Memory foam mattresses are popular because the foam can mold precisely to the exact contours of your body to provide exceptional pressure relief in just about any sleeping position.
But if you’ve just laid down on your new memory foam mattress for the first time, you might be worried that the mattress feels too firm.
So do memory foam mattresses get softer with time or are you going to be stuck with a bed that you hate?
Most memory foam mattresses will get softer after 7-60 nights of continuous use as the fibers adapt to your unique body shape, body weight, and dominant sleeping position – with the first 7 nights seeing the most amount of softening. The softening process can be accelerated through the application of gentle pressure and ambient warmth.
This means that in the vast majority of cases, your firm memory foam mattress will get softer and more comfortable over the coming weeks if you sleep on it every night in your favorite sleeping position.
The rest of this article explains how to make your memory foam mattress softer in 5 steps – making use of some tips and tricks that can potentially speed up the rate of softening.
Meaning that you’ll be able to spend less time sleeping on a memory foam mattress that feels uncomfortable.
Alternatively: if you hate your new memory foam mattress and you’re going to send it back, then check out my list of the best mattresses WITHOUT memory foam to find a suitable replacement.
How to Make a Memory Foam Mattress Softer
The best way to make a memory foam mattress softer is to sleep on it every night for up to 60 nights, keep the room warm (at least 20–22 °C (68–72 °F)), and apply controlled pressure to the memory foam using your hands or by rolling on the mattress for 10-30 minutes daily for up to 30-60 days because this will help the fibers to loosen up.
See below for a full guide on how to soften and break in your new memory foam mattress in 5 steps:
1: Use Continuously For Up to 60 Nights
It takes between 7 and 60 nights of continuous use to get used to a new memory foam mattress – this is because when memory foam is new, it tends to be quite stiff and inflexible.
But once exposed to heat and pressure every night, the fibers begin to loosen up which leads to the mattress feeling softer.
More specifically, the rate of softening will typically be the most noticeable in the first 30 days as the fibers begin to adapt to your physical characteristics – after which, the softening will become less noticeable because the foam begins to stabilize.
Furthermore, the foam will soften in the areas that are put under the most pressure – typically around the shoulder and hip regions – to create natural ‘body impressions’ that can enhance comfort.
However, if excessive body impressions and sagging (typically above 1.5″ in depth) occur, then you may have a defective mattress that you can return under the warranty or the sleep trial – which you should look into because sleeping on an uneven surface can lead to pain and discomfort.
If your new memory foam mattress feels firm and uncomfortable, then after a week of continuous use you should see a significant amount of softening and the mattress should start to feel much more comfortable.
2: Apply Gentle Pressure
One of the best ways to break in your new memory foam mattress and make it feel softer is to gently apply pressure to the upper surface of the mattress using your hands, knees, or general body weight for between 10 and 30 minutes each day for up to 30-60 days.
You need to be very careful to ensure that you do NOT apply concentrated pressure (such as standing on the mattress) since this may cause indentations in the foam (which would likely void the warranty and the sleep trial).
Here are the 4 different techniques that you can use to soften up your new memory foam mattress through the application of controlled pressure:
- Pushing – place the palms of both hands on the mattress and push down gently into the memory foam (aim for a compression of around 1-2″ in depth) across the entire surface area of the mattress to encourage the fibers to relax.
- Massaging – you can vary the application of the pressure by rolling your palms into the material. Just be careful not to do this too vigorously or pinch the foam because this may cause the foam to deform.
- Kneeling – if your new memory foam mattress is very firm in certain areas then kneeling on the trouble spots is a more forceful way to encourage the fibers to relax. (However, do NOT stand on the mattress because this type of concentrated pressure can cause indents).
- Rolling – rolling on the memory foam can help to loosen up the fibers of the foam and the mattress cover without the risk of indenting the foam because the pressure is dissipated more evenly across the mattress surface.
3: Increase the Ambient Room Temperature
Heat can help memory foam to expand and soften up.
In fact, ambient warmth is effective for helping your new memory foam mattress to expand fully when used in conjunction with the application of pressure.
However, you should NOT apply a localized heat source such as an electric blanket, heating pad, or hot water bottle to memory foam because this can cause damage to the material – potentially resulting in deformity, a reduction in molding capacity, and a reduced lifespan.
Instead, you should increase the ambient room temperature to around 20–22 °C (68–72 °F) or more as you sleep in the mattress or apply pressure to it to allow the molecules in the foam to loosen up and encourage softening.
4: Use a Slatted Wooden Frame
Placing your new memory foam mattress on a wooden frame with slats no more than 2-3 inches apart can cause your memory foam mattress to feel softer when compared to using a solid platform base, a metal frame, or the floor because the small gaps combined with the ‘give’ of the wood can allow for more sinkage.
Slatted frames make for some of the best types of frames to use with a memory foam mattress because the gaps also allow for better airflow – which can prevent overheating, night sweats, and the growth of mold on the underside of the mattress that can potentially lead to the worsening of some allergies.
However, it’s very important that you first check the terms of the warranty to ensure that you’re not using an incompatible frame – since this can void the warranty and the sleep trial.
5: Buy a Soft Mattress Topper
Buying a soft mattress topper and placing it on top of your firm memory foam mattress can be a quick way to soften up your mattress without having to wait for the fibers to relax.
Mattress toppers also offer the opportunity to sleep on a different mattress surface to potentially create a different sleeping experience.
For example, if you’re also finding your new memory foam mattress too hot and difficult to move around in then a soft latex mattress topper can help to increase airflow, breathability, and the rate of heat dissipation to help you sleep cool – whilst the responsiveness of the latex can make it easier to switch positions without getting bogged down in the materials.
What if the Mattress is Still Too Firm?
If you’ve slept on your new memory foam mattress every night for at least 30-60 nights and you’ve tried applying pressure, warming the room, and using a slatted base with more ‘give’ and you’re still uncomfortable then you should try to return the mattress.
If you bought a mattress online with an excellent sleep trial then you should be able to return the mattress for a refund or an exchange.
However, returning a mattress that you bought from a physical store may be more challenging because sometimes the return policy can be much shorter (or even be voided once you’ve slept in the mattress) – check with the retailer that you purchased from for specific guidance.
To round off this article, here are the quick and concise answers to some of the most common questions related to making your memory foam mattress softer.
How Long Does it Take to Break In a New Memory Foam Mattress?
It takes between 7 and 60 nights to break in a new memory foam mattress as the fibers relax and soften in response to your body weight, body shape, body heat, and dominant sleeping position.
Do Tempur-Pedic Mattresses Soften Up?
Tempur-Pedic mattresses should soften up after 7 – 60 nights of continuous use because they are made from high-quality memory foam and should therefore respond positively to your physical characteristics without resulting in excessive sagging or body impressions.
How Do You Soften a Tempur-Pedic Mattress?
A Tempur-Pedic mattress can be softened through nightly use and the controlled application of pressure using your hands in a warm room to help the fibers of the foam and cover to relax and loosen up.
Conclusion: Expect Better Comfort in a Week
Most new memory foam mattresses that feel too firm will soften up and feel more comfortable after 7 nights of continuous use – with further softening potentially occurring for up to the 30-60 night mark.
However, you can use the application of pressure to the foam in a warm room to help speed up the rate of softening if required.
If you’re still uncomfortable in your memory foam mattress after 60 nights then you can try using a soft mattress topper or return the mattress under the terms of the sleep trial for a refund or exchange.
If you’ve decided to get rid of your mattress then click the button below to find a suitable replacement by choosing from my list of the best mattresses to buy online now.
Featured image – Belchonock (Getty Images) via Canva; used with permission under the One Design Use License Agreement via Canva Pro.
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
Through in-depth research and analysis, Dan’s goal with this website is to help others avoid such pitfalls by creating the best online resource for helping you find your ideal mattress, bedding, and bedroom furniture.
Dan is a qualified NVQ Level 2 Fitness Instructor with 6 years’ experience helping clients improve their health through diet, exercise, and proper sleep hygiene.
He also holds several university-level qualifications in health sciences, psychology, mathematics, and digital media creation – which helps him to publish well researched and informative product reviews; as well as articles on sleep, health, and wellbeing.
Dan also has direct personal experience with insomnia related to anxiety, misophonia (hypersensitivity to sounds), and pain from both acute and long-standing sporting injuries – he enjoys writing insightful articles around these subjects to help fellow sufferers of such conditions.
Learn more about Dan here.