September 24, 2020
How to break in a new mattress: What to do and how long it takes

How to break in a new mattress: What to do and how long it takes


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Picture this: You buy a new mattress and set it up on your bed, adorned with freshly washed cotton sheets and a newly fluffed pillow. You slip into your bed with high hopes, close your eyes and then… you toss and turn all night and wake up sore.

Wait a minute. That’s not the magical experience you envisioned when you shelled out a month’s worth of rent on a new mattress. So what gives? Did you make a huge mistake? Did you pick the wrong mattress? Not necessarily.

Discomfort after sleeping on a new mattress is actually quite common. That’s because it can take some time for your body to adjust. But how long does it take? And is there anything you can do to speed up the process if you’re impatient (like me)? Read on to find out.

How long does it take to break in a new mattress?

All mattresses have a breaking-in period. It’s usually 30 days, but can go up to 90. The exact amount of time it takes to break in and get used to a new mattress depends on the type of mattress and how different your new mattress is from your old one. 

Because this breaking-in period is so important, most mattress companies won’t even entertain a return or exchange request before the initial 30 days are over. That’s also why many companies offer an in-home sleep trial.

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Memory foam

Memory foam and hybrid mattresses typically take the longest to break in, especially if they’re high-density memory foam, which is heavier and contains more layers than low-density memory foam. If your new mattress is made of memory foam, give it at least 60 days before you decide whether or not it’s right for you. 

As a general rule, the higher the density of the memory foam, the longer the break-in period.

Spring

Many people find traditional spring mattresses comfortable right away (especially if they have a pillow top) since they’re designed to adjust to your weight. It can take up to 30 days, however, to completely break them in.

Because springs degrade more quickly than memory foam, it’s important to rotate these types of mattresses every three to six months so they break in evenly and you don’t get the dreaded mattress sinkhole.

Latex

Latex, which is used in higher-end luxury mattresses, has the shortest breaking-in period. It usually takes two to 14 days, although the time can vary based on whether the latex is synthetic or real and if the mattress is 100% latex or some type of hybrid.

Tips for breaking in a new mattress

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The most effective thing you can do to break in a new mattress is have patience and give it time. But if you’re like me and find patience a virtue that’s hard to come by, there are some things you can do to help speed up the process.

Swap your foundation

Your foundation or bed frame may be an afterthought, but the proper support can make a world of difference in how your mattress feels. Before doing anything else, make sure your mattress and foundation are compatible. Traditional spring mattresses do well with box springs, but memory foam and hybrid mattresses usually need platform-style bases.

If your foundation and new mattress are a match, make sure the foundation isn’t broken, sagging or worn out. If it is, you may need to invest in a new one that provides even and adequate support.

Give it time to breathe

When you first get your new mattress, resist the urge to climb right into bed and give it some time to breathe instead. This is especially important if you bought an online mattress that arrives compressed and wrapped in plastic. 

It can take four to 10 hours for a compressed mattress to fully expand, although some companies recommend waiting 24 to 72 hours if you have the option of sleeping somewhere else.

If you put your full body weight on the mattress too soon, it can prevent the mattress from properly expanding and leave you tossing and turning.

Roll around or walk on it

While you sleep, your body weight puts pressure on the mattress, which helps break it in. If you want to speed up the process, roll back and forth on your mattress like a rolling pin or walk or crawl around on it for several minutes during the day, every day. This can loosen up the materials faster.

You can also make it a point to spend more time in bed during the break-in period. Instead of watching TV or reading on the couch, take it to your new mattress.

Sleep on it every night

No matter how uncomfortable you feel, resist the urge to sleep somewhere else or go back to your old mattress for the first 30 to 60 days. Consistently sleeping on your new mattress not only breaks in the materials faster, but it also helps your body adjust. If you keep going back and forth between your new mattress and the old one, it can actually delay the process.

Turn up the heat

Memory foam is temperature sensitive. It gets softer when it’s hot and firmer when it’s cold. If you bought a memory foam or hybrid mattress, turning up the heat in your bedroom to 72 degrees can help soften the material and make it more malleable so it can form to your body shape.

When to consider a return

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But what if you’ve been sleeping on your new mattress consistently for 60 days and you’ve tried all of these tricks but you still can’t get comfortable? It may just be a sign that you bought the wrong mattress for you and it’s time to go back to square one. This is common enough that most mattress companies and furniture stores offer returns or exchanges, even on used mattresses.

At this point, you may not trust your mattress instincts, since you’ve already made the wrong choice once, but there are some easy ways to diagnose your mattress woes. 


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Signs your mattress is too firm

  • You wake up with upper back, neck or shoulder pain
  • Discomfort in your shoulders, hips or knees
  • Numbness or tingling in your arms, hands, legs or feet
  • The mattress doesn’t contour to your body, or there’s no give on your pressure points

If you’re experiencing any or all of these things, it’s a good sign that you need to swap your mattress out for a softer one.

Read more: How to make your firm mattress softer

Signs your mattress is too soft

  • There’s a dent in your mattress when you get out of it
  • You wake up stiff with lower back pain
  • You toss and turn a lot
  • It’s difficult to get in and out of bed; you sink into your mattress and have a hard time pulling yourself out
  • It feels like you’re sinking to the bottom of the mattress

If these problems are more in line with what you’re dealing with, get a firmer mattress next time around.

Read more: How to make a soft mattress more firm

If you’re still not sure and need some guidance, many stores offer custom mattress fittings with sleep advisors or specialists who can work with you and guide you to the right mattress so you can get back to sleeping comfortably.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.



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