If you’re tossing and turning, waking up tired and grumpy, then it might well be time to replace your mattress. However, calculating the lifespan of this vital (and often expensive) piece of sleep equipment is far from foolproof. So how do you know when it’s time to start looking at our best mattress guide for a new one?
The first step might be to consider the age of the mattress in question. The National Sleep Foundation — an expert voice in the world of sleep science for nearly three decades — cite a lifespan of around eight years for mattresses but claim this may be shorter for sleepers over 40 years of age, as their bodies need better support for sleep.
The Better Sleep Council is the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association, and it’s in agreement with The National Sleep Foundation, recommending that any mattress over seven years old is ready for landfill or recycling. "Just because the mattress is in great shape, you change, your body changes, your lifestyle changes – so that “still new” mattress may not be giving you the comfort and support that you or your partner needs," says Mary Helen Rogers, VP Marketing and Communications of the Better Sleep Council, speaking to Top Ten Reviews.
There are some slightly contradictory views coming from leading mattress manufacturers however, with popular US brand the Leesa mattress company stating in a blog post; "there’s no exact science to calculating a mattresses’ lifespan" and that deciding if it’s due for replacement depends on a number of telltale signs. This is echoed by the established mattress brand Restonic, who go one step further to claim that the seven-to-eight year guideline is in fact a myth and the longevity of a mattress is dependent on care, use and rotation.
Digging a little deeper, it becomes apparent that both experts and manufacturers are often in agreement when it comes to identifying common signs that a mattress is at the end of its life, regardless of age. We’ve summarised these signs for you in the following guide. And if you are planning to get a new one, here's how to pick the right mattress for you.
1. You are tired despite getting a full night’s sleep
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people between 18-60 years get seven or more hours of sleep per night to function effectively. So if you’re getting your share of early nights and still feeling sleepy and tired the next day, or you’re repeatedly waking up during the night, then this could be the result of a worn mattress that’s overdue for replacement.
There are other reasons why we lose sleep, of course, such as financial stress - as was proven in a recent study - but an old mattress is usually a prime suspect here.
2. You wake up with stiffness, numbness, aches and pains
Unless you’ve recently taken up triathlons or another strenuous physical activity, your body might be telling you that it needs a new mattress. Bob Dimas, CEO of foam and mattress manufacturer Foamite, explains: "Old mattresses lose the ability to provide proper support and once the comfort zone has matted down you will get pressure points by sleeping directly on the springs. This can create significant pain in the neck, shoulders and back."
So if you wake feeling like you’ve been run over by a truck every morning, it’s time to start shopping. Right now, we recommend the Helix mattress as our favorite all-round pick.
3. Your mattress has visible signs of wear
A thorough visual check can often indicate that a replacement mattress is required and this is something that the both manufacturers and experts recommend. Leesa advises that a mattress surface should be smooth and consistent, without any noticeable dips or trenches, while the National Sleep Foundation advocates checking for worn or sagging spots in the middle or at the edges. The Better Sleep Council cites visible signs of overuse as tearing, ripping, holes and staining.
4. You realize you get a better night’s sleep elsewhere
The consensus is that nothing beats your own bed. If this isn’t the case and you’re finding you feel much better after sleeping in a hotel bed, a friend’s guest room or even on your own couch then think seriously about buying a new mattress. There are even companies that specialize in recreating that 'hotel bed' feeling, and if you want something similar to this, we looking at a Saatva mattress (although, be warned, they are expensive).
5. You and your partner wake each other during the night
It could be fighting over the covers but it might very well be that your mattress has seen better days, and the National Sleep Foundation recommends checking that your position on the bed isn’t disturbed when your partner moves around. Modern mattresses are created with materials like memory foam that allow partners to turn over and even get out of bed without disturbing each other. If you cohabit with a serial night-time fidgeter then consider a memory foam or a hybrid mattress as your next purchase. Sadly, there's nothing a mattress can do if they snore.
Investing in sleep
If you or your mattress are registering positive for any of the signs and symptoms listed above then it’s time to find out how to pick the right mattress for you before visiting our buyer’s guide to the best mattresses for further advice . A good mattress is a solid investment in your all-round health, productivity and wellness and will pay noticeable dividends in all areas of your life.
What to do with your old mattress
While it might be convenient to sling your old, worn out mattress in the nearest dumpster this isn’t particularly kind to your community or the wider environment. There are many ways you can recycle a mattress, from donating it to charity (if it’s still usable) to services that come and pick it up. Mattress manufacturer Purple has some good tips and The Mattress Recycling Council offers a state-by-state guide to ethical disposal.