So, you’ve finally decided to cash in your old mattress for a new one. Upgrading can do wonders for your back and your sleep quality, but new mattresses take some getting used to.
It takes between two weeks and two months to get used to a new mattress. You have to get accustomed to the smell, thickness, and let your body adjust to the firmness. You can speed up the process by airing the mattress, using heat or pressure, checking the base, and customizing the break in process.
In this guide, we’ll cover the different kinds of mattresses and which factors you will need to get used to. We’ll also give you simple steps for accelerating the process so you can sleep comfortably in no time.
What Do You Need to Get Used to in a New Mattress?
If you’re buying a new mattress from the store, it’s likely to carry the smell from the plastic casing.
It can also release smell from a process called off-gassing. This happens when the mattress is made from materials like petroleum-based chemicals and fire retardants.
The chemicals are usually found in the casing, the adhesion between the different layers, and used during the manufacturing process. These chemicals include benzene, formaldehyde, and naphthalene.
While these chemicals can have negative impacts on your health, they are usually in such small quantities in mattresses that you will only be bothered by the smell.
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If your new mattress is a different thickness to your old one, you will notice the difference in your body.
This table shows the different common mattress thicknesses and how they are categorized.
|Height in inches||Classification|
The thicker the mattress, the more comfortable it will feel to sleep on. Thicker mattresses can support the back while providing more comfort.
However, thin mattresses are better for people with mobility issues and shorter people. They are much easier to get on and off.
If your new mattress is significantly thinner or thicker than your previous one, it could take some time for you to get used to it.
A mattress fresh out of the box is going to feel a lot firmer than your old one.
When you use a mattress for several years, it conforms to the shape of your body. While this isn’t great for back support, it can feel familiar and comfortable.
When you switch to a new mattress, it is firm and flat, which can be painful at first. You might find yourself waking up with aches and pains for a few weeks while your body adjusts to the firmer surface.
Do Some Mattresses Need More Breaking in Than Others?
Memory foam mattresses are designed to sit close to the body and provide unique support by conforming to your shape. It then springs back to its original form, meaning that it can accommodate your individual needs with each night of sleep.
Memory foam mattresses have soft pillow toppers that usually off-gas more than other kinds. The combination of polyurethane foam and an elastic layer contains multiple gasses that can smell and aggravate allergies. This means you will need to air out this mattress more than other kinds.
Memory foam is also incredibly dense, which means that it will take longer to soften, stretch, and conform to the contours of your body. Each layer needs to break down to feel comfortable under your weight.
Depending on the density, it could take two months to break in a memory foam mattress.
Polyfoam mattresses are a hybrid of memory foam and polyurethane.
Like memory foam mattresses, they are made with many gases that come out in the off-gas process. Therefore, you will need to take care to expose this mattress to ventilation as soon as possible after purchase.
Usually, a polyfoam mattress can take up to two months to break in.
Innerspring mattresses have a coiled spring base with a thin foam top that you lie on.
There are different kinds of innerspring mattresses. Those with memory foam layers will off-gas at a similar rate to those mattresses. However, some manufacturers aim for more environmentally sustainable mattresses that use soy-based products. This kind off-gasses significantly less.
Because the foam of an innerspring mattress is thinner than a memory foam mattress, it doesn’t take very long to stretch and break in. The springs also easily accommodate changes in weight.
An innerspring mattress can take one month to break in.
Latex mattresses are made from either synthetic or natural material. They contain a lot of air between their layers.
This high air content allows the mattress to soften to your weight and shape of your body easily.
Latex mattresses usually off-gas less than their memory foam counterparts. The construction is more natural, especially if the latex is sourced from an actual rubber tree. This means there are fewer chemicals that produce smelly gases.
You can break in a latex mattress within two weeks.
Organic mattresses are usually made of natural fibers like wool and cotton. Because the materials are natural, there is no likelihood of off-gassing or artificial smells of any kind.
They have a similar break in time to natural latex mattresses, and you should be sleeping comfortably in less than 14 days.
How to Break in a New Mattress
Give It Some Air
It is essential to air out your new mattress to remove the plastic smell that comes from off-gas.
You can follow these steps to give the mattress some breathing space:
- Take off the plastic covering immediately.
- Place the mattress in a ventilated room and open the windows to increase airflow.
- Turn on any ceiling or floor standing fans and direct them at the mattress.
- Keep airing it for 10 hours a day until it no longer smells.
Pressure on the mattress serves a double purpose: helping to remove the chemical smell and softening the stiff structure.
If you are looking to use pressure to relieve off-gassing, then follow these steps:
- Put on clean socks.
- Place the mattress in a well-ventilated space.
- Jump up and down on the mattress for a few minutes.
- Take a break from the gases for an hour.
- Repeat the jumping process.
If your priority is to soften and stretch the mattress, you can use pressure in different ways:
- Walk or jump on the mattress several times a day
- Rest books or other heavy objects on the mattress when not in use
- Crawl on your hands and knees across the mattress
You should repeat these actions several times a day for at least a month until the mattress is softer and more comfortable.
If you have a memory foam or polyfoam mattress, heat can be a useful tool to soften the mattress.
Memory foam is heat-sensitive. This means that it expands when it is hot and constricts when it is cold. Therefore, you can soften and break in the mattress by using heat.
You can heat up the mattress in various ways:
- Use a space heater to raise the temperature of the room
- Lie an electric blanket across the mattress
- Use thick blankets to cover the mattress
However, if you make the room too warm at night, it may be too uncomfortable for you to sleep. Therefore, it’s a trade-off between breaking in your mattress and being able to rest.
Check the Base
Sometimes your new mattress feels extra uncomfortable because it is on an unsuitable base.
If the base of your bed is damaged, falling apart, or sagging on one side, then the mattress may start to absorb these same imperfections of balance and position.
You also need to make sure that the base is the appropriate size for your new mattress. You might want to consider buying a set or investing in a new frame at the same time.
Adjust the Break in Process for Your Mattress
Some of the break in methods are more suited to one kind of mattress than the others.
If you have a memory foam mattress, your top priority should be temperature control. This is the speediest way to reduce stiffness in the structure.
If you have an innerspring mattress, break in will be fast. However, this can lead to excessive wear and tear, so you should take care to regularly rotate the mattress.
With a natural latex mattress, break in is minimal. However, you should make sure to sleep on both sides so that the mattress is evenly broken in.
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New mattresses can take anywhere from two weeks to two months to break in, depending on the type. You need to adjust to the smell, thickness, and firmness. Thankfully, you can speed up the process by using several break-in methods.
The process of breaking in a new mattress can be frustrating, especially if it’s affecting your quality of sleep. However, it’s important to be patient and consistent.
By persisting with the above methods for the recommended time, you’ll be sleeping comfortably before you know it.