How to Make a Mattress Firmer

Written by
Purple Staff
Last Updated
November 30, 2022
min read

It can be tough to get a good night's sleep when your bed isn't providing the support you need. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make your mattress firmer. In this post, we'll share tips on how to make your mattress firmer using both store-bought and DIY solutions. 

Get ready to sleep like royalty and kiss back pain goodbye with these helpful tips. 

Why Firmness Matters

Mattress firmness matters because mattresses that are too firm or too soft will lack the necessary support that certain people need. 

For example a mattress that is too soft for one type of sleeper will cause them to sink too far into the mattress. While a mattress that is too firm for another sleeper will lack the support needed for their shoulders and hips.

The ideal mattress firmness comes down to what type of sleeper you are, your body weight, and what you personally deem comfortable. But mattress softness/firmness is about so much more than just comfort. 

Back sleepers require medium to firm mattresses to support the natural curvature of the spine. Stomach sleepers can benefit greatly from firmer mattresses too, as sinking into a plush mattress could put too much pressure on one’s ribcage and shoulders, causing pain throughout the day. 

Heavier sleepers over 250 lbs do better on medium-firm to firm mattresses, as soft mattresses may not be able to provide enough support for their weight. Plush mattresses that cradle the body may also be too hot for those who experience night sweats.

The bottom line? A mattress’ firmness level has a direct effect on sleepers’ health and well-being even outside of the bedroom. 

How Can You Tell If Your Mattress Is Too Soft?

Before you make any drastic changes in an attempt to make your mattress more comfortable, let’s go over some of the tell-tale signs that your mattress may be too soft for you:

You Wake Up With Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the world. It can be exacerbated by things like a sedentary lifestyle, poor posture, trauma, obesity, and, yes, an unsupportive mattress. 

A mattress that’s too soft can lead your hips and back to sag, causing your spine to become misaligned as you sleep. On the other hand, a mattress that’s too firm won’t be able to relieve pressure from your joints. This is why side sleepers often require a softer mattress that can cradle their shoulders, hips, and neck as they sleep.

You Find Yourself Tossing And Turning At Night

If you find yourself constantly shifting your weight in bed to find a comfortable position, you may need to find a firmer mattress that won’t let you “sink” to an uncomfortable degree.

You Often Complain Of A Stiff Neck, Shoulder Pains, Or Rib Cage Pain

Aside from back pain, a too-soft mattress can also lead to upper-back and shoulder pain. Stomach sleeping puts a lot of strain on one’s neck, especially for those who use a thick pillow, and sinking into a plush mattress doesn’t help.

You Have A Hard Time Getting Out Of Bed

We all have mornings where the bed is so comfortable, we don’t want to get up, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We mean this in the literal sense – if you struggle to sit up and physically pull yourself out of bed, you may want to look into a mattress with a bit more firmness to it. 

You Feel Tired And Groggy Throughout The Day

With all the tossing, turning, and body pain you experience throughout the night, there’s no surprise that using a mattress that’s too soft can lead to sleep deprivation and fatigue the next day. 

Daytime sleepiness and fatigue can also be symptoms of an underlying medical condition such as sleep apnea, depression, narcolepsy, anemia, and even allergies. For the latter, you can try deodorizing your mattress to get rid of potential allergens and irritants. 

If cleaning or changing your mattress to a firmer one doesn’t improve the quality of your sleep, consult your doctor. 

How To Make Your Mattress Firmer

Believe it or not, there are simple ways to make a mattress firmer without buying a new one. Below, we highlight five solutions you can undertake before kicking your old mattress to the curb:

1. Keep Your Bedroom Cool

Some materials, like memory foam, are sensitive to changes in temperature. These types of mattresses easily absorb heat – they can get softer in warm climates and firmer as the temperature drops. 

Try adjusting your room’s thermostat or keeping a fan on on warm days to see if it helps you sleep better. 

2. Flip Or Rotate Your Mattress

Depending on the type of mattress you’re using, you may be able to flip or rotate your mattress to make it firmer. 

Flipping a mattress involves turning it over on its side, so that you sleep on the underside. Generally, innerspring and polyfoam mattresses can be flipped, but make sure to check with your manufacturer before doing so. Some mattresses, like hybrid, memory foam, pillow-top, and latex mattresses are one-sided, meaning they only have one sleepable surface – these mattresses should never be flipped.

Rotating a mattress involves turning it 180 degrees, changing where your head and feet are positioned on the mattress. You can typically rotate most modern mattresses made of innerspring, memory foam, and latex. In fact, most manufacturers encourage users to rotate their mattresses every three to six months to prevent overuse, sagging, and lumps.

3. Change Your Bed Base Or Box Spring

Box springs are bed bases composed of coiled springs in a cloth-covered wooden or metal frame. These are typically used to provide additional support and shock absorption for innerspring mattresses while also improving airflow and lengthening the lifespan of the mattress. 

The downside to box springs is that the coils eventually lose their springiness over time. If you find that your bed no longer exhibits the same resistance to pressure as it once had, consider replacing your box spring before tossing out your old mattress. 

If you’re using a panel bed frame, make sure to check the integrity of the wooden slats that prop your mattress up. These slats can crack and break over time, causing your mattress to sag.

4. Get A Mattress Topper

A mattress topper is an additional layer of foam you can place on top of your mattress for added support or comfort. Mattress toppers are usually around two to four inches thick and can be made of polyfoam, gel-infused memory foam, wool, down feathers, or latex. They are used to make beds feel cooler, warmer, softer, and, yes, firmer, depending on your needs.

5. Place Plywood Boards Underneath Your Mattress

One low-cost DIY hack that some people use to make their beds firmer involves adding plywood boards between the mattress and bed frame/box spring. This creates an additional base layer that provides the firmness and support your mattress may be lacking. 

However, when considering this option, make sure to check in with your manufacturer first. Some mattresses may not be compatible with this solution, especially if they’re made of materials that are prone to mold and mildew growth. Adding plywood boards under your mattress also inhibits air circulation, meaning that your bed will trap body heat and cause you to sweat more easily on warm nights. 

Get A Good Night’s Rest With A Firmer Mattress

A good night’s sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing, and a comfortable mattress is key to getting that restful slumber. If you’re finding that your current mattress isn’t as firm or comfortable as you’d like and none of these solutions are helping, look at options for buying a new mattress.

Purple offers a more firm mattress option. The Purple mattresses feature GelFlex Grid and responsive support coils. The Gel Flex Grid supports your body while cradling your pressure points.