sleep foundation
author

Written by

Logan Foley

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of human health. Without quality sleep, our bodies are not able to heal and rejuvenate themselves, and our brains struggle to process emotions and store memories.

One of the biggest factors in getting a good night’s sleep is the comfort of your mattress. There are few other products that can have such a significant effect on our health and happiness. Therefore, it’s important to invest in a quality mattress, and replace it according to expert guidelines. But when should you replace your mattress?

Under normal conditions, mattresses should be replaced every 6 to 8 years.

Of course, this is a general guideline and not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are various factors that influence when you should replace your mattress.

Generally speaking, you should replace your mattress if one or more of the following apply:

  • It’s 6-8+ years old
  • It’s negatively affecting your sleep
  • It’s noticeably saggy or damaged in certain areas
  • It’s making more noise than usual (noisy springs are common in old innerspring mattresses)
  • You find that you sleep better at hotels, friends’ houses, etc.
  • You notice an increase in allergies and/or asthma
  • You regularly wake up with muscle or joint stiffness

Essentially, you should replace your bed if it’s no longer helping you get restful sleep. There’s no clear-cut way to know for sure whether it’s time for a new bed – but generally speaking, if you’re thinking about a new bed, it’s likely worthwhile to make the investment sooner rather than later.

Factors Influencing Mattress Lifespan

A variety of factors influence the longevity of a mattress. A cheap $250 bed will degrade much faster than a luxury mattress, for example. Some key factors that impact mattress replacement guidelines include:

Mattress Material – The materials used to manufacture your bed greatly influence its durability. Lower-quality innerspring and all-foam mattresses tend to have the shortest lifespans, as they are prone to sagging and body impressions respectively. Hybrid mattresses are also prone to these issues, but since they’re often sold as higher-end options and made with higher-quality materials, they tend to be more durable. Latex mattresses are the most durable, lasting upwards of 8 years

Depending on the material, there are a few good ways to predict durability. For innerspring and hybrid mattresses, look for a lower coil gauge (which means thicker coils). For mattresses with foam, look for higher foam densities (1.7+ PCF for polyfoam, 5+ PCF for memory foam). Finally, make sure you’re getting natural latex rather than synthetic latex.

Maintenance & Care – Like any other product, a mattress will last longer if you take good care of it. This means rotating your mattress every 3 months or so (unless the manufacturer recommends otherwise) and utilizing a mattress protector.

Sleeper Size & Weight – Your weight, as well as the weight of anyone sharing your bed, also influences the rate at which the mattress will degrade. Heavier sleepers will find that mattresses may sag quicker, while lightweight sleepers will have less of an impact. Similarly, a mattress accomodating a couple will likely wear out sooner than a mattress for a single person.

Children & Pets – If you share your bed with small children, or with animals, it’s likely that you will need to replace your mattress more frequently. In addition to the extra weight, both pets and children are more likely to cause stains and/or damage to the mattress.

Is a New Mattress Worth the Cost?

Buying a new mattress can be a significant expense – is it worth it?

In almost all cases, the answer is absolutely. A new mattress can improve the quality of your sleep, which influences everything from your energy levels to mood to overall health. Some potential benefits of a new mattress include:

Improved Sleep – A 2009 peer-reviewed clinical trial found that new mattresses significantly improved sleep quality and reduced both back pain and perceived stress in the trial population. Most new mattress owners also report that their sleep quality improved after purchasing a new bed.

Reduced Aches & Pains – If you wake up with pain or stiffness in your back, shoulders, hip or neck, it’s quite possible that your mattress may be part of the problem. Older beds tend to sag in places, which reduces support and makes it less likely that your spine will be properly aligned.

Reduced Motion Transfer – Older mattresses tend to transfer more motion from one side of the bed to the other. This means that a partner changing positions in the night can disrupt your sleep. A new mattress – and particularly an all-foam or hybrid bed – will transfer less motion, helping couples get better rest together.

Reduced Allergies/Asthma – Old mattresses accumulate dust mites, mold, bacteria and other allergens at an alarming rate. A small study by the National University of Singapore found that mattresses had the highest concentration of dust mites out of any household item, and other allergens are also very common in older mattresses. If you’ve found that your allergies or asthma symptoms have worsened, your mattress may be partially to blame.

While it can be tempting to stick with your existing mattress and save some money, for most people it will be worthwhile to upgrade. Remember that you will spend roughly 1/3rd of your life in bed – and there’s no better way to invest in your own well being than to do all you can to ensure quality sleep.