How Often Should You Replace Your Mattress?
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If you've only had your mattress for five years but you wake up with back pain in the mornings, or you've only had it for six years but it makes more noise than your partner's snoring, you have lots of company, as mattresses don't usually last as long as we think they should. There are some guidelines you can follow to determine how often and when to replace your mattress so you don't have to struggle with these annoyances, and there are also recommendations for mattress purchase and care that can make it last longer.
How Often Should You Replace Your Mattress?
Since the longevity of a mattress depends on the construction and materials of the mattress together with the habits of the user, this is one of those “how long is a piece of string” questions.
The Sleep Foundation recommends that you replace your mattress every six to eight years.(1) The Better Sleep Council advises that you should not sleep on a mattress for more than seven years.(2) Mattress manufacturers rate their products for ten to 15 years.
So, what does the scientific research say?
A 2009 study in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine recruited 59 adults with slight musculoskeletal sleep-related pain and asked them to rate their comfort after sleeping on their own beds for 28 days, and again after sleeping on a new medium-firm bed for 28 days. They all reported an improvement in their sleep quality as well as a reduction in back pain and stress after sleeping in the new beds.(3)
The important thing?
All their own beds were five years or older, suggesting that the wealthier people among us may want to ditch their mattresses after five years already.
But most of the participants’ mattresses were around 9.5 years old, suggesting that the seven-year and eight-year recommendations are reasonable compromises for the rest of us who cannot afford a new mattress every five years.
Since back pain is one of the most common consequences of sleeping on a worn-out mattress, another study published in the British journal The Lancet can help here. The researchers recruited 313 adults with low-back pain for which no cause could be established and asked them to sleep on either a firm or a medium-firm mattress.
After 90 days, those who had slept on the medium-firm mattresses reported less pain while lying in bed, getting up, and while going about their day.(4)
Medium-firm mattresses are not only the best mattresses for back pain, but the conclusion of the study also implies that you should bin your old mattress when it no longer provides medium-firm back support; in other words, when it sags into a spongy mess or when you’ve flattened the springiness and the supporting materials become too hard.
When to replace your mattress
- If you can see a deep indent where your backside rests, if the springs poke through the material, if you can feel bumps while lying down, or if it is torn, it belongs on the trash heap.
- If you lie on it and your spine is not aligned in the same way as it is when you are standing up, because a deep sag pulls your lower back out of line, for example, discard it.
- If the springs sound like the twangs of the guitars in a country band, it’s served its time.
- If you wake up with an achy back or muscles, you have sore spots on your joints or fleshy parts, or you wake up frequently during the night, it’s finished.
- If you wake up with a stuffy nose and watery eyes that improve soon after you leave your bed, bacteria and mold have annexed your mattress and you will have to let them have it.
The clincher is this:
If you listen to your body attentively, you will know when to replace your mattress.
What type of mattress lasts the longest?
- Buy a decent-quality mattress. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive, but thin mattresses and soft ones with low-density foam will wear out more quickly. Thick memory foam mattresses and thick hybrids from medium-firm to firm should all last eight years, while thick latex types are also good if you like your mattress extra-firm. The Sleep Foundation recommends a lower coil gauge for innerspring mattresses, as it indicates thicker coils, a 1.7+ PCF density rating for polyfoam, and a 5+ PCF rating for memory foam.(1)
- A quality mattress will not only last longer, but a German study on 265 hotel guests found that people who were unaware of the quality and price of their mattress rated their sleep quality most positively after a night on a high standard, high price mattress.(5)
- Buy the right mattress for your body weight and favorite sleeping position. The Sleep Foundation recommends that only very lightweight side sleepers should sleep on soft mattresses, that very lightweight stomach and back sleepers can go for medium-firm mattresses, and that all sleepers over 230 pounds should opt for medium-firm or firm mattresses.(6) Heavy sleepers unfortunately put more pressure on mattresses and cause more wear-and-tear damage, so a soft or thin mattress is a no-go.
- Buy a mattress that you can flip over head-to-foot and upside-down so you have to buy a new one only once all possible sides are wrecked.
Can maintenance extend a mattress’ longevity?
There are several things you can do so you don't have to replace your mattress too often.
- Turn over the mattress every three to six months to distribute the wear and tear damage.
- Wash mattress covers and sheets often in a temperature of at least 140°F to kill all germs before they invade the mattress that you cannot wash.
- Refrain from eating in bed and going to bed dirty.
- If it sags below your shoulders or hips, you can buy a gel or memory foam mattress topper that is cheaper than a new mattress.
With the massive recent expansion in online shopping, you should not have a problem to find a good new mattress every seven to eight years, no matter what mattress size or type you want. It is especially made easier by the compressed format in which mattresses are now sold and delivered to your house, such as the TOP 5 Best Mattresses in a Box in Canada.
Now, we would love to hear from you.
If you have recently ditched your old mattress, tell us why the old one no longer sufficed and what you bought to replace it. Or if you are currently considering buying a new one, tell us how long your mattress lasted and what is making it unbearable.
- Logan Foley (September 11, 2020). When Should You Replace Your Mattress? Retrieved from: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mattress-information/when-should-you-replace-your-mattress#:~:text=Under%20normal%20conditions%2C%20mattresses%20should,you%20should%20replace%20your%20mattress
- Better Sleep Council (April 14, 2017). Replacing a Mattress. Retrieved from: https://bettersleep.org/mattress-education/replacing-a-mattress/
- B.H. Jacobson, et al. (2009). Changes in back pain, sleep quality, and perceived stress after introduction of new bedding systems. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1556370708001296
- F.M. Kovacs, et al. (2003). Effect of firmness of mattress on chronic non-specific low-back pain: randomised, double-blind, controlled, multicentre trial. The Lancet. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0140673603147927
- P. Enck, et al. (1999). Associations between back pain, quality of sleep and quality of mattresses. Double-blind pilot study with hotel guests. Schmerz (Berlin, Germany). Retrieved from: https://europepmc.org/article/med/12799934
- Daniel Noyed (September 11, 2020). How to Choose a Mattress. Retrieved from: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mattress-information/how-to-choose-a-mattress
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