Your mattress is one of the most important elements for a good night’s sleep. If your mattress is low-quality, or if it’s in bad shape, you aren’t going to be able to get a good night’s sleep. On top of that, you may suffer health problems like aggravated allergies or worse.
Over time, mattresses deteriorate in quality and gradually become less comfortable and less hygienic to sleep on. But at what point is it appropriate to replace an old mattress?
How Mattresses Decline
First, you need to understand the different ways that mattresses degrade over time:
- Shape and support. Mattresses start with a perfect shape, designed to support your body from head to toe. But no matter what type of mattress you get, eventually it will start to get deformed. Spring mattresses can start to wear out, memory foam can become improperly proportioned, and most other types of mattresses can get lumpy or otherwise less supportive.
- Structural integrity. Depending on the quality of the mattress and how well you take care of it, it can slowly degrade in terms of structural integrity. Cuts, tears, and blemishes can escalate in severity and make it impossible to sleep comfortably.
- Hygiene. On top of that, even if you have good sheets and change them regularly, your mattress will accumulate dust, dirt, germs, and other microorganisms. It’s possible to deep clean a mattress, but even with periodic cleanings, over time your mattress will become less hygienic. This is one of the most dangerous effects, since it can affect your health in multiple ways.
Signs Your Mattress Is Wearing Out
How can you tell if your mattress is wearing out to the point that it’s no longer safe to sleep on?
There are a few warning signs, though some are more obvious than others:
- Creaking or other noises. Some mattress types naturally make some kind of noise, like how spring mattresses creak when you apply pressure to them. As your mattress starts to age, these noises can increase in frequency and intensity. If the noises become distracting, it could not only interfere with your sleep, but serve as a sign that your mattress is in need of replacing.
- Inconsistencies. Good mattresses in good conditions should be relatively consistent; they should feel the same no matter where you are on the mattress. If you notice that one area seems firmer than the others, or if there’s a single spot that has been worn more than the rest of the mattress, it may be time to replace the mattress. You may also notice bigger problems, like a spring poking out of the mattress, or major lumps that make it impossible to sleep comfortably. These are only going to get worse over time.
- Joint, back, or neck soreness. Do you ever wake up in the morning with back pain, or pain in your neck or other joints? It could be a sign that your mattress is beginning to fail. Your mattress is designed to provide adequate support for your body, and if it isn’t providing that support, your body is going to take the brunt of the damage. This can be hard to notice, but it’s an important sign you need to upgrade.
- Cuts, tears, stains, and blemishes. The surface of the mattress can be a major sign of wear and tear. Any cuts, blemishes, or tears will surely grow worse over time—and they aren’t conducive to a good night’s sleep. You may also be able to gauge the cleanliness of your mattress based on how it looks, feels, and smells. Lots of stains or a persistent odor are signs you’ll need to get a replacement.
- Sheer age. It’s a good idea to replace your mattress every several years, even if it doesn’t show any signs of wear. This lifespan will vary based on the type and quality of the mattress you buy, as well as how you use it. However, you should plan to buy a new mattress every 5 to 10 years.
Alternatives to Replacement
If your mattress is starting to show signs of wear, but it’s still in relatively good condition, you might not need to replace the mattress entirely. You may be able to purchase a mattress topper, which is designed to sit on top of your existing mattress and provide an extra layer of cushioning. These aren’t permanent solutions, but they can help you get another few years out of your mattress—especially if you buy a high-quality topper.
Don’t take your mattress for granted; it’s your best tool for getting a good night’s sleep, every night. Pay close attention to how the quality of your mattress changes over time, and be ready to invest in a new mattress when the time is right.