6 Tips to Break in Your Memory Foam Mattress

A new memory foam mattress may initially feel stiff, flat, and uncomfortable. Not only is this understandably disappointing, but some of us may assume the mattress is just bad and that we need to return it. But don’t be so quick to judge.

Even if your new memory foam bed is better for you than your old mattress, your body has grown accustomed to its old sleeping surface and needs to adjust.

Not everyone goes through a break-in period with their mattress, but for others, it can take 30 to 60 days to get accustomed to a new bed. Also, memory foam mattresses take at least 24 hours to expand after being vacuum-packed for shipping.

Still, you don’t need to suffer while you wait for your body to adjust to your bed. We’ve laid out some simple steps to break in your memory foam mattress, making your bed easier to sleep on and boosting your comfort.

1. Let Your Bed Breathe

When you first receive your memory foam mattress, give it 24 to 48 hours to fully expand. After being vacuum-sealed, memory foam can feel stiff, flat, and sometimes off-gas—that unpleasant and intense factory smell.

Sleeping on your mattress while it’s still expanding can affect its ability to expand properly, as well. During this time, wait to add protectors, bed sheets, pillows, and blankets to your bed so the smell can dissipate and your mattress isn’t weighed down.

2. Use the Right Foundation

If you switched from a traditional innerspring mattress to a memory foam mattress but still have your box spring, we recommend switching out your foundation as soon as possible. Not only do box springs harm memory foam beds—and void mattress warranties—but they make your mattress feel too firm. Box springs are not compatible with a memory foam mattress.

Memory foam mattresses work with slatted wood foundations, platform bed frames, bunkie boards, and adjustable bed bases. The right mattress foundation will make breaking in your new bed easier.

3. Sleep on Your Mattress Consistently

You’ll never break in your mattress if you never use it! When a new mattress feels uncomfortable at first, it can be tempting to sleep on the couch for a night or two. Sometimes you have to push through the discomfort and just start sleeping on it regularly. With frequent usage, your mattress will become more flexible and your body will adapt to the feel of the bed.

4. Adjust the Temperature of Your Bedroom

Memory foam mattresses are temperature sensitive. When in contact with heat, memory foam grows soft, while cold air causes memory foam to stiffen.

Raising your room temperature may be a good idea to loosen up the memory foam and help you sleep comfortably, at least until you’ve properly broken in your mattress.

However, avoid making your bedroom overly hot—over 70 or 80 degrees. The best temperature for sleep is 60 to 67 degrees, and any temperature hotter than this makes it increasingly difficult to fall asleep.

5. Use a Mattress Topper

Mattress toppers are large pads that cover the surface of your mattress. They’re designed to alter the feel of your bed—whether it’s too soft or firm.

Using a mattress topper saves you from the discomfort of a brand new mattress while still placing enough pressure on the bed to properly break the foam in. With this in mind, using a mattress topper extends the mattress break-in period since the topper absorbs a majority of your weight.

6. Be Patient

Although new mattresses can be exciting, they won’t always feel great the first few times you sleep on them, especially if they’re a different firmness than you’re used to. Don’t be so quick to assume your mattress is bad for you until you’ve fully broken it in.

Be sure to sleep on your mattress for at least 30 days before deciding whether or not you want to switch out your mattress. After 30 days of consistent usage, your mattress will be properly broken in and your body will have had the time to get accustomed to bed.

In the meantime, use high-quality sheets, blankets, mattress protectors, and pillows to help you stay comfortable.

FAQs

How long do memory foam mattresses last?

Memory foam mattresses last between 7 to 10 years on average. With regular maintenance, memory foam mattresses can last as long as possible. We recommend using a mattress protector over your mattress and spot cleaning your mattress every 6 months. Be sure to wash your bed sheets every 1 to 2 weeks as well.

How do you air out a memory foam mattress?

Some memory foam mattresses tend to off-gas, an unpleasant and strong odor caused by the chemicals in memory foam. Minimize the off-gassing issue by purchasing a CertiPUR-US® certified mattress, meaning the memory foam is free from toxic and smelly chemicals.

Otherwise, try opening the windows in your bedroom to air out your mattress after you’ve taken it out of the packaging. Ideally, place your mattress somewhere the sun can hit it. If possible, prop your mattress up against a wall so air can flow through it from all sides.

Another solution is to sprinkle baking soda directly over all sides of the mattress. Let it sit for an hour or more before vacuuming your bed. Baking soda will deodorize your mattress and reduce the intense factory scent.

How can you tell if your mattress is too soft?

Your mattress can feel too soft for a variety of reasons, including the bed being old and having a sleeping position incompatible with your body weight or sleeping position.

Here are some signs indicating your mattress is too soft:

  • Your lower back feels sore and stiff in the morning
  • You sleep on your stomach but wake up with neck, shoulder, or back pain
  • You struggle to get in and out of bed
  • You struggle to get comfortable or fall asleep at night
  • Your bed “bottoms out” when you lay on it

If you constantly experience these symptoms, you likely need a firmer mattress. If your current bed is too soft, you can increase the firmness of your mattress by adding a medium-firm to firm mattress topper. 

Can you damage a memory foam mattress by sleeping on it too early?

We recommend exercising patience and letting your bed fully expand before using it. The mattress is still rising within the first 24 to 48 hours, so using your bed before then only prolongs the expansion period and is uncomfortable to sleep on.

If you do decide to sleep on it before the 24-48 hours are up, you won’t damage it, you just might feel uncomfortable.

How can you tell if your mattress is too firm?

Here are some signs your mattress is too firm:

  • You experience numbness in your hands and arms upon waking up
  • You wake up with pressure points around your hips and knees
  • You wake up feeling tired
  • Your mattress does not contour to your body whatsoever

Again, new beds might feel overly firm. However, if you’ve used your mattress for 30 days or more and still experience these symptoms, it’s likely the wrong mattress firmness level for you.

Soft to medium mattresses are better suited for petite adults, combination sleepers, and side sleepers.

Conclusion

With enough nights of sleep, your memory foam bed will start having that “hug-like feel” and you’ll sleep restfully.

At the end of the day, if you’ve slept on your mattress for more than 30 nights and it still doesn’t feel too great, it’s time to switch out your mattress. Take advantage of sleep trial periods so you can return an incompatible mattress and receive a full refund for your purchase.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

James Nguyen, Sleep Expert James Nguyen

James Nguyen is Zoma's resident sleep expert and staff writer. James enjoys learning about the newest technologies in the mattress industry and doing deep dives into the science of sleep. He's tried nearly every gadget and gizmo in an effort to determine which sleep-promoting accessories can truly enhance your shut-eye. Outside of work, James takes his dedication to get healthy sleep seriously, and has even declared himself an "expert napper." James' research has been featured on Thrive Global and other media.

View all posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We think you’ll also enjoy…