Why It’s Probably Time to Buy a New Mattress

Why It’s Probably Time to Buy a New Mattress
Photo: l i g h t p o e t, Shutterstock

Considering that we spend up to 36 years of our lives in our beds (either sleeping, watching TV, or trying to get to sleep), our mattresses are important. But since they’re also large, expensive, and obscured by so many linens, it’s not always obvious when we should replace them (and given the investment, it’s not something we tend to do often). Sleeping on a worn-out mattress is a recipe for discomfort, poor sleep, and potentially irksome allergies though, so here are the telltale signs that you should buy a new one.

Your mattress is more than eight years old

The simplest metric is time: The average mattress lasts seven to ten years. While it won’t dramatically disintegrate at the 10-year mark, and many mattresses have a 15 or 20-year warranty, that doesn’t mean you should keep it that long. (The warranty covers certain parts; it’s not a promise of comfort.)

Like anything else, mattress materials (coils, foam, and springs) degrade over time, making them markedly less supportive of our weight and physical movements. Also, mattress life depends on proper care, which includes moisture protection, regular cleaning and rotating. Slacking on routine maintenance will result in a shorter lifespan for your mattress.

It’s sagging, torn, or lumpy

Signs of wear are reliable indicators that a mattress is likely past its prime. If you see sagging, tears, holes, or visible lumps, the inner contents of the mattress have shifted or been damaged. Sagging is an indication that innersprings have broken, the coils have weakened, or the foam has been irreparably compressed, causing the mattress to lose its shape. (Heavier people may see a deep indentation when they first get up, but the mattress should return to its normal, flat shape quickly.) You should not “hammock” into an indentation left by your body’s impression, or roll to the middle of your bed soon after lying down.

Likewise, according to Consumer Reports, “Spilling water on certain types of foam may cause damage to the adhesive between the layers, causing them to shift.” Damage from water and other bodily fluids (especially sweat) hastens your mattress’s demise, so always use a mattress protector.

You consistently wake up sore

Mattresses are designed to relieve pressure in certain parts of your body. When they’re worn down, they no longer support the natural curvature of your spine, leaving body parts feeling stiff. Waking up regularly with a sore back, neck, hips, or shoulders is a sign your mattress no longer provides adequate support.

It’s loud and creaky

If it sounds like a squeaky symphony every time to roll over, something is amiss. First, determine if the mattress or box spring is the culprit. If you have an innerspring or hybrid mattress, first remove it from the box spring, then roll around on it to test for noise. If it squeaks, according to the Sleep Foundation, there’a an issue with the metal springs. If you have an all-foam mattress, the noise can only be coming from the box spring, which could be remedied with these DIY fixes. If those don’t work, it’s time to look for a new box spring (but thankfully not a whole mattress).

If you can feel the foundation or springs poking you, it’s game over. Get to your nearest mattress supplier.

Worsening allergies or asthma

If you notice a sudden uptick in allergies or other respiratory issues (and it’s not allergy season), your mattress could be the source. We’ve written before on the importance of cleaning your mattress, for it is filthy. In addition to millions of dust mite droppings, which are highly allergenic, your mattress may also be home to mould, mildew, fungi, or other bacteria. If you suffer from a runny nose, watery eyes, excessive sneezing, or headaches (without another plausible environmental cause), your mattress may be beyond cleaning.

Your sleep arrangements have changed

If you experience a significant weight gain or loss, your mattress may need replacing. Likewise, if you gain a sleep partner or experience health changes like pregnancy, surgery, arthritis, sciatica, or an accident, your physical needs may change. Consider whether a new mattress may be required to support new physical conditions.

You sleep better elsewhere

If you notice that sleeping in another bed leaves you feeling more rested, your mattress could be on its last legs. (Granted, if you’ve got young kids, you always sleep better when not in your house.) But if you also wake up with less stiffness, joint pain, and sniffles, that’s a good sign your at-home mattress is no longer cutting it.

Likewise, consider your body temperature while sleeping. If you frequently wake up hot or sweating in your bed (but didn’t when you first bought the mattress), according to WebMD, that’s “a sure sign that your mattress is breaking down. The longer you have the mattress, the more the materials will soften and restrict airflow on the surface.”

Struggling to fall asleep every night (barring other factors like stress or insomnia) is also a red flag. I‌f you suspect your mattress might be in need of replacing, spend a night or two in a newer bed and see what difference it makes.

Log in to comment on this story!