In July last year, research showed UK customer service complaints had hit their highest level on record*, which prompted us to think about one of the most common complaints we hear from bed buyers: settlement – or body impressions – appearing on the surface of the mattress.
On the back of the winter sales period and National Bed Month in March, consumers across the country should be enjoying good quality sleep in their new beds. Some however may notice some settlement has appeared on their mattress in these first few weeks of use, and assume it is a sign the new mattress is failing. In this blog, we look at what mattress settlement is, why it happens and what you can do to minimise impression marks.
Body impressions occur when the mattress fillings ‘mould’ to the user’s body shape, with the areas of most pressure (shoulders and hips) showing the greatest signs of settlement.
Settlement can be particularly evident where mattresses use polyester fibre pads or multiple layers of synthetic fillings to create a ‘high-loft’ appearance. These fillings tend not to recover as well as more luxurious natural materials such as cashmere, mohair, horsehair, silk, wool, cotton etc.
A mattress with generous layers of comfort fillings is expected to demonstrate body impressions and indicates that it is performing correctly. A misconception amongst some people is that a mattress should look and feel as good as new even after months or years of service – despite it supporting your body for around seven to eight hours every night. But this is simply not the case.
The extent to which the mattress will show signs of settlement depends on several factors, such as the user’s weight, the number of fillings, the type of fillings, the firmness of the mattress, and whether the mattress is two-sided or single-sided.
Larger-size mattresses such as super king-size (180cm wide) and king-size (150cm wide) will show signs of settlement more so than a smaller-size mattress. This is because a broader area in the centre of the mattress doesn’t get used and the fillings don’t become compacted. This ‘ridge’ in the middle accentuates the sleeping areas on either side of the mattress where the fillings will have settled or compacted during the night.
There is no official industry standard for determining whether the settlement is excessive, as there are too many variables to consider. Some bed manufacturers, retailers and independent inspection companies use a measuring system based on the type of mattress fillings and the age of the product. However, this really isn’t based on any scientific evidence and should only be used as a broad guideline.
The National Bed Federation (NBF) recommends that you follow the care instructions supplied with your mattress to prolong its life and minimise the effects of settlement, such as regular rotating and, if two-sided, flipping over/turning. However, you should expect your mattress to show some signs of settlement, and remember that it is not necessarily an indication that the bed is failing.
If you wanted to make a complaint about your mattress, we recommend you should first complain to the company who sold you the product. Find out more about making a complaint.
* ‘UK customer service complaints at highest level on record, research finds’ – The Guardian, 5th July 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/jul/05/uk-customer-service-complaints-at-highest-level-on-record-research-finds