How To Make a Mattress More Comfortable

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You deserve a comfortable bed. A good night’s sleep on a comfortable bed is the ultimate form of self-care. If your mattress isn’t giving you that sleeping-on-clouds sensation, you can take it up a notch for the best sleep possible. After all, if you’re going to spend eight hours asleep in your bed each evening, it should be on the most comfortable mattress.

Evaluating Your Current Mattress

Comfort isn’t just a matter of opinion. Sure, you may prefer a different sleeping firmness or temperature than your partner, but some factors are objectively uncomfortable in a mattress, no matter your sleeping preferences. Give your bed a once over, and take note if any of the following rings true.

A hand presses into the Coop Home Goods Retreat Mattress Topper.
We test the quality of every mattress we review in our dedicated studio

Mattress Sagging

Mattresses sag over time and with use, especially those made with polyurethane or memory foam, the most common mattress foams. Friction and moisture are the biggest culprits behind mattress sagging: as you toss, turn and sweat at night, the friction and moisture break down the foam over time. You can fix a sagging mattress before it’s too late by rotating it regularly, but if the sagging has progressed too far, it could be time for other comfort measures.

Old or Dirty Mattress

If you’re still sleeping on your childhood bed or the first mattress you bought as a couple, there’s a chance its comfort level has decreased over time. Mattresses have an expiration date; the average mattress lifespan is seven to 10 years. Regularly cleaning your mattress can help its longevity, but if your mattress is past its prime, it could be time to replace or adjust it for more comfort.

Smelly Mattress

There’s a big difference between new mattress smell and a smelly mattress. Like “new car smell,” new mattress smell comes from bed-in-a-box mattresses, which release VOCs (volatile organic compounds), or chemicals found in numerous household products, when they off-gas after decompressing. You can help accelerate the off-gassing process and eliminate new mattress smell.

A smelly mattress, on the other hand, could be the result of age, dirt, sweat, spills and stains, moisture or mildew. New mattress smells fade with time, but smelly mattresses just get stinkier. If your bed continues to stink despite efforts to clean it, it may be time to replace it. 

BH Cedar Mattress Review Unbox
A new mattress tends to have a “new mattress smell”

How to Make a Mattress More Comfortable

You can adjust your current mattress to vastly improve its comfort level. From adjusting its firmness and support to enhancing breathability, these tactics can help optimize your sleeping surface so you can rest easy. 

Adjust Mattress Firmness

Mattress firmness is usually a personal comfort preference. Your body size, age, or sleeping style can all factor into your desire for a firm vs. soft mattress. Your preferred firmness can even shift over time due to bodily changes such as injury, pregnancy, aging, weight gain or weight loss. 

Adding a mattress topper to your existing bed is the easiest way to adjust its firmness. A pillow-top mattress topper can help soften up an overly firm mattress, or you can firm up a sagging, soft bed with a firm mattress topper

Add Pressure Relieving Support

If you aren’t sleeping on the best mattress for your body type, you could be experiencing back pain, joint pain and other unpleasant physical symptoms. Focusing on pressure-relieving comfort measures can help ease those aches and pains. 

  • Add a memory foam mattress topper to cushion joints.
  • Invest in an adjustable bed frame to help redistribute body weight.
  • Ensure you have the right pillow height for your body size and sleeping style to avoid neck pain.
  • Utilize body pillows to cushion and protect problem areas.

Enhance Breathability

It can be hard to get comfortable when you’re tossing and turning in sweat-soaked sheets each night. Night sweats can happen to anyone, whether due to soaring summer temperatures, medications or menopause. One of the easiest ways to stay comfortable and cool at night while sleeping is to overhaul your bedding.

  • Choose cooling sheets made from breathable natural materials such as cotton, wool, bamboo or linen.
  • Replace your memory foam mattress, which can trap body heat, with a cooling mattress made from breathable natural materials or that utilizes cooling technology.
  • If you need more time to replace your entire mattress, consider adding a cooling topper made from natural latex and breathable materials to your bed.
  • Make sure your pillow is breathable and not causing you to overheat. Synthetic materials and memory foam pillows can trap heat, while specially constructed cooling pillows are designed to release it.
A man sleeps on his side using the Sweave Eucalyptus sheets.
Cooling sheets can make a world of difference in enhancing your sleep experience

Flip or Rotate Your Mattress

One of the easiest ways to help your bed stay cozy and comfy is to ensure you’re flipping or rotating your mattress regularly. Most mattresses today simply need a rotation to prevent sagging and uneven wear. Rotate your mattress once a quarter to maintain it.

Upgrade Your Bedding

Even the best mattress could feel uncomfortable if your bedding is subpar. You deserve to wrap yourself in sheets, blankets and comforters that feel luxurious, soft, and smooth to the touch. If your bedding is made from uncomfortable synthetic fibers or feels scratchy and thin, it’s time to upgrade. The best comforters and most comfortable sheets can significantly affect your bed’s comfort levels. 

Consider upgrading blankets to suit your unique needs, like weighted blankets to ease stress and calm your nervous system or heated blankets to keep you warm on a cool night.

Replace Your Pillows

Your pillow can be the difference between a painful night’s sleep and a restful one. Most of us fill our beds with oversized, puffy pillows designed to look good when the bed is made, but those oversized pillows don’t take into account your unique sleeping needs. Your body size and sleeping style should determine your pillow’s height. Your spine and neck should remain straight when lying down on your back, side or stomach. If your pillow is making your spine curve up or down significantly, it’s a recipe for neck pain and restless nights. 

The best pillow for a side sleeper is different from the best for someone who sleeps on their stomach, so keep sleep style in mind when replacing your pillow.


Why are hotel mattresses so comfortable?

Hotels know that comfort is key to pleasing customers, so they invest in high-quality mattresses, mattress toppers and bedding. The best hotel mattresses are usually memory foam or foam-and-innerspring hybrids, topped with a luxurious pillow-top topper and high-quality sheets.

Are firm mattresses comfortable?

Firm mattresses are usually most comfortable for people with back pain, larger (or taller) body sizes and stomach sleepers. Firm mattresses are also recommended for younger children.

Are soft mattresses comfortable?

Soft mattresses are usually more comfortable for people with joint pain, smaller body sizes and side sleepers. As children get older, they may prefer the added comfort of a softer mattress.

Are cheap mattresses comfortable?

You don’t have to sacrifice comfort when looking for an affordable mattress. The best cheap mattresses can still provide comfort on a budget; be sure to select the best firmness for your body type and sleeping style.

How can I make an air mattress more comfortable?

Even though an air mattress is usually a short-term temporary sleeping situation, you can still make an air mattress more comfortable by ensuring it’s properly inflated and placed on a soft surface. Adding a mattress topper can turn the worst air mattress into a comfortable bed and the best air mattress into a luxurious sleeping surface you won’t want to deflate.

What common mistakes make a mattress uncomfortable?

The biggest mistakes that make your mattress uncomfortable include:

  • Not choosing the right firmness for your sleeping style or body type
  • Failing to rotate, clean or maintain your mattress
  • Not paying attention to the quality of your bedding
  • Failing to replace your mattress when needed
How often should I replace my mattress?

The average lifespan of a mattress is seven to 10 years. However, you may be able to postpone when to buy a new mattress by investing in a natural latex mattress; the natural foam material can last longer than synthetic memory foam or polyfoam materials.

Melissa Zimmerman

Melissa Zimmerman is a writer with a passion for sleep and wellness. When she's not researching and writing about health and wellness, you can find her reading books and spending time with her son and dogs in her Northern California home. Connect with Melissa at