We spend about a third of our lives sleeping, a total of 20 to 30 years and usually for several hours at a time. A mattress has a lot of work to do! It will naturally accommodate the shape and sleeping patterns of its user over time and it will show impressions where the sleeping body has been lying night after night. This is known as mattress settlement and is something that occurs early in the life of the mattress. It can be a cause of concern when the mattress is a recent purchase, but it’s not necessarily something to worry about. A good mattress will see you through several years of comfortable nights sleep before the impressions left by sleeping humans become more than just impressions.
Mattresses are filled with comfortable materials which by their very nature are prone to shift and mould to a sleeping body’s shape and angles. A mattress is not likely, over the course of its use, to maintain a firm and flat surface, it probably wouldn’t be very comfortable to sleep on if it did! A new mattress’s fillings will accommodate the shape of its user in the first few weeks of use.
The body impressions that form on the mattress at this time are especially noticeable where the mattress receives the most pressure, around the hips and shoulders.
This can be alarming for the owner of a new mattress. They may suspect that the mattress is not firm enough, or that the filling may be defective in some way in showing signs of wear early in its life. But mattress settlement is entirely natural and should be expected. It is especially noticeable in ‘high loft’ mattresses that are filled with several layers of synthetic fibre pads. These synthetic fibres don’t recover their shape after use as quickly as natural fillings, such as wool, silk or cashmere.
Mattress settlement does not mean that the mattress is defective necessarily. Even a good mattress should indeed be expected to accommodate its user and to show signs of body impressions after its first few weeks of use. It will be all the more comfortable for it! A mattress should not be expected to continue to look and feel as good as new over time. Just like a comfy pair of slippers, it should adjust to become the perfect level of comfort and support for those sleeping on it, right up until it does eventually wear out and need replacing.
Manufacturer and retailer guidelines for mattress settlement are just that: guidelines. When purchasing a new mattress it’s best to start with your own preferences regarding filling types and perhaps to try before you buy. Back this up with a little research before making your investment, to make sure your mattress will stand the test of time and give you several years of night-time comfort.
A mattress that has collapsed or sagged after years of use will feel much less comfortable than a younger mattress that is merely settling. Settlement will result in a mattress that is more comfortable for its user to sleep on, while sagging or collapse indicate that the mattress will not fully support a sleeping human. It is ready for replacement.
Settlement will vary from mattress to mattress and is dependent on a number of factors, such as its firmness, its filling, and its size. A larger mattress will show more obvious signs of settlement purely because the middle part of the mattress is further from the supportive edges, a ridge in the middle of a king size mattress may even occur in between the body impressions that are left by two sleeping bodies. Remember, we spend hours in our beds every night, these hours soon add up to a lot of work for the mattress to do in the course of its usable life.