How to firm up a memory foam mattress

Well I messed up and bought a Sealy Optimum RadIance and am having so much lower back pain. I wished I had found this website before I purchased but now I am stuck with a bad support mattress. I am a side sleeper at 5’2",140 pounds and husband is 6’4" 260 pounds side sleeper and has had previous back surgery. For some reason this mattress does not bother his back.
Is there any kind of latex topper that I can add to get alittle more firmness. Talked with the folks at rocky mountain mattress about adding a med- firm 1" topper( they did not suggest the firm topper unless I placed it under the mattress). Afraid if I add a 2" topper I will not be able to climb up into the bed as it is already to tall.
Will adding a sheet of plywood do anything also? The boxsprings appears to be wire frame wrapped in fabric.
Thanks for any help.

Hi carolhgore,

Unfortunately there is not a lot you can do to the upper comfort layers of a mattress to improve it’s support because support comes from the firmness of the lower layers in combination with the thickness of the upper comfort layers (how far away you are from the support layers) and you can’t change either of these. A topper is generally a solution for a mattress that is too soft and needs better pressure relief.

Heavier weights can generally use thicker comfort layers because they can “go through” them more easily and they can sink into the thicker comfort layers more evenly. Body type (where you tend to carry more weight) can also play a role in how evenly you sink into the comfort layers and you may be sinking in too much in only one area of your body (probably the hips/pelvis area).

There are a couple of things you can try though to see if it makes a difference.

  1. You can put the mattress on the floor to see if the foundation may be flexing and contributing to the problem. If this seems to solve the issue … then either replacing the foundation for one which doesn’t flex at all or adding the sheet of plywood may help. If the floor experiment doesn’t help … then the issue is likely in your mattress and not any additional flex in the foundation.

  2. You can try a topper or a thicker mattress pad which will put you further away from the memory foam and reduce the amount of heat that reaches it and help to firm it up somewhat. Generally though this will only be a partial fix because it may only affect how long the memory foam takes to soften. It will also change the feel of your mattress and reduce the slow response feel of the memory foam and add the “feel” of the type of topper you are using. If you do use a thicker mattress pad or a topper … it would need to be soft enough to allow you to sink into the mattress enough to relieve pressure or you could end up replacing an alignment issue with a pressure relief issue. Some options would be a natural or synthetic fiber topper or pad or a latex topper (soft enough that it wouldn’t create pressure problems for you).

Some of the suggestions in post #4 here may be helpful as well.

Because you will be experimenting and only your personal experience will find out if the experiment works enough to make a difference … it would be a good idea to buy any mattress pad or topper from a retailer that allows a refund if it doesn’t work. The big box stores are good for this type of experimentation.

So a thicker mattress pad such as a featherbed or fiberbed or alternatively a latex topper in the rage of 2" and “just soft enough” that you would be comfortable sleeping on it would be the two choices that I would try but if neither works then you may be facing the reality that the mattress is not suitable for your needs and preferences.

Choices such as the SmartSilk topper, some of the wool toppers here (again making sure any one you choose is refundable), or some of the mattress pads here (as examples as the other big box stores that offer refunds would also have similar choices) would all be possibilities and worth trying to see if they can affect your mattress enough to solve the issue before considering more drastic options such as mattress surgery or replacing the mattress.
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The plywood has helped or least if feels firmer. Will know more after next few nights. Also ordered the contour bladder blow up thing you suggested somewhere else, as it is a cheap alternative and worth a try. Maybe this will hold for a short while until I feel like I can order something from sleepez. Really like the idea of being able to switch up the firmness layers. Just wish there was somewhere to try these out. Maybe a trip to AZ for vacation and check them out, but it is a long way from the southern east coast. LOL

Hi carolhgore,

At least the plywood had some effect (which suggests that your foundation was flexing to some degree) and as you mentioned the Mattress Remedy may also provide an inexpensive partial or short term solution for support and alignment issues.

There are also many good smaller mattress manufacturers or better sleep shops across the country that may have the choices you want along with good value. If you let me know your city or zip I’d be happy to let you know about the ones that are close to you that I’m aware of. If nothing else … they may provide the chance to test various layering combinations or in the best case even provide similar quality/value to mattresses that are available online.


A year ago, we bought a high end Tempurpedic (as our “exchange” mattress when the first memory foam mattress didn’t cut it) thinking this would be the best memory foam you can buy. And perhaps it is, but my husband suffered big time with back pain as he slowly sunk into it after the first hour of sleep. We have a split king (one side is memory foam, the other mattress a hybrid of springs + foam top). We fought over who would have to sleep on the Tempurpedic side since we both hated it. Tried to sell it for half price on Craigslist for months and NO ONE will buy a used mattresses of that quality. So last weekend we got creative. After going to IKEA, we went to the mattress section and found the softest mattress on the floor. It was way softer than our bed, but this was for testing purposes. We took a thin firm topper they also had on the floor and it did help to prevent the sinkage into the memory foam. Even more impressive was placing the topper on top of the runner mat they put at the end of the bed to keep dirty shoes off the beds. It was a huge support base to have this rubber floor rug runner, so we thought what’s another $112 dollars at this point? We bought the thin (1.5") TJOME topper (TWIN was only $99) and the $12 LYNAS floor runner. Placed the runner on top of our tempurpedic right at the lower back point, secured it tightly, then put the TJOME topper over it. Covered it all with a spare top sheet and it is now THEE more comfortable side of the bed if you can believe it!!! My husband is in heaven and I thrilled that this year long battle has been resolved and we both wake up to happy backs in the morning! The rubber runner doesn’t slip at all and provides just the extra stiffness to stop the sinking. DO IT!!!

Hi 10sChick,

I’m glad to see that your very “creative” solution worked for you and I hope it continues to work over time as well.

Your solution includes two main factors that are working well together. The first is that a topper can reduce or at least slow down the amount of heat that reaches the memory foam which can “firm up” memory foam or at least slow down how quickly it becomes softer over the course of the night (depending on the specifics and temperature sensitivity of the memory foam). Posts #5 and #6 here are another example where this helped as well. The second is a zoning scheme that can also help with alignment issues by adding firmness under the parts of the body that need it without affecting the firmness under the parts that need to sink in more deeply.

For the sake of others that may read this … I would keep in mind that what works for one person may not work nearly as well for another and it may not continue to work as well once the foams in your mattress begin to soften over time but regardless of any of that or how long it will continue to work for you … it’s working for you for now which is all that matters and it may also be helpful for others that are in a similar situation as well.

Part of your solution is similar to some of the suggestions in post #11 here about zoning and I’m impressed that you had either the intuition or the knowledge to try it :slight_smile:

Thanks again for sharing your suggestions!


Hello 10s,

Wanted to THANK YOU for your post. I purchased 2 thicker door welcome mats (0.5" thick rubber, with 1/4" softer outer layer), placed them on top of the mattress, covered with mattress protector. WORKED brilliantly. I didn’t find a need for a topper.

First time in months that I woke up with a healthy feeling back.

To Phoenix’s speaking points, solution may not work for everyone, but I say for the low upfront cost of some door mats, may be worth a try before more expensive solutions are attempted.

Thanks again 10s,

Hi zed1994,

Thanks for your feedback … and it’s great to hear that the welcome mats worked so well for you :slight_smile:


Hi, Just read this post from 10sChick re: her solution to the memory foam mattress being too soft dilemma. I would love to try the IKEA topper and runner solution. I have a couple of questions regarding it.

  1. I went to the IKEA website and the only TJOME topper is 2" thick, not 1.5" as mentioned. I’m guessing I’d have to go with this one. There was no “thin” topper described at the IKEA site.

  2. The LYNAS floor runner is 2’ 2" x 6’ 6". I can’t visualize how this was oriented on the memory foam mattress. It was stated that: “Placed the runner on top of our tempurpedic right at the lower back point.” Was it placed perpendicular to the long dimension of the mattress (in other words, across the mattress at the lumbar area)? Was the runner cut down to size being that it’s 6 1/2’ long? I’m having a hard time visualizing this.

  3. It was mentioned that the runner was “secured it tightly”. How was it secured tightly? With double-stick tape?

If someone could answer my questions I would be extremely grateful.

Hi DaveyJ,

I’m not 10sChick of course and hopefully they will see your post and make some comments but in the meantime I can make some comments as well …

They may have been referring to the thickness of the polyfoam in the Tjome topper (it also has some polyester wadding which would add to the thickness) or they may have just listed the thickness incorrectly. There are also some good sources for many types of toppers (including polyfoam) listed in the component post here if you wish to try something a little thicker or thinner.

Yes … they would have placed it perpendicular to the length of the mattress so it was under the lower back. They probably tucked both sides of the runner under the mattress so the weight of the mattress would secure it in place although they may have used some other method such as the sticky tape you mentioned to secure it as well to keep it from loosening over time.

You’ve probably read this since it was one of the links in a previous reply in this topic but just in case you missed it some of the suggestions in post #4 here may be helpful as well.


Thanks for your swift reply and helpful info, Phoenix! Cheers!

So great, right!!!?? I’m so glad you took the leap to try it. My husband’s back has been saved by this quirky solution, so he’s loving it too. I’m attaching a link to some photos so that future users who dare to try this can picture what the heck we did.


Hi 10sChick,

Thanks for the pictures … I appreciate it :slight_smile:

It’s great to hear that your solution is still working out so well for you!


I know this is an old thread but I just had to comment on it. We had bought a high end serta mattress and even though my wife loves it it was creating problems with my upper back (around the shoulder blades). 10sChick’s lynas floor runner did the trick. I bought one and simply laid it on my side of the bed (under the mattress pad) and no more back pain. Didn’t even need the topper. So just wanted to say thanks for stumbling across and sharing your quirky fix with the rest of us, it really has been a back and sanity saver for me.

Hi DesertEagle,

It’s great to hear that you were able to “fix” your mattress … and thanks for taking the time to share your comments and feedback :slight_smile:


Who cares if this thread is old? It’s new to whoever is desperate enough that they are scanning blogs for solutions!! I am so glad to hear that this has helped you as well, so thank you for posting your success. My husband is still very happy with our bed since the modification.

To all,
One of our clients firmed up his memory foam mattress by covering it with a non stretch quilted mattress protector. He then strapped it securely with nylon rope under the mattress to create a trampoline effect on top of the mattress. The result is that it prevents him from sinking as much into the mattress and give extra support.

He told me he was happy now with his mattress

Hope this helps!

I am glad I found this thread. Suffering from the same issue.

After 10 years of Spring based Posturepedic we entered the brave new world of foam mattress. We both prefer firm mattress and we went for what we thought is the firmest we can get in foam - Tuft & Needle Ten. I am OK with it, but my wife is complaining about the back support. its too late to return or exchange. We will try both ideas suggested for a fix, I appreciate a little more info on both of them.

On 10schick floor mat idea, does it need to be stretched & secured or can we just lay it on the mattress. We have a king mattress. So if we lay it perpendicular to the mattress length, then we don;t have enough length to tuck it under the mattress at both ends. If it requires tension, then we have to rig some sort of strap to tie it behind the mattress.

On the MFC non-stretch mattress protector, can someone please suggest where can i get something like that. All the mattress protectors that we have come across are the ones with stretch sides and does not add much tension to the pad. I am trying to figure out how to tie the nylon rope to the mattress cover to compress the mattress. Are there grooves around the mattress cover to insert the nylon rope.? Some more description could help.

Thanks for all your help,

Hello Vkolli,
On a king or queen mattress, where you can’t tuck it in, it does need to be secured so it stays in place and is tight. At the IKEA store, they had these runner mats at the foot of all the queen mattresses and they had to be secured to the mattresses there as well. What they did (and I was prepared to do)… they had long 2 inch straps made of twill or some kind of strong cotton attached to the skinny ends of the runner mat. (I would have probably sewn mine on – I think they used rivets. You could also go over the top of the runner and not attached in at all – you’d just need a longer length of strap). They had 2 on each side, and they had the straps from one side going all the way underneath the mattress and coming out the opposite side, where they lined up with the straps from the other end. Then, they tied those straps together on the side of the mattress, making the running nice and tight to the bed. Cotton Twill Tape like this can be bought at a craft or fabric store by the yard. Your other option is to buy your runner mat at some place like Lowe’s or Home Depot where I think you can get it cut to whatever length and pay for it by the foot. If you do that, make sure you have enough extra mat so that about 2.5-3 feet of the runner are UNDERNEATH the weight of the mattress itself. I believe someone in one of these threads did the Home Depot mat cut to length.

10sChick, Thanks for the ideas. I will try one of these… If i go the custom length mat route then I need make sure I find something that is stiff enough to provide the support.