“How do I know if I need a new mattress?”
This may be your pressing question at the moment. You’re feeling some signs that are hard to ignore. Thing is, these reasons may not be enough to get you searching for mattress options. You’re probably just looking for hacks or solutions to remove the symptoms.
Knowing when to get a new mattress is both art and science. You can rely on the most common signs that can tell you it’s time to do so. But these signs may apply differently to individuals. There is not just one way to interpret them.
That said, we present to you the top 8 signs it’s time to replace your old sleeping space. Remember that one or more cases may affect your decision-making. Using the information in this guide, trust that you will end up doing what is best for you. And that you finally gain the confidence to tell when to get a new mattress.
Table of Contents
- When to Get A New Mattress
- Factors to Consider When Buying A Mattress
- Where Should You Buy A Mattress?
When to Get A New Mattress
1. Your mattress is old
Consumer Reports put the average lifespan of a mattress between 5 and 10 years. But there are factors that can shorten or lengthen your mattress’ time. The first of these factors is its quality. A premium-grade memory foam mattress can outlast a poorly-made innerspring mattress in this regard. Your care habits can also prolong its life–that hardworking mattress protector can go a long way,
If your mattress reaches 7 or 8 years, though, it’s time for you to assess its health and performance. It’s good that it’s passed its 5th year, but your bed may already be showing signs of wear at this point. An honest evaluation will help you achieve better sleep. Despite the maximum of 10 years mentioned above, do not take this for granted.
This is when you should not let sentimentality get in the way. During the assessment, be ready to let go of the mattress you have been using since college. If you inherited your mattress from a sibling or a relative, you should count the years it has been used prior. If it’s 7 or 8, it can be considered old.
2. Your mattress is sagging.
Sagging, dips, and body impressions can show up at some point depending on several causes. The most natural is daily wear and tear. However, the quality of the mattress also plays a role. Models with premium materials can reach the max years of their lifespan. But as we said, 7 or 8 years is your cue to assess. Around this time, you may already see some breakdown in the construction.
Sagging can be easy to spot or not. To determine it carefully, you can place a yardstick or a similar tool above the spots you want to check. You can focus on areas where the pressure and weight are heavy: head, shoulders, neck, and hips being the usual suspects. The perimeter can also be a candidate, especially if you tend to sleep or sit on it.
Body impressions can occur if the top foam layers are not good in retaining their original shape. These indentations are typically found in memory foam ones. They may not be visible, but they happen when the cell structure of the foam breaks down. An excellent model should not give you this problem early on. Also, look for one that has reliable edge support.
3. You sleep uncomfortable.
Tossing and turning more often than you used to? A general feeling of discomfort isn’t a surefire sign your mattress has gone bad. It is then important for you to eliminate the cause/s your comfort level has suddenly changed. One thing to look into is sagging, which can have some implications. Sagging may leave the surface uneven, which destroys the natural alignment of your body on the bed.
Again, age can be the culprit as it comes with its own issues. The breakdown in the layers can be due to the accumulated pressure the mattress has to handle over the years. On the other hand, old mattresses may invite a dust mite build-up. If you haven’t known yet, these microscopic creatures feed on dead skin cells. And after feeding, they can live inside the layers for a year.
If you are feeling sore upon waking up or hot during sleep, the problem may be caused by the model is not a match for you. You can check out the detailed discussion of each cause and more in the next items. But any of these could be a sign for you to consider switching the old for the new.
4. You wake up with soreness or pain.
You may find that one reason can lead to another when it comes to a mattress’s poor performance. Age can come with issues related to daily wear. The deterioration of a bed is expected to show through sagging, deformation, etc. In turn, these can make you feel pain, soreness, or discomfort. So, if you’re seeing 2 or 3 signs, don’t wait for something worse to happen.
Body pain or soreness upon waking up can add to these signs. Of course, you should be careful when finding out the cause of your condition. Don’t count your bed out, but don’t be so quick to pin the blame on it. Observe how you feel after sleeping. Which parts of your body are sore? How much pain do you feel? And do you always feel like this after rising?
If it’s always tied closely to the time you awaken, your mattress may be partly to blame. A decent bed brings you relief instead of pain and soreness. Now, it’s time for you to dig into the root cause. Does your bed have to sag you can’t sense at first try? Is there any deformation? Or is your mattress’ firmness incompatible with your sleeping position or your weight?
5. Your spine is not aligned properly.
There are several reasons you feel back pain while sleeping. One of these is the spine not falling into the neutral position. It could be that your sleeping position is not ideal as well, aggravated by a bed in which firmness is not customized for you. It can either be too firm or too plush. In either case, your spine is not supported either at the neck or the lower back.
Keep in mind that firmness is relative. What is too firm for one is not for another. One factor to consider here is your unique build. If your hips are wider, you may need a little give–or more plush–to feel comfortable. With narrower hips, you may want to go for a firmer surface. Such an adjustment is necessary for you to achieve better sleep.
If you are planning to change your mattress, make sure to shop carefully for a model, especially if you are plagued by lower back pain. Your bed should allow your spine to align naturally. This certain condition is important to note as well if you are testing out a mattress which turns out to be uncomfortable and incompatible.
Read our full review of Best Mattresses for Back Pain.
6. Your sleeping position and preference changed.
Are you aware of your preferred sleeping position? If not, check out if you’re more of a side, back, or stomach sleeper. Then, backtrack a bit to see if you have always been this sleeper type. It is possible for some people to change their preferred position at some point. And it can be causing discomfort and disruption in your sleep.
However, observe yourself over a few weeks to determine if this is really the cause. If you are a back sleeper who now snoozes on your stomach, be sure this is a regular episode. Sometimes, this kind of transition comes with changes that require you to sleep a certain way. It could be that your doctor prescribes you to sleep on your back to help relieve your back pain.
In that case, your old mattress should be changed. If you are lying on a really firm mattress, you need to switch to a plush or medium-firm one for your back to feel some hug and sink.
7. You’re experiencing worsening asthma or allergies.
Experiencing asthma or allergies may be a result of using an old mattress. The build-up of dirt, dust, and other allergens can leave you scratching your body all night. Parasitical dust mites settling down in your mattress, as we said, can also be the source of your itch.
Meanwhile, these elements can trigger allergic asthma, which causes nasal congestion. With a proper mitigation strategy, you may still be able to eliminate dust, dirt, and dust mites. But if your mattress can no longer be salvaged, replacing it is the best possible course.
8. You’re sharing your bed with someone.
If you’ve started sharing your bed with a co-sleeper, you obviously need to upgrade to bigger sleeping space if you have been using a Twin, Twin XL, or Full. You and your sibling, partner, child, or pet should feel comfortable while drifting off. There is really no choice but to buy a new one.
If you are wondering which mattress size can best cater to your co-sleeping needs, refer to our Mattress Size guide for more information. It’s important that you invest in a model that will provide you with the most optimal benefits.
Factors to Consider When Buying A Mattress
Construction & Materials
The quality of the materials and their arrangement inside the mattress can provide you with hints regarding mattress performance. You will encounter memory foam, latex foam, and polyurethane foam inside all-foam designs, usually as comfort layers. They are also used as a transition or core layers. High-Density foam fills the bottom. But in hybrids, this is replaced by a spring base.
Further, the coils in the spring base can be pocket coils, the most preferred to make these days, and Bonnell coils. The focus of this factor is not just about the number of layers but also their quality. As for foams and other components, you can confirm health and safety through certification from the likes of CertiPUR-US, OEKO-TEX Standard 100, Global Organic Latex Standard (GOTS), and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOLS).
Firmness & Feel
To achieve superior comfort, you should consider firmness as a priority. This refers to the hardness or softness of the mattress. A firmness scale of 1 to 10 is used to determine this, with 1 as softest and 10 as firmest. Medium is placed at 5, but 5.5 to 7 usually covers what is comfortable for most people. Use that as a baseline, not as a rule.
Here is a quick overview of the scale:
- 1 to 2 (Ultra Plush/Ultra Soft) – Too much sink and hug; lacks support for the spine.
- 3 to 4 (Plush/Soft) – For side sleepers and people who weigh less than 130 pounds.
- 5 to 6 (Medium) – Caters to all sleeper types, especially those of average weight: 130 to 230 pounds.
- 7 to 8 (Firm) – Ideal for stomach and back sleepers who are above 230 pounds.
- 9 to 10 (Ultra Firm) – People with a condition, an injury, or a physically demanding lifestyle can be prescribed to lie on this kind of surface.
Find a mattress that has either cooling or temperature neutrality or both. Cooling is about dissipating heat quickly, so it won’t be trapped in the layers. This is typically delivered by components like gel, copper, and graphite. Any of these can be infused in foams to amp up their cooling factor. Some foams also sport an open-cell structure to enhance cooling and promote breathability.
Meanwhile, temperature neutrality is focused on regulating skin temperature. How does it work? It cools down the body during hot nights and warms it up during cold nights. It adapts to your skin temperature, so you can feel comfortable no matter what season it is. An efficient model will have both cooling and temperature neutrality.
Edge Support & Sinkage
Good edge support lets you roll toward the edge without the roll-off feel. This performance-based metric is helpful when you tend to sleep near the side. It should allow little to no compression, preserving the stability and support at the edge. This extends the life of your mattress. It also expands your sleeping surface area.
Poor edge support can cause the things you would usually find in an old mattress. Premature sagging at the perimeter can happen. With deep compression starting to manifest impact where you like to sit or sleep, the surface of the mattress can turn uneven. Body impressions and dips can make snoozing really uncomfortable.
Speaking of performance-based factors, you should not discount motion transfer if you sleep lightly and with a co-sleeper. Motion transfer is the transfer of movements across the sleeping surface. Isolating them within the area of origin is called less motion isolation, which is something you would want in a mattress. The best models can reduce or eliminate motion transfer. Hence, they have good to great motion isolation.
People who share one mattress with a co-sleeper who sleeps lightly or moves frequently in sleep should prioritize this. Your sleep may be interrupted by a lot of motion transfer. Over time, this can have an impact on your sleep quality.
This factor can make or break a deal. How can you tell if you’re getting a good one? For a start, check out the mattress type and its average price or price range. Some models can go below or above average. Use your judgment to determine if the quality is worth the extra price or so much better than what the cheap price lets on.
Here is the average price for the queen version of the most common mattress types:
- Innerspring – $100 to $2,500
- Memory foam mattress – $500 to $1,500
- Hybrid mattress – $1,600
- Latex mattress – $2,000
- Adjustable mattress – $1,000 to $3,500
Company policies have become more customer-centric these days. But understanding the terms and conditions surrounding not be taken for granted. This can even prevent you from having headaches someday. For one, make sure shipping is free for your area of residence. Many brands offer free shipping, as well as returns, but only in the contiguous United States.
Sleep trials are a common feature among online mattress brands. The market average ranges from 90 to 120 nights. Generous companies offer up to 365 days. On a case-to-case basis, you can also test out a mattress bought from an e-commerce site for around 30 nights (e.g. Amazon) and from retail stores for around 90 nights (e.g. Macy’s).
Lastly, warranties typically cover 10 or 25 years. Be wary about the terms in your policy so you can claim your warranty in the future. There are manufacturers who won’t honor your warranty if you don’t fulfill a requirement, say, using a box spring or foundation with the mattress they sold you.
Where Should You Buy A Mattress?
Physical stores and purely online stores have been competing in the last few years. Know the pros and cons of buying from either channel.
- Retail stores – The old school way involves selling mattresses in showrooms, retail outlets, and department stores. Showrooms are owned by the manufacturers themselves. This makes the showroom an exclusive place to shop for a mattress. Those built by Sealy and Stearns & Foster are good examples. Meanwhile, retail and department stores offer different brands and models. America’s popular retailers include American Mattress and Denver Mattress. Department stores include JCPenney and Wayfair.
These distribution channels share some aspects that beds inboxes have sought to disrupt: high overhead and pesky salespeople are the top two. One good thing the latter two have that showrooms don’t is the flexibility of prices. While the final price can still be high, you can haggle your way to a more comfortable figure.
- Online stores – In the mid-2010s, bed-in-a-box brands started revolutionizing the mattress shopping experience. Capitalizing on purely digital presence, they have normalized online shopping, beds compressed in a box, free shipping and returns, and sleep trials.
But their most important contribution is an affordable luxury. These beds in boxes feature less expensive price points than those of their traditional counterparts. This is made possible by the removal of the “extra” maintenance and manpower costs that physical stores incur.
Distribution channels may overlap these days since traditional companies are also moving to the digital space. The likes of Tempur-pedic can sell through their brick-and-mortar stores and their website. Retail stores and department stores can do the same.
On the other hand, some bed-in-a-box brands like Casper run their own website, own page on Amazon, and some presence in retail and department stores.
If the answer is yes, you need a new mattress, you now faced the challenge of finding a better replacement. With the slew of options on the market, you should not be confused. Why not search through our archives of mattress reviews and guides, as well as sleep education articles, to start in the direction?
So, what is your mattress situation? Tell us in the comments! And if this guide has helped you, do not forget to share it with your family and friends.