It’s not only the stuff of fairy tales. Sometimes a mattress is just too firm, and that’s a true story. Winding up with a bed that’s too firm for comfort is one of mattress buyers’ biggest fears. We get it! However, while you’re shopping, it’s important to remember that you can always add softness to a firm bed, but you can’t add support to a softer one. For that reason, tending to the firm side of the spectrum is the conservative bet when you buy a new bed. This post will help you understand the importance of mattress firmness, who needs it most, and how to cope when your bed is too firm for comfort.

Why buy a firm bed?

On the face of it, sleeping ensconced in a cloud of hypoallergenic down alternative softness seems like the obvious choice. The reason we don’t all sleep on big, fluffy pillows, though, is that the lack of support will lead to endless pain and lost sleep. Mattress firmness plays a big role in the alignment of your spine when you’re sleeping. Enter the need for inner springs and viscous foams. If your mattress isn’t helping your body to achieve healthy alignment, you’re destined to run into problems. At the end of the day, comfort is all about balance. You want a mattress that’s firm enough to provide adequate resistance for your body, yet soft enough to avoid pressure points.

How do you sleep?

Not “how have you been sleeping?” How you physically sleep can impact your need for firmness in a mattress. Side sleepers rest a lot of weight on the shoulders and hips, so they need more forgiving mattresses. Back sleepers can use a little more support. It’s stomach sleepers who really need a firm surface to translate support all the way through their bodies to the spine. The larger a body, the more support it’s likely to need, so be sure to factor height and weight into the equation.

When is a mattress too firm?

Pain and lost sleep can provide clear confirmation that your mattress could be too firm, especially if you find yourself tossing and turning throughout the night. A mattress that’s too firm will likely lack an adequate comfort layer, therefore creating pressure points which cause pain. Too much resistance can even knock your spine out of healthy alignment. Watch for lower back and neck pain if you sleep on your back, and shower, hip, and lower back pain if you’re a side sleeper.

How to Cope with a Too-Firm Mattress

When it’s New

If you’re struggling to find comfort on a new mattress, you’re in luck – relatively speaking. It can take some patience, but try to stretch out your experimentation for the duration of your return/grace period. It can take months for a mattress to settle and for your body to get used to it. If, after a good number of weeks, you’re consistently feeling the pain of pressure points, go ahead and make the return or exchange. But don’t jump the gun and return a bed after just a week or two. You could get yourself into a painful cycle of purchases and returns without learning an adequate amount about any one mattress.

When it’s Not So New

Just because you’re stuck with a bed doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the way it feels. Like we said off the top, you can always add softness to a firm mattress. Ideally, you’ll receive the benefit of all that support while eliminating painful days and sleepless nights.

  • Add a comfort layer. These days, mattress toppers are available in an incredible variety to suit your comfort needs. From organic latex tension relief to a cooler sleep experience, there’s a specialized mattress topper to deliver any feature your mattress fails to offer.
  • Change the foundation. If you’re using a sturdy platform or the floor, there isn’t much cushioning being added your mattress. By adding a box spring, you can add more give to your bed. If you go to the mattress store in search of a new foundation, be sure to specify that your mattress has been feeling too firm.
  • Loosen everything up. Start by putting on a looser fitted sheet. Then be sure to really break your mattress in. Walk on the bed, but don’t jump; you could damage the structure of the mattress. Rotate often, and if your mattress is double-sided, flip it, too.
  • Agree to disagree. If you and your spouse fail to see eye to eye on mattress modifications, you may want to opt for an adjustable bed next time you’re in the market for a new mattress.

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