How to Know When It’s Time to Change a Mattress

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 28, 2021
4 min read

You spend almost one-third of your time sleeping, so you want to make sure your hours in bed are restful. A clean, supportive mattress is one of the ways you can help your body get the sleep it needs. 

‌Mattresses don’t last forever. The average mid-quality mattress lasts about 9 years. Not all mattresses last that long, though. Some last longer, and some wear out earlier. It all depends on how you use and treat the mattress during its lifespan.

‌‌It may be time to change your mattress if it shows certain signs or affects your health. ‌There are several clues it’s time for a change.

Wear and tear. Mattresses can show stains, tears, lumps, and sags. This is a hint that the inner materials are breaking down from regular use or damage.

Squeaky springs. The springs inside a mattress are part of a coil support system. These springs can break down and stop supporting your body.

Bed bugs.Bed bugs are unhealthy pests that affect your health and the health of your mattress. These pests can live in your mattress and come out to bite you while you sleep. 

Waking up to pain and stiffness. Feeling muscle pain and joint stiffness each morning shows that your mattress doesn’t fit your body. Without the right cushioning, you feel uncomfortable after so many hours lying in one position.

More serious allergies. If you have allergies or feel them getting worse, your mattress may be to blame. The same applies if your asthma gets worse. Sometimes the cause is allergens like dust mites, pet dander, mold, and dust trapped in your mattress. 

Feeling bed movements. If you sleep with a partner, you shouldn’t feel the bed move every time they shift during sleep. This movement is called motion transfer.

Having trouble getting to sleep. Humans take about 20 to 30 minutes to fall asleep in a normal setting. Stress, body aches, and temperature can affect your normal nightly wind-down process, and so can a worn-out mattress. 

Innerspring. Innerspring mattresses are the most basic type of mattress. They have a metal frame with connected coil wires and a top layer of foam or padded fabric.

These mattresses are good for short-term needs but the springs are likely to eventually sag and beak. They can also trap allergens. Because they don’t form to your body, they can worsen back pain or other issues. Innerspring mattresses can last about 4 to 6 years.

Pocket spring. The pocket spring mattress has steel coils like the innerspring, but each spring has a fabric cover that separates it from others. This lets the pocket spring form to your body better and helps keep the mattress breathable. 

Like innerspring mattresses, pocket spring mattresses can trap allergens and are still likely to get broken springs and lumps over time. These mattresses have a lifespan of about 6 to 8 years.

Memory foam. Memory foam mattresses are made from polyurethane. This material is a type of plastic that’s spun into a more springy form called viscoelastic, or memory foam. 

Memory foam is hypoallergenic and helps prevent motion transfer, but it traps a lot of heat and can off-gas chemicals. Off-gassing is when new mattresses release chemicals and have a strong smell. Memory foam mattresses can last about 10 to 12 years.

Latex. Latex mattresses are made from natural latex from rubber trees. They can also be made from synthetic latex or a blend of natural and synthetic. 

Latex mattresses are hypoallergenic and offer a lot of back support. They can be heavy and expensive, but they’re very durable. Natural latex can last 15 or more years, while synthetic or blended can last around 10 years.

Sleep position. Consider your sleep position and whether you are a back, side, or stomach sleeper. Back sleepers do best with medium-firm hybrid foam and coil mattresses. Side sleepers do better with softer memory foam or latex mattresses. Stomach sleepers will want firm innerspring or pocket spring mattresses. If you already have back or neck pain, you’ll want a mattress that’s not too soft, but also not too firm.

Pets and children. If you let pets and children play or sleep on your bed, your mattress might wear out sooner. Stains, pet dander, and extra weight can all break down the material.

There are a few things you can do to extend the life of your mattress:

  • Get a mattress cover.
  • Air out bed linens and layers more often.
  • Vacuum the bare mattress.
  • Rotate the mattress a few times a year. Flip it as well, unless it has a lot of cushioning on one side only.