According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep. While sleep disorders, stress, and unhealthy sleep hygiene are the main causes of insufficient sleep, a lousy mattress is also widely known to cause inadequate slumber.
Like most products, even the most comfortable mattresses have a limited lifespan. Mattresses eventually lose their supportiveness, which fosters new aches and pains. Once a mattress causes pain, it’s time to replace it.
In this article, we discuss when it’s time to get rid of an old mattress and the signs that should indicate the mattress is ready to be replaced. We’ll also talk about the different mattress types, which ones last the longest, and how to care for your new bed.
When Should You Replace Your Mattress?
While there’s no set time for when your mattress needs replacement, many experts recommend replacing your mattress every 7-10 years. This recommendation takes into account the average lifespan of a mattress, which is between six and ten years, depending on its materials, daily use, and material break down.
Signs You Should Replace Your Mattress
It’s easier to judge if your mattress needs replacing by its condition and comfort than by how long you’ve had it. Most people notice the same telltale signs of underperformance when they decide it’s time for a new mattress: sagging and indentations, pain, insufficient sleep, or worsening allergies.
Sagging and Indentations
Sagging is the most common reason for buying a new mattress. Sagging and light indentations are expected in an old bed; however, mattress indentations 1-2 inches deep cause significant spinal misalignment, which may lead to chronic pain.
Unfortunately, all types of mattresses are susceptible to sagging and indentations. As fibers break down, foam layers flatten, and springs experience wear, indentations can lead to uneven sleep surfaces and inadequate support.
Aches and Pains
Aches and pains often signal that your mattress is past its prime. As mattress materials degrade, they offer less effective targeted support. Flattened comfort layers can make your mattress feel too firm, especially if you’re a side sleeper. Natural material disintegration causes back pain where there was none before.
Feeling More Tired Than Usual
It’s normal to wake up feeling tired with an older mattress, although that doesn’t mean you should resign yourself to being tired. Once you’ve ruled out any medical or lifestyle reasons, like poor sleep hygiene or a sleeping disorder, consider the condition of your mattress.
An overly worn mattress can affect your comfort due to overly compressed materials and poor airflow, which makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. If your sleep cycles are disturbed, you’re less likely to wake up feeling rested.
New or Worsening Allergies
If you’ve noticed wheezing, sneezing, or coughing, allergies may have infested your bed. Mattresses play host to mold, mildew, and dust mites, and other unwelcome visitors. While these infestations may go unnoticed, if you’re allergic, you’ll notice your nose and lungs are irritated.
To protect your mattress from dust mites and allergens, place a mattress protector over your mattress and opt for a hypoallergenic mattress, such as latex or memory foam.
Change in Sleeping Preferences
It’s not unheard of for your mattress preferences to change over time. The bed that felt comfortable a year or two ago may not be the best mattress for you anymore. If your body has changed or you’ve switched sleeping positions, your needs are most likely different from when you last shopped for mattresses.
What Type of Mattress Lasts the Longest?
You may need to retire different types of mattresses a few years earlier or later than others. Mattresses with dense, sturdy support cores tend to last longer than those with weaker support layers. Additionally, using your mattress on an incompatible foundation can shorten the bed’s lifespan.
Latex Mattress Durability
The longest-lasting mattress type is the all-natural latex mattress, which can last for up to 15 years on average. Synthetic latex and blended latex beds perform fairly well with a lifespan of ten years.
As most wear and degradation affect the top comfort layer, many mattress companies offer an option to replace the top latex layer, which extends the mattress’s longevity.
Memory Foam Mattress Durability
Coming in second to latex, memory foam mattresses are supportive and comfortable, lasting up to ten years.
The foam density has a considerable impact on the mattress’s longevity. High-density material will have greater durability offering 10 years of use; meanwhile, low-density foam is inexpensive with only 5-7 years of life. Look for mattresses with a combination of high and low-density foams— most good quality beds will use high-density foam in the base to prevent sagging while still offering low-density, soft cushioning in the top layers.
Innerspring Mattress Durability
Innerspring mattresses are still relatively durable, but often wear down more quickly than latex and foam mattresses. Typically, this mattress type will last around six to seven years.
The more traditional Bonnell coil mattresses perform poorly over time, with many needing replacements after five years of use. Individual pocketed coil systems are more durable, lasting an average of eight years. Innerspring beds often have pillow-tops made of memory foam or poly-foam; these layers are prone to sagging as well if the coils are unsupportive or cheaply made.
Hybrid Mattress Durability
A hybrid mattress longevity comes from a combination of innerspring coil systems and memory foam or latex layers. If you want a hybrid with a long lifespan, opt for one featuring a high-quality, individually pocketed coil system. A high coil count will improve support and durability.
You can expect a quality hybrid mattress to last around seven years.
How To Help Your Mattress Last Longer
If for some reason, you can’t go buy a new mattress to replace your old bed, there are simple steps you can follow to extend its lifespan. However, remember that if your mattress is showing significant signs of wear, it may be better for your health to invest in a newer model.
Use a Supportive Bed Frame
Most mattress brands will recommend the best foundation for their beds. You’ll want to look for a bed frame with a supportive mid-beam, a box spring, or a well-supported platform. A bed frame without the right level of support can cause even a high-quality mattress to sag prematurely.
Keep Your Mattress and Bedding Clean
Always follow the manufacturer's care and cleaning guidelines. These will tell you how to care for your mattress and the fabrics and materials involved. Some mattresses have machine-washable, removable covers, while others are spot clean only. Take care to follow these instructions to avoid unnecessary damage and to preserve your warranty.
Keep your mattress and bedding clean to prevent dead skin cells, allergens, and bacteria build-up. Make it a habit to wash your bedding once a week and replace any items that are no longer in good condition as it will improve your health and sleep quality.
If debris sits on the mattress surface for too long, the foreign particles will grind into the mattress material and change the feel of your mattress, causing poor support. To prevent your mattress from disintegrating prematurely, start spot cleaning and vacuuming it at least once a month.
Using a mattress protector will prevent mold, mildew, dust mites, and bed bugs. These protective covers are easy to place or zip onto your mattress and make it easier to keep your it clean and fresh. They can also protect against spills and stains.
Rotate Your Mattress
Rotating your mattress regularly can extend the bed’s lifespan. If your mattress has a dual sleep surface design, you should flip it every so often to keep evenly wear both surfaces. We suggest rotating or flipping every few months, although it’s best to ask someone to help you with this, especially if your mattress is very heavy.
How Do You Fix an Unsupportive Mattress?
Sometimes a mattress may feel uncomfortable long before its estimated time of retirement. One of the best temporary solutions is to invest in a mattress topper.
For those uncomfortable on a firm mattress, a topper will relieve pain and pressure points. Customers can even change the firmness of the bed from soft to firm. Toppers come in a variety of materials: memory foam, gel-foam, down, poly-foam, and latex.
While this is a quick fix, the best way to fix an unsupportive mattress is to replace it with a newer model.
What Should You Do With Old Mattresses?
Many towns and cities have local groups and charities that take unwanted mattresses in good condition. Other than that, there are tons of local and national businesses that pick up mattresses and recycle or dispose of them properly for a small fee.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re no longer feeling the supportive and pressure-relieving qualities of your mattress, you should retire it. If you don’t like waiting until the mattress starts to lose support, you may consider the mattress’s materials and get rid of your bed before its intended lifespan is up. The bottom line is, your mattress should not prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.