A good night’s rest is crucial to your health and well-being, yet millions of Americans suffer from lack of sleep. The Sleep in America study by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found that 75% of adults have problems sleeping well. The study showed that 60% of respondents experienced daytime sleepiness that interfered with activities, caused work absences, or mistakes on the job. While medical conditions may be responsible for some instances of bad sleep, it might be your mattress that’s the issue. Review these seven signs that it’s time to replace your mattress to see if your bed is to blame for inadequate sleep.
Research has found that mattresses have a life-span of roughly eight years, but this varies by manufacturer, mattress type, whether you sleep alone or with a partner, and how you sleep. If you’re a larger person, your mattress will likely wear out faster than manufacturer guidelines suggest.
Mattresses were not designed to last forever, and excessive wear and tear will age a product faster. Inferior products don’t last as long, yet even the highest-quality mattress has a maximum lifespan and will eventually need replacing. If your mattress is old, that’s the first sign you may need a new one.
If there’s a dent in your mattress in the shape of your body, that’s a signal that your mattress is overly worn. Sagging can occur with almost any mattress material (aside from waterbeds) and can be observed under your sleep area, at the edges, or both. If your mattress has springs, they can break down and sag.
Fiber, foam, and pillowtop materials all break down over time and the deeper the sag in your mattress, the more discomfort you’ll likely experience. Saggy mattresses can disrupt sleep and cause aches and pains. If your memory foam mattress core has softened, you may feel the sag as a “hammock” effect.
No matter how old (or new) your mattress, if it doesn’t offer proper support and alignment, you won’t get optimal sleep. For back or stomach sleepers, your spine’s natural S curve should be evident when you’re lying on your mattress. If it’s flattened or exaggerated, the mattress isn’t aligning your spine properly.
For side sleepers, your spine should be straight from neck to bottom if you’ve got proper support. A yardstick or level can confirm adequate alignment. A good pillow may correct minor issues, but if you can slide a hand in the gap between body and mattress, it’s a red flag that you might need a different mattress.
Knowing whether your mattress is comfortable sounds like common sense, but many people adjust to discomfort. If you get better sleep on a hotel mattress or a friend’s guest room, your home bed might not be comfortable enough. A bed may seem comfortable in a showroom but then doesn’t perform well at home.
The upper part of your mattress consists of “comfort layers” that should support your body and provide pressure relief. Comfort layers break down over time resulting in poor sleep and body aches but in some cases, your mattress choice might have been faulty from the start, and you need to replace it.
Poor sleep can contribute to chronic back pain. If you wake up stiff and sore every day, your mattress could be part of the problem. If your back pain is worse when you wake but subsides when you stretch and move around, that’s a sign that the mattress is causing or contributing to your pain.
A firm mattress may not be the answer. A study from the Kovacs Foundation in Mallorca found that medium-firm mattresses provided better comfort for chronic low-back pain. Experts recommend sleep testing different types of mattresses before buying if you suffer pain while sleeping or when waking.
If it’s not allergy season and there’s no alternate explanation for an uptick in allergy or asthma symptoms, your mattress might be the culprit. Slate interviewed an expert on dust mites that said your mattress is a “crime scene in terms of how it gets inoculated with [dust] mites” over time.
The protein in dust mite feces may cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks and so can the dust that accumulates in your mattress. Vacuuming, steaming, and flipping your mattress might reduce dust and mites to ease your symptoms. If these steps don’t help, a new mattress might be the solution.
For those that experience a significant gain or loss in weight over the life cycle of your mattress, the change might alter the effectiveness of your mattress. A Canadian study linked both inadequate and excessive sleep to weight gain so how you sleep and what you weigh are intermingled.
Heavier body types trigger more wear and tear on springs, foam, cushioning and mattress components. Also, if you were a solo sleeper but now have a partner in your bed, your mattress might not offer adequate sleep surface or support for the extra weight. That means it’s time for a new mattress.
If you suspect you need a new mattress, do your homework, and educate yourself before you buy. Understand the lingo and gimmicks employed by mattress firms so that you get the product you need that fits your budget and gives you the best night’s sleep. There’s no prescription for which mattress will best fit your unique needs.
Look for a mattress that offers adequate support for spinal alignment. Comfort is subjective – it’s how a bed feels to you. You might find a firmer mattress superior to a softer one or vice-versa. Mattress selection is highly personal and should be your preference at the cross-section of proper alignment, support, and comfort.
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