How To Make a Mattress Softer or Firmer

By Sanchita Sen Certified Sleep Coach

Last Updated On January 15th, 2024
How To Make a Mattress Softer or Firmer

Key Takeaways

  • Importance of Proper Mattress Firmness: Your choice of firmness should align with your sleeping position and body type. Side sleepers typically need a medium to medium-soft mattress for cushioning, back sleepers benefit from a medium to medium-firm mattress for spinal alignment, stomach sleepers require a firmer mattress for abdominal support, and combination sleepers may prefer a medium mattress to accommodate various positions. Additionally, your body weight plays a role.
  • Making a Mattress Softer: If your mattress feels too firm and is causing discomfort, there are ways to make it softer. Breaking in the mattress by sleeping on it for several weeks can help it soften naturally. Temperature-sensitive mattresses, like memory foam, can be influenced by room temperature, so adjusting the thermostat to a slightly warmer setting can soften the mattress. Additionally, mattress toppers can be added to increase softness.
  • Making a Mattress Firmer: If your mattress feels too soft and lacks support, there are methods to make it firmer. Placing a plywood board beneath the mattress can enhance support and firmness. Checking the condition of your bed base and ensuring it provides adequate support is crucial. Adjusting room temperature to a cooler setting can firm up temperature-sensitive mattresses. Tightly fitting sheets and rotating or flipping the mattress can also help. Plus, mattress toppers made from firmer materials can be used to increase firmness.

If you’re waking up with aches and pains on a new mattress, chances are you either need a softer or a firmer mattress. You may have bought the new bed after trying our several options in different showrooms or after extensively researching online about it. Despite all the efforts, if you are still not getting a good night’s sleep, maybe softening or firming up your mattress a little bit will help you.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or energy to adjust the firmness level of your mattress. A few simple steps can go a long way in giving you a comfortable bed to relax at the end of a tiring day. In this article, we discuss the various ways to make a mattress softer or firmer for your comfort.

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Why Mattress Firmness Level is Crucial for Sleep

Getting the best mattress for yourself is all about finding the right firmness level suitable for your sleeping position and body type. Side sleepers need a medium, medium-soft, or soft mattress to cushion their shoulders and hips. In the side sleeping position, these regions bear the weight of your body, so adequate cushioning will eliminate pressure points in the shoulders and hips.

Back sleepers need a medium or medium-firm mattress to keep their spine in a neutral position. A firmer surface prevents mattress sinkage beneath your back, eliminating chances of spinal misalignment. Spinal misalignment triggers back pain, neck ache, and muscle stiffness.

Stomach sleepers need a firm mattress for enhanced support beneath their abdomen. This reduces the chances of straining your spine and waking up sore.

Combination sleepers feel good on a medium mattress because it suits their changing sleep positions through the night.

Softer mattresses are more pressure-sensitive than firmer beds, so petite sleepers need soft beds to conform to them. These soft beds compress under weight, making them feel softer for those who weigh more than 130 pounds. Average and plus size sleepers tend to feel the mattress sink beneath them, triggering spinal misalignment. To counter this sinking feeling, plus-size sleepers need firmer beds, while average sleepers need a medium.

Body TypeSleeping PositionMattress Firmness
Petite (weighing less than 130 pounds)

  • Side sleeping

  • Back sleeping

  • Soft to Medium-soft

  • Medium-soft to medium

Average (weighing between 130 to 230 pounds)

  • Side sleeping

  • Back sleeping

  • Medium-soft to medium

  • Medium to medium-firm

Heavy (weighing above 230 pounds)

  • Side sleeping

  • Back sleeping

  • Medium-firm to firm

  • Firm

Steps To Make a Mattress Softer

If you don’t get the cloud-like feel you expected from your mattress, you don’t sleep well. When you don’t sleep well, you wake up feeling irritable and exhausted. Lack of sleep affects your daytime productivity and efficiency, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy a new bed. Here are a few steps to soften your mattress so you get a good night’s rest to rejuvenate yourself.

Break It In

How to Make a Mattress Softer or Firmer
If your new bed feels firm or if a new mattress causes back pain, it may need more time to break in a bit. New mattresses feel firmer than usual initially, but sleeping on it night after night softens it up to suit your comfort.

To accommodate this break-in period, most mattress companies recommend sleeping on your mattress for at least 30 nights, before returning it. Regularly sleeping on a new mattress softens it up a bit, speeding up the mattress break-in process.

Warm Up Your Mattress

Some types of mattresses such as memory foam are temperature sensitive. They respond to your body heat and soften to contour your curves. If the top comfort layer is memory foam, warming up your bed can soften it as well. Keep the bedroom temperature between 66 to 67 degrees or use flannel sheets for a warming effect.

Find a Compatible Bed Base

Bed bases are crucial to your mattress. They provide support and can alter the feel of your bed. For example, memory foam mattresses feel firmer on a box spring and softer on a solid foundation, platform, or adjustable base.

When you buy your bed, check with the manufacturer about a compatible bed base to go with the bed. Usually, innerspring mattresses are more compatible with a box spring, while memory foam, latex, and hybrids are compatible with a foundation or platform bed. Some manufacturers may void your warranty if the mattress is not placed on a compatible base.

Steps To Make a Mattress Firmer

Sometimes your bed may not feel as firm as you want. There are options to firm it up a little bit to make it ideal for you. You may need a slightly firmer bed for some medical conditions such as back pain. Follow one or more of these simple methods to make your mattress firmer.

Use a Plywood Board Beneath Your Mattress

Place a thin plywood board beneath your mattress to enhance its firmness. These boards are called bunkies and are available in any home improvement store. Bunkie boards provide better support at the base, firming up the feel of the bed.

Check Your Bed Base

When you buy a bed, check the condition of your bed base. For example, if you place your new innerspring mattress on an old box spring, it may not provide adequate support. Lack of proper support makes your bed feel softer, causing early sagging.

In the case of memory foam mattresses, the slats on the bed foundation or platform bed should be less than 2.75 inches apart. Widely spaced slats provide insufficient support, making the mattress feel softer.

Adjust Your Thermostat

If you have a temperature-sensitive memory foam layer in your bed, then a cooler room can firm up your bed. Adjust your thermostat, setting the bedroom temperature to 60 or 61 degrees. Memory foam responds to heat, so it softens in a warmer room and firms up in a cooler one.

Use the Right Sheets

Make sure you tuck the sheets in tightly while making your bed. Buy fitted sheets with pockets deep enough to just accommodate your mattress depth. It should fit snug, leaving no extra room. Sheets fitted tightly on your mattress raises its firmness level a bit.

Rotate or Flip the Mattress

Sometimes mattresses develop soft spots due to overuse. Rotating the mattress 180 degrees ensures even wear, preventing sags. When you rotate the bed, the area that was supporting your head now supports your feet and vice versa. This way you ensure using all parts of your mattress equally.

Before rotating or flipping, check with the customer service representative of the mattress company. Most modern mattresses cannot be flipped unless it’s a double-sided mattress. For example, a pillow top or Euro top mattress has a clear top-to-bottom design. Flipping a mattress ensures you use both surfaces of the mattress, avoiding overuse.

Using Mattress Toppers to Modify Firmness

Mattress toppers are a great option to modify the firmness level of beds, suiting your comfort. They are usually 2 to 4 inches thick and are placed on top of the mattress to alter its feel. You can use these mattress accessories to soften or firm up your bed but they cannot fix a sagging mattress. Be careful also how much they add onto your mattress thickness.

Mattress toppers are made of different materials, such as memory foam, latex, wool, or down. The thickness and density of the material determines its firmness level. Before buying a topper check whether it’s soft or firm.

At Amerisleep, we have two memory foam toppers to soften or firm up your bed.

Amerisleep Lift® Mattress Toppers

Our Lift® mattress toppers are available in two firmness options—Comfort or Support. Our Comfort Lift® makes your bed feel plusher, while our Support Lift® enhances firmness for better support. These toppers are designed with our MicroGrip® technology, which uses gentle friction to keep the topper in place, without damaging the mattress.

Prices of our Amerisleep Mattress Toppers

SizeLift® Price
Twin XL$249
California king$349


Do firm mattresses get softer?

All mattresses get a little softer within the first 50 to 60 nights of regular use. This is called the natural break-in period. However, this natural break-in doesn’t make it an uncomfortable mattress, rather it tempers down the extra firmness of a new mattress.

Do mattress toppers help in firming up or softening your bed?

Yes, mattress toppers can alter the feel of your mattress. If you want your mattress to have a plusher feel, use a thick memory foam mattress topper. Memory foam toppers can be between 2 to 4 inches thick. To firm up your bed, use firmer memory foam, compact wool, or latex mattress toppers. They enhance support, providing you with the right level of firmness.

Do I need a firm or soft mattress?

This depends on your sleeping position and body weight. A good mattress provides you with the right level of firmness suited to you. Side sleepers are best-suited to soft or medium-soft beds, while back and stomach sleepers prefer medium-firm or firm beds.

We do not recommend stomach sleeping because it may strain your spine, causing health problems such as back pain or neck ache. Combination sleepers need a perfect balance of softness and firmness to cater to their changing sleep positions through the night. They can enhance their sleep experience on a medium bed.

If you weigh less than 130 pounds you will need a softer mattress, while those weighing above 230 pounds will need a firmer bed. If you weigh between 130 to 230 pounds, a medium mattress is perfect for you.

How do you firm up a sagging mattress?

The cheapest way to firm up a sagging mattress is to place bunkies beneath it. This can prolong your mattress life a bit, but it’s not a long term solution. If you notice sagging while the mattress is within the warranty period, it’s better to reach out to the mattress company and get it fixed or replaced. Most mattress companies repair or replace mattresses with a sag greater than 1 inch, within the warranty period. Usually, warranties are 10, 20, or 25 years long but some brands may offer lifetime warranties.

Can you flip a pillow top mattress to make it firmer?

No, pillow top mattresses cannot be flipped. They have an extra layer of padding on top of the mattress to enhance plushness. If you flip a pillow top mattress, you cannot reap the benefits of the cushioning layer. Most modern-day mattresses cannot be flipped unless specifically marked as doubled-sided beds.

Is memory foam too soft?

Memory foam mattresses are available in various firmness levels from soft to firm. You can choose from the various options to suit your body type and sleeping position. If your existing memory foam mattress feels too soft, you may use a thin mattress topper to enhance its firmness.


Your bed is supposed to be the most comfortable place in your house where you relax and rejuvenate, but if it’s softer or firmer than needed, it can’t provide you with adequate comfort. An uncomfortable mattress leads to poor sleep, affecting your daytime productivity. To avoid this effect, adjust the firmness level of your bed. There are several ways to soften or firm up your existing mattress, but if your mattress is more than 7 to 8 years old and showing sags, you may need to replace it. Mattresses wear out with time, making them feel unsupportive.

About the author

Sanchita Sen is a full-time writer focusing on the sleep health and mattress industry. She is a former journalist who has written numerous articles on the healthcare sector. Some of the topics she has covered include how to lucid dream, fever dreams, melatonin for sleep, and best gel memory foam mattress. Sanchita holds a Master of Arts in Communications from Convergence Institute of Mass Media and Information Technology Studies. She is also a published author, who seeks inspiration from both real life and the world of fiction.

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