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How to use a Mattress Topper to Soften a Bed with Tips and Tricks

The importance of good quality sleep cannot be overstated. Highly stressful jobs demand the best performance from individuals, which means rejuvenating sleep is essential for everyone. Healthy sleep encourages good overall health, as is explained in this article from American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine titled “The Importance of Healthy Sleep. Recommendations and Future Priorities.” An especially important factor to consider is the softness or firmness that a person requires from their mattress to get optimum comfort and restful sleep. This article will cover how to use a mattress topper to soften a bed.

To use a mattress topper to soften a bed, choose a plush topper that is 4 inches thick or more and a density of at least 2-4 pounds per square foot, place the mattress topper directly on top of the mattress, and utilize a non-slip mat to prevent the mattress topper from sliding.

Mattress toppers enhance a mattress by adding another layer to the bed and offering additional support during sleep. The material used during manufacturing will influence the softness of the mattress topper. Read our “mattress topper hack” article to learn more about the different mattress topper compositions. Another important factor to consider when buying a mattress topper is the thickness needed. Mattress toppers come in thicknesses that range from 2-inches up to over 5-inches—and a general rule of thumb is, the thicker a mattress topper the greater the degree of difference felt when compared to the original mattress on which the topper is placed. 

When it comes to density, for slight adjustments to the surface support, 2 pounds of density will be enough, but for significant  improvement in comfort and more noticeable difference in support, a density of 4 pounds is recommended. Generally a higher density mattress will provide a sturdier sleeping surface. This high density mattress topper from Amazon is ventilated, and is a good option for people who require more support while sleeping. 

It’s also important to understand what’s the weight of a mattress topper. Make sure to check out this article too before making any purchases.

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What is a Mattress Topper? How can it Change the Firmness of a Mattress?

Use a mattress topper to soften a bed or mattressMattress toppers like this Zinus 2 inch Swirl Gel Memory Foam Convoluted Topper can soften a bed with both new or old mattresses. (Image source: Amazon)

A mattress topper alters and improves the comfort level of an ordinary mattress, at a price that is vastly less than the cost of a new mattress. So when budget constraints don’t allow the purchase of a brand new mattress, consumers can still get that “new mattress feel” for a fraction of the price. 

A mattress topper is a bedding item that rests on top of a mattress and makes the bed either softer, firmer, warmer or cooler. It can be manufactured from a wide variety of materials such as memory foam, latex, wool, and down. To make a mattress softer, choose a thick, low density, mattress topper made of memory foam, down, or wool.

A mattress topper can’t change the physical characteristics of the mattress or any damage it has, but it can improve the support of a slightly worn or older mattress. Use a mattress topper to soften a mattress, but note that it isn’t a permanent solution for a mattress that is way past its prime. Mattress toppers are often made with hypoallergenic substances, as well as the ingenious gel foam technology that helps with body temperature regulation during sleep. Read our article about: gel vs. memory foam mattress toppers  to learn about different mattress topper materials and their benefits. Additionally, if you feel like you’re already too warm when you sleep, make sure to read our article about how to fix a mattress topper that’s too warm for additional suggetions.

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Will a Mattress Soften Naturally? 

Over time a mattress will tend to soften because of constant use and natural degeneration. This is most obvious when a new mattress starts to feel less firm over the months that follow its purchase—and is termed “breaking-in” similar to wearing in a new pair of shoes. A mattress pad can provide the firmness of a new mattress when the mattress is significantly softer than it used to be, and the person wants to recreate the firmness of a newer mattress.

A mattress will naturally soften over time. A higher density material could take a little longer to soften, but generally the mattress will take from 30 to 90 days to begin to soften. Other factors that will affect the natural softening of a mattress are the weight of the people that sleep on it, their average sleep time, the type of mattress foundation that the mattress sits on, as well as the materials used in manufacturing the mattress. 

An age-old myth concerning mattress firmness was that it was commonly believed that firm mattresses were better for sleeping. But this article from The Lancet Journal titled, “Effect of firmness of mattress on chronic non-specific low-back pain” states that patients had less pain when they slept on less firm mattresses. Allowing sufficient time for a mattress to soften will help create a cozy bed. For those who want to speed up the softening process there are a few tips and techniques to accelerate the transition from firm to soft. Some tips to make memory foam expand and soften are presented in this article.

The most important thing to bear in mind before attempting to force the mattress to soften quicker is what materials the mattress is made of, and any special care that must be followed to avoid voiding the manufacturer warranty. Read our articles about “Smart grid vs. memory foam” where we take a look at the two mattress compositions and characteristics to better understand what’s in a foam mattress.  

How Long Does it Take to Break In a Mattress?

It can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days to break in a mattress depending on the mattress’ composition. Other factors that influence the softening of a mattress include the body weight of the user, the surface that the mattress sits on, as well as the duration of continuous sleep on the mattress. 

It usually takes at least one month to start to break in a new mattress because the mattress surface starts to conform to the body contours during that time and the materials inside the mattress begin to soften. 

During that time, the body also adapts to the mattress, and a person becomes more accustomed to the new mattress. Personal preferences play an immense role in determining the optimum comfort level based on the firmness or softness of a mattress. If your memory foam mattress topper or mattress is not expanding, read our tips to fix it. 

After the initial rapid softening when both the mattress and the body swiftly adapt to each other, the conditioning period slows down considerably, and from that moment on, a long and sustained period of ageing and steady wearing down of the mattress occurs. The gradual weathering of a mattress will cause the mattress to conform to the sleeper’s weight and sleep positions so that the mattress is perfectly adapted to provide the desired support and comfort required. In some instances, the mattress can benefit from artificial softening methods. We will look at those techniques a little later. 

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How to Use a Mattress Topper to Soften a Latex Mattress 

A latex mattress can be made of several types of latex—natural latex, artificial latex or a combination of the two. Due to its composition and construction, natural latex is the most expensive, but it provides the most comfort and support and it is the most desirable material. Most mattress manufacturers offer a sleep trial for customers to test the mattresses comfort levels. If this option is available we suggest testing the mattress out. 

Natural latex mattresses will naturally soften over time. To make a latex mattress softer, add a mattress topper made of natural materials such as wool, down, or natural latex. Do not layer a memory foam or artificial mattress topper on top of the latex mattress because these materials wont allow the natural latex to breathe. 

Thickness, materials and density depend solely on individual needs and preferences. Because natural latex provides exceptional resilience and comfort, virtually any topper will compliment the mattress and provide that added luxury that will facilitate a good night’s sleep. We like this Novilla 12 inch gel memory foam mattress from Amazon because it facilitates cool sleep and is highly breathable. 

If the mattress is made of artificial latex—which can retain heat and cause a sweaty feeling, make sure sure to use a mattress topper that is made of more natural materials like down or cotton, so as not to lock-in the heat and moisture. A gel-infused mattress topper will also offer the cooling effect of gel whilst providing optimum support. 

When installing a mattress topper on a natural latex mattress, there is no need to choose a thick mattress topper, a thickness of 2 inches with a density of 60 kg/cu. m. is sufficient. 

Here are two mattress toppers from Amazon that pair well with a natural latex mattress

Product Name Material Density Thickness Price
Pure Green 100% Natural Latex Mattress Topper Natural Latex 44 ILD 5.9“ ~ $109.99
ViscoSoft 4 Inch Pillow Top Memory Foam Mattress Topper Gel Latex 24-35 ILD 4“ ~ $199.95

If you spend a lot of time traveling, you may also be interested in our 10 tips and tricks to make a hotel bed softer.

How to Soften a Tempurpedic Mattress That’s Too Firm 

A tempurpedic mattress can last for at least five years with good maintenance and care. Due to Tempurpedic’s specialized foam technology this mattress is extremely durable. Because of its high density foam and viscosity, the Tempurpedic mattress softens during use as the warmth of the body makes the mattress more supple and conforms to the body contours. For a more rapid softening we suggest adding a mattress topper. 

A Tempurpedic mattress will soften when you sleep on it due to body heat. Adjusting the room temperature can also make a Tempurpedic mattress softer. To use a mattress topper to soften a tempurpedic mattress, choose a mattress topper made of low density memory foam and layer it on top of the Tempurpedic mattress.

The thickness of the mattress topper can range from 2 to 8 inches depending on the bodyweight of the user—and the density of 4-5 pounds per cubic foot is more than enough to make the mattress softer. Read our article: “How long do Tempurpedic pillows and mattresses last” to discover why Tempurpedic is such a popular mattress brand.   

Here are two examples of mattress toppers to make a tempurpedic mattress softer from  Amazon

Product Name Material Density Thickness Price
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR Supreme 3-Inch Mattress Topper Memory Foam 32 ILD 3“ ~ $239.40
EDILLY 3 Inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper Polyester, Rayon 40 ILD 3“ ~ $179.99

How to Soften a Nectar Mattress with a Mattress Topper

This mattress has a deep viscous memory foam feel, and a design that encourages motion isolation for those who share a bed with a restless sleeper. The mattress takes about 3-5 days to full expand after unpacking. 

To soften a nectar mattress with a mattress topper, choose a gel foam or memory foam mattress topper with a thickness of 4-6 inches, and a density of 4-5 pounds per cubic foot.

Here are two examples from Amazon

Product Name Material Density Thickness Price
Best Price Mattress 4 Inch Trifold Memory Foam Mattress Topper Gel Foam 38 ILD 4“ ~ $134.81
Zinus 4 Inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper Memory Foam 32 ILD 4“ ~ $120.99

5 Other Tips to Fix a Hard Mattress

Use a gel foam mattress topper to cool a bed and soften itClassic Brands 3 inch Cool Cloud Gel Memory Mattress topper. Gel toppers like this one pair well with most mattresses since they promote ventilation (Image source: Amazon)

For those who want to speed up the softening of a mattress we have some suggestions below of effective ways to do this. Caution must be exercised to not cause any damage to the mattress when forcing it to soften quicker, as this could void the warranty. 

To soften a mattress add a mattress topper that is softer than the mattress, rotate the mattress, plywood beneath the mattress, adjust the room temperature, and sleep on the mattress to wear it in. 

Tip 1. Buy a Mattress Topper

We’ve already discussed this in the rest of the article. Our favorite method to improve the comfort and softness of the bed, and achieve better sleep, is to add a mattress topper on top of the mattress. This will make a quick and noticeable difference in the mattress’ pliancy. A mattress topper is a convenient way to alter the feel of a mattress, and it will feel like the surface is moulding to the shape of the body. Read our article about how to use a mattress topper, clean it, and replace it properly titled for more information about getting the most out of a mattress topper. 

You may also find some interest in our article on how to choose a mattress topper for a lumpy mattress. So make sure to check out that article too. 

Tip 2. Rotate the Mattress

Rotating the mattress according to manufacturer instructions will soften the mattress. In this way, the pressure on the mattress will be redistributed in order to avoid damage from the same position and pressure during sleep. 

Sunken or compressed parts of the mattress will have the time and chance to develop and soften, when the mattress is rotated. It is a good idea to rotate a mattress at least twice a year to prolong its lifespan and lessen the wear and tear. 

Note: Even mattress toppers need to be rotated from time to time – especially mattress toppers for hospital beds.

Tip 3. Place Plywood Below the Mattress

Placing plywood under the mattress assists in the balance and alignment of a mattress and mattress topper. The plywood must be the same size as the mattress in order to evenly distribute the weight of the mattress across the surface and avoid a sagging mattress.

The levelling of the mattress, and even distribution of pressure across the surface will help to avoid further deterioration and excessive stress on the mattress.

Tip 4. Adjust the temperature

Always make sure that the temperature in the room is balanced and consistent. The ideal temperature for a bedroom is a degree cooler than the outside temperature (assuming it’s not freezing outside!). This study by The International Conference on Digital Human Modeling and Applications in Health, Safety, Ergonomics and Risk Management titled, “Bedroom Temperature and Sleeping Quality”  confirms that most people sleep better at cooler temperatures. 

When softening a mattress topper the room should be warmer so that the mattress warms up and becomes more supple and malleable, which will increase its softness. If you don’t want to raise the temperature in your room because you’re already sweating when you sleep, you may find usefulness in our article on how to fix a mattress topper that’s too warm

Tip 5. Wear-In the Mattress

Sleeping on the mattress will cause it to soften quicker. Repeatedly sleeping on the mattress causes it to continuously mould according to the body’s shape, and then return to its original state during the day. This can be likened to consistently working a piece of clay which makes it more pliable and elastic. 

During sleep the mattress is adjusting to the weight and contours of the body, and then it springs back into its original shape when not in use. This moderate process is the most effective in softening the mattress because it occurs regularly. 

In a Nutshell 

A brand new mattress is wonderful, but many people want to enjoy comfortable and restful sleep straight away, without waiting several months for the mattress to naturally soften. The use of a mattress topper is the fastest way to soften a slightly too firm mattress and enjoy luxurious sleep from the first night. For more information about mattress toppers, read our article about using a mattress topper on a memory foam mattress.