By Jenn Rice

Published on September 15, 2018

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Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

There’s nothing more rewarding than a good night’s sleep, and we can attest that a proper mattress does the trick. The average lifespan is around seven years, so if back pain and restless nights are part of the current routine, these are key signs it’s time for a new mattress.

While Mattress Advisor notes it’s a hefty investment, break it down like this: “If you buy a $1,000 mattress, only sleep on it for 300 days out of the year, and own it for seven years, you’re essentially paying $0.48 a day to get a great night’s sleep,” says Alesandra Wooley, the company’s executive editor. To put it into perspective, your daily morning lattes cost ten times this price—so think of it this way to avoid initial sticker shock.

We turned to the mattress experts to find out how to spot signs of wear and tear, what to look for when shopping for a new mattress, self-care tips, and much more. Wake up feeling rested, work more efficiently, and conquer the day thanks to something as simple as a night of uninterrupted sleep.

When it’s most likely time to kick your mattress to the curb, your body will give you fair warning

“There are several signs you know it’s time for a new mattress, including morning aches and pains, tossing and turning while you sleep, and of course the age of the mattress,” says Barry Cik, founder of Naturepedic Organic Mattresses.

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Courtesy of W Hotels

Your mattress is feeling saggy or lumpy

“Over time, the materials in a mattress can start deteriorating or can start to lose shape, particularly in areas that get the most use,” says Wooley. Pay attention to this warning sign, she notes, and “act quickly,” as it will do a number on the body if not mindful.

You’re tossing and turning more than usual

Insomnia happens to the best of us, but it could very well be a sign of needing a new bed. “Not being able to find a comfortable position on your mattress is another sign that it might be time for a new one,” says Wooley. This is the result of the mattress losing the ability to support the body, and it means you’ll really start to toss and turn and wake up feeling horrendous each morning.

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Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

You have generally poor sleep

If waking up sans a good night’s sleep is a regular event for you, it’s a telltale sign you’re in need of a new mattress. “If you are unsure if you are experiencing discomfort or poor sleep because you are due for a new mattress, try sleeping on a different mattress for a few days if possible,” says Cik. Monitor patterns and consider a mattress upgrade if sleep patterns are all over the place.

Taking it a step further, the body will show instant signs by way of aches and pains if it’s time to say goodbye. “Sleeping on a mattress that’s too old (or not right for you) can mean that it’s not responding to your body movements throughout the night,” notes Wooley. “So instead of providing support in all positions, it provides a sleeping platform that doesn’t give in or push back in the places it needs to, causing your body to feel sore or achy in the morning.”

“Not being able to find a comfortable position on your mattress is another sign that it might be time for a new one.” 

The bounce back is minimal

Mattresses can lose their responsiveness or ability to bounce back over time, Wooley says. “Ideally, you want a mattress that strategically pushes back when you put pressure on it. If you find yourself sinking right into your mattress, that likely means that it’s losing its ability to properly support your body.”

Mattresses can lose their responsiveness or ability to bounce back over time.” 

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Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

Think about sweat and germs multiplying over time

Comfort aside, sweat and germs are cringe-worthy factors to take note of when it comes to the expiration date. Wooley adds that the average person sweats half a pint of perspiration each night, so think about that adding up over time. Gross.

“Sure you can clean your mattress and use a mattress protector, but over time, there are inevitably dust mites, bacteria, bodily fluids, and other microorganisms that will make their way into the layers of your mattress,” she says.

 “Over time, there are inevitably dust mites, bacteria, bodily fluids, and other microorganisms that will make their way into the layers of your mattress.”  

You feel a little numb in the morning

If the mattress has lost all firmness, there’s a solid chance you’ll wake up with numb limbs. “Your body is essentially getting stuck in certain parts of the mattress, which is not a great position for physically recharging and rejuvenating muscles—a critical part of sleep,” Wooley notes. This should be a solid sign to prompt mattress shopping.

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Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

You can feel your partner move ever so slightly

Snoring is one matter, but if a significant other is waking you at every roll or shift in bed, it’s going to drive you mad. And it’s probably time to toss the mattress to the curb.

“This type of disturbance can interrupt important sleep cycles, robbing you of quality sleep,” says Wooley. “Feeling every movement from your sleeping partner can mean that your mattress can no longer isolate motion like it used to—an important factor for couples who share a bed with each other.”

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Courtesy of Sofitel

You like sleeping in hotel beds more than you do your own

Everyone loves a good night’s sleep in a quiet, comfortable hotel room sans spouse (or kids, or dogs) from time to time, but you should ultimately miss your amazing bed when away from home. If you find yourself wanting to check into a hotel just for a solid night of z’s, it might be time to think about a mattress upgrade at home.

You have no ample support

“If you are waking up in pain, particularly in the back or neck region, it could be an alignment issue, meaning your mattress isn’t providing the proper support,” says Cik. “Of course we always recommend consulting your doctor first, but know the right mattress will provide you the correct support and pressure point relief that will reduce tossing and turning while helping to eliminate aches and pains.”

 “If you are waking up in pain, particularly in the back or neck region, it could be an alignment issue, meaning your mattress isn’t providing the proper support.” 

You overextended a mattress’ 10-year lifespan

Nothing lasts forever, a statement that is especially true when speaking of a mattress. It’s a spendy investment, but if investing in a quality product, it should last nearly a decade. According to Mattress Advisor, innerspring mattresses will last around seven to eight years, foam up to 10 years, and latex rolling in at a whopping 15 years thanks to their “durable makeup.”

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Courtesy of Mattress Helper

So you overextended—check out these mattress-extending products

If a new mattress isn’t financially in your cards, there are a few key products to temporarily help extend the life of your current mattress for a fraction of the price. Seek out products like Mattress Helper and No Sags to help support saggy mattresses and keep it more firm (which will help with back pain, too). Note that this is only short-term and will give you time to shop for a long-term solution that really caters to your body.

How to shop and care for a mattress when it’s time

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Courtesy of Zinus

If you’re unsure, take a quiz

Many brands offer online quizzes to help you identify the most perfect mattress for your sleep type and style. We recognize there is not one bed for every sleeper, which is why we make a variety of foam and foam/spring hybrid mattress, each with custom thickness levels so sleepers can tailor the level of support,” says Darren Wilson, vice president of marketing at Zinus. “We created a quiz that helps match your sleeping habits and needs with the perfect mattress.”

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Courtesy of Casper

Try before you buy

Many online companies offer a ‘try before you buy’ deal where you can spend up to 120 days testing out a new bed before owning it. This will truly show the mattress and all its glory (or not), so the money is well spent at the end of the day. Check out brands such as Tuft & Needle, Helix, Tulo, and Casper.

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Quality is of utmost importance

The same shopping rules apply when searching for a new mattress: Do ample research on fabrics, craftsmanship, and so forth. “Research what materials your mattress contains,” says Cik. “The better quality and more natural materials your mattress is made with, the longer your new mattress should last and the better you should sleep every night.”

Finding the right mattress is key for a sound night’s sleep, and it’s all about personal preference. “We truly believe that everyone deserves a wonderful night sleep, so we design mattresses for all sleep types—from stomach, side or hot sleepers,” he says.

 “The better quality and more natural materials your mattress is made with, the longer your new mattress should last and the better you should sleep every night.” 

Rotate, don’t flip

When properly caring for a mattress, the obvious solution—and what most will relay—is to flip it over to keep it bouncy and comfortable. Darren Wilson, vice president of marketing at Zinus, notes that flipping the mattress “will prevent uneven wear and extend mattress life.” Instead, rotate it so you’re sleeping on different sides.

Always leave the cover on

While it might be tempting to rip the cover that comes with the mattress off in a heartbeat, don’t do it. “All of our mattresses come with a cover that isn’t made for removing or washing and removing it could inhibit the fire safety barrier, so we recommend to always leave the cover on,” says Wilson. Not to mention, the cover will help keep the mattress in pristine shape.

More for your best sleep:

Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Sleep Ever

Two Sleep Professionals Share Their Secrets