The main attraction of a memory foam bed for most buyers is its ability to conform to your frame, molding its content to match your body, and giving you a cradling embrace through the night.
Hence, for the uninitiated, it may startle you to discover that your new memory foam mattress may feel very different from this expected image on the first trial.
It is quite common for new memory foam beds to not “feel right,” and bring a firmer, less-conforming feel than is typical of this mattress type. Further compounding the problem, especially for new users, is that their new bed feels significantly firmer than the sample mattress they tried out at the store.
This discrepancy stems from the fact that memory foam beds require a break-in period. Like with many other material types, the foam in these mattresses typically require some time to decompress and soften before they match that memory foam feel we all love.
However, one critical reason why we get new beds is to get better, more restful sleep. Hence, you shouldn’t have to deal with extended spates of subpar sleep while your bed “breaks in.”
With these simple tips, you can hasten this process and have your bed primed for excellent sleep in no time.
Tips to Help Break in Your Memory Foam Mattress
#1: Apply Some Pressure to the Surface
When it comes to breaking in your mattress, as you sleep on it during the night, your frame does most of the heavy lifting, applying the pressure needed to soften the foam layers. However, you can help this process along, breaking in your bed even faster by utilizing a few hacks that simulate the pressure you apply during sleep.
First, you can help soften your mattress by walking gently on it a few times every day. Alternatively, if walking on your bed does not look funny enough for you, you can choose instead to crawl on the mattress with your hands and knees instead.
While you may be uncomfortable trying out these measures at first, we have found that once you get into the heart of things, it can be quite fun and an excellent way to get some exercise on the side.
However, if moving on your bed is too over the top for you, another useful hack is to stack a pile of hard-bound books or filled shoeboxes on the mattress.
#2: Increase Your Bedroom Temperature
One key reason why memory foam conforms to your body is that the material is temperature-sensitive, and hence, it changes form in reaction to both your body heat and pressure.
You can take advantage of this temperature sensitivity to help break your memory foam bed faster.
Increasing the temperature in your bedroom by a few degrees will make your new memory foam mattress significantly more malleable and, consequently, more susceptible to the pressure from your frame.
However, take note of the tradeoff you will be making, as increasing your bedroom temperature can negatively impact your sleep.
Instead of increasing your room temperature during sleep, we recommend combining this hack with the first one. Here, you turn up the heat in your bedroom during the day, then apply pressure to the mattress by walking, crawling, or stacking a pile of books on it.
With this system, you can significantly hasten along the breaking in of your memory foam mattress during the day, without detracting from your comfort level and sleep quality at night.
#3: Opt for Breathable Sheets
The amount of softness and conformability you get with a memory foam mattress depends heavily on the amount of heat reaching the sleeping surface. Hence, the type of sheets you use can significantly affect how quickly your memory foam bed breaks in and become more comfortable.
It would be best if you opted for extremely breathable sheets to maximize the amount of body heat transfer and increase the chance of the foam molding properly to your body and reaching peak comfort levels.
A good range to aim for is the 350-500 thread count range, as these sheets offer significant levels of softness and comfort without blocking out too much body heat.
Recommendation: This 400-Thread-Count 100% Cotton Sheet Set from California Design Den offers a lightweight, breathable layer that lets all your body heat pass through to break in your memory foam mattress faster.
#4: Select the Right Mattress Protector
Choosing the right mattress protector can also significantly impact how your new memory foam mattress feels from the get.
Depending on its material, your mattress protector may aid or hamper your efforts with the new bed. A protector made from a high-insulating fabric will only allow minimal heat to go through. Hence, what you want is a lightweight protector that lets in as much heat as possible.
Another important parameter you should consider is the stretchability of the mattress protector.
A super stretchy cover helps to maximize the mattress conformability as it does not constrict the shape of the foam. Hence, you may notice a significant decrease in the firmness of the new mattress from getting a more stretchy protector.
Using tightly fitted sheets can have the same compacting effect on memory foam as non-stretchy mattress protectors. Both options can constrict the foam and reduce its conformability, which can increase the overall firmness of the bed. With fitted sheets, you are better off opting for one that has at least an inch clearance of your new mattress’s height.
Recommendation: The Slumber Cloud Dryline Mattress Protector is a lightweight mattress protector that can fit mattresses with up to a 16-inch height.
#5: Use a Brand Specific Bed Foundation
Ensure that you have a bed frame or foundation type recommended by the mattress manufacturer to ensure compatibility and the best possible experience.
With some off-brand options, you may experience some mattress sliding. Having an unsteady bed can significantly change the feel of the mattress, as memory foam beds typically maintain an even firmness level when paired with a non-flexing support system.
#6: Use A Mattress Topper
One hack that saves you the back strain of those first few nights on a new memory foam mattress is to opt for a mattress topper. A mattress topper is a soft, high-conforming spread that you can place on your bed for enhanced comfort.
These mattress toppers—that often feature gel-infused memory foam can provide the much-needed comfort substitute for your bare bed during the break-in period.
However, it is essential to note that a topper shields the bed from a considerable portion of your weight, and hence, it significantly slows down the break-in process and extends the required time.
The thicker your topper, the less of your body heat reaches the surface of the memory foam bed. A thicker topper also makes the mattress feel firmer in the meantime as the smaller amount of heat entering the foam translates to very minimal conforming.
With these tradeoffs, using a topper may mean that you potentially grind the break-in process to halt.
The trick is to pair this tip with tip 1 for maximum effectiveness. Here, you use a topper while you sleep for enhanced comfort, and to avoid all the potential strain on your body during the break-in period, then apply pressure to the bed during the day to help the break-in process along.
Once the bed is comfy enough to sleep on without causing much discomfort, you can ditch the topper to thoroughly break-in the bed.
For people new to the feel of memory foam, you can also get a thin topper from another material like latex or wool. This layer can add a different, more comfortable feel without blocking out too much of your body heat.
#7: Sleep on it Consistently
The first few nights on your memory foam bed can be tough. During this period, the mattress often feels too firm, and hence, you can end up with several pressure points during sleep.
Consequently, sleepers can easily get discouraged from the break-in process, and choose instead to sleep on the couch for a night or two. However, in most cases, your bed won’t break itself in, and you do have to sacrifice a few nights of sleeping on it consistently to get it to the right firmness level.
Under normal circumstances, sleeping on the bed every night should hasten this process along, and is one of the best ways to guarantee that you begin enjoying your bed in the shortest time possible.
#8: Optimize all Other Parameters
With most new mattress purchases, we often stick to our old accessories like the bed foundation, sheets, and beddings. Sometimes, your discomfort from the new mattress’ firmness may further worsen because of any of these other elements.
Here, one common offender is your bed’s foundation or frame, as the platform can often significantly impact the feel of the mattress.
#9: Give it time
With most memory foam mattresses, regularly sleeping on the bed should be enough to break it in quickly. Hence, while the break-in period can be quite flustering, you should give the foam time to adjust to your frame, finding solace in the fact that you will be getting your best sleep in no time.
How Long Will it Take?
Most memory foam mattresses will soften sufficiently and reach peak comfort and body-conforming levels within 2-4 weeks. However, some fast-compressing options will achieve this level of softness in under a week, while others still will take even longer than a month.
While the speed of breaking in the foam varies from brand to brand, most regular memory foam beds will sufficiently soften in under a month.
The critical determinant of the speed of this process for each mattress is its density. Foam density refers to how much material is packed in each cubic foot of the bed. Hence, a higher foam density means the tighter structure will unwind slower and take a longer time to reach its full stretchability.
Consequently, higher density foam will require significantly more breaking in time, with the densest foams taking up to 60 days to stretch fully.
On the other hand, an ultra-low-density foam mattress will break in as early as the first night but may result in excessive sink and durability issues down the road.
The break-in period makes a trial period especially important with memory foam mattresses.
It can take at least a month for the mattress to adjust to your frame fully, and as a result, you should ensure that your mattress pick has a commiserate trial period to allow you to ensure that the bed is the right fit.
What if Your Memory Foam Bed Never Breaks in?
Like with new shoes, with memory foam mattresses, there is often an adjustment period before you reach peak comfort levels. However, what if your bed never reaches this level of comfort?
First, ensure that you have had the bed for up to the minimum recommended breaking in time by the manufacturer. If you have significantly surpassed this allotted period, the chances are that this mattress is not a good fit for you, and you should consider contacting the company to return or exchange the bed.
Many mattress brands offer multiple models with varying material types and firmness levels. You will often fit an alternative from the same brand that matches your firmness preferences more closely.
Most U.S. manufacturers will happily exchange your bed with another option from their lineup, often at no extra charge.