

With that said, a thick and firm topper may marginally firm the mattress, but it won’t drastically change the firmness. Also, if the mattress is saggy or has large body impressions, it would make no difference.

Tl;dr: A mattress topper may marginally make the mattress firmer (or give a placebo effect) but won’t drastically change the firmness.

Options to make a soft mattress firmer.

If you’re in a situation where your mattress feels too soft and you don’t want to change it, here are some of your limited options.

1) Check whether the mattress is in the sleep trial period.

If you recently purchased the mattress, chances are it comes with a sleep trial. Most brands offer at least 100 to 120 nights to try out the mattress and return it if you’re not happy. If you’re not satisfied with the mattress’s firmness, you can return it during this period.

2) Check the warranty.

Most mattresses come with 8 to 10 years of warranty, covering sagging (mostly between 0.5 to 1″), body impressions, and material defects. If your mattress has sunken in and lost its original shape, you should consider claiming the warranty from the manufacturer and push for replacement.

3) Put your mattress on the floor and check the firmness.

Widely spaced slats or worn-out box springs don’t offer even support to the mattress, which may cause the mattress to feel softer. You can verify this by putting the mattress on the floor and sleeping on it for a while. If it feels firm enough or at least more firm than how it feels on the bed, then you know the problem is with your bed frame.

To fix this:

  • You can either place a plywood board or bunkie board of the same size as the mattress between the bed frame and the mattress.
  • Or, consider replacing your bed frame with a solid platform bed.

4) Rotate your mattress (+flip in some cases).

Sleeping at the same location on the mattress can cause body impressions and make it feel softer around the area. It’s a good idea to rotate the mattress 180-degree and see if it makes any difference in firmness. If the mattress is double-sided, you can also flip it over to use the other side.

Note that if your mattress is one-sided, like memory foam or a quilted mattress, don’t flip it.

5) Use a tight bedding.

Loose bed sheets can also make the mattress feel softer. Use a tight fitted sheet or pull all corners of the bedsheet and tuck it tightly across the mattress. While this may not have a substantial impact, it can firm up the mattress marginally.

6) Air out the mattress.

Sometimes moisture build-up inside the mattress makes it damp and feel softer. Not only is this unhygienic, but it also impacts the feel of the mattress. Remove all the sheets, protector and let the mattress air dry, preferably near a window or in the sun.

7) Invest in a mattress topper.

As I already mentioned, a thick mattress topper can marginally firm up the mattress but won’t drastically impact its firmness. Latex toppers are a better option as they are springy and firm. Avoid low-density memory foam toppers as they wouldn’t be firm enough and further soften up as the temperature increases. High-density memory foam topper (ILD above 30) may also be suitable.

Some toppers also come with a sleep trial, so you can check if the topper makes any difference and return it during the trial period.

If nothing works, invest in a new mattress.

All the options we suggested above are more or less temporary fixes and may not work in the long run. If you’ve tried everything and nothing has worked, it’s probably time to invest in a new mattress that matches your needs. Luckily with the advent of online mattress brands, quite a few budget options are available.

Long term impact of sleeping on a mattress which is too soft for you needs:

On a softer mattress, your hips would cave in more than your shoulders, which would cause the spine to misalign. The spinal misalignment may lead to body pains, discomforts, constant tossing and turning and a night of disturbed sleep. The strain will be more prominent for side and back sleepers around the shoulder and hip region. 

This can disrupt the quality and quantity of sleep, which indirectly impacts your productivity during the day. Over the long term, it also can lead to health concerns.

If you’re planning to buy a new mattress, a medium to medium-firm mattress (6 to 7 on the firmness scale) is ideal for most people. You can check our mattress buying guide to get an idea about different types of mattresses and what might work for you.

Wrapping Up

Mattresses aren’t cheap, but sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause poor sleep, long term health issues or worse back pain. It’s better to bite the bullet, get rid of the current mattress and invest in a new one. You can also look for bed-in-a-box brands that ship compressed mattresses and come with a sleep trial. This way, you can try out the mattress without any risk and return it during the trial period if you’re not satisfied.

We hope this guide was helpful. Did any of the tips we shared work for you, or do you have any other suggestions? Please let us know in the comments below.

Emma Bethany

Emma Bethany

Emma is a wellness writer who has shared her knowledge for over three years. Her Masters in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes means Emma approaches each topic with compassion and gentle curiosity. She wants everyone to be as passionate about taking care of their body as she is. That’s why Emma believes investing in your sleep is an investment in yourself. She wants to create a loving space to learn self-care and build a beautiful bedtime routine to soothe the soul. She loves to discover new ways to enhance sleep and embraces a holistic lifestyle. She enjoys settling down in the evening with a good book and a cup of chamomile tea.

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