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How To Speed Up Memory Foam Expansion – Ditch The 24-Hour Rule


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You just bought your first memory foam mattress! You couldn’t wait to get it home, you sleep on it, and you conclude it’s just too firm – hard as a brick…

Memory foam is well-known for its ability to mold to your body shape and give it proper support. It’s also known for being a little firm. It’s absolutely normal for your memory foam to be firm upon arrival, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Memory foam can soften up to provide a most comfortable sleep. We’ll look at the seven things you can do to expand your memory foam. And that rule about not sleeping on it for at least 24 hours? We’ll talk about why it may be a good idea to ditch that rule completely.

Seven Things Your Can Do To Speed Up Your Memory Foam Expansion

A memory foam mattress or pillow will need to be broken in before it feels completely comfortable – just like buying a new pair of shoes. So be a little patient with it, just like introducing anything new into your life, an adjustment period is needed.

Whatever the going time for mattresses or pillows to expand is, expect the memory foam to take a little longer. Here are some recommended steps for expanding your memory foam item.

1. Remove The Mattress or Pillow From The Package

Your memory foam mattress or pillow has been folded, machine-rolled and compressed into a smaller package by the time you get it. The first thing you will need is to remove it from its packaging by taking off the plastic wrap.

So that you don’t damage the item, it’s not recommended to use scissors, knives, or other sharp objects to unwrap. So gently remove the plastic.

You’ll also need to unroll and unfold it on a plain surface, preferably in a spare room if it’s a mattress. This will also give your memory foam item time to air out.

2. Set The Room temperature

Cooler temperatures keeps memory foam firm. So one of the first things you can do to soften it is to adjust the room temperature, or allow the item to acclimate to a warmer temperature setting.

This step is especially important if you purchase your memory foam item during the winter months.

3. Separate The Layers

If the item you have is a mattress then separate the layers of the memory foam. Again, you want to be gentle about this, so as not to risk tearing the foam.

Do this in a slow, steady, uniform pulling motion. If you happen to feel resistance while doing this, stop and allow the mattress to settle a little longer.

4. Roll Around or Walk On it

Constant movement, body weight, and heat activate the foam and causes the material to loosen. So it makes sense to apply a little weight to the foam to help soften it.

You can do this by walking gently on the mattress or rolling around on it a few times a day. If it’s a pillow simpl put some pressure with your hands or arms.

5. Wait It Out

The rule is to allow the memory foam to sit for a period rather than using it right away, as it will still be hard. It’s also said that laying on your memory foam prior to the expansion of it, will keep it from expanding properly.

We have some additional thoughts on that as well. Just keep reading. How long you should allow your mattress or pillow to sit out, depends on the manufacturer. We also have some recommendations for you when it comes to the manufacturer.

6. Prep The Mattress

Place the mattress on your bed and top with a mattress topper and cover it with a fitted sheet.

7. Sleep On IT

When you’re ready to sleep on it, sleep on your new memory foam mattress. Even if that means skipping the “Wait It Out” phase of the process.

Spend as much time as you want on it, it’s your mattress. Sit, read, eat, watch TV on it; all these things will eventually help to loosen the foam.

Manufacturer Expansion Time Recommendations

When it comes to our own MemorySleep pillow, the expansion time is instant as well. You can sleep on it right away!

Ditching the 24-Hour Rule

As you have seen, not all memory foam mattresses nor pillows have a 24-hour wait rule. Some manufacturers recommend using it right away. Using your mattress right away is a good idea because consistent movements and body heat loosens the foam and causes it to expand quicker.

The only downfall to sleeping on some brands of mattresses or pillows before 24 hours is that they won’t feel their best because they haven’t fully expanded yet. Laying on them before they have fully expanded won’t stop the expansion process, it will only help it along.

Other reasons for the 24-hour rule have to do with allowing time for the odor related to packaging, called off-gassing, to leave the mattress or pillow.

It’s Expanded – Now What?

Now that your mattress or pillow has fully expanded and you decide it’s exactly the sleeping experience you need, now what? It’s important to properly take care of your memory foam item to keep its longevity.

When it comes to memory foam mattresses they need a sturdy foundation. A bed frame with either a solid flat surface or a slatted base make for a good foundation for a memory foam mattress. Platform beds are a good choice as long as the slats are less than three inches apart to prevent the foam material from dipping.

Invest in a mattress protector to help your mattress keep its longevity. Mattresses are giant sponges that soak up a lot – sweat, dead skin, and lots of other dirt and juices that lay dormant on your mattress, like nasty spills. A mattress protector is a little different from a mattress topper in that the mattress topper is designed to make the mattress more comfortable.

If your mattress does not have a removable, machine-washable cover, it will need to be spot cleaned with room temperature water mixed with mild detergent. It’s a good idea to vacuum the mattress at least once a month to remove loose debris and hair fibers. This applies to pillows as well.

It Didn’t Expand – Now What?

If your memory foam hasn’t expanded after several days, it may be a defective mattress. Most mattresses and pillows have a return policy of between 15-30 days. To know if you do need to return your mattress or pillow, consider this:

  • Do you wake up with upper back, neck, or should pain?
  • Do you have discomfort in your shoulders, hips or knees?
  • Do you have numbness or tingling in your arms, hands, legs or feet?
  • Does the mattress not contour to your body, or is there no give on your pressure points?

*Remember that any of these points must be caused, or worsen, by your memory foam item. If you had these problems before getting a memory foam item, it might not actually be a problem with the item itself.

If you answered yes to any of these, then the mattress or pillow may be too firm. In this event, you may need to go back to the drawing board and continue to do some of the seven steps mentioned to help soften the foam. If nearly 30 days have passed, and it’s still too firm, it may indeed be time for another mattress or pillow.

Niklas Lampi

My name is Niklas and I'm the author and content operator at The Bedding Planet. I've always had a big interest in bedding and more specifically sleep. If I find something that makes me sleep better, whether that's a lifestyle change or a better bedding environment, I'm ready to share it with the world!

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