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Guides How Often Should You Replace Your Mattress?

Published on February 25th, 2014 | by Mattress Journal


How Often Should You Replace Your Mattress?

Did you know that in an average year, you spend around 2900 hours on your mattress every year? That’s a lot of time to spend anywhere, and it can make you wonder just how long a bed is designed to last.

While everyone knows that an old bed is typically worse for sleep, when exactly does one become “old”, and when should you consider replacing your mattress? The truth is that there is no single answer to this question. Your mattress tag doesn’t have a set expiration date because it’s lifespan will depend on many factors. In this article, we will go over expert mattress replacement recommendations as well as signs your mattress is past its prime plus tips for selecting a new one.

Mattress Lifespan: What the Experts Say

Most industry guidelines suggest replacing a mattress after as much as 10 or as little as five years, though there is not a specific consensus. Here are the recommendations from leading expert sources:

  • The Better Sleep Council – Mattresses should be replaced every 5 to 7 years, though the average length of ownership for consumers is approximately 10.2 years.
  • Consumer Reports – Mattresses should be replaced when they are no longer comfortable. They conducted a usage test on several mattresses, and found that most continued offering adequate support after 8 simulated years of usage. They estimate that, treated well, a good mattress should last around 10 years but have also said that people over 40 may need to replace mattresses every 5-7 years to get enough support.
  • Oklahoma State University researchers surveyed 59 people on mattress comfort over 2 months. Participants recorded their sleep quality for 28 days on their existing mattresses, which had an average age of 9.5 years. For the next 28 days, participants were given a medium-firm coil and foam mattress to sleep on while they continued recording comfort and rest quality. Each week on the new beds showed significantly improved sleep quality and reduced lower back pain measures, and the participants also reported less stress.
  • Via surveys and internet research, estimates that innerspring mattresses last about 6 years, memory foam about 7 years, latex about 8 years, and waterbeds about 9 years, in general. They’ve also found that sagging in excess of 1 inch is associated with increased pain.

Warranties Can be Misleading

It is important to remember that warranties are not meant to serve as mattress replacement guidelines. The warranty is a period of time during which manufacturer defects are covered. Mattress warranties usually do not cover “normal wear”, usually stipulating that sagging must be over 0.75” to 2” deep. As sagging over 1” can cause pain, you may find yourself needing a new bed well before warranty coverage is up.

Many new beds come with long warranties upwards of 20 years or more, but that does not mean the company anticipates your bed lasting that long. In addition to exclusions for normal wear, there is usually always a “full-coverage” or “full-replacement” period that only applies to the beginning portion of the warranty, lasting anywhere from 5 to 15 years during which the manufacturer will cover the cost of replacing or repairing any defects. This is often followed by a pro-rated period that may be as much as 10-15 years of the warranty, during which the manufacturer will cover only a fraction of the costs, declining with age.

Signs You May Need to Replace Your Mattress

A mattress can make the difference between good sleep and poor sleep, which can influence your work, mood, health and more. If you see notice any of these signs, take a close look at your bed as it may be time to replace it.

  • You wake up stiff, sore or in pain.
  • You feel tired despite getting enough rest.
  • You have a hard time finding a comfortable position.
  • You’ve undergone changes such as weight gain or loss, pregnancy, surgery, or a major illness.
  • You sneeze, wheeze or experience allergic symptoms in or around your bed.
  • You can feel broken springs or see deep impression in the mattress surface.
  • You feel more comfortable on a hotel mattress.
  • You get better sleep on the sofa or recliner.
  • Your mattress is older than 10 years.
  • You are over 40 and your mattress is older than 7 years.

If two or more of these statements sum up your experience, consider the age of the bed and if you are sleeping as good now as when your first bought it. Try to evaluate your mattress and your comfort annually once your bed is 5 years old, with your partner if applicable, to ensure you are getting the best sleep possible.

Getting the Most Out of Your Bed

Protect your investment and extend the life of your mattress by taking good care of your purchase from day one.  First and foremost, always use a waterproof or water-resistant mattress protector. This protects the bed from all kinds of stains and spills as well as sweat, mildew and dust allergens. Second, make sure your mattress is properly supported based on manufacturer recommendations. Most spring beds are designed to work with flat box springs, while foam mattresses are meant to work with solid foundations. Inadequate support (such as slats spaced too far apart) can cause your bed to wear quicker. Other tips include regular vacuum cleanings, regular rotations, and not jumping on the bed. Consumer Reports also suggests replacing your pillow first if you notice pain, especially if your mattress is not old.

Steps for Replacing a Worn Out Mattress

If you do determine that its time to give your old bed the boot, here are few recommendations for picking the best mattress. These guidelines come from Consumer Reports and the Better Sleep Council, which both offer fairly similar tips for buying a new bed.

Set a budget, and know that expensive isn’t always better.

Quality and price are not always directly related when it comes to mattresses. Often, price has more to do with branding and prestige than what’s actually inside. Average owner satisfaction rates on consumer review websites place several mid-range mattress lines equal to or higher than expensive luxury options and Consumer Reports mentions it is possible to get a good bed under $1000, so don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune to get comfortable. Consider how long you intend to use the mattress and how much you can afford to spend. Then, look at the specifications, guarantees and reviews for options within your budget to identify the best values. Buying online can also be a good way to save, as there is more competition and less overhead than traditional showrooms, just make sure the retailer has a fair return policy.

Try out several options when choosing a mattress type.

The hardest part of buying a new mattress is figuring out which of the myriad options offers the best bet for your dollar. Everyone has their own idea of comfort, so it can be helpful to experience a variety of types, from springs to foam, and a variety of brands. Overall, memory foam and latex beds tend to rate about 20% higher than spring beds, but each type has benefits. Read about the pros and cons of owning the different mattress types, and don’t commit to buying until you’ve had plenty of time to research and compare. If you share your bed with a partner, make sure you are both involved in the process.

Pay attention to support.

The main purpose of a mattress is to support your body and your back while you rest. The mattress should contour to you enough to prevent painful pressure points, while also keeping your entire spine and neck in natural alignment. If you feel that your shoulders or hips sink at an unnatural angle, that your back “bows”, or you feel pressure points after a few minutes, that mattress might not be the ideal option for you. One tip from a Consumer Reports expert: if you can fit two fingers between the small of your back and the mattress, it is not supportive enough. While firmness preference varies, medium to medium firm beds have been associated with higher satisfaction and lower rates of pain compared to very firm or very soft beds.

Ask about returning and delivery.

The other important thing to keep in mind is the retailer or brand’s policy on returns and delivery. Ask about fees associated with delivery, how the process works, and what is included so there are no surprises. Because your body can take a few weeks to adjust to a new bed, it is also helpful to learn about returns before buying. Some retailers may offer little to no return period, though many offer 30 or more days. Ask how the return process works, what the fees are and what the time limit is.

Averages, warranties and guidelines aside, the best source for knowing when to replace your mattress is you! Different types, materials, and brands as well as personal usage and care all have an effect on how long a bed will last, making it hard to pinpoint a precise expiration date. A mattress with low-quality materials that receives heavy use may only last a few years, while a quality bed that is well cared for may last 10 or more years. Ultimately, you should replace your mattress when your current one becomes uncomfortable, potentially unhealthy, or if it starts negatively affecting your sleep quality. Be a wise consumer and take good care of your bed to extend its lifespan, but maintain awareness of potential warning signs to avoid pain and sleep issues. When it is time to replace your mattress, don’t hold out so long that your sleep suffers, but do make sure to research a variety of options and thoroughly compare comfort, reviews and specifications.

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