When was the last time you had a really good night’s sleep? If it’s been awhile, it might be time to look at the age and quality of your bed. While good sleep involves a number of factors, experts say that what you sleep on can affect how well you snooze at night. How do you know if it’s time to replace your mattress? And, what kind of mattress should you invest in for the best sleep possible?
Read on to learn how often you should replace your mattress—and what type of mattress might work best for you to get your best sleep.
The Average Lifespan of a Mattress
When used under normal conditions, your mattress should be replaced every six to eight years, according to recommendations from the Sleep Foundation, an online source of research-based and medically-reviewed sleep health information. Most mattresses remain in good condition for a long time, says Michael Breus, Ph.D, clinical psychologist, diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. In fact, you’re likely to need a new mattress due to changes in your body, rather than the mattress itself.
“All mattresses have materials that will last for quite a while, but your body will make many changes over time, and that’s the better indicator of when to buy a bed,” he says. “It’s really different for everyone.”
That said, you get what you pay for, Breus says, and a mattress made with poor quality materials or not properly cared for may need to be replaced more often.
What Ages Your Mattress the Most?
A number of factors will age your mattress, Breus says. These include extreme heat or cold, spilled liquids or kids (or pets) jumping on the bed.
Low-quality mattress materials and improper care can influence the average length of a mattress life, as noted by experts at the Sleep Foundation. For example, they recommend you use a mattress protector and rotate your mattress every three months or so (unless otherwise indicated by the manufacturer).
Heavier sleepers or couples may notice sagging, too, caused by years of added weight on the mattress, the Sleep Foundation reports.
Why It’s Worth It to Replace Your Mattress
There are many benefits to replacing your mattress, especially if you’ve been sleeping poorly or experiencing back discomfort or pain, Breus says.
A good mattress can affect not only your quality of sleep, but also help to reduce or prevent back discomfort, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. When examining the difference in sleep quality and stress-related symptoms among people sleeping on mattresses that were five years and older and those snoozing on newer beds, newer was found to be better for sleep health.
How to Know It’s Time to Replace Your Mattress
So, how exactly do you know when it’s time to bid your mattress adieu? Tell-tale signs include sagging, signs of damage, noise level (is it squeaking when you move?) and if you notice that your sleep improves when you sleep somewhere else, such as a hotel or a friend’s house, according to the Sleep Foundation. An increase in allergies and asthma may also be a sign, along with waking up with muscle or joint stiffness on a regular basis.
Finding the Right Mattress for You
Now, it’s time to shop. To find your new perfect mattress, Breus breaks down the most common kinds of mattresses into the following categories:
- Innerspring: These come in various types, but are the most traditional and oldest of the mattress types. Most have an inner metal wire system and springs that are covered in fabric and cushioning material for support.
- Memory Foam: With a base of memory foam, which was originally created in the 1960s for NASA spaceship seats and seatbacks, this type of mattress is now one of the most popular on the market. Memory foam mattresses are made from various different materials, but, overall, they are designed to slowly mold to your body as you lay on them, creating a more custom-fit feel. Most are also designed to be resilient, so they return to their original shape once you get up. The most common types of memory foam mattresses are: traditional, open cell and gel. Traditional is the most classic type, open cell mattresses are much like traditional mattresses except they have internal pockets for improved air flow, and gel mattresses feature microbeads that help to absorb and release body heat.
- Latex: Usually the most durable of the types, latex mattresses are made from rubber-based material. These mattresses relieve body pressure like a memory foam, but have the bounce of an innerspring. Latex mattresses are also hypoallergenic and naturally cooling.
- Hybrid: A hybrid mattress is one that is made with different kinds of foam and springs, giving you a balanced feel. Hybrid mattresses typically address a variety of factors like pressure relief and spine alignment, making them an ideal choice for people looking for relief in multiple areas.
Each mattress has pros and cons, so Breus recommends choosing one with the features most important to you. For example, if you suffer from back pain, be sure to try out mattresses that specifically address that. If temperature is a challenge when you sleep, try one with cooling features or one that helps with temperature regulation.
How to Make Your Mattress Last Longer
In order to help your mattress live a long and healthy sleep-giving life, Breus recommends choosing a high-quality one, cleaning it regularly and using a mattress protector to help minimize dirt and odors.
The most important factor to getting good sleep? Staying healthy, Breus says.
“Your body will wear out faster than your mattress,” he says. “By keeping a regular sleep schedule, moving for 25 minutes each day and eating a clean regular diet, your sleep will be of its highest quality and your mattress will need to do less work, last longer and help you more.”