Having a mattress that is firm enough to support a correct spinal alignment is crucial. Not only will it ensure you sleep better, but it also helps to prevent aches and pains related to unnatural alignment.
If you notice that you are sinking into your mattress too much and your spine is not straight while you lie on your bed, is there anything you can do to make your mattress firmer?
When you need a firmer sleeping surface, there are several things you can try and we share those with you in this article. So whether your mattress has become softer over time, your preferences have changed, or you have bought a mattress that is softer than you wanted, you can find ways to make your mattress firmer.
How to Make Your Mattress Firmer
If you find yourself uncomfortable in bed or are waking up with aches and pains, the cause could be a mattress that is too soft for you. Luckily, there are some easy methods you can try to make it firmer, especially if your mattress is otherwise still in good condition. Which method or methods will work the best depends on your situation.
Check the Length of Your Sleep Trial
There are several mattress retailers in Canada that offer at-home sleep trials with lengths varying from three months to a year. If you recently purchased your mattress from one of these retailers, you could still be within your sleep trial period and that is very good news.
If you are still within the trial period, you should be able to return the mattress and receive a full refund. Alternatively, instead of a refund, you could swap it for a firmer mattress that better meets your sleep needs.
Use a Firm Mattress Topper
You can fine-tune how your mattress feels by using a mattress topper. While mattress toppers are often used to make a bed softer, they can be used to achieve the opposite, too. To increase the firmness level of your sleeping surface, choose a thick firm mattress topper, which will prevent you from sinking into your mattress too much.
Mattress toppers are available in a range of materials, with the popular ones being memory foam, polyfoam, and latex. Mattress toppers made with latex are naturally firmer. If you prefer a polyfoam or memory foam topper, choose one with higher-density foam for firmer support.
If you want maximum longevity, more bounce, and better temperature regulation, latex is a good option. In addition, natural latex mattress toppers are hypoallergenic and eco-friendly. However, they come with a higher price tag. Synthetic latex is more affordable but still has more bounce and better temperature regulation than regular foam mattresses.
Mattress toppers made with memory foam are great if you need more pressure relief. Because a memory foam topper will contour your body, it prevents pressure points from forming the heavier parts of your body, such as your hips. However, on an already soft mattress, memory foam mattresses can exacerbate the sinking feeling, so ensure you get a very firm option.
These mattress toppers are made with polyurethane foam, polyfoam for short. They are often cheaper than either latex or memory foam mattress toppers. When you are looking to make your bed firmer, choose high-density polyfoam. It will be more supportive than a low-density polyfoam mattress topper and have better durability, too.
Rotate or Flip Your Mattress
You might be able to easily improve the firmness level of your mattress by flipping or rotating it. When we sleep on the same part of the mattress, over time this section gets more wear and tear and can start to sag.
If you have a two-sided mattress, you can usually both flip and rotate it, while a one-sided mattress should not be flipped, only rotated. However, you should check the manufacturer’s instructions before you flip or rotate in case there are any mattress-specific instructions or restrictions.
Use the Correct Base
To prevent the mattress from sagging prematurely, use the right base for the mattress type. Innerspring mattresses are traditionally paired with box springs, while foam mattresses benefit from a flat, solid surface. When you are buying a new mattress, speak to the mattress company about the best base for your type of mattress.
Use a Bunkie Board
A bunkie board is a flat barrier, usually between one and three inches thick, and often made of plywood, wood, or particleboard. It is designed to fit between the base and your mattress. It can help to make your mattress firmer and be used to add more height to your bed. However, bunkie boards can restrict airflow and make you sleep hotter, so they are not the best option if you already sleep hot.
Have Your Mattress on the Floor
Sleeping with your mattress on the floor gives the mattress a sturdy foundation. It is easy and does not require you to purchase anything extra. It will give the mattress consistent support and effectively prevent sagging.
However, there are drawbacks, including limited airflow which can make you sleep hotter. You might also get moisture trapped between the floor and the mattress, which can lead to mildew or mold. If you sleep with your mattress on the floor, ensure you lift it up against the floor to air it out regularly. This is also not an ideal option for anyone with limited mobility.
Lower the Room Temperature
If you have a memory foam mattress, you can make it slightly firmer by lowering the room temperature. This works because memory foam mattresses get softer in response to heat and firm up when the temperature gets colder. Lower temperature is also recommended for better sleep.
Air the Mattress
Mattresses, especially when they are made with foam, can trap moisture from humidity and sweat. When the moisture in the mattress builds up it can lead to premature sagging as well as mold and mildew. To avoid moisture buildup, air your mattress out in the sun one to two times per year depending on the manufacturer’s instructions.
Replace the Comfort Layer
Some mattresses have a removable comfort layer that can be removed and changed. If your mattress has a removable comfort layer you can usually purchase a firmer replacement from the manufacturer.
Get a New Mattress
If you have tried all of the above tips and they have not improved the situation, you may need to get a new mattress. Continuing to sleep on a mattress that is too soft for you is likely to lead to aches and pains in the long run. A firmer mattress that is better suited for your needs will prevent discomfort and help you sleep better.
How is the Firmness Level of a Mattress Determined?
Mattresses are usually rated between one and ten for their firmness levels. Because very soft and very firm mattresses are not suitable for most people, it can be hard to find them ready-made. For most Canadians, mattresses with a firmness rating of six or seven are suitable. The materials used to make the mattress will affect its firmness level.
- Innerspring: These mattresses have coils or springs in the core, which gives them a bouncy and supportive feel. The firmness of these mattresses depends on the coil patterns and gauges used. They often have thin comfort layers, which make them feel firmer than foam mattresses.
- Foam: Foam mattresses are made with either polyfoam, memory foam, or a combination of the two. Foam mattresses contour the body and offer better pressure relief than most innerspring mattresses. They are often softer than innerspring mattresses, with high-density foam mattresses being the firmest and more supportive.
- Latex: Latex mattresses are made with natural or manmade latex. Natural latex mattresses often cost more than manmade latex mattresses. Natural latex is a highly responsive and durable material and offers both pressure relief and support. Mattresses made with Dunlop latex are generally firmer than those made with Talay latex.
- Hybrid: If you like the bounce of innerspring mattresses and the contouring of foam mattresses, consider getting a hybrid mattress. They have an innerspring core and a foam comfort layer on the top. For a firmer sleeping experience, choose a hybrid mattress with a thinner comfort layer.
How Firm Does Your Mattress Need to Be?
Your mattress needs to be firm enough to support your spine yet soft enough to prevent pressure points. What firmness level will give you the right combination of support and give, depends on your body type and preferred sleeping position.
While a medium mattress can feel quite firm to a petite sleeper, it can feel soft for a heavier sleeper. The key is to choose a mattress that makes you feel supported and comfortable so you wake up feeling refreshed and without aches and pains caused by unnatural sleeping position.
How you prefer to sleep is equally important to your weight when choosing a mattress firmness level. People who sleep on their back or stomach need a firmer mattress. If you sleep on your back or stomach and your mattress is too soft, your hips will sink too low. This will create an unnatural curve in your spine which can cause stiffness, aches, and pains.
People who sleep on their side need to choose a softer mattress than back or stomach sleepers. Our shoulders and hips are usually the widest parts of our bodies and they need to sink slightly into the mattress to keep the spine in the correct alignment. If your mattress is too firm, it will also create uncomfortable pressure points in the hips and shoulders.
However, not everyone has a position where they sleep in the majority of the time. Some sleepers switch between sides, back, and stomach regularly, sometimes several times per night.
While a firmer mattress will make turning around easier and give you the support you need when sleeping on your back or stomach, a softer mattress will be more contouring when you sleep on your side. For this reason, a medium to medium-firm mattress is often the best solution for combination sleepers.
You may also want to take into account whether you sleep alone or with a partner when you are choosing the firmness level of your mattress. A softer mattress is likely to isolate motion better than a firm, bouncy mattress. So if you share your bed with a partner and often get disturbed by their movements during the night, consider a mattress with better motion isolation.
If you find your mattress is too soft, you can try to make it firmer by trying the tips in this article. However, they may not work if your mattress is past its expected lifespan. Consider investing in a new, firmer mattress for better quality sleep and to prevent aches and pains.
Choose a medium-firm or firm mattress if you prefer to sleep on your back or stomach. If you frequently suffer from back pain, you are also likely to benefit from a firmer mattress. To cover yourself in case you pick the wrong firmness level for you, purchase your mattress from a company that offers at-home sleep trials.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a few things you can try to make a memory foam mattress firmer. For example, you can rotate your mattress to sleep in a different spot, place a wooden board between the bed frame and the mattress, or get a firmer mattress topper.
If you often wake up with aches or pains, it could be a sign that your mattress is too soft. This is especially likely if you sleep on your back or stomach when you need a more supportive mattress.
Firmer mattresses are generally better for people with back pain. Research suggests that a firmer mattress can help to reduce back pain as well as improve the quality of sleep.