Written by Anne-Marie Hays | Last Updated November 21st, 2019Anne-Marie Hays is a Content Management Intern with Best Company. She enjoys comedy, hates crowds, and loves that you are reading this bio.
Do you dread sleeping in your own bed?
Do you get jealous when you see other people coming in to work rested and refreshed?
Do you feel guilty for longingly watching mattress commercials?
Are you jealous of the people pretending to sleep in the ad?
Have you had more than three dreams in the last month featuring a BRAND NEW MATTRESS?
Do you find excuses to sleep an extra day at a significant other's place, your in-laws' house, or even on the living room couch, just to avoid your mattress?
It's time to face the facts: You're cheating. . . on your mattress.
It's time to end the relationship, get a new mattress, and enjoy some well-deserved sleep at your own home. For those of you in denial, here are 12 signs that you need to look for a new mattress.
1. Your back or neck hurts
"If your back or neck is stiff or hurts when you wake up, but feels better as the day goes on, it might be because of your mattress," says Meg Jacobini, Mattress expert at RAVE Reviews.
How often is this happening?
"If you wake up with aches and pains two, three, or more times a week, that's a really good sign it's time for a new mattress," says Christina Heiser, content manager at luxury mattress company Saatva. "As a mattress wears over time, it'll provide less support than it used to at the beginning, which could leave you with a sore neck or back in the morning."
2. Everywhere hurts
For some of us, the aches and pains cover more than just your back.
Laura Mogen is a professional mattress reviewer, sleep enthusiast, and editor-in-chief of mybestmattress.com. She suggests that "waking up with soreness in your back, shoulders, and hips" are all signs that it's time to get a new mattress.
When you are waking up with aches and pains, it might be your mattress, not you, says sleep researcher Jeanine Joy, Ph.D. from bestmattress.reviews, "Many people assume their morning aches and pains are a sign of aging, but they’re more likely to be a sign of an aging mattress."
"Mattress quality is an important part of getting an optimal night's sleep," explains chiropractor Dr. Tauberg. "Having a quality mattress allows for your body to relax more completely during the night which allows your body to recover and for you to sleep better. When your mattress starts losing support it becomes harder to stay comfortable for long periods of time as the body is having to rely on muscles and joints to properly provide support. When this starts to happen waking up with pain or stiffness is common."
"If you're beginning to notice aches and pains when waking that you didn't use to experience, this indicates the materials are beginning to degrade," says Jessica Ruiz-Jones, Lead Mattress and Sleep Product Expert with The Sleep Judge. If these new pains are happening "night after night (particularly at the shoulders or lumbar region), the structure of your bed has likely been compromised," agrees Sleepopolis content director Logan Block.
3. You can't get comfortable
Do you find yourself wiggling around more than normal trying to nestle into a comfy position? "Inability to find a comfortable position" is a great indicator that it's time to start thinking about a new mattress, says Mogen. It could mean that your mattress is too old or that it wasn't right for your sleep position in the first place.
"If you wake up in pain, it could mean that your mattress is not supporting your body while you sleep," says sleep researcher Joy. "This means your muscles are working to support you, which leads to soreness. If you have the wrong mattress for your primary sleep position it could cause soreness as well."
"Side sleepers need softer cushioning in the shoulders and hips so that they can sink in without creating pressure points or causing pain or numbness," says Joy.
On the flip side, "Back and stomach sleepers need a firmer mattress," she says. "Medium-firm is the best for most back and stomach sleepers." It's also one of the most common mattress comfort levels available. For example, all of Purple's mattresses are rated as medium-firm.
4. You feel sleepy during the day
"If you’re often sleepy during the day even though you spend enough time in bed, you may need a new mattress," advises Joy. "Adults generally need seven to nine hours of sleep each day." If you are putting in the hours, but still sleepy, your mattress may be the culprit. Writes Chris Nguyen at SleepStandards, "The average lifespan of a mattress is about eight years. More important than any statistic is how you feel sleeping on your mattress. If you need to toss and turn or feel tired after waking up, then you should consider a new mattress."
If you feel sleepy during the day, your sleep quality may be declining as your mattress ages. Alesandra Woolley is Mattress Advisor’s executive editor and a certified sleep science coach. She shares, "A study published by the U.S. National Institute of Health found that subjects who slept on a new mattress improved their overall quality of sleep."
But how will you know the difference?
Sleep researcher Joy suggests keeping a sleep journal or using "actigraphy to track the quality of your sleep on your old mattress." That way, you can have something to compare your sleep quality to, like a snapshot of your sleep quality on the questionable mattress vs. a new one.
5. You wake up multiple times each night
"Quality of sleep and duration are solid measures for evaluating your mattress," advises Vinay Amin, Health and Wellness Expert and CEO of Eu Natural. "If you're waking up several times per night due to discomfort or wake up with joint pain despite not having injuries, it could be due to having an old mattress or the wrong one."
6. Your body has changed
If your mattress isn't comfortable anymore, it's time for a change, says Jacobini. "This may seem pretty obvious, but you might not notice if it’s a gradual change that occurs over the years. The change could be due to normal wear and tear, but could also be because of changes in your body, from weight gain or weight loss, pregnancy, or surgeries. Whether it’s the mattress or your body that’s changed, there is no reason to hold on to a mattress that is uncomfortable — invest in a new one."
In addition to weight changes, surgeries, and pregnancy, other physical circumstances could cause your old mattress to no longer be ideal. Joy explains, "injuries or illnesses may make it advisable to sleep on a softer or firmer mattress. This can sometimes be accomplished by changing the foundation or adding a mattress topper, but those solutions are usually not the optimal choice." The optimal choice is a new mattress, but these are great frugal solutions for people who aren't financially ready to invest in a whole new mattress.
7. You keep migrating to the middle
"As mattresses age, they lose support, which is crucial for a good night’s sleep and a healthy back," says Jacobini. "When one part of the mattress is dented or softer than the rest, it’s time to let it go."
In addition to losing support, (innerspring coils or high density foam), your mattress could also be gradually losing comfort layers (upper layers of softer, fluffier materials, like a pillowtop). Ruiz-Jones explains, "Along with aches and pains, often comes sagging of the comfort layers. This is a telltale sign of degradation, and you should replace it soon before you start to notice yourself falling into new crevices during the night much like you would a hammock."
If you love hammocks and don't get it, here's an example:
Melanie Musson, a writer for USInsuranceAgents.com shares a personal experience that may seem all too familiar for some of us:
"You know it’s time to get a new mattress when you’re always falling to the middle! The first time I slept in the bed that my husband had before he met me, I said, ‘I feel like I’m falling into the middle.’ And for ten years, I said every night, ‘I keep falling to the middle.’ But mattresses are expensive, and this was not an old mattress. So we kept it. Finally, we got a new one and every night, I am in awe that I’m not falling anywhere!
Now, we have a fifth-wheel camper, and it has a lovely king size bed which should feel quite roomy, but in this bed, my husband and I both fall to the middle. It’s my lot in life, apparently. So the size of the bed is wasted because we’re pancaked together taking up a combined foot in width. It’s time for a new mattress!"
How can you assess this lack of support on your own? How much of a dip is too much?
Brett Thornton serves as Director of the Revive mattress brand, sold exclusively at Living Spaces. He explains, "Although we typically think about mattresses in terms of comfort, the most important thing is the support our mattress is giving us. Once your mattress starts losing its support, it is time to move on. The best way to see this is generally by looking for dips and sags in the mattress. A dip is caused by one of two things. Either your support, whether coils or foam, has broken down and no longer pushing back to its original shape, or the comfort layers on top are compressed and not providing the loft they once did. In either case, this will cause your body to be unaligned and will most likely lead to soreness in the lower back or hips over time."
Block from Sleepopolis says, that the "dreaded mattress dip ... typically pops up in the area in which you sleep the most. It should be pronounced and noticeably different from the rest of your mattress."
What can you do about it?
"We would recommend flipping your mattress at least once every three months in order to even out the distribution," advises David Ewart, Director and Lead Mattress Buyer at Pavilion Broadway, a designer furniture and mattress retailer. "If even after flipping your mattress, there are still gorges appearing, then it’s probably time to buy a new mattress. Generally, the feel of the mattress is far more important than how it looks. Your mattress should gradually adjust to the people sleeping in it, without losing shape entirely."
However, not every mattress is flippable these days. While you can still rotate your pillowtop or hybrid mattress, this isn't a preventative measure that everyone can use.
How bad is bad?
"To know if you have a sag," says Thornton, "take your sheets off and put a broomstick or large stick on the bed. If you can fit two fingers' distance between a dip in your bed and the stick you should look into either checking in on the mattress warranty or move on to a new set."
"If it is still under warranty," advises Joy, "most older warranties require an indentation of 1.5 inches before warranty coverage will kick in. Some newer mattresses only require half that, at .75” deep." Read your warranty thoroughly. It could save you hundreds of dollars.
As a budget-friendly tip, Ruiz-Jones, sleep expert from The Sleep Judge suggests a lower-cost solution: "you can often buy a mattress topper to get a few extra months or even years out of a saggy or otherwise compromised sleep surface."
8. Looks aren't everything, but they matter
"Beyond thinking about how your mattress makes you feel, examine how it looks," suggests Heiser from Saatva (reviews).
"The appearance of the mattress can also let you know that the mattress has seen better days," explains Joy. "If it appears lumpy or there is a visible indentation where you regularly lay, it may mean your mattress is worn out."
What indicators should you be looking for?
In addition to big dips in your bed (#7), "Rips, lumps, or springs poking through are more signs you're ready for a new mattress," says Heiser.
"Visual flaws such as sagging, tears and holes," are also good indicators says Mogen.
Katie Golde, Editor and Head of Sleep Research for Mattress Clarity, suggests physical appearance is a good thing to monitor. When "your mattress is showing physical signs of damage, whether it's from fluid or liquid-related accidents or sagging from overuse or jumping or something else," it could be time to upgrade to a new model.
"The other thing to look at is the top quilt pattern for sweat stains," says Thornton.
What's the harm in a little sweat?
"Moisture will get into the padding layers and break them down over time, so if you have a lot of stains you may be due for a new mattress," he clarifies. Multiple liquid stains on your mattress cover could just be showing you the tip of the iceberg, with much more structural damage underneath.
9. You can't sit on the edge
Do you ever sit on the edge of your bed when getting ready in the morning or tying your shoes? Have you ever sat down on the edge of a friend or relative's bed and been surprised by a lack of support?
Thornton suggests that a lack of edge support is a good indicator of your mattress's age creeping up on it. He explains, "If the firm seating edge has broken down, this means that the entire edge system may be compromised and you are probably losing support, especially if you sleep next to the edge of the bed as many couples do."
10. You've had your mattress forever
"According to Mattress Advisor, you should change your mattress every 7 to 10 years," says Woolley. "Mattresses age like people do. They can sag as your body leaves impressions, which can lead to aches and pains."
"If your mattress is nearing the end of that [7 to 10 year] range and you find yourself waking up with more pain and stiffness, have a harder time getting comfortable, or you are having a harder time falling asleep, then it may be time for a new mattress," advises Dr. Alex Tauberg DC,CSCS, CCSP®, EMR, a Pittsburgh Chiropractor.
If mattresses last up to 10 years, why do warranties sometimes last longer?
"For starters," says Ruiz-Jones, "mattresses don't last forever. Although a 20-year warranty may give the impression you'll get two decades of use, the warranty ensures workmanship of certain parts, not comfort."
The 7 to 10-year rule isn't exact for every mattress on the market.
"This will vary based on the material and build (all-foam/springs/etc) but seven years is a great general guide," suggests Carolyn Burke, a certified sleep coach and outreach manager with The Sleep Advisor. "That being said, if you are noticing sagging, rips and tears, lumps, memory foam that doesn't reclaim its shape, or a flattening of the mattress, you will want to consider replacing it. If a bed used to bring comfort and good sleep and no longer is, you might also want to think about replacing it or adding a topper to get that good sleep magic back."
11. It makes noise
"Your mattress can also provide audible signals it needs to be replaced," says Ruiz-Jones. "Squeaks and creaks aren't normal and can signal foundation issues. This is often associated with changes in weight. If you or your sleep partner have gained a significant amount of weight, it's always good to be on the lookout for potential side effects on your sleep surface."
12. You're not alone anymore
If humans aren't the only living organism going to bed with you at night, shop for a new mattress. Woolley warns, "They can become breeding grounds for dust mites and mold and mildew." AND BEDBUGS.
Nguyen suggests that a good sign that it's time to shop for a new mattress when "Your mattress has more dust than an abandoned attic."
"No one likes to think about creepy-crawlies living in their bed, but the truth is that after many years, it’s quite probable that they’re in there," says Jacobini. "Getting your mattress professionally cleaned can prolong its life, as will the use of a mattress protector. No matter how hard you try, though, your mattress won’t live forever."
Not only are dust mites gross, but if you are allergic to them (as 10 percent of Americans are), it can cause sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy skin and eyes, coughing, and more. "Dust mites may be the most common trigger of year-round allergies and asthma," according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Dust mites are gross but bed bugs are worse. It's time for a change if your mattress has "a bed bug infestation brought back from your travels," says Joy. Wiser words were never spoken.
The bottom line
Let's be clear. We don't suggest breaking any vows, but you deserve to sleep happily ever after. Don't be afraid to sleep around.
"Another good way to look at your own mattress is to sleep outside your home for a night or so and see how much more comfortable you feel sleeping on other mattresses," suggests Mattress Clarity's sleep expert Katie Golde.
As my mom always said, "There are a million mattresses in the sea." (paraphrasing) The mattress of your dreams is out there. You just have to keep looking.
Check out our mattress reviews to see what's good, what's bad, what's in your price range, and what you should look for.