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How to Fix a Too Soft or Too Firm Mattress


If your mattress is too firm or too soft, it can be difficult to get comfortable. Luckily, there are a few ways you can hack your mattress to make it better, without necessarily spending a lot or buying a new one.

Your options will depend on the shape of your existing mattress and on how firm or soft you’d prefer it to be.

Make a Mattress Firmer

If your existing mattress is too soft, there are a couple ways to increase firmness. Keep in mind that if your bed has lost its supportiveness and is causing pain, these hacks may not make a major difference in comfort.

1. Check Your Foundation

If a mattress is not properly supported, it can be prone to sagging. Make sure your boxspring still offers firm, resilient support, or that your foundation is solid. Also ensure your steel frame is in good shape (kings and queen size often need center bars/feet for adequate support). If you use slats, ensure they aren’t sagging or broken, and that they’re no more than three inches apart. If your foundation isn’t in good shape, replacing it can improve firmness.

You may also place solid wood or particle board sheets between the mattress and boxspring to offer a firmer surface, or consider using a platform bed where the mattress rests directly on a solid wood base. The board trick can be used on just one half of the bed if only one partner has an issue with the softness.

2. Add a Firm Topper

Although mattress toppers are usually used to soften surfaces, materials like firm dunlop latex or compact wool can slightly improve firmness or at least improve supportiveness. Avoid softer foams and fibers, however.

3. Replace Layers

If your mattress has a zip-off cover, removable topper or replaceable layers, you may be able to swap overly compressed or worn out layers with new, more supportive ones. Professional upholsterers may be able swap and resew layers as well, though beds with glued layers are likely not swappable (and your warranty would likely be voided).

4. Rotate Your Mattress

If you haven’t done so recently, try rotating your mattress 180 degrees. You should do this every so often when you buy a new bed, as it will promote more even wear. If your bed is flippable, that’s an option as well.

5. Consult Your Warranty

If your mattress is still under warranty, you may be able to claim repairs or get a replacement. Most warranties do not cover moderate softening over time, but most do cover deep impressions or defects.

Make a Mattress Softer

Making a mattress softer tends to be easier than making a mattress firmer, so you’re in luck.

1. Use a Mattress Topper

There are all kinds of mattress toppers available that can add additional contouring or pressure relief to the surface of a too-firm mattress. This is by far the simplest way to correct a too-firm mattress.

Memory foam and latex excel and pain relief and prove durable, though wool, cotton, feather, and poly foam toppers are also popular as well. Sleep Like The Dead finds that the following types of toppers have the highest owner satisfaction:

  • Memory Foam Toppers, particularly toppers under 2” thick with lower foam density
  • Wool Toppers
  • Down Alternative/Fiber Toppers

2. Break Your Mattress In

If your problem is a new bed that feels to firm, you may need to work on break it in. Walking across the surface of the bed for several minutes per day, continuing to sleep on the bed, and rotating it often can help.

3. Rotate Your Mattress

If your bed is feeling too soft where you normally sleep, rotate the mattress or flip it if it is two-sided. Just like with too-soft beds, this promotes even wear and can help your bed stay comfortable longer.

4. Warm it Up

If you are sleeping on a temperature sensitive memory foam mattress, excessive firmness could be due to a too cool room. A gently heated mattress pad or warmer room temperature could help soften the surface a bit.

These tips and tricks can help you get a little more life out of a bed or simply improve the comfort. But, if your bed is truly in bad condition (broken springs, impressions several inches deep, deep sagging), than these tweaks may not be enough. Remember, the average mattress is only designed to last around 8-10 years. For beds that are beyond toppers and tweaks, check out our guides to finding the best mattress and how to have a better mattress shopping experience.

If you have any other tried and true tips for making a bed softer or firmer, feel free to share below!

savvysleeper

31 Comments

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    • 2
      Jeana

      If your using memory foam mattress change every year so make sure your mattress is on the Certipur site before buying any foam mattress and make sure your not allergic to latex! Certipur.com check it out Canada is far ahead of us with getting rid of chemical toxicity!!!!

  1. 3
    Liz

    I am a 86 year old female now alas sleeping alone on a 25 year old firm mattress. Have had a hip replacement too. I find a 2” foam is perfect to give me firmness that contours to my body. Try it.then you can flip the mattress regularly and still have softness.

  2. 6
    ELIZABETH LEPRE

    I have a mattress I did not sleep on one time, 5 years old, medium-hard mattress. I now have two hip replacements and have been sleeping 9 hours in my comfortable recliner for 5 years. I am hoping some kind of mattress topper will allow me to comfortably sleep in my new bed without the pain caused by feeling like I am sleeping on the hardwood floor. I cannot get comfortable on medium-hard mattress and therefore, I cannot go to sleep. What kind of topper do you suggest I buy?

  3. 8
    William

    Don’t buy IKEA mattresses unless you are really sure that you’ve got what you want. You can replace the first one you buy with another of theirs, but that’s it – if the second one doesn’t suit you it’s too bad – they won’t exchange it.

  4. 9
    Malcolm

    Yvonne Grant seems to offer sound, practical advise. In spite of flipping my expensive Serta mattress it has become hollowed out with a ridge in the middle. The distributor said the hollows were not deep enough and would not honor their warranty. My hips and back pain cause me too much pain to sleep after 2-hours. Tried using a folder blanket on my side but not much help.

    • 10
      Alice Dietz

      Had the same problem with an Englander. The indentions have to be 5 inches deep. Of course that’s not in the legible fine print. Kept it long enough they finally would have classified and couldn’t find a dealer since we had moved across the state. Got a memory foam and hate it. It is too firm and I sleep on my side so then it hurts that hip. You should be able to get a comfortable mattress without having to mortgage the house!

  5. 11
    L townsend

    We be loved our plush, Pillowtop mattress for 10 yrs..due to rolling to the middle issues decided on a new one.. thought we were buying a plush, Pillowtop-felt great soft pillowy but a supportive in th store….delivered it..yikes- hard as rocks- no softness, no pillowy feel at all. I can sleep on it- hurts my neck …like sleep on a sidewalk…might as well be homeless under a bridge

  6. 13
    Anita

    I hate my Tempur-pedic mattress. I wake up aching every morning. I’m a side sleeper and sometimes I get numb. Any help with this? I can’t buy a new one but any ideas or suggestions for toppers or pads that will help ?

    • 14
      Carole

      Are you thinking of selling? I just bought a way too soft mattress from Mr Mattress..only 3 weeks old. its a full size….
      Carole

    • 15
      Jeana

      Yes your temperpedic is not Certipur so it is off fading chemivals you breathe in! Memory foams that come from Japan sold at kohl’s are covered in formaldehyde to prevent bugs! A manager told me this about all memory foam a friend did the same you did but he returned it when I told him he bought a Serta and pain is gone! I just bought a Simmons beauty rest silver luxury firm and will see on Monday if it helps my back hip pain! Simmons Serta are both Certipur Temperpedic is NOT nor is Sealy sterns Foster! In Canada all mattress must be Certipur! Our good old USA had poor standards when it comes to mattress and frames! Why would you buy a bed in a box?! Without trying it? Is this what our society is coming too?? Buy online get rid of the middle man and make your own money?! Not all foams are certipur! I bought a Sealy and in 24 hours both lungs filled with fluid! Yes I almost died! They used formaldehyde in fabric ticking on the foam plus toluene diosocyanate and boric acid as a flame retardant! In the USA Sealy baby mattress must be Certipur! So do they not care about older
      People children!

  7. 16
    Stewart

    I’m suffering the same thing. I got rid of my old mattress (which I want back, as i never really had problems with it so much) for a higher-end posturpedic one. Both were firm. Three nights in, I’m exhausted. It’s so hard. Sending it back will be a pain. uI can’t decide whether to try a topper and go back to the Original Mattress Factory model I slept on for decades, or try to make this one work.

    • 17
      Jeana

      Yes your temperpedic is not Certipur so it is off fading chemivals you breathe in! Memory foams that come from Japan sold at kohl’s are covered in formaldehyde to prevent bugs! A manager told me this about all memory foam a friend did the same you did but he returned it when I told him he bought a Serta and pain is gone! I just bought a Simmons beauty rest silver luxury firm and will see on Monday if it helps my back hip pain! Simmons Serta are both Certipur Temperpedic is NOT nor is Sealy sterns Foster! In Canada all mattress must be Certipur! Our good old USA had poor standards when it comes to mattress and frames! Why would you buy a bed in a box?! Without trying it? Is this what our society is coming too?? Buy online get rid of the middle man and make your own money?! Not all foams are certipur! I bought a Sealy and in 24 hours both lungs filled with fluid! Yes I almost died! They used formaldehyde in fabric ticking on the foam plus toluene diosocyanate and boric acid as a flame retardant! In the USA Sealy baby mattress must be Certipur! So do they not care about older
      People children! Use your warrenty and try again look at your frames and box springs also!

  8. 18
    Margaret

    I bought a firm mattress because I have back problems. I wake up in pain every morning and it’s worse if ive been in the bed more than 8 hrs. I’m going to try walking on it. I can’t flip it because it’s not that kind of mattress. I guess I’ll try this futon mattress top I have first and pray that works. Thanks for the advice!!!

  9. 20
    rosy pink

    I have pillow top mattress which is softer for me. I flipped it and using the hard side which is perrrrrrfect for my back….. Loving it. So if you have pillow top mattress try to flip it!! Good luck..sweet sleeps and dreams

  10. 23
    Kathy

    I also exchanged 3 mattress. First one was too hard . 2nd one had coils poked my back and 3rd suppose to be gentle med. Its firm. Have back and hip aches. Showroom models felt plush. What a rip off! Flip mattress are the best.

    • 24
      joe shepherd

      I is hard to find d a flip mattress that’s for sure…Go with a cheaper mattress and you can always add a topper yourself….Do not ever shop at Ashley Furniture they do not honor there Warrantee

  11. 25
    Tia

    I recently purchased a firm mattress because my older one was a softer plush. My older mattress is still comfortable, however, my back was aching after sleeping on it only a few hours so I thought maybe I needed firmer. I now have this new mattress that I find extremely uncomfortable because it feels so hard! Do I go through the trouble of returning it, if that’s possible or do I buy something to soften it up? Feeling a bit overwhelmed and that I made a bad decision with choosing firm!

  12. 28
    pink

    I have traded out 2 mattresses so far and now hate the third. How in the world am I going to find one that works? I feel like I tried everything out there. I tried a firm Truenergy and a luxury firm with pillowtop- both too firm. Then tried plush and too soft. I may just have to suffer forever.

    • 29
      yvonne Grant

      I was always comfortable on the floor watching TV. I decided to replicate that surface of carpet over cement. Over time, I slowly added a 24″ in. X 24″ in. board only where my hip lie. Then, I added a plastic tub mat, then a bath-size throw rug., all covered by a quilted mattress cover. Finally, THAT solved my sciatica lower back problem which I have had for ten years. Try different surfaces around your home such as a flattened cardboard box until you achieve the right hardness. These layers do not show through when my bed is made up. OH, what a relief it is!

    • 30
      Tia

      I recently switched from softer to firm! Worst mistake ever! If u can buy something in between that provides support but also cushion so it’s comfortable to lay on but your body isn’t sinking into it! I was told to buy firmer bc I’m a belly sleeper, however it didn’t wrk out in my favor. I’m trying to decide whether to return it or try softening it up!

      • 31
        LadyM

        Return. Drained as iam am from spending 2000.00 on so called firm plush. First one was like sleeping on a bed of rocks. My husband likes his side, but it’s just too hard for mr.

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