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Believe it or not, breaking in your new mattress can take up to 30 days…and in some cases, even longer. In a society that values instant gratification, this isn’t always the news that people want to hear. But if you think about the amount of time you’ll likely own your mattress for (7-10 years), waiting 30 days until it’s just right doesn’t seem so bad.
We’ll help you understand why it’s so important to break in your mattress, give you some tips for breaking it in, and help you determine if (and when) it might be time for a change.
Breaking in your mattress is often compared to breaking in a new pair of shoes: it takes time and patience and yes, even the occasional blister. But sometimes those shoes turn into your best, most comfortable pair and the break-in period was well worth the wait. The same thing is true for mattresses. As much as you want to love and embrace your new, well-earned mattress as soon as it’s set up in your bedroom, it might not feel like blissful slumber after the first night.
That’s because you and your new mattress are still getting used to each other. The materials in the mattress need time to fully take shape – to soften and flex into their natural, intended firmness. Your mattress will start conforming to your body shape and adjusting to your movements and sleeping positions, but this won’t happen immediately.
Your body is also getting used to this new sleeping surface. With any new mattress, it’s going to feel different than the mattress you’ve been sleeping on for years. If you bought a different type of mattress, (e.g. you had an innerspring and now you have a memory foam mattress) your body will need to readjust to the new materials and new feel of your mattress. It’s important not to confuse “uncomfortable” with “unfamiliar” when it comes to breaking in your mattress.
Dr. Scott Bautch, President of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Occupational Health, put it best:
“When you transition to a new mattress that you aren’t used to, just because you can’t get comfortable for a week or two doesn’t mean you are sleeping on a bad mattress. You need to have realistic expectations. If you go from a really bad mattress to a better one, you are going to have a break in period.”
While breaking in your new mattress won’t happen overnight, there are some tips you can follow to help make the process a little smoother, and in some cases, faster.
Once your new mattress springs to life, it may look like it’s ready to use, but often times it’s just been freed from being compressed in a plastic casing. Many new mattresses can give off a slight chemical odor when you first open it, which is totally normal. Before you throw on your sheets and hop into bed, it’s best to give your mattress a few hours to air out. Opening the windows or putting on a fan helps. The smell of a new mattress can have an impact on the quality of your sleep the first night, which can actually put a damper on your overall feelings about it. So let it breathe first, and then start putting it to the test.
If you’re not sleeping as well as you expected to after the first few nights on your new mattress, your first instinct might be to migrate to the couch. Resist the urge. The more consistently you sleep on your mattress, especially within the break-in period, the better (and faster) your body will start adjusting to your mattress and vice versa.
Often times when people purchase a new mattress, they put it right on top of their old bed frame or foundation. Having the right level of support for your mattress can have a big impact on how comfortable that mattress feels, especially during the initial break-in period. If your old foundation is worn and unstable, you’re probably not experiencing the mattress the way it was intended. Pay attention to the type of bed frame or foundation that’s recommended by the company you bought your mattress from. (We list this out for you on all of our mattress review pages.) You can also find some of our favorite foundations and bed frames in this article if you’re in the market for a new one.
It may sound (and look) a little silly, but walking or crawling around on your mattress can actually help break it in a little faster. The additional pressure helps to loosen the materials in the mattress and speed up the process of taking its intended shape.
Not that kind of heat. (Although if we’re being honest, heated bedroom activity doesn’t hurt when breaking in your mattress.) But we’re talking about the actual temperature of the room here. Heat can be helpful for the break-in process, particularly if you purchased a new memory foam mattress. It can help soften up the materials and speed up the break-in period. And you don’t have to turn your bedroom into a sauna either – even a few ticks up on the thermostat can help.
If you’re sharing your new mattress with someone else, having an open conversation about your quality of sleep and how you’re feeling on the mattress can help with your collective decision to keep the mattress or not. While it may not physically help break it in, it could help make you more aware of things you might not notice. For instance, maybe your sleeping partner is starting to notice that he/she is waking up with less back pain, and you start to realize the same is true for you.
Some mattress companies will not even accept returns until after you’ve slept on the mattress for a full 30 nights. And there’s a good reason for that. While it may seem like a long, tedious process, it’s better to wait and see if the mattress adjusts to your body and becomes more comfortable before you initiate the return process and start looking for a new one. In some cases, the break-in period can last even longer than 30 days, so it’s a good idea to check with your mattress company on the recommended time frame.
Having a comfortable mattress is critical to your quality of sleep, so if your gut is telling you this just isn’t going to work out and you’re waking up in pain every morning, then by no means should you suffer through the rest of the break-in period. But your first impression may not always be indicative of how comfortable you’ll feel on the mattress. That’s why laying on a mattress for a few minutes in a mattress store doesn’t give you an accurate representation of how well you’ll sleep on that mattress long-term. So don’t be let down if your mattress doesn’t end up being what you expected it to be – there’s really no way to know until you try it…for a good while.
If you’re still not completely satisfied with your mattress after breaking it in for 30 days, there are a few things you can do.
Breaking in your mattress can seem like a doozy, but sometimes good things take time. If you have any questions about breaking in your mattress or have some of your own tips to share, drop us a line in the comments below.