Breaking in a New Mattress: Tips for a Comfortable Night's Sleep
Some of the best things in life come with an adjustment phase. Speaking a new language, learning to ride a bicycle, or getting used to a new pair of hiking boots all get easier and better as time goes on. Breaking in a new mattress falls into the same category. Adjusting to a new mattress takes some time, but getting the restorative sleep that the right mattress can offer is more than worth it.
While there’s no pre-determined time period for how long it’ll take to break in a new mattress, Mattress Firm Sleep Experts® Edgar Cabrera and Brandon Tyler offer quick and easy steps anyone can follow on how to break in a mattress. Some are even highly enjoyable, like a free pass to binge your favorite show while relaxing in bed.
Why Is It Important To Break in a New Mattress?
It’s possible your new mattress could feel firmer than you were hoping for or remember from testing it in-store. Cabrera and Tyler both say this is completely normal and nothing to worry about. Your mattress will start to feel more comfortable once your body’s had time to adjust to the new level of support and you’ve spent some time breaking in the bed.
If the bed you tested in the store felt a little less firm, there’s a good possible reason: In many cases, the manufacturer breaks in the mattress so that the bed in the showroom feels like what you’ll ultimately sleep on in the years to come. “A lot of the brands put a 250-pound roller on top of them to break them in,” Cabrera says. “So, what a customer tests out in the showroom is actually how the bed will feel once it’s fully broken in.”
Another culprit could be the modern, sophisticated construction that’s designed to keep the spine aligned while also offering pressure relief. To achieve this, many mattresses use high-density foam that can feel stiff at first, Cabrera says, making it feel less forgiving than the mattress you tested in the showroom, at least for a few days.
Another big reason that you need a breaking-in period with your mattress is because, if it’s been a while since you last replaced your mattress, your body likely ou need a breaking-in period with your mattress is because, if it’s been a while since you last replaced your mattress, your body likely adjustedadjusted to sleeping on a bed that didn’t offer the right amount of support. Mattresses that sag are likely not giving you ergonomic alignment. Over time, it can get so bad that you don’t even notice the or cause you to wake up with back or neck pain is an indication the bed wasn’t helping with It can take some time to get accustomed to a new mattress that gives the ideal combination of support and pressure relief.
How To Break in a New Mattress: Tips and Tricks
Unlike learning a new language or breaking in stiff hiking boots by wearing them to the grocery store, breaking in a new mattress is simple. It can even be pretty enjoyable. These are the top tips and tricks Sleep Experts® Cabrera and Tyler recommend.
Sleep on it consistently
The Sleep Experts’® top recommendation for getting your mattress to the comfort level you desire is something you’re probably already planning to do: Sleep on it every night. Our body weight helps the mattress’ materials break in, just like wearing a new pair of boots will soften them.
Spend more time in bed
Once your mattress feels great, it should be used only for sleep and sex so that your body associates it with quality rest, not stimulation. But in the meantime, putting any pressure and weight on the mattress will help break it in, so Tyler recommends spending more time in bed, lounging, streaming or reading.
Rotate the mattress
Since our upper bodies tend to weigh less than our lower half, it’s a good idea to rotate the mattress from head to toe more regularly at the beginning. Once it’s broken in, the bed can be rotated every six months, but for the first few months you sleep on your new bed, it’s smart to rotate it about every three weeks to a month to ensure the mattress breaks in evenly with equal pressure on both ends. Note that this is a head-to-toe 180-degree turn. It’s important to not flip the mattress, as modern mattresses have a designated side to sleep on.
Treat your mattress like bread dough
We often associate rolling and kneading with baking bread, but they can apply to breaking in a new mattress. Tyler says using your body like a rolling pin is a great way to break in a new mattress. Roll across the bed from side to side, then switch to rolling top to bottom. You can also knead the mattress with your knees and elbow for a few minutes every day. For this method, Cabrea recommends spending three to five minutes on each quadrant of the mattress.
Host a jumping party
One of the most fun ways to speed up the mattress break-in period is to host a (supervised) jumping party. Both Sleep Experts mention inviting your kids or grandkids over to jump around on the mattress is an excellent way to make the materials and coils more forgiving.
Go for a walk
If a jumping party isn’t in the cards, simply walk on the mattress. The concentrated weight of your body through your footsteps will help soften the comfort layers, plus you’ll get some extra steps in. Tyler mentions those who don’t feel comfortable walking around unsupported on the mattress could also move it to the floor and use the bedroom walls as stabilizing support.
Don’t forget the middle
If you share the bed with a partner, the middle of the mattress might get less use than the sides. To help break in the middle, try to sleep in the middle occasionally, like during naps or while lounging in bed.
Invest in an adjustable base
One of the easiest ways to shorten the mattress break-in period is by using an adjustable base. These bed bases raise and lower both the foot and head area of the bed and come with many health benefits, like opening the airways and putting less pressure on your lower back. They also help immensely when breaking in a new mattress. “An adjustable base will bend the mattress, which helps break in the foam a lot faster,” Tyler says.
Cabrera and Tyler recommend a combination of any or all of these methods to help your new mattress suit your sleep needs. Although many factors affect a mattress break-in period, taking part in a handful or all of the above options will help speed up the process and get you on your way to restful sleep.
How Long Does It Take To Break in a New Mattress?
While there’s no magic number or equation that’ll determine how long it’ll take to break in your new mattress, both Cabrera and Tyler say that the timing can range from a couple of weeks to about 60 days, depending on the type of mattress, the climate (environmental and inside your bedroom) and how actively you break it in.
Some types of mattresses break in faster than others, both Sleep Experts® explain. Cabrera mentions a traditional innerspring mattress, a tufted upper layer, could take as little as two weeks to break in, while Tyler says most pillowtop beds take about 30 days to break, and most hybrids are more in the range of 45 days. Tyler mentions Tempur-Pedic mattresses often take longer to break in, up to four months, but he mentions this shouldn’t shy you away, adding the lineup of Tempur-Pedic beds are some of the best in the business and the mattress brand he prefers. “Temper material is so dense, and it's so supportive and so pressure-relieving that it takes some time to break it in,” he explains. Tyler says his Tempur-Pedic mattress took four months to break in, but in the end, it was well worth it for the support and longer lifespan that typically comes from Tempur-Pedic beds.
Another factor is the body frame of the sleeper. Lighter-weight sleepers could take longer to break in a mattress than heavier sleepers since there’s less pressure on the mattress, explains Tyler. He says his body weight of 150 pounds played into the longer timespan it took to break in his Tempur-Pedic bed, while a heavier person might not have needed that much time. Your personal sleep preferences also play a role, like how many hours you sleep each night. The more time spent in bed, the faster the mattress will break in.
What if the mattress still feels too firm?
If you’re waking up sore or stiff on your new mattress, Tyler mentions it’s possible to put a plush mattress topper on your new mattress. The additional foam layer of pressure relief should make the mattress more comfortable if you’re finding it feels too firm. But Tyler cautions this option will likely extend the amount of time it’ll take to break in your new mattress. He recommends removing the topper every morning and employing the other break-in methods to make sure the mattress is still getting the pressure it needs to fully break in.
Do All Mattresses Need To Be Broken In?
Every mattress comes with a break-in period, from all-foam beds to innerspring and hybrid beds. The good news is that a mattress starts breaking in from the moment you apply weight or pressure, whether that’s from sleeping on it or hosting a jumping party. “As soon as you start using it, you’re breaking it in," Cabrera says. “It's actually impossible to not break in a mattress.” He mentions it’s especially important to unpack a mattress-in-a-box when it arrives since leaving it compressed could negatively impact its performance and feel.
It’s also worth breaking in a mattress for a guest room so visitors get a good night’s rest, too
How To Care For Your New Mattress
After investing in a new mattress and taking the time to break it in, you’ll want it to last — and offer you that quality support — for as long as possible. Caring for your new mattress doesn’t take much, and the payoff is getting great sleep on a mattress that’ll last for years. Cabrera and Tyler offer these three tips for how to best care for your new mattress.
Use a mattress protector
Since all mattresses are made of fabric and materials that can absorb dust, dander and moisture, using a mattress protector can prolong the life of your new bed. “Your mattress triples in weight over its lifespan without a mattress protector,” Tyler said. Cabrera agrees, adding that most people sweat two gallons each month while sleeping, which can cause the mattress’ layers to deteriorate at a quicker rate. A protector, though, can keep the mattress pristine, absorbing spills, sweat, and other issues. “Using a mattress protector is 100% required,” Cabrera says.
A mattress protector is a low-cost investment to keep your new bed free of dust, allergens and moisture. “Make sure it’s breathable, washable and dryable,” Tyler recommends.
Use high-quality sheets
Tyler always follows the advice that “a high-performance mattress requires high-performance linens.” The majority of mattresses use materials aimed at helping us sleep cool; however, those properties could be blocked by using low-quality bedding if it isn’t breathable to allow the mattress benefits to transfer to the sleeper. Cabrera’s top recommendations for sheets are those made of bamboo or TENCEL materials like the Sleepy's Eco Tencel Blend Sheet Set or the Sleepy's Bamboo Rayon Sheet Set, which both focus on breathability.
Rotate the mattress every six months
Cabrera mentions rotating your mattress is especially important if you share the bed with a partner and you fall into different weight categories. Rotating the mattress or switching sides will help the bed maintain an even sleeping surface.