Have you ever visited someone for the weekend and found that the guest bed dumps you and your partner into the middle? The center of this is often referred to as a sinkhole, and it feels like climbing Mt. Everest to get out! And if your mattress at home is like this, you may dread going to bed at all! But what should you do about it?
A mattress that sinks in the middle can cause poor sleep and back pain over time. When a mattress sags in the middle, there is no way to fix it; the only solution is to purchase a new mattress. However, there are a few temporary things that can be done about the sinking until then.
If you’re spending your nights rolling down into a mattress canyon, it’s time to take action. Read on to learn more about sagging mattresses, including why they sink in the first place.
Why Does a Mattress Sink?
Sagging is an inevitable occurrence in any mattress that gets normal use. Most mattresses are made of foam, latex, or other soft cushioning materials. Over time, the fibers in these materials begin to break down and lose their shape and support strength.
Coil spring mattresses will begin to sag when the coils lose their tension and are no longer able to hold up the soft, outer mattress material. If you sleep on one of these, you may actually feel the coils when you roll into the saggy area.
Poor quality materials can speed up the sagging process. Mattresses made of low-density foam or coils of lesser grade metal won’t last as long as those made from higher quality parts.
Mattresses typically sag in one of these common spots:
- In the middle, when someone sleeps in the center of the mattress constantly
- In the middle, when couples “spoon” during sleep and put extra weight there frequently
- On either side under the chest or shoulders, hips, or belly areas of the sleeper
Is a Sagging Mattress Bad?
Let’s just say this: it’s not good! Sure, you can manage for a while with a minimal sag in your mattress, but it won’t stay minimal forever. It’s a vicious cycle, really. As you continue to sleep in that rut, it will only worsen, making it harder and harder for you to find a non-saggy spot on the bed’s perimeter.
Consequences of a Sinking Mattress
Not dealing with a sagging mattress can have several unintended health consequences if you let it go for too long. You spend more time on your mattress than you might realize.
Consider that, on average, 8 out of 24 hours every single day is spent asleep or going to sleep—not to mention the afternoon naps, TV watching, and other activities that may occur on your mattress too.
With that said, this is in your future if you continue to use a saggy mattress:
- Poor sleep and support for the neck and spine: It will be difficult to find a comfortable position.
- Overheating: As you sink, less air can flow through coils or around your body, and you’ll feel hotter while you sleep.
- Intimacy difficulties: Trying to be intimate with your partner can be awkward when you keep rolling or slipping into a mattress valley.
- Squeaks: Particularly with coil mattresses, the coils will groan and squeak with added weight always in the same place.
More serious health issues can occur if you insist on using a sagging mattress over a long period. Certainly, none of these are fatal, but they can be energy-sapping and affect your day-to-day life.
According to WebMD, good posture is important when you sleep. Too much or too little support can affect your muscles’ ability to rest and recover during the night. Support of the neck and spine is critical to avoiding back pain.
Falling and Staying Asleep
If you’re tossing and turning at night trying to stay out of the sagging middle of the bed, you could find that sleep is elusive. It’s hard to fall asleep when you can’t get comfortable. It’s also hard to stay asleep if you constantly feel as though you’ve got to climb out of a hole onto a level area of the bed.
Trouble with sleep onset and sleep maintenance often leads to insomnia—the inability to get any meaningful sleep at all. Quality of life then deteriorates.
Proper alignment of the neck shoulders is a key factor in resolving sleep apnea (intermittently not breathing during sleep). With a sagging mattress, it’s not likely you’ll be able to keep your head in the correct position as you gradually sink into the valley.
How Can I Fix a Sinking Mattress?
Chances are you’re not going to go through the hassle of returning a used mattress that has sunk too soon. Nor is claiming the warranty easy either after a few years either.
While you cannot permanently fix a sinking mattress, there are steps you can take to temporarily shore up the sag until you can replace this sad excuse for comfort.
Rotate the Mattress
Manufacturers suggest that you rotate a mattress every six months to distribute the sleepers’ weights and sleeping positions more evenly. Doing so won’t completely eliminate the possibilities of sags, but it can help delay their onset or slow their progress.
You can rotate a mattress by spinning it around, or you can flip it over. Some mattresses aren’t flippable because they have a pillow top design; you can only rotate them end to end.
Tip: Use a permanent marker to number each end of the mattress (top and bottom) with the numbers 1 – 4. Set a reminder in your calendar or phone to rotate the mattress every six months in order of the numbers.
Put a Board Under It
If your mattress tends to sag more between the slats, one thing you can do is add a thin (one inch or less) sheet of plywood or a bunkie board on top of the slats. The plywood should be cut to fit within the bed frame and be supported by the slats. The bunkie boards are sold in all mattress sizes.
This is definitely not a permanent solution but can offer a bit of firmness to sagging areas.
Add a Topper
Mattress toppers come in handy for a sagging mattress or an extremely hard one. You can purchase them in all the standard bed sizes and different thicknesses (two to four inches is common). Choices in materials include:
- Gel-infused memory foam with built-in ventilation
- Quilted, cotton, down-alternative fill mattress pads that fit like a sheet
- Egg crate memory foam that offers extra support via the egg carton design
Installation is super simple. Just remove all bedding, position the topper on the mattress, and remake the bed. Voila!
Purchase Ready-Made Mattress Support
Like putting a board under the sunken middle, you can find ready-to-use mattress supports to help shore up the sag. Made of high-density foam, these additions provide medium to firm support between your mattress and box springs. Generally, you can find these supports in twin-sized pieces since they’re designed to go only under a sag, not the entire bed width.
Add Pillows Underneath
Not sure you want to put any money into a failing mattress? Grab a couple of extra bed pillows and place them in the sagging spot under your fitted bedsheet. This can tide you over until you get to the mattress store.
While the sinking in the middle of your mattress might not be as obvious if you sleep solo, your backaches are a good sign it’s time to assess your bed. And, if you’re with a partner, although you care about them, rolling to meet each other in the middle every night will eventually get old.
So, it doesn’t hurt to try some of these temporary fixes on your mattress sag. The bottom line, though, is that the only permanent fix is a new mattress.