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April 2021

3 Ways to improve an old uncomfortable mattress

Struggling to get comfortable in bed can be a really frustrating experience. No matter how much you toss and turf you're still left with sleepless nights or aches. Now in an ideal world, you could just change this old bag of springs for a quality mattress stuffed full of comfortable natural fillings and a bespoke spring system for a blissful nights rest. However, if this is not currently an option for you then here's some hints and tricks for increasing the comfort of your old mattress. After all, everyone deserves to sleep a little bit better, don't they?

A mattress with pillows and a throw
A few tweaks can sometimes transform your tired old mattress

1. Softening your mattress with a topper

If you’re finding your mattress too firm or even worse, you can feel the spring unit, then adding a mattress topper can help soften the feel of your bed. Toppers provide a deeper ‘comfort’ layer to a mattress meaning you can help buffer the firmer support unit of a mattress from you by softening the top layers.

Now you can buy a specific mattress topper which gives you an ideal custom made sleep surface. These can contain either synthetic fibres such as polyester or you could go all out for a Natural fibre or Latex mattress topper for the ultimate in sleep comfort. Natural fibres will provide you with breathable fibres to help you sink into a deep sleep or the cheaper synthetic ones are a cheaper non-breathable alternative. But what if you’re on a budget and need a cheaper option to help soften your mattress?

John Ryan Latex Topper For Fusion Range
A mattress topper or duvet can drastically help increase your mattress comfort

The alternative is to use a spare duvet under your bedsheets directly on top of your mattress. This will help provide an additional comfort layer and give more comfort to your mattress. You will need to keep adjusting this type of topper as it moves around but this is a great tip, especially if you’re on holiday and stuck on a firm mattress. Simply use spare blankets or ask for an additional duvet to help improve the sleep surface. If this helps you sleep better you can always move onto a real mattress topper.

2. Firming up your old sagging mattress

What if you’ve got the alternative problem of an old mattress that you sink too far into or feel is too soft? Well, there’s an option for that too! Quite often mattresses are placed onto slatted bases. The issue with this is that over time a cheaper mattress can start to mould itself in between the slats. Especially if the slats are too far apart (more on that here). If you find your mattress sagging then a quick fix can be to add a layer of plywood or MDF underneath the mattress on top of the base. This can help firm up a mattress and prevent it from sagging between the slats. This method can also be used on sprung slats to help give a firmer feel.

Example of MDF complete slatted base boarding
Boarding over a slatted base can help firm up an old mattress

If your mattress is on a sprung edge divan, ie a base that is also sprung, then a layer of plywood on top of the base will also firm up the overall feel of your mattress. You can check if your base is sprung or not by removing your mattress and lying directly on top of the base. If it is spring you’ll feel yourself sink. If it is really firm then it’s a platform top divan

This is a really low-cost way of helping give your mattress more support if you’re struggling during the night.

These slats are far too wide to support a mattress in the long term without causing dips or softening

Making tweaks to your mattress can help rectify common problems
Making tweaks to your mattress can help rectify common problems
If your mattress still is comfortable it maybe time to consider a new one
If your mattress still is comfortable it maybe time to consider a new one

3. Turn the mattress to even out wear

Now, this may surprise you but if you have a two-sided mattress it needs to be turned every month to help even our wear. If you’ve not turned your mattress in forever then turning and rotating it may fix your sleep issues. You’d be surprised how much the other side of the bed can feel like a new mattress.

If you’re stuck with a one-sided mattress such as an Eve, Casper, Made or Tempur models then obviously you can’t do this as you’re limited to only have one side. However, you can still rotate these mattresses meaning the foot of the bed becomes the head. Coupled up with a topper this can really help transform your comfort during the night.

Artisan Sublime Bamboo & Flax Natural Mattress with throw

What if these mattress tweaks don’t work?

If you’ve tried the above and none of them works for you then it may be time to call it quits with your current mattress. There’s only so much tweaking you can do. If you’ve had your mattress for a number of years then sometimes the only alternative is to buy a new one. However, rather than rushing out to find the cheapest deal or latest ‘Mattress in a box’ that are mass-produced, why not speak to one of our friendly experts to see what better alternatives you could get?

Choosing a mattress that’s customised to your needs

If your mattress has come to the end of its life then doing your research to choose your next mattress is essential. If you rush to buy whatever mattress is on offer then you may end up needing to change it again in a few years!

A sleeping couple in bed

The key to finding the most comfortable and suitable mattress is making sure that it is tailored to you by ensuring the following 3 key steps:

1.Pick a spring tension that is customised to your bodyweight

The pocket spring tension is always dictated by your weight and not based on whether you like a softer or firm mattress (see step 2 for this). If you fail to choose the correct support in a mattress then it will never be truly comfortable or right for you. So this first step is essential!

Calico pocket springs
Spring TensionWire diameter (Gauge)Weight Range
Soft1.2mmBespoke Tension (Please Call)
Medium1.4mmUpto 16 stone
Firm1.6mm16 stone plus
Extra Firm / Orthopaedic1.9mm20 stone plus

2.Choose a mattress that has upholstery to suit your comfort preference

This is where you can identify which mattresses meet your preference for a soft, medium, or firm feel. These upholstery layers are often referred to as comfort layers. If you like a firmer feel mattress then choose firmer upholstery like coir or horsehair, likewise, if you like a softer mattress then fibers like wool and alpaca will provide a luxurious soft feel.

Swaledale Wool picture from John Ryan By Design

Upholstery LayerFibre TypeHow it will feel?Price Point
PolyesterSyntheticSoftCheap
White FibreSyntheticSoft/MediumCheap
Recycled Fibre / Eco FibreSyntheticMediumCheap
Memory FoamSyntheticMedium/FirmMid Price
Igel / Hybrid FoamSyntheticMedium/FirmMid Price
PolycottonSynthetic/Natural BlendSoft/MediumMid Price
LinenSynthetic/Natural BlendMediumMid Price
Wool (Pure)NaturalSoft/MediumHigh-End
Cotton (Pure)NaturalSoftHigh-End
SilkNaturalSoftExpensive
HorsehairNaturalMediumHigh-End
MohairNaturalMedium/FirmHigh-End
HempNaturalMediumHigh-End
Latex (100% Natural)NaturalMedium/FirmHigh-End
CoirNaturalFirmHigh-End
FlaxNaturalFirmHigh-End
Coarse CashmereNaturalFirmHigh-End
BambooNaturalSuper SoftExpensive / Exclusive
Horsetail NaturalFirmExpensive / Exclusive
AlpacaNaturalSoftExpensive / Exclusive
Cashmere (Pure)NaturalSoftExpensive / Exclusive
VicunaNaturalSuper SoftExpensive / Exclusive

3.Pay close attention to the mattress detailing & guarantee

This is the most overlooked step when buying a new mattress. By ignoring the mattress details such as the type of side stitching, cover fabric or whether it’s a one or two-sided mattress, you can fall into a trap by choosing a lower quality mattress.

Mattress detailing is the hidden secret of spotting a well-made mattress from a poor mass-produced ‘bed in a box’ that will last only a few years. The same goes for the mattress guarantee. Always check what the terms are, whether it’s a full guarantee or proportional warranty for example. You can read more on mattress guarantees here and how to avoid scams!

A deco bed frame by john ryan

We’d love to speak to you about the options for your budget and how you can avoid one-sided mattresses or having to compromise on your sleep quality. Why not watch our guide as Ryan explains everything you need to know to find the perfect mattress online.

Want tailored mattress advice just for you?

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