7 Signs It's Time to Get a New Mattress
There's no doubt about it — your mattress plays a central role in your life and well-being. The average person spends eight hours a day asleep in bed, meaning you'll spend about a third of your life on your mattress.
If you live to 75, that's about 25 years of your life spent in bed. Depending on the quality and state of your mattress, that time might be spent sleeping soundly or tossing and turning, looking for that elusive entrance to dreamland.
If you're not sure how to tell when you need a new mattress, there are seven signs to look for. Just one of these signs may indicate it's time to go mattress shopping — and if your bed has more than one of these symptoms, you're likely losing out on sleep and may be jeopardizing your health.
Industry experts agree — a mattress has a lifetime of about seven to 10 years under average conditions. The lifespan of a mattress refers to the length of time the mattress can successfully retain some of its structural support and level of comfort.
Mattress lifespans vary depending on the material the mattress is made from as well as its initial manufacturing quality. Innerspring mattresses, also known as coil mattresses, have been in use since the early 1900s and are still the most popular type of mattress by sales. The average lifespan is based on an innerspring, but their popularity results in a broad range of quality levels.
A high-end innerspring can last up to 10 years, but a poorly made coil mattress may not last more than four or five. Memory foam mattresses typically last longer than innerspring mattresses, and hybrids between the two offer exceptional longevity.
Frequency of use shortens your mattress' life. If you're given to afternoon naps, have a large pet that sleeps on the bed or have a co-sleeper with a different sleep schedule than you do, your mattress will wear out faster. If your mattress is more than five years old, chances are you'll need a new one soon.
A sag in the middle is the easiest way to identify mattresses that need replacing. If you feel like you're rolling toward the center of the bed every time you lie down, it means your mattress is losing its ability to properly support your body. Sags don't always develop in the center of the bed. They can occur where one sleeping partner is much heavier than the other or when a large person sleeps mostly on one side of the bed.
In these cases, the mattress can start to look crooked in addition to having an indent on the side. Two main factors can contribute to a sagging, uncomfortable mattress:
The bed frame you choose is just as important as the mattress itself, especially with larger queen- and king-sized mattresses. The bed frame must feature a center support. This support is built into most metal frames, and adding a center support to wood frames is usually simple.
Sometimes a weak frame or vigorous motion can bend a support out of place, leading to an increased probability of sagging. If you're starting to feel a sag, check your bed frame to ensure it's properly aligned to support your mattress. If you're not sure how often you should replace your mattress and box spring, a good rule of thumb is to evaluate them at the same time you check your frame.
These days, it's increasingly common to see beds with only one usable side. Manufacturers claim that modern materials eliminate the need for bed-flipping, and in some cases they are correct. How often should you rotate your mattress? Turning it quarterly will help ensure even wear and prolong its life.
Rotation is especially important with a co-sleeper, as differences in weight lead to uneven compression of mattress materials. Over time, that compression leads to sag, and you'll need a new mattress to get your best night's sleep back.
3. It's Supporting More Weight
If you've gained a significant amount of weight recently, it may be time to reevaluate whether your mattress still suits your sleep needs. A Canadian sleep study found substantial links between weight gain and shortened or lengthened sleep duration. If your mattress is too old or not robust enough to support more weight, you may find it so uncomfortable that you can't sleep as long as you need to.
In more subtle situations, a sub-par mattress can cause smaller and more frequent sleep disturbances, leading to more sleep time but less rest and rejuvenation.
Adding a sleeping partner to the bed puts the same type of added strain on a mattress, and will cause it to wear out more quickly.
4. You're Waking up in Pain
Occasional aches and pains are a normal part of life, but if you're noticing it's harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning, your mattress might be the culprit. The best mattresses will help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on your day. New and persistent back pain is one clear way to tell when you need a new mattress.
A good mattress provides the proper support to keep your spine and hips aligned. The human spine has a distinct S-curve that should be preserved when you're sleeping on your stomach or back. A saggy mattress causes a stomach sleeper's spine to curve more dramatically than it should and flattens out the curve too much for back sleepers. This results in lower back pain in the morning.
A lack of mattress support for side sleepers results in a curvature where the spine should be straight. Sometimes placing a pillow between the knees can mitigate the misalignment, but the lack of support can still result in pain throughout the mid to lower back and hips.
Your mattress might also be too hard or too soft. Many people think very firm mattresses are the only option for people with back pain, but one survey of back pain sufferers revealed that people with very hard mattresses actually reported the worst sleep quality. If your aches and pains are worse when you're just waking up and subside after some stretching and movement, you should consider replacing your mattress.
5. It's Noisy
A creaky mattress is a one-way ticket to reduced sleep quality. In most cases, the unpleasant squeaky sound crops up in innerspring mattresses. Traditionally, innerspring mattresses were all made with an "offset coil system." This system interconnects every coil in the bed, creating thousands of contact points for metal on metal. These beds became squeaky in no time, and the design is quite outdated at this point.
Pocketed coil designs are much more common these days, and they limit the potential for squeaking in your mattress. However, as time goes on and material compresses with routine use, you still may experience squeaking as your mattress comes closer to the end of its life. Noisiness is one of the most obvious signs it's time to get a new mattress because it goes hand in hand with sagginess and lack of support.
For light sleepers — especially those with sleeping partners — a creaky bed can easily become a nightmare. Unwanted noise makes it harder to fall asleep, and bad mattresses tend to creak with even the slightest movement. You're most likely to be woken up by noise during stage 2 sleep, the period between initially falling asleep and entering the deep sleep you need to feel refreshed in the morning. A noisy mattress can prevent you from progressing through the sleep cycle and getting the rest you need.
Consider eliminating the possibility of creaks and squeaks with a memory foam or hybrid mattress. A design without metal coils can save you from significant headaches over time.
6. You're Getting Sick
A noisy and unsupportive mattress can mess with your health by disrupting your sleep, but there are other hidden health hazards with an old mattress. Over time, a mattress can absorb pounds of unwanted materials that pose a danger to your health. Some claim that a mattress doubles in weight after eight years due to all the accumulated material, but no study has ever proven this to be true. What we do know is that these three contaminants are routinely found in aging mattresses.
The human body is always busy getting out with the old and in with the new, especially when it comes to skin cells. Skin cells only live about two to three weeks, and once they die, we shed them. Over a year, you'll cast off about 8.8 pounds of dead skin, and a lot of it ends up in your bed. Frequent washing of bedding in hot water can go a long way in preventing buildup in your mattress, but the sheer volume of cells shed means some of them will end up in your pillow and mattress. These cells may carry bacteria that can make you sick.
Sweat is another culprit in the deterioration of mattresses. Most people don't sweat during sleep until temperatures reach higher than 85°F, but one warm night or a few days of being ill in bed can release several ounces of sweat into your mattress along with a significant amount of oils from your skin. If you have a contagious infection, the sweat and oil you secrete deposits those viruses and bacteria into your bedding, and they can saturate your mattress.
If you find yourself getting common colds or stomach bugs more often, it may be a sign that it's time to get a new mattress. This is especially evident when you have a sleeping partner because it's easier to infect another person than to it is to get the same illness again.
Beds provide a warm and sometimes humid environment for multiple types of fungus and mold to take root. One study from Purdue University examined regularly-used pillows 1.5 to 20 years old to evaluate the accumulation of fungus. The study found 47 different species of fungi in the pillows, a disturbing statistic to say the least. Although pillows receive more of the castoff fungus we deposit, your mattress can build up fungus and mold over time.
The most obvious symptoms of breathing in fungus from a mattress involve difficulty breathing. You might develop a slight wheeze, or see worse allergies and asthma symptoms. Some types of fungus cause a rash upon skin exposure, though this is uncommon because bedding shields the skin from direct contact.
Dust mites might be the most disturbing health threat in a mattress. The average used mattress contains anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million dust mites. A third of people who suffer from allergies are also allergic to dust mites, so an old mattress with dust mite buildup can cause symptoms to worsen as time marches on.
Since mites are happy to eat skin flakes and thrive in a dark environment like the one a mattress provides, the best way to prevent the buildup of any of these human byproducts is to use pillow and mattress protectors. A zip-on protector helps repel dirt, dust, skin and mites, but only if you put it on when the mattress is new.
7. You Sleep Better Elsewhere
Your bed should be a place of rest that you look forward to relaxing on at night. If you stay at a hotel or sleep on a friend's sofa and find you've slept better than you do in bed, it's time to get a new mattress.
The best mattress will support your body and keep it in alignment for the best rest possible. If your bed is too hard, too soft, sagging or otherwise wrong for you, you'll wake up feeling the consequences.
If your sleep is just plain uncomfortable, there's a good chance your mattress is to blame. You should look forward to bedtime, and the right mattress can make all the difference.
Finding the best mattress can be daunting if you've never researched them before. If you're wondering where to get a new mattress in Mechanicsburg or Harrisburg, Pa., Davids Furniture is the place to go. We don't just offer the best selection of mattresses in Pennsylvania — we equip you with the knowledge to make your mattress last.
We're the premier place to get a new mattress in Harrisburg or Mechanicsburg, with the expertise to ensure you get a mattress that will stand up to your lifestyle and keep you well-rested throughout its lifetime.
If you're interested in learning more about caring for your mattress and other furniture in your home, consider subscribing to our newsletter. You'll receive tips and tricks on caring for the furniture you have, and special discounts for when you're ready to upgrade.
Our designers are ready to answer all of your questions about mattresses and other furniture, and ensure you get the product that will last longest and perform the best for your lifestyle. Contact us or stop by our stores in Harrisburg or Mechanicsburg to see the Davids Furniture difference.