Here’s a fun mattress fact: If you didn’t use a mattress protector for the last eight years, that mattress probably weighs twice as much as the day you first bought it. The not-so-fun fact? That extra weight is due to years of accumulating moisture, dust mites and other sleep-inhibiting components. Germs, mildew, and general wear and tear are among the reasons experts say you should replace your mattress about every eight years on average, or around 12 years if you sleep on a high-quality bed, like a Tempur-Pedic or hybrid mattress.
When deciding whether or not to replace your mattress, you should also consider how you feel when you wake up. “The comfort life of a mattress is typically closer to five to eight years before you start to say ‘This bed doesn’t feel like it did when I bought it’,” says Stephen Ferguson, Sleep Expert at Mattress Firm.
And that comfort matters. “Comfort plays a big role in how we sleep and feel at night,” says Dr. W. Chris Winter, neurologist, sleep expert, and author of “The Sleep Solution.” Aches, soreness, and overnight body-temperature issues can all be signs that you need a new mattress. Not just for good sleep, but good mental and physical health as well.
Not convinced it’s time to make the swap? Read on for what the experts say are signs you need to change your mattress, along with helpful tips to prolong the life of your new mattress.
11 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Mattress
“Even though a mattress may be designed to structurally support you for [10 years], it doesn’t mean it’s going to be comfortable, because your needs, comfort preferences, injuries, health conditions and other considerations can become a major issue over time,” says Ferguson. After all your body’s needs change as you age, too, so a mattress that worked a few years ago may not be ideal now.
Consider any one of these issues as a sign to get a new mattress:
- Your mattress has lumps, asymmetry, and coils you can feel. Support is a universal requirement for all mattresses, whether you have back pain or not. A softening, lumpy mattress won’t offer the support your body requires.
- You wake up in pain or with muscle stiffness. Though we colloquially blame the way we slept, if we wake up with cricks and aches, the true cause can often be sleeping on the wrong mattress. “Pain is a big factor when it comes to secondary insomnia (insomnia caused by external factors),” adds Winter.
- The mattress has stains and/or smells. Stains and smells can be obvious signs of bacteria accumulation, and knowing that they’re there can also inhibit sleep. “Rats taken out of clean cages and put into dirty cages showed longer time to fall asleep, reduced non-REM and REM sleep, and increased sleep fragmentation,” shares Winter. You might also want to check if your mattress is housing any mold, especially if there have been spills onto an unprotected mattress over the years.
- Your mattress springs are noisy and creaky. A noisy bed isn’t just a sign that the springs are weakening — it’s also something that can disrupt your sleep. “Noise at night affects sleep negatively,” says Winter. “It fragments sleep, reduces its continuity, and reduces total sleep time. Keeping an environment quiet facilitates sleep.”
- Your mattress corners are frayed or starting to break. Wear and tear happens over time, and when it becomes visible, it can be a cue that your mattress is due for retirement.
- Your mattress no longer helps regulate your body temperature. This may be especially true for women entering menopause, and is something to keep in mind as you identify desired features in a new mattress.
- Your allergies flare up when in bed. “Allergies can often inhibit sleep, and could potentially make sleep apnea and other breathing issues worse,” explains Winter. Vacuuming the floor and mattress more frequently can prolong the life of your mattress by keeping out dust mites.
- You can feel every time your partner moves. A mattress should be supportive enough to accommodate a body's tosses and turns. “Bed partners are a big source of sleep disruption,” says Winter. “It's important to make sure that if partners (or pets) are in bed with you, your mattress does not transmit their movements to you.”
- Your mattress doesn't relieve body pressure. For side sleepers, Ferguson says that a pressure-relieving mattress is very important by providing a larger area of support. Mattresses that don’t provide pressure relief cause your body to absorb that pressure, which can result in pinched nerves and tired joints.
- It’s been used as a hangout spot for your kids and pets. In an ideal world, your mattress should only be used for sleep and sex. If it’s endured jumping, digging, and snacking, it may need to be swapped out on the earlier side.
- The genre of mattress is no longer in production. If your mattress was marketed as “flippable,” there’s a high likelihood it’s past its prime, as most mattresses produced in the past two decades are not meant to be flipped. If you think your mattress still has some life left, try rotating it instead. Rotating a mattress is something you should do once every 6 months.
What Kind of Mattress to Buy
Ideal for those with an active sleeping partner, memory foam mattresses transfer less motion than many other mattresses. Many include cooling technology, which helps with night sweats.
Options to consider:
Innerspring mattresses, which feature individually wrapped coils, are responsive, making them good for partners who sleep in different positions.
Options to consider:
For those who sleep in multiple positions, hybrid mattresses fuse multiple technologies, such as coils, memory foam, and gel.
Options to consider:
Gel mattresses are renowned for their airflow.
Options to consider:
5 Ways to Make Your New Mattress Last
Once you’ve found the perfect mattress, it’s important to help keep it in sleep-ready shape for as long as possible. Check out these expert tips for keeping your mattress clean and supportive every night.
- Invest in a mattress foundation. A bedframe will help prevent a mattress from sagging to help it last longer.
- Vacuum where the dust collects. Vacuum your mattress itself, then take the vacuum to your headboard, carpet, curtains, and other surfaces where dust settles. Every six months, you’ll want to vacuum your mattress with overlapping strokes to extract dust and allergens.
- Rotate your mattress every 6 months. Newer mattresses don’t need to be flipped anymore, but they still should be rotated, especially if you only sleep on one side of the bed. However brand new mattresses, according to Ferguson, should be rotated once a month until broken in for even wear and tear.
- Always use a mattress protector. A good mattress protector can keep even major spills from seeping into your mattress, which is important, because once a mattress gets wet, there’s no effective way to guarantee that it will thoroughly dry out to avoid mildew or mold. These covers last 1-2 years and help shield your mattress from liquid, dust mites, stains, and more. Got kids, pets, or a love of breakfast in bed? They’re even more important.
- Try to keep pets and kids from jumping onto your bed. This one is a hard one, but heavy activity can damage the coils and structure of your mattress.
Replacing your mattress should not be seen as an indulgence, but rather as crucial tool for better self-care and wellness. You wouldn’t run with sneakers that have no support or are filled with rocks, right? Treat choosing your new mattress like a fairytale glass slipper and seek out your perfect fit.
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