How to Prevent Your Mattress from Sagging
You’ve experienced the discomfort of a saggy mattress, and you want to fix your old one or protect your new one. We will show you how to prevent your mattress from sagging.
Jul 22nd, 2020 •
There is nothing less comfortable than a mattress that caves in. Rather than offering support, that gaping hole in the middle can suck you in, leaving you feeling trapped, uncomfortable, and overly warm. Not only can this make sleep less enjoyable, but it can lead to trouble sleeping and aches and pains. One of the telltale signs that your mattress cavern has gotten out-of-hand is lower back pain.
Dealing with mattress sagging is particularly challenging when sharing a mattress with a partner. When one person is bigger than the other, that bed indent can cause a Leaning-Tower-of-Pisa effect. The result is the smaller partner often being sucked into the adjoining crevasse.
Fortunately, there are things that you can do to fix a sagging mattress. However, there are also times to throw in the towel and go shopping for a new mattress that you can protect from day one. We will help you understand why a mattress starts sagging, what you can do to avoid it, what you can do to fix it, and the best types of mattresses to buy in the future to prevent this uncomfortable black hole.
The Tale of the Sagging Mattress
Most of us have pretty ingrained sleeping habits. We may always sleep on our sides, back, or stomach. We may love to snuggle with our significant other, a fluffy four-legged family member, or we may have our own side of the bed.
Mattresses are moldable. This is how they offer contouring support for our varied body shapes. It makes sense that continued pressure on the same parts would, over time, lead to those points of support having a permanent indentation.
I’ve even had a dog who I left alone during the day when I went to work. I never thought much about what she did when I was gone until one day, when I was making the bed, I noticed that an indent was slowly forming that was exactly the size of my 50-pound pup rolled into a ball.
Are Some Mattresses Worse than Others?
There is no mattress that is immune to some degree of sagging. Foam mattresses, latex mattresses, and the padded comfort layer of traditional mattresses will all become softer with use. This softness will lead to compression and a lack of support. Even the springs in traditional innerspring mattresses will lose some of their coil tension the more that they are used. This results in less bounce back once you lie down, and over time, forms peaks and valleys that make a mattress incredibly uncomfortable.
Firm mattresses and high-quality mattresses are less likely to succumb quickly because their materials are usually denser. This means that it will take longer for them to break apart and begin to sag.
Mattress size can also come into play. Queen-sized beds and larger are more prone to saggy mattress troubles.
Sagging can affect sleep and your overall quality of life. Some of the consequences of sagging include the following:
- Sleeping hot: When you sink into a mattress, more of your body is surrounded by mattress. This can trap in heat due to decreased air circulation. Sleeping hot isn’t simply uncomfortable: this annoyance can lead to insomnia, the related daytime fatigue, poor performance, and irritability.
- Aches and pains: As a mattress sags, there is less tension to support your body weight properly. This can lead to kinks in your neck, lower back pain, and general aches and pains when you wake up.
- Discomfort: Sleeping on an uneven surface is simply uncomfortable. Not only can this make it tough to fall asleep, but it can lead to you waking up during the night.
- Noise: If you have an innerspring mattress that’s losing its coil strength and supportive foam or pillowtop layer, the springs can become more vocal. This can make sleeping difficult if you or your partner toss and turn.
- Intimacy Issues: When your mattress is lumpy and uneven, it can be tough to enjoy intimacy there. Cuddling can be almost impossible if your bodies are randomly sinking, and a similar difficulty can arise when you try and have sex.
When to Fix a Saggy Mattress
Can you fix a saggy mattress? Yes and no…but mostly no. What you can do is mask the symptoms to improve your sleep and quality of life.
We recommend taking steps to fix your mattress woes in one of only two scenarios.
It’s Just Begun to Sag
Maybe you purchased a new mattress in the last year or two, and it has just begun to lose its shape. You may have noticed from looking at your mattress that it is starting to have very minimal dips.
At this point, you may not be too far gone to extend the life of your mattress by a few more years. Plus, if you just purchased your bed, it can be challenging to invest in a new one.
Funds Are Tight
We all have times when our finances don’t allow for everything to be in perfect shape. Maybe you just need to make do for a few months or a year until you have the money to buy a new mattress.
Purchasing a new, high-quality mattress is an investment. When you need to pinch pennies for a bit, there are ways to improve your sleep quality without getting a new one.
When to Ditch Your Mattress
There are certain times when it is important that you do what you can to replace your mattress with a better one.
You’ve Had This Mattress for 5-10 Years
Even the nicest, highest-end mattresses are unlikely to last you over ten years. At this point, the materials within will have begun to breakdown. Yet, some mattresses reach their end much earlier. Innerspring mattresses and low-density foam mattresses tend to last closer to 5 years.
Latex mattresses and airbed mattresses are the most likely to last you up to that 10-year mark. And even for these durable mattress types, 10 years is a stretch.
At a certain point, there is no going back. It is better to cut your losses and start new. Buying a high-quality mattress is your best bet.
The Indent is 1” or Greater
How big the indent is can tell you how difficult it would be to cover up. Once the indent has exceeded 1 inch, your quality of sleep is likely to suffer fairly dramatically. Even if you take steps to reduce the sag, they are unlikely to be enough to improve your sleep for long.
If you want to fix a saggy mattress rather than replace it, our assumption is that you want to do so in a cost-effective manner. Because of this, these tips are slightly different from those on how to prevent your mattress from sagging (more on that below).
When you want to extend the life of your mattress by just a few months or a couple of years max, we have a simple plan that you can follow.
Make Sure Your Mattress is Supported
Years ago, before I learned better, I slept on a mattress that was supported by some generously-spaced 2×4’s under my mattress. Before that, my mattress had a home on the floor. Neither of these is a great way to support and care for your mattress, and without proper support, a sagging mattress will continue to get worse.
Many bed frames these days come with slats rather than box springs for mattress support. While you may want to invest in a box spring once you have a new mattress, just ensuring that your bed is supported by slats with gaps 3” or less is a good first step.
Alternatively, you can use a thin sheet of plywood underneath your mattress for added support. Keep in mind that this can make a bed less breathable. Over time, this can lead to things like mold, and you’re likely to sleep hot. Because of this, plywood isn’t recommended as a long-term fix.
Buy a Mattress Topper
Probably the best thing you can do to fill in sagging areas is to use a mattress topper. The thicker the topper, the better. If you go to Walmart and buy their cheapest option, you’re not likely to notice much of a difference.
Instead, invest in a thick, dense latex or memory foam mattress topper. This will make the sagging less noticeable, but remember that it will still be there.
Fill in the Space Between Mattress Topper and Mattress
Another little hack is filling in the space where the mattress is sagging before you place the topper on it. We find that memory foam pillows are a good option, but you can use anything in a pinch.
Maybe you have extra sheets, towels, or pillows that can easily fill in that gap. Then, place your topper on, and you are more likely to feel supported. This step is helpful if your new topper isn’t particularly thick.
Try the Mattress Helper
A company has created a product designed to help fill in a sagging mattress called the Mattress Helper. It is placed between a mattress and box spring to help lift the middle of the mattress back up to the sides. With 3.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon and a $63.99 price point, it may be worth a try.
Check Your Warranty
Does your mattress have a warranty? Most high-quality mattresses will come with fairly generous warranties. Even more budget-friendly mattresses these days come with warranties, although usually for a shorter period.
Keep in mind that not all sagging is considered a defect, and normal wear and tear is usually not covered. Additionally, there are things that might void the warranty.
When it comes to the longevity and long-term comfort of your mattress, prevention is best. If you’ve just purchased a new mattress or you will be replacing your mattress soon, keep the following tips in mind.
Change Where and How You Sleep
This first trick may seem like common sense, but that doesn’t mean that it is simple to do. Do you and your partner each have one side of the bed? Or do you love to sleep in the exact middle of your bed every single night?
Switch it up!
Every week change where you sleep on the bed. If you sleep alone, this might mean setting up your pillows so that you sleep on the left side one week, the right side the next, and the middle the following week. For those who share their beds, swap sides every other night or weekly to allow for pressure on different parts of the mattress. Because your body and sleeping position are unique, this can reduce pressure on some points, slowing down mattress-sag.
If you continue to rotate where you sleep, you will extend the life of your mattress as well as your nighttime comfort.
Regularly Flip & Rotate Your Mattress
Regularly repositioning your mattress is a surefire way to avoid sagging for longer. There are two ways that you can reposition it:
- Rotate it: All mattresses can be rotated. You simply rotate it so that the head and the foot of the mattress are swapped.
- Flip It: Flipping a mattress makes the bottom the top and the top the bottom. This isn’t possible for many types of mattresses, including pillow top mattresses and layered mattresses. For example, a mattress that has a traditional innerspring bottom layer and a memory foam top layer isn’t going to allow for flipping. Yet, many traditional innerspring mattresses and foam mattresses are the same on the top and the bottom.
How often should you reposition your mattress? That depends on the type of mattress.
For mattresses that don’t allow flipping, simply rotate it every 3-6 months. However, if you have one that allows for both flipping and rotating, you can stick with a schedule that allows for optimal longevity.
To do this, flip your mattress every six months. During the following six months, you can rotate your mattress once at the three-month mark. This will allow you to sleep on a greater percentage of the mattress’s surface during that 6-month period. All-in-all, this makes it so you are sleeping on four different parts of your mattress at a minimum, even if it is the only trick that you employ.
Use a Mattress and Box Spring
More bed frames across the United States are beginning to come with slats that can be used instead of box springs. From an efficiency, space, and cost standpoint, this might seem too good to pass up! Plus, who wants to spend extra money and time getting a box spring after you’ve invested good money on a new mattress?
Unfortunately, slats do not provide the same level of support for your mattress as does the right box spring. That lack of support allows the bottom of the mattress to sag more with pressure. Even though the difference may be barely visible to the naked eye, prolonged excess sagging can add up.
You might be wondering if this means that all mattresses require a box spring. The answer is no, but most will do better with one. You can use the slat option for newer foam and latex mattresses; however, they will not provide the same level of support as a full box spring, so sagging will be greater following years of use.
As for other types of mattresses, it is particularly important to use a box spring if you have an innerspring, two-sided mattress. Why? The comfort and performance of your bed will suffer if you do not. When you aren’t sleeping on one side, laying it to rest against a box spring can protect it.
Additionally, some mattress warranties will cover excessive sagging, but that guarantee becomes void if you do not use a box spring with your mattress.
There are two common exceptions to this rule. The first includes mattresses designed for adjustable bases (this type of base cannot have a box spring). The second includes one-sided, no-flip mattresses that explicitly outline that no box spring is needed. It is possible for mattress manufacturers to build in adequate support for this type of mattress, and they will tell you if they have.
Use a Good Foundation
Did you know that the best foundations have more than four legs? If you have queen-sized or king-sized mattresses, it’s important to have enough legs to properly support them. When you only have four-legged bed frames, the middle of the bed will tend to have a slight dip to it. Over time, this will lead to a saggy mattress.
Try to use foundations with a minimum of 6 legs. And the more legs, the better! Fortunately, most foundations that you shop for today take this into consideration.
We briefly covered this earlier when discussing if some mattresses are better than others, but it can behoove us to dig in a bit more.
Mattress quality is one of the most important factors when it comes to the likelihood of sagging early on. Low-density memory foam can break down faster than high-quality, high-density memory foam. Similarly, high-gauge coils too can deteriorate quickly leading to a lack of support.
This means that you should look for the following:
- Memory foam mattresses: High-density or medium-density foam
- Innerspring mattresses: Low-gauge steel springs
Outside of bed quality, there are some general rules as to which types of mattresses are more susceptible to sagging. Here is our list, starting from the least likely to sag.
This type of bed uses an air chamber with foam support layers. While they are some of the more expensive mattress options, they are not prone to much sagging thanks to the resilience of the air chambers.
Latex mattresses are becoming popular thanks to their comfort, ability to conform to the body, good support, and bounce back. Latex is strong and durable, and as such, latex mattresses are not likely to sag much in the first handful of years that they’re used.
Hybrid mattresses are usually a combination of an innerspring mattress and memory foam or latex mattress (and sometimes all three). The memory foam and/or latex make up the upper comfort layers, and they rest on top of an innerspring support portion.
The quality and materials will determine how likely it is to sag. If high density memory foam or latex and low-gauge steel springs are used, they are fairly resistant to sagging. Of course, if low-density memory foam and high-gauge coils are used, it is likely to sag sooner.
Memory Foam and Polyfoam
The softer/less dense the foam, the faster they will sag. If you go with a high-density foam, it will last longer.
There is a reason that innerspring mattresses are becoming less popular. While there are some that are made with high-quality springs, many will be made of high-gauge coils that lose their coil strength quickly.
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