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Understanding the Break-In Period for Mattresses and Your Body

January 22, 2024 2 min read

Person sleeping restlessly on a new mattress, depicting discomfort and unease during the adjustment phase to a new sleeping surface.

As you embark on the journey of purchasing a new mattress, you may encounter the term "break-in period," a concept that is not always clearly explained by salespeople. This article delves into the intricacies of the mattress break-in period, shedding light on both the physical attributes of the mattress and the physiological adjustments your body undergoes.

The Mattress Break-In Period: Unveiling the "False Firmness"

Initially, mattresses, especially those made with polyfoam or memory foam, exhibit a characteristic stiffness. This phenomenon, aptly termed "false firmness" by Phoenix on the Mattress Underground, is a temporary state. During the first few weeks, the foam layers gradually relax, transitioning from their initial firmness to their true, softer feel.

However, the break-in process isn't limited to the foam layers. The mattress's fabric and stitching also play a crucial role. Over several weeks, these materials too will relax, contributing to an overall softer feel. This combined effect generally leads to a noticeable change within a 30-day period.

The Complexity of Mattress Softening

It's important to note that mattress softening isn't always straightforward. For instance, mattresses with exceptionally firm support systems like some hybrid beds may paradoxically feel harder after the initial softening. This occurs as the upper layers yield more quickly, bringing you into closer contact with the firmer support system beneath.

The industry also debates the break-in period of coil systems. In my experience, most coil systems exhibit a very slight relaxation after a few months of use, contributing subtly to the mattress's overall softening.

Person sleeping peacefully on a new mattress, showcasing the comfort and serene environment of the bedroom.

Your Personal Break-In Period: Adjusting to New Alignments

Just as your mattress undergoes a physical transition, your body experiences its own adjustment period. This phase, where your body sheds its "learned alignment" (a term also believed to be created by Phoenix on the Mattress Underground), involves the adaptation of your back and spine muscles to the new sleeping surface. This learned alignment refers to the resting muscle tone that your muscles have grown accustomed to on your previous mattress.

As your muscles gradually adapt, you will begin to experience deeper, more restful sleep. While there's no known method to expedite this process significantly, engaging in activities like heavy exercise or yoga can facilitate muscle relaxation. Alternatively, choosing a new mattress with characteristics similar to your old one can ease the transition.

Embracing the Break-In Journey

Understanding the break-in period for both your mattress and your body is crucial for a satisfactory mattress buying experience. Patience is key as both you and your new mattress adjust to each other. Remember, this period is a temporary phase leading to long-term comfort and better sleep quality.