Got a new mattress on its way? When it arrives, you’ll soon discover that it probably won’t be ready to go.
That’s because new mattresses need time to ‘break in’ – both so that your body can get used to a new night-time set-up, and also so that the inner material settles into a comfy and supportive base.
It can take a couple weeks for a mattress to ‘break in’, with the precise length of time of the process depending on the exact mattress type you’ve bought. This is why, while you may initially fear you’ve made a mistake with a new mattress purchase, you need to allow it a chance to work its magic.
You can break in a mattress simply by sleeping in it every night. It will gradually be worn into your natural body shape and go-to sleep position. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some easy steps you can take to speed up the process. Read on to discover the importance of breaking in a mattress and expert tips so you can be be comfier faster.
How long does it take to break in a mattress?
Breaking in a mattress is an important move towards sleeping better. ‘It is an essential step to ensuring your comfort and the longevity of your new investment,’ notes Martin Seeley, sleep expert and founder of Mattress Next Day. ‘The materials will slowly soften and become more comfortable, gradually conforming to your body weight and sleep position - providing better support and pressure relief on your joints.'
Seeley adds that ‘your body needs a chance to get used to a different base, particularly if it’s more or less firm than your previous one. Some new mattresses may also release an odor in a process known as off-gassing, and breaking in the mattress helps dissipate this smell more quickly.’ So, all in all, it’s a step that you really can’t skip.
There’s no set answer to how long this takes. ‘Breaking in a mattress can take varying amounts of time, depending on the type of mattress you have,’ says Seeley. ‘However, on average, latex mattresses are the quickest and take up to two weeks, while memory foam mattresses require around two to four weeks. A spring mattress takes roughly four weeks to break in, and a hybrid – which often has memory foam on top and springs underneath – can take six to eight weeks.’
The founder and CEO of MattressNextDay, Martin Seeley has been in the sleep industry since the 80s. A prominent figure in the bed world, Martin knows how to overcome any sleep-related problem, offering you the most expert advice and information on a range of health and lifestyle matters. He has been featured in renowned publications such as Men’s Health, Forbes, and GQ.
The best way to break in a mattress really is to just sleep on it, and let it adapt to your body shape, weight, and sleeping position. But there are few tips you can follow to make the process faster and more effective.
1. Be consistent
While your new mattress might oddly not initially feel like the most comfortable you have ever slept on, only through regular use will it adapt to your form. ‘Whatever you do, I’d recommend sleeping on the mattress every night as this consistency will help it conform to your body shape and sleeping position, therefore speeding up the process of the materials softening,’ recommends Seeley. ‘If it’s a mattress for your spare room, I’d recommend sleeping on it as often as you can to make it comfortable for your future visitors.’
2. Loosen it
If you want to really speed up the process, then there is a (potentially fun) method you can turn to. ‘If you’re desperate to sleep on the mattress comfortably as soon as possible, then bring out your inner child,’ suggests Dr Daisy Mae, a sleep expert working with Get Laid Beds. ‘By walking, rolling or jumping on the mattress, you’re allowing it to loosen up its materials faster, and therefore break in quicker.’ Repeat this on a daily basis until you notice a difference.
Dr Daisy Mae is an doctor and freelance health writer. She has recently teamed up with Get Laid Beds to debunk sleeping myths and support research into how to get a better night's sleep.
3. Flip it
It is advisable to regularly rotate your mattress for the first few months – particularly if it's a spring or hybrid type – to ensure comfort and longevity. ‘Try turning and rotating your mattress every week for the first 12 weeks, and then every season thereafter,’ says Chris Tattersall, sleep expert and managing director of Woolroom. ‘This allows for the natural fillings to essentially settle or “bed down” evenly across the mattress, providing the optimum level of comfort for you and to aid the lifespan of the mattress too.’
Chris Tattersall is the MD of Woolroom, specialists in natural wool sleeping products, with 16 years experience in the sleep and textile industry.
4. Tweak the temperature
Additionally, it might also be helpful to alter how warm your sleep environment is. ‘If you have a memory foam mattress, I’d recommend keeping your bedroom at a moderate temperature of 64 to 72°F since this will help the foam break in more easily,’ says Seeley. The softening process is sped up because such mattresses are designed so that body heat triggers them to mold around your body. It’s best to do this during the day, since overnight you will sleep better with your room at a lower temperature.
5. Let it breathe
What’s more, you can help encourage the ‘breaking in’ process from the moment your mattress arrives at home. ‘Most come wrapped very tightly in plastic, which therefore compresses it,’ adds Dr Mae. ‘Try to unfold it as soon as possible to give it breathing space, and let it expand for at least eight hours if possible.’ How long you should let a mattress ‘breathe’ before sleeping on it might depend, so it’s always best to check the brand’s individual instructions.
6. Practice patient
As mentioned, it can take a while for your mattress to settle, and you should allow time for this adjustment period to take place before considering sending it back. ‘Breaking in a mattress is like breaking in a new pair of shoes,’ notes Tattersall. ‘It takes roughly ten days or so to get used to the new level of support and for the mattress to mold and shape to the body.’ However, there might then be several more weeks required for the mattress to fully ‘break in’.
Our mattress recommendations
Best overall mattress
This is our most comfortable mattress on test, that provides the perfect balance between comfort and support – suitable for all sleepers. Dubbed an innerspring hybrid, the Saatva Classic combines the supportive structure and breathable qualities of individually wrapped coils with the comfort and contouring of high-density foam across five layers.
Read the full Saatva Classic Mattress review to find out more.
Best memory foam mattress
This mattress 'instantly impressed' our tester Chiana Dickson, who found that even just sitting on this box bed was comfortable. A medium-firm bed, it gently cushions you without the sinking feeling of some memory foam mattresses. It's springy and responsive, bouncing back to form, and always feels stable and secure.
We have a full Emma Original Mattress review with more detail.
Best mattress for back pain
Far from basic, the Nectar mattress is soft and supportive, and if you suffer from back pain, it won't cost much to help relieve the pain. In our best mattress guide, it's ranked as the best mattress for back pain (which is impressive given its affordable price). Our reviewer Casey found it alleviated some of the pain from her fibromyalgia.
Our Nectar Memory foam mattress review goes into more detail.
Breaking in a mattress FAQs
How do you break a mattress in quickly?
Breaking in a mattress will happen naturally over time. However, hacks like rolling or walking on the mattress for a few minutes every day can help if you are in a rush to make your mattress comfier.
Is it normal not to like your new mattress?
Sometimes a mattress can take weeks before it reaches its best. It will probably feel firmer than when you tested it in store, or than you expected based on the firmness level online, but sleep on it and give it time to adapt to you. This is why sleep trials can be a good option when buying a mattress.
If you're really struggling to break your mattress, it might be time to send it back. However, you might also benefit from a mattress topper. The aren't always a solution, but some of our testers have found that a good mattress topper can totally transform a bed.
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Lauren Clark is a freelance writer and editor with more than eight years of digital and print journalism experience. She covers all aspects of lifestyle, specialising in health and wellness topics, and her work has previously been published in titles such as Women's Health, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Stylist, Woman & Home, Grazia and Dazed.
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