How to Adjust to a New Mattress

Countless items we use daily require us to take them through a breaking-it-in process. A mattress is no different.

A family of three sits on a brand new, uncovered mattress. The mother cradles a stuffed animal while looking lovingly at the father, who is lying on his back and holding their daughter up in the air. Use these tips when you're wondering how long it takes to break in a mattress.
Di Lauren Photo

That new pair of running shoes that caused a blister after the first neighborhood jog took a few wears to get used to. Those new jeans that came out of the first wash way too stiff also took a little time to fit like a glove. It’s the same with new mattresses too — it may take a few nights to get the sleep you dream off. A little patience and practical use should help your new mattress get to 100%.

As a general rule, the breaking-in phase of new mattresses can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days, and how seamless that transition feels may depend on what your previous mattress was like.

If you’ve been sleeping on a sagging, lumpy, or unsupportive mattress, it may take your body some time to realize it doesn’t have to tense up anymore. If that’s the case, you might want to practice progressive muscle relaxation in bed as a physical reminder. New technology or materials could take time to get used too as well.

It’s also very possible to feel comfortable and well-rested after the first night as well, instead of three months. But if your new mattress isn’t living up to your expectations right out of the package, there are many reasons to practice some patience before forming a permanent opinion — or looking into a return.

Here are some of the variables that can impact how you adjust to your new mattress, plus tips for being confident about your mattress purchase.

Before vs. after: Why breaking in a new mattress is normal

What felt like the most comfortable mattress in the store could feel different after you get it set up at home, especially if it came in a box. After all, store mattresses have had all the time to unfold, settle into a frame, and breathe.

“Sleeping on a new mattress can lead to more achiness and tightness in the morning as it can be a bit on the stiffer side,” says Alex Tauberg, a sports chiropractor and certified primary spine practitioner from Pittsburgh.

Likewise, the materials in your new mattress will impact the break-in time, too. For example, if you’re used to an innerspring mattress and switched to a memory foam mattress, you’ll need time for the foam to adjust to your body. Hybrid and latex mattresses may also be more comfortable right away.

And remember, the support of your mattress isn’t about how firm it is. Supportive layers actually hold up your cushion of choice (firm, medium-firm, medium, plush, etc.) — meaning if you decide a mattress is too firm for you, you aren’t compromising on sleep support by deciding to opt for a cushier top. Rather, you’re giving yourself a bit of softness atop the same support layers. Some Sleep Experts™ liken a firm mattress to lying on a floor. Adding comforters or even pillows beneath you will give you a sense of what it feels like to add comfort layers to that support.

Put your mattress to the 60-minute test

Take advantage of your new mattress and let it be the reason you spend more time relaxing.

“Your mattress should ideally allow for your body to relax fully and not put stress on the anatomical structures of your body,” Tauberg says. “When laying on a bed, you should feel comfortable and be able to stay comfortable in any one position for at least 60 minutes.”

Knowing this, you’ll want to shop at places that have a generous return policy, just in case. Thankfully, most mattresses come with a multi-month at-home sleep trial since lying on multiple mattresses for 60 minutes in a store isn’t the most common method people have time for. And while you’re in the store, don’t hesitate to seek the help of an associate. Mattress Firm’s Sleep Experts™ participate in hundreds of hours of training and have special tools, such as the Mattress Matcher, to help customers find the perfect sleep setup for their needs.

5 tips for breaking in a new mattress

Like a good pair of shoes, your new mattress will break itself in over time, offering better comfort and familiarity.

1. Make sure you have a good foundation
If you’re switching out your mattress because of age, it may be a good time to look at your foundation, too. Without a proper bedframe, your new mattress may not get enough support, which means that your body won’t, either. Over time this could affect how you adjust to your new gear and may even speed up the wear and tear of your mattress — and your body.

“When the mattress starts losing support, it becomes harder to stay comfortable for long periods of time as the body is having to rely on muscles and joints to properly provide support,” Tauberg says. “When this starts to happen, waking up with pain or stiffness is common.”

If you’re upgrading to an adjustable base, know that it can take time to adjust, particularly if you’ve decided to try sleeping with your legs or torso slightly elevated.

2. Let it air out
Your new mattress could perform best if you let it breathe. Hold off on putting sheets on it for a few hours so it can get some extra airflow. If it’s a bed-in-a-box, it’ll need some time to regain its original shape.

Pro-tip: If you have a memory foam or hybrid mattress, heat can help soften the material so it hugs your body the way you want it to. Be wary of turning the thermostat too high though — that could make falling asleep harder.

3. Roll around on it
If you feel your new mattress is too firm or feels stiff, it could benefit from some extra weight. Feel free to roll around or simply spend more time on it while reading or binging a show to soften and more time for your body to adjust to the new support. For extra help, try walking on it to concentrate your weight.

You may even want to rotate the mattress quarterly, or even monthly, so there is even weight distribution and no surprise when you do rotate your mattress later. Those with a king can rotate with quarter turns to keep the mattress balanced.

4. Stay consistent
You slept on your new mattress the first night and didn’t love it? It’s easy to blame the mattress, but try sleeping on it with consistent sleep hygiene to isolate causes of sleep issues. With more time, it’ll become obvious if the bad sleep is caused by the new bed or perhaps from another sleep disruption.

When we find ourselves in a new sleep environment, our brains stay more alert for new dangers. This is true whether you’re in a new place or on a new bed, so be sure to give yourself enough time for your brain to come off alert status.

5. Buy a mattress that comes with an at-home sleep trial
Mattresses that offer an at-home sleep trial give you the peace of mind to really find out if a mattress is the best choice for you. Look to buy a new bed that offers a generous return and exchange policy so you can rest easy that you’ll find the best mattress for you. When purchasing a bed through Mattress Firm, you'll have the benefit of a 120-night sleep trial to be sure you love your new mattress.

Other tips for better sleep at night

It comes as no surprise that how comfortable you feel on your mattress plays a huge role in the quality of sleep you’re getting each night. No one wants to be getting Junk Sleep. But you don’t want to blame all your tossing and turning on your mattress either, especially when you’re just getting to know it.

Like any relationship, as you figure out whether you and the mattress are meant to be, it’s important to pay attention to other elements that support your sleep. It can be easy to blame your mattress, but it’s worth making sure your bedroom is cool (ideally around 65 degrees), dark, and quiet, and you’re practicing the best sleep hygiene to minimize nightly troubles.