Knowing how to make your mattress firmer can be a lifesaver if you find yourself saddled with a bed that’s too soft for you. A bed that’s too soft can be uncomfortable if you’re used to a firmer sleeping surface, but depending on your body type and sleeping pattern, lack of adequate support can also cause back and neck pain over time, so this is something you’ll do. You want to address it sooner rather than later.
Years of heavy use mean that even the best mattress can eventually show signs of softening; Fortunately, there are some ways to reverse this, albeit with some caveats that we’ll also mention.
Of course, the firmness of a mattress is a personal matter, and what’s too soft for many people may be just right for you. In general, though, whether you choose the best hybrid mattress, an innerspring mattress or a memory foam mattress, medium firmness is suitable for most people. While a soft mattress can feel nice and lofty at first, it can also cause lower back pain in some people by throwing the spine out of alignment. Whatever the reason for your bed being too soft, here’s how to make your mattress firmer…
How to make your mattress firmer: quick tips
Let’s be real: While our tips can help you firm up a soft mattress quickly, there’s only so much you can do if your mattress is showing signs of serious sagging. Our guide on how to fix a sagging mattress contains some helpful advice, and will also point out the signs that it’s time to bite the bullet and buy a new mattress.
In a hurry, in a hurry? Then here are the top tips on how to make your mattress firmer:
- Trade in your mattress for a firmer one if you’re in the trial period
- Flip or rotate your mattress and sleep on the firmer side
- Place your mattress on a more supportive bed base
- Place your mattress on the floor if the warranty allows
- Add a durable bed topper to make an instant difference
- Reduce the temperature in your bedroom to strengthen the foam
- Air your mattress in the sun to reduce moisture causing softness
- Use a sheet of plywood under your mattress (this has risks)
1. Redeem it if you are within the trial period
Buying a mattress online is quick, easy, and cheap too, thanks to the nearly endless mattress sales, but perhaps the biggest downside is that you won’t be able to test the firmness level of your chosen mattress before you buy.
That’s why manufacturers offer in-home trial periods. These range from 100 nights (average length) to a full year. If you are still in the trial period, act now and return your extra soft mattress for a firmer model. Most brands offer free returns and exchanges, although some, like Saatva, charge a processing fee.
If your mattress is outside the trial period, check the warranty to see if you’re covered for a certain amount of sagging/sinking. Just keep in mind that sagging isn’t the only reason mattresses are soft — some are made that way. Memory foam mattresses are among the most durable but still prone to sagging. How long your memory foam mattress lasts depends on the type and how you care for it.
For those who aren’t sure which firmness will suit them, take a look at Saatva Classic’s review of the luxury innerspring hybrid mattress that comes in three firmness levels to suit all body types.
2. Flip or rotate your mattress
If you can, you should rotate your mattress every three months or so, in order to spread out the wear and tear and reduce the chances of deep sagging in a particular spot. However, not all mattresses can be rotated; If you have specific areas of zonal support, rotating them will suddenly make you feel less comfortable at night. And while tipping over your mattress used to be the norm when everyone had a traditional spring mattress, very few modern mattresses can be tipped over.
If your memory foam or hybrid mattress can be rotated, do so first because the softness you’re currently feeling around your back and hips will be at the bottom of the bed. Our article answering how often you should turn or turn your mattress has additional tips.
3. Add a firm topper to your mattress
While most toppers are used to make a very firm mattress a bit softer, there are still some options that make a soft mattress firmer, and they can also improve motion isolation if you share your bed with a restless partner.
Latex mattress toppers are your best option for adding firmness, as the material (made from the sap of rubber trees) provides a firmer, more responsive surface. Luxury sleep specialist Saatva makes a fantastic latex top, starting at $245 at Saatva (Opens in a new tab) (Check out our Saatva mattress selling guide for the latest deals.)
If you prefer memory foam, look for a firm foam topper. Our best mattress toppers guide walks you through this year’s top picks for all sleeping scenarios. And if you’re not sure whether you need a mattress topper or a mattress pad, our mattress topper vs. mattress topper guide explains all the important differences.
4. Place your mattress on a supportive bed base
Placing a more supportive bed frame, platform, or base under your mattress is another good way to make it a little firmer, and it should cost less than a new mattress, too.
Solid edge mattresses are an excellent choice for a firmer bed because they are designed with solid springs and a solid wood frame. Designed to be solid without giving, the ribbed base is another great option for adding durability.
Just don’t choose one where the slats are too far apart or your mattress (especially one of foam) might sink into the slats, making it feel softer overall.
5. Put your mattress on the floor
While placing your mattress on the floor will instantly make it firmer, there are some drawbacks to this approach. First, make sure your mattress can be placed directly on the floor for sleeping. Some mattress warranties, for example, will be voided by this approach (so you won’t be covered for damage).
Your mattress will also pick up a lot of dust and dirt on the floor, and bugs (including bacteria) will find it easier to join you in bed. Place a thin rug under your mattress for protection and clean it regularly (see our guide on how to clean your mattress for tips) to keep germs, stains, and other damage at bay.
6. Lower the temperature in your bedroom
If your mattress is too soft and made mostly of memory foam, the temperature in your bedroom may be the reason it is so soft. Heat causes memory foam to soften and lose its ability to support, and if your bedroom is too warm, not only will it make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, it can also make your bed too soft.
Spring hybrid mattresses are usually fine, but cheaper versions may also lose the firmness and stability of the springy areas. To make your mattress firmer at night—and to sleep better in general—turn off the heating or program your smart thermostat to lower the temperature an hour or so before bed.
7. Put plywood under it – at your own risk
This is a common hack that we are sure to encounter if you are looking for how to make your mattress firmer. And while placing a thin sheet of plywood under your mattress can help hold it together, just as placing your mattress on the floor can help, there are a few caveats to be aware of.
It is not suitable for use with many materials. Memory foam needs to breathe properly or you could run the risk of mold and bacteria growing on the material. Not only is this bad news for your health, it will also void your mattress warranty.
If you’d like to try this plywood mattress hack, we highly suggest speaking to the mattress manufacturer first to check if it’s allowed and see if they can offer a better solution. Sometimes it will surprise you with a free top cap to enhance stability.
8. Air your mattress out in the sun
Different types of moisture soften the mattress – this is especially common in damp areas, homes with poor insulation, or if you live near the beach. If you suffer from night sweats, all that sweat and secretion of body oils can also cause your mattress to lose its grip over time.
A quick fix is to take your mattress outside when it’s sunny and warm and leave it in the air for a few hours, as the heat and sun naturally draw out moisture. Not only will this make your mattress firmer, but it will also kill any bacteria, spores, and mold caused by moisture. Of course, some mattresses are too heavy to pull out, but even if you can lay it next to an open window to catch some rays and fresh air, that should make a difference.
How firm should your mattress be?
It is a common misconception that a mattress that is too firm is the best choice for back health and pain relief. In fact, a medium-firm mattress tends to suit the vast majority of heavy sleepers. This is because medium-firm beds keep the spine in neutral alignment, yet are not so firm that they become painful when sleeping.
Your body weight and sleeping pattern will also play a big role in how soft or firm your mattress will be. Lighter weight sleepers can get away with a softer mattress than a heavier one, because they won’t sink as much into the mattress. If you’re a side sleeper, you’ll actually want a slightly softer mattress that keeps your shoulders and hips firm.
Back and group sleepers will thrive with medium-firm mattresses, but if you’re a stomach or back sleeper, look for a mattress on the firmer end of the scale to prevent your head from sinking into the mattress and knocking your spine out of alignment.
If you’ve decided to opt for a new bed, below we’ve rounded up some of our favorite medium-firm mattresses for you. To enhance your sleep comfort even further, check out our guide to the best pillows of the year for all budgets.