How to Prevent Mattress Settlements & Indents

In this guide, we have used our expert knowledge to bring you everything you would need to know about mattress settlements and indents so you are fully prepped when shopping for your mattress.

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Mattress settlements & indents is the effect of normal wear-and-tear as the materials used inside soften over time. This is because they exhibit significant demand night after night from the sleeper’s body. Over time, this gradual softening leads to settlements & indents and less even support. These issues occur typically in the areas that bear the most pressure. Generally, this includes the areas supporting the hips and shoulders, which significantly diminish sleep and comfort quality.

The mattress will suffer when the comfort layers compress, identified as mattress settlement. These will be natural fibres in a high-quality mattress, whereas, in cheaper mattresses, this may be polyester, poly-cotton, rebound wool or foam. Either way, these fibres will begin to settle once you have slept on the mattress for a while; this means that body impressions may be visible initially as the fillings directly beneath the sleeper move into position. We have to expect such issues with our mattress. The real trick is in reducing the impact this has on the support and comfort.

The cheaper the mattress, the cheaper the materials and the more likely they will compress quickly. Natural fibres, on the other hand, tend to last a lot longer. This article aims to explore methods of prevention, treatment and everything else you need to know.

wool natural mattress filling

How to Prevent Mattress Settlement and Indents

Mattresses full of synthetic fibres will require more care than expensive natural filled models with a significantly higher lifespan; in the case of Winstons Beds, our mattresses will last 30 years.

Hessian or coir as an insulating layer is exceptionally robust and resilient to compression. Therefore, we always add a minimum of 375gsm above the spring unit to bridge the springs and the comfort layers. If these were not placed in this position, when the primary comfort layers begin to compress, they would be directly compressing on the springs leading to settlements, indentation and sagging.

Luxury mattresses with natural fibres utilise fillings such as pure wool, organic cotton, horsehair, mohair, alpaca, bamboo, cashmere, silk, coir or hessian offer unmatched levels of robustness, comfort, breathability and lifespan, which means they will not compress to a level where they will not return to their original loft.

You can prevent your new mattress from giving into settlements and indents by following a few simple steps.

Rotate and turn your mattress every month
  • Whether your mattress is filled with fibres, springs or is made from memory foam, turning it ensures that underused parts can play their role, and the most used parts get a chance to rest and recover.
Adding a mattress topper
  • A mattress topper made from natural fibres is a great way to ensure that weight is evenly distributed and takes the strain off the filling. In addition, it provides and an extra layer of comfort and cosiness.
Buy a double-sided mattress
  • These are designed with two sleeping sides, and it’s even possible to buy mattresses of this sort with a different level of support on each side. Double-sided mattresses are an excellent way to minimise the potential for settlement, as they’re built to withstand wear and tear on both surfaces. Avoid ‘no turn’ mattresses.
Try and change your sleeping position
  • It is challenging to implement, but ensuring that your body is in contact with different mattress parts can help minimise indentation.

What Causes Mattress Settlement and Indents?

Mattress settlement & indents are caused by compression of the filling, responding to repeated exposure to pressure.

Usually, the first parts of the mattress to register these problems tend to support pressure points such as the elbows, ankles, hips and shoulders. They appear in the areas where you put the most pressure on during the night, as you would expect if you always sit on the same sofa cushion or walk on the same piece of carpet. If you’ve bought a new mattress, you may notice this within the first 30 to 90 days of using it.

However, settlement is an entirely natural response and not necessarily a sign that your mattress is faulty. Within the first few weeks, the filling reacts to your weight and body temperature. For most people, just like breaking in a pair of leather shoes, this can lead to increased comfort levels and targeted support. However, if the mattress becomes uncomfortable to sleep on, then you may want to consider options such as rotating or turning it as over time, this can lead to significant dips or sagging in the mattress, which is more prominent in those made from cheaper materials.

wool mattress

Settlement in Different Mattress Types

If you prefer the comfort and support offered by natural fibres, then be sure to check out mattresses filled with the likes of wool, cotton, alpaca, horsehair, cashmere, coir, and mohair. These are the most resilient and resistant natural fibres you’ll find, ensuring a longer lifespan and consistent cosiness. While other natural fibres might appeal, they take much more maintenance and, unless cared for regularly, you can find that your mattress becomes uncomfortable within two or three years.

While memory foam mattresses are renowned for their hug-like qualities, only having one side, they can’t be turned over. The rotation might help, but in the long-term, you might be better off looking at a latex option instead. Memory foam is more susceptible to settlement, as the foam cells can become compressed quicker than fibres.

Latex mattresses are double-sided, so flipping them over once a month isn’t going to be a problem. Being made from the sap of a southeast asian rubber plant, latex falls into the ‘natural fibres’ category. Hypo-allergenic and resistant to dust mites, latex is more durable than memory foam and, if cared for properly, can have a lifespan of 20+ years.

Synthetic fibres such as polyurethane, white fibre and polyester are designed to mimic natural fibre characteristics and provide similar levels of comfort and support. While they’re easier to care for than the likes of cashmere and mohair, they are less robust.

Blended fibres such as polycotton, rebound cotton and rebound wool are a mixture of synthetic and natural materials. In essence, the synthetic fibres provide strength and support, while the natural ones are for comfort and heat transfer. Mattresses made from blended fibres benefit from turning over, and rotation and you can expect them to last longer than their purely synthetic counterparts.

Mattress Type Fibre Type Expected Lifespan Before Potential Dips If Not Maintained Can The Settlement Be Prevented?
Bonnel spring mattress Synthetic 1-2 years No
Memory foam mattress Synthetic 2-3 years Not usually – Memory foam mattresses are one sided so can only be rotated
Latex mattresses Synthetic/natural 20 years + Yes. By turning and rotating montlhy
Synthetic mattresses Synthetic 2-4 years No
Natural mattresses Natural 20 years + Yes. By turning & rotating monthly

 

How Mattress Fibres Affect the Settlement & Indents

All mattresses are constructed to have progressive support from the spring unit upwards, with the elements used directly beneath the primary comfort layers gradually increasing in tension.
If a mattress has a softer, primary layer such as wool or cotton, the probability of compression within the first 30 to 90 days will be noticeable, particularly when compared to a firmer layer of foam found in cheaper mattresses.

Wool, which is included in mattresses for comfort and a softer feel, can be blended with other fibres such as cotton. This is where you can see an actual luxury mattress compared to that trying to imitate one. For example, wool layered with horsehair is a great way to keep its loft and reduce settlements and idents. In contrast, when layered with cotton, it will quickly flatten and have noticeable settlements and indents. The addition of horsehair to the wool helps increase its robustness with no loss of comfort.

Polyester
  • Synthetic
  • Feel – Soft
  • Cheap – low end of market
White fibre
  • Synthetic
  • Feel – Soft
  • Cheap – low end of market
Memory foam
  • Synthetic
  • Feel – Soft
  • Cheap – low end of market
Polycotton
  • Synthetic
  • Feel – Medium
  • Cheap – Low end of market
Rebound cotton
  • Synthetic
  • Feel – Medium
  • Cheap – Low end of market
Bonded cotton
  • Synthetic
  • Feel – Medium
  • Cheap – Low end of market
Rebound wool
  • Synthetic
  • Feel – Medium
  • Cheap – Low end of market
Pure wool
  • Natural
  • Feel – Medium soft
  • Expensive – High end of market
Organic cotton
  • Natural
  • Feel – Medium soft
  • Expensive – High end of market
Alpaca
  • Natural
  • Feel – Soft
  • Very expensive – High end of market
Mohair
  • Natural
  • Feel – Medium Firm
  • Very expensive – High end of market
Bamboo
  • Natural
  • Feel – Soft
  • Very expensive – High end of market
Pure cashmere
  • Natural
  • Feel – Soft
  • Very expensive – High end of market
Horsehair/Horsetail
  • Natural
  • Feel – Firm
  • Very expensive – High end of market
Silk
  • Natural
  • Feel – Soft
  • Very expensive – High end of market
Coir
  • Natural
  • Feel – Firm
  • Expensive – High end of market
Hessian
  • Natural
  • Feel – Firm
  • Mid price – High end of market

latex mattress

Summary

A degree of settlement is entirely natural in any mattress, regardless of how expensive or top of the range it might be. Following our guidelines ensures you keep on top of any material or fibre movement and minimise the potential for settlements and indents before it turns into something more problematic. Turning your mattress, rotating it and being mindful of your sleeping position can help you get the most from your mattress. If things do become a little lumpy, try a topper for extra comfort and support. At Winstons Beds, we want our customers to buy the best for their budget and enjoy a relaxing sleep as long as the mattress lasts. We aim to be as transparent as possible so, if you have any questions or queries, feel free to get in touch, and we’ll be happy to give you our expert advice.

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Published: 11th November 2020 (Updated: 10th October 2021) | Graham