Breaking In a New Mattress
Updated October 4, 2023
If you just got a new bed, and you’re wondering why it doesn’t feel as comfortable as you were expecting, don’t worry! It’s normal to experience some discomfort at first. Mattresses take some time to break in and feel the way they’re designed to feel.
The break-in period for a mattress comes in two forms. The bed has to be broken in and your body has to adjust to the new feel. You’re used to the way your old mattress felt, with all its imperfections. So, it’ll feel strange at first to lay on a new mattress compared to the old one.
The mattress itself also needs time for the materials to soften and start contouring to your body. The break-in process for a mattress is often compared to the process of breaking into a new pair of shoes. Depending on the type of mattress and the materials used, the break-in time will vary.
How Long Does a New Mattress Take to Break-In?
It can take 30 days or more for most mattresses to break in completely, and become as soft as you’d expect them to be. It’s worth the wait though, so allow the time for your body to adjust to your new bed and for your bed to settle into its intended comfort.
Something to note is that beds of higher quality will naturally break down slower. That means it can also take longer for them to adjust to your body when you first get them.
It’s definitely worth giving your bed a good chance before deciding it’s not what you want. It can feel very different after sleeping on the mattress for a month or so. Use the full amount of time offered before returning or exchanging. Once you get used to it, you’ll get that comfort for the rest of the life of the mattress, which can be many years!
How Do I Know It’s Not the Right Mattress For Me?
Most mattress companies will ask you to sleep on the bed for a certain number of nights before choosing to make a return or exchange. It takes time to adjust to the feeling of a new mattress. If you’ve waited the full amount and still don’t like the feel, then you may want a different firmness.
After the break-in period, there are some signs that it’s really not the right mattress for you. Experiencing discomfort in the hip and shoulder areas can mean you’re not getting enough pressure relief. Especially if you’re having limbs fall asleep, or you’re getting a numb or tingly feeling. In this case, you may want to go for something softer.
If you’re experiencing back pain, especially in the lower back, it likely means you’re not getting good enough support. If you feel like it’s because you’re sinking in too much, a firmer mattress may work. If there’s a gap under your lower back, look for something softer that could fill that in and contour to your body better. Beds have different types of support systems, so you just need to find what works for you.
One thing you can try before deciding to return your bed is adding a mattress topper. This can help customize the bed to your preference if it’s almost there but not quite. As long as you have the support you need, a topper can help get you to the right comfort level.
Don’t be discouraged if you have to return it! At least now you know what you do and don’t like with a mattress. You can use what you learned to find the best mattress.
Can I Speed Up the Break-In Process?
Your mattress will break in naturally as you sleep in it. However, there are a couple of tactics to help your mattress break in faster AND to make sure it does so in the best way possible.
Let it breathe out before your first time using it
Some materials have off-gassing after first being taken out of the packaging (memory foam). It’s a good idea in this situation to let your mattress breathe before putting the sheets on and hopping in. A few hours might be good even, but a day or two of just letting your mattress breathe can be really helpful for getting it where you want it. Mattresses that come in a box may need some time to fully expand, and sleeping on it can mess with that process.
Sleep on it every night
Once you’ve let it breathe out, it’s best to sleep on your bed every night, so it can actually start adjusting to your body and you can start getting used to it. This is your excuse to spend as much time in your bed as possible! The more you lay on it, the faster it’ll break in.
Put some extra pressure on it
For a latex or memory foam bed, you can actually walk around on it to help soften the mattress and loosen it up so that it can start conforming to your body. For a bed with springs, it’s probably better to crawl on your hands and knees to do this, so you don’t wear on the springs too much.
You can also roll around on it. Just moving around on the mattress will help get it to soften up a bit. No jumping!
Turn up your heat
As you probably know, most things get softer when they get warmer. So, it makes sense to turn your heat up a little to speed up the process of softening your mattress. You don’t have to make it too hot, just a few degrees will be good enough to get it going. You won’t want to do this for too long though, as it can be harder to get a good night of sleep in a room that’s too warm.
Use the right foundation
Make sure you’re using the proper foundation so you don’t ruin your new mattress! If you put a new mattress on a sagging or broken foundation, it can feel like you’re not getting good support. It can also really wear on the mattress.
Differences With Mattress Types
The design and mattress materials used can affect how long it’ll take to break it in.
Memory Foam Mattresses
If you've purchased a memory foam mattress, it may take a while to start feeling the way it should. Mattresses made with memory foam generally take the longest to break in to their full potential. It’s not uncommon for it to take 60 days to feel like its intended level of firmness. They’re made up of high-quality foams that are very durable.
Walking around on it or turning up the heat are two tricks that work best for memory foam beds. It’s definitely worth the wait, memory foam beds are some of the longest-lasting beds and they provide great pressure relief.
Innerspring beds will break in much quicker than memory foam mattresses. It’s a good idea to rotate your new mattress more frequently when first breaking it in to make sure it happens evenly. Rotating it every couple of weeks for the first year you use your new mattress will get you the most even wear. This will help it stay comfortable for as long as possible.
Just as hybrids are considered a combination of memory foam and innerspring mattresses, the break-in period is a mix as well. It may take a little longer to break in than a traditional innerspring, because of the amount of memory foam on top.
However, you’ll want to be aware of the springs, so don’t walk on them - instead, you should roll or crawl around if you want to speed up the break-in. It could take anywhere from 30 to 90 days for a hybrid to break into its full comfort potential.
You’ll likely get the expected comfort right when you start sleeping on a latex mattress. After breaking it in, you won’t feel much of a difference. With natural latex, you won’t get any off-gassing either, so you won’t have to deal with an initial chemical smell. Most of the break-in period will have to do with your body getting used to the new mattress.
When Should I Consider Returning?
If you are still having pain or numbness in certain pressure points and you are not getting better sleep, you may have the wrong mattress and should consider a replacement.
Looking for a new mattress?
About the Author, Juliana Huhta, Mattress Expert
Juliana has spent several years in the mattress industry, writing about and reviewing mattresses. She has a deep understanding of how mattresses work for different people and affect sleep.