Photo by Sarah Diniz Outeiro

We all know the feeling of sinking into bed after a long day… but if you’re sinking too far, you might be doing more harm than good. While there’s nothing wrong with preferring a softer sleep surface, everyone needs a certain amount of support to promote healthy spinal alignment.

Beyond just preference, choosing the right firmness level comes down to your unique sleep needs, body type and sleep position. From lower back pain to muscle and joint stiffness, these are some of the signs that your mattress is too soft.

 

Sign #1: You wake up with a stiff and sore lower back.

The most common symptom of a bed that’s too soft is a stiff and sore lower back. This usually happens first thing in the morning, after you’ve been in bed for a prolonged period of time. While there are plenty of causes for a sore lower back, persistent morning aches and pains are usually a good indicator that your bed is the problem.

 

Sign #2: You have a hard time getting comfortable.

Tossing and turning every once in a while is common—stress, anxiety and even poor health can be contributing causes to insomnia. That said, your mattress plays an important role in how long it takes to get comfortable at night. If you find yourself constantly readjusting it could be a sign your muscles aren’t able to fully relax…a key sign your mattress is too soft.  

 

Sign #3: You sleep on your stomach, and often wake with neck or shoulder pain.

Stomach sleepers need to be especially careful with the firmness of their mattress. That’s because sleeping on your stomach already puts extra strain on your neck, jaw and upper back due to the unnatural twisting required in that position.

If you sleep on your stomach and are certain you have the right type of pillow for your sleep position—but continue to experience neck and shoulder pain—that could be a sign your hips are sinking too far into the mattress.

 

Sign #4: You struggle to get in and out of bed.

When you get in and out of your bed, how difficult is it to do so? If you find that you feel “stuck” in your bed and have a hard time pulling yourself up and off the mattress, this could be a sign your bed is too soft. While certain highly conformable materials like memory foam can contribute to the issue feeling “stuck” in a hybrid mattress, or one that features latex or latex-alternative foam, is a good indicator that firmness is lacking.

 

Sign #5: You feel like you’re “bottoming out” when you hop into bed.

Quality mattresses are designed with three layers or more—usually consisting of a top comfort layer, a middle transitional layer and a bottom support layer. The comfort and transitional layers are designed to provide contouring comfort for the curves of your body. However, if you feel as though you sink all the way down to bottom support layers your mattress is definitely too soft or worn.

 

What to do about it:

 

Replace your old bed.

There’s a big difference between a sleep surface that’s too soft and a mattress that’s simply too old. Mattresses tend to get softer over time so a bed that’s older than 7 or 8 years is probably due for replacement.

Rotate your mattress.

Most modern mattresses are not flippable, but almost all beds require regular rotation to maintain their shape over time. This helps distribute weight more consistently across the sleep surface, and helps your bed last longer. If you haven’t rotated your mattress before, and you’ve had it for more than a year, try rotating your bed 180° to see if this resolves the issue.

Check your foundation.

A quality foundation offers critical center support for your mattress—it’s important to ensure you have the right base, meaning either a box foundation, a flexible platform, a metal “grid” base, an adjustable power base or a frame with slats no more than 8 inches apart. Importantly, your mattress warranty could be impacted by whether or not you have used proper center and frame support.

Upgrade your mattress.

If you’re convinced that your mattress is too soft—and it’s not due to age—then it might be time to reconsider the type of bed that’s right for you. Many people notice that their sleep preferences change over time, and they require more consistent lumbar support as they get older.

 

When you shop for your replacement mattress, make sure you consider all of your unique sleep needs and preferences— and be sure to check out options for a free trial. Mattress manufacturers and retailers like Brooklyn Bedding offer a free 120-night trial to guarantee both comfort and support. Not sure where to start? You can take a quick sleep quiz to see if you need an extra firm mattress.

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